Foreign Policy, Politics, Security

Why “Open Borders” is a Dangerous Idea

A decade before he fell to esophageal cancer Christopher Hitchens gave a series of riveting speeches on George Orwell. In them Hitchens argued that Orwell was an intellectual of such tremendous consequence because he got the three great dramas” of the 20th century right. These were: the moral unsustainability of imperialism, the rising danger of Fascism, and the soulless cruelty of Communism. Most today agree that Orwell was a singularly perceptive observer of that barbaric century.

So in the opening decades of the new century, what are the great dramas bearing down on us? The danger of climate change is surely high on most lists. The promise and peril of artificial superintelligence? Or genetic engineering? Perhaps the danger lurks most in the threats we have slowly adjusted to and may be complacent about such as nuclear and biological weapons proliferation.

From my point-of-view, mass migration is the singular challenge of the 21st century. This is because it is a meta-issue that will affect our response to every other challenge. This is due to the fact that as mass migrations change demography, they may also affect changes in host nations’ cultures and political economies. The specifics of these changes are exceedingly difficult to forecast, because they hinge on dozens of variables specific to the migrants, the host nation, and the scale and rate of the movements. While we do not yet know the vector, the titanic, high velocity migration the West is currently experiencing will cause profound changes.

It is my fear that the primary near-term effect will be surging tribalism. Unlimited mass migration could cripple liberal Western powers with perpetual ethnic tension, and halt their ability to effectively act on the world stage. This could cede the century to more unified authoritarian powers such as Russia and China who have drastically different value systems and views of human dignity.

The open borders philosophy is wrong, because, like the failed ideologies of the past century, it doesn’t account for unpleasant facts about human nature and society. The truth Communism missed is that human beings prefer self-interest to compelled altruism. The truth open borders advocates miss is that human societies are tribal.

The fundamental human social skill is the formation of groups that act with shared intentionality. The skill to coordinate intentions is what enabled our ancestors to form sophisticated social coalitions that outcompeted lower primates. Shared intentionality is a double-edged sword, though. The ability to form groups around intentions also means the ability to form breakaway sub-groups around different intentions. Thus, one of our primary evolutionary breakthroughs carried within it the potential for endless factionalism.

The reason why we are still tribal today is because tribalism appears to have been evolutionarily adaptive—at least for our ancestors. Researchers at McGill University have described it thusly: “ethnocentrism eventually overcomes its closest competitor, humanitarianism, by exploiting humanitarian cooperation across group boundaries”.

Despite prevailing moral fashions, we are the products of this evolutionary competition. This observation has no moral polarity, it is a mere reality. And while it is undoubtedly noble to argue that we should try to overcome tribalism, it is a very different matter to argue that it is achievable, or that in doing so we won’t be outcompeted by less noble, more unified groups.

The challenge of heterogeneity is that it pre-loads divisions into society. Sometimes those differences can be overcome through inter-communal dialogue and good government. But, all too often when intentions differ, and tribes inevitably rise, differences in religion, language, and custom are the contours around which factions organize.

This is not to say that ethno-racial or cultural difference is the sole cause of factionalism. Human beings don’t, in fact, need much encouragement to split into camps, hoist flags, and start wiping each other out. Our history is replete with examples of relatively homogenous societies that unraveled and split. After all, there were no obvious differences in language or ethnicity between the Roundheads and Cavaliers, or the Kuomintang and the CPC, or the Federalists and Unitarians. Diversity should not be met with fatalism, but should be seen as one of many significant risk factors that need to be diligently managed.

Since human beings are so quick to form factions, it should be the goal of government policy to ameliorate division and ward off for as long as possible the demon of sectarianism. Our current public policies and cultural products seem aimed at doing the exact opposite. I think this is because the designers of these policies hold at least two mistaken assumptions about diversity and migration.

Luxury Diversity

Many elite Westerners have a passionate belief in diversity because they have lived it. Not always in their neighborhoods, but quite often at university. What they fail to realize is that a top-flight university offers a very narrow type of diversity. For example, in my university class we had over 50 nationalities. It was a wonderful experience, and I formed abiding friendships with people from all over the world. What I later realized, is that the social cohesion of my class was greatly assisted by the fact that the admissions office was a border. They had heavily screened the incoming class for intelligence, socialization, and personality characteristics. The relevant distinction wasn’t between the Tamil Brahmins and Tatar Russians, but between students and non-students. We were all members of a university created community, enjoying carefully curated luxury diversity.

None of this is surprising, elites have always gotten along. What the connoisseurs of luxury diversity miss, is that not everyone is a well-socialized member of the culturally converging global bourgeoisie. People from across the world differ significantly in behavior and custom. Some of these behaviors and customs are awesome, others, such as honour killings, are not, (just as the West has traditions that are awesome, and others such as mass shootings, which are horrific). When migration occurs, we have to be aware that these behaviors and customs come along and can cause considerable strain in the receiving nation.

