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This WSJ poll is about six weeks out of date, so it is pretty useless for tracking the presidential race.  There are some other results that have more lasting relevance.  58% say that the globalisation of the American economy has been on the whole “bad,” with just 28% saying the opposite and 11% declaring it a wash.  That is pretty clearly bad news for the party most closely identified with globalisation at present.  The number for those saying globalisation has generally benefited “the American economy” has dropped 14 points from a poll 10 years ago.  There are as many dissatisfied with their financial circumstances (33%) as there have been since the wake of the ‘01-’02 recession.  52% said that immigration “hurts more than it helps” the United States, up eight points from last summer and back at the same levels two years earlier.  As of mid-December when the poll was taken, 56% said that victory in Iraq was not still possible.  All of the pro-”surge” talk affected the respondents over the course of 2007, but as of last December 44% said it had made no difference and 14% said that it had made things worse.  57% agreed with the statement that most American soldiers should be withdrawn from Iraq by the start of 2009.  Except for immigration, obviously, the Republicans are on the unpopular side of every one of these questions.    

The poll also has two interesting figures on anti-Mormonism.  59% could correctly identify that Romney was a Mormon, and 26% “felt uncomfortable” about Romney’s  Mormonism and its possible effect on his presidential decisions (this was how the question was phrased), which was slightly higher than the percentage “uncomfortable” about his religion in the abstract. 

While immigration hurts black and white low-wage workers, the authors note, the effect is three times as large on blacks because immigrants are more likely to compete directly with them for jobs. ~Steve Malanga, City Journal

TAC had an article that was related to this same topic in its 12/19/05 issue, and, of course, Chronicles has been emphasising the effects of mass immigration on American labour for decades.

Looking at it in terms of the election, this issue was the reason why Tancredo was the lone Republican at the NAACP gathering last year.  It’s also notable that the only candidates who mentioned the Newark killings mentioned in Malanga’s article were Republicans.  The strong opposition between the two groups is also one of the causes of the resistance to Obama’s candidacy among Hispanic voters, even though he has adopted the same pro-immigration line that every other black Democratic politician takes.

Duncan Hunter, who actually opposes free trade and illegal immigration, has endorsed Mike Huckabee, who wants you to think that he does.  My one-time, quite ludicrous prediction that Duncan Hunter would be the Republican nominee (based once again on the implausibility of all of the alternatives) was informed partly by the idea that Hunter’s protectionist and border security credentials would help the GOP this cycle with those states that they must win.  One of the crucial flaws with this is that I assumed voters would want the experienced legislator who knew what he was talking about, rather than the artful showman who does not.  Nonetheless, the Huckabee phenomenon shows that there is some response among Republicans to the themes Hunter has articulated–they just needed someone a bit smoother and more glib to gesture towards them very generally before they would get excited. 

P.S. Hunter’s endorsement statement is here.  It clearly helps Huckabee’s reputation on border security and national security that one of the leading restrictionists and former Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee has endorsed him.  It’s an interesting split of the two also-rans: Tancredo went for Romney, which was frankly more bizarre than this, and Hunter has backed Huckabee.  As recent and cynical as Huckabee’s shift on immigration has been, the Hunter endorsement doesn’t strike me as being nearly as odd as Tancredo’s support for Romney.  The latter is just wrong on so many levels.   

One of the more remarkable results of South Carolina exit polling is the support Huckabee received from conservatives, especially from “very conservative” voters who made up 34% of the electorate.  Overall, he led among conservatives generally (35%) and among the “very conservative” he did better (41%).  In the eyes of a large number of these voters, he was the logical “conservative” alternative to McCain, just as Bush became that alternative eight years ago as he discovered that he needed to come at McCain from the right and played up to S.C. conservatives.  (In the same bizarre  way that conservatives bonded with Bush after this, the grateful anti-McCain forces might have started to see some virtue in the New Huckabee.)  For those now fretting about the Return of McCain, I would note simply that it was the conservative establishment that managed to subvert Huckabee with their relentless campaign against him over the past six to eight weeks, and and it was the vanity campaign of Fred Thompson, which must now come to an end, that paved the way for McCain to win in South Carolina and so propel him towards the nomination. 

The Great Conservative Hope, as Thompson has been treated and as he portrayed himself, facilitated the success of McCain, whom some sizeable proportion of the party and a huge part of the elite regard as unacceptable and more than a few see as not conservative.  Well, in their rejection of Huckabee they repudiated the person who, like Bush, could have halted McCain’s advance and possibly crippled his campaign.  Rather than rallying around someone who just pledged to be against amnesty, the Republicans of South Carolina (apparently half of whom favour deportation) who accepted the criticisms of Huckabee from Thompson and others have just empowered the one man most ardently committed to amnesty.  Either this was the goal of tearing down Huckabee all along, or the vendetta against the Arkansan has just come back to bite the people who have regarded him as little more than a “pro-life Democrat.”  Unwilling to tolerate the one who was probably the least objectionable, the GOP may have saddled itself with someone large numbers of Republicans will not be able to stand and who still supports amnesty in spite of everything.  The Bob Dole campaign mark II is getting ready for launch.   

Remarkably, those who voted for Romney in South Carolina have probably just ensured that their candidate loses sooner than if they had voted tactically for Thompson (or, somewhat more improbably, for Huckabee).  Romney’s ”delegate strategy” relies on the same divided field coming out of South Carolina that went into it.  Rapid consolidation of the race around one or two main rivals makes that strategy less likely to succeed.  Having recognised their failure to gain ground in South Carolina, the Romney campaign nonetheless did not foresee the danger that would come from their remaining supporters there splitting the opposition to the other two. 

Even those who mentioned immigration — or “the illegal aliens,” as Wolfis put it — seemed unaware that McCain was an outspoken Republican advocate for providing illegal immigrants with a pathway to citizenship last spring. ~The Politico

With the Kemp endorsement earlier this week, McCain is definitely becoming the second coming of Dole.

Via Jim Antle

Several things happened during my break that still merit some comment.  I was reminded of one of them by Brooks’ latest column when he wrote:

For immigration skeptics, he [Romney] swung so far right he earned the endorsement of Tom Tancredo.

Viewed as a purely tactical anti-Huckabee and anti-McCain move, I can understand why Tancredo did this, but when I first heard about it I was amazed.  Even though I understand why he endorsed Romney, it still strikes me as a bizarre move.  Tancredo is obviously identified with opposition to mass immigration, and more than any of the “second tier” candidates made a point of criticising leading candidates for their opportunism on immigration and their conversions ”on the road to Des Moines.”  No one better embodies the “conversion on the road to Des Moines” than Romney, and no one is less credible in his criticisms of other candidates for their weaknesses on immigration policy.  The most ardent opponent of amnesty has now shown his approval of a candidate who represents everything about the marriage of Republicanism and corporate interests that Tancredo rejects.  It is a strange and inexplicable endorsement, perhaps even more so than Gilchrist’s endorsement of Huckabee, and could conceivably mean the difference between victory for the huckster or triumph for the fraud on Thursday.  Endorsing either Thompson or Paul would have made sense, and could have given Paul a needed boost in early contests.  Instead, Romney the venture capitalist gets the backing of the foremost elected restrictionist in the country in yet another bad bargain with the candidate of the GOP establishment.  Short of endorsing McCain or Giuliani, nothing could have put Tancredo more out of step with restrictionist voters. 

P.S.  Incidentally, I also agree with Brooks that Romney’s by-the-book approach to the nomination will, if successful, lead to general election defeat for the Republicans.  Weighed down by the war and deeply unpopular across the board, the GOP also has to be able to compete with the Democrats in states where voters view globalisation and free trade with skepticism at best, and Romney adopting the role of a cardboard-cutout “full-spectrum conservative,” when he has no real credibility on at least two of the three “legs” of the “stool” he frequently mentions, is not going to do the trick.  The GOP might very well lose no matter which candidate they select, but they will definitely lose with Romney.  

And, besides, the thinking goes, people far from the border really don’t care. ~Peter Brown

Brown’s article makes a lot of sense, but I think it overlooks that the crucial thing that is driving the new wave of opposition to immigration is the response from voters in both border states and in states that are far in the interior.  If anyone does still think that people in interior states don’t care about immigration, this is incorrect. 

Open borders advocates often cite polling on immigration from border states as evidence that the issue is a losing one, which ignores intensity of the opponents who live in these border  states.  Meanwhile, the farther away from the border one is, the more troubling a broader mass of voters tends to find illegal immigration to be, especially as it begins to affect their communities.  I think this is because it strikes them as evidence of just how out of control things have become.  Obviously, Iowa is pretty far away from the Rio Grande, but immigration is a burning issue there, and not just among the activists.  The same was true for western Massachusetts and even among some Democratic voters, as the special election earlier this year showed.  Part of this, as Lizza’s story on immigration politics explains, is the reaction to recently arrived immigrants in places where there had not been large numbers of them before.  The shock of sudden change combined with the underlying dissatisfaction with government failures in this area of policy make for a fearsome political reaction.  Add to that the long-standing unhappiness of a significant number of very intense opponents in the border states.  As a result, enforcement and restrictionism become much more attractive throughout the country. 

The candidate chose to occupy his snow day with a moral blunder of the first order — accepting the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, the founder of an anti-immigrant group called the Minuteman Project. ~Michael Gerson

Gerson has turned on the “compassionate” conservative candidate pretty quickly here.  Not because of the man’s real moral blunders (see Wayne Dumond et al.), but because he associates himself with restrictionists and adopts restrictionist proposals.  In Gerson’s moral universe, opposition to illegal immigration and support for border security seem to be among the worst errors one can make (”a moral blunder of the first order,” he says).  Ironically, Gerson’s criticism of Huckabee’s embrace of Gilchrist is just the kind of thing Huckabee needs in the nomination contest to shore up his reputation as an “authentic conservative” (as his advertisements refer to him).  Anything that will distance him from Gerson and “compassionate conservatism” is a plus for him, since it undermines the argument that the rest of us are promoting that Huckabee is in many ways not conservative and is not the candidate that conservatives should want to support.  Gerson’s disapproval may become for some people another reason to give Huckabee another look, when they should not even give him a first look.  

Considering Huckabee’s incredibly small campaign staff, this question was quite amusing:

Did someone vet Gilchrist’s past statements?

The candidate doesn’t even have someone to brief him about leading news stories on national security, and we’re supposed to expect a rigorous vetting process of endorsers?  The strange thing is that Huckabee’s transparent flip on immigration probably won’t hurt him that much, despite what Gerson thinks it will do to his reputation for “authenticity.”  The beauty of a politician having a reputation for authenticity is that it is almost always undeserved.  In any case, it can be effectively faked by clever performers, and there’s no doubt that Huckabee is that if he is nothing else.  Further, all of his main rivals have been as bad or worse on immigration than he was.  I was going to say, “except for Fred Thompson,” but Thompson isn’t really a main rival anymore.  This means that their collective stampede to the right on immigration gives him plenty of cover to transform himself cynically into an anti-amnesty, border-enforcing champion.  Unbelievably, Iowan restrictionist voters are buying into it right now. 

Huckabee’s immigration flop hasn’t fooled everyone:

Jim Gilchrist here speaks only for Jim Gilchrist, he does not speak for the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, nor is he nationally representative of most patriots in the “Minuteman movement” – who under no circumstances could ignore the failed record nor endorse the duplicitous “plan” recently rolled out by candidate Mike Huckabee. The national media needs to recognize that Jim Gilchrist’s endorsement is his own personal statement, nothing more.

I should also apologise for any misleading statements on my part that claimed that the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps had collectively endorsed Huckabee.  As the letter points out, they are legally barred from making political enndorsements as an organisation.

At Huckabee’s side today was a man named Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minutemen, who was on hand to endorse Huckabee. ~Noam Scheiber

I can’t express to you all how little sense this makes.  It’s baffling, like so much else associated with Mike Huckabee lately.  The only thing more bizarre would have been if Gilchrist had endorsed McCain.  How does the founder of the Minutemen endorse Huckabee?  What parallel universe have we fallen into that this is happening?  I mean, Gilchrist essentially has to ignore everything that the man said or did regarding immigration for the last decade.  Apparently the take-away lesson is that shameless pandering works.  Before much longer maybe Huckabee will land Tancredo’s endorsement. 

Ryan Lizza’s article on the GOP and immigration has this telling section:

Huckabee is the latest victim of the Republican shift on the immigration issue. We talked on what should have been a happy day for Huckabee. According to at least one poll, he had taken the lead from Romney in Iowa, and was enjoying a sustained burst of positive media coverage. “Oh, man, it’s been unbelievable,” he said in his winning, Gomer Pyle-like voice. “We’re up in New Hampshire and I’ve got more press coming to the events than I’ve got people. I’m not kidding. It’s unbelievable. We have so many people coming we can’t fit them in the places.” But Huckabee’s excitement was tempered by Romney’s persistent attacks on his immigration record as governor of Arkansas, and he seemed to be grappling with the intensity of the question among Republicans. “It does appear to be the issue out here wherever we are,” he told me. “Nobody’s asked about Iraq—doesn’t ever come up. The first question out of the box, everywhere I go—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, it doesn’t matter—is immigration. It’s just red hot, and I don’t fully understand it [bold mine-DL].”

Of course he doesn’t fully understand it.  He has spent his entire political career as a governor demonising and denouncing opponents of illegal immigration.  He employed every heavy-handed smear available to oppose the policies that he now clasps tightly to his bosom.  He was the Lindsey Graham of governors, and yet all he has to do is propose the kind of policy he would have never supported as governor and suddenly all is forgiven and forgotten (if it was ever known). At least Romney had the decency to alter his position on this early in the campaign.  Huckabee may be even less scrupulous in this respect than the fraud.

As I wrote in the 9/24 TAC (sorry, not online), commenting on Huckabee’s “evolving” ideas on immigration and his second-place showing at Ames:

Yet only two years ago, as governor, he denounced a bill in the Arkansas legislature that would have prohibited state benefits for illegal immigrants as “un-Christian” and “un-American.”

If Huckabee believed that then, he is bowing to political necessity and sacrificing his principles–something he said shouldn’t be done when he spoke at the “values” voters summit–and he is doing so in the most transparently opportunistic way possible. 

P.S.  Michelle Malkin shares my stunned disbelief.

Huckabee’s inexplicable levels of support among restrictionist voters and a new ad on immigration have prompted a Romney counter-attack, but as attack ads go this must be one of the weakest I have ever seen.  Once he prefaces his attack by saying that Huckabee is a good family man who is pro-life and supports traditional marriage, Romey has basically given up trying to gain an advantage on social issues.  Trying to maintain “Iowa nice,” Romney’s ad doesn’t really deliver the killer blow and largely leaves Huckabee unscathed.  It is an ad that will interest journalists and wonks.  Meanwhile, Huckabee’s ad is very simple and says exactly what restrictionists want to hear (”no amnesty”), even though we know that Huckabee was perfectly content in the past with “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation that these voters would regard as amnesty.  Of course, Romney is in an awkward position here, since attacking Huckabee’s credibility over his very recent apparent conversion on immigration reminds voters that Romney has had “evolving” views on just about everything.  As Mark Krikorian notes, Huckabee has once again endorsed the Pence compromise plan, which many conservatives see as little better than amnesty.   

But taking all that into account, why is Romney giving Huck the kid gloves treatment?  Mark Halperin lays out the perils of attacking Huckabee, on account of the personality-driven nature of his campaign.  For one thing:

Voters seem attracted to the man—not his issue positions, his record, or the quality (or lack thereof) of his campaign apparatus. Taking down Huckabee the Candidate means taking down Huckabee the Man, and that requires the kind of nuclear blast no one is yet inclined to launch. 

Meanwhile, the stories that remind voters that Huckabee is a minister who has said things about “taking back” America for Christ will work to Huckabee’s benefit, at least in those states where said re-taking is considered to be a desirable and perfectly normal goal by a broad swathe of Christian conservatives.  This is supposed to horrify secular voters, and maybe it does, but it just reconfirms for social conservatives that he has been one of them and on their side for a lot longer than many of the other current suitors.  Remarkably, when Huckabee has to drop past statements or reject old views, as he quickly did over the “AIDS quarantine” story, the label “flip-flopper” isn’t being used. 

When Huckabee changes his mind, it seems as if it is being treated as a genuine and reasonable change.  There is certainly a difference in how Huckabee’s attempts to trick voters and Romney’s deceptions are being treated iin the press.  To the extent that media bias is involved, the explanation seems clear: Romney was a liberal who has publicly repudiated his past views (whether he has “really” changed his mind or not is secondary), while Huckabee is a Gersonist and is therefore in many ways sympathetic to therapeutic-state liberalism.  In short, Romney has spurned liberals, but Huckabee flirts with some of their ideas and shows an openness to their policy ideas in certain areas.  Paradoxically, the conservative attack on Huckabee’s record and charges that he is a kind of progressive or Christian leftist may endear him to the mainstream media and prevent them from giving his record the thorough scrutiny that they ought to give it.  Meanwhile, progressive observers seem to be divided between thinking of Huckabee as a potentially tolerable Republican and regarding him as a loon with horrible policy ideas, and this ambivalent response is helping Huckabee maintain an aura of having conservative authenticity that he, in fact, does not possess.  (He has to keep running the phrase “authentic conservative” in all his Iowa ads because he knows that lack of authenticity is the thing that is killing Romney and would be killing him, too, if people knew anything about him.)  The very incoherence of his policy ideas is keeping his critics on left and right off-balance, because they can all find something in his grab-bag of proposals that they can support or at least tolerate.      

Update: Jonathan Martin has the Huckabee response to the ad, which makes effective use of Romney’s own reluctance to veto the very bill that he is bragging about vetoing in the ad.  At the time, Romney said, “I hate the idea of in any way making it more difficult for kids, even those who are illegal aliens, to afford college in our state.”  He hated the idea, sounding more Huckabathetic* than Huckabee, but has chosen to make the very same issue the chief defining difference between Huckabee and himself.  Point to Huckabee.

*I claim my rights for coining this and its related noun, Huckabathos.

So, as Romney tells it, he couldn’t control whether or not his landscaper hired illegal immigrants, which is why you need to vote for him so that he can push for enforcement!  If there hadn’t been a follow-up questioning his management competence, this would have been a moderately effective dodge.  It’s not a fully satisfactory answer, since the same company was engaged in these practices last year, as we all know.  Even so, the follow-up question seems a bit lame to me–the man has actually rehabilitated corporations and did put the Salt Lake City Olympics in the black, and we’re really going to question his judgement and doubt his competence as a manager because his landscaper has hired illegal immigrants?  Really?  Now if you want to make this about his utter inconsistency on immigration, be my guest.  That, however, is a matter of his policy record and his reputation as, as I have put it, an “opportunistic fraud.” 

There is no obligation to be fair to foreigners. ~Michael Kinsley

This is one of those things that you never expect to see in Time or any other mainstream publication, and then suddenly there it is.  The debate really does seem to have shifted in the last year.  I don’t know that I would put it quite this way, but the basic insight is right. 

We do have some obligation to be just in how we act towards foreigners (for starters, we might refrain from attacking their countries without good cause or treating their political systems as our toys), but it isn’t at all clear that justice demands–or even allows–mass immigration.  For reasons I have stated before during a debate that I have neglected to follow up recently, we have prior obligations to our fellow citizens that take precedence over whatever obligations we have to others.  Mass immigration is most unjust to native labour and to the communities in other countries that lose a lot of “human capital” to other markets, but it is also unjust to taxpayers who foot the bill and bear the costs of this immigration.  Under the current arrangement, even the immigrant labourers–who are supposedly the beneficiaries of all this–are treated exploitatively and unfairly.  Thanks to the importation of cheap labour, we do have cheaper goods and services, which means that there is an entire economic structure based on taking advantage of these labourers, which is also unjust.  

I have never quite understood how supporting mass immigration was the position that was obviously more “fair” to foreigners.  There are arguably just as many foreigners in their own countries who suffer on account of more industrialised economies drawing away some of their most productive and educated people.  The latter may ultimately benefit greatly, but, as Kinsley says, let’s not kid ourselves that immigrant labour is preferred because of an innate sense of fair play and a desire to help the foreign opportunity-seekers of the world.   

And while saying that Bush and the Republicans have failed for eight years may have some impact, we won’t be running against Bush, Instead, my hunch is there’s room for an argument saying that the modern GOP won’t ever get serious about staunching illegal immigration because their main supporters, large corporations, like the supply of cheap labor. ~Ezra Klein

This unfortunately seems right.  Were any Democrats willing to try to steal the “enforcement-first” ground from the GOP, they would find a lot of success and would neutralise the Republican advantage on immigration that I discussed before.  The trouble for the Republicans is that their leadership is possibly even more terrified of appearing too “tough” on immigration than Rahm Emanuel et al. are afraid of appearing weak.  It is oddly the one issue where the Republican leadership is unwilling to use voter anxiety and the appearance of Democratic “weakness” to its advantage.  Klein has succinctly explained why this is.  I called them the Party of Immigration for a reason.

The Washington Post, not generally known for exaggerating the electoral viability of anti-immigration politicians, has another item, this time a full news report, on the significance of the candidate’s opposition illegal immigration in the excessively touted, but better-than-expected performance of Jim Ogonowski in the MA-05 special election:

But by last month, although opinion polling showed that he was well liked, he was still running 10 points behind Democrat Niki Tsongas with just weeks to go before a special election. The campaign needed a way to go beyond biography, to persuade Northern Massachusetts to vote Republican. They found it in illegal immigration.

GOP spinmeister Democratic House majority whip Rahm Emanuel commented:

This issue has real implications for the country. It captures all the American people’s anger and frustration not only with immigration, but with the economy.  It’s self-evident. This is a big problem.

Republicans can either capitalise on this and address the economic and other anxieties of voters (which would require them to cease their “the sun never sets” rhetoric about the economy for starters) and craft a message that will reach the “Lou Dobbs voters” and others in fairly hard-hit parts of the country, or they can ignore this potential advantage and pretend that all will be well.  We know what the leading presidential candidates want to pursue the latter course.  The question is: why would the Republicans want to cede an issue that they theoretically could use to their advantage?  So that they can retain their credibility as ideologues of free trade?

The Post story continued:

“Immigration played into the economic issue,” said Francis Talty, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell who followed the Tsongas-Ogonowski contest. “Do you want illegal immigrants to get in-state [university] tuition? Do you want them to get driver’s licenses? Do you want their children to get benefits under SCHIP? It was the benefit side that has real resonance, not the deportation thing.”

In other words, the “Tancredoisation” of these issues, so to speak, by Ogonowski apparently did work to his advantage.  It wasn’t enough to overcome Tsongas’ lead and all the natural advantages a Democratic candidate has, but it helped narrow the gap.  Immigration was apparently just about the only area where Ogonowski had a decisive advantage:

Internal polling found that Ogonowski’s tough stance was winning 60 percent to 30 percent over the positions articulated by Tsongas, said Rob Autry, another Public Opinion Strategies partner who served as Ogonowski’s pollster. Ogonowski’s position on taxes had a narrower, 13 percentage point lead. Every other issue “was dicey,” he said.  

So, one of the lessons of MA-05 would seem to be that recasting issues on which Republicans are on the losing side into an argument about illegal immigration is a vote-winner. 

This will give Dave Weigel heartburn:

In Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District–a collection of mill towns and affluent and blue-collar suburbs north of Boston–the surprise issue was illegal immigration. Ogonowski made it the centerpiece of an anti-Washington campaign. An Ogonowski news release, for example, accused Tsongas of being “committed to giving cheap college to illegals at taxpayer expense.”

I had been guessing that Ogonowski’s anti-immigration positions were probably doing him more good than harm.  It shouldn’t be surprising that such an issue could work to Ogonowski’s advantage, especially in a special election with fairly low turnout.  That doesn’t mean that Ogonowski’s position wouldn’t help him in a regular general election, but it does remind us once again not to put too much stock in what MA-05 tells us about the strength of the two parties or the importance of particular issues.  What many people seem to be concluding from this race (GOP is reviving, Dems are in danger) is probably wrong, and no one should be investing the closeness of the outcome with much significance.

Sayeeda Warsi, given a peerage by David Cameron to enable her to join his front bench as spokesman on cohesion, has taken on the issue head on, volunteering her view that immigration has been “out of control” and that people feel “uneasy” about the pace of immigration into Britain. Her intervention has outraged black groups who say she is using the language of the BNP. It also threatens to derail Mr Cameron’s attempts to shake off the Conservatives’ “nasty-party” image, while exposing divisions between left and right.

“What this country has a problem with is not people of different kinds coming into this country and making a contribution, but the problem that nobody knows who is coming in, who is going out – the fact that we don’t have a border police; we don’t have proper checks; we don’t have any idea how many people are here, who are unaccounted for,” she says. “It’s that lack of control and not knowing that makes people feel uneasy, not the fact that somebody of a different colour or a different religion or a different origin is coming into our country.” As her press officer squirms in his chair, she continues: “The control of immigration impacts upon a cohesive Britain.”

Warming to her theme, she declares that the decision to house large groups of migrants on estates in the north of England “overnight” has led to tension in local communities. Similar tensions have been found in the London in Barking and Dagenham, where the far right has been making political in-roads. “The pace of change unsettles communities,” she says.

