COVID-19, Politics

Will COVID-19 Mark the End of European Liberalism?

Understandably, given its potential for large scale loss of life and severe economic disruption, coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has so far focused on its short-term health and economic impact. Eventually, however, we will have to start thinking about the longer-term repercussions of the virus—particularly its political fall-out. According to the social science literature, there appears to be a positive correlation between the prevalence of disease and an increase in authoritarian-nationalist political views.1 This could have important ramifications in continental Europe, where several of the countries at the epicentre of the outbreak were already dealing with the rise of authoritarian-nationalist opposition parties and have upcoming elections. The possibility of the EU’s three largest economies (Germany, France, and Italy) shifting toward authoritarian-nationalist politics, and upending the liberal settlement of the world’s biggest economic block, means the political fall-out from COVID-19 could influence events around the world for decades to come.

This conjecture is built on two foundations. The first is the evidence that greater prevalence of disease increases authoritarian-nationalist politics in individuals and countries. The second is the explanation of how this occurs, which is that higher disease prevalence leads to greater “disgust sensitivity,” the psychological term for a stronger tendency to experience disgust, which acts as a negative moderating influence on personality traits that predict liberal political views. If this analysis is accurate, it looks likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause a rise in authoritarian-nationalism.

The evidence linking “pathogen risk” (the psychological term for an increased likelihood of dangerous disease) and authoritarian-nationalist views concerns both short- and long-term differences in ideology, across countries and cultures. A 2013 study that aimed to review the existing literature found the data “provide empirical substantiation for the hypothesis that societal differences in authoritarian governance may result, in part, from ecological variation in the prevalence of disease-causing parasites.” This correlation holds among individuals in some 30 countries, and in modern as well as isolated hunter-gatherer societies. Importantly, priming people with pathogen threat increased their authoritarian-nationalist tendencies immediately (see here and here).

Like most observations of human behaviour, the link between greater disease risk and authoritarian-nationalism makes more sense when put into an evolutionary context. Across the millennia in which the evolutionary influences on human nature took effect, there was what scientists have called an “opportunity/parasite trade-off” to changing social norms and interaction with outside groups. New practices, or interaction with outsiders, might mean innovation and trade. But they could also mean ending traditional practices that maintained cleanliness and being exposed to new diseases. It is therefore logical that we would have developed a response to higher disease risk that included becoming more politically conservative.

It appears that in societies and individuals, the increased risk of disease can have an impact on the personality traits (mapped to the five-factor model of human personality) that influence our political views. At times of high disease risk, our heightened disgust dials down “openness to experience,” which is positively correlated with political liberalism and negatively with authoritarian-nationalism (this relationship appears to be true for overall ideology, attitudes to individual political issues, and party preferences). Historic pathogen risk predicts countries’ political authoritarianism and social conformity. Even in the short-term, a sudden increase in disease risk is likely to turn the political tide away from liberalism towards authoritarian-nationalism.

This disease risk/liberalism trade-off is helpful when it comes to explaining the consistent victories of liberal politics, particularly in Europe. A healthier, wealthier Europe has embraced a more open politics (the EU single market, the Schengen open border zone, pluralist democracy, and liberal individualism). And the rest of the world, at least the richer parts with traditionally lower pathogen risk, has followed a similar pattern. This combination of an ever-decreasing threat and ever-increasing liberalism, buttressed by other complimentary trends (for example, higher urbanisation and education levels), has led the conservative author Ed West in Small Men on the Wrong Side of History to bemoan the fact that “the future appears progressive and [conservatives’] defeat is inevitable, part of an ‘arc of history’ that leads irrevocably to a progressive utopia in which they’re left in the dustbin.”

Indeed, some people on Twitter have argued that COVID-19 might even contribute to this ‘arc of history’ by disproportionately killing off older voters. Such people also argue that conservative political leaders (such as Scott Morrison in Australia, Donald Trump in America, and Boris Johnson in the UK) might suffer politically from an “incumbency effect”—they will be punished for being in office when the virus struck, regardless of how well or badly they handle the crisis (although the people making this prediction all think they’ve handled it badly).

