Mass Immigration Is The Rope With Which Open-Borders Libertarians Will Hang Us


By Darrell Dow

If libertarian ideologues and open borders apologists are right, the best thing about American Big Tech is that Indians are running it. They dominate the executive suite. Parag Agrawal, CEO of Twitter, is just the latest Indian-born executive to rise to the top spot at a U.S. tech company. The heads of IBM, Nokia, Adobe, Pepsi, Google, Microsoft, and Mastercard are from India. Unsurprisingly, since 2009, the United States  has issued more than 1.7 million H-1B visas, 65 percent of which have gone to Indians. Obviously these hard-working immigrants are taking jobs no one wants!

According to a detailed 2016 analysis of Asian voters, Indians are a solid Democrat constituency. Only 7 percent of Indians identify with the GOP, while 73 percent of Asians have a favorable view of the Democratic Party. In the general election, just 7 percent of Indians voted for Donald Trump.  

But party affiliation is just one problem with the mass importation of Indians. Others abound, and they apply to all immigrants, not just those from the “world’s largest democracy.”

Those problems are social, cultural, religious, and philosophical. The great mass of Third World humanity — unfamiliar with self-government, Western legal and political institutions and a Christian conception of justice and human freedom — cannot easily assimilate. They are not part of our civilization. They are not us. And we wonder why Big Tech is drifting unimpeded toward censorship and the suppression of free speech?  

Economics are another concern. Ignoring economic basics such as supply and demand, immigration enthusiasts frequently argue that mass immigration does not lower wages and instead is a boon to the economy. Of course, their claims are disputable, and in the case of wages, outright false

Two questions:

  • But do free markets demand open borders? 
  • Does mass immigration fortify or undermine the free market?

Intuitively, international free trade is similar to global migration, and one might expect the moral arguments to be similar for both. The unrestricted movement of goods assumes the free movement of labor. But on a practical level, one can argue that free trade is a substitute for immigration. Theoretically  one could have factories in Mexico rather than Mexicans in the United States. Imperial Britain employed a policy of “splendid isolation” from Europe and combined free trade with almost no immigration. 

Some libertarians say no to this obvious point.   Hans Hermann-Hoppe favors  free trade and little if any immigration. He follows Murray Rothbard who, late in life, concluded that  open immigration attacks property rights and undermines ethnic and national identity. Lew Rockwell and Tom Woods also oppose open borders. All are disciples of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises and tend to be “thick libertarians,” or paleolibertarians. 

However, the majority of libertarians and shiftless neocons link the movement of goods and people. As far back as 1984, Wall Street Journal editor  Bob Bartley offered a five-word constitutional amendment: “There shall be open borders.” 

Libertarian Tom Lehman writing for the Foundation for Economic Education, argued that open immigration is merely a corollary of free trade:

Immigration policy should not be viewed differently than trade policy: free, unregulated, unpoliced, open borders, devoid of taxes, tariffs, or any other barrier to entry. This is the policy of freedom to which America owes her heritage. Unilateral free trade, free immigration, and free emigration, where individuals possess unobstructed and unregulated mobility and trade, is a cornerstone of a free society. In fact, the free movement of peoples is no less important than the freedoms of speech, expression, and association. Liberty is indivisible; the laws of economics apply equally to all peoples.

Open borders, he believes, are a moral issue, “the cornerstone of a free society,” and as important as freedoms of association or worship because “liberty is indivisible.” The magical laws of economics “apply equally to all peoples.”

David Boudreaux, also of FEE, makes a similar moral case:

Whether or not immigrants increase or decrease measured GDP or per-capita income is an empirical question that can be answered only by sound empirical research. (Economist Julian Simon has carried out much of this research; he finds that immigrants promote prosperity.) But the moral case for open immigration is paramount. That case is this: a geopolitical border is a grotesquely arbitrary reason to prevent people from dealing with each other in whatever peaceful ways they choose.

Channeling John Lennon, Boudreuaux calls borders “grotesquely arbitrary” and an affront to morality. The apostle Paul and St. Luke would beg to differ. In Acts, Paul says that borders are ordained and appointed by God (Acts 17:26), “that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” And surely the Old Testament knows nothing of divinely appointed tribes, nations, borders and boundaries, right? Then again, what does God have to do with it?

Lehman also dismisses those who jump to the wildly inappropriate, utterly preposterous conclusion that mass immigration undermines the cultural preconditions of a free economy:

Contrary to the anti-immigration position, the American traditions of limited government and free market economies are not based upon ethnic or racial origins. They are based upon ideas. Western cultures cannot suppose themselves to have a monopoly on the philosophy of liberty, nor can Americans argue that the political values of the limited state cannot be inculcated in non-American immigrants. The ideas of freedom that have created the American tradition can apply to any ethnic or racial make-up.

Take note of the universalist and egalitarian presuppositions assumed by Boudreuaux and Lehman. The free market is a universal abstraction written on the very heart of man and divorced from ethnicity or culture. One group of people can embrace it as readily as another. All that is necessary is the mass distribution of The Wealth of Nations or “Road to Serfdom,” and free markets will spring from the Third World, fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus.

That idea is arrant nonsense. Free markets assume cultural and political preconditions, including but not limited to property rights, limited government, and largely unfettered market-based prices. Historically, particular cultures and their broader social order created the conditions for free markets to thrive. 

“The free market necessarily exists within a social framework,” VDare founder Peter Brimelow wrote:

And it can function only if the institutions in that framework are appropriate. For example, a defined system of private property is now widely agreed to be one essential precondition. Economists have a word for these preconditions: the “metamarket.” Some degree of ethnic and cultural coherence may be among them. Thus immigration may be a metamarket issue.

Even immigration enthusiast  Milton Friedman saw the issue, though he did not grasp the implications. “It’s a curious fact that capitalism developed and has really come to fruition in the English-speaking world,” he told Brimelow. “It hasn’t really made the same progress even in Europe–certainly not in France, for instance. I don’t know why this is so, but the fact has to be admitted.” 

Here is the answer for Friedman. Culture matters, and mass immigration, the replacement of one people by another, undermines the cultural preconditions that make free markets possible. As Thomas Sowell has written, “the most obvious fact about the history of racial and ethnic groups is how different they have been — and still are.” Demography is destiny. 

Any discussion of immigration that focuses on cost-benefit analysis, without considering culture, religion, society, and the ramifications of rapidly changing demography, is not worth having. Indeed, it’s suicidal. American elites lost confidence long ago and as a consequence the engines of cultural assimilation are broken. 

Massive numbers of immigrants who neither share nor even understand our civilization cannot and will not assimilate. That is very clear. Consider Twitter CEO Agrawal’s warning that Twitter is no longer a free-speech zone. 

What a telling remark that proves the obvious. Mass immigration is attacking our traditionally understood freedoms, and undermining heretofore properly-managed institutions and the development of social capital and social trust. That, in turn, is producing the social and political chaos that is harming the free market itself and producing the statism we see advocated by the Democrat Party. Mass immigration will end in statist totalitarianism. 

The Open Borders and Free Trade lobbies are busily selling the rope from which they will soon be swinging.

Darrell Dow, who writes from Kentucky, is the author, with Thomas Achord, of Who Is My Neighbor?: An Anthology In Natural Relations, and a regular contributor to American Remnant.

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