Time and Integration

There is also a faulty assumption that diverse societies become more tolerant and inclusive over time. The Indian sub-continent is one of the most diverse places on the planet. This heterogeneity is long-standing and a result of waves of mass migration onto the sub-continent over tens of thousands of years. Yet after all this civilizational experience with diversity, India still has xenophobia, with more than 40% of respondents to the World Values Survey stating that they would “not like to live next door to a person of another race”.

Diversity on the sub-continent has not been a strength, but an immense civilizational challenge. Why our public policies seem intent on replicating these historical patterns in Europe and North America is always left unexplained.

These historical examples are unexplored because some in the West adhere to a frenzied millenarianism about migration and diversity. They hold that mass migration is not a public policy challenge to be soberly regulated, but a path to moral redemption and economic utopia. When reality intrudes on these delusions the advocates mumble while citizens navigate the consequences.

History has demonstrated innumerable times that at-scale diversity doesn’t create utopia but tension. This tension can sometimes be negotiated, but often leads to societal fragmentation, secession, or the establishment of sprawling despotisms like the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Mughal empires. This is because civilizations are staggeringly complex economic, social and political coordination systems that slowly develop over hundreds of years. When these coordination systems are stressed by rapid change, they sometimes shudder and break.

Of the top ten most diverse countries in the world, every single one has suffered major, lethal political violence since 2001. Diversity is not some holy sacrament, it is a deadly serious socio-political challenge that needs to be prudently managed. It is a mistake to believe that unregulated mass migration will bring about redemption for guilty Westerners. For whatever economic benefits it may bring, it will also bring tribalism, disunity, and violence. And for those of you who think this isn’t a major issue or that the worst has passed, please note we are just in the opening act of this drama.

 

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Filed under: Foreign Policy, Politics, Security

by

George is a technology executive and writer living in New York City. He is currently finishing his first novel, which follows an American infantryman through a career of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. George Gallatin is a pseudonym. Given the current climate surrounding political expression his name is being withheld.

67 Comments

  1. Riley says

    India is ethnically and religiously diverse. Not racially. I’m not sure if it’s the best example to use to make any sort of point about cultural heterogeneity not leading to racial tolerance.

      • Riley says

        Race and ethnicity are not the same thing…. India has different ethnic groups like Kashmiris, Odias, Gujaratis, etc. Kurds are a different ethnic group than Persians yet are the same race.

      • Jeff York says

        Korakys, not intending to gang-up on you but I agree with Riley. Celts, Slavs, Nordics, central Europeans, southern Europeans and Ashkenazi Jews are all of the same race, Caucasian, but are each a different ethnicity. Same thing with Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc.

    • Elwood says

      If you were to follow India from the point of view of faith you’d soon find that there are hindu nationalist radicals who burn people alive for believing the wrong things. While other groups who have been at war longer than the west has existed probably also are not on your radar.

      • Riley says

        Elwood, my parents are Indian, one Hindu and one Muslim. I am very well aware of the Hindu-Muslim tension in the nation, though I would like to point out that unlike the United States, people of different faiths in India have MUCH more exposure to each other. Hindus literally live in villages where they hear the mosques’ prayer call 5 times a day and experience Muslim culture firsthand, while Muslims live in places where Hindu festivals occur nonstop. On the other hand, if a mosque blasted the adhan here in the States, I can only imagine the complaints and reactions lol. Also, the incidents which you speak of are not that common (to such a level of extremity, anyway). I’m also not sure we can even call them Hindu because, unlike Abrahamic religions, no Dharmic religious text (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain) prescribes violence.

        Anyway, my point was the author can only argue that India’s cultural heterogeneity has not led to utopic ethnic and religious unity. India is not racially diverse, so you can’t really use it as an example of how racial diversity does not lead to racial harmony.

        • Riley says

          *It seems I was mistaken; the link provided by the gentleman below shows that if one is to look at race as beyond Caucasoid, Negroid, Australoid, then India is actually extremely racially diverse.

    • Riley says

      Thanks for the link; I had a complete different definition of race in my mind, and I think the author does as well. (As in, I don’t think he is thinking of race as specifically as “Nordics vs Proto Austroloids”.)

      I know Aryans and Dravidians generally look quite different, hence the whole North-South conflict/debacle. But I would never have considered there to be so many different races WITHIN the Aryan section and the Dravidian section themselves, even though I have visited my relatives who live in both regions many times. Interesting stuff!

  2. Tom Darlington says

    ” Yet after all this civilization experience with diversity, India still has xenophobia, with more than 40% of respondents to the World Values Survey stating that they would “not like to live next door to a person of another race”.

