Bryan Caplan  

Where Nationalism Meets Socialism

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I was surprised to find this at the Common Dreams News Center ("Breaking News and Views for the Progressive Community"):

[R]eal free trade implies not only duty-free movement of goods and capital, but free movement of labour across borders, which neither the U.S. nor Canada can tolerate. Pure free trade is a utopian madhouse, even crazier in concept than communism. Just imagine the damage to the social structure -- not to mention wages -- if either country permitted unlimited Mexican immigration.

The naive, internationalist left can't face these facts of life...

There is an alternative: The left could embrace the battered working class at home and unashamedly acknowledge that its first responsibility is to the citizens of the U.S. and Canada, now being sold out by the political elites. If Americans want to help the world's poor we can lead by example, we can fight for more foreign aid, or -- not the worst alternative -- we can leave the dispossessed foreigners alone.

I expect this kind of tribalism from conservatives. When I see self-styled crusaders for the poor writing off foreigners who earn a $1/day for the sake of Americans who earn $10,000/year, I'm speechless.


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COMMENTS (23 to date)
TGGP writes:

Most people on both the right and left are idiots (qua their right or leftness, they may be perfectly capable of managing their own lives). Though I think most immigration restrictionists have lousy reasons, they are to me at least useful idiots. I'm glad to see some leftoids making themselves useful.

I made a lengthy comment here before on why I don't share the optimism of many economists (who I otherwise trust) with regard to immigration, and decided to turn it into one of my first posts at my blog, though I regret not saying anything about outmigration and revealed preference.

ThaddeusMcMonster writes:

You know who else was a nationalist and a socialist?

Franklin Harris writes:

I see the author of that national socialist article is "John R. MacArthur ... the publisher of Harper's Magazine and the author of The Selling of 'Free Trade': NAFTA, Washington and the Subversion of American Democracy."

With books like this and Naomi Klein's filling the bookshops, I'd say it's about time for an unabashedly globalist, pro-immigration, pro-free trade popular econ book.

Dennis Mangan writes:

Bryan, what you call "tribalism" is what most people would call an ordinary and decent sense of kinship for those with whom they share important characteristics, like language and nationality. Ideologues may wish that these feelings would go away, but I can't imagine a good and decent world without them. I guess that makes me a conservative.

General Specific writes:

"When I see self-styled crusaders for the poor writing off foreigners who earn a $1/day for the sake of Americans who earn $10,000/year, I'm speechless."

Can you please open your house to 100 illegals that I'm currently trying to place in temporary housing. Don't worry. They won't make a nuisance of themselves.

Kimmitt writes:

I do like the idea that the first thing we could do is stop shooting them, propping up lousy governments, etc.

FC writes:

Prof. Caplan, surely you've heard of 'socialism in one country' before.

Troy Camplin writes:

Sounds to me like the progressives are finally being honest about themselves for once.

Peter Schaeffer writes:

“When I see self-styled crusaders for the poor writing off foreigners who earn a $1/day for the sake of Americans who earn $10,000/year, I'm speechless.”

I would imagine you would have a lot more to say if you were trying to get by on $10,000 a year and your income / life was shattered by immigration (legal and illegal).

The real world definition of immigration – A system where preening elites pretend to be morally superior while importing cheap servants for themselves while devastating the lives of the working citizens of their own nation… Who are then expected to fight elite wars.

fundamentalist writes:

Just imagine the damage to the social structure -- not to mention wages -- if either country permitted unlimited Mexican immigration.

It's pretty clear that there are no Mexicans left in Mexico who would rather be here, so where's the damage?

Peter Schaeffer writes:

fundamentalist,

Check you facts. Polls show that 40% (roughly 40,000,000 people) would leave Mexico for the US if they could.

A majority of Mexicans think they have a "right" to enter the US irrespective of US law.

Steve Sailer writes:

Bryan, do you know any facts about immigration or do you just have strong emotions?

