An expatriate’s perspective on pan-ethnic mass immigration
Western societies almost without exception in recent decades have been transformed by the large-scale additions of essentially all foreign ethnicities to their legacy European-stock populations.
How this came about is less important than the fact that it happened and now festers as the central problem of Western civilization. But I think it’s fair to say that this transformation began, several decades ago, principally because Western elites wanted it, at least partly for reasons they could not openly defend. A simplified and somewhat cynical version is that Left-leaning politicians in the US, emboldened by their success in capturing “the black vote,” calculated that they could import other ethnic minorities from abroad en masse and ultimately assemble a permanent electoral majority that way. Businessmen and the rich, seeking a wider range of cheap-labor options, were eager to go along. This basic idea then spread to the elites of other Western countries.
The pan-ethnic flow has continued for those mostly-unacknowledged reasons, and also because recently arrived foreigners and their offspring have by now acquired substantial political power of their own. But the reasons that have been used to publicly justify this change, at least in recent decades, are different. The elites, who now include the mouthpieces of these new ethnic voting blocs, have been assuring the increasingly feminized, compassion-oriented legacy populations of the West that this historic transformation has been necessary as an act of compassion, and a recognition of universal civil rights—huddled masses and all that. For the special case of the USA, they have argued or implied that the country has always been a construct of immigrants, a “civic” rather than an ethnic nation, a “promised land” in the words of RFK.
This has always been more than a dry, reasoned argument. The elites have applied to the legacy lower orders a strong emotional and moral pressure to accept that multi-ethnicity, “diversity,” is good, that it sits on the correct side of history, that opposing it is bad and racist. Some European governments have been so successful in their browbeating that they now enforce this new moral code in actual law. But even Western elites that haven’t achieved that level of thought-control have been pretty effective in enforcing diversity dogma through threats of disemployment and social ostracism for dissidents—cancellation.
Diversity dogma as we know it today would not have had as receptive an audience in the 1960s. The cultural ground had not yet been prepared. The average Democrat then would be considered “far right” today. So when the floodgates to pan-ethnic immigration began to be opened around the middle of that decade, people were simply misled. The elites, instead of presenting the coming demographic transformation as a good thing, assured ordinary citizens that it wouldn’t happen. The influx of foreigners would constitute a social ripple rather than a sea change—nothing to worry about! “This bill we sign today”—claimed Lyndon Johnson of the 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Bill—“is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not restructure the shape of our daily lives.”
It did, though. And in the context of those original false assurances, the mass migration of ethnically and culturally distant peoples to the West has been an ongoing fraud, perpetrated by Western elites against their own legacy populations. By the same token, the compassion-based, right-side-of-history argument used to justify mass immigration is mainly window dressing. Still, it has been remarkably effective, and it deserves an effective response. As I organize my own thoughts about this, I don’t suppose that I have anything truly novel to say, but still I think my presentation is a better one than mass immigration opponents in the popular media usually provide.
It’s not about “hate”
I have never been comfortable with arguments against mass immigration that rest heavily on the idea of immigrants as lawless primitives.
That’s not to say that immigrants never are lawless primitives. It’s probably always been the case that a significant proportion of them belong in that category. But an argument that focuses just on the lowlifes implies that all the lawful, hard-working immigrants are totally OK. And they’re not totally OK, any more than lawful, hard-working white Americans would be, in the eyes of their hosts, if they tried to form a huge expatriate colony within some ethnically and culturally distant society.
I know this because I’ve spent most of my adult life as an expatriate in ethnically and culturally distant societies, and despite being lawful and hard-working I’ve run again and again into the limits of host country tolerance for foreigners. Those limits have been manifest in laws, such as laws limiting the kinds of jobs resident foreigners can do, and the property rights they can enjoy. Those limits have also been apparent in attitudes, such as the presumption that a foreigner opposing a native in court should normally lose, and the widespread belief that foreigners should pay more for things than natives do, or the simple, murmured resentment among locals to the effect that “there are too many foreigners here.”
Locals’ limited tolerance for foreigners like myself has sometimes struck me as too limited, but the fact that it is limited has never seemed fundamentally wrong. Placing bounds on foreign influx and influence in a society has always seemed like obvious common sense—a common sense forged by biological and cultural evolution as a basic human instinct.
Calling this innate in-group preference “hate” is one of the contemporary Left’s most specious and dishonest ploys. Don’t be a hater! My own experience is that countries placing heavy restrictions on foreigners’ residency and influence typically have citizens that are very warmly disposed towards visitors from abroad—probably in part because those restricting laws give locals a measure of security, from which they feel more free to be hospitable.
Nor is my opposition to mass immigration in my own country rooted in hatred of foreigners: I have spent most of my adult life living in far-flung places among ethnically and culturally dissimilar folk, and even married one of them, so that my children are now ethnically and culturally half-American and half-foreign. In other words, it has long been the case that the people dearest to me are foreigners in whole or in part.
From what do the limits of our tolerance spring, if not from hate?
Well, from something more fundamental than a human emotion. An organism is not an organism if it does not have boundaries that separate it from its environment and from other organisms. If it is too permeable, it will not survive. Human societies are not as well defined in this sense, compared to flora and fauna, but clearly they have been shaped by a similar evolutionary logic.
