I linked in my previous post to this Facebook post about immigration and the ensuing conversation that prompted this post.
The subject is ‘hot’ thanks to Donald Trump, but it is also one that I wanted to discuss for a very long time, as it is the only subject where my position is at odds with the position of many libertarians.
The problem I have with the libertarian positions is its dogmatic nature and the assumptions it is built upon. My points, and my arguments against, are very similar to the ones I made about the dangerous delusion of religious freedom.
The libertarian assumption
Libertarians assume that their only enemy is the state. They believe that people around the world are basically the same, if it was not for the evil governments, they would all behave more or less the same. They believe that people, by and large, are rational, self-reliant and peaceful. They are so in large enough numbers to make the exceptions irrelevant.
This assumption is ridiculous on its face. If it was correct, we would be living in a libertarian world. The extreme naïveté of this libertarian assumption rivals that of the communists. Communists believe that freed from the shackles of capitalism, people can be molded to be the same. Doctrinaire libertarians believe that freed from the yoke of the state people would simply behave the same.
Libertarians tend to dismiss the importance of cultural differences and the effect of cultural background on behaviour and political attitudes.
Unfortunately, not every culture is like ours. Some are quite radically different. Cultures are different in millions of subtle ways. The contrast does not have to be as pronounced as the difference between radical Muslims and metro-sexual New Yorkers. Differences can exist even within otherwise similar cultural backgrounds. The work ethic of the Mediterranean Nations of Europe is noticeably different from that of their Northern neighbours which is clearly reflected in the differences in their productivity. This difference is at the heart of the Greek political saga. Even within the same country, the differences can be clearly measureable. Try to compare a New Yorker and a Texan, a mid-Westerner and a Californian or a Quebecer with an Albertan. They behave differently, they see the world differently and they have a very different political attitude. And they are from the same larger cultural background. They all want some degree of freedom. The same cannot be said of all people coming from radically different cultures.
Do we really want completely open borders with unconditionally free immigration?
Would we want to open the door, for example, to ISIS? And since we are libertarians, also allowing them to come with all their weaponry? Free immigration would mean that we should be ready to accept them in-mass, as an organization.
How about convicted war criminals? Their crimes are behind them and they would be unlikely to reoffend. We could ask the same question about criminals in general. Open borders would mean open to violent criminals. We would put them in jail for sure if they committed something here, but until they do, they should be treated like anyone else. Half of the world career criminals would consider the move just take advantage of the quality of our jails.
But let’s forget the criminals and look at our political opponents. When I was a new immigrant in Canada I worked in a restaurant with a Chilean refugee. He was a radical communist who came to Canada to fight for the cause. He did not go to the USSR, he said, because there everything was perfect already. I am sure he was not alone. Should we welcome without any scrutiny communists, fascists and Sharia advocating jihadists? In case anybody missed it, let me rephrase the question: should we embrace in our midst the sworn enemies of freedom just so that we can protect our ideological purity?
The point of these questions is very simple: if the advocates of uncontrolled immigration would answer no to any of these questions, they would prove themselves to be hypocrites while answering yes would show them to be suicidal stupid.
We do not have to go as extreme as I did in the examples above. Problems exist in a way that is not that difficult to observe. All we need to do is to look at Europe which has serious immigration problems. Most Western European welfare states have large groups of immigrants. France have Muslim no-go zones where the police does not dare to go. So does the UK.
The UK has 680,000 polish immigrants. They are the good example. They work hard, they integrate, they contribute more than what they take. Mostly Pakistani Muslims are not such a good example. They are a net drain on the system. They refuse to integrate, they want sharia, they intermarry, complain about everything, but mostly, they don’t work.
“The Daily Telegraph reported in 2012 that 75% of all Muslim women are unemployed while 50% of all Muslim men are unemployed (67.5% total) – a staggering 350% rise from 13% for men and 18% for women in 2004. Muslims are also on sick leave more than anyone else, with 2001 figures revealing that 24% of females and 21% of males claim disability. Muslims are the most likely among all religious groups to be living in accommodation rented from the council or housing association (28%); 4% live rent-free (2004 figures). As if this is not enough, the total prison population in the UK amongst category A and B criminals (third degree criminals) is now 35-39% Muslim.”