But social science suggests the opposite, at least in the medium-to-long term: The most likely political fall-out from the pandemic will be an increase in authoritarian-nationalism. That was broadly what happened after the Spanish flu broke out in 1918 — 20.

That pandemic was one of the worst in history, killing an estimated 50 million people. Coming as it did at the end of the First World War, and coinciding with tumultuous events ranging from the Russian Revolution to hyperinflation in Weimar Germany, its political impact is hard to isolate. But in the years that followed, America (having suffered 675,000 flu deaths) adopted a policy of international isolationism and higher tariffs, the far Right began to rise in Europe, and fascism emerged in a Japan ravaged by the disease. Though Britain elected its first Labour government in 1924, the Liberal party and its associated ideology vanished so quickly that by 1935 George Dangerfield was able to write a book called The Strange Death of Liberal England. The Spanish flu pandemic coincided with a rapid turn away from a liberal global order towards authoritarian-nationalism.

Italy is probably the best place to start in considering how the COVID-19 pandemic might change European and global politics. Italy has already felt the full force of political turmoil in recent years, with its 2018 general election seeing the populist Right win the most seats and the populist Left win the most votes. The Italians’ sense of getting a bad deal from the EU, after decades of economic stagnation and bearing the brunt of the migration crisis, has been aggravated by the emerging perception that its EU allies have “abandoned” it during its COVID-19 hour of need. The leader of its populist Right, Matteo Salvini, has seized the opportunity to push authoritarian-nationalist rhetoric. He has already used the virus outbreak to call for tighter borders, and tweeted: “When Europe has been in need, Italy has always given… Now that we are asking for help, all the [other] countries are starting to close their frontiers.” The reaction from ordinary Italians is hard to judge, but it is the Italian Il Tricolore, not the EU flag, that gets flown in the skies by its air force, and its own national anthem that is the subject of nationally coordinated balcony singing, not Europe’s ‘Ode to Joy.’ This undercurrent could provide fertile ground for Salvini’s campaigning in a future election that could occur at any time.

Turning from the eurozone’s third-largest economy to its second, France was already facing a populist surge ahead of its 2022 presidential election. Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing Rassemblement National, has begun to lead in first-round opinion polls as Macron’s popularity has crumbled following the gilets jaunes protests. She was already pitching her campaign as an end to violence and chaos, and around “patriotism,” even before the pandemic arrived. Since the COVID-19 outbreak she has, like Salvini, used it as an opportunity to call for an end to the EU’s system of open borders between countries.

Even in Europe’s dominant economy and the EU’s lynchpin member, Germany, there appears to be a high risk of post-COVID-19 political disruption. The right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has been growing in popularity in recent elections, especially in the poorer east. With an election due in October 2021, the ruling Christian Democratic Union party has already been thrown into disarray at state level by the AfD’s rise, causing the resignation of the party’s leader and presumptive nominee for chancellor. With the AfD polling around 15 percent, the party’s leader in the German parliament has argued that the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by “the dogma of open borders.” Goldman Sachs has echoed Chancellor Merkle in estimating that 70 percent of Germans may catch the virus. The impact of a national and global lockdown is likely to be especially severe on an export-driven economy with a strong dependence on global supply lines and pan-European trade.

The primary and secondary economic effects of the virus could also provide fertile ground for Europe’s authoritarian-nationalists. Populists have historically capitalised on economic downturns, particularly the type of depressions that will likely occur in the countries and continents hit hardest by the virus. In Sweden, the right-wing Sweden Democrats  already lead in the polls ahead of the 2022 general election, and in Greece (where an election is due in 2023) populists have enjoyed electoral success on the back of anti-EU sentiment for nearly a decade. Even in countries where the virus has not yet taken hold as severely as in Italy, the higher pathogen risk and likely economic impact of the pandemic mean that nationalist parties will find a favourable electoral climate in the coming years.

In countries like the UK, the US, and Australia, there is little sign that electorates will punish conservative incumbents. Donald Trump, despite widespread criticism of his handling of the crisis, has steady approval ratings (and is already using the virus to argue for lower immigration); Boris Johnson’s personal approval ratings are holding up and his party’s poll ratings have never been higher; and Scott Morrison has regained his lead on who Australians see as the best prime minister among party leaders.

