Thoughts on Immigration

August 25, 2018

Immigration is one of those difficult to talk about issues because of the emotions that it evokes. On the one side there are those who like to portray people that live in hovels, half-starving and in fear for their lives from government execution squads and the other side likes to portray immigrants as being little more than criminals and lazy parasites wanting a handout. Both of these, while having a grain of truth are by and large exaggerations meant to stir emotions and keep individuals engaged with whatever side they come down on. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of our democratic system that people don’t react to honest scholarly analyses of issues. The consumer mindset, which needs instant gratification, requires action and excitement, context be damned. Life for them needs to imitate art. It would be easy for us also to go in this direction in an attempt to boost membership numbers, but using democratic means, to fight democracy would only reinforce that which we fight against. Responsible articulation is the foundation from which culture changes and successful, long term political movements begin. Often it is the case that deteriorating social conditions will prompt those adversely affected to seek alternatives to the repeated failed attempts to solve them.


Liberal Democracy’s effectiveness begins with its skillful use of propaganda. Advocates of this system like to portray human history as starting at a fixed point in the past and evolving in stages to higher forms of social organization. Monarchy, Communism and Fascism - just to name a few - are portrayed as being relics of the past, maybe suitable to a previous age but having no relevance for today. Liberal democracy is the end point of this process with no further changing of governmental forms. This is designed to extinguish arguments for alternative forms of political organization. This argument is effective in that it’s supplemented by material forms of coercion. The outsider wanting to change the system risks ostracism, being an outcast, and losing the means of supporting his family and himself. The technological gadgets and lifestyle connected with capitalism have become standard, causing most people to ignore the toxic effects done to culture and lifestyles by our politico-economic system. Challenges to the system often come with the danger of the loss of livelihood. 


In this vein, justifications for maintaining a high rate of immigration are often used to depress arguments and the person advocating them. There’s a sort of finality and resignation to the debate designed to choke off any discussion whatsoever.Arguments are made such as “if we cut off immigration we’ll be paying $20 for a package of strawberries, or because during the early years of the Republic we basically had open borders, so to oppose immigration implies an unpatriotic mentality. This is one of the reasons why civil debate has become so rare in our society. Both the contemporary left and right view themselves as the upholders of democratic order, with the other side being the manifestation of opposition to democracy. The right is often portrayed as fascists while the left as communists,but the truth is neither party has many if any of these in their respective caucuses. The foundation of any kind of progress is dialectical thought where objects, including ideas can only exist because their negation exists as well; it’s the synthesis of these contrasts and their resolution that, causes society to progress. Liberal democracy believing itself to be the end all, cuts off all debate and becomes defined through its stagnation and decay.


Too often many on the right fall into the trap of becoming that which the left wants it to be. They try to portray the disintegration of American unity and its subsequent effects on the culture and morality as being caused by the recent influx of immigrants from the third world, characterizing the differing cultures as not being capable of assimilation. What this view fails to take into account is the reason why the American people accepted such a large influx of immigrants in the first place. Would a strong unified country ever adopt a policy, allowing for large numbers of immigrants with a different history and culture in the first place? The fact is that one of the toxic effects of American philosophy has always been its love affair with materialism. America has always been portrayed as the land of opportunity where people can go to make a living. The Statue of Liberty says "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost tome, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" The tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free isn’t talking about political freedom in itself, but apolitical freedom connected with an economic freedom. Material success is confabulated with actual freedom through their correlation. It was this rationale,which was used as justification for open borders for such a long period of time.The hodgepodge of what goes for American culture, today and yesterday is due to  the constant stream of immigrants entering the country looking for work. What has unified them up until now was that common pursuit of wealth that admittedly was more available in this country than in the old world. Culture, a shared history, a commons sense of destiny, these things that go into making a nation never had a chance to coalesce in this country. Subsequently those opposed to current
immigration trends, which began in the 1960’s never had a chance to combat those trends they viewed as being so corrosive.


The beginning of a pushback has to begin with some honesty and reality. The immigrants that have arrived since the 60’s aren’t going back to their home countries; separate ethno-states not only won’t happen but also would be doomed to fail. A disunited White America of yesterday has only become more disunited in the meantime. Culture, that building block of unity is not something which people are genetically predisposed to adopting, but is something, which is socially conditioned through the daily interactions each of us, engage in throughout our lives. The connection with a common sense of destiny is implicit within culture. People who share a common mode of living will in time develop future outlooks, which coincide. As modern society shows us, unity doesn’t happen through osmosis. The reason so many people attribute immigration as the source of disunity is because of the different ethnicity of modern immigrants in contrast to before 1965 and the more visible signs of disunity, which are coinciding with that trend. What’s often forgotten is that after WWII there was a movement of people from agricultural areas to urban and suburban areas. Before, the family farm was synonymous with tight knit communities; now, urban areas tend to be its antithesis. The atomism which comes with city life often times has to be offset with a stronger State and policies designed to construct communities. Active government being regarded as something un-American was never used to offset this growing atomism, and in some instances, especially during Republican administrations the government drew back from society. The problem with the United States has been that there never has been the State, save, perhaps a shadow of or possibly a nascent State, as in the Roosevelt administration.


None of this implies that the current policy of loose immigration standards is right or should be continued. As mentioned earlier in this article one of the root causes of our problems is a historically loose immigration policy coupled with a government that has an 18th century mindset. Even with a more active State and an economic policy emphasizing integration as opposed to adversarialism the presence of large numbers of immigrants within our borders would undermine much of the integrative work done by the State and we’d be dealing with a continuous process of assimilation, which would undermine the very concept of assimilation.


Playing devil’s advocate, let’s assume for a second that immigration’s proponents are correct. Let’s assume that there aren’t enough native born workers to fill the slots required for certain jobs which are economically necessary. Let’s assume that the native-born population would decline to such an extent that pensions and entitlement programs couldn’t function without young immigrant workers. Within a liberal democratic context, there is no other solution than to import people from abroad to fill these roles. The limited nature of the liberal democratic government, (its adherents believing that government is an artificial construct, a necessary evil with restricted and defined powers) leaves little to no room to deal with deep societal problems, more often than not dismissing them as the consequences of living in a free society. All of us have heard the saying regarding the incompatibility security and freedom. Subsequently, the only rationale left to justifying immigration is the transference of the values of the market to human individuals. The idea that people can disregard their history, cultures, and values and be placed somewhere else to fit in like a part to an engine can only be rationalized by treating the immigrant like a commodity; something that can be moved across borders like a piece of merchandise. There is no more capitalistic idea than open borders.


If the problems that, supposedly justify immigration do exist, a much more sane and rational way of addressing them would to adjust public policy to meet society’s needs. Not enough tech workers? Then emphasize tech education more; mandate higher pay in the field. If population decline is effecting the supply of labor; then things like the cost of living and the materialist basis of our culture need to be addressed. Ultimately, the solution is philosophical in nature; working within the present context is doomed to fail, as it doesn’t leave room for the restructuring of the State, which is required. Thought precedes structure, a structure, which gives birth to action.


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