And they are not the worst. East European gypsies are a real problem as illustrated by these two BBC documentaries about their exploits: Gypsy Child Thieves and Britain’s Child Beggars
The same ethnic group had the same problems in Canada. Durham Region cops bust Gypsy crime ring & Gypsies Granted Canadian Refugee Status Live It Up In Romania On Human Trafficking Profits
“According to figures from the Agency (CBSA) in 2011, one in 3 three claimants were accused of a crime. The percentage rises to 67% for the last sample analyzed, those coming to Quebec in April 2012.”
I could continue with the examples, but I hope you got the point. Immigration is highly culture sensitive. It only works well if the immigrants come from compatible cultures or if there are strong incentives for the individuals to assimilate to the larger culture. Neither of these conditions are met by European or Canadian immigration policies. Numbers also make a difference. The larger the number arriving at the same time, the slower the assimilation. These realities cannot be disregarded when talking about immigration policy.
The plight of Liberty
Fighting for libertarian ideals today is an uphill battle even in the Anglo-Saxon, Judeo Christian culture that gave birth to them. Most other cultures are hostile to the libertarian ideas.
In an ideal world, we should have open borders and open immigration, unfortunately, we do not live in one. How and why the statists are responsible for the situation where all developed countries are in desperate need of immigrants should be the subject of a different discussion. For now, let’s suffice to say that the issue is hopelessly political. All political parties are trying to use it to articulate their own ideology around it and to use it for partisan political advantage.
The political reality of immigration is that it cannot be separated from the politics of the welfare state.
When I was a new immigrant, I was told by the 56-ers (the largest wave of Hungarian immigrants to Canada) that the tallest building in Toronto was the Royal York hotel and that the most help you could hope for from the government was a sack of potatoes when they dumped you on the prairies. Today’s immigrants are immediately soaked into the ‘benefits’ of the state and drenched in its ideology. Enormous amount of money is spent on them and we have an official government policy – multiculturalism – as a focused effort to keep them from integrating. All of this is partisan, of course, led by liberals and other leftists. In the US, the partisan differences are even more clear. Both the left and the right want immigration, the right just don’t want it on leftist terms.
A libertarian suggestion
Jacob G. Hornberger is telling me that I cannot even call myself a libertarian unless I subscribe to the dogmatic interpretation of the subject. Let me humor you with an alternative position.
Libertarians have to accept the fact that the issue is political and that it is exploited mostly by their political opponents to advance their own political agenda of the ever expanding state. Libertarians should use the issue to advance their own political agenda pointing in the other direction. I would advocate free immigration with the following conditions:
- Not a penny of the taxpayers money should be spent on supporting immigrants.
The support of immigrants should be a social function, the responsibility of private charities and ethnic organization as they are the ones best equipped to help the integration of new immigrants into our society.
- Immigrants should not be eligible to ANY direct government benefit until they become citizens.
The only exception should be the plane ticket out of here. If they cannot make it here on their own or with the help of their communities, they should leave.
- Same goes for criminality. Any conviction for any kind of crime should result in immediate deportation.
I could have a few more items on my personal wish-list, such as focusing immigration to compatible cultures, or asking immigrants to formally pledge their support to some of the ideals of our world (plurality, tolerance of diversity, separation of faith and politics, etc.), but these wishes are beyond what a libertarian policy should be.
Present immigration policies everywhere in the developed world are fundamentally socialist. The ones suggested above would push the policies toward self-reliance and a greater role for civil society.
Libertarians should argue for a sensible immigration policy, not a rigid, doctrinaire one that only makes them fit the crazy extremist picture painted of them by the statists and the liberal media.
The following are some links on the subject.
Immigration and crime – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gypsy Child Thieves (BBC Documentary) – YouTube
Britain’s Child Beggars (BBC Documentary) – YouTube
European ‘No-Go’ Zones- Fact or Fiction- Part 1- France
No-Go Zone in Dearborn- Where Islam Rules & Christians Are Stoned
Lawrence Solomon- Paris’s Muslim ‘no-go’ zones are no joke – Financial Post
Immigration and Crime – What the Research Says – Cato @ Liberty
Durham Region cops bust Gypsy crime ring – Toronto & GTA – News – Toronto Sun
La Presse- Gypsies Granted Canadian Refugee Status Live It Up In Romania On Human Trafficking Profits – Blazing Cat Fur
Immigration – My personal stories
Immigration – race, culture & ideology
Immigration – the philosophical case
Immigration – the cultural case
Immigration – the moral case
Immigration – the economic case
Immigration – the political case
Immigration – Libertarian kumbaya
If libertarians believe in private property then someone must be invited onto property – they may not simply enter it.