These anglosphere countries, and Asian liberal democracies such as Japan and South Korea, may drift in a more authoritarian-nationalist direction, but lack the tinderbox context of continental Europe. It is there that we find the volatile combination of increased disease risk (augmented by its negative economic effects) with rising authoritarian-nationalist opposition parties. What might the ramifications be for Europe, and the world?

In the EU, the least dramatic scenario is that liberal, integrationist leaders like Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel will be forced to tread lightly and even go into reverse on further European integration. Come election time, the increasing popularity of nationalist parties will force more mainstream parties into awkward and potentially unworkable coalitions, creating an even bigger opportunity for the nationalists in the next round of elections in the mid-to-late 2020s.

The next step could be the end of the EU’s open border Schengen zone, and reduced economic coordination and adherence to budget rules in the eurozone. Following on so soon from Brexit, that could be a huge challenge to the future of the EU.

An even greater challenge would be Italy or France leaving or demanding wholesale reform of the eurozone or single market. While the EU could probably survive a Greek exit, and Germany is unlikely to countenance leaving, the EU would face an existential threat if its second- or third-largest economy was to leave or opt out of various integrationist arrangements. While Marine Le Pen has rowed back on her earlier position of demanding “Frexit,” she still calls for “control of immigration, economic patriotism, [and] rational and reasonable protectionism.” Salvini’s League is even more eurosceptic–it renewed its campaign for Italy to abandon the euro in December 2019, reversing its more moderate position while in government.

For now, politicians and voters are focusing on minimising the terrible human toll of COVID-19. But understanding the social science literature—which tells us that increased pathogen risk is likely to shift voters toward authoritarian-nationalism—and taking into account the fragile state of some of Europe’s biggest economies, suggests that the political fall-out from the pandemic could be the not-so-strange death of liberal Europe. This would be an impact felt for decades to come.

 

Jamie Martin is a former Special Adviser to the UK Government. He tweets @jamieamartin1

Note:

1 In this essay I will for ease use “authoritarian-nationalist” to mean hostility to immigration, social conservatism, and sympathy for protectionist economic policies, and “liberal” to mean in favour of open markets, high immigration, and social permissiveness.

Comments

  1. Europe’s move towards nationalism has been going on for a few years now. Limitless immigration, increasingly authoritarian EU politicians and terrorism have been driving the move.

    I’m not sure Covid 19 is making anything happen that wan’t already happening with respect to people wanting to control who comes into their country and elected officials in their country running it, not faceless, unaccountable politicians in Brussels.

  2. So…I’m supposed to believe that the “European Union” was in favor of “free trade”, and that, therefore, “Brexit”, and “Donald Trump” were and are opposed to “free trade”, and are therefore “illiberal”, and thus “authoritarian”…

    I am 76 years old, I have read lots of history, I keep up with what’s going on in the world, and I am not willing to swallow a lot of what I read, even on Quillette.

  3. “were already dealing with the rise of authoritarian-nationalist opposition parties and have upcoming elections.”

    Maybe if governments didn’t treat their people as some kind of disease to be cured, things would get better. But they aren’t, so they won’t. Immediately tying nationalism to authoritarianism is this dishonest sort of argument. Ironically it is the result of the same kind of disgust reaction that the author deplores.

    “The first is the evidence that greater prevalence of disease increases authoritarian-nationalist politics in individuals and countries.”

    There it is again. Open borders caused this catastrophe. Jonathan Pageau talks about it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIHJ0K8gT2U

    On February 1, 2020, the mayor of Florence, Italy declared “Hug a Chinese” day as a stand against racism. This was before Italy was later forced to quarantine its entire country because of the coronavirus. It has already been forgotten. https://youtu.be/mNMdg4morQs

    It’s funny how the exact same people who said borders don’t work, closed the borders when it was their health and livelihoods under threat. The author and his fellow travelers are as incompetent as they are arrogant they are condescending. These “experts” and “professionals” as contemptuous of commoners, lost to common sense, and hopelessly inept.