Lady Warsi’s outspoken intervention is somewhat surprising as she is the daughter of immigrants herself [bold mine-DL]. Her father is a former Labour-supporting mill-worker from Pakistan who, after making a fortune in the bed and mattress trade, switched his allegiance to the Tories. The lawyer, 36, who is married with a nine-year-old daughter, devoted her early career to improving race relations, helping to launch Operation Black Vote in Yorkshire and sitting on various racial justice committees. So her analysis of race relations on the eve of the Tory conference cannot be dismissed as a right-wing rant [bold mine-DL].

In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Lady Warsi claims that the conspiracy of silence on the subject of immigration plays into the hands of the far-right British National Party.

“The BNP will look at what issue it is locally that they can exploit and the other political parties are not seen to be dealing with and they will play to that,” she says. Far from ignoring the issue of immigration, she thinks it should be confronted head on. “I think we need to have the debate. One of the problems why the BNP has been allowed to grow is sometimes certainly the Labour Party took the view that if we ignore them they will just go away,” she says.

But while BNP supporters, including the English National Ballet dancer Simone Clarke, have been sharply criticised for backing a racist party, Lady Warsi says that BNP voters should be listened to. “The BNP and what they represent, they clearly have a race agenda; they clearly have a hate agenda. But there are a lot of people out there who are voting for the British National Party and it’s those people that we mustn’t just write off and say ‘well, we won’t bother because they are voting BNP or we won’t engage with them’,” she says.

Indeed, she says, people who back the extreme-right party, criticised for its racist and homophobic agenda, may even have a point. “They have some very legitimate views. People who say ‘we are concerned about crime and justice in our communities – we are concerned about immigration in our communities’,” she said. ~The Independent

This has apparently annoyed many people in Britain (not least of which was probably David Cameron, who wanted his conference week to be blissfully free of anything remotely interesting).  What could the shadow community cohesion minister be thinking, talking about, well, community cohesion like this?  How could someone whose career has been in race relations make statements about, er, race relations?  Obviously, it is considered unpardonable to suggest that immigration restriction or even modest reform is legitimate, which is why these remarks are even considered that noteworthy, and it is considered even worse when it is done by the daughter of immigrants, even though it cannot be dismissed as easily when she says it.  Not just a “right-wing rant,” you see, because no daughter of immigrants could actually have come intellectually to see any reasonableness in ”right-wing” views.  (It is the fact that it cannot be dismissed out of hand, as would normally be done, that I think really vexes Baroness Warsi’s critics.)  If all immigrantss started assimilating and respecting the opinions of their fellow citizens, where would it lead? 

Apparently, Daniel thinks I spend a good deal of time saying nothing more substantive than that I do not agree with things I disagree with. ~Will Wilkinson

In the two particular cases in question, I think that a skeptical reader might not find that much more to the arguments Mr. Wilkinson advances beyond his assertion of moral abhorrence for policies and norms that he does not support, plus the occasional dismissive reference to nationalism or a “national coalition” thrown in here and there.  How substantive that is, I will leave to others.  My concluding remarks for both responses sought to draw out what seemed to me to be the root of the disagreement, which was a disagreement over basic assumptions.  In the remainder of both posts, I did attempt to address at least some of the rest of what Mr. Wilkinson had to say.  Perhaps these attempts were lacking. 

In any case, the two posts in question are expositions of the observation that conservatives do not hold his kind of libertarian assumptions about national identity and borders, because, among other things, they do not and cannot take liberty to be the moral baseline.  They make distinctions between citizens and non-citizens, nationals and non-nationals, which they consider to be not simply prudent but actually obligatory and right.  Neither do conservatives, or most people for that matter, judge the efficiacy and worthiness of U.S. immigration policy on the basis of whether it aids the populations of ”developing” nations, because we do not think that it is the role of the U.S. government to set its policies to maximise the prosperity of the populatiions of “developing” nations.  Having put up a rather eccentric set of standards, Mr. Wilkinson finds that conservatives are not measuring up.  That’s all very well, but I don’t know that it tells us very much.  That is why I wrote the concluding remarks that I did.   

My concluding points in these two cases were to draw attention to the fact that the points of contention between Mr. Wilkinson and his interlocutors are not disagreements over anything like measurable practical benefits for the world’s poorest or anyone else.  They are disagreements between libertarians such as Mr. Wilkinson and conservatives, because the two are sharply, seemingly irreconcilably at odds about basic values.  He berates conservatives for privileging the interests of fellow citizens and countrymen (which he finds “morally abhorrent”), but beyond asserting that this act of privileging is wrong he does not give any persuasive reason why this should be so, except to fall back on his assumption that distinguishing between citizen and non-citizen is arbitrary and wrong. 

He wrote:

For example, this liberal finds the claim, implicit in much of the immigration debate, that I ought to heavily discount the welfare gains to non-citizens simply because they belong to a different national coalition morally abhorrent. I don’t doubt that many people take themselves to have an “inescapable” moral obligation to treat outsiders unfairly, or to even positively harm them (even kill them!), if it redounds to the benefits [sic] insiders. But I deny that there is any such obligation to escape in the first place. 

There’s no question of an obligation to treat outsiders “unfairly”–the so-called “unfairness” comes in distinguishing between insider and outsider–since it only seems like unfair treatment to someone who thinks there should be no distinction.  Yet there is no good rationale for abolishing the distinction, or at least none that has been presented in these posts.  The point is that there is not an argument I can see for why there is no obligation.  It is simply a restatement of Mr. Wilkinson’s assumption that none exists.  Hence my original conclusion. 

He then made the point that the (to use Levin’s phrases) “contractual way” and moralising according to “continuity and generation” are both equally artificial, which prompted me to respond that, if this is true, their equally artificial nature simply underscores  that people opt for one “way” or another depending on what functions they valued most.  This drives home the point, implicit in the entire discussion about moral sentiments, that the adherents of the two ”ways” judge morality by significantly different standards.  If it is true that “the liberal dimensions of the moral sense are uniquely amenable to defense by rational argument,” it would be interesting to see some of that kind of argument in these cases.        

In the latest post, Mr. Wilkinson tells us that “the global system of exclusion through citizenships, visas, and borders has manifestly failed to make the world’s least well-off better off,” though the system was never designed specifically to make the “least well-off” better off.  The basic question remains: why should that system be upended or radically changed, when the system of exclusion has actually worked to promote competition and innovation that have benefited most nations enormously?  Furthermore, is it even certain that such a proposed massive influx of poor labourers into developed economies would have the beneficial effects attributed to the proposal?  The idea might be as humanitarian and high-minded as you please, yet the costs of absorbing all these people (and the more, the better, because we wouldn’t want to be heartless and cruel, would we?) could weaken or stall those developed economies to the detriment of all.  

Conservatives argue that there is a hierarchy of loyalties based on natural affinities and social relationships, and that it is, in fact, a disordering of moral priorities to pretend that our obligations to our next-door neighbour and to a man on the other side of the world are effectively the same or even close to being comparable.  Proximity, kinship and shared citizenship create bonds between people that do not exist with others.  Conservatives here are no more personally ”indifferent” to the suffering of the world’s poorest nations than are the people of any “developed” country.  What Wilkinson calls “indifference” to foreigners’ suffering, conservatives call loyalty to compatriots (and a rejection of the sentimentality that allows us to see nothing around us closer than Africa).  The false choice that Mr. Wilkinson would have us make is to believe that there is something particularly pernicious and vicious about valuing such loyalty, and that the only way to show concern for the suffering of the world’s poor is to open the gates and create a huge, exploited underclass in our own country.  

I assume that Mr. Wilkinson’s concern for the world’s poorest is not a kind of rhetorical moral blackmail, though he still deploys it rather heavy-handedly.  Naturally, he does not extend the same assumption of good faith to his interlocutors, but imputes to them “morally abhorrent” views, he hints of bad faith and disregard for other people’s human rights, and describes the ideas to which he objects as “repugnant, and dangerous” and “poisonous.”  He says things like: “Levin wants to defend the shudder when it comes to, say, cloning, but (I trust) not when it comes to the subhuman treatment of the Dalits.”  Levin argues that there are some obligations that we owe family and neighbours that we do not choose, which means in Mr. Wilkinson’s view that he would not really think twice about tacitly endorsing the worst aspects of a dehumanising caste system. 

Don’t you see?  Any reasonably strong concern for purity and hierarchy must lead to tolerating the treatment meted out to untouchables.  That sounds like a very fair conclusion based on what the man said.  This is the sort of tendentious stuff that religious conservatives in particular have had to put up with for years: if you strongly espouse a moral precept, you must obviously endorse the worst fanaticism imaginable and you cannot possibly object to it.   Oh, yes, and then there is the charge of indifference to the suffering and injustice suffered by billions.  But, no, really, there is an argument in there somewhere.   

Telling us that that our immigration policy should be geared towards reducing global poverty is revealing in its own way, but takes no account of the ever-greater immiseration of the population left behind by the mass emigration advocated here as a solution.   Is Mr. Wilkinson “indifferent” to the suffering and injustice that those people who remain  behind (and inevitably many people will remain behind) will experience?  I wouldn’t assume that he is.  Yet that seems to be a likely outcome of the proposal he has endorsed.  Rather than stripping the most destitute of nations of their human resources, it would be best for all involved in the long term if they remained in their own countries.  This would in all likelihood hasten the pace of domestic reforms that would gradually make these places increasingly liveable and prosperous.  For each horror story from the “developing” world, there are success stories in the same parts of the world that suggest that mass abandonment of the poorest countries is not the only alternative to dead-end developmentalism.  As Easterly says:

But this doesn’t quite square with the sub-Saharan Africa that in 2006 registered its third straight year of good GDP growth — about 6%, well above historic averages for either today’s rich countries or all developing countries. Growth of living standards in the last five years is the highest in Africa’s history. 

At the moment when things may be looking up, with the obvious notable exceptions, we should call on people to flee their countries just as they beginning to enjoy some limited prosperity?  The failures of international development efforts in many parts of the world are well known, and Mr. Wilkinson and I are in agreement about that much.  However, some “developing” nations have actually managed to improve social and material conditions quite considerably (those Dalits that concern Mr. Wilkinson so much are politically mobilised now and have elected officials drawn from their ranks–unthinkable only a couple decades ago).  It seems to me that the benefits for future generations in these countries would be greater still, if more of their most capable and industrious people did not resettle elsewhere but instead remained to build up those countries rather than essentially abandon them.       

So if it’s wrong to consign someone to second-class citizenship based on skin color, why should we feel any more comfortable about forcing someone to live someplace horrible like Zimbabwe simply because that’s where he happens to have been born? ~Tim Lee

Because we’re not “forcing” someone to live in Zimbabwe (or wherever), but rather preventing him from living here.  Second, Zimbabwe was not always so horrible, and is not doomed to be so.  It is horrible for very explicable reasons of bad “policy,” if you can call systematic plunder and looting a policy, that are a matter of record, and which could be corrected if the Mugabe kleptocracy were no longer there.  I feel “comfortable” about stopping Zimbabweans (or anyone else) from coming to this country en masse, if they could actually manage it, because I see what this massive influx of refugees is doing to Zimbabwe’s neighbours and I do not want that for my country.  I would prefer that it not be happening to Zimbabwe’s neighbours, either.  The refugee crisis is a product of corruption and misrule on an epic scale.  The solution is not found in constantly offering maniacal despots a safety valve to release the buildup of social discontent, but in keeping the pressure on until the tyrannical goose is well and truly cooked by domestic rebellion.  Mass emigration not only drains other countries of some of their most industrious members, but it also serves as a much-needed relief for people in control of the sclerotic and bankrupt political institutions of many “developing” nation-states.  Western guilty consciences and the policies based thereon are their insurance policy and one of the means for their continued domination and exploitation of their subjects.  I have a hard time coming up with a moral theory that justifies that.

Update: On the subject of Zimbabwe, would you believe it if I told you that Zimbabwe was still 31st in a ranking of states for good governance in sub-Saharan Africa?  That means that there are 17 countries that are considered to be governed even more atrociously.  That seems worth nothing.

Sigh.  It’s enough to make you despair for your “national coalition,” also known as a “country.”  It never fails to amaze me how those who are keen to talk about the constructed nature of identity and social conventions seem to think that it is therefore somehow illegitimate to maintain identities and conventions once they have been constructed.  The key idea of constructivism is that we are the ones shaping and crafting the concepts we use, and that they supposedly do not derive from the nature of things.  If that is so, and for the sake of argument let’s say that it is, it is ultimately no more “abhorrent” in a firm, absolute sense for one group to exclude outsiders than it is for another to include them–both kinds of treatment of outsiders serve different functions, and the kind of treatment you advocate depends very much on which function you value more and which one you think you can live without.  Those who are already uninterested in the maintenance of national identity will naturally have no problem with welcoming in outsiders by the millions and tens of millions–they have made the great sacrifice of not maintaining something they didn’t value–while simultaneously declaring their greater moral sense for valuing inclusion.   

The unchosen obligations, which are still imposed on us and affect us even when we react against them by rejecting them, that the liberal wants to weaken actually serve both manifest and latent functions, and it is on account of this that they are reproduced.  Failing to maintain and reproduce them does actually lead to social disorder, which the liberal desperately tries to normalise and affirm as just a “different” kind of social organisation.  The vast majority of human experience tells us that there is something in human nature that compels us to cultivate in-group solidarity, construct identities in opposition to other groups of people and structure relatively restrictive social rules to organise our group.  Any of these things can be taken to extremes, and they can also be badly neglected.  In the current age of neglect, “society” continues to trudge on in one form or another, but the social costs stemming from neglecting those old unchosen obligations have badly damaged our capacity for creating social capital.   

Excesses in either direction will undermine human flourishing.  Of course, confusion sets in at the beginning when you begin making liberty the baseline of judging whether or not something is desirable.  Mr. Wilkinson has successfully shown once again that he hates boundary maintenance–both of the physical and the metaphorical kind–and that conservatives favour it, which is why he isn’t a conservative.  Very illuminating.   

Today we regard a Northerner circa 1855 who transported, housed, and concealed from authority a fugitive slave as a moral visionary, despite the fact that he was flouting the laws of his time. Is there any morally relevant distinction between that individual and someone today who smuggles a refugee from Zimbabwe into the United States, shelters him in his home, and helps him evade the immigration authorities? ~Tim Lee

My Scene colleague Tim does his best to weight things in favour of his argument with the most extreme example of a misruled country and a comparison with slavery and a title that evokes memories of apartheid.  Since everyone will agree that Zimbabwe is today a waking nightmare, and we will also agree that slavery and apartheid are bad, there must be nothing left for it but to relocate the entire population of Zimbabwe to our shores.  The Zambians will be relieved.  Or maybe there is another answer.

First, it is doubtful that life in a country that is suffering net population loss by the millions because of fears of famine and violence from ZANU-PF-supporting ”veterans” is less brutal than was the antebellum South.  With respect to food production in particular, modern Zimbabweans would be fortunate to live in agriculturally rich and fertile lands that were being used so productively as they were in the Old South.  Slaves in the antebellum era certainly had a much better chance of staying alive and prospering after a fashion than do “free” people in Zimbabwe today.  Give Mugabe his due: his tyranny is just about as brutal as it gets short of mass killing.  

Second, since it apparently needs to be said, people who are actually engaged in human trafficking today and the Harriet Tubmans of the past are very different sorts of people.  First, the former are driven primarily by economic interests, while the latter were a sort of politico-religious agitator.  The moral differences between them are vast.  The former are criminals, not simply by some technicality of federal immigration law, but by trade.  They are smugglers and crooks who exploit and abuse their charges.  Since the people they bring here are on the fast track to being cheap exploited labour, and if we wanted to keep using slavery analogies, they are about as morally pure and high-minded as slave traders.    

Bringing slavery into the debate might introduce other difficulties for the proponent of large-scale immigration, since extreme economic dependency is the state into which these people are entering (or, rather, it is the state in which they will remain).  The argument a pro-immigration person might want to make is that this system of illegal exploitation and human trafficking is one of the reasons why immigrants should not be criminalised for trying to come here, since that would theoretically prevent at least some of them from putting themselves at the mercy of criminal operations.  Of course, even in an era of open borders with all the other problems that would create, such exploitation would continue, especially for those coming by boat, as migrants will still be herded into shipping containers just as they are today if there is an economic incentive for the smugglers to do it and little or no law enforcement to deter them.  Decriminalising immigration, which I take to be the main point Tim wants to make, would not mean that the human traffickers will be any better regulated; decriminalising immigration is a concession to the supposed “reality” that it is already impossible to regulate the “movement of labour.”  If I were wont to get on a humanitarian soapbox and decry the evils of such human trafficking, I could point to this as a massive moral blind spot of the pro-immigration side, but I don’t like humanitarian soapboxes and see this as mostly a distraction from the larger question. 

The larger question is this: how does mass emigration actually help other parts of the world?  Letting in those who can escape the nightmare is all very well and good, but it is almost certain that the most motivated and most capable will be among the first to abandon their “prisons,” as the Free Exchange blogger calls them, leaving their neighbours to endure even greater hardships as conditions continue to deteriorate.  Applied domestically, this would be rather like writing off inner cities as hopeless and encouraging those who could ”get out” to move to the suburbs, leaving the city centers to deteriorate and collapse even more quickly.  In effect, what these humanitarian arguments for ending “international apartheid“ will lead to is resource-stripping of human capital by the developed world, maintaining the “developing” world’s status as a source for raw materials and a world with the export profile of a colonial dependency.  Rather than arguing, as some anti-developmentalists do, that trade and investment will build up the economies of these countries, the “humanitarian” argument for encouraging mass emigration calls for massive divestment from the failed “enterprises” of post-colonial Africa and elsewhere by the very inhabitants of those countries.

As I have argued before against a certain Free Exchange blogger :

Some might think that people who live in these “prison” countries regard the place where they live as their home and might even say that they are not simply labour units to be reassigned to allow for greater efficiencies.  Mass uprooting and relocation of poor populations with migrants moving from the countryside to the city and from the home country to communities abroad, which has happened in virtually every impoverished, modernising nation-state from the independence of Greece on, is all very good for those who can get out, but dooms those who remain (and many will remain) to an even more miserable existence.  Dr. Wilson once remarked on this, asking a rhetorical question that went something like this: “What sort of country robs poor countries of their best and brightest people?”  This blogger’s kind of country, it would seem. 


I have never seen an issue where the short-term interests of Republican presidential candidates in the primaries were more starkly at odds with the long-term interests of the party itself. ~Michael Gerson

Gerson is right about one thing (and one thing only): there is a stark opposition.  There is a short-term temptation for Republican candidates this year and next to pursue Hispanic votes in the general election through the shameless and misguided pandering of embracing Gerson’s preferred, horrible immigration policy, which, if enacted, would result in the guaranteed long-term destruction of the GOP as a competitive national party.  There is a temptation to treat Hispanic voters like idiots and pretend that liberalising immigration is their top priority (only slightly less condescending than the old Republican effort in the ’90s to try to build up support among Hispanics by supporting Puerto Rican statehood).  Of course, the reason why Hispanics do not tend to vote for Republicans and young Hispanics are even less likely to do so is that these voters do not support the various other, non-immigration policies championed by the GOP.  This is, in fact, why most immigrants tend to vote for the Democrats: Democrats propose policies on social services, education, welfare and the like that are more likely to benefit immigrants, or which are more likely to be in keeping with the political traditions they have brought with them from their old countries.  Additionally, Republicans cannot outdo Democrats in their enthusiasm for multiculturalism, since they have no enthusiasm for it.  They cannot be insistent on assimilation, which is what their constituents demand, while playing up to bilingualism or rhetoric about strength in diversity.  

Hispanic voters’ opinions on immigration policy are hardly monolithic.  The idea that capitulating to immigration liberalisation or amnesty will win over these voters assumes that actual Hispanic voters want such policies, when a sizeable number of them may prefer immigration restriction.  Gerson wants the GOP to do two incredibly stupid things at the same time: pander to Hispanics by adopting strongly pro-immigration views, thus alienating core constituencies of the party, and simultaneously insult the Hispanics with this pandering while ignoring any and all other policy issues that are the actual source of Hispanic alienation from the GOP.  It is a combination of substantively bad policy with an embarrassing attempt to employ the symbolic politics that both parties use to feign concern for this or that community.  It would be much more refreshing if pro-immigration Republicans could at least acknowledge that they support liberalisation and amnesty because it suits the interests of large businesses even though it means future doom for the GOP. 

Via this Economist Free Exchange blogger (via McArdle), whose arguments seem strangely familiar, comes a review of The Bottom Billion.  My guess is that Paul Collier, the author, and I would agree on many of the evils of ”developmentalism” and would find some of the same problems with the organisations and institutions that allegedly promote development in poor countries.  The Free Exchange blogger refers to ”Easterly’s jaded pessimism,” which is fair if he means Easterly’s attitude towards the institutions and ideology of development.  It might be misleading to those who are not aware that Easterly is, in fact, a tremendously optimistic booster of free trade (one might almost call his views on trade naive, but I do not) who believes that the surest way for “the developing world” to enjoy economic growth is for development agencies and foreign governments to stop engaging in their absurd obsession with “helping” them.  Much more help of that kind, and these countries are done for.  

At one point, the reviewer writes:

The Nobel laureate Robert Solow once wrote that economists are intellectual sanitation workers: their key contribution is to consign bad ideas to the trash.

So that’s what economists are good for!  I had been wondering.  The Free Exchange blogger goes on to promote mass immigration (or rather mass emigration from the poor nation-states) to free people from their “national prisons.”  Iraqi refugees have been thus “liberated,” and I assume that they would have preferred to stay in the “prison,” which makes this talk of prisons seem rather odd.  Some might think that people who live in these “prison” countries regard the place where they live as their home and might even say that they are not simply labour units to be reassigned to allow for greater efficiencies.  Mass uprooting and relocation of poor populations with migrants moving from the countryside to the city and from the home country to communities abroad, which has happened in virtually every impoverished, modernising nation-state from the independence of Greece on, is all very good for those who can get out, but dooms those who remain (and many will remain) to an even more miserable existence.  Dr. Wilson once remarked on this, asking a rhetorical question that went something like this: “What sort of country robs poor countries of their best and brightest people?”  This blogger’s kind of country, it would seem. 

This talk of “national prisons” is the sort of language applied to states that one wishes did not exist and would like to see dismantled.  Again, the example of Iraq (or that of the recent Ivorian civil war) stands out to show us what will follow the breakdown of the “national prisons” in Africa and elsewhere.  However, like the bold Wilsonians dispensing self-determination to the “imprisoned” nations of the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires, those who would destroy the prisonhouses may be quite unhappy with what results.   

Ross follows up on the debate over his latest Atlantic piece on future Democratic electoral prospects, and he explains quite clearly what he means by populism and how his reform ideas relate to it.  I think Ross’ analysis of electoral trends makes sense, which is why I wrote in defense of it.  However, I am actually sympathetic to those, such as Will Wilkinson, who do not like the substance of the policy proposals endorsed by economic populists, as I do not care for many of them myself.  I disagree with some libertarian critics of this populism, to the extent that they even allow that it actually exists, concerning some specific areas of policy and more general assumptions about the legitimacy of the claims of national sovereignty and national interest.  While I have some right-populist inclinations in matters of trade and immigration and I have a very old-fashioned Bolingbrokean-Jeffersonian hostility to concetrated wealth and power, which makes for some common anti-corporate ground with more conventional left-populists, in practice I am not that much of a populist.  You will not see me voting for Edwards-style populism or “compassionate” conservatism or “Sam’s Club Republicanism” now or ever.  For that matter, I neither shop at Sam’s Club, nor am I a Republican, so that makes me a pretty unlikely supporter of this sort of politics, since I rather rather regard the former as a symptom of moral and economic disorder and regard the latter as, well, not my favourite organisation.  Yet I still do recognise that there are people who might just go for such reformism, and these really are the sorts of people the GOP needs to win over and keep if it wants to remain competitive going forward.   

As I have made abundantly clear over the years, I am a small-government constitutionalist and a Ron Paul man, which puts me in a fairly small group.  (I am also very sympathetic to corporatist ideas of solidarity and a conservationist ethic, which may put me in an even smaller subset of this group.)  Despite an appreciation for some of the aspects of corporatism, the kind of economic intervention by the state on offer these days leaves me completely cold.  (Non-intervention is very often the wise course, in foreign policy as in domestic affairs.)  However, my preferences do not really give me the luxury to pretend that people in this country are not looking for some sort of intervention by the state in the field of health care, because they plainly are.  You hear this anecdotally from friends and colleagues, and you see it backed up in polling.  The desire is there, and the main dispute seems to be over whether you have a mostly state-run or a more state capitalist-run program.  Mike Huckabee talks vaguely about having a solution that involves none of the above, but he is typically blissfully free of specifics when he says this.  (Based on anecdotal impressions, I would say that young, educated professionals might be even more worried about health care than many other groups, but I wouldn’t press that too far.)  These people are acting on the assumption that the U.S. government is “their” government (if only!) and that it exists to provide them with certain things they need, or at the very least to provide them with the “opportunity” to acquire what they need. 