That being said, most immigrants to Canada have applied and are invited I would imagine.
In the post there is a link to a debate between Walter Block and Hans Herman Hoppe, the later taking your position. I also lean toward his, but an essential part of my post is the question/conflict/necessary discrepancy between philosophical and political libertarianism.
I am planning to use this issue to start a conversation with Walter Block on the subject.
when my Father, Opa, Oma and Aunt came to Canada after WW2, there was no welfare state, very little social safety net etc, they were expected to work, integrate and look after themselves.
Which of course they did, my Opa learning english and eventually becoming a teacher, and my Father, Aunt and Uncle all going on to success in their chosen paths. Of course my Dad did end up being a career bureaucrat 😉
I did not get any help when I came in 1980, because I came as a sponsored immigrant, but more than 80% of the people I knew coming at the same time already relied heavily on government assistance.
Allen Small Good posting. Its about time some libertarians stopped dreaming of utopia:
“The extreme naïveté of this libertarian assumption rivals that of the communists. Communists believe that freed from the shackles of capitalism, people can be molded to be the same. Doctrinaire libertarians believe that freed from the yoke of the state people would simply behave the same.”
Luis Raul Chacin Good posting? Seriously? Can you not see how riddled it is with racism?
I’ll leave you with 2 points:
1. Capitalism is NOT an invention of caucasian christian culture. It is the result of technological advancement attributed to language, geography (trade position) and arguably the presence of the horse, among many other conditions of western Europe for the last 2000 years. Thomas Sowell does a great comparative analysis of races and economic development in his book “Intellectuals and Race”, I highly recommend it.
2. You either believe in freedom for EVERYBODY (communists, muslims included) and not just yourself or you don’t.
You seem to think communists who want to propagate their stupid ideas are comparable to criminals who would use violence.
You seem to think your culture (whatever you think that is) owns capitalism or some version of collective property over the country and it just shows your bias against people of brown color.
I suggest you be more critical of your assumptions and go deeper in your analysis. Start with Sowell, I believe it will help you.
Budapest közepén Allah akbarozik az iszlamista csőcselék nagy tömegekben és követelőzik. A hazaáruló baloldal meg adja alájuk a lovat. A demokrácia gyenge, nem tudja kezelni a népvándorlást. Lassan de biztosan meg fog bukni! Az emberek egyre idegesebbek, mert nincs aki megfékezze ezt.
Hamarosan fordulat lesz.
Mercedes Cristina Rodriguez-Molares Well, that was an interesting read. I agree with your first 2 of 3 points about “free immigration”. I see the 3rd one creating second class citizens where someone will be deported for smoking weed.
Also, regarding all this talk about cultures makes my blood boil. I am Venezuelan by birth, Spanish by genetics and Canadian by choice. All you can possibly deduce from that info is: I was born in a piece of land between Colombia, Brazil, Guyana and the Caribbean Sea, I likely speak Spanish quite well. My parents are from Spain. And for circumstances in my life, I live in Canada and I speak English, maybe French. That is it. You cant know a thing about my work ethics, my core values or who I am. For I am not a place or a culture, I am not a stereotype. I am. Period. According to the thought of cultural screening, I should be a socialist or communist, very catholic, love soap operas, look like Miss Universe and have fake boobs. But I am a libertarian, ancap, atheist who hates soap operas and cosmetic surgeries. And on top of everything, I am an individualist. Nothing is ever more important than the individual. Statistics are great until you become the victim of them. And I can’t support that. Sorry for the rant, but it is a touchy feely topic for me.
Allen Small Luis, I think you missed the point of the post.
Dismissing it as racism is facile and wrong. Where is ‘capitalism’ even mentioned?
Zork is talking about worldview – philosophy, not race, not colour, not ethnic origin. And worldview is individual, but can be learned in a group.