    Sure, but a better question is, “has tolerance increased over time.” At least when considering Europe and the US, there is no doubt that it has, even with the migrant crisis and the illegal immigration in the US.

    I will not claim that immigration leads to an economic utopia (I don’t think many people do) but there are definitely great economic benefits not just to immigrant but to the host country. I don’t have the sources on hand, but some economists argue that reducing immigration barriers has a far greater positive economic impact than reducing trade barriers.

    There are backlashes to large migrations over the short term (especially considering politics), but I think the long term benefit is clear.

    • Robert Paulson says

      It depends on how you define economic benefits and to whom those benefits accrue. Increasing the supply of labor relative to demand lowers wages. Generally speaking, it is the middle-class and capital-owning class that see the benefits if immigration through lower prices for the former and higher profits for the latter.

      • Plus even if 1% of immigrants are economically “productive”, that’s an increase in production (even if PRODUCTIVITY is reduced), and the other 99% creates a demand which further increases “production” – more work for bureaucrats, housing associations, schools, nurses, farmers, builders, asylum centre “workers”…….. But none of that really helps either the economy, or the original population!

    • By sheer logic alone you can assume that at some point the country can be full and no more people should be coming here because we can’t sustain this many people on our roads, or water supplies, or food, nor is there that much land to be dispersed that is livable in the United States. More and more migrants would just come here and live in the places that already exist making them even more crowded causing tension. Mass migration does not work will not work in the United States. You cannot change our culture by flooding us with people from all different countries. We must sustain our natural culture here in America. The New World Order will not succeed not with America. We will fight you and we will fight the change to the New World Order

  3. Dustin says

    One problem with this argument is that countries like the United States are already very heterogenous. It’s hard to see how new migrants actually add anything in terms of diversity, and therefore how they could add to the tension the author attributes to such migration.

    Another problem is that the author appears to ignore how today’s tribal lines eventually dissolve to be replaced by others later on. At one time Irish, Poles, and Italians were the disruptive, culturally alien migrants. Now they are all just white, part of the (for now) racial majority in the U.S. In time, who’s to say which allegedly disruptive cultural influences will eventually be deemed fully assimilated parts of the larger community?

    Finally, the author fails to consider that the most disruptive cultural force in large societies like the U.S may come not from inter-, but from intra-state migration, from the movement of Americans to other parts of America, such as we are seeing with the movement of younger, urban liberals in coastal states to urban centers in more traditionally conservative southern and southwestern states. This kind of migration also upsets the traditional balance of political power and can leave long-time, particularly rural, residents feeling alienated, but with no recourse because their alienation is part of a perfectly legal and historically common phenomenon in our country.

    • Robert Paulson says

      I think that you are ignoring the fact that in terms of relative numbers, the early periods of migration were significantly smaller relative to the receiving population. It was then followed by a period of immigration restriction after the 1920s that facilitated integration. What we have had since 1965 has been massive and continuous immigration.

      We also had a dominant and self-confident WASP ruling elite whose existence made assimilation important for those immigrants who sought to move up the social hierarchy. Now our elites hold to the “celebrate diversity” mantra and people are encouraged to distinguish themselves by ethnic membership. This makes the returns to Americanization lower than in the past.

      You are also neglecting multiculturalism as the dominant ideology of our time that says that basically all cultures are equal and we have no right to judge others or ask them to adopt our ways.

      I can tell you from experience being in California that large parts of the Mexican population are not assimilating, or even integrating (hence “Mexican” and not “Mexican-American”). They don’t speak English and don’t want to. They don’t teach their kids English and they live in ethnically segregated enclaves. 1/5 children in California schools are English language learners, the vast majority of which are Spanish speakers. You can go to parts of the state and you are basically in Mexico, with Mexican flags being hung in windows and people treat you like an outsider if you aren’t Mexican.

    • “It’s hard to see how new migrants actually add anything in terms of diversity, and therefore how they could add to the tension the author attributes to such migration.” Except that white Romanians have street fights with white Bulgarians, old white WW2 Polish refugees complain about being swamped by new white Polish EU economic migrants, old brown third generation Pakistani immigrants try to drive new first generation brown Pakistani immigrants out of their ghettos…….