  4. Niall Ferguson gave a talk on Google Zeitgeist a couple of years back, which argued that historically populism, with it’s associated anti-immigration sentiment, always emerged when the levels of foreign-born citizens in a country reached around 14% and an economic downturn ensued. Within the Western tradition, people can be incredibly open and inclusive where matters of race and religion are concerned (provided in the latter case, that every effort is made to conform to the Laws and ideals of the host society), but with culture, there is a marked difference.

    If we look beyond Big Five Personality Traits to Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations, then it quickly becomes clear that their are natural limits to the levels of psychological liberalism within societies, because even in the wealthiest societies only a maximum of 35% of the population can truly be called A, B or C1 in a population, when one considers that the prerequisites of the liberal mindset also requires higher than average self-perceived socio-economic status and a degree of positive inclination towards educational self-improvement, beyond the mere obtaining of credentials. Just because you work in an office, or are called an assistant manager, this doesn’t mean that you share the liberal’s trait openness to experience.

    Indeed, with the rise of the cult of wokeness as a secular religion, a schism within the liberalism has appeared, and this may well be because of a general broadening in the category of C1. To be sure, their is a significant element of patronage on the part of the children of very wealthy parents, evidenced by the much higher degree of high SES backgrounds within the woke, but the tendency towards an intolerance of divergent ideas and beliefs traditionally known as bigotry, may well have it’s roots in thought leaders coming from more socially conservative backgrounds.

    But on a broader note, what we are witnessing is an inability to absorb peoples from different cultures, beyond certain very clearly delineated levels. Clearly, whenever a new culture makes it’s own home within a host culture, it brings it’s own brand of cultural uniqueness which enriches the home culture immeasurably- just look at the fact that British peoples favourite takeaway food is Indian, even if this food bears little resemblance to the depth and variety of food available within India. But there are limits- the host culture needs cultural integration just as much as migrant communities to promote openness and inclusion, even while communities retain their own sense of self-identity.

    There needs to be a sense of inclusion under the umbrella of national identity, common culture and shared values and goals. It’s not by accident that the most successful second and third generation children of migrants have invariably acclimated and integrated most successfully, taking up the cultural traditions of the West and making them their own. Whether it’s opera, football, rugby, singing in choirs or participating in baking competitions, the successful invite themselves.

    And this is the fatal flaw in multiculturalism, because by holding that all cultures are equal, whilst simultaneously denigrating the West for sins that were common to all cultures, they ultimately inhibit this tendency to join the home culture, effectively excluding newer migrants. In Sweden, teenage boys are desperate to make friends with local boys, asking how they can join and adhere to local custom, yet they are resolutely told ‘no, you must be yourself’. This in turn, leads to a sense of alienation and the tendency to self-segregate, in turn having profound socio-economic implications, by denying these boys access to the informal networks and networked economic opportunities that usually work so well for the marginalised and dispossessed.

    And, of course, if you happen to tend to fail towards the bottom end of the socio-economic spectrum by parental background, then you are far more likely to possess traits of a psychological conservative. For the social conservative, a broader sense of belonging to the national community and culture, is vital to the ability to thrive and maintain a healthy sense of well-being. Meanwhile the sense of social isolation that multiculturalism imposes between groups, has the potential to provoke the very racism and outgroup hostility that the purveyors of multiculturalism seek to stamp out.

    Apologies to conservatives in advance, but I’m going to use a very apt analogy which I’ve been thinking about for the last few days. Consider the socio-economic transformation in fortunes that conservatism brings like the transition from caterpillar to butterfly. The problem that liberals have is that they keep treating caterpillars like butterflies. They make no effort to study the benign conditions that brought about their own rather fortunate circumstances of birth, often several generations removed.

    Otherwise, they would do their best to promote the stable families, faith-based social institutions, cultural integration and strict (but not harsh) schools that served their forebears so well. Try to teach a caterpillar to fly, without first supplying all the material needs and growth necessary to aid their transformation, and you just end up with a rather bruised and hurt caterpillar.

