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.”
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 – 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