How did this discussion start? Doug was down because some people he cares about are still drinking Walker Bush's yellow Kool-Aid. I tried cheering him up by e-mail. Not my forte, as Poppy might say...
The wingnut lifestyle is not a complete counterculture, not even the evangelical portions thereof. And as long as they're interacting with the larger culture -- the extremely latitudinarian sensibilities of a large majority of Americans -- they will internalize some of that sensibility. I've seen it happen close up.
In this sort of tolerant wider cultural environment, only the people who can continually redefine an external enemy according to their own internal mental needs, who must needs [sic] define themselves in terms of combativeness -- the psychologically damaged, in other words -- are able to carry this sort of attitude to the grave.
It's a novelty, me being on the ebullient side, and Doug being morose. Doug replied, in part:
I think that's too optimistic. 1970s Yugoslavia was a tolerant cultural environment, no?
Cultural tolerance in the U.S. for most of the wingnut types does not represent a psychological reality. To them, it really does seem like a bad government policy which many bien-pensant whites have gone along with because of their ingrained leftism and dhimmitude, and which the coloreds naturally support because they get bread and circuses (affirmative action, the Cosby show, et cetera). Should the legitimacy of the goverment fall, all this will quickly unravel. Just like Yugoslavia!
As is sometimes said elsewhere, fap fap fap. The psychological reality on the ground, outside of the wingnut enclaves -- which are strongly regionally and generationally defined, among demographically shrinking subgroups -- is very different.
Um. Go back and look at the [Yugoslav] intermarriage rate.
(So I did. But that's a bit later.)
It was shallow-rooted, I'd agree. But I don't think it was that dependent on government policies, other than in the purely passive sense of the government discouraging nationalism. (Up until the early '80s, anyway. Man, that one went into reverse fast. But it was a reversal.)
Everyday personal interactions: with the notable exception of the Albanians, the different groups got along just fine. Lived together, worked together, hung out together. I'm thinking in particular of the thirtysomething Slovenes I met who were deeply mournful about Belgrade ("we used to pile into the Zastava and drive down there every weekend, party aroud the clock"), but it was pretty pervasive.
I don't think it's a good model for the US, but I don't think it's completely irrelevant either.
So I looked the Yugoslav intermarriage rate up.
Yugoslavia, a steady 12-13% overall from 1962-1989. Highest in the Voivodina: 23 rising to 28% by 1989; lowest in Kosovo: 9% falling to 5% by 1989. Slovenia started the lowest, 8%, but rose to the national norm by 1989. Serbia proper was low -- 9%, Croatia a little higher -- 16%. Compare the Soviet Union, with a 14.9% intermarriage rate in 1979. There's a pretty large literature on nationality intermarriage rates in the former USSR, pre-, during, and post-Soviet. Summary: low to nil before, reasonably high during, and sharply falling off afterwards, except in cases like urban Ukraine and the Baltic countries.
Upshot: the legitimacy of Communism legitimized cross-nationality intermarriage; and the fall of Communism largely discredited it. Unless you're a Yugoslav exceptionalist -- and not yet, you aren't, Doug -- the likeliest hypothesis is that the same type of legitimization applied there as well.
(Keep in mind that Communism made crossing confessional lines much more acceptable. How difficult was it to have cross-confessional marriages in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes?)
And (I forgot to add) Russian-Jewish marriages under the Tsars? Eeeee.
Between US white ethnic groups in 1979 -- most originally further apart than Serb and Croat, or Russian and Ukranian -- it's hard to even get a consistent ethnicity for whitey from the data, the level of intermarriage is that high. Some groups, it's literally over 90%.
Doug was vexed, especially by that last throwaway comment.
Dude. Do not palm cards with me. An Italian-American and a German-American, of any generation beyond the second, are not "further apart" than a Serb and a Croat.
But it was a trap! Heh-heh-heh.
Actually, this is me being obnoxious, because I wrote it after I double-checked the data, knowing you would have this reaction. Turns out that historical exogamy rates were incredibly low in the US for new immigrants and even Nisei until the postwar period. Even lower than Kosovo in Yugoslavia, lower than Armenia in the Soviet Union, for many groups. So it is actually rather striking.
Thus chastened, Doug asked me to post this discussion to benefit all mankind to continue it more publicly. So I did. In the meantime, I looked a few more things up.
In 1979, nearly thirty years ago, most ethnic whites born in the US still had a measurable tendency to marry in-group somewhat greater than random chance (after correcting for other factors), with the exception of German-Americans, who had a slight preference not to marry other German-Americans. The endogamous tendency of the "old ancestral" core of British, Irish, German, and Scandinavian-Americans, taken as a group, was only slightly greater than random, maybe one-and-a-half times. The highest rate was with Americans of Jewish eastern European descent married before the Depression, who were over ten times as likely to have married within their ethnic group as without. Poles, southern Europeans, and French-Canadians fell somewhere in between.
Let's compare. Doug brought up those cosmopolitan Slovenians, who missed partying in Belgrade. (And I can't blame them.) Well, in Belgrade, they would have been eight times as likely to marry another Slovene than random chance would indicate. That's actually better than Slovenes in Slovenia, where the rate was nine times greater than chance. In fact, it's greater than the preference Bosnian Muslims had for marrying each other (seven times).
The only groups in former Yugoslavia which come close to the American pattern of ethnic intermarriage would be Croats and Serbs in Croatia, Serbia proper, and (interestingly) the Vojvodina, where they had in-group marriage preferences only two to four times greater than random. That would be around the amount of Italian-American endogamy when the Godfather movies were produced.
It gets worse when you consider the ethnic enclaves in the other republics. Serbs in Kosovo? Five and a half; not so bad, right? But Albanians in Kosovo, seventeen times. Serbs in Bosnia? Eight times. Croats in Bosnia? Seventeen times.
Now let's look at Russia in 1989. (I think you know where this is going.) Going by passport nationality, only the post-1953 generation of Russians and Ukrainians in Russia (and not even Belorussians) have anything like the ye olde American pattern, and that only in the central urban core of Russia itself. In fact, endogamous preference rises in western Russia by a factor of at least three for the eastern Slav groups, bringing us to Godfather-slash-elderly-Jewish-couple rates of in-group marriage.
Then we start getting into real ethnic enclaves. Younger Tatars and Chuvash of the cities in the north Caucasus region were only around ten times as likely to marry within their group than what random chance would predict in 1989. They were the hip wild carefree ones. The Chechens, on the other hand, were several thousands of times more likely to marry another Chechen, all else being equal.
Alba and Golden, "Patterns of ethnic marriage in the United States", Social Forces, 1986, 65:1, 202-223.
Botev, "The ethnic composition of families in Russia in 1989: insights into the Soviet 'nationalities policy'", Population and Development Review, 2002, 28:4, 681-706.
Botev, "Where east meets west: ethnic intermarriage in the former Yugoslavia, 1962 to 1989", American Sociological Review, 1994, 59:416-480.
Fisher, "Ethnic consciousness and intermarriage: correlates of endogamy among the major Soviet nationalities", Soviet Studies, 1977, 29:3, 395-408.
Pagnini and Morgan, "Intermarriage and social distance Among U.S. immigrants at the turn of the century", The American Journal of Sociology, 1990, 96:2, 405-432.
Silver, "Ethnic intermarriage and ethnic consciousness among Soviet nationalities", Soviet Studies, 1978, 30:1, 107-116.
And some others which I forgot to write down. Hey, this was e-mail.