“Progressives” still wrong on immigration

Once again, a discussion on immigration is taking place in Europe.

For the last few days, the new “populist” government in Italy has refused a berth to a ship called the Aquarius, which is carrying some 630 immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Today, Valencia in Spain has said it would accept the Aquarius.

French president Emmanuel Macron is among those who have severely criticised Italy’s stance, while simultaneously refusing to except the Aquarius itself in yet another sign of elite cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy.

A few weeks ago, George Soros said that the European Union should compensate Italy for accepting so many migrants.

As usual, this self-appointed “progressive” stance gets it completely wrong.

While “progressives” focus on the often tragic and heart-rending “stories” of individual migrants, others who understand the power of compounding and are capable of extrapolation and abstract thought are deeply worried that immigrants will increase even more as a percentage of West Europe’s population given their much higher birth rates and below-replacement replacement of the indigenous population.

Moreover, the UN reckons that 140 million people already require assistance, but the population of Africa and the Middle East is set to shoot up yet further by 2050 and beyond.

Standard pro-immigration arguments by progressives that the Aquarius is “only” a question of “just” 600 migrants, or that, in 2015, the flood of Syrian refugees was “only” 2% of the European Union’s population, are therefore completely ingenuous, if not downright dishonest.

Talk of “just” 2% and the like is thus the thin edge of a very large wedge whose dimensions will only increase, but growing numbers of people across Europe feel that immigrant numbers are already far too high.

ESC forecasts that such crises will only get worse on Europe’s doorstop and that the European Union and its individual member countries will have no option but to tighten controls to reduce immigration.

In fact, despite the official pro-immigration stance in Brussels, Paris and Berlin, this policy is already being implemented both within the EU and on the EU’s external borders. Many countries have introduced stricter admissions policies, albeit not as tough as in Eastern Europe, and the EU has helped to set up holding camps for refugees in Africa. France has sent peacekeepers to the continent.

All of this is clearly aimed at keeping migrants away from Europe, and yet it will clearly not solve the problem within the developing world itself.

Mass immigration has profound implications for Europe and its values.

Take the share of Muslims in Europe’s population, which is expected to nearly double from about 5.9% to 10.2% between 2010 and 2050.

The natural development of a secular Europe, long seen as a progressive aim, has thus already gone into reverse due to immigration. Further divisions will occur across the continent based on religion, ethnicity and language as a post-industrial society clashes with pre-industrial migrants who will almost certainly fail to be integrated even after generations. The French and Belgian banlieus and similar areas in the likes of Sweden are examples. Sweden’s population, for example, was 4.6% Muslim as of 2010, but factoring in migration, that share is expected to more than double to 12.4%, by 2050.

Indeed, the resurgence of religion among Muslims around the world make integration highly unlikely.

At the same time, the much-vaunted Paris agreement on climate change actually mandates yet more increases in CO2 output.

The future reality is that climate change and the unholy alliance of AI and robots will mean mass unemployment not only among the upper, middle and lower classes in the developed world as humans become surplus to requirements at all levels, but in developing countries as well.

As a result, the pressure to emigrate to Europe in search of nonexistent jobs will increase sharply. Many of these migrants are young, testosterone-fuelled males with no prospects. Backed by the powerful propaganda machine of Islamic fundamentalists which, erroneously, blames the West for all the problems of Islam and its adherents, they represent massive potential for war and terrorism.

Europe’s coherence and integrity is already under serious threat from globalisation and mass immigration. Any continuation of large-scale arrivals could destabilise even more what has, since antiquity, often been the most progressive continent on the planet.

Progressives have to realise that ideas such as multiculturalism, diversity and identity politics are being rejected by increasing numbers of people across the West.

It is simply not worth destablising the West yet further for specious therapeutic or economic reasons.

As already noted, the economic rationale for immigration, often weak, is already being rendered moot due to AI and robots.

Immigration as “therapy” is also very misplaced and in any cannot solve the problems of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

To the “progressive” mind, there is no statute of limitations on Western guilt, which thus goes back to the ancient Greeks. Although imperialism, colonialism and slavery ended decades or centuries ago, progressives still feel guilty, just as they feel guilty about contemporary capitalism, which they rightly believes enables their luxury lifestyles, but which they erroneously believe causes third-world poverty.