  5. I don’t find the article particularly convincing. I take note of the first, scientific, part, but the second part of the article contains some wild speculations based on what appears to be no more than gut feeling. Some remarks:

    The reaction from ordinary Italians is hard to judge, but it is the Italian Il Tricolore, not the EU flag, that gets flown in the skies by its air force, and its own national anthem that is the subject of nationally coordinated balcony singing, not Europe’s ‘Ode to Joy.’

    Based on what is this ‘COVID-19 stimulating nationalism’? Even in the era of European integration, flags and national anthems have always been expressions of national pride, without implying any dangerous nationalism whatsoever. Nobody waves the EU flag over its national flag, and nobody sings ‘Ode to Joy’, not in Italy, not in Spain, not in Lithuania, and not in Denmark (yes, Macron used it at his victory rally in 2017 and that was when many people, including me, learned that there is such a thing as the European anthem). One can draw no conclusions from that about people’s support for or opposition to the EU.

    Even in Europe’s dominant economy and the EU’s lynchpin member, Germany, there appears to be a high risk of post-COVID-19 political disruption.

    I’m not sure about Germany, but let me translate this to the Netherlands, where I don’t see any “risk of post-COVID-19 political disruption” beyond the political disruption that already exists (and always has, I suppose). In fact, the leader of the main right-wing conservative opposition party in the Netherlands last Monday stated that, with the latest measures, the government (led by a liberal PM) is doing the right thing to fight the virus.

    Populists have historically capitalised on economic downturns, particularly the type of depressions that will likely occur in the countries and continents hit hardest by the virus.

    Except that in this case, there is no governments to blame, because the oncoming downturn has nothing to do with structural, flawed policy. The virus will affect each and every economy that it reaches, liberal or closed, right-wing or left-wing.

    In countries like the UK, the US, and Australia, there is little sign that electorates will punish conservative incumbents.

    Following this logic, the crisis is an opportunity for liberal incumbents to demonstrate their capabilities as well. Everything depends on the outcome, regardless of the incumbent’s political colour.

    The next step could be the end of the EU’s open border Schengen zone, and reduced economic coordination and adherence to budget rules in the eurozone.

    Again, zero evidence, simply wild speculations. For me, the end of Schengen is completely unrealistic. Since its inception, cross-border supply chains and services have been designed on the absence of borders. Right now, even when borders are closed for individuals, cargo transport and distribution are exempted (but still face problems when they end up in hour-long queues sometimes). The article even cites Salvini complaining about closed borders.
    When it comes to “reduced economic coordination,” I am wondering what economic coordination the author is thinking about. Economic policy is first of all a national matter, the EU does play a role but hardly at a level at which one can speak of “economic coordination” (yes, there is the common agricultural policy, and yes, that is a disaster).

    The author probably is right, though, about the “adherence to budget rules in the eurozone.” But this issue also predates COVID-19 (see: Italy’s 2018 budget soap), and it has long been known that the benefits of common currency are questionable, to say the least.

  6. “The possibility of the EU’s three largest economies (Germany, France, and Italy) shifting toward authoritarian-nationalist politics, and upending the liberal settlement of the world’s biggest economic block, means the political fall-out from COVID-19 could influence events around the world for decades to come.”

    The basic thesis of this article is, at best, wrong. “The possibility…” Perhaps the 'fact that the three largest economies are shifting toward authoritarian-nationalist politics" would form a reasonable assertion for this thesis, but ‘possibility?’ Of course, we all love Quillette, but occasionally a stinker does slip through. But, what the hell, we are all supposed to love free speech too, so even stinkers are permitted their day in the sun.

  7. As a citizen of a country whose political divide is libertarian-nationalist vs. authoritarian-socialist, I find the terminology of this piece… inaccurate.

    Also, the evolutionary psychology argument behind the influence of parasite load on openness is just that – an evolutionary argument. Assuming that the virus killed off more welcoming people more effectively (it probably does) and assuming that a large percentage of them die (they probably won’t), then you might see an impact on politics in 20-30 years, when the next generation born after the plague, produced by its survivors, comes of age. How that would figure into the next round of European elections is beyond me.