It happens that the Europeans that came to America had a particular worldview that was nurtured by certain religious beliefs. These beliefs allowed an enormous amount of freedom (back home in Western Europe) for most (not all). These became cultural norms that gave rise to laws that mostly encouraged liberty. Those same cultural norms do not exist everywhere. Our system is open to modification by democratic votes. The cultural norms have changed in the mainstream population to the point where liberty is in jeopardy NOW. What happens when different cultural norms have more lobby power?
BTW, I like Thomas Sowell, but I think reading him is totally irrelevant to this topic.
Luis Raul Chacin Let’s start with a step by step review of the claims in the article:
“They believe that people, by and large, are rational, self-reliant and peaceful. They are so in large enough numbers to make the exceptions irrelevant.
This assumption is ridiculous on its face.”
Does this person believe in freedom? I doubt it.
“Libertarians tend to dismiss the importance of cultural differences and the effect of cultural background on behaviour and political attitudes.” Yes, it is called methodological individualism, as opposed to racial or nationalist determinism. Everything else said in the article about political attitudes or work ethic of peoples in Greece or the US are downright racist. If you don’t see it, you have some soul searching to do. You cannot judge people as if they where a breed of dog who has certain character traits that make them more or less docile.
Suggesting greek people are lazy or that they have a poor work ethic is the type of generalizations that have no place in methodological individualism and libertarianism.
I could go on, but I think I’ve made it clear enough. Sowell is very relevant, btw. He was by far a much better analyst of this type of cultural evaluations. This one needs a great deal of work still. Good luck!
Allen Small Luis, I still think you missed the point of the post.
And Zork, don’t give in so easily. I get it that you don’t want to get into a long USELESS discussion on Facebook. It is useless, but your post takes an important stand on a vital issue. It’s an issue that many libertarians have not thought through very well, open borders.
Zork may not have said it in the politically correct way, but I’ve talked to Zork on several occasions, and I understand his position.
Like Zork, I am an immigrant (I was 11 months old at Pier 21), so I’m very sensitive to the issue. My parents came from Europe, and even though the culture was similar and integration was easy, the racism here was massive, until I reached high school. But thats not the issue, the issue is a clash of cultures, culture is paramount.
To deny and dismiss cultural differences as racist, makes me wonder – ‘does this person understand history?’
Right now Europe is being swamped by immigrants from the middle east. How the Europeans handle it, will determine the future of Western civilization in Europe IMO, and its not looking good.
Will you argue that Western civilization is no better than any other?
Will you argue that civilizations are equal? I think thats pure bunkum. Our Western civilization has given us “liberty – reason – science” found no where else to the same degree.
Like Zork, I don’t want to get into a long useless thread, so I found this. Give it a listen. I have great respect for Stefan.
3 would be about immigration but separated into its different aspects:
philosophical – moral and political
then another one about the nature of racism and how badly the notion is abused by people like Luis, then I would like to do some speculation about the lovie-dovie trend of libertarianism so well represented by Luis.
Trust me, I do not give up easy. smile emoticon
Now I have a few scholarly articles to read on the subject from Walter Block and Hans Herman Hoppe
In spite of all the fuzz about the precious “culture” that we must protect against people who think differently (namely “communists” through some thought-police of sorts, I suppose), I haven’t seen a clear example of what is that culture.
Can you say exactly what defining feature or aspect of western culture makes it more prone to freedom than say… Pakistanis, who according to the article might seem a lower culture?
My claim is that technological advancement and progress have nothing to do with culture, they happen in spite of it and change it eventually. Failing to see this is typical of people with a deep conservative bias. Conservatives believe technology is the result of culture and THAT shows real ignorance of history and the struggles of science fighting the status quo for centuries.
At any rate, I only wish you good luck.
Rob Brooks My view is that open borders is not something you can force on people or legislate or agree to. My view is that a border is open when two things exist:
1) people can pass across the border in both directions with minimal inconvenience. Even crossing the street has some inconvenience, like looking both ways for example.
2) there really is no difference in your liberty and freedom on either side of the imaginary line.
So said in another way, a border is a consequence of the lack of harmonization of the government on both sides of the border. The pursuit of open borders is not the path to freedom and liberty, it is a result of harmonization of freedom and liberty between two states that share a border. I think you can have an open border in big government countries. The EU comes to mind as having more open borders than say we have between Canada and USA.
If a person wants to talk about the absence of government, since the existence of government is the source of the border, then they should talk directly about that.