At this point, someone usually says something saccharine about empowerment, which is usually where they finally lose me, since it is never the government’s role to empower its citizens.  This idea of government empowering people is the root of all swindles.  Indeed, citizens’ power stands in an inverse relationship with that of the government,and the government never “gives back” the power it has taken.  The more “empowerment” we have, the more servility we have.  This is naturally not a popular view (for confirmation, see the political history of the 20th century or just the 1964 presidential election), and it is not one that is normally associated with populism, though I think a case could be made that it is the ultimate populist view, insofar as it is one that places the best interests of the people ahead of popular enthusiasms.  It is the view most consonant with a decentralist understanding of political liberty, and such an arrangement would ultimately be far better for the common good, a humane, sane way of life and the flourishing of more self-supporting communities. 

As George Grant observed forty years ago, though, political decentralisation without economic decentralisation is simply submission to corporate oligarchy, which I think he regarded as worse than a living Hell (in which case, he would have been too generous).  Consequently, he was known as the “Red Tory” for his harsh criticism of the dissolving acid that capitalism and technology poured on social bonds.  Also, the Loyalist and Anglo-Canadian Conservative tradition never knew the reflexive hostility to state action that our political tradition initially did, and strangely enough Canada now enjoys more effective decentralisation in certain respects than we do (even though it also has more in the way of government services).

All of this got me to thinking about how strange it is that the Democrats have become the party of the economic populists, since they have historically been the less nationalist of the two parties and appear to be in no danger of changing, yet this kind of populism almost always goes with a strong dose of nationalism.  Most economic populist complaints today focus on a few general areas: free trade, the effects of globalisation (e.g., outsourcing, etc.), related government favouritism for corporate interests and immigration.  The Washington-New York political elite is largely in agreement that free trade, globalisation, state capitalism and mass immigration are fundamentally desirable.  There may be disagreements about how to manage them, but there is only minority support for rejecting or opposing any of them on a large scale.  (This is still true in the current presidential fields.)  You would expect the historic party of labour to be more concerned about immigration, but as chance would have it, they are also the historic party of immigrants.  You would expect the more nationalist party to be more skeptical of free trade and globalisation, but they are also the party of corporations.  On each issue where populists might gain traction, the party leadership has tended to reject the populist position and endorse the globalist one, because their true corporate masters desire it.  This remains true.  What is striking today is the extent to which Democratic candidates are willing to buck corporate America at least a little when it comes to free trade, which suggests that the populist critique of free trade and globalisation, which was smothered during the incredibly boring, issue-free 2000 election, might break through this time and cause a change in the political landscape.       

In the course of giving his devastating reply to Derbyshire’s review of his book Religion of Peace?, Robert Spencer reminds us once again of a crucial point regarding Christianity and immigration:

In reality, Christianity has no inherent connection at all with open-borders insanity and globalization. No less prominent a Christian than St. Thomas Aquinas expressed the mainstream Christian view when he said that “after his duties towards God, man owes most to his parents and his country. One’s duties towards one’s parents include one’s obligations towards one’s relatives, because these latter have sprung from [or are connected by ties of blood with] one’s parents…and the services due to one’s country have for their object all one’s fellow-countrymen and all the friends of one’s fatherland.” An open-borders globalist? Not quite.

It is telling that many of those who either cite the Gospel as the source for rejecting national loyalties and/or supporting immigration or invoke the Lord to justify the importation and exploitation of poor labourers are not themselves professing Christians.  Of course, the absurdity of justifying the exploitation of labourers in the name of Christian fraternity ought to be obvious, but we live in dark times where even the simplest things are obscured.  This quote also brings us back to the question of the relationship between Christianity and patriotism.

It has also never been clear to me where anyone came across the idea that orthodox Christianity endorses or encourages egalitarianism or rootless cosmopolitanism.  (There have been many modern Christians who have understood their religion in this way, but their egalitarian and cosmopolitan views are typically matched by their departure from orthodoxy more generally.)  The teachings in the Gospels and Epistles presuppose social hierarchy and patriarchal authority, and their authors literally cannot conceive of a world in which civic and family obligations are weak or non-existent, much less do they advocate for such a view.  If Christianity is “universal” in that it is for the salvation of all, it nonetheless does not obliterate natural loyalties and affinities to particular places and peoples.  Being willing to leave all your earthly relations for the sake of following God is a measure of the devotion the believer has and his desire to put God first–it does not abrogate his obligations to his kith and kin.  Indeed, to be a good and faithful servant, the Christian must not only show mercy to those who seek it from him, but he must also discharge his duties to those to whom he is obliged and related.  The Apostle exhorts: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (I Tim. 5:8) 

For more on this, I recommend Dr. Fleming’s The Morality of Everyday Life.  

Cross-posted at WWWTW

Via Ambinder, here’s an interesting bit of information culled from Mark Penn that relates nicely to this post:

There are 10 million Protestant Hispanics in the U.S. today. 90 percent of them adhere to a variant of Pentecostalism. It was this subgroup of Latinos who helped George W. Bush increase his margin among Hispanics in 2004 — “the percentage of Bush voters among Hispanic Catholics remained exactly the same.” Penn’s own surveys suggest that Protestant Latinos are largely values voters; Catholic Latinos are much more likely to respond to economic issues.

If the GOP wants to work Rovian electoral “magic” via bad immigration policy, they would need to get on the ball and begin bringing in Guatemalans by the hundreds of thousands, since Guatemala has become something like 30% Pentecostal.  They would also have to somehow manage to keep the non-Protestant Hispanics out.  The point is that most of the Hispanics coming here are not “natural” GOP voters, just as most of the Hispanic Catholics already here are not.   

The fact is Hispanics are conservative on cultural issues, entrepreneurial on economics, and intensely patriotic. ~Fred Barnes

Which is why New Mexico has been predominantly Republican at the state and local level for 75 years, right?  Oh, wait, it’s been solidly Democratic for all that time.  How could that be?  It isn’t that New Mexican Hispanics are necessarily all that different from the description Barnes gives here (though it seems as if someone should point out what a grossly simplistic stereotype of an entire ethnicity this is), but that there is no necessary or obvious connection between these things and supporting the Republican Party.  First of all, being “conservative on cultural issues” is determined to a very great extent on what your own cultural identity is, and if you take pride in a distinct culture aside from, or alongside, a generic Anglo-American one you might very well be a cultural conservative and have entirely different attitudes towards a party that theoretically represents a different cultural conservatism.  ”English only” and English as the official national language are usually thought of as culturally conservative positions of sorts, but they will not be greeted with much enthusiasm from many Hispanic voters. 

Leaving that problem aside, the logical connection is still very shaky.  Most Hispanics in this country are at least nominally Catholic, which would mean theoretically that they are “natural” supporters of the major (at least officially) pro-life, culturally conservative party, except that there is actually no necessary connection between being culturally conservative in private, family and community life and embracing a culturally conservative political agenda.  You can argue all you like that such people should support such an agenda, but they may find it unsuitable or undesirable to do so.  The GOP has been fighting to get a majority of the American Catholic vote for decades, and has enjoyed sporadic success–part of this is the result of GOP economic and social service policies that many Catholics find unappealing and undesirable, and part of this is the result of the diverse kinds of American Catholics out there.   

I am frequently reminded at my local Orthodox church that adherence to a traditional, liturgical, hierarchical, socially conservative church by no means leads you to support the GOP (and not just because the GOP’s practical support for social conservatism and traditional morality is all but nil).  At my church, you can usually spot the converts by their political conservatism and right-leaning party affiliations.  It is actually normal that more liturgical and catholic confessions would include people of widely varying political views, so there is no guarantee that belonging to a church that officially professes moral or social doctrines that are more consistent with cultural conservatism means that you are going to support a political expression of that conservatism.  The pro-immigration GOP view takes for granted that most immigrants are pious, hard-working family-centered people and that this makes them “natural” GOP voters.  Even assuming the first is true in most cases, the second does not follow at all.  There are three possible explanations for why it does not follow: either the voters do not see the GOP as being actually dedicated to protecting life, family, community and the like, or they are not basing their voting preferences on such things or they find any natural sympathy with a socially conservative agenda offset and overwhelmed by their negative reaction to economic, welfare or foreign policy positions held by the GOP. 

Someone who is personally entrepreneurial may not be at all interested in supporting the party of the moneyed interest.  He may be even very keen on the free market, which does not necessarily push him towards the party that glorifies state capitalism.  Being entrepreneurial and aspirational does not mean that you will necessarily agree with, say, reducing tax rates on wealthier people.  (Take a different kind of example to see this point: I expect few would call the folks in Silicon Valley lacking in entrepreneurship of a kind, but many of them are on the left politically.) 

Finally, it is not at all obvious these days that “intense patriotism” would or should inspire someone to pull the lever for the party that led the way into Iraq.  Barnes’ description could be completely accurate, and it still would not make these voters into “natural” supporters of the GOP.  In the end, the reality is that they are not “natural” GOP voters because most do not, in fact, vote for the GOP.  “Natural” constituents do not need to be bribed and cajoled to support a party, but will do so because they see this or that party already advancing their interests and “values.”  Say whatever you like about irrational voters (and I could say quite a lot), a majority of actual Hispanic voters do not perceive their self-interest being served by having GOP pols in positions of authority.  Of all the pathetic arguments for bad immigration policy, the argument that the GOP must pursue a pro-immigration line in order to win the votes of people who will never vote for the party is the worst and most unfounded. 

What’s worse is many Republicans are oblivious to this or insist that losing Hispanic voters doesn’t really matter because they’ll never be reliable Republican voters anyway. These Republicans buy the notion that a sizable majority of Hispanics are and always will be Democrats. ~Fred Barnes

But they won’t be reliable Republican voters.  A sizeable majority (at least 60%) of Hispanics will always (or at least for a very, very long time to come) be Democrats.  Some will be Democrats because Democrats will always be more favourable towards mass immigration than the GOP can ever be.  Others will be Democrats because their parents and grandparents were Democrats and it is ingrained that this is the better party for them.  Still others will be Democrats because they are actually more in agreement with left-liberal ideas about “social justice” and economic fairness and greater Democratic support for government programs.  New Hispanic immigrants will also be possessing political values more in line with left-liberalism, as they will be coming from countries with stronger left-populist and revolutionary leftist political traditions, and it will be those traditions to which those migrating to this country are more likely to belong.  The GOP cannot compete with the Democratic Party for a majority this voting bloc, at least not without attempting to suddenly get to the Dems’ left on all of the relevant issues.  Any such attempt would guarantee the fragmentation and eventual death of the GOP.  Furthermore, failure to limit the rate of growth of a natural Democratic constituency will mean the marginalisation and permanent minority status of the GOP as it is currently constituted. 

For the class I will be teaching this fall, I was recently reading one of the books I intend to assign that touches directly on the reflections on the Partition and on the Putnam research on diversity described here (TAC even gets a brief mention in the article).  The book, Twice A Stranger, is an account of the history surrounding the Treaty of Lausanne, the population exchanges of 1923-24 and the experiences of the people who were uprooted as a result (as partly related by still-living survivors of the exchange).  In this book, Bruce Clark challenges the standard liberal anti-Lausanne argument (after having similarly critiqued the nationalist account):

The liberal anti-nationalist myth often suggests that relations were perfectly warm and harmonious and would have remained so if the population exchange had not been imposed as an artificial exercise in segregation.  In fact, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  As anyone who is familiar with rural society in the Balkans or the Caucasus can testify, things are never that simple.  Warm and cordial business relationships, and personal friendships, can transcend the intercommunal division in surprising ways; but that does not abolish the division–or alter the fact that in the event of a general conflagration, almost everybody tends to seek security behind the walls of his or her own community [italics mine-DL], and life becomes  uncomfortable for those who try to occupy the middle ground. (p. 172)

The connection is that people with whom you identify, whom you consider your “own,” are the people you trust and will rely on in the worst situations.  Armed conflict adds an additional dimension of the pressure to actively side and identify with your community, as well as simultaneously seek shelter and protection from that community.  It occurs to me that this is how it is possible that rampant, violent sectarianism could spring from a pre-invasion Iraq that had relatively decent intercommunal relations, friendships and intermarriages.  Sectarian labels mattered little when conflict did not force people to choose sides, and the lines of the communities were not nearly so sharp when your position on one side or the other was not so significant.  When the chips are down, however, and having people you can trust becomes a matter of survival, sticking with your own is not only the natural, instinctive move but also the one that is actually the most rational under the circumstances.  Self-serving jingo “discoveries” of the damaged social fabric of pre-invasion Iraq have sought to discredit the idea that the source of sectarian violence in Iraq is the spark of the invasion itself, when it was the transformation of the country into a war zone that precipitated the bloodletting that has followed. 

This also highlights the flaws, or at least the limits, of Putnam’s proposed “solution.”  He wants to encourage “more encompassing identities” and a “new, more capacious sense of ‘we’,” which is just swell.  The problem with “more encompassing identities” is that they are usually weaker, more brittle and usually not founded in the natural affinities that would reinforce them.  Being an Iraqi is “more encompassing,” but it is consequently that much less meaningful.  It is “capacious” at the expense of being valued.  The more encompassing an identity becomes, the easier it is for that identity to collapse in on itself.

In short, no one remotely familiar with their [Voinovich and Domenici’s] records would consider any of them to be among the Senate’s conservative intellectual giants. On the contrary, they are poll-driven politicians who want to hold on to power, and the polls indicate that many Americans are decidedly unhappy about the direction of the war. ~The Washington Times

No one enjoys good opportunist-bashing more than I do, but this shot at Domenici is particularly odd.  Domenici is not claiming to be a spokesman for conservatism (and with a lifetime ACU rating of 74, no one will be rushing out to label him as one).  That’s a big problem–for conservatives.  The Senate Republican dissenters on Iraq have almost all been politically vulnerable, “moderate” or liberal Republicans, and those who do not exactly fit these categories (such as Hagel and Brownback) have tended to have the least substantive critiques and have offered even less substantive alternatives.  Instead of taking the lead in criticising the President and forcing change, more conservative members in the last Congress and the present one have mostly distinguished themselves as reflexive defenders of the war (their chief complaints, when they have made them, is that the war has not been prosecuted with enough vigour and has not been expanded to enough other countries).  For years conservatives in the GOP have gone out of their way to make sure that people associate this war with the word conservative–despite its having no meaningful connection to conservatism of any recognisable kind–because they have lent it unstinting support.  In highlighting the latest dissenters’ lack of conservative reputations, this simply reinforces this identification.  The war will go from appearing to be a generically Republican war, which is mainly what it is, to a specificially “conservative” one in the public eye.  Editorials such as this one are part of the reason why.  

Domenici is also a strange target of the wrath of the Times for another reason.  Domenici changed his position on the amnesty bill to a vote against the cloture motion that the Times and most conservatives also wanted to defeat.  In other words, he responded to the outcry from his constituents and conservative activists by embracing their view of the bill and ended up voting the right way, helping to send the bill down to a crushing defeat.  Obviously, he did this for self-interested, purely electoral reasons–he fears voter backlash come next year.  Even so, I don’t remember a Times editorial singling out Domenici and the other vote-switchers for rank opportunism and pandering back then.  The Weekly Standard had plenty to say about the Senators who turned against the amnesty bill that the magazine supported, but that’s because the magazine’s editors were angry at the former allies who had defected to the other side. 

The Times is chastising someone who effectively came around their position on the recent legislation and pointing out Domenici’s responsiveness to his constituents as a bad thing worthy of mockery.  Meanwhile, the steadfast duo of McLieberman never wavers, never blinks, never listens to the voters, and that is supposed to inspire admiration?  We have some remnants of a republican government, so there is something to be said for not always heeding the desires of the crowd, but by design representatives should represent their constituents and Senators should, at least originally, represent the interests of their states.  To consistently fail in this representation is to have failed in the basic duty of an elected official.  The Times would like more members of Congress to shirk their responsibilities and ignore their constituents more often, at least when it comes to the war.  On immigration, they will continue to think that the populist backlash was a just and legitimate exercise in self-government.  You really can’t have it both ways.  Domenici is an opportunist, but it was thanks to opportunists like him that amnesty was defeated.  The war will one day be brought to an end through the efforts of other similarly “flexible” politicians.   

He also should have made border enforcement a key priority of his administration far earlier in order to defuse criticism that promises to restrict illegal immigration were empty. ~Morton Kondracke

Well, yes, he should have done that, but he didn’t because those promises were empty.  Since he failed to enforce the law, why should the failure of the amnesty bill surprise anyone?  Why should we be treated to an ueber-centrist’s hectoring about legislators being “terrorized” by voters (note to Kondracke: terror is not what we normally call the process by which citizens make their wishes known to representatives in a peaceful fashion)?  The only way there was going to be enough support for that or any bill like it was if there was confidence that the government was both willing and able to enforce the law.  In reality, it wasn’t even willing.  So, yes, Mr. Bush should have made enforcement a top priority.  He should also have rejected anything remotely resembling amnesty, he should never have started the war in Iraq and he should also not run the executive branch as badly as he has, in fact, run it.  Come to think of it, Americans should not have re-elected him, but we’re past that point.

Kondracke rattles off the “cowardice caucus,” which is basically a list of ‘08 Senate election incumbents, plus purple-state and populist Democrats.  What this tells me is that the Senators most sensitive to the public’s mood on the issue and most responsive to the public opposed the bill, because there were enough bad provisions to create massive opposition across the spectrum.  This is actually something close to how a deliberative, representative system is supposed to run: neither momentary passions nor narrow interests should be able to overwhelm the institutional checks against both.  Federal legislation must possess sufficiently broad support that it can overcome the many obstacles that our system has placed in the way on purpose.  This is supposed to ensue a greater measure of consent in the making of laws and the prevention of the instability of purely democratic government.  For the most part, the political class does what it wants and the rest of us are along for the ride, but every so often they run into a brick wall of public outrage.  This is a good thing.  We need more of it, and fewer of Kondracke’s “solutions.”

Fascinating what-ifs all, but mostly irrelevant. Immigration reform was defeated by a conservative revolt that spread to the wider public. Senate opponents, gloating over their success in killing the bill, were essentially correct in insisting the American people had rejected immigration reform. ~Fred Barnes, “Things Fall Apart”

You can hear the sound of Barnes’ disappointment.  What we saw this past week was what occurs when representative government basically functions properly.  It is a strange and marvelous thing, rarely seen anymore.  We can be sure that the establishment has suffered only a temporary loss of control here.  Barnes does not quite go to Broderian or Gersonian depths in lamenting the failure of “centrism,” but he shows thinly veiled contempt for Senators who helped kill the bill because they are running for re-election or another office.  Imagine that–elected representatives responding to their constituents! 

In other words, the people have already rejected the bill now and most of the Senators in evenly divided states were afraid that they, too, would be rejected if they supported the bill.  They were all probably right.  Domenici is our senior Senator and has never had much difficulty winning re-election, and even he was evidently feeling the heat.  Bingaman, our Democratic junior Senator, isn’t even up for re-election next year and he voted nay on cloture, raising the number of Democrats who helped junk the bill to 16 (including the Independent Sanders).  People who don’t understand New Mexican politics may be confused by this, but they should remember that we have one of the poorest states that is also most adversely impacted by the ineffective security at the border and one which can hardly afford the extra strains on state services that illegal immigration already imposes.  Plus, opposition to illegal immigration in central and southern New Mexico among Republican voters is quite strong, despite the perpetual minority status of Republicans in New Mexico that would theoretically put pressure on Republicans to move towards the “center” (i.e., towards the left).  Anyone running for statewide office back home would be inciting some strong opposition if he supported this bill, and both Senators apparently got that message. 

Almost one-third of the Democratic caucus turned against the bill, and they have some common characteristics: they come entirely from purple states (Webb, McCaskill) and red states (Landrieu, Tester), which is predictable but significant.  Many were elected on economic populist platforms, and some evidently saw elements of the bill that conflicted with their populism.  The awful guest-worker provisions were likely what turned them against the bill, as well they should have.  Sherrod Brown was among those voting no.  Had the Democrats tried to whip the bill and force their members at least to vote for cloture, the tactic might not have worked, but there were enough Republicans siding with the Majority Leader that it would have passed easily had the Democrats not been so significantly divided.  For the record, 12 Republicans voted with Harry Reid on cloture, including the unexpected names of Judd Gregg and Richard Lugar.  Lugar just handily won re-election and apparently thinks he can tell his constituents to take a hike, but Gregg is up for re-election next year in 2010.  Perhaps Gregg thinks the massive blue wave swallowing New Hampshire last year was a sign that he needed to go with the majority’s leadership, but my guess is that he will eventually suffer on account of this vote.  New Hampshire voters may have thrown out the Republican bums in ‘06, but that does not necessarily mean that they wanted their Senators voting in support of this bill–Sununu seems to have understood this.    

I have to say that this is a better initial outcome than I could have anticipated after the outcome of the midterms.  There had been the disturbing thought that holding Bush and the GOP accountable would simply lead to the empowerment of the worst policies and instincts of this administration in domestic policy.  Admittedly, the gain on a change in Iraq policy has been minimal, but the cost in immigration legislation has fortunately been negligible so far.  The presence of 15 Democratic Senators who opposed the progress of this bill is somewhat reassuring, in that it suggests that there may be a cloture-proof bloc in the Senate opposed to any such omnibus bills in the next Congress as well.  On immigration, there appears to be a solid group of moderate-cum-populist Democrats who were significantly opposed to so-called “comprehensive reform” (Webb, Tester, Dorgan, McCaskill, Brown).  Four of these are newly elected Senators, and it is not at all certain that all of the Republicans they defeated (Allen, Burns, Talent, and DeWine respectively) would have been as reliable in opposing the bill as they proved to be.  Some might have been, but DeWine would likely have been a yea vote.  Surprisingly, the results of the ’06 Senate elections seem to have made amnesty slightly less likely, at least for the moment.    

Consider a somewhat different case, a stylized representation of history. Say instead of “low-skill” Mexican workers migrating in large numbers to the United States we were instead talking about Scots-Irish United Statesians migrating from the American South into hospitable regions of northwestern Mexico [sic]. And let’s say these women and men were relatively “high-skill” as compared to the relatively sparse indigenous population. A group of Mexicans, determined Rawlsian nationalists, are concerned about the long-term consequences of this “high-skill” influx. Some hysterically conclude that the Americans have long-term irredentist designs, and that the “Texicans” are bent on secession or filibuster.

Now, my strong suspicion is that Will Wilkinson, as an active and vocal participant in Mexican public life, would forcefully argue that the Texicans have every right to settle in northwestern Mexico, and he’d have a strong case. (Moreover, I sense he’d be firmly opposed to an armed Mexican intervention designed to prevent the “Texicans” from seceding, particularly if a majority in the relevant region endorsed independence.) Of course, this migration is taking place in a context that raises a whole host of non-obvious questions.

Now, there is a powerful rejoinder to this fairly silly example, namely that Mexican immigrants in the United States do not have the relative power or influence they’d need to have as consequential an effect on, say, the territorial integrity of the United States. I mean, as we all know Mexican immigrants come to the United States to work and succeed, and they come because they are mostly supportive of U.S. institutions and even mores, which more or less allow them to work and succeed. ~Reihan Salam

Reihan’s monster post written in response to Will Wilkinson is worth a look, though it is as vast as the open spaces of Texico itself (I’m one to talk about long posts!).  This discussion of Texicans is interesting, since it reminds us of a few things.  First, it reminds us that political culture is an important factor for determining how well immigrants and natives will get along, and may be the source of future conflict or separatism if the rival cultures are sufficiently at odds.  The Texicans believed that they were defending their rights under the Mexican constitution by rebelling: they had a tradition in which there was a well-practiced right to rebel that they had inherited from the early republican American generations, while their counterparts on the other side took a less enthusiastic view of conservative revolution.  The actual causes of the Texan War of Independence also remind us that immigration into marginal lands or border territories of a large state can, over a period of time, lead to increased friction between center and periphery that can lead to outright rebellion in the event that the center seeks to (re)assert control over the borderlands.  This is what happened in the actual rebellions of the 1830s, which occurred not only in Texas but in Rio Arriba in New Mexico and in California.  Where the local rebels in the latter two cases failed, the Texicans succeeded because they were better organised, had a coherent political inheritance that informed the structure of their rebel government and enjoyed a supply of men and materiale from U.S. territories to the east.  Centralist policies were the proximate cause, but fundamentally divergent political cultures were ultimately the reason for the conflict. 

Today few are really contemplating the rise of Aztlan or anything comparable, but then again forty years ago no one supposed that Kosovo would ever be majority Albanian or in any danger of breaking away from Serbia and being recognised as an independent state.  Demographic and ethnic changes actually do matter to political life, since they remake the nature of the polity by transforming who the citizenry is. 

It is perhaps a little easier to acknowledge this and recognise it as a problem when it is happening elsewhere, but the same processes occur all around the world.  We are not immune from history; our so-called “melting pot” is not some cauldron for cooking up magical recipes that free us from the consequences of mass lawlessness. 