  4. Rick Phillips says

    I think the issue is the matter of degree. “Open Borders implies “Mass Migration”. Mass migration as opposed to a more considered “merit” based immigration policy, which currently informs Canadian immigration policy (for example see https://www.loc.gov/law/help/points-based-immigration/canada.php for a reasonably concise description) implies a move away from careful consideration of the economic and demographic needs of the host country. This has the potential to lead to an increase in a skill’s mismatch between the host economy demand and the skills supply of immigrants which is was observed in pre-war migrations…“Because the migrants tended to be unskilled, and became increasingly so as the late 19th century unfolded, they tended to flood labor markets at the bottom in destination countries, thus lowering the unskilled wage relative to the skilled wage, to white-collar incomes, to entrepreneurial returns, and to land rents. Mass migration implied increasing inequality in rich, labor-scarce countries.” http://www.nber.org/reporter/summer98/williamson_summer98.html

    Notwithstanding the latter finding there is a wealth of authoritative promotion of the idea that “migration” is good for the economy, perhaps because the demographic that includes policy makers tends to be the beneficiary of an increase in unskilled labour supply? (see https://www.oecd.org/migration/OECD%20Migration%20Policy%20Debates%20Numero%202.pdf for example).

    The recent refugee influx into Sweden could be considered an example of “mass migration” and it has not been without controversy. Some opinion is supportive http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sweden-immigration-economic-boom-theresa-may-refugee-crisis-tory-conference-a7347136.html ; while some have observed significant issues https://www.ft.com/content/838d60c2-0961-11e7-97d1-5e720a26771b . A summary of the recent European experience can be found here http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/578956/IPOL_STU(2016)578956_EN.pdf .

    My own view is that proposals to move to truly “open borders” for migrants are naïve in the extreme. While there seems to be little doubt that a properly structured immigration policy can provide benefit to the host country; It also seems probable, regardless of good intentions, that policies that promote or accommodate uncontrolled mass migration have significant potential to cause unacceptable levels of social disruption.

  5. jason kennedy says

    “After all, there were no obvious differences in language or ethnicity between the Roundheads and Cavaliers, or the Kuomintang and the CPC…”

    This statement is so naive that one wonders wjy the author chose examples they are so woefully ignorant about. Class, religion, ideology, all are capable of trumping language and ethnicity.

    • Speaking of naivety, I think that was his point. Even when language, ethnicity, class, religion, ideology are the same people will pick on goths or gays, and if there aren’t any they will beat up the ginger kid or the world war two veteran…… The point is, why make things worse by introducing masses of people with massive diversity?!

  6. stephen buhner says

    Thanks for this article, well written and intelligently parsed. It took me decades but i finally came to understand that sexism is a form of tribalism (women and men considered to be different species) as is racism, and many other cultural divisions. Human beings have a natural tendency to separate into groups based around ideology, simply to feel companioned, to be safe. As to migration, i have always enjoyed Edward Abbey’s insightful comment: “Immigration, the republicans cheap labor, the democrats cheap cause.”

  7. augustine says

    A factor the author did not mention is the below replacement rate of reproduction of “natives” in the Western host countries receiving immigrants en masse. Mass immigration may seem desirable if you cannot populate your country so as to grow and manage existing economic systems. But is this a humanitarian dynamic or is it just moving people around to sustain globalism? Those who accept or push for massive, diverse immigration all too often conflate the ethics involved here.

    Proponents of unqualified or unquantified immigration should ask themselves how the numerous variables involved might possibly interact under duress, such as a real depression (20-30% unemployment) and a concomitantly transformed government. For some individuals minor or unpredictable stressors cause them to become antagonistic or even violent, especially when they are under stress. Are racially or ethnically coherent groups, including Europeans, any different?

    • Rick Phillips says

      Building on the allusion to the economics of immigration; if “Open Borders” implies “Mass Migration”. as opposed to a more considered “merit” based immigration policy, which presumably informs current Canadian immigration policy for example, then this implies a move away from immigration policy that carefully considers the economic and demographic needs of the host country. This has the potential to lead to an increase in a skill’s mismatch between the host economy demand and the skills supply of immigrants which was observed in pre-war migrations by Williamson J.G.. Williamson concluded that during earlier periods of mass migration “Because the migrants tended to be unskilled, … they tended to flood labor markets at the bottom in destination countries, thus lowering the unskilled wage relative to the skilled wage, to white-collar incomes, to entrepreneurial returns, and to land rents. Mass migration implied increasing inequality in rich, labor-scarce countries.” (Refer: The Economics of Mass Migrations; Williamson J.G. National Bureau of Economic Research ). This can of course lead to societal disruption as suggested by Augustine above. The mixed Swedish experience with recent high levels of less skilled migrants is also useful to consider and supports the notion that relatively high levels of uncontrolled immigration challenge rather than ameliorate economic conditions, at least in the short-run. I recognize that those promoting open borders may have the best of intentions and may feel that long-run gains will offset short-term problems. Whether that is in fact the case deserves more open discussion.

    • Surely the world’s biggest problem is overpopulation and as usual the West leads the World at below replacement reproduction. But who does it help to then import more people than we’ve not reproduced, and encouraged the third world to produce even more people for export to the West. It’s bad enough stealing their nurses, but stealing their unemployed and unemployable?!

