The October Thing #4 – Diasporas – August 29, 2011


Three groups of people—Chinese, Jews, and Americans—have always migrated widely and became very successful. The richest religious group in the United States is Reformed Judaism, the third richest is Orthodox Judaism. Their forte is to buy basic resources others don’t want; scrap, for example. The Chinese diaspora is much more widely spread and provides a wide variety of basic services such as laundries and restaurants all over the world. In Southeast Asia, they command other richer economic sectors such as transportation and warehousing. The Americans have done particularly well in South America (as have the Germans) focusing on education, finance, and political infrastructure.

A dramatic new development (a discontinuity?) is the Indian diaspora which, in the United States, has a double focus. Recognizing that the U.S. is becoming a two-class society like India (rich and poor) Indian migrants are focusing on the poor by buying up lower-class housing, especially hotels and convenience stores, and on the rich by taking over large sectors of the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Hindus are now the second richest religious group in the U.S. (Baptists and Jehovah’s Witnesses are the poorest, in case you’re curious.) Although these four diasporas seem to be the most powerful, many others are also influential.

Is all this movement helping to build a world-culture or is it simply brain-draining some countries and establishing rich enclaves in other countries? Are the brilliant Asian/Indian students in the U.S. rescuing our declining intellectual status? What other questions should we be asking?