In the end, armed struggle may not be necessary at all for the new settlers.  Secession and/or irredenta may be unnecessary as well, since the means for advantageous political transformation are readily within reach for those who become citizens here.  There is no need to take forcibly what you can vote in your own control.   

A future citizenry may have absolutely no interest in any of the freedoms we still attempt, however ineffectively in many cases, to preserve, or a sufficiently large number of citizens will be willing to endorse the worst in demagoguery and authoritarianism if it gets them what they want.  This is always a danger in democracy, but it seems particularly unwise to engineer things so as to maximise the likelihood of this outcome.  This is what open borders advocates seem willing to see created–for the sake of so-called “rights.”  

Statist liberals often worry about the destabilizing effects of income inequality. Statist conservatives often worry about the destabilizing effects of cultural change. Ross evidently worries about both, which puts him at odds with cosmopolitan dynamism on two separate fronts. ~Will Wilkinson


It also puts him on the right side of both questions, since “cosmopolitan dynamism” is just an elaborate phrase for exploitation and upheaval.

Continuing to meddle in a controversy to which I was not invited, I give you something new from Will Wilkinson:

The ultimate reason to endorse liberal principles is that adherence to them produces conditions under which human beings are most likely to thrive (according to the broadest variety of different conceptions of thriving).

That’s interesting, since I am equally confident that rejecting liberal (and I do mean liberal in a broad sense) principles and organising social and political life according to the principle of good order and in defense of the Permanent Things are vital to providing the conditions under which human beings are most likely to thrive (decidedly not according to the broadest variety of different conceptions of thriving).  Plainly, freedom is not the moral baseline.  Freedom presupposes a moral order that entails other, prior obligations between kin and between fellow citizens.  Within a polity, fellow citizens have more obligations to one another than they have to non-citizens.  Even if the net benefits of a policy accrue to many citizens and non-citizens, but come at the expense of fellow citizens, it is very likely unjust and contrary to the obligations that members of a polity have towards one another.  For the success of any polity in providing for the welfare of its members, there must be a certain degree of solidarity, and it is those things leading towards social fragmentation and disunity that need to be justified.  Incidentally, on this point Christian social thought has much to say and has ample room for a solidaristic, patriotic nationalism.

Not only are concrete freedoms inconceivable without such a moral order, but without the fulfillment of these obligations such freedom is about as meaningful as paint on a tomb.  Besides, what does it profit a man to gain cheap commodities and inexpensive servants if he loses his country? 

(Sample 311 answer: The call center provides service in 179 languages. “You can report a pothole in Korean, ask for a nicotine patch in Portuguese and ask about alternate-side-of-the-street parking in Zulu,” the mayor said.) ~The New York Times

However, as we are reliably informed by enlightened libertarians, there is no need for any of this wonderful multilingualism in New York City, that veritable cauldron of assimilation where all speak English and blend seamlessly into the tapestry of America.

That group is, of course, the Amish, and many of the same people complaining that Mexicans won’t assimilate flock to Lancaster to take pictures of women in funny hats vending sticky-sweet food and overpriced handwork [sic]. Can someone explain this in terms that don’t devolve into “But the Mexicans are brown“?

Can someone explain this in terms that don’t devolve into “But the Mexicans are brown”? ~Megan McArdle

Yes, I believe the regular paleo bus to eastern Pennsylvania leaves later this evening, and I would be on it if it weren’t for my Arabic classes this week.  In fact, the people who go to Amish country go there because they like to enjoy the quaintness of traditional, pietistic German communities without having to put up with the inconveniences of living in traditional, pietistic German communities.  For their part, the Amish have preserved an example of Old World immigrants from another era, and their example has probably helped to reinforce the mythic images of the hardworking, religious, socially conservative yeomen whom certain libertarians and conservatives believe are settling in California and Arizona in large numbers.  If anyone has a strange affection for the Amish and what they represent, it would almost certainly have to be those who see few, if any, problems with mass immigration. 

Of course, Indian reservations are an alternative example of people living apart from the rest of the country and maintaining a traditional culture, but even more than the Amish–who actually have their own share of some modern social ills–they also have significant social problems with alcoholism and drug abuse, considerable poverty and dependency on government.  (Admittedly, the Amish do lack casinos.)  However, fashionable tourists buy pottery on these reservations and eat fry bread on the sides of New Mexican state highways, so I guess that means these problems are all figments of racist imagination.  I suppose if you have been invited into a kiva at some point, as I have, you should simply stop complaining about immigration and accept the wonders of the American ”fruit salad.”   

It occurs to me that someone who thinks the Amish represent a powerful counterexample to the mass immigration and considerable non-assimilation of millions of people from the neighbouring country must be having everyone on, but as I look at it again I see that Ms. McArdle is quite serious.  Very well, then.  I’ll give her question a shot.

There are at least four factors that drive the concern  about immigration, and particularly about modern Mexican and Latin American immigration.  The first is geography: the proximity of the country of origin for the vast majority of the current wave of immigrants is much greater than it was/is for groups from countries on the opposite sides of the oceans, which weakens the incentives for full assimilation (this is particularly true of those who continue to participate in Mexican elections), and the concentration of a large proportion of these immigrants in one region, which tends to make anything resembling assimilation to the culture of the rest of the country much less likely.  Granting that the children of these immigrants may acquire English language proficiency, this does not guarantee any depth of assimilation to what Huntington would call the common core culture.  There are lots of people in this country who do not accept that there is or ever has been such a culture, so they may find this idea mystifying, but it has existed and it is on account of the non-assimilation of these immigrants to it that many Americans are quite agitated.  Further, the ideas of our political and media classes about what assimilation means have changed, and whether it is because of multiculti preciousness or “proposition nation” ideology or both the old efforts to actively Americanise immigrants have weakened considerably.  The only way that the “melting pot” idea makes any sense is if there is sufficient heat and pressure, so to speak, to actually dissolve the constituent elements into the present mixture.  Without those things, full assimilation will not take place to the ultimate detriment of our national political life. 

The second factor is political culture: like virtually all immigrant groups, Mexican and Latin American immigrants are coming from a political culture that has extremely low institutional trust combined with an activist state and traditions of demagogic and authoritarian populism, and it is extremely likely that the immigrants who come to America will often have supported the leftmost politics in their home countries.  The problem here is that even if there is some real degree of assimilation and participation in the political process, the vast influx of such voters into the system will drive our politics in an even more statist, unfree, anti-constitutionalist direction (just as, historically, most every major wave of immigration has helped to do).  This is the objection that should be most significant for libertarians, but it never seems to bother a lot of them.

The third factor is social: along with all the workers doing the jobs that supposedly no one here wants to do (it is true that no one, not even the immigrants, really wants to do them for slave wages, for what it’s worth) come a certain number of criminals, an increase in the numbers of people living in relative poverty and many unstable or disintegrating families that, in turn, raise up (or rather fail to raise) a new generation that is more prone to all of the costly, destructive behaviours that impose a number of costs on the rest of the society through crime, dependency, etc.  In addition to importing the political pathologies of other countries, this situation brings with it social pathologies of its own. 

The fourth factor is more directly fiscal and economic.  That is, the demand placed on state services by immigrant populations–and here we are speaking more specifically about illegal immigrants–and the downward pressure that the influx of new labourers has on wages combine to make the voters who pay for those services and hold wage-earning jobs rather annoyed.  This seems to be the point that everyone understands or can at least acknowledge to be a reason why opponents of mass immigration are so opposed. 

Finally, it might be worth noting that Ms. McArdle’s question seems to take for granted that there is absolutely no qualitative difference between, say, the Russian programmer or the Indian engineer who comes here and the poorly educated or possibly even illiterate Mexican labourer from Michoacan.  The only reason why restrictionists would object to Mexican immigration, as Ms. McArdle tells it, is that it keeps coming back to their race, but this assumes that all restrictionists who are extremely concerned about mass Mexican immigration are similarly strongly opposed to non-white immigration as such.  If that were so (it isn’t), it would need to be demonstrated.  Naturally, this is the reason for the recourse to the Amish example, since it seems to me that pro-immigration advocates, stuck as they may be in the 18th or 19th century (because of their apparent conviction that our country is some sort of vast, empty territory in need of more people), are nonetheless convinced that their opponents are deeply reactionary and might be sympathetic to more immigration if it promised the creation of people living as if it were still the 17th century.  The idea that you might even want immigration policy that brings in the most productive, well-educated immigrants who contribute to the economy and society in a more substantial way than menial labour in the current generation (rather than waiting for some promised payoff 30 or 60 years hence) seems to be quite alien.

That brings us to another factor, that of education, and it may be the most significant factor of them all in a certain sense.  For immigrants and the children of immigrants to be competitive in this society, and for them not to get trapped in an underclass, it is imperative that they either have or are able to acquire quickly education comparable to that of their native peers.  Bringing in large numbers of poorly educated people is likely to ensure that their descendants remain fairly far behind for multiple generations.  Combined with the potential for cultural ghettoisation, this could easily create the kind of disaffected, unassimilated underclass that has created serious problems in places such as France and Britain. 

These are all real concerns grounded in observable facts, and we can go round and round with differing interpretations of which evidence is significant and which isn’t, but the habit of writing off the debate as inherently absurd because it must be driven by racial animus is an extremely bad one and one that hardly encourages a willingness among restrictionists to take pro-immigration voices seriously.  If there is more to the pro-immigration position than moral posturing, hand waving, accusations of racism, weak comparisons and extremely selective historical memory, I have yet to see it.  

We always tend to think of the U.S. as a “nation of immigrants.” ~George Borjas

The U.S. is even more of a laggard in inflows of foreign nationals as a percentage of population. ~ Will Wilkinson

You can almost hear Gen. Buck Turgeson declaring, “Mr. President, we cannot allow an immigrant gap!”  It might be that we are not “falling behind,” as Mr. Wilkinson puts it, but are instead doing a bit better for ourselves.  If we keep “falling behind” like this, there might cease to be any excuse to continue calling America a “nation of immigrants,” and that sounds like a healthy thing to me. 

That line from Mr. Borjas’ post struck me.  I suppose it is fair to say that a majority of Americans, perhaps a very large one, thinks that America is a “nation of immigrants,” but to say that “we always” think this is odd.  Who is this “we” he’s talking about, and why would “we” have always thought this?  I mention this because not all of “us” agree that it is actually true.

Leaving aside all this talk of Mexicans, did the core of Mr. Wilkinson’s response to Ross’ remarks on immigration make any sense?  Ross said, in reply to Yglesias:

Of course, one might argue that reducing illegal immigration is something that would “compromise the interests of the global elite” – which is one reason (among many others, some of them quite high-minded) why so many members of that elite are on the “left” on immigration. A slightly better way of putting what Matt is driving at, I think, is this: Large-scale immigration from Mexico to the United States is a form of de facto humanitarianism, and since Americans are generally leery of humanitarian spending (primarily because we overestimate the size of our existing foreign aid budget), liberal humanitarians have a vested interest in preserving the existing immigration system. It’s a rare issue where business interests line up on the side of raising the living standards of Third World peasants, and why mess with a good thing? Better, as Matt suggests, to go after the global elite in other arenas – like tax policy, say – where the business class’s preferred policies don’t have humanitarian externalities.

So here we can see that Ross is clarifying the point that Yglesias was making on why liberals could still support mass immigration even though said immigration has a negative impact on the wages of American workers and thus increases the income inequality that also exercises liberals.  For his exegetical efforts, Ross received the following tongue-lashing from Mr. Wilkinson:

It’s a rather profound error to characterize voluntary trade between American employers and Mexicans workers as equivalent to ”humanitarian spending,” as if money tax revenue had been withdrawn from the Treasury and sent to Mexicans. There is indeed a pecuniary externality of Mexican workers in the American labor market – downward price pressure from competition — and this can indeed have an effect on the pattern of American incomes. But it is a pretty basic and embarrassing mistake to confuse (1) coercive state confiscation and reallocation of income with (2) changing patterns of income from voluntary exchange.

Um, okay, but for this criticism to make any sense it would have to be aimed at someone who actually confuses these things.  If anyone in this debate might have confused them, it would be Ross’ imaginary liberal restating Yglesias’ argument.  At no point in his post did Ross say that he regards these things as equivalent or comparable, but that it seems to him that this is how liberals reconcile the apparent contradiction between their concern over inequality at home and their support for importing ever-greater inequality from abroad.  Ross’ rejoinder to the liberal position is that this justification is “slightly perverse,” since it seems to privilege the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the American poor, which Ross says is a bizarre way to engage in a “humanitarian” politics.  In other words, at the heart of this dispute are Mr. Wilkinson’s profound outrage at the position with which both he and Ross basically disagree and Mr. Wilkinson’s mistaken attribution of that position to Ross and his “populist nationalism,” under the “heel” of which he is “grinding” his Christian universalism. 

All right, perhaps Mr. Wilkinson wasn’t saying that Ross dislikes Mexicans.  That is certainly how it came across, but no matter.  Not to worry, then–Mr. Wilkinson is just accusing Ross of holding repugnant and deeply immoral views that endorse the trampling of the human rights of millions.  That’s much better. 

Mr. Wilkinson was saying, and says again, that he thinks Ross wants a “less Mexican” America.  In one obvious sense, I suppose it is true that Ross thinks that preserving a common “core” culture in America (as Huntington might put it) to which immigrants assimilate is preferable to a hodgepodge society in which there are fewer and fewer shared traditions, habits and assumptions and little shared history.  Societies deeply divided along deep cultural and ethnic lines are not all together as successful as those that possess a common national and/or cultural identity; many multiethnic and multicultural societies are catastrophically unsuccessful.  These seem to be matters that can be tested empirically, so why are we disputing Ross’ relative affection for Mexicans or his concern about the Mexicanitas of America?  Why, indeed, bring up this question except as a way of trying (unsuccessfully) to undermine Ross’ position on immigration policy? 

To the extent that assimilation means that Mexican immigrants cease consciously embracing their Mexican national identity and replace it with an American one, then I guess Ross wants a “less Mexican” America, which is to say that he wants immigrants to assimilate.  {Cries of horror erupt from the audience; women faint; children begin to cry.}  The clear implication of this phrase “less Mexican” is nonetheless that Ross wants to get rid of the Mexicans here and that he singles out Mexicans in particular in his alleged populist nationalist enthusiasm.  Perhaps Mr. Wilkinson did not intend to conjure this idea with his phrase, but since the entire discussion of a ”less Mexican” America comes from his interpretation of general remarks made in a book review it is difficult to see how the phrase was not supposed to be accusatory.

Even though he does not find Ross ever saying any of this explicitly about his own views, Mr. Wilkinson thinks he has sussed it out from Ross’ review of Who Are We? by Huntington.  This is curious, since the only sense in which this seems to be true is that Ross regards the lack of present-day assimilation and the abandonment of assimilationism by American elites as very bad things for cultural and national unity.  Manifestly, these are very bad things for cultural and national unity–of course, this matters only to those who think that these are important things to have.  Ross seems to want a “less Mexican” America in the same way that he might want a “less Chinese” or “less Indian” America.  (All of this must remain somewhat speculative, since nowhere has Ross actually said any of this!)  That is, he may think that America actually has a cultural inheritance that has made it what it is and which immigrants have adopted to some degree in the process of becoming American; that process of becoming will necessarily entail setting the old identities in the background.  This may or may not have much connection with his views on immigration policy, since it is possible for someone to be an assimilationist while supporting a fairly liberal immigration policy.  Indeed, assimilationism might encourage a more liberal attitude towards immigration, since this position takes for granted that assimilation is possible.  It may be made more difficult by the new circumstances of mass immigration from Mexico and Latin America, but that does not necessarily mean that an assimilationist believes in drastically curbing the flow of immigrants, except perhaps insofar as he is persuaded that the numbers must be reduced for assimilation to happen properly.  In the end, Mr. Wilkinson has proven that Ross is an assimilationist and that he believes that immigrants should assimilate.  Had he said this about Ross, I suspect no one would have batted an eye, but this talk of a “less Mexican” America gives the charge an entirely different spin.   

Plainly, Ross endorses–as does  Huntington–assimilationism in the conviction that assimilating immigrants to a common culture is what has worked to integrate them, inasmuch as they have been integrated, into American society.  For some strange reason, he thinks integrating immigrants is a good idea.  He also seems to think that it is something that does not just automatically happen, but must be actively encouraged.  I think Ross takes this view because he thinks cultural identity is meaningful and has political consequences, and he probably worries about this because the political consequences of cultural disintegration and ghettoisation are quite bad.  The post in which he is addressing the cultural consequences of capitalism, including free-trading, pro-immigration economic policy, seems to confirm my interpretation of his concerns. 

If I have followed all of this correctly, Ross criticises a more libertarian economic model because it works in part to undermine national identity and Mr. Wilkinson criticises Ross’ “nationalism” because the policies informed by that “nationalism” obstruct the workings of a more libertarian economic model (and, let’s not forget our “moral right to cooperate”!). 

In other words, Mr. Wilkinson’s entire argument with Ross boils down to Ross’ criticism of policies that by Wilkinson’s own admission and according to his own assumptions must be antithetical to national identity, inasmuch as “nationalism” is antithetical to a libertarian, open borders arrangement.  This tells us that Ross is a cultural conservative and Mr. Wilkinson is a libertarian.  This has ultimately illuminated nothing about the merits and flaws of different immigration policies, but simply restated that Ross thinks national identity is important and Wilkinson thinks it is an arbitrary and even immoral form of control.  Put that way, I don’t think Wilkinson’s side of the debate comes off as being very persuasive. 

Quibbling over whether Ross wants a “less Mexican” America is simply a distraction if it isn’t intended as a slap–we may as well say that Mr. Wilkinson wants a “more Mexican” America and assume that this has somehow forever discredited his position and ended the debate.  Happily, we don’t need to do that, since there are so many other ways for his position to be discredited. 

Note: Okay, in spite of what I said earlier today, maybe one blog post wouldn’t kill me.  Today has already been a rather long day, but intensive Arabic hasn’t proven to be quite the mind-killer that I expected it to be.  Then again, it has only been one day so far.  This is not going to be the beginning of a lot of nightly posting, so enjoy it while you can.  Now, on to the main event…

Reihan has responded ably to this Will Wilkinson post, which, among other things, says that Ross is a “populist nationalist” who wants to keep the Mexicans out because he just doesn’t like them (unbelievably, this was provoked by this post).  Naturally, coming from Wilkinson this is supposed to be an insult, though I rather enjoy the idea that everyone to the right of La Raza on immigration is a “populist nationalist”–this would give said populist nationalists a supermajority beyond our wildest dreams, and it would automatically make every opponent of lawlessness and amnesty a disciple of Buchanan and Dobbs.  This would be fine by me, and it would be great to have Ross with us.  Even so, somehow I think the analysis might be a little bit flawed.  Ross once mentioned that it is a lonely thing to be a moderate restrictionist, and I suggested a couple reasons why that is the case.  I should thank Mr. Wilkinson for validating one of my arguments.

Reihan notes that one important part of Wilkinson’s (truly bizarre) attack is simply, completely wrong:

Where exactly is Will getting the idea that Ross actively dislikes Mexicans? Could it be from … his imagination?

Mr. Wilkinson likes to imagine sinister things about people who would like to enforce the border and defend American sovereignty (you see, when you put it that way, it doesn’t sound like you’re engaged in some horrible act of oppression, but rather basic law enforcement), or he sometimes tries to make otherwise perfectly decent things sound like the equivalent of war crimes.  At least he didn’t call Ross “anti-cosmopolitan”!

There are many ways to go with this.  I could start by noting that no one has the “right” to enter another country–he enters by the leave of the people who already live there.  This control over who comes into a country is one of the main features of sovereignty, which is a very real and significant element of something we call “international law.”  Additionally, nations actually exist; they are not plots created by editors at The Atlantic to deprive Mexicans of higher earning opportunities (as much as I’m sure they all secretly yearn to do this above all else).  If Wilkinson wants to see some really serious ”populist nationalists,” he might look to Mexican and other Latin American immigrants to find people who are under the strange impression that remitting money from here to their families back home makes their nation stronger and that they regard helping their own people to be not just a nice side effect of their pursuit of their “moral right to cooperate” (whatever this is supposed to mean) but one of the main reasons why they have come.  It might be worth adding that the more certain people wrap up manifestly undemocratic and unwise policies in the rhetoric of human rights, the less most Americans will respect the legitimacy of the very concept of “human rights,” since they might conclude, not unreasonably, that pretentious elitists drag out this phrase whenever they wish to abuse or in some other way take advantage of the rest of the country.  The more certain people feel the need to declare the sentiments of the broad majority “repugnant” because the majority thinks that there is no “right” for other people to settle in their country, the more they will find themselves isolated in their ever-smaller ghettoes of self-righteous irrelevance.  Anyone who would like to know why libertarianism gains few followers, read Wilkinson’s post.  If anyone would like to see why it is a very good thing that no one embraces libertarianism, read Wilkinson’s post.  

Self-governing peoples are supposed to be in control of their governments (I know this is a threat to liberty, but bear with me), and those governments are supposed to pass laws and enact policies consistent with what its citizens wish it to do.  Having then passed these laws and enacted these policies, it is the government’s obligation to its citizens to enforce the laws and follow through on its policies.  To do otherwise is to frustrate self-government and subject citizens to arbitrary government.  I thought libertarians were against arbitrary and lawless government, but at least in some cases that evidently isn’t the case. 

Texas employers say: give us indentured labour, or else!

It hits all the usual pro-immigration notes: it is condescending, laughable and focuses exclusively on the benefits of exploiting cheap labour.  (There are never any costs from mass immigration in the pro-immigration view.)  There is no sappy talk about bringing people “out of the shadows” here.  The message is as blunt as it is appalling: “we” need our poor working underclass to make life comfortable for you.   

Via Common Reader

I tell you: the nineteenth century was one frigging amnesty after another. And the seventeenth century! We had no control of the borders whatsoever. ~Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan’s sarcastic remarks here are representative of the tenor and quality of the pro-immigration side of the argument, which is to say condescending and poor.  The quote above is particularly useful as a good example of the favourite pro-immigration tropes, related to the “nation of immigrants” rhetoric: border control is something relatively new and mass immigration of one sort or another has been happening for a long time.  They say this as if these were obviously and always good things.  There may have been times when more lax border control was more acceptable, when there was not a flood of labourers coming into the country each year, and there may have been times when mass immigration helped fuel American productivity when America had vast swathes of undeveloped land and insufficient manpower to make use of much of it.  

Pro-immigration advocates use these tropes as if the policies appropriate to the 1910s, 1810s, 1710s or 1610s were obviously the right policies for the present time.  There is no other area of policy where they would make such an argument (indeed, very few people would make such arguments about any area of policy).  It is surely only in the area of immigration where these proponents of mass immigration take the practices of a lightly populated colonial America, an expanding agrarian frontier society or an industrialising society from the past as prescriptive for the post-industrial present.  For many of these pro-immigration advocates, the religion, politics and prejudices of Americans over these centuries are embarrassing or even despicable, but their de facto approach towards immigration (with the exceptions of the interludes of “nativism”) is all right.  (Indeed, it is because they generally think so poorly of so much of the history of Old America that they want to constantly introduce new populations to continue transforming it away from that Old America.)  In every other way, pro-immigration advocates tend to regard every form of traditionalism, appeal to the past and imitation of past exempla as rigid, stodgy and backwards-looking.  They are wrong about all of these things, but curiously they have no problem dusting off ancient precedents to justify their present obsession. 

It is only on this policy question, the one where they happen to be stunningly wrong and outgunned by numerous social scientific arguments demonstrating the various social and economic problems created by current immigration policy (or lack thereof), that they discover the importance of venerable antiquity and the value of following the example of our ancestors.  Consequently, it is pro-immigration advocates who seem to be constrained by the blinders of myth and ideology.  This myth and ideology tell them that whatever was appropriate to the period of the frontier and continental expansion is also appropriate to our present society, despite its completely changed social and economic foundations.  When confronted with the far greater need for education to be able to flourish in modern society, they chant, not unlike war supporters prior to the invasion of Iraq who invoked WWII and the post-war occupations of Germany and Japan, “We have done it in the past, and we can do it again!”  That might make some sense, except that they show no evidence of knowing how to assimilate these immigrants, just as war supporters have never demonstrated any evidence that they know how to engage in successful democratisation or nation-building or any of the things that they claimed that “we” knew how to do so well.  Additionally, there is the problem that each successive wave changes who “we” are and makes the next period of assimilation less effective than the last.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) just pulled the immigration overhaul bill from the floor after it failed to clear a procedural hurdle.