  8. Jeff York says

    Mr. Gallatin, great article. Societies that are homogenous tend to be harmonious. Examples include Japan, Korea and the Scandinavian countries. Societies that are heterogeneous, i.e. diverse, tend to be chaotic. Examples include the Balkans at different times in history, Rwanda in 1994, Darfur in the 2000s and much of the Middle East and parts of Africa today.

    True open borders would be an unmitigated disaster. The movement would be almost entirely one way, for the undeveloped world to the developed. With something approximating true open borders the West would be destroyed within thirty years, tops. When I think of what would happen to beautifully homogenous & harmonious Japan it quite literally makes me want to cry. The Japanese, in particular, understand something about demographics & destiny that the West collectively does not.

    According to one population-growth model the number of people in Africa (alone) is projected to increase from 1.3-billion today to 4-billion by 2100. If Europe and America were to each take 5%, 200-million each, they would, as stated above, be destroyed and the remaining 3.6-billion Africans wouldn’t even notice that they were missing.

    One quibble: In your 13th paragraph you wrote something to the effect that mass-shootings are a western tradition comparable to honor-killings in Islamic societies. I disagree. What violent acts like honor-killings, honor-rapes, stoning a couple to death because they eloped, throwing homosexuals off a roof have in common is that a large segment of that society, perhaps the majority, are quietly in agreement.

    A mass-shooting is defined as four or more people shot in the same incident. There have probably been what could be called mass-shootings ever since the revolver went into common usage in the mid-19th century. That said, what I’m going to call the modern-era of mass-shootings began, arguably, with the Columbine High School Massacre that occurred on 20 April, 1999. What I think of as a modern mass-shooting involves an individual that can be described as dysfunctional, an outsider, “weird.” They’re angry at the world because they perceive, perhaps correctly, that they don’t fit in and that they’ve been rejected by society; or they otherwise just hate their life. No significant number of members of that society are quietly approving of the act. I would add that two rival gangs having a shoot-out over “turf” doesn’t fit my definition of a modern mass-shooting.

    • Jeff York says

      Edit: Second paragraph: “…*from* the undeveloped world…” Darn.

    • Riley says

      All the homogeneous countries you listed, however, have serious problems with depression and mental health. I don’t doubt that people with similar cultures probably cooperate better due to years and years of shared traditions and/or religion, but technically, that does not mean very ethnically diverse places cannot develop harmony over time. It may not have worked out perfectly in India (although tension there is due to religion, not ethnic groups), but it hasn’t been THAT long since Western societies became uber diverse. It could work.

      And, this is just my opinion, but cultural homogeneity takes a lot of enjoyment out of life. I agree that some cultures have more negatives than others, but every culture has lots of positive and enjoyable traditions as well. It’s nice to celebrate Christmas with Christians, Holi with Hindus, Eid with Muslims, Dia de Muertos with Mexicans, etc.

      I would hate to live in a place where everyone is so similar; a friend of mine from Denmark admits that it is secretly quite an issue for many Danes.

      • Riley says

        Accidentally posted before finishing** I don’t think the problem is cultural mixing; the problem is cultural mixing when cultures refuse to discard their own negative aspects (and every culture has them, though obviously some more than others).

        • Yes, but the problem is that we insist on importing cultures that refuse to discard their negative aspects (and refuse to accept that any other culture has them, except when giving them a free pass because they are a different culture?!)!

      • Robert Paulson says

        @ Riley

        You seem to be operating under a rather shallow definition of culture. Culture is not just holidays, festivals and food. They are shared systems of symbols, meanings, values and mutually reciprocated obligations and duties that integrate the individual into their society and serve as a shared framework for interpreting experience. Some of these are deeply held and are central to people’s identities

        While you may enjoy taking an a-la-carte approach to culture, you must realize that not everybody else thinks the way you do. Clashes over belief systems are as old as humanity itself because belief systems provide meaning to people, playing around with those belief systems is asking for trouble.

        We should also be cognizant that some belief systems / cultures are more compatible than others, and we should not be afraid to differentiate and, *gasp* even discriminate between them.

        • Jachin says

          There is a phenomenon, in the part of the United States that I used to live in, called “Indianizing”. That is an informal term for the ability of the Indian migrants to change the very cultural fabric of communities that they settle in. There is a problem with this effect, however, and it is that it does not-and cannot last. (Before I move on, I am going to assume that there are these individuals of no particular name that want Indians to remain deeply entrenched in their culture. This may or may not be an ideological position, though I suspect among some members of any community that is in a minority want the same culture they have been used to stay that way for “forever”.) The reason that I say that Indian (or any other culture, for that matter) cannot last here in America is because culture exists for one reason and one reason only-to help deal with the circumstances presented in a specific environment. The environment in America and the environment in India are drastically different. There are social behaviors in India that would not be tolerated here, and vice versa. The reason that specific behavior has developed is because it was suitable for the environment. As soon as the environment changes, however, individuals who keep the culture that now no longer addresses their needs will fall woefully behind his counterparts. Cultures evolve, and they can evolve rather quickly to adjust to the new environment that they have been placed in.