    On the other hand, the reasonable realization that strong borders contain diseases (of both the biological and psychological varieties), and that the willingness of people in your country to sacrifice for each other might be important after all, that might actually change some people’s minds.

  8. “…authoritarian-nationalist politics, and upending the liberal settlement of the world’s biggest economic block…”

    The author seems to believe that if you want borders for your own nation, you are ipso facto an ‘authoritarian.’ But an unelected central bureaucracy with unelected diktats top down implemented by force is… not authoritarian?

    And how do we parse the meaning of borders then? Apparently:

    1. Borders = bad when unvetted lowskilled migrants, mostly, want to come in & drive down wages and cause large pockets of high-poverty/high-disruption areas of the city (not where the upper classes live, naturally).
    2. Borders = good when upper class health is on the line, and need to move away from the high poverty/high disruption city centers, into bucolic rural areas that two seconds ago were ‘racist’ for wanting borders but now are Good because their health is on the line.

    If the author thinks the voters don’t see this, he is foolish. Then again, he struggles with the meaning of “authoritarian.”

  9. 1 In this essay I will for ease use “authoritarian-nationalist” to mean hostility to immigration, social conservatism, and sympathy for protectionist economic policies, and “liberal” to mean in favour of open markets, high immigration, and social permissiveness.

    Apparently, for ease of use, the author will ignore any possibility of a middle ground between “hostility to immigration” and “high immigration.”

    In other words, those people who favor low to moderate levels of legal immigration and at the same time are hostile to illegal immigration are given short shrift in this article.

  10. It seems the author is one of many wokesters who are kept up these nights by the realization that their woke resurgence is not imminent. Brexit is happening. Bernie is a bust. Greek citizens are beating back hordes of immigrants at the border. And now the WuFlu…

    Fear of contagion aside, I think it must really suck to be a prog these days.

  11. The author says: “In this essay I will for ease use “authoritarian-nationalist” to mean hostility to immigration, social conservatism, and sympathy for protectionist economic policies”

    I get the nationalist bit - putting the interests of your own nation first. But in what way does this imply authoritarianism - the limit of freedoms or stricter control of the actions of the citizenry?

  12. Hmmm, My entire life I have been told by my betters that the Europeans were horrid for giving small pox to the American Indian. Well, now these same people fall in to paroxysms when the Corona virus is mentioned in conjunction with China or the city of Wuhan.

    The Boer farmer living in the Transvaal is a war criminal and a usurper even though he migrated there in the 17th century when the land was empty of human inhabitants. Yet every African, Asian, or Middle Eastern person has a universal human right to move to Northern Europe and live off the welfare state forever.

    The British were despicable for forcing opium on the Chinese in the 19th Century as a state policy to cure a horrid trade imbalance; The Chinses today enjoy an obscene trade surplus with the United States but still see it as a state prerogative to protect the Fentanyl trade which will kill more Americans this year than will COVID-19.

    Indian and Pakistani nationalists have openly stated that it is their manifest destiny to people the entire Anglo-sphere with their race. This to me sounds like the worst kind of jingoism and racial determinism that came from the mouths of European social Darwinists in the nineteenth centuries.

    Last but not least I was reared in a home with a father who was a unionized Rail Road employee. The idea of strike breaking or crossing a picket line was anathema. I believe it still is to the woke crowd who are all for the “worker” unless that worker is a tech or STEM employee who will lose his job to an H1B Visa holder hired for half the salary. Then it is cool because we are all showing our openness and tolerance to other ( superior) cultures.

    Things that can’t last won’t last. The New World Order of the 21st century was bound to fail and thanks to Chinese bat soup it has failed.

  13. This is an interesting cultural artifact of modern Western Leftists.

    They accept this chain of reasoning, near as I can tell:

    1. No one ever speaks unpalatable views/truths
    2. Therefore, they are always “dog whistled” in camouflage as acceptable moderate stances
    3. Therefore, anyone that spouts such a moderate stance must be an extremist.