“We bent over backwards” to accomodate Republicans who disliked the bill, Reid said. “We have to figure out a way to get this bill passed.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the top GOP critics of the bill, said: “This is a victory for sanity in this country.” ~The Politico

But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you’ve got to cap with a number. ~Bill O’Reilly

Now, is O’Reilly really saying that we need to defend the precious white, Christian, male power structure against a foreign onslaught, as his critics are suggesting? Or is he just saying, rather clumsily, that the “far-left” sees open immigration as a way to socially engineer America as we know it - which they perceive as dominated by a pernicious, patriarchal, Anglo-Saxon power structure - out of existence, as part of their “hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go” agenda? I think it’s ambiguous, and it seems at least as likely that he’s caricaturing lefty views as that he’s expressing his deep, dark Christofascist fantasties [sic]. ~Ross Douthat

First of all, I don’t think Bill O’Reilly would ever use the phrase “power structure” as part of his self-identification.  The O’Reillys of the world do not use phrases like “power structure” to express their own views.  “Power structure” is a phrase that academics–liberal academics whom the O’Reillys hate–would use to describe the organisation of a society.  It would be like Sean Hannity using the phrase “cultural appropriation” or Rush Limbaugh speaking about “othering” or “anomie.“  These are phrases and ideas that simply aren’t normally used by bombastic GOP talking heads, or if they are they are used ironically and with contempt.  It seems fairly clear that O’Reilly is talking here about what he thinks open borders supporters really want, and not about what he fears they want.  I say this because I don’t think O’Reilly cares much at all about said “power structure,” which is to say he’s not terribly concerned about white American Christians, their culture or their interests, but he knows that it is popular among these viewers to side with them on immigration.  

On the other hand, I don’t think it’s that strange of an interpretation of the open borders position.  Actual Republican advocates of open borders–for example, those on the right who hold the WSJ immigration and border security position–who want to declare, “There shall be open borders,” are clearly not just indifferent to whatever dominant culture exists in this country, but they are plainly hostile to any politics that espouses loyalty to cultural and religious traditions and identities that supersede or take priority over economic motives and economic efficiencies.  These loyalties can be a drag on productivity when they encourage feelings of patriotism and national identity, which can be a problem for those whose loyalties are to themselves as individuals, the moneyed interest or the profits of multinationals.  When forced to choose between the bottom line and the border, these are the people who will choose the bottom line.  As Henninger made clear earlier this week, it’s all about the money market. 

They are indifferent to what these traditions and identities are–they just know that they are annoying baggage to be dispensed with as soon as possible.  What the open borders crowd knows is that loyalties to tradition and cultural identity potentially hamper “growth,” cultivate the desire for belonging and exclusion and erect boundaries between nations that can make the free flow of goods and services more difficult.  Wherever there are cultural conservatives, they are the enemy of the open borders, globalisation crowd.  (This is why I have argued before that it is the natural conservative response to regard policies of globalisation as hostile and threatening.)  It happens that the cultural conservatives of this country are predominantly white and Christian, so this is what our latter-day Freisinnigen have decided ought to be undermined.  (Incidentally, anyone who thinks that introducing large numbers of Latin Americans into the United States threatens the existence of “patriarchy” doesn’t know what he’s talking about–those who are most keenly interested in women’s rights might reconsider importing cultural habits that tend to be inimical to women’s emancipation.) 

These open borders folks are the people who speak contemptuously of cultural conservatives for daring to want to conserve their own culture.  Retaining this or that culture, rather than just letting “creative destruction” work its magic of demographic and social upheaval, may introduce barriers to economic activity and it will certainly hinder the “free movement of labour” that economic efficiency may require.  There are other open borders advocates who are multiculturalists, who at the very least have no strong attachment to Anglo-American and/or Euro-American culture and many of whom are positively glad to introduce any number of cultures and languages into the country.  That this does and will continue to result in social and political fragmentation detrimental to everyone in the country is not their pressing concern.  These are the sorts of people O’Reilly was referring to, but what he failed to mention, probably because it is not a popular thing to say, is just how many people among American elites in business share multiculti goals in subverting the culture that white Christian conservatives are trying, however haphazardly, to protect and preserve.   

The Republican National Committee, hit by a grass-roots donors’ rebellion over President Bush’s immigration policy, has fired all 65 of its telephone solicitors, Ralph Z. Hallow will report Friday in The Washington Times.

Faced with an estimated 40 percent fall-off in small-donor contributions [bold mine-DL] and aging phone-bank equipment that the RNC said would cost too much to update, Anne Hathaway, the committee’s chief of staff, summoned the solicitations staff last week and told them they were out of work, effective immediately, the fired staffers told The Times. ~The Washington Times

Via Dan McCarthy

For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don’t like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don’t like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.

But on immigration it has changed from “Too bad” to “You’re bad.” ~Peggy Noonan

I can sympathise with Ms. Noonan’s disillusionment with Mr. Bush.  Of course, to be disillusioned requires that you had illusions and therefore failed to see things as they really were and are.  Impugning the motives of political opponents started at least in 2002.  Those who did not sign on for the full range of warfare state measures, including the abuses and excesses of the PATRIOT Act, were denounced and their patriotism denied.  Imputing villainy to political opponents was a major feature of the 2002 elections.  This was something that the GOP as a whole engaged in quite actively.  It was a Khaki election, and it was a good time to be a Bush cheerleader.  It wasn’t as if Mr. Bush dragged them kicking and screaming down this path.  They didn’t have their party and movement stolen from them–they gave them gleefully as if they were tributes to an overlord. 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Republicans gave up a lot to get Kennedy, particularly in agreeing to “Z” visas that would allow the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the United States to stay as legal residents and eventually seek citizenship. ~Fred Barnes

There are many problems with this argument, not least of which is that about a fifth of Hispanics in America are Protestants, mostly evangelical Pentecostals and Baptists. Almost all of Bush’s political gains among Hispanics have come from this group, which gave him 44 percent of their vote in 2000 and 56 percent in 2004. Hispanic Protestants tend to be conservative on social policy.  And many conservatives, I’d be willing to bet, would feel more cultural affinity with Hispanic Baptists in their church pews than they would with Huntington’s colleagues in the Harvard faculty lounge. ~Michael Gerson

This is amusing to read.  Gerson knocks anti-immigration populists as “lowbrow,” but wants to stir the populist pot against pointy-headed academics by pushing a crude evangelical identity politics that will supposedly unite Anglos and Latinos in their shared derision for scholars.  Gerson joins naked anti-intellectualism to anti-patriotic policy proposals.  An inspiring combination!  His motto might be, “We’re ignorant and transnational.”

Note that Gerson doesn’t tell us about the four-fifths of Hispanics who aren’t Protestant.  He doesn’t tell us what their politics are like, nor does he tell us about the cultural values they possess, because he probably knows, or at least guesses, that this information would be distinctly unhelpful to the cause of selling out his country.  The final lines, deploring national chauvinism, might have some credibility if they did not come from a former speechwriter of an administration that has masterfully honed the rhetoric of national chauvinism for the purposes of promoting aggressive warfare.  About that rather un-Christian behaviour, Gerson naturally never has anything to say.

If the Republican Party cannot find ways to appeal to natural entrepreneurs, with strong family values, who are focused on education and social mobility, then the GOP is already dead. ~Michael Gerson

That might be the case.  There is no obvious evidence that most Hispanic voters necessarily fit this bill, nor is there much evidence that the Hispanic voters who do fit this bill want to have an amnesty.  In any case, why does appealing to such voters have to involve a massive subversion of the law and the active encouragement of still more mass immigration?

For a certain kind of conservative, any attempt to grant a legal status to illegal immigrants is as welcome as salsa on their apple pie. ~Michael Gerson

Is there some reason why granting legal status to illegal immigrants should be received any more enthusiastically?  Also, salsa-on-apple-pie is just about as clumsy and blunt a metaphor as it gets.  The only worse way to say what Gerson means to say about these people (”these people don’t like Mexicans”) would be to talk about a tequilla-soaked flag.  This guy was a speechwriter?  For the President?

The survey’s finding that 70% of American Muslims favor a bigger government rebuts the conventional wisdom that the entrepreneurial nature of immigrant populations makes them a natural fit for the fiscally conservative approach that characterized the GOP (pre-W). ~George Ajjan

I really like the WSJ’s editorial page — I don’t know what we’d do without them. ~Andy McCarthy

We might have an honest debate about foreign policy in the Near East?

McCarthy continues:

But they have a nasty, condescending streak when they get on their high horse, as they do with their signature position on immigration.

As opposed to the folks at NR when it comes to discussing the war, since they are never nasty or condescending in the least.  Of course, the other problem is that the WSJ editorial page is always on its high horse about this or that, which makes it rather rich when contributors to that page claim to be engaged in something like dispassionate, hyperean contemplation and find the “aggressive” methods of bloggers unpleasant.  That is an important part of what I was saying in this post, the irony of which was apparently lost on everybody.

Meanwhile, here is Ponnuru channeling Buchanan:

It may also be that the assimilation of those earlier immigrants was aided by the cutoff in immigration from 1924 to 1965. I think that was almost certainly the case.

The GOP’s share of the Hispanic vote dropped in 1988, 1992, and 1996, before rising under Bush. Second of all, you would expect the Republicans to do better and better among Hispanics as the last amnesty receded into the past, and its beneficiaries assimilated and started to move up in the world. ~Ross Douthat

Someone would expect this, I think, if he thought that assimilated, successful immigrants normally have a natural tendency to break with the Democratic voting habits of most new immigrants.  This seems reasonable, but if it were true the GOP would be awash in Greek, Armenian and Asian voters.  Generally speaking, it is not.  Voting for Democrats in many ethnic immigrant communities is just the obvious thing to do, especially for those who come from political traditions that stress some greater measure of social solidarity.  Interestingly, these immigrants often tend to concentrate in large urban areas that either lean or are solidly Democratic, so this traditional preference for Democrats is reinforced by the very process of assimilation.  Further, suburbs are no longer always a reliable Republican stronghold, so it may be that even assimilated, successful immigrants who come out to the suburbs may not so much adopt suburban Republicanism as they will help speed the transformation of many suburbs into Democratic turf.  Inherited cultural and political attitudes are often more determinative of voting patterns than class or income.  The GOP has to be hoping that historical materialism is at least partly true and it has to be hoping that ideas do not, in fact, have many consequences at all (or at least fewer consequences than a nice salary).   

Ross points to a David Frum post that explains some of the reasons just how bad of a political death sentence that the new Senate immigration bill is for the GOP.  On one point, the scurrilous labeling of opponents of the bill as bigots, one member of the Senate GOP was already vindicating Frum’s prediction before he had made it.  It’s worth remembering that the administration used the same “if you don’t support this policy, you’re a racist” rhetoric in arguing for democratisation in Iraq.

Frum is right about some of the political consequences.  The impact of immigration on wages is real and hurts American workers, and the GOP just sided against those workers.  Rather than pursuing what some might call a “lower-middle” political strategy by defending the interests of American labour here, the GOP showed that its true loyalties always rest with employers.  This was a missed opportunity for a sane conservative populism and a gift to the Democrats.  It confirms that the GOP is competing for the mantle of Party of Immigration (but it will never win that particular competition), which will turn off millions of their voters, without actually winning over the voters they are trying to win over.  The slow-motion implosion of the GOP proceeds apace. 

It does expose the Terrible Trio as pro-amnesty or as latecomers to the issue, and it can only remind core Republican voters that the only reliable candidates on immigration with anything like long records are Hunter, Tancredo and Paul.  Whether or not this is “unhelpful” to the GOP depends a lot on whether you think the GOP has a remote chance of winning in 2008 (I don’t).  Damaging the “electable” candidates is only a bad thing if, well, you want one of those people elected President (I don’t).  If there is a pro-amnesty candidate nominated, many core voters will not be enthusiastic or mobilised behind him, based on the old “we want a choice, not an echo” logic, and any one of the “electable” ones will go down to ignominious defeat anyway.  Recent polls show that immigration is a priority for only about 7% of Republicans, but that’s a 7% the GOP needs to have energised and working for them.  Also, just because immigration does not take first place for a lot of people more concerned about the war doesn’t mean that it isn’t an important issue to them.  Just when you thought Mr. Bush couldn’t do any more damage to his party, he manages to come up with a body blow that could cripple it for the next few years.

The piece in question, in which Buchanan blames the Virginia Tech shootings on the Korean hordes who have entered the country in the past few decades, is a good example of why it’s so lonely over here on the moderate-restrictionist side of the immigration debate - because all the other restrictionists seem determined to take every chance they get to act like, well, the liberal caricature of an immigration opponent. ~Ross Douthat

Three points.  First, it’s lonely on the moderate restrictionist side because most people who start out as moderate restrictionists very quickly find themselves under assault from open borders fanatics who think that anyone to their right on immigration is a racist and aren’t afraid to say as much–therefore the moderate restrictionists sooner or later either cave into this blackmail or they eventually come into the Brimelovian camp to one degree or another.  Second, Mr. Buchanan’s target of choice in this case was perhaps not as well chosen as it probably should have been (since, as Steve Sailer of TAC and VDare, Koreans are a group with a very low rate of committing murder, which makes Cho Seung-Hui an even more freakish aberration from the norm than he would already have been).  The use of spectacular and extraordinary cases to vindicate general principles is usually a bad idea.  Pro-lifers who wanted to make or break the right to life on the Terri Schiavo case have learned, I hope, that they tended to make a mockery of what is generally a powerful, sacred truth.  Restrictionists can likewise take to excess the entirely legitimate public policy position that mass immigration increases crime generally and violent crime in particular, but this should be understood as an abuse of a legitimate argument, not as some sort of transparently absurd tub-thumping (such as, it seems to me, Ross and Reihan seem to making Mr. Buchanan’s article out to be).  Third, the very nature of the immigration “debate” in this country is such that if restrictionists cannot make the issue into a dire one of national security and public order it is virtually impossible to persuade large numbers of people to reject the dreadful nonsense they are routinely fed about this being a “nation of immigrants,” that importing cheap labour is good for the economy and the structure of our society and the idea that the failure to integrate millions of culturally alien people into our society is a recipe for success and happiness for all concerned.  Moderate restrictionist approaches, because they tend towards the incrementalist, the procedural and the technical, have something to recommend them (they tend to be better grounds for forging broad-based legislative compromises, for instance), but they leave the rhetorical field wide open to the abuses of open borders zealots who are allowed to contest the field almost unopposed because all “reasonable” people have agreed that more rigorous restrictionist views are not really admissible.  This sets up all restrictionists, moderate and rigorous, for ultimate defeat. 

In other words, unless restrictionists of any kind (moderate or rigorist) cast the isssue as one of letting into the country foreigners who threaten you (and also make it sound much more frightening than it really is) nobody much cares, because most people aren’t thinking about long-term demographic, cultural or socioeconomic consequences of cheap labour today.  There are rooves to be repaired and gardens to be tended, so don’t tell them about the damage being done to the wages of native-born labour or the creation of an exploited underclass.  (Hundreds of small towns take similarly short-sighted approaches to “development,” selling their birthright for a Super Wal-Mart, but that is another story.)  The main way to get the attention of the mass democratic public is, unfortunately, to shock them with the threat of immediate danger.  I suppose this is why so many Republicans engage in hyperbolic rhetoric when talking about the threat from jihadis–if the danger is not overhyped and magnified beyond all reason, virtually no one will take it seriously.  This is probably why liberal activists are constantly in ‘crisis’ mode, because they learned a long time ago that people in this country don’t even blink unless someone mentions that there is a ’crisis’ in such-and-such an area.  This is also probably why some environmentalists tend to verge on the hysterical, since their policy recommendations would otherwise be so completely unpopular that they have to overcompensate by making their issue seem like one of life or death for the entire planet. 

If restrictionists do cast the issue in this more alarmist way (i.e., in the only way that will make the issue politically meaningful to most people), they are declared hopelessly marginal and extreme–usually by moderate restrictionists who want to make it clear that they favour limitations on immigration, but they are not like those wacky VDare people.  When casting the issue this way is also much more accurate (viz. Resendez Ramirez and, indeed, the prison population of the border states), moderate restrictionists will still tend to shy away from it because it smacks of, well, taking the issue of restricting immigration a little too seriously.  Many moderate restrictionists seem to take the view that, yes, on balance there should be some control over the borders and reform of the immigration system with an eye towards limiting levels of immigrants into the country, but when it comes right down to it they do not believe it to be either terribly urgent or crucial.  It is one policy issue in a raft of others and you can ultimately take it or leave it. 

More rigorous restrictionists obviously take it much more seriously, which sometimes leads them to make excessive statements about the wrong cases, even though such statements might be only too appropriate in other cases.  The episode of the Hmong hunter who went on a shooting spree in Minnesota, while technically an isolated incident, did highlight the problems the Hmong have assimilating into American society after coming from Laos (something to bear in mind before  we start welcoming in boatloads of Iraqis fleeing the nightmare of their ruined country), and the recent case of Muslim immigrants plotting (crudely and amateurishly) to attack a military base in New Jersey suggests that the kind of argument Mr. Buchanan was making is a valid and necessary one, albeit one that missed its mark in this particular case. 

Rosa Brooks (she of the Obama-is-the-Messiah school) and Will Wilkinson talk about reproduction, yielding this priceless line from Wilkinson (which I am obviously taking out of context):

“You can replace immigrants with robots.”

The more serious point is that Wilkinson is not terribly concerned by the demise of this or that culture.  Okay, so we have established again that many libertarians are not concerned about cultural identity, but we knew that already.  The reason why potential demographic collapse in the West seems worrisome to non-libertarians (a.k.a., 98% of the population) is that the demise of our culture does worry us if for no other reason than that it is ours and that we want to impart it to the more than 2.1 children we are having in our desire to avoid “deplorable solipsism.”

Of course, it’s true that cultures come to an end.  It’s true that cultures change.  However, cultures seek to reproduce themselves, and the way that they do this is through the convictions of those who bear this culture that it is worth preserving and passing on to the next generation (which rather assumes that there will be a next generation to which one can pass the cultural inheritance to).  It seems to me that the habits of perpetuating cultural traditions and teaching them to the next generation on the assumption that your culture actually has some value and is worth keeping for its own sake, quite apart from any happiness it gives you, are so deeply engrained, indeed so normal and widespread throughout every traditional society, that it is difficult to regard with equanimity a rather blase and indifferent reaction to the death of our own culture.

In Istanbul last Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the nomination of Abdullah Gul as president of Turkey. In Paris next Sunday, Nicolas Sarkozy will very likely be elected president of France.  These two events are geographically distant but closely connected in political terms. Together they explain a bald fact of life: Turkey is not going to join the European Union. And they also illustrate one more contradiction—and failure—of the neoconservative project. ~Geoffrey Wheatcroft

There is a relationship between the events unfolding in Turkey and France, and happily both do signal setbacks for the politics and policies neocons in America would like to see in these countries.  But tying these events in with neoconservatism is a bit overdone.  Goodness knows I would love any opportunity to point out yet another example of neocon failure, but this time their failure, such as it is, is a pretty small part of the story.  The protests against Abdullah Gul represent the profound schism within Turkish politics between the predominantly secular elite and urban middle class and the rural masses and the working class.  The neocons might never have existed, and this would still have happened.  Sarkozy’s rise is the result of a backlash against the rather more multiculti, hands-off approach to questions of immigration and assimilation (and, related, law and order) that France had sought to pursue under both Socialist and Gaullist governments.  The 2005 riots discredited lax law enforcement and the lax approach to integration and made Sarko the man to watch, because he alone among top-level French politicians seemed to understand that this was a burning issue (no pun intended) that had to be addressed, both for his own political advantage (naturellement) and for what he considered the good of the country.  Likewise, these events internal to France would have occurred in one form or another had The Weekly Standard never wasted the life of a single tree by being printed. 

Both events do repudiate core ideas of latter-day neoconservatism: that nations are a function of shared ideals and “values” and nothing more; that Muslim populations can and should be smoothly and easily incorporated into the West and/or that Islam and democracy are readily compatible; that mass, non-Western immigration is a good in and of itself and must be maximised.  Either in Turkey or in France or sometimes in both countries, these ideas are not doing very well at the moment.  However, all of the actors in these events are not thinking about the neocons at all, except when they completely misunderstand what a neocon is and think that Nicolas Sarkozy, who is a kind of French Thatcher if not even a French Pat Buchanan in certain ways, fits the bill.  In fact, the failure of Turkish entry has as much to do lately with Turkish hyper-nationalism, the continued denial of the Armenian genocide, the prosecutions of dissidents who insist on talking about the genocide and the state-encouraged murder of Hrant Dink as it has to do with anything related to AKP per se.  Turkish poverty and booming demographics would make the EU wary of admitting the country regardless of anything that was happening in Turkish politics.  Except for the despicable coat-holding that the administration does for such genocide denialism, one cannot actually pin any of that on the neocons, either, though their general silence and implicit hypocrisy on this matter are amazing.  They ignore genocide denialism while they are only too happy to meddle in every foreign crisis by calling it a genocide and demanding that something be done about it. 

So it is true that neoconservatives tend to be unduly enthusiastic for Turkish entry into the EU.  They seem to like to encourage anything that would weaken and/or destroy Europe, especially when it comes to Christians in Europe, and they continue to operate under the strange assumption that advocating for Turkish entry into the EU will somehow win America a nice finish in the Global Muslim Opinion Derby.  This is like the sad spectacle of Republicans voting for Puerto Rican statehood in a lame attempt to win Hispanic votes in California and Texas, when these voters don’t care about Puerto Rico, or the sadder spectacle of selling out on immigration in a desperate bid to win over Hispanic voters who don’t like illegal immigration anyway.  How many times have we heard the neocon lament: “Why don’t these Saudi and Egyptian Muslims appreciate all that we’ve done for the Albanians?”  Um…maybe because they‘re not Albanians?     

In the end, Mr. Wheatcroft does not demonstrate any clear connection between neocons and the secularist resistance to Gul or the voters’ support for Sarkozy.  He only vaguely outlines the connection between Turkish membership in the EU and Sarko’s popularity.  The connection is obvious, if we understand that Sarko’s popularity is driven in no small part by French anxiety about Muslim and African immigration.  If French leftists think of Sarko as a “neocon with a French passport,” they obviously don’t understand neocon views on immigration.  Mr. Wheatcroft mentions that the war has inflamed Turkish anti-Americanism, which is true, and it has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Turkish hyper-nationalists in viewing the Kurdish population as a fifth column and traitors, but if anything opposition to American policy in Iraq and opposition to an independent Kurdistan have served as things holding together such disparate political forces as the hyper-nationalists, the CHP and AKP.  Turkey is badly politically divided, but with their war the neocons have given all Turks something they can all hate together.  In the end, neocons are not even on the stage in these dramas.  Indeed, they have become entirely irrelevant to large parts of the world they would try to rule, and that may be the most damning indictment of them one can make.

Mark Krikorian is optimistic that we are not approaching a point of no return with respect to amnesty and mass immigration.  I think he is probably too optimistic.  He cites as a supporting example Muslim support for the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen.  As Mr. Krikorian writes:

Jeez — if Arabs can vote for a guy like Le Pen, then a Republican Party that is optimistic and welcoming toward immigrants, but firm in its support of muscular enforcement and lower numbers, shouldn’t have any problem holding its own among Hispanics, especially if we reduce new inflows and let our still-strong (compared to Europe) assimilative forces do their work. 

Certainly there is a kind of irony of the old paratrooper who fought in Algeria making a deal with the children and grandchildren of some of the people he fought against, but as The New York Sun reported two months ago Le Pen had started moving towards an alliance with French Muslims.  As a cynical move to latch on to the fastest-growing population in the country, it is very clever.  As a massive sell-out to the entire platform to which the National Front was supposedly dedicated, it is hardly a very encouraging example for restrictionists in America.

The Sun article also said:

The National Front is surprisingly popular among Muslim immigrants or second-generation Muslim citizens. For all its campaigning about immigration, Mr. Le Pen’s party has always extended support to Arab and Islamic causes abroad, from Saddam’s Iraq to Arafat’s or Hamas Palestine, and from Al Qaeda to Iran. And it is as firmly anti-American and anti-Jewish as the Muslim community itself tends to be.

Even taking this with the grain of salt that any reporting about Le Pen in the Sun requires, it makes sense that there are other, non-immigration positions that draw Muslim voters to support the FN.  Le Pen making a deal with the Muslims in France is the equivalent of surrender and collaboration in the hopes of creating favourable conditions for yourself in the new order.  It is rather less encouraging news and feeds into pessimism that Europe really is finished if some of the most vehement opponents of mass immigration from the south are effectively throwing in the towel.  

Being critical of Israel is hardly unusual on either left or right in Europe, and opposition to the Iraq war is also hardly unique, but Le Pen has always been consistently much more, er, vehement in his denunciations of both.  By comparison, I know of very little in the Republican Party platform that would actually trump the many natural advantages the Democrats have with a growing Hispanic immigrant population.  Enforcement and reduced numbers probably are somewhat popular with second or third-generation, more assimilated Hispanic voters, but there is too little working in the GOP’s favour with these voters otherwise. 

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t have enforcement and reduced numbers (we certainly should), but it is to say that it will not be possible for the GOP to have its cake and eat it, too.  Le Pen’s example can only encourage the “pro-amnesty Republicans” who hope to make a deal with Hispanic voters.  If the French example is any indication of what will happen here, it also means that there will eventually be a tipping point when restrictionists will find themselves so badly outnumbered that they may feel compelled for other reasons to de-prioritise immigration restriction and try to join forces with the people they have been working to keep out of the country.  