          Now, according to your hypothesis, it should not be possible for Indian-American teenagers to become Americanized and accept American cultural norms. Yet (I am speaking anecdotally) it occurs all the time. Individuals have new incentives not to act the way that their parents do as well as to adopt the culture of their high-achieving peers. Thus, the problem is not mass immigration, it is multiculturalism and cultural leaders who refused to accept that their culture is now irrelevant in terms of its ability to deal with the circumstances surrounding the group. If those individuals who see culture as somehow more than a mechanism that has to constantly adjust in order to deal with specific and often highly problematic circumstances, then they risk setting those who they lead further and further behind a group that has adapted to the new circumstances. Our biology cannot keep up with the changes that happen in our lifestyle, so we have an intermediate mechanism that helps us deal with change-culture.

          • Jeff York says

            Jachin, very well said and you’ve given me “food for thought.” Thank you.

            Note to commenters: It would be helpful if you would identify up-front who your comment is directed to. Just a suggestion.

        • Don’t forget the cute ethnic hats, where would we be without the rich diversity of headgear we can now enjoy?!?!?!

      • Jeff York says

        Riley, good morning and thank you for commenting. In another forum someone offered their opinion that a society can have some well-behaved minority groups but there needs to be one homogenous group that’s at least 90% of the population to keep things stable. He went on to say that a small number of well-behaved minorities add “salt to the stew,” so to speak.

        I’ve read that America averaged 87% white until the IRA of 1965 and is now 60-65% white. Illegal immigration and their offspring have likely added another ~30-million. Over the past several years we’ve seen the nation become more and more divided and with steadily eroding social trust & cohesion. Although demographics are the main issue the passing of the WWII generation is likely a contributing factor. They dominated politics and most institutions until the 1990s. They had gone through the Great Depression, WWII and the Cold War together and to a certain extent were united against a common foe. The end of the Cold War and the arrival of Bill Clinton in 1993 signaled an end of that mostly cooperative, on the big issues, era.

        I’m not optimistic about the future of Western Civilization. We aren’t united and a significant number of ethno-masochistic, i.e. self-hating, whites are actively working to hasten their own demise. During my twenty-four years in the army and army reserve, ’76-00, I served in seven third-world dystopias, four of them Islamic visions of what can only be described as Hell on Earth, I kid you not. I know what’s coming and it’s nothing good. “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls…”

          • Why is a supposedly “centrist” website full of self-loathing better red than anything white guilt-tripping ethno-masochist internationalist Trots like reddskeletor?!

      • the homogenous countries listed are cloudy/rainy and or Northern/Arctic and so the populations suffer from lack of sunlight which leads to depression. They aren’t sad because they are homogenous, they are sad because they are affected by S.A.D.!

      • Dr. Doom says

        The people in these cultures are not depressed because of lack of diversity but a myriad of other reasons. Weather, history, political influences (commies), it all plays into the depression. Lack of glorious diversity is probably the last on the list.

    • Rick Phillips says

      Perhaps the appropriate inference to flow from the article is that proposals to move to truly “open borders” for migrants are somewhat naïve. While there seems to be little doubt that a properly structured immigration policy can provide benefit to the host country and allow for integration; It also seems probable, regardless of good intentions, that policies that promote or accommodate uncontrolled mass migration through “open borders” have significant potential to cause unacceptable levels of social disruption.

      • augustine says

        @Riley

        “And, this is just my opinion, but cultural homogeneity takes a lot of enjoyment out of life.”

        I’ve never read or heard anyone seriously argue for cultural homogeneity (or racial homogeneity) where diverse, mass immigration is having negative social impacts. Politically we are leaning in the opposite direction under the current liberal paradigm.

        To some point I agree with your sentiment. When foreigners exist in small numbers among some dominant group they tend to be more engaging and friendly, largely because that is what they must do to succeed. Their novelty is genuinely appreciated by the established population and I think the adaptation by immigrants is sincere. But when numbers become larger, cultural and geographic segregation can develop. This has been shown to reduce social trust in studies (cf. Charles Murray) and is readily observable in larger U.S. cities. One can employ much uglier words to describe “social trust” that is failing or broken.

        Do progressives dismiss any criticism on immigration because they feel their ideas will simply outweigh the import of the historical patterns– very different from our classical liberal, Enlightenment age– that immigrants carry with them? Their histories, even in recent decades, should give us pause. I’ve asked some of my smart liberal friends, What does sufficient diversity look like? Can we have too much diversity? I’m afraid the answer, for them, is that the quest is an endless and existential one without borders either physical or conceptual. The process is the thing and the content (us) is incidental and interchangeable.