Progressives believe themselves to be well-educated and respond to their opponents by ad hominem attacks and accusations of populism, xenophobia, nativism and the like.

These tactics do not constitute political arguments, but in any event are misguided and show that progressives are nowhere near as well educated as they believe.

The ancient Greeks established 2,500 years ago that in such arguments and disputes, the burden of proof is on the proposer – not the opponent. The Latin phrase is onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat, usually shortened to onus probandi.

And supporters of globalisation and mass immigration have signally failed to convince their opponents, who now do even have to respond.

Besides, their idea – held in common with Islamists and Marxists from the developing-world – that capitalism and its alleged past ills are the cause of poverty outside the West is false and based on a totally incorrect reading of both western and non-western history and a primitive zero-sum view of economics.

Measured in 1990 international dollars, for instance, 12th century England (although not Scotland, Wales and Ireland) boasted a per capita income of $600 – already 2/3 the figure of $800 per capita in the Caliphate, then perhaps the richest and most developed part of the world. This is, of course, centuries before the British empire.

Contrast that with China, whose total wealth increased sharply from the Middle Ages, but whose soaring population meant that per capita income remained static for centuries. A similar problem of poor economic performance and a surging population which absorbs all the gains has plagued much of the developing world for decades, notably Iraq and Syria. None of this has anything to do with the West.

England’s wealth in the Middle Ages was in fact a major reason it was constantly taken over, invaded or settled, first by the Anglo-Saxon elites and then by the Vikings and the Norman French.

Moreover, Western Europe was wealthier long before the Middle Ages. Julius Caesar incurred massive debts and so, in addition to the glory of a triumph in Rome, he invaded and subjugated Gaul to get his hands on the large number of gold mines in the Loire Valley.

It is also significant that if oil and other mineral resources are excluded, north-west Europe is intrinsically richer than the Middle East – and it is not even necessary to visit the Middle East to see why.

A glance at photos and film shows that most of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Africa is barren — a sharp contrast to the lush verdant green which stretches from Ireland to central Europe before the continental climate takes over and reduces agricultural productivity.

As soon as the Europeans got an improved harness to use horses instead of oxen and a better plough in the Middle Ages to turn over its rich, but heavy clay soils, agricultural output began soaring. And that was preceded by centuries of assarting – cutting down trees by hand across Western Europe to free up land for farming.

Liberals usually see the dire conditions outside the West as being caused by the West, if not totally then at least primarily or to a very large extent.

Conservatives and historians, on the other hand, look at the longue durée and the prisons de longue durée – the long-standing structures in society which can exist and persist not just for decades, but for centuries and millennia and which, while perhaps advantageous at one stage, can become very detrimental at a later state and represent huge barriers as the economic environment changes.

These structures are a big problem for rigid societies which cannot change and adapt, especially for tribal societies.

Progressives love to criticise the nation state and nationalism since they are “citizens of the world, but the Nobel laureate in Economics Douglass North pointed out decades ago that it was the nation state which incubated modernity – a condition largely confined to the West and emulated successfully only by Japan, a few city states such as Singapore and Hong Kong, and the likes of South Korea.

It thus escapes progressives that the global south has always been poor, both before and after colonialisation, while Japan, bombed into submission during the Second World War, is an “independent variable” which proves that non-Western countries of “colour” can become exceptionally rich.

Progressives reject this kind of argumentation, believing it is tantamount to “blaming the victim,” but they cannot hope to find answers without proper analysis.

Instead of insisting on yet more immigration, progressives should be doing all they can to preserve Europe as a progressive continent. They should be mortified about the impending population increase in the developing world. And they should be looking seriously for solutions to lift it up to Western levels in a sustainable fashion.

A good start – if it is not too late already – would be a sharp and rapid reduction in the birthrate of up to 10 or 12 children per woman in desert countries like Niger.

This level of thinking, however, is completely beyond the imagination, education and understanding of “progressives.”

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