I’ve given Mickey Kaus a hard time lately (and I was so close to getting on bloggingheads, I’m sure), but he has an excellent post on the pro-amnesty media distortions in reporting on immigration policy debate (while also delivering a few more right hooks to Adam Nagourney’s bruised jaw).  We are all fairly familiar with these distortions, beginning with the misleading language that pro-amnesty folks get to call their position “comprehensive,” which implies that opposition to amnesty somehow fails to contend with the entire problem.  Restrictionists and enforcement-first folks are really the ones who take the problem at all seriously, while open borders advocates would like to wave a wand and declare that which has been illegal to now be legal.  Of course, the only thing comprehensive about any of the McCain or Hagel legislation on immigration is the comprehensiveness of the surrender of our borders and country. 

Kaus also makes the crucial point that the Pence plan isn’t a compromise plan, but a scam to sucker restrictionist and pro-enforcement members to back what will effectively be no better than amnesty.  For those who think they wanted Mike Pence to be in a position of leadership in the House, this is the main reason why you should feel relieved that he lost the leadership contest.

He [Brownback] praised the dozen immigrants in the crowd at Oracle’s Nashua office, where more than a third of the engineers come from China, India and other countries.

“You make us strong,” he said. “You make us great. This is a nation of immigrants. . . . Thank you for helping us build a new box, a new mousetrap, for taking this nation to the world.” ~Concord Monitor

A new box?  Are there really that many ways to build a box?  Does Brownback think that the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants from Latin America are busily building “new mousetraps”?  It’s stupid, effusively sentimental episodes like this that make conservatives want to say zaijian and aujo to Samnesty.

According to the new Times poll (.pdf), support for America ”changing a dictatorship to a democracy where it can” (question 18) has shrunk to a new low of 15% against 69% opposition (the highest level in the last twenty years), which is 20 points higher than in 2003.  48% favour reducing legal immigration (question 16).  Among Republicans, 48% still oppose changing a dictatorship to a democracy when possible, which means that one of the signature ideas of Bush foreign policy receives the support of barely one-third of his party, and 51% of Republicans want reduced legal immigration as opposed to 14% that want more and 31% that want it to continue at its present level.  How can a party so at odds with Mr. Bush’s policies not only continue to support him at absurdly high rates?  More importantly, how is it that they seem to be rallying to the establishment candidates who embrace the same policies in which significant pluralities or majorities of Republicans do not believe?

In a sure sign of partisan loyalty and voter irrationality or sheer ignorance of the President’s own positions on the above, 69% of Republicans believe that George Bush “has the same priorities for the country as you have” (question 30).

“That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture,” Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday. ~AP

The “persecution of our migrant brothers”?  Clearly, these folks don’t know who they’re dealing with.  If only they knew just how non-persecutorial Dobleve is, they might reconsider their ritual cleansing and give him a hero’s welcome instead.  There are still the wars, I suppose, so maybe they could purify the land of just those war-related ”bad spirits” and be done with it. 

However, in spite of this, I believe that Mr. Bush might be able to find some common ground with the Mayan priests.  It is said of classical Mayan religion:

The life-cycle of maize lies at the heart of Maya belief. This philosophy is demonstrated on the Maya belief in the Maize God as a central religious figure. The Maya bodily ideal is also based on the form of the young Maize God, which is demonstrated in their artwork. The Maize God was also a model of courtly life for the Classical Maya.

If this holds true today, Mr. Bush could make an appeal to Mayan traditionalism by promoting ethanol, as he has been doing all over Latin America.  Sam Brownback really needs to get on the ball with his fight for Mayan rights.  As this would suggest, it would be the perfect marriage of his ethanol pandering and his bleeding-heart need to meddle in the affairs of other countries.

Matthew Dowd, who was a senior strategist to George W. Bush in 2000 and his chief strategist in 2004, has said that if Republicans are to win national elections in the future, they must increase their share of the minority vote. And the Hispanic vote is the most fertile ground.

“Hispanics are more like European immigrants of the early 1900s or late 1800s,” Dowd said. “They are like the Irish: They start out Democratic, but as they become part of the economic mainstream, they become much more valuable to Republicans.” ~The Politico

That must be why there are so many Armenian-American Republicans running around.  Who can forget the great work done by Hnchaks for Bush in ‘04?  That’s also why there are so many Irish-American Republican voters tipping Massachusetts, New York and Illinois into the GOP column on a regular basis.  Obviously, there are some Irish-Americans who have been or have become Republicans (Reagan was the most famous example), just as you had a large number of white ethnic voters who changed party affiliations in the ’80s or, in some cases, even earlier, but I am guessing that non-European immigrant groups tend to affiliate with the Republicans in relatively smaller numbers and these low levels of support for the GOP persist generation after generation.  It was probably culture war and national defense matters that brought a lot of these ethnic voters over to the GOP side, rather than the result of the gradual embourgeoisement of the immigrant groups.  That doesn’t absolutely rule out the possibility that the latter will bring in a few new supporters, but the overwhelming majority will always go to the Democrats, because they embody the political values and programs that the immigrant groups are more likely to embrace because of the political habits they have inherited and brought with them.  The GOP can wage demographic revolution against this country, but they should not mistake it for the route, whether in the short or long term, to their own future political dominance. 

Roosevelt had a special appeal to immigrants, and as one congressman put it this week, “Immigrants are the lifeblood on which this country is built.” Well said! ~Joseph Sobran

Apparently, they never even get that far:

The women of Tecalpulco, Mexico, want the U.S. government to enforce its immigration laws because they want to force their husbands to come back home from working illegally in the United States. 
They have created an English-language Web page where they identify themselves as the “wetback wives” and broadcast their pleas, both to their men and to the U.S. government. 
“To the United States government — close the border, send our men home to us, even if you must deport them (only treat them in a humane manner — please do not hurt them),” it reads. 
In poignant public messages to their husbands, the women talk about their children who feel abandoned, and worry that the men have forsaken their families for other women and for the American lifestyle.

Er, so how does this fit into the “compassionate conservative” mantra exactly?  Where exactly are the happy, pious, family-oriented deeply Catholic Republican-voting families of Wall Street Journal myth?   

This news item is such a shock to the system of some open borders advocates that it seems to be shaking their faith in creative destruction itself.  But what did Kudlow think “creative destruction” meant?  It doesn’t refer to the rough-and-tumble world of competition, hostile takeovers and “downsizing” alone, but to the social and other effects of “rational” economic decisions (what the economists and their followers like to euphemistically call “externalities”).  It refers to the uprooting of communities, the scattering of peoples, the division of families, the neglect of children, the disregarding of solemn vows, the ruin of the landscape, the perversion of man’s labour.  It is not too much to say that one cannot be a social conservative, as Kudlow describes himself, if he is effectively indifferent to these things or positively in favour of them.  Perhaps even someone as rabidly pro-business as Kudlow could be persuaded that mass immigration is bad in many ways for the social fabric of the home countries and the host countries alike?  I won’t be holding my breath, but it is interesting that this news seems to have caught him off guard and actually given him pause.  If the real effects of mass immigration can make Kudlow stop and think, the open borders lobby may be headed for a fall.   

Incidentally, it doesn’t help his credibility that Sam Brownback shows absolutely no awareness of the fundamental contradiction between his socially conservative views on the family and his laissez-faire approach to immigration policy.

Given that the liberal elites have ignored the 70% black out-of-wedlock birth rate for decades in discussing the causes of black poverty, I am confident that open borders conservatives will prove just as capable of ignoring the 48% Hispanic out-of-wedlock birth rate as they perpetuate the myth of redemptive Hispanic family values. ~Heather Mac Donald

For all of the very critical things I have had to say about her remarks about conservatism, religion and the religious, Ms. Mac Donald really shines when she speaks about empirical evidence.  She knows what she’s talking about here, and I don’t say this simply because I fully agree with her rejection of the pro-immigration “family values” rhetoric.

Mr. Bush used to have an old stand-by line that has, thankfully, been retired from service for the time being.  “Family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.”  This was supposed to be a clever way to cajole social conservatives into embracing amnesty.  It didn’t work.  It did manage to convince many of us that “compassionate conservatism” was a bad joke.  But Mr. Bush was right in a sense–these values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.  To look at Ms. Mac Donald’s numbers, if 48% of Hispanics are outside of wedlock “family values” don’t even reach the Rio Grande in some parts of the country.  If they had their way, the open borders crowd would help make sure that this family values-free zone increased in size at a steady rate. 

The reason for the open borders crowd’s indifference to such empirical evidence is pretty clearly ideological.  It doesn’t matter that there actually are so many out-of-wedlock births among Hispanics–the ideologue knows that all Hispanics are Catholics (which is increasingly untrue) and that such Catholics must have families probably just like 19th and early 20th century eastern European families (definitely untrue) and that, somehow, social and political revolution has not affected Catholics from Latin America (absolutely untrue).  In this fantasy, to which even some conservative Catholics in this country may be very susceptible (Sam Brownback, this means you), the moral and social changes that have obviously swept over the Catholic world everywhere else to significant effect must have never reached Mexico and points south.  While accusing other conservatives of nostalgia for olden times, the open borders crowd still seems to imagine Latin America as it was maybe fifty years ago or more, or perhaps simply as some ideal type of traditional society that can be used as a way to refuel the drained moral batteries of modern America.  

Ideology is usually the cause for most examples of people ignoring evidence.  In this case, the ideology involves holding at least these three ideas: America is a nation of immigrants, therefore it is inevitably good for American society to have more immigrants, it is even better to have hardy, Catholic immigrants who possess good “values” and because they are hardy, Catholic immigrants it would be hypocritical for Christians to want to keep them from coming here and it would also be anti-Catholic bigotry.  It is a potent little cocktail of cant, ignorance and political blackmail all rolled into one.  It will take a lot of work presenting the evidence to the public to break the spell this ideology has on policymakers. 

Finding all things Putnam-related, Steve Sailer points us to this 2004 Economist story, which reported:

Less back-slapping will occur during Mr Putnam’s return visit next week, to a private seminar organised by the home secretary. That is because his research has taken a dismal turn. A large ongoing survey of American communities seems to show, uncomfortably, that levels of trust and co-operation are highest in the most homogenous neighbourhoods. People living in diverse areas, it turns out, are not just more suspicious of people who don’t look like them; they are also more suspicious of their own kind. Because of that, they suffer socially, economically and politically. 

It may be worth noting that this lack of trust also functions as an obstacle to the creation of social democratic welfare systems, as a lack of social homogeneity seems to make people less willing to support such a system when it is for the benefit of a different group of people.  Scandinavian welfarism has succeeded, if we can call it success, because of their (until recently) almost entirely homogenous populations.  Thus it is often in those countries with the most elaborate dole systems that mass immigration causes the greatest resentment.  Earlier in the same week in February 2004, The Guardian published David Goodhart’s essay, in which he advanced this argument that promoting and celebrating ethnic diversity actually weakened support for social welfarism.  Thus Goodhart:

Evolutionary psychology stresses both the universality of most human traits and - through the notion of kin selection and reciprocal altruism - the instinct to favour our own. Social psychologists also argue that the tendency to perceive in-groups and out-groups, however ephemeral, is innate. In any case, Burkeans claim to have common sense on their side. They argue that we feel more comfortable with, and are readier to share with and sacrifice for, those with whom we have shared histories and similar values. To put it bluntly - most of us prefer our own kind.  

But what if you are like Bagehot, who finds “his own kind” to be tyrannical and an impediment to an exciting, creative life?  To explain, here’s The Economist again:

Even if there were a stark choice between diversity and social solidarity, it is not clear that the latter would be better. In 1856 Walter Bagehot, deprived of the diversity which the past century and a half has brought, railed against his tight-knit society, which he thought stifled excitement and innovative thinking. “You may talk of the tyranny of Nero and Tiberius,” he wrote, “but the real tyranny is the tyranny of your next-door neighbour.”

Certainly one can sympathise with Mr. Bagehot’s neighbours, who probably felt just as strongly about the frequent impositions of his views that he made upon the community, but what we have here is nothing so much as the perfect example of someone not knowing how good he has it.  There was a fair amount of innovative thinking going on in mid-19th century Britain, as Steve Sailer notes, so what can it possibly mean to say that a tight-knit society of Bagehot’s day ”stifles excitement and innovative thinking”?  Presumably, the “excitement” Bagehot sought is not that of what people euphemistically call “vibrant” neighbourhoods (on why writers should avoid using the word vibrant, see here).  As for “innovative thinking,” why would it be the case that increased diversity would produce it?  If diversity helps to weaken bonds of trust between and within groups, it probably also encourages people to retreat into ever-more comfortable and lazy assumptions as effective communication and the exchange of information go the way of trust.  It adds nothing to ”innovative thinking” if the different groups in a city or country do not speak much to each other because of fear and suspicion, and it adds nothing if they do not even use the same language.    

Usually whenever a multiculti makes comparisons between the “tight-knit” homogenous society and what would have to be the “threadbare” diverse society, he summons a vision of an impoverished village of illiterate pig farmers on the one hand and the pulsating energy of pre-1997 Hong Kong, and then asks his urbanite audience, “Where would you rather live?  In a penthouse in Hong Kong or in a thatched hut with no floor among the pigs?  See, diversity is great!”  Somehow I suspect the average person’s experience of the boons of diversity is more like the mutual suspicion and hostility of modern L.A.  For what’s worth, I would wager that people living in Baghdad today would prefer less “excitement” and more real neighbourliness.  Baghdadis do have to worry about the “tyranny of the neighbour,” but this is mainly because their neighbours are of a different sect in a time when sectarian identity has become far more pronounced and meaningful.  Obviously, when there is no social cohesion, people have a hard enough time surviving, much less engaging in “innovative thinking.” 

Populism has gotten a bad odor, and not just among plutocrats—for most of the political chattering class, it is at least faintly pejorative. But I think that’s about to change: When economic hope shrivels and the rich become cartoons of swinish privilege, why shouldn’t the middle class become populists? What Professor Hacker calls “office-park populism” will be a main engine of any new cyclical progressive renaissance. The question is whether we’ll elect steady, visionary FDR-like national leaders—Bloomberg? Obama?—who can manage to keep populism’s nativist, Luddite tendencies in check. ~Kurt Andersen, New York Magazine

Via Reihan

Reihan pointed out this column as an example of the astonishingly boring and unimaginative writing Mr. Andersen produces when he turns to columns.  He’s right–it is a terribly boring and unimaginative column.  Leave it to a New Yorker to take something as elemental and interesting as popular protest and social unrest and turn it into just another banging of the New Deal coalition drum.  The quote above is representative of the good liberal Northeasterner who sees the opportunity to exploit popular discontent with what he calls the “casino economy” but who refuses to give any indication that the the hordes of so-called “nativist Luddites” whom he so plainly loathes are the very people any populist candidate will need to win over.  It is strange how quickly he turns to references to the super-aristocratic FDR, a man who simply oozes upper class condescension, to make an argument for the “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore” approach to politics.  There is nothing necessarily amiss in having aristocrats of one kind or another take up popular and populist causes, but the fawning admiration for FDR tends to confirm that there is nothing very populist about this kind of politics.  It may be in some sense a progressive kind of politics, but that is a very different strain in American political history.  The Dobbsian appeal to those whom Brooks called the populist-nationalists is quite distinct and, on some things, starkly opposed to anything FDR-like, whether we are speaking of trade, immigration or foreign policy.

There was one hint of something interesting in Andersen’s column that has gone unmentioned so far.  He writes:

We can afford to make life a little more fair and a lot less scary for most people. It’s not only a matter of virtue and national self-image. Because the future that frightens me isn’t so much a too-Hispanic U.S. caused by unchecked Mexican immigration, but a Latin Americanized society with a high-living, blithely callous oligarchy gated off from a growing mass of screwed-over peons.

That’s all well and good, except that the likelihood of creating the Latin Americanised, highly stratified society of the rich few and the poor many is greatly increased if America continues to import the political values (which are rather “Luddite” in their own left-populist way), poverty and people of Latin America.  That is something that I have been arguing for quite a few months now.

What’s gone wrong with the GOP? Let me start by quoting a friend who is both gay and conservative (yes, I know several such): “I’m for low taxes, strong defense and limited government. Why doesn’t the Republican party want me?”

There’s a two-part answer to that question and neither half is good news. The first is that today’s GOP doesn’t really want gays — and it yearns to supervise everybody else’s bedroom and reproductive behavior as well as (implicitly, at least) their relationship to God.  ~Chester Finn

To Sullivan, this is “calling it like it is,” which means in Sullivanese, “calling it in a way that I, Sullivan, approve of.”  A small problem: it gets “today’s GOP” horrendously wrong on at least two of the three points of this ”first part” that is supposed to give an answer to Chester “Some Of My Best Friends Are Gay” Finn’s gay friend. 

A party that wants to supervise everyone’s bedroom, whether figuratively or literally, does not exist in this country.  Search high and low, you will not find it.  (Apropos of nothing, I am reminded here of the old, rather stale joke that Democrats keep the blinds open when no one wants to see what’s going on, while Republicans close the blinds when there is nothing to see.)  There are many conservatives and Republicans who think that state sodomy laws should have been kept on the books, and there are probably some who would like to see them brought back into force (count me in), but “today’s GOP” is, if anything, more hostile to those people in its ranks than ever before.  This is not a compliment, by any means, but it is the reality. 

Likewise, while there are a great many pro-life conservatives who refuse to let infanticide be justified under the cover of “reproductive behavior,” there is a fairly limited constituency for “supervising” everyone’s “reproductive behavior” in the sense of regulating everyone’s sex lives.  There are virtually no conservatives I know of who think that this is really the government’s business, much as they may deplore everything else about the current state of sexual mores and certainly do condemn sexual immortality wherever they find it. 

Finally, there is simply the lie that “today’s GOP” wants to supervise everyone’s relationship to God.  There has not been a more religiously indifferentist GOP since the rise of the Religious Right than there is today.  Some may view this as progress (I do not), but this fantasy that a party that is currently strongly entertaining the prospect of possibly nominating either John McCain or Rudy Giuliani for President is a party desperate to make everyone get right with God is simply delusional and, I dare say, self-serving for those who are not terribly interested in God.  It is a party on the fast-track to a secular, “pragmatic” politics that will leave its religious and social conservative supporters cold.  It is interested in many things, but its members’ relationship with God is not really one of them.  Again, this is not praiseworthy, but it is the reality. 

Romney may be upended in the primaries by his Mormonism, but this will be a clear case of the party’s base rejecting someone actively pushed by establishment forces and official party propaganda, er, opinion organs; “today’s GOP” wants to be ever more the big tent.  The lesson they had drawn in 2000 and which they have drawn yet again in 2006 was that inclusivity should be the core principle.  That is what the party machinery and leadership want.  Whether the people who traditionally associate with the party leadership want the same thing is another question. 

All of this has been obscured by stories about Rove’s “base strategy,” which implies a narrow sectarian focus driven by fanatics (or whatever it is people think the base of the GOP is), when the “base strategy” was designed to mobilise “the base” to show up at the polls while offering them virtually nothing in terms of practical policy proposals.  Mobilisation was achieved mainly through whipping up fear of the demonic left and the Islamofascist. 

If the GOP has no positive agenda today, this is not new.  It has not had one to speak of for six years beyond Clintonesque tailored policy proposals that appealed to all of 2% of the population and offended no major constituency enough to create a problem.  The “faith-based” initiative!  Funding for combating AIDS in Africa!  Partial privatisation of Social Security was the big exception and the big (failed) gamble.  This strategy was fairly successful, and in normal years could lead to victory, but it was not enough to overcome massive discontent in the rest of the population. 

It had the disadvantage of giving “moderate” Republicans the impression of much greater religious conservative strength in the coalition than actually existed, which is now serving to fragment the coalition by lending credibility to fantastical stories of religious conservative influence that have no merit whatever.  Now the David Brookses of the world and the suburbanites are apparently departing from the big tent, because they have come to believe that it is a Pentecostal revival tent, when it is actually something much more like a circus tent, in which the Ringmaster keeps the religious conservatives locked in their cages.

Some of the rest of Mr. Finn’s indictment of the GOP has much more substance to it: the abandonment of limited government principles (I hear Ross grinding his teeth); the new preference for centralised, federal policies on all manner of things conservatives used to leave to local and state governments (No Child Left Behind being cited, correctly, as a major example of this betrayal).

I agree with Mr. Finn that the immigration policy “schism” is deplorable, but only because the Senate hamstrung a perfectly good opportunity for a border security and enforcement bill with a lot of misguided amnesty-lite.  The lack of consensus about immigration has been a killer.  The “nativism” of the fairly popular proposal to secure the border and check illegal immigration is not the great problem of our time.  Mr. Finn’s following statements sum up why the GOP may well have no future in this country:

Let the Democrats be split by anti-immigrant trade unions and job-wary blacks. Let the GOP say “Welcome. Play by the rules — before and after you come — and we’ll find a way to make you legal.”

Leave aside for the moment that Mr. Finn is apparently unaware that the “trade unions” have long since sold out this country for the sake of new immigrant membership.  His idea is folly.  He is saying, in other words, break the rules, but then “play by the rules” (whatever this means), and we will ignore the rules you have broken so that you will (possibly) vote for us.  The immigrants will say, “Hey, thanks,” and then vote for the other side anyway as they always do.  If the Democrats had two brain cells among them, they would seize the high ground on combating illegal immigration, Harold Ford-style, and send the GOP into electoral oblivion for the next generation.  To heed Mr. Finn on this point is very simply electoral doom for the GOP.

Then Mr. Finn offers this piece of wisdom:

Third, some of the party’s environmental positions are embarrassing, above all its denial of the global-warming problem and all that it portends.  How can the U.S. deal energetically with such enormous warmers as China and India if it doesn’t first acknowledge that the icecaps are melting and human activity is at least partly responsible?

Supposing that we grant that human activity is partly responsible, which is at least conceivable, and even supposing that we grant that climate change is a real “problem” and not a recurring event in the history of the earth to which we will adjust gradually as it changes gradually, do we think that this will have any impact on India or China?  What concrete measures might we take to show our acknowledgement of these realities (if they are what he says they are)?  Approve Kyoto, perhaps?  To what end?  If the most egregious “warmers,” as he puts it, are outside of any convention, what good would any such measure do?  In other words, what might conservatives and the GOP do significantly differently that would have any impact on the worst polluting nations in the world?  Further, if human activity is not the primary cause of climate change, what would action on climate change accomplish that would not impose tremendous costs on all modernised and developing societies?  It is true that conservatives could do better than the usual indifferentism they show on many conservation questions, but I continue to remain a skeptic on climate change enthusiasms and the presumption that climate change is either so rapid or so destructive as the prophets proclaim.

Mr. Finn is correct, however, that the GOP and the movement are on “autopilot.”  Given his suggestions in this article, I am not inclined to hand the controls over to him or those of like mind with him, but it is undoubtedly the case that some attempt must be made at providing something like a coherent flight plan that does not involve, as the current course does, flying into the side of a mountain.

Murray Rothbard embraced the lunatic fringe of the anti-war movement for reasons that remain somewhat puzzling. ~Reihan

But there is really nothing puzzling about this.  George Grant (not a libertarian, I know) was as vociferous a critic of “American imperialism” in Vietnam as the most hard-core of war opponents down here were, but no one would have confused him with someone who inhabited the “lunatic fringe.”  It is much easier to understand why an American libertarian, for whom state coercion is a virtually unmitigated evil and for whom any hint of aggression is a mark of profound immorality and a violation of the rights of others, would have strongly opposed Vietnam and would have found himself in the company of “the lunatic fringe,” since it was mostly this fringe that actively opposed the war in the beginning.  For reasons that continue to escape me, many of the most otherwise sensible people in the world become very strange and almost irrational when the subject of this or that war comes up.  Opposition to our many bad wars in the 20th century was often reserved to, or was at least characterised as the work of, “the lunatic fringe,” which may be more or less accurate depending on the war, because all “respectable” people were frequently conventionally in support of the war (regardless of whether it really made any sense to support it).  I think WWII and Roosevelt had a lot to do with encouraging the bad habit of making support for wars into the obvious, default and respectable alternative.  Calling war opponents ”the lunatic fringe” is probably most accurate about opponents of Vietnam, and yet the presence of someone as wise and sober as Murray Rothbard suggests that it may be a lot less accurate than many of us would like to suppose.  There were slightly more compelling reasons for U.S. armed forces to be in Vietnam in the 1960s than there were for them to be in Iraq now , which is a nice way of saying that the reasons for intervening in Vietnam aren’t (and weren’t) terribly convincing, either.  Rothbard saw that a lot sooner than many Americans on the left and right who should have seen it.  Of course, it depends on what constitutes ”the lunatic fringe” of any antiwar movement.  By most standards, I would guess that I have been on that fringe, or at least on what was considered a fringe before the events of the last two years moved a lot of people fringewards.  Looking back on Vietnam, the lunatic position appears now to have been the one that favoured intervening in the first place.