        This means death to any people or culture– of any color, stripe or persuasion– that resists the current atheistic globalism.

    • Interestingly most, if not all, mass shootings seem to be associated with drug users/misusers, whether it be illegal drugs or misuse of prescription drugs, cannabis, steroids, “anti”-depressants, or a mixture of them. Many that enter the country with the immigrants!

    • Interestingly, apparently the Japanese tried to resolve their demographic problems a while back by encouraging second and third generation emigrants to South America, who had supposedly “retained” their language, values lifestyle and customs, to return “home”. Unfortunately the returnees had still changed so much they couldn’t fit back into Japanese society and Japanese society couldn’t accept them back!

  9. Nicholas Conrad says

    You claim to be concerned about rising tribalism in the coming century, but have failed to show how making existing open-ish societies behave tribalisticly will reduce overall tribalism.

    There’s also no evidence that being the primary actor on the international stage for the last 60 years has been good for america, or its culture. Therefore being ‘tied up’ in internal cultural upheaval and ceding our position to russia or others, rather than a grievous harm, might just as well be a boon; refocusing our government’s efforts to matters of domestic policy, and ending ongoing conflicts with large swaths of the world, finally drawing a close to the military-industrial complex, and mothballing the domestic surveillance and security theatre apparatuses.

    Finally, creepy racist undertones aside, and also despite your weak strawman, diversity for diversity’s sake isn’t the only reason to support open boarders. Denying certain groups (*ahem*) access to our democracy because you’re afraid you won’t like how they vote undermines the very concept of representative government. Closed borders deny americans their rights to associate with whom they so choose, and is a subsidy to special interest groups (of both the economic and racist verities).

    • Robert Paulson says

      “Creepy racist undertones”? What exactly where these “racist undertones”? Can you even define “racist”?

      “Denying certain groups (*ahem*) access to our democracy because you’re afraid you won’t like how they vote undermines the very concept of representative government.”

      No, you have it exactly backwards. The a nation-state with a government is supposed to represent the interests of the citizens of that nation-state, not the interests of foreigners. Under your logic, we should extend the voting franchise to the entire population of the world because to do otherwise would be “denying certain groups access to our democracy”.

      • Jachin says

        I think this response presents poor logic for two reasons. One is that racist undertones do in fact muddle the history of immigration to the United States. The Immigration Act of 1924 was literally known as the Asian Exclusion Act. This bill drastically limited immigration from non-European countries. The Chinese Exclusion Act was designed to prevent Chinese workers from competing with other low-skilled laborers who worked on the railroads and such. These racist undertones are problematic because they reflect a level of inefficiency in what should be a rational immigration system. We have so often excluded immigrants on the basis of where they are from and not on the basis of how they can help the economy. Immigration reflects a degree of economic efficiency when wages temporarily go down, because it means that workers were being paid too much.

        Secondly, the argument that a nation-state is supposed to represent the interests of its citizens is not necessarily argument against immigration. It may be in the interest of everyone in America to elect Donald Trump, but that does not make it a sound strategy to address the needs of the public. It is also similar with immigration. The nation-state can reflect the sentiments of the people without making wise decisions. Your attempted reductio ad absurdum about how absurd it would be to extend voting rights to every person in the world misses the argument entirely.The United States (I have assumed I am talking to a citizen of the United States, I may be wrong) cannot extend voting rights to people it does not govern. Citizens must be able to suffer the consequences of poor choices as well as reap the benefits of good choices, and so therefore no argument can be made (even if one agrees with my position of open borders) that the United States can allow people who are not citizens to vote.

    • augustine says

      “Closed borders deny americans their rights to associate with whom they so choose”

      Do you mean actually, totally closed? I’ve never heard anyone seriously argue for that. Millions come to the U.S. as visitors and to work, study. Maybe you’ve met some of them. You even have a decent chance of consorting with criminals who are ostensibly barred entry.

      Of course there is the big world out there and you are free to associate with whoever you like in your travels. Better, easier and cheaper means of almost unlimited socializing than ever before.

      Good times.

    • McExpat says

      Nicholas, have you ever lived anywhere else? I suspect not.

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  11. Nyarlthotep says

    “Given the current climate surrounding political expression his name is being withheld”…

    He needn’t be cowardly. Quillete is a pro-Trump, right-wing web site after all. Or maybe this is a cute way to call out all those rioting “SJWs” on the “regressive left” we keep hearing about (but never actually encounter).

    • If i could upvote this comment a million times, I would. It’s funny how this supposedly “centrist” website, Quillette, is so full of alt-light white separatist types.

