First World Pecking Order

Why Immigrants to the West Often Feel Discriminated

Immigrants coming to the First World, the West, often feel discriminated. In their own view, they fell discriminated against on the basis of the color of their skin. A complaint often heard goes that Western societies look at what immigrants can’t do, rather than what they can do. 

The truth, however, may be diametrically different. Most Western societies—whether or not founded upon democratic principles of equality, rule of law and economic freedom—tend to be governed by steep social hierarchies, much steeper than elsewhere in the world. Western economic prosperity comes with a catch: the financial pecking order must be maintained aggressively. Despite the meritocratic promise of upward mobility for those who study and work hard, even in the most meritocratic society of the United States of America a citizen’s financial class is mostly determined at birth.

Except for a few unique socieites with flat hierarchies, such as Denmark or Iceland, your chances of upward mobility depend on how rich your parents are, i.e. prior wealth. Importantly, this prior wealth trap holds true for indigenous (white) Americans and Europeans too. The lower and lower middle classes of white people are also stuck in first gear, or to some perhaps even in reverse. Consequently, the lower classes, including those of the rest of the world, merely serve as means of production to generate wealth for the upper classes.

Thus, when non-white immigrants, e.g. from Third World countries, arrive in the so-called “land of the free”, the American Dream appears to them just as it is, a dream. Immigrants to the First World often come from much more egalitarian societies, especially when everyone is equally poor. They are not at all accustomed to the steep, aggressive social hierarchies of the rich West. The modern West’s power happens to be concentrated in the hands of mostly white Americans and Europeans. Therefore, darker skinned immigrants may feel discriminated becaeuse of the color of their skin, but really the steeper social and financial hierarchies of capitalist civilizations are to blame, as they indiscriminately bar newcomers and members of lower classes from reaching the top.

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First World Pecking Order by Mathijs Koenraadt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.