    We’re all familiar with their equation of “controlled immigration”=“dog whistling racism”. I’d posit that it is a “Gruber” effect- for instance, many are in fact in favor of Marxism, but since that’s socially unacceptable, of course they’ll “reasonably” ask for single-payer while setting up the system to fail.

    It’s fallacious reasoning, but is revealing when applied to their positions.

    It’s also why the right wasn’t the one to radicalize first.

    I’ve been observing this for awhile, and what’s interesting about it is the performative aspect. In their minds, there’s either some scorekeeping judge or low-information rube that the performance is being done for; meaning that you cannot have any kind of good-faith discussion. They’ll lie, cheat, and distort to set up their performative display to convince this “other” figure of their position.

    When the Jussie Smollett thing happened, I shot over to The Root to see what the AA dominated comments section had to say. In a long stream of “police officers are racist” social-reinforcing posts, one gentleman posted “Yeah! Cops are racist! Also, we all happen to know that cops are really good BS detectors, so if they think he’s lying about what happened, he’s probably lying, right?”

    There were a series of responses: “Yeah, they are and he probably is, but they’re racist pigs anyway!”

    I found it fascinating.

    See the same with PETA- this attempt to out-perform each other in the extremity of their positions. Reminds me of the Monty Python skit- “In my day, we woke up before we went to bed and were beaten 30 hours a day; kids today don’t understand how good they have it!”

    Or some of the recent discussions on Trump. Politico, of all places, had an editorial responding positively to Trump’s recent actions on coronavirus regarding the stimulus. I’ve mentioned to my wife, you can tell which news outlets are staffed with “True believers” of the Russia-gate style crap (they maintain the line) and which were doing it out of expediency “Well, he’s crazy, but this bit here is OK”- because we need to get behind our leadership now, and they know it.

    What I can’t fathom is who this other is- sometimes it’s definitely the “rube”- the uninformed voter- but frequently it’s like performing for an authority. I chalk it up to the fact that many on the Left still have an immature, teenager/young adult worldview and still automatically are performing for “the adults” for grades/plaudits. I include many even of retirement age who are like speaking to college students; I assume they’ve never reconciled to “the Revolution” being a dumbass failure.

  14. @DOK, either you’re being sophistic, or you don’t understand the difference between the world economy 200 years ago and now.

    200 years ago, the USA was entirely different; it wasn’t a world power; it had tons of open land, and tons of jobs available. It had slaves too.

    So your argument seems to be: “Hey it was ok 200 years ago, so it’s ok now.” I can apply this attitude to almost anything – “Slavery vitalized the South 200 years ago, so it should be ok now.” “There was no income tax 100 years ago, so there should be none now.” “Only 5% of people graduated high school 60 years ago, so only 5% should now.” “Women didn’t have the vote 100 years ago, so they shouldn’t now.”

    I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get it. The world and economy is not the same as it was 200 years ago, on multiple levels.

    No one is against legal immigrants. What I’m against are illegal economic migrants for many reasons that have zero to do with being authoritarian. Actually those in favor of economic migrants are the ones who are authoritarian because they believe they’re morally right, superior to others, and have the right to force their beliefs on the entire population without their consent; since the majority of the population in most countries disagrees with them, the only way they can change the laws is by top down fiat and threats.

    As far as your ‘logic’ that we can bring in unvetted immigrants because we birth children… Um, children are vetted. They get legal birth certificates, legal social security numbers, and so on. I have to believe you’re being sophistic. This doesn’t convince anyone except those who already agree with you. What’s the point?

  15. Illegals don’t pay taxes. They use all kinds of dodges to reduce their payments - claiming huge numbers of dependents, etc.

    In addition, the illegals here cost communities a huge unnoted tax - the remittances they send home. The remittances ($30,000,000,000/year for Mexico, $30,000,000,000 for Central America) consist of money taken out of communities that would have been spent there. Rather than spending the money on local businesses to build houses and hire people, it goes to Mexico and is used to build houses there. This “remittance tax” is not noticed by most, but is a huge cost to all communities which have a lot of illegals.

Continue the discussion in Quillette Circle

90 more replies

Participants

Comments have moved to our forum