Most of Reihan’s outstanding post has nothing to do with Rothbard or war and a lot to do with immigration and with libertarians who find themselves attracted to figures on the political left, with Spanish PM Zapatero as Exhibit A.  This is where it actually gets very interesting, as it brings us back to the enthusiasm for immigration shown by certain libertarians.  Apparently everyone who’s anyone is talking about Christopher Caldwell’s article on immigration into Spain, which includes this insightful point about the impact of the “free movement of labour” (as immigration fans like to euphemistically call it) on the home countries whence all these African immigrants to Spain are coming:

Well-meaning people like to talk about Africa’s admirable ethical norms and systems of familial solidarity–and they’re right to. But when we think of Africa in the future, we must think of Africa without those things. The rising generation has traded them for Baywatch, or whatever it thinks the West is.

This is a lot like when certain “well-meaning people” in this country talk about the Catholic piety, work ethic, natural conservatism and family values (they don’t stop at the Rio Grande!) of Mexican and Latin American immigrants as a way of conning American conservatives into seeing mass immigration as a huge net gain.  Even if those claims are true of this generation of immigrants (which we may have reason to doubt), they will probably not be true of the next generation in Mexico and Latin America.  As some commenters and correspondents have rightly pointed out when I have said favourable things about assimilation, immigrants who successfully assimilate to the culture they find here in America will assimilate to the worst, trashiest elements of our pop culture.  How could they not?  What other examples do they have to follow?  This is true, but it is also true that the “ethical norms” and “familial solidarity” that serve crucial social functions in their home countries will be eroded and corrupted by the processes of social upheaval and “creative destruction” that the promise of “opportunity” unleashes.  The success of migrant workers apparently can also create the problem of a remittance glut that stifles development and enterprise back home:

In a 2005 study, that bank [Bank of Mexico] found a negative link between development and remittances — the more remittances, the less overall development. The bank even went so far as to suggest poverty was caused by the dependency, not the other way around.

Because most cash sent back is used for consumption, and not investment, it gives only a short-term boost to GDP.

“Evidence also suggests that members of recipient households have fewer incentives to search for alternative sources of income,” the bank noted, describing a burgeoning private welfare culture.

To ameliorate its immediate social and economic problems, the Mexican government has encouraged emigration and remittances and may find itself in the future in an inescapable loop of draining off more and more of its human capital to make up for all of the development that past remittances have effectively discouraged.  Stopping the outflow of their human resources might be just the thing needed to force Mexico to change.

The erosion and disappearance of the “ethical norms” and “familial solidarity” Caldwell mentions is part of the same process Michael identified in the weakening of pre-political loyalties and the rise of a consumer identity.

Addendum: Dr. Wilson has another thoughtful column on some related matters, in which he writes:

Two ugly thoughts about immigration. A blog writer recently complained that the U.S. is admitting immigrants “who don’t want to become Americans.” This writer’s attitude is part of the problem. The question should not be whether they want to be Americans but whether we want them to be Americans. The game has already been forfeited when immigration objectors adopt such arguments. (Of course, the complaint makes little sense any way because nobody knows any longer what an “American” is; but save that for another day.) The blather about English as official language and compulsory assimilation falls in the same category. I prefer that illegals do not speak English and do not assimilate. In the highly unlikely event that we are ever lucky enough to have real law enforcement, they will be easier to catch. Official English, under current dispensations, becomes just one more educational entitlement for illegals—for which apparently vast sums are already being spent. 

Many of the local political disputes these days are caused, at root, by immigration. Santa Ana’s city council debates where Mexican vending trucks are to be allowed to park. Latino activists protest proposals by one of the county’s municipalities and the county sheriff to check the immigration status of those arrested for serious crimes. Emergency rooms and trauma centers throughout the region are closing under the financial strain of serving a population that does not pay for medical services. Schools pass new bond initiatives to keep up with the costs of services for the growing population, most of whom are the children of immigrants, legal or otherwise. Residents bicker over daywork centers and other places where illegal immigrants congregate to solicit construction work. Republican strongholds are becoming Democratic strongholds.

The situation has replicated Third World development patterns. Wealthy people congregate along the beach areas depicted in the TV shows or move to the further reaches of the region and live in gated communities. Older areas become barrios. And, while the county remains mostly nice and middle class, a recent report shows that fewer than two percent of the homes sold in the LA/OC area are affordable by families with median incomes. A once-middle-class region is now becoming a county of rich and poor. ~Steven Greenhut

Why anyone wants to replicate the splendid “successes” of the Mexican social, economic and political model, I will never fully understand, but the reality that Mexican immigrants will reproduce the society and culture of their old country was entirely foreseeable and was foreseen.  For some folks, the transformation will not be so bad and will make some into a hereditary oligarchic ruling class tucked away in their little enclaves.  That is, at least until homegrown Chavismo comes knocking on their door.

Beinart points out that all the Dems need do to be full Dobbsians is to embrace Dobbs’s very strong stand (”Dobbs is downright obsessive about the issue,” says Beinart) against illegal immigration.  He then produces some signs that the Dems are, in fact, doing this:

“Democratic challengers are staking out immigration positions to Bush’s right.  And Democratic incumbents are doing the same thing.  …In the Senate, a large majority of Democrats just voted to build a fence along the Mexican border. …  Many liberals would like to pick and choose their anti-globalization politics — arguing for more regulation of international trade and investment, but resisting punitive measures to regulate the flow of international labor.  Morally, that’s perfectly defensible.  But politically, it is likely to fail…..”

[Derb] Immigration enforcement is the golden amulet for the Dems.  If they pick that up and run with it, Republicans could be out of power for a generation.  You think Democrats don’t know this?  Plenty know it, and the rest will catch on.

[Amongst other things, this disposes of Stanley Kurtz’s argument for voting Republican in the midterms—that only by doing so can we be sure of good immigration-law enforcement.  A better strategy for those of us who care about the National Question would be to (a) send a copy of Peter Beinart’s article to evey Democrat we know, and (b) stay home Election Day.] ~John Derbyshire

The main worry that many conservatives have had about the GOP loss of the House has been the prospect of amnesty passing in Congress once the major obstacle to that amnesty was gone.  This is a real worry, because such an amnesty would be such a huge and potentially irreversible disaster should it actually pass and be signed into law.  In the midst of my singing, “Ding dong the witch is dead,” with respect to the impending GOP defeat (let us hope), some readers and fellow bloggers have written or spoken to me about this rather glaring problem that I have avoided for the most part, though I have not exactly papered over it.  I have tended to minimise the likelihood of this potentially disastrous turn of events, but still hadn’t really gotten into the meat of the argument.  The fear of amnesty passing a Dem-controlled House is based on the assumption that a new Democratic House majority would be heavily pro-amnesty and would have a working pro-amnesty majority.  Certainly a large majority of House Democrats is generally pro-immigration (it is the source of so many of their new and future voters that this is inevitable) and most are pro-amnesty or in favour of one of the guest-worker programs that is just as good as amnesty (which Mr. Bush still pretends is a radically different position!), but many in the House or those running for House seats for the first time (and Senate candidates such as Ford in Tennessee) are running strongly against illegal immigration and/or amnesty and sometimes sound as conservative or occasionally even more conservative on the question than the Red Republicans themselves.  If enough Democrats adopt a Dobbsian view of the question, it could at least forestall amnesty for the time being and might (and this is far less likely, but remotely possible) lead to the Democrats adopting this issue as proof of some revived sense of visceral nationalism and patriotism, the lack of which has doomed them to minority status nationally for the past six electoral cycles.  If a Sherrod Brown economic populism is a political winner on one front of reaction to globalisation, a whole raft of related populist policies, including immigration restriction and even (to be completely unrealistic) an immigration moratorium, might become legitimate topics to be debated seriously as real policy alternatives.    

It could be that these Democratic candidates are all having us on (it would hardly be the first time!), and we have to assume that they are not to be trusted, but it could be that they see public discontent with GOP dithering on a vital question and have moved–for either cynical or genuine reasons–to exploit it by taking that question seriously and adopting popular hostility to illegal immigration and amnesty as their own. 

The important thing to remember is that immigration is a fairly burning issue across the spectrum at the popular level, and it actually energises key Democratic constituencies who are absorbing most of the costs of unchecked immigration firsthand.  It is also becoming more and more of a national issue as immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere have been reaching cities and towns far away from any border or port.  If the Democrats want to return to being a national party, they will have to do it by tackling what the Derb calls the National Question and assuming a more nationalist pose.  There are entrenched and powerful interests in the party that will have none of this (the major labour unions sold out years ago on this question and will not be changing anytime soon), and it could end up creating divisions as serious in their coalition as the division immigration has created among Republicans. 

Neither major party is likely to be transformed from within sufficiently to satisfy fully the kinds of voters for whom immigration restriction is just one ”national question” among many.  What might happen next?  In my mad mind, I see the following.  One party would end up being hollowed out and replaced almost entirely by another, new party organised along populist nationalist lines.  At some point in the next twenty or thirty years, the “populist nationalists” that David Brooks identified could force a realignment of sorts as Democrats and conservatives, sick of the preening coastal elites of both parties, their “progressive globalism” and their disdain for the real America, form an opposition based on some mix of economic populism at home, economic nationalism on trade, immigration restriction, and realistic foreign policy less inclined to intervention (though open to ”Jacksonian” moments of power projection).  It would probably be conventionally socially conservative, but would be more likely to make cultural issues a priority only to the extent that they would touch on national identity.  There is no necessary reason why this populist nationalism would absolutely have to be centralist and unduly statist in character, though there is a real danger of that.  However, traditional conservatives and rightist populists could push decentralist and localist solutions to national questions. 

A decentralist politics coupled with a healthy opposition to the concentration of corporate power could possibly have quite broad appeal, bringing in greens, Perot-type “centrists” and many traditional conservatives.  Such a party would be more of a labour party than either of the two major parties are now, but might also aspire to some kind of distributist policies to ensure the broad ownership of real property (this now verges on the delusional, I realise, but stay with me) in an attempt to reestablish small firms and small farms as the bedrock of a more economically (and thus politically) independent citizenry.  (Who knows what else we might pull off!  Before the end of this fantastical journey, we might overthrow bank-rule!)  Throwing back many questions of economic regulation to the states (allow me to enjoy this fantasy while I can) would disquiet some of the progressives who would be drawn to the anti-corporate side of this populism, but this returning of power to the states would, I think, satisfy many of the constitutional and philosophical qualms of conservatives about such regulation (true libertarians would, of course, be horrified and have nothing to do with the project, which is yet another argument in its favour).  This party would emphasise state sovereignty and a diversity of policies to suit local conditions, and political decentralism within states would be the rule in order to minimise intrusive regulation that might drive people to other states, thus recreating the nightmare of mobility that has been wrecking the formation of stable communities for half a century.  (We would likely have to fight a well-entrenched and powerful Moving Lobby made up of real estate agents, trucking companies and developers, but it would be a fight worth having.)

This realignment on national questions could possibly run up against the tensions between Prof. Lukacs’ (abstract)nationalists and patriots, as this populist nationalism would appeal to people from both groups.  But here again there is the possibility that those whom Lukacs identifies as patriots will also tend to be sympathetic to many, although probably not all, the policies of the “populist nationalists” and the patriotic appeal to loyalty to place and community and rootedness–and would stress the necessary aversion to the ethic of “creative destruction” and endless unsustainable development for the sake of “growth” that would go with this loyalty–could help ground this populist nationalism in real, living communities rather than the abstract, bloodless idea of a nation that many Red Republican nationalist pundits espouse.  That localism and emphasis on rooted communities would likely leave the abstract nationalists cold and send them scuttling back to the Red Republicans, who at this point would represent little more than megacorps (which is different from now how exactly?).  

Almost all of this is an enormous piece of speculative fantasy based on a few flickerings of sanity among a few Democratic candidates on immigration, but there is some hope of at least a small part of it coming true if enough Democratic voters follow the Dobbsian route.  Mr. Derbyshire is correct that the party that gets on the right side of the immigration question and actually gets a good enforcement law passed first will be the majority party in this country for many years.  That promise of power, if nothing else, should seriously motivate the pols to make some attempt at getting this vital issue right.  The great Chestertonian reawakening will still be a long ways away.

Hey, seven years of mandatory Spanish didn’t go completely to waste!  (Note: I make no claim that the Spanish title above is anything like proper or accurate Spanish, but I gave it a shot.) 

The November issue of Chronicles, The Disappearing Border, has many articles on the state of the border, immigration and its consequences on society, culture and the natural environment.  In that issue Tom Piatak, fellow blogger who writes at Cultural Revolutions Online, has a review of Pat Buchanan’s State of EmergencyClark Stooksbury, our man in Knoxville, reviews Beating the Powers That Be by Sean Scallon.  Of interest to a great many, I think, will be Andrea Kirk Assaf’s Letter From Rome about “Lebanon, Israel and the Holy See.”  Be on the lookout for the new Chronicles, or better yet you can subscribe.

Now comes the lame self-promotion.  I have a short article in the new Chronicles for November on the possible political significance of the likely election of Keith Ellison in MN-05 as the first Muslim in Congress and as a politician with close personal ties to the leadership of CAIR.  (Hint: it aint good.) 

That also reminds me that, unlike all the respectable voices, I’ve always been even more upset by the murder of Pym Fortuyn, a potential Prime Minister of the Netherlands, in 2002 than by the murder of Theo van Gogh in 2004. The van Gogh murder was the obvious result of letting a whole bunch of Muslims into the country, a problem that can be solved (granted, at vast expense) by paying them to leave and other sensible reforms. The only solution to the West’s Muslim problem is to disconnect.

But Fortuyn’s assassination was carried out by a well-educated Dutch-born white leftist the day after the climax of the “Two-Week Hate” against immigration-restrictionists that swept Europe when Le Pen won a spot in the French Presidential final. When Fortuyn was murdered, respectable voices across Europe opined that Fortuyn more or less had it coming. The European Establishment excused themselves from any responsibility by blaming it all on animal rights craziness.

For example, the Dutch-born Ian Buruma asserted in The New Yorker in 2005 that Fortuyn was “assassinated in 2002 by a deranged animal-rights activist.” Nothing to look at here, folks, just move along. Just a random lunatic. Didn’t have nuthin’ to do with immigration.

Yet, more than year before Buruma wrote that, the murderer had made clear at his trial that Fortuyn had to die because of his anti-Muslim immigration restrictionist views. ~Steve Sailer

I completely agree with Steve Sailer on this one.  The hatemongering carried out by then-PM Wim Kok and the other leading representatives of Dutch “consensus” politics was as hideous a display of multiculti fanaticism as any I have ever seen.  The express desire to erect a cordon sanitaire around Fortuyn’s political appeal and the condemnation of him as a kind of neo-Nazi directly contributed to his murder, and the appalling extent to which some Europeans were willing to go suppress dissident speech on questions of immigration was revealed for all to see. 

Fortuyn’s murder is more worrisome in a way than Van Gogh’s (though both are horrible) because it shows the derangement that Westerners have inflicted on themselves on questions of immigration and tolerance, such that native Westerners will be moved to murder one of their fellow citizens for his alleged “bigotry” sooner than they will lift a finger to protest the violence wrought by immigrants against natives who offend their “values.”  

Fortuyn’s appeal heralded a shift in Dutch politics that did not disappear after his violent death.  Van Gogh’s murder intensified the feeling that something had gone terribly wrong in the pursuit of endless tolerance, but without Fortuyn blazing the trail in talking openly about these problems (and paying for it with his life) Van Gogh’s death would probably not have resonated as much as it did in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the West.  Of course, Fortuyn was able to make his appeal to the extent that he did because he was able to make it in defense of a very liberally defined kind of liberal society; as a Marxist academic and openly homosexual man, he possessed some immunity from the boilerplate accusations of prejudice that would dog conservative and far-right opponents of immigration.  In the end, he did not possess nearly enough immunity.  Fortuyn’s death was far more chilling in its way because it showed the extent to which Westerners were willing to adopt the tactics of religious and ideological fanatics to enforce an unthinking tolerance that has been sapping Europe from within for decades and which makes combating the kind of person who murdered Van Gogh that much more difficult through an unwillingness to confront the violence and drive for domination within Islam. 

I like these Mexicans. They go to Catholic Church; They work hard; They’re learning English and they will eventually create a new blue-collar middle class.

Yes, I do worship at the high church of GDP. But I also worship at the high church of Catholic Mass. And therefore I’m able to combine supply-side economics with the teachings of Catholic humanitarianism. ~Larry Kudlow

Kudlow is quite the humanitarian. He has not seen a war he didn’t think was good for America and, more importantly, good for the stock market. Kudlow is so very humanitarian that he welcomes the creation of an exploited underclass. I don’t know for sure where Larry the Humanitarian stands on the abuse of prisoners and torture, but I suspect he is especially humanitarian when it comes to inflicting pain on prisoners–at least as humanitarian as he has been in cheering on the devastation of whole nations. He is so painfully humanitarian (his heart, look how it bleeds!) that he sees nothing amiss in comparing a border security fence with the Berlin Wall–the one designed to keep unwanted people out, the other to keep enslaved people in–because he literally cannot understand the difference between the two. To limit the “free movement of labour” is the same as commie oppression. That is what your stereotypical pro-immigration “conservative” believes. One wonders, incidentally, if he thinks Israel’s security barrier is a new Berlin Wall–I’m going to guess that he doesn’t agree with that comparison.

Here’s the main problem I have with the rhetoric of the people who keep pointing to the Catholicism of Mexican immigrants as if that were some kind of free pass for them (besides being based on the strange and entirely unproven assumption that Mexican Catholicism is as amenable to American political and cultural values as European Catholicism could come to be over time): the people who use the Catholicism of Mexicans and other Latin Americans as the rhetorical club with which to beat restrictionists also invariably happen to be the same people who think the freedom of movement across borders, a flood of cheap labour and maximising of GDP are the things that are most important in determining immigration policy. In other words, most of the people, including the Catholics, who are thrilled to see more Catholics crossing the border illegally are typically also the people who would be thrilled to see them cross the border if they were atheists, Muslims or Shintoists, because they are making these determinations primarily on economic grounds and have clearly made economic values their priority. I bet millions of Muslim labourers wouldn’t trouble Larry one bit. After all, we know where Larry stands on hateful “Islamophobia”–he’s against it, especially when it might bar the way to glorious international trade arrangements.

It is useful to them that the labourers in question are often Catholic, whether nominal or not, but it would not matter a whit to these people what religion they practiced so long as they lent their aid to building the Temple of GDP. It is also a sentimental ploy to tap into Catholic memories about past anti-Catholic/anti-immigrant prejudice in the 19th century as a way of mobilising Catholic America against the enforcement of immigration law and the control of the borders. It is manifestly cynical for the most part, but few are bold enough to hold up their cynicism for the world to see as Kudlow is.

But at least Kudlow holds up the glaring contradiction of his two loyalties for all to see. He doesn’t even hesitate to embrace the language of “worship” to express his economic desires. I have long held Kudlow up as a kind of walking caricature of the money-obsessed conservative, but that is because he plays to the stereotype so perfectly that it is impossible not to think of him when trying to imagine what such a person would be like.

“Yes, I worship at the altar of Mammon. But I also worship at the altar of God,” the man says to us, “And therefore I’m able to combine Mammon with the teachings of Christ.” What was it that Someone Important said about two masters? It’s a bit fuzzy, but it was something about not being able to have two. So Kudlow has fortunately declared very openly which one he serves. Give him credit for being at least somewhat more forthright than all of the conservatives who say, “But I’m not a materialist! Look, I go to church!” Instead Larry preaches a new gospel: “I’m a materialist because I go to church!”

According to the PPIC’s report, California’s unregistered would like to use the ballot box to, in effect, take money from the highly-productive and give it to themselves.

This is exactly the essential danger of democracy that Aristotle pointed out: that the poor, who are many, will vote to despoil the rich, who are few.

America, fortunately, has largely avoided that by having a middle class society. But California is leading the way toward a Latin American-style social pyramid. ~Steve Sailer, VDare

For more on this theme of “what sort of crazy libertarian would want mass immigration?”, see Dan McCarthy’s latest post entitled A Libertarian Case Against Open Borders.  Libertarians may be thrilled at the prospect of millions of people engaged in their moral “rights” of exchange and so forth, but the millions of people who are coming have no interest in respecting what few property rights still exist and quite a few incentives to vote for the same kinds of policies they would have voted for back home. 

There might be a certain kind of reactionary who looks back on highly stratified classes as a desirable way of organising society; there have certainly been worse ways, but they have little to do with the ordered liberty of our political tradition.  The greatest danger is that they are unstable, swinging from extremes of democratic excess and dictatorship back to narrow oligarchies that exclude and exploit the many.  In other words, it would be a replay of much of modern Latin American history. 

Why some libertarians seem enthusiastic about the creation of a new racial, economic and social hierarchy in America with the attendant populist and socialist backlashes, I cannot say, but I assume it must be some cunning ruse to ensure their permanent marginalisation.  

Simply put, and I’m basing this on fairly extensive personal experience (I spent several summers in the company of MMCs, the children of MMCs, etc.), a lot of Michael Moore Conservatives are, well, racist and anti-Semitic. No, I don’t think criticizing the State of Israel makes one an anti-Semite, and I don’t even think believing that, for example, Muslim countries are ill-suited to democracy makes you a racist. The hatred for things American, and it is a hatred in many cases, grows out of a hatred of the increasingly polyglot, multiracial world of London and the Home Counties. Again, I don’t think nativism is the worst impulse in the world. But I think chauvinism is at the very least a likely candidate. It could be that this will strike Larison as too subtle a distinction–what separates good and decent hostility to, say, trade and immigration and modernity from a narrowness that fuels the worst kinds of exclusion, contempt, and (rarely) violence? All I can say is that you know it when you hear it, an answer that I can’t imagine will satisfy anyone other than yours truly. ~Reihan Salam

I appreciate Reihan’s answer to my earlier question, and I likewise feel obliged to to offer a reply to him, as I very much enjoy his writing and appreciate the attention he has given to mine.  But I admit that I am initially unsure what I can say in response, since this description of “loathsome” Conservatives on account of their alleged racism and anti-Semitism comes largely from Reihan’s claim of broad personal experience that I cannot refute (I cannot claim similarly broad experience among these sorts of people, and I haven’t met the people being referred to here) and relies on the categorisation of these Conservatives as racists and anti-Semites according to an admittedly subjective standard that demarcates healthy resistance and anxiety about immigration and cultural and national identity (”nativism”) from more extreme resentments (”chauvinism”) in a very vague way.  No, this isn’t really satisfactory, but how do I go about giving my reply?   

Let me begin by saying that I am initially always skeptical of charges such as these (even when they are based in personal experience, because of the subjective nature of the judgement–see below), since they are the most freely used charges today and frequently have the most amorphous meanings, and they are routinely liberally applied to any and all critics of immigration and multiculturalism.  Second, there is almost nothing more subjective than an impression of someone else’s racism.  For some, to say that race itself is something at all more real than a social and cultural construct is to be a racist (leave aside for now the strange implication of the latter view that something culturally constructed is therefore basically irrelevant to the understanding of identity); for others, the same statement is entirely uncontroversial (and these others are typically regarded by the first group as ipso facto racists for finding it uncontroversial).  For some, to make observations about something stereotypical about another group of people is to be racist, even if the observation is basically accurate, because you shouldn’t generalise about groups of people in this way; for others, someone cannot be a racist unless he actually hates people from another race, and here they don’t mean mild dislike or even slight aversion, but hatred.  It is actually quite a different thing to not want to have other kinds of people coming into your country to stay (which is what I would have assumed was the case with most of these Conservatives) and to actually hate those kinds of people, but under some definitions the former is just as racist, because under some definitions to prefer your own kind (or even to use the phrase “your own kind”) is already to be racist.  These charges are really almost impossible to evaluate unless we know exactly what sentiments or actions prompted using such a label.  

Anti-Semitism is an even more vexing charge, because it takes on so many various meanings and has been so casually and carelessly used by so many that it is not always clear what will draw such a charge.  The other day I saw that evangelicals in Israel attacked the bishops who denounced Christian Zionism because the bishops espoused a ”replacement theology which played a pivotal role in the persecution of Jews through the centuries and under-girded the Holocaust.”  Actually, they argued against Christians who use the support of Scripture to cover up and justify the excesses of a secular state, which the Christian Zionists have wrongly identified with the Israel of Scripture–but for the evangelicals the implication is that the State of Israel is not the continuation of the Biblical Israel, which one might otherwise think would not be controversial for Christians.  Any Christian who reads the parable of the vinedressers has a hard time not believing in some sort of “replacement theology”–are all those Christians, myself included, who believe this therefore anti-Semitic?  Of course, there are those who regard the Gospels and Christianity as inherently anti-Semitic, which would make the previous question moot.  It has reached a point where any negative artistic portrayal of a Jewish person is taken not as the portrayal of a character, but almost always as an expression of anti-Semitism–most of the criticism of The Passion focused on this kind of negative portrayal as the “proof” of such prejudice.        

Republicans have enjoyed playing the “liberal racism” card over the years, hoisting the liberals by their own rhetorical petard, and there is no debate where they enjoy using this tactic than when it comes to affirmative action, on the grounds that any kind of racial discrimination (be it “positive” or “negative”) is wrong and inherently racist, which relies rather heavily on the assumption that there are no substantial differences of any meaningful kind between races (if we were ever to admit the reality of such groups) that might necessitate taking such differences into account in policy one way or another.       