If one needs to invoke an emotion as the force underlying the universally limited human tolerance of foreigners, why not invoke love? As in, love for one’s kin and country—love for one’s national and cultural identity. One can’t have those good things, those fulfilments of basic human needs, and open one’s borders to all the peoples of the world. It would be like opening the doors of one’s house to random strangers. Speaking of which: remember that scene in the film Doctor Zhivago when the doctor returns from the war to find his comfortable Moscow residence filled with several other families—his own wife and children now confined to a single room? It was a wrenchingly effective depiction of the Bolshevik disregard for basic human nature. And for the viewer, as for Zhivago, the proper objects of hatred were not the new tenants but the Bolshevik overlords that had sent them.
Naturally, when a flood of immigrants makes a citizen feel that he has been displaced, his country effectively overrun, a certain amount of hatred toward the foreign displacer is an understandable reaction, and historically has been pretty effective at motivating a reversal of the flood. But hatred in that context is merely a means, and a temporary one, not the end in itself.
Globally, and ideally, the end is a good and positive end: a system of distinct nations—homelands populated by what are, more or less, extended families, each with a dominant ethnicity and culture—in which good fences, fair trade, and moderate amounts of tourism, intermarriage, and urban cosmopolitanism make good neighbors. In principle, at least, a sane and farsighted world can realize that humane goal calmly through policy, rather than through conflict.
Diversity destroys democracy
There are other reasons to oppose the flood of multi-ethnic immigration that has hit the West in recent decades. One set of reasons, largely amounting to a negative version of the argument above, invokes the weakening of social bonds, the dilution of the usual sense of shared culture, neighborliness and trust in an ethnically bound society, the erosion of the usual feeling of belonging (“this no longer feels like my country”), with an attendant demoralization that has already been blamed, e.g., for the downturn in white life expectancy in the US.
Another set of reasons involves the economic distortions caused by mass immigration, which include downward pressure on wages, disemployment of the legacy population, and—no less important—a draining away of skilled labor from the countries supplying the immigrants.
Then there is the higher-crime/lower-quality-of-life angle, which is especially relevant when the majority of immigrants come from less wealthy and orderly places.
Lastly, there is an argument that has long seemed to me especially important and yet mostly neglected. This is the argument that heavy multi-ethnicity in a society is incompatible in the long run with democracy—at least, traditional, stable, Western-style democracy—and must in the end produce political dissolution and anarchy or anyway some other-than-democratic outcome.
In part, this is an argument from simple observation: Multi-ethnic states almost never form naturally, and when they have been set up artificially—e.g., by Western colonial powers over the past few centuries—the result usually has been fragmentation or the emergence of a strongman (e.g., Saddam Hussein) with a police state.
This is also an argument from simple logic: Shared ethnicity is a very strong social and political binder, perhaps stronger than any other, particularly when the ethnic group is a political minority and feels, or is told that they should feel, a sense of adversity and oppression. In principle, as left-leaning parties in the USA and elsewhere have recognized, a sizeable political coalition can be built from such aggrieved, bloc-voting minority groups, provided that the faction-building party can manage to keep the flames of grievance alive in them. I think it’s fair to say, and it is maybe self-evident from events ongoing as I write, that those flames must ultimately burn away the mutual respect and trust that a society needs to sustain a democratic style of government. Many of the founders of the U.S. Republic knew that factionalism, in general, would be a constant temptation and a major threat to its survival. Race-based factionalism, which the founders largely failed to anticipate, is arguably on historical grounds—not to mention, evolutionary-biological grounds—the most toxic.
In the US the Democratic Party, previously the party of southern whites, has been shifting towards this mode of racial-minority factionalism (which also encompasses non-ethnically defined marginalized groups such as women and LGBTs) at least since the civil rights era of the 1950s and 60s. Over the decades, powered especially by immigration, this strategy has strengthened the party electorally, and on a superficial analysis would seem to have positioned it now for long-term electoral dominance. But really this strategy has been self-defeating, in the sense that it effectively has destroyed the social fabric of the USA, making democracy itself now untenable as a means of stable governance.
If I’m right that my country—presaging developments elsewhere in the West—is about to see the full collapse of its political system, then the Left’s current pandering claim that slavery was America’s “original sin” may have a grain of truth to it. I would call it not only America’s original sin but also the original seed of America’s destruction: Through slavery, Americans brought a large, racially and developmentally distant minority into the country. That ultimately prompted a massive conflagration before the Republic was even 90 years old. But what came afterwards was arguably worse. The decision not to give ex-slaves their own separate homeland (as Lincoln among others had wanted) but to keep them in the US as citizens led ultimately, perhaps inevitably, to the emergence of civil rights ideology, diversity dogma, pan-ethnic immigration, and the current caustic factionalism that I expect will prove terminal.
The same fatal seed may deserve blame for the fall of the West more generally, since American-style civil rights ideology long ago infected the elites of other Western democracies and at least partly accounts for their post-colonial embraces of pan-ethnic immigration.
Am I too pessimistic? We’ll soon see. In the meantime, I’ll be busy preparing myself and my family for life and work outside the countries of the self-immolating West.