      • Locus_Of_Ctrl says

        Your comment proves the author’s point that your side views immigration not as a policy challenge — but as a path to moral redemption, with the convenient side effect that anyone who opposes your goals must be morally irredeemable and therefore not to be engaged with.

      • I thought the alt-light was the alt-right with minus the white separatists Reddskeletor. And the alt-right was the paleo-conservatives minus the neo-cons and neolibs and RHINOs and “liberals” and “progressives” and PC loony-lefties who they mercilessly ridiculed and abused. So everybody hated them back!!!

        • And labelled them with the worst insult you can these days, as White Separatist Nazis, when they are nothing of the kind, because you’ve got no arguments left! By the way, if everyone you disagree with in modern politics is an extreme far right literal Hitler, where on the left-right scale do you put the actual Hitler?!

  12. Honor killing is not a proprietary punishment protocol in certain non-Western culture. When it is conducted in the West it is called “revenge”. I know this very well because I have been a victim.

  13. Re: “The truth open borders advocates miss is that human societies are tribal.” So why don’t we still actually live in actual, non-metaphorical tribes? We used to, why not now? Why did we go beyond that? Are we just supposed to do whatever our most “unpleasant” and “tribal” impulses tell us to do?

    George, it seems like you’re only making a prudential argument to modulate the pace of migration in light of the risk of backlash, which will vary by circumstances — sort of like how, for example, the Federal Reserve modulates the pace of GDP growth in light of the risk of inflation. You’re not actually making an argument that more immigration is somehow undesirable as such. So assuming that a country doesn’t have significant backlash, is it fair to say that you think it can go ahead and take in more immigrants? If not, please let us know why not. If so, I guess the real question is how to measure and mitigate the key variable we’re trying to control here — i.e., the “backlash” — and I don’t really see an analysis of how to do that here.

    • Addendum — And just to anticipate an objection, I suppose you can add in other variables to the “stuff we’re trying to control” — e.g., it’s not just “backlash,” it’s X, Y, or Z. E.g., X is violence, so we don’t want violent people; Y is stupidity, so we don’t want stupid people; Z is whatever, so we don’t want whatever people. Regardless, my point stands: your position is still perfectly consistent with the general principle that all things being equal it’s better to permit immigration.

  14. innotecture says

    A few points:

    1. “Of the top ten most diverse countries in the world” – if you look at these lists, one thing stands out. These countries largely did not become “diverse” because of hand-wringing lefty multi-culturalists implored them to be so. Their diversity is a direct result of opportunistic state creation by European imperial powers in the 19th century. Yes, if you jam a bunch of different ethnic groups together with military force but without their consent, bad things may result.

    2. For those of you with an interest in history, this book is to be recommended: https://www.amazon.com.au/Imagined-Communities-Reflections-Origin-Nationalism-ebook/dp/B00G2DO172/ Note the first word in the title. As much as it might offend some of the HBD-types hanging around here, race, ethnicity, nation and culture are human constructs. They are things that we can make – and also remake. I am not suggesting that such refashioning is always easy – but it is possible and it is happening as we speak.

    3. The point about the cultural homogenity of elites trumping their ethnicity is a well made.

    4. Lets take a reality check here. In 1960, the total migrant stock of the world (i.e. everyone living outside their country of birth) was 2.4% of the world’s population. In 2015, it was… 3.3%. Yes, it has gone up – altho the biggest jump was between 1985 and 1990, it’s been a gentle rise since then. But this is still a small minority of the world’s population. Most people don’t want to move somewhere else – they want where they are to suck less. Migrants are a minority (altho I am one so I am probably biased in my opinion of migrants in that I firmly believe that we rock).

    • But there are some places where the numbers are substantially higher – New York City for instance has been between 30-40% or even higher over the last 100 years. This has pretty significant political implications.

      • innotecture says

        If your argument against immigration is “New York” then this discussion is probably not going to get very far.

    • You say that race is a human construct innotecture. Many “experts” in biological fields, especially genetics, will back you up by pointing out that there is greater genetic variation between siblings than between supposed “races”. So can someone please explain to me why in the UK we have a massive shortage of organ donors for “ethnic” immigrants when they are (supposedly) tiny minorities and we have the vast majority of indigenous Brits who, genetically, are closer to the ethnic immigrant requiring a donor organ then their own brothers and sisters?!

  15. After all, there were no obvious differences in language or ethnicity between the Roundheads and Cavaliers, or the Kuomintang and the CPC, or the Federalists and Unitarians.

    Well, actually:

    American Nations Series, by JayMan – The Unz Review

    Great post! Quite impressive that you manage to make a case against open borders without noting the main problem with it: biological differences between human groups.

  16. Why would it be considered a good think to import large numbers of people from unstable countries with third-world cultures and then not demand they assimilate?

    How is that not a recipe for disaster?

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