These charges are also the ultimate debate-killers, as we all basically accept that to be a confirmed racist or anti-Semite is to be rightly excluded from the debate (whether this should actually be so and why the same is not applied to committed Marxists, Christophobes, oikophobes and universalists might be points to be debated at another time). Thus to say that you know that so-and-so is a racist or anti-Semite from personal experience is also to say that his opinions on any matter where his prejudices might come into play are worse than irrelevant–they are morally beyond the pale and essentially deserve no consideration.   

I appreciate that Reihan isn’t making these charges in such an indiscriminate way as to apply them to all opponents of mass immigration and multiculturalism, for example, but I confess to not understanding how one determines where generic patriotism becomes nativism and where nativism becomes chauvinism (which I assume here carries with it some connotations of supremacism and looking down on non-whites as inferior), especially in the case of the latter, barring explicitly derogatory statements.  The reality that patriots who raise inconvenient questions about the practicability of assimilation of a given group of people are frequently classed together with “nativists,” when for most people who use the term ”nativism” is simply a synonym for racism, does not help to make these distinctions any easier.  

It is also doubtful that most people, given their druthers, really want to live in a “polyglot, multiracial world” no matter where they live, especially if they are not accustomed to living in such a world, and it is not only natural but to some extent healthy and reasonable that people would resent being told that they will live in such a world regardless of what they say and had better get used to it, particularly when their objections to this process have never been taken seriously. 

If these Conservatives hate the “polyglot, multiracial world of London and the Home Counties,” I imagine that a major part of the reason they hate it is that they hate seeing parts of their own country becoming for all intents and purposes alien to them and their experience.  For those who see their country as an inheritance they have received from their ancestors and which they are entrusted to pass down to their heirs, seeing that country significantly and in some ways radically changed strikes them at their very core.  These people are going to feel aggrieved; they will become resentful; they may indeed finally come to hate those whom they associate with the transformation of the country, because they feel betrayed and rendered powerless in their own country to preserve the country as they knew it and with it their identity.  Foreseeing this, or indeed perceiving that it is already the case, the wise statesman interested in the peace of his country ought not continue to stoke the fires of these resentments and begins heeding what the people in the country seem to be saying.     

One thing that does seem clear to me is that the decision of the British establishment to ignore many Britons’ ”good and decent hostility” to immigration for forty years and more has worked precisely to feed feelings of contempt and create the conditions in the North for the outbreaks of rioting between whites and Asians.  The infusion of large numbers of immigrants into a country is almost surely bound to provoke rather more hostility and even more exclusionary attitudes than would otherwise be the case, particularly when there is the clear sense that policy is being carried out against the will of the majority.  We might argue ourselves hoarse, so to speak, about the likely success or failure of any attempt to integrate successfully large numbers of newcomers, particularly those from markedly different cultures and religious backgrounds, but the scenes from the North in recent years and the recent terror plots–and the inevitable backlash among native Britons in increased support for the BNP–all point to considerable failure in the case of Britain.  That makes me think that if many ordinary Conservatives have indeed crossed a line into actual hatred of people on account of their race or ethnicity (and this is what I take racism and anti-Semitism to mean, if the terms are to mean much of anything), it has been the steady, consistent push to ignore and marginalise these people in the political process when they have expressed legitimate concerns in the past that has pushed most of them over that line.  It is undoubtedly morally and psychologically satisfying to more or less effectively dismiss people because they hold what we consider unreasonable or even “loathsome” views, but in this stance there seems to me to be something of an abandonment of persuasion and deliberation. 

Part of the entire problem rests in casting the views of these Conservatives in general in terms of hatred, which tends to stack the deck against the people in question in any case.  Once you have defined these people, as the original Standard article did, in terms of their hatred of things American rather than their love of things British, it is easier to say that these people don’t just hate what Britain is turning into (presumably because they love their country and the way it used to be) but that they hate what Britain is becoming because they hate people different from themselves.  Perhaps some do.  Perhaps even “a lot” do, as Reihan claimed, but I must remain skeptical until I have something much more definite to work with.    

Nonsense, perhaps—but nonsense that taps into a deep seam of nativism and negativism. If the 2002 mid-term elections were the “neoconservative moment” in American politics, the 2006 mid-terms are in danger of becoming the “paleoconservative moment”.

This is bad news for the Republican Party. If a wall is erected against newcomers from south of the border, this will not only reverse the party’s gains among Hispanics—Mr Bush increased his Hispanic vote to around 40% in 2004—but will also drive a wedge between business Republicans, who support immigration, and social conservatives, who tend to oppose it. The danger of a Buchanan-style pitchfork rebellion from the party’s nativist wing in 2008 grows by the day. ~The Economist

Of course The Economist’s editorial writer on American politics, the pseudonymous Lexington, will find fault with most of what Mr. Buchanan has to say, but more interesting is this recurring refrain of the “paleo moment.”  Somehow I always expected the “paleo moment” to involve quite a few more, well, paleoconservatives.  As I scan the political horizon, there is no one who is preparing to run for the GOP nomination in 2008, except probably Tom Tancredo, who even remotely begins to qualify as one, and the so-called “nativist wing” of the GOP also seems to be in most cases the strongest supporter of the administration on a lot of its other very non-paleocon policies.  It is almost comic to refer to the House members who have pushed for an enforcement bill against the Senate’s “comprehensive reform” surrender to amnesty as the “Buchananite wing of the Republican Party.”  If only the GOP caucus in the House were the “Buchananite wing”!  Wouldn’t that be something?  It is also about as likely as my election to the Throne of St. Peter.  This is not to disparage the House bill, which I think was generally a good bill and obviously much, much better than its Senate counterpart, but simply to say that securing the borders first has a much broader constituency than dedicated Buchananites and paleos (which is actually good news for paleos who are concerned about the parlous state of border security) and that it is a stunning exaggeration of paleo influence to claim that paleos somehow really dominate the House of Representatives on any issue.  I regard it as a real shame that they do not, but it is the unmistakable reality.  It is not surprising that foreign correspondents will make mistakes diagnosing some of the subtle differences in our politics, but this is not a small mistake–it is the equivalent of calling John Murtha a Kossack because he happens to also oppose the Iraq war.

It is true that immigration has become a dominant issue among conservatives and Republicans, and it should be the case that paleoconservative recommendations on immigration policy should be prevailing in these circles, but it seems to be the case that for all the predictions of “paleo moments” in American politics there seem to be very few paleos out there to make the moment happen.  However, it is worth bearing in mind what Mr. Buchanan said in response to the earlier claim about ”the paleo moment” by Fred Barnes:

What Barnes calls paleo-conservatism is the conservatism of the common man, rooted in tradition and wisdom born of experience. It is not the Big Government, open-borders, free-trade, interventionist, globaloney of the neo-cons and their Rebel in Chief.  

So at the very least when observers begin worrying about “paleo moments,” we can take some consolation that what they are seeing is the expression of the common sense and patriotism of ordinary Americans.  It is perhaps another consolation that the only label they can think to attach to common sense and patriotism is paleoconservative.

The phrase “nation of immigrants” is surely one of the strangest phrases, and also one of the most ingenious rhetorical dodges, ever invented.  A nation is, literally from the Latin natio, a tribe or a people, and natio is the same word for birth, which implies that this is a tribe or people bound, as tribes normally are, by kinship.  Now it is possible for someone from outside a tribe to be adopted into it, but it is a contradiction in terms to speak of a “nation of immigrants,” unless one is describing an entire people that picked up and went to another country, since these immigrants have typically been overwhelmingly unrelated by kinship or, in many cases, even by ethnicity to the people that was already here.  To be a ”nation of immigrants,” being an immigrant would have to be the defining feature of everyone in the nation.  Whatever may have been true about great-granddad is not true of you, which means that you and most everyone around you are not part of any “nation of immigrants,” but of an American nation.   The ancient Israelites were perhaps such a “nation of immigrants,” but there are few other obvious examples. 

The phrase is distinctly odd, since no nation today can correctly claim to be such a thing, as every people has been settled in more or less the same country for ages.  There are nations that have had a history of periodic large-scale immigration, and this is usually what is meant by the deceptive phrase “nation of immigrants,” though it has long been the case for most of the history of this country the immigrants were not constituting the nation but instead joined themselves, more or less, to the people that was already here.  If we spoke of a “nation of immigrants,” we might as well also speak of a “tradition of innovations” or a “constitution of amendments.” 

But the reason why it is ingenious is that it forcibly identifies everyone in the debate–or at least everyone who concedes the use of the phrase–with the current immigrants.  If we are a nation of immigrants, this means that we are all immigrants, which ultimately means that we have no more right to this place than the new immigrants do, which is a manifest lie.  We do have more right to it, and will have at least until such time as we have been driven off the land, and perhaps our better claim will not cease even then. 

Most peoples throughout history have created myths of heroic ancestors who first settled in a land and gave their name to it; most peoples will construct elaborate mythologies to establish their timeless claims to a piece of land.  With this preposterous rhetoric of being a “nation of immigrants” (who is responsible for this travesty of language?), Americans are among the few nations in the world who pride themselves on not being from the land that they live in and making no attempt to pretend otherwise.  That may have seemed clever when it allowed Americans to mock the Old World’s decrepitude and the New World’s possibilities, but now this attitude seems like a recipe for the eventual displacement of the nation and its recreation as something all together different.  Oh, granted, our grandchildren probably won’t see the final effects of that displacement, but if current trends continue they will see a large part of it.  It seems to me that no one can really look on with equanimity at the prospect of the gradual displacement of the peoples who fashioned this country–he is either dispirited at the prospect, or enthusiastic and chooses his policy options accordingly.

There’s a couple ways to understand Ross’s talk of “common culture” and “national identity.” One way is illiberal, repugnant, and dangerous. According to the other way, our common culture and national identity is robust and not at all endangered.

The stuff you’re toying with here is really poisonous, Michael. This is not conservatism. This is illiberal, authoritarian, nationalist collectivism, and there is almost nothing good to say on its behalf. Bad stuff. Bad bad bad. ~Will Wilkinson

It is maddening to see the Minutemen stringing barbed-wire along the Mexican border because that is an attempt to erect a literal barrier to the exercise of our natural moral right to cooperate — to deny our ability to make strangers our friends (our figurative siblings, even) through exchange. I agree that there is something terribly wrong when millions of people have to break the law to excercise their moral rights. But the problem isn’t that people are trying and succeeding to exercise them. The problem is poor legislation that fails to acknowledge, accommodate, and protect those rights. We can do better. ~Will Wilkinson

Facing so many obstacles, the town is slowly resigning itself to whatever Chiquimula makes of this New York village. Parking tickets are enforced on the high-school kids, but imposing our immigration, zoning, and quality of life laws on the immigrants is a task too great for Brewster. It is apparently better for property values to drop, for iconic small businesses to close, for the streets to become dirty than to be called racists. Putting aside the number of man hours it would take to check the legal status of village residents and the number of upset landlords and contractors, the town lacks the moral resources to enforce its laws on people whom it values so little as members of the community and so much as the bottom rung in the economy. ~Michael Brendan Dougherty

My recent post on libertarians and immigration elicited a serious protest from a reader: if I read more Mises and Rothbard, then I would know that no real libertarians talk about national identity in the flippant terms I attributed to them.  In fairness, I got a bit carried away and made some sloppy statements.  As I did acknowledge, though perhaps I did not stress it enough, there are well-known libertarians who have acknowledged the existence of natural communities, legitimate definitions of nationhood and the right of people in these groups to define their membership.  There are arguments in Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Democracy: The God That Failed related to some of these points, and I tried to acknowledge those in the earlier post.  In any case, I acknowledge them in the comments section and again here. 

Unlike Mr. Wilkinson, quoted above (once from an old comment thread on Michael’s blog, to which I responded here, and once from a post he wrote at Cato’s blog), there are libertarians who would argue that national groups are within their rights to control immigration, and this is based, as I understand it, in rights of property and association. 

The rights of a people to determine their own future and define their own membership are fundamental to the existence of a people.  Describing the subversion of those rights with the euphemism of the “moral right of cooperation,” because economic forces have ravaged a small town and reduced it to the point where is desperately needs foreign labour to survive, hardly does what is happening the proper justice.  Michael’s hometown is slowly being changed beyond all recognition, as described in his article cited above–is this the result of a “moral right of cooperation” or an example of selling your birthright for a mess of pottage?  Is nothing sacred except making a deal?  There is perhaps one thing, as Mr. Wilkinson said all those months ago:

Outside of the love, solidarity, and altruism of family, trade is the paradigmatic human moral relationship. 

As I said in the comments, and as I will say again here, there is something actually rather horrifying about someone who regards trade as one of the two “paradigmatic human moral” relationships in life.  What can that really mean?  If trade is such a paradigmatic moral relationship (which suggests that all our other relationships are modeled on the making of contracts, which is not the case) what is to prevent us from regulating and defining that relationship as the political community deems necessary?  If such a thing as a “moral right to cooperation” exists, what prevents that right from being constrained as and when it is necessary for the common good?  If illegal immigration is an expression of the right of cooperation, why is it so difficult for those exercising their rights from cooperating with the Americans who have set up the legitimate processes for entering the country?  Or perhaps all criminals are expressing their moral right of cooperation and should be left in peace, free from the meddlesome arm of intrusive government? 

Disregarding these rights of nations as Mr. Wilkinson seems to do suggests that he believes national self-definition and the defense of a nation’s boundaries, both cultural and physical, is actually immoral and violates someone’s natural rights.  This is not necessarily a universal libertarian view, but it does seem to be a prevalent one.   

If it is true that some libertarians have taken natural nations seriously, do these ideas have much bearing on the immigration views of many prominent modern libertarians?  Particularly if we are not talking about the paleolibertarians, it becomes increasingly difficult to credit this claim.  When they talk about it at all, and it is not filled with dismissive references to nativism and Nazis, we get more and more into this vague language of the “moral right of cooperation” which presents to me a rather bizarre world where the right to exchange labour and services trumps all. 

The key problem in these debates between libertarians and conservatives, as I said in my response to Mr. Wilkinson, is this:

It isn’t that we and the libertarians agree 90 or 95% of the time and differ greatly about a few details on economics and trade here or there, but that we have entirely different understandings of human nature, society and the purpose of politics.

It is therefore entirely reasonable that many libertarians do not have serious problems with mass immigration, because many of them do not even begin to understand society or national identity or, in some cases, the legitimacy of borders in the same way that we do.  When we say national identity, they hear collectivism, and when they say “moral right of cooperation,” I hear national disintegration, because we literally inhabit different mental universes.  If natural nations exist in their universe, it seems to have no relevance for what to do about mass immigration.  Free markets and free minds, and all that–no nations are really necessary in such a vision and tend to be impediments to the functioning of markets.  But the indifference to problems of national identity and immigration–which are for the average libertarian “non-problems”–strikes me as unusually naive, even for libertarians, when the inescapable reality of human existence is the persistence of tribal and ethnic identities that simply refuse to be bartered out of existence.  I can think of no better way to exacerbate the sharp edges of those identities and promote social instability than to press large numbers of different groups of people together in direct competition with one another for wealth, status and work.     

Incidentally, what does it mean to favour “open borders”, as Reason’s Web editor Tim Cavanaugh clearly does (and whose chief editor recently wrote on “Non-militarized non-solutions to a non-problem,” i.e., immigration)?  If you favour having them be open, why have borders, and if you keep the formal borders around, is it not a tacit admission that they might in certain circumstances need to be closed?  But that would violate someone’s moral right to cooperate, wouldn’t it?  Wouldn’t it be best, from the perspective of a proponent of “open borders,” to dissolve them all together?  Indeed, that is just what some of them do propose.  Which brings me back to one of my original questions:

Do any libertarians have an understanding of national identity that is more credible that does not fall back on the (from my perspective) creepy ideological definitions of the “proposition nation”?  Does anyone opposed to the “blood and soil” rhetoric have an idea of what constitutes national identity that does not lean on fatuous “nation of immigrants” and “proposition nation” slogans?  Anyone? 

I have never believed (and I still don’t) all the claims made against Pat Buchanan (by people like William F. Buckley) alleging that he is some kind of anti-Semite or racist, but I have always been alarmed by his inability (shared by most conservatives) to recognize the incompatibility between his quasi libertarian side and his raging nationalist side. Some recent comments that a friend pointed out from this interview were particularly worth second guessing:

What do we have in common that makes us fellow Americans? Is it simply citizenship? Or is it blood, soil, history and heroes?

Blood and soil?  Uh, there is one word to describe this line: creepy. What’s next, a speech on how we’re “one people, one fatherland”, etc.? ~Ryan McMacken

I have never believed (and still don’t) the claims made against libertarians that they are bunch of self-absorbed individualists who care nothing for their nation, but I have been alarmed by their inability to recognise the incompatibility between their quasi-patriotic side and their raging ideological side.

I suppose I can’t blame a libertarian for finding references to “blood and soil” creepy, since I suppose it would have to be creepy for people who idolise Freedom to imagine having loyalties to anything so concrete as kin and place.  How atavistic!  How communal!  It must have something to do with red-state fascism!  Now I happen to know that a lot of libertarians, especially paleolibertarians, do value kin and place and typically do not go galloping off into the wild and wooly regions of abstract theory in which nations are merely conventional demarcations on a map with no inherent significance and where a people with a similar way of life and similar customs has no moral claim to preserve the character of their country.  But you would have a hard time telling that from Mr. McCracken’s immediate resort to Nazi parallels, or the more general Rockwellian habit of denouncing everything they oppose in modern conservatism in the most extreme terms as revived fascism and Nazism.  As it is apparently necessary, I will repeat: the fascists and Nazis are all dead (or possibly living in Argentina).  There are certain parallels with historic fascism with what has been happening to this country, but all this talk of generalised fascism has started to reach the point of derangement.   I stay away from this sort of rhetoric, as it has a tendency to reach a level of self-parody and, like the administration’s use of the same language, it tends to muddy the waters and introduce confusion into the debate when precision and not hyperbole is essential.  It also hardly helps to throw the word fascist around when the time comes to debunk bogus neocon uses of the word fascist and their equally bogus foreign policy parallels that rely on invoking Nazism. 

As it happens, I think their criticisms of administration policies are almost always right on every point, and the comparisons with certain aspects of fascist regimes are sometimes quite apt, but it has got to be the height of laziness to reach for the rhetorical club of shouting, “Nazi!” in this case.  Yes, we know, Blut und Boden was a slogan in Nazi Germany.  That’s fascinating.  Michael successfully sets this objection aside here by literally setting it aside and ignoring it.  Well done, Michael.  That is the treatment such rhetorical tantrums deserve. 

The Nazis also built a federal highway system and represented the interests of artisans, so presumably these things are automatically “creepy” as well.  (And, yes, there are good decentralist arguments against federal highway systems as mechanisms of state control and cultural revolution, and I agree with these arguments, but I think you get the point that the old resort to Nazi parallels is not a real argument–it is a gesture in search of an argument.) 

Do libertarians have any arguments against thinking of national identity in these terms, except that it has been abused in the past?  Not really–none that I have seen anyway.  Abuse does not invalidate use.  This is as basic as it gets.  Do any libertarians have an understanding of national identity that is more credible that does not fall back on the (from my perspective) creepy ideological definitions of the “proposition nation”?  Does anyone opposed to the “blood and soil” rhetoric have an idea of what constitutes national identity that does not lean on fatuous “nation of immigrants” and “proposition nation” slogans?  Anyone? 

Do libertarians think that nations as such really exist, or are these just myths perpetrated by the state?  Do they have any coherent model of society that rises above the level of the mass of individuals or the exchange mechanism of the market?  Not as far as I can tell.  I would be glad to be proven wrong on any of these points, since it would suggest that there is some serious side to libertarian discussions of immigration that goes beyond appeals to the “free movement of labour” that is beloved of no one so much as Eurocrats in Brussels. 

The funny thing about my disenchantment with libertarianism is that I used to consider myself a libertarian about ten years ago.  I devoured Bastiat and Friedman and I was a convinced believer that there was something deeply insidious about Blue Laws (someone is imposing morality!  get your gun!) and even entertained seriously Friedman’s claim that prostitution was just a contract no different from any other.  Had the Wal-Mart debates been going on back then, nobody would have been a more eager apologist for corporate power and the concentration of wealth than I would have been (though I could hardly have written panegyrics to the home of low prices that included quite as many saccharine appeals to helping the poor), and nobody would have been more liable to scoff at the obvious oppression of the early child labour laws.  Then somewhere along the line I mentioned in passing to another self-styled libertarian that I believed the federal government should adhere to the limits set forth in the Constitution, whereupon I was denounced as a statist (though not a fascist!).  It was from that point on that the libertarians began to lose me, and they have been losing me ever since.  The tendency among their more doctrinaire fellows to denounce as fascist or statist almost any law that intrudes on the hallowed sphere of individual autonomy has made it increasingly difficult over the years to take their positive positions seriously.  Now Mr. McCracken has just made it that much harder for me to take libertarian arguments on immigration and national identity seriously.      

Protesters occupying Mexico City’s center said they were ready to do whatever it takes to support Lopez Obrador. Fernando Calles, a 26-year-old university professor, said he was ready to fight for the former Mexico City mayor “until the death, until the final consequences.”

“We lived 500 years of repression, and now we represent the new face of Mexico,” he said. ~CNN

Lopez Obrador went out of his way to deny Chavista affinities during the campaign (the world-travelling Chavez himself managed to take Lopez Obrador’s likely victory and turn it into a Mexican farce), but it appears unsurprisingly that his loyal followers have more than a little in common with Evo Morales and his supporters in Bolivia beyond their common policy preferences.  The remark about 500 years of oppression (rather than, say, grievances related to modern Mexican history alone) is telling, because it reflects the conviction of the Indian populations of Latin America–certainly not entirely unfounded–that they have been, on the whole, deprived of power or influence in government all this time, and it also reflects who Lopez Obrador voters understand themselves to be: representatives of the disenfranchised Indians of the last 500 years, just like Morales and the Aymara nationalists down south.  

To the extent that these people are “the new face of Mexico,” it becomes difficult to understand why people go out of their way to claim that this Mexico is part of Western civilisation, when large sections of Mexico seem to view themselves as the oppressed victims of Western colonialism, and why it does not trouble defenders of large-scale Mexican and Latin American immigration that this is the case.   

Powell and Raspail were ostracized for what they said and wrote. Their stories are related in my new book, “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.” Time to revisit the question: Were these men false prophets rightly reviled, or prophets without honor in their own countries? ~Patrick Buchanan

But it’s a false comparison between, say, Muslim immigrants who settle in Rotterdam and refuse to integrate with Dutch society, and Mexican immigrants who go to Catholic mass and long to become American citizens. The former pose a real challenge to a society’s stability, but the latter can be sucessfully assimiliated if policymakers want to assimilate them. ~Dave Weigel

Following the Powell Doctrine (Enoch, not Colin), I would observe that the most crucial problem with mass Mexican and Latin American immigration of the kind we have been having for the past two decades is the sheer number of immigrants.  Immigration in large numbers prevents the kind of social pressure necessary to make assimilation succeed; if the number of immigrants is too great, assimilation breaks down because the native society’s acceptance is no longer nearly as necessary for the immigrants to make their own way.  

Two other main problems, both of which others have pointed out time and again, are the proximity of the home country of these immigrants–which weakens whatever assimilation they do embrace and reinforces their old national identity–and the unwillingness of many of them to adopt the habits of the natives.  I understand why they would retain the culture of their ancestors, and I respect that piety; what I do not understand is why we should want them to transplant that culture to our soil or why we expect their ancestral culture to have no political and social consequences. 

A fourth, but very relevant point is the question of the political traditions of the countries from which these immigrants are coming: most Latin American countries have inconstant, shaky histories of representative government and democratic practise or they have had long traditions of fraudulent one-party rule dressed up as democratic government, and this is certainly true of Mexico. 

Fifth, the vast majority of the people coming from the south may be Catholics, but it is a kind of Catholicism entirely unlike the Catholicism of the Americanised ethnics of the last 150 years, and they come from those populations in Latin America with the most superficial acquaintance with European culture.  How well will millions of these people adapt to our European culture?  How accommodating will their version of Catholicism be to American habits and political life?  Besides that, how accommodating will their admittedly very left-wing politics be to the American political system? 

You may not have to worry about caudillos overthrowing democracy, but you may have very real reasons to worry about future American Lopez Obradors, Evo Moraleses and legions of homegrown Chavistas.  Saying this is not intended to be a scare tactic, but simply an acknowledgement that the democratic expression of Latin American Indios has been for racial identity politics, socialist or quasi-socialist political economy and authoritarian populism, and these people have opted for these things because they believe them to be in their self-interest.  That self-interest does not change because they have shifted to another country. 

“Democracy” of some sort or other may do splendidly in our future New Mexico writ large, but it will be an abusive, illiberal democracy that ignores the rule of law, fosters corruption and organises itself through a padron system.  Every dysfunctional aspect of modern New Mexican politics will be set free to misrule the Southwest and it will be even more dysfunctional than New Mexico has ever been at its worst.  If that is the sort of future people wish for the Southwestern United States and beyond, be my guest and let things continue as they are going.