Peter Schaeffer writes:

Steve Sailer,

Why do you ask? Do you need to ask?

Bill writes:

Man, that is pretty harsh. Why do they consider Canada and the U.S. as one and Mexico as the other? Pretty mean-spirited.

sbl writes:
Can you please open your house to 100 illegals that I'm currently trying to place in temporary housing. Don't worry. They won't make a nuisance of themselves.
I actually used to live in apartment complex next to a slightly crowded unit that had a few illegals in it. They even had their shitty illegal-immigrant van (I can now spot automobiles of illegal immigrants with at least 80% accuracy) nd their illegal immigrant work clothes and a home fairly close to where all the agricultural work was.

They were model neighbors. Especially by the standards of such a poor area. The (usually white) rednecks in the complex had more than their fair share of some of the most trashy, lazy, drunkenly losers I've ever had the misfortune of living next to. The worst thing I can say about the mexicans is that their shitty-looking van made the area look poorer than it really was.

The idea of putting 100 of them in my residence is a bit too hysterical and hyperbolic to bother responding to, but they're one of the more benign elements in poor areas.

Lori writes:

"Bryan, what you call "tribalism" is what most people would call an ordinary and decent sense of kinship for those with whom they share important characteristics, like language and nationality. Ideologues may wish that these feelings would go away, but I can't imagine a good and decent world without them. I guess that makes me a conservative."

I totally agree with you, Dennis. This once great nation is being destroyed by elitests who want cheap labor and so encourage the migration of unskilled, uneducated people who do NOT share American values. There is fraud at every level of illegal immigration, and it is destroying our way of life. How about the people who support the dilution of our populace with poor migrants who thrive on social services pay the financial costs of such folly?

Dennis,

What you call "important characteristics" I call trivial. Why do you attach importance to language and nationality, all things that make no difference? What matters is people and their actions, not how they sound or what country they happened to be born in.

Nationalism is the most pernicious from of bigotry accepted in the world today.

Kimmitt writes:

Is it tribalism for me to see to the well-being of those with whom I have signed a shared social contract before the well-being of those with whom I have not? It seems to me to be, well, the execution of a social contract.

8 writes:

What you call a tribe, I call a union. Any state is free to apply for membership within the union.

8 writes:

Bryan,

Have you read Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age? In the novel there are many phyles (tribes) and voluntary organizations which act as states do in our present time. Are you opposed to all exclusionary organizations based on geography?

It sounds to me like you're making a metaphysical or theological argument, calling for something akin to a universal religion such as Christianity or Islam.

1) Value is determined by supply and demand, therefore a world in which human life is precious is a world in which human life is scarce.

2) The world's human population cannot grow without limit.

3) The world's human population will stop growing when either...
3.1) the birth rate falls to meet the death rate or
3.2) the death rate rises to meet the birth rate.

4) voluntary methods of population control selectively breed non-compliant individuals

5) Event #3 will occur as a result of either
5.1) human agency or
5.2) non-himan agency.

6) Human agency is either
6.1) democratically determined or
6.1) not.

7) Human misery is like heat; in the absence of barriers it will flow until equally distributed.

8) The world's maximum instantaneous population is greater than it's maximum sustainable population. Expect a decline in population numbers from the instantaneous maximum.

9) People who can reproduce at high density have a selective advantage over people who require lots of open space.

10) Humans displace wilderness. Expect a reduction in biodiversity before the human population stabilizes.

Your choices are limited.

8 writes:

I can see how tribalism and nationalism can be negative, in that rejecting foreigners only because they are foreign will end up hurting myself. But to expect no tribalism is not too dissimilar from the Marxist's expectation of man without selfishness. The key difference being that you can change the culture. If a person places value on their culture, language, arts, etc., then you can't win with an economic argument. You have to show why the new culture will be better than the old culture.

9160 writes:

The U.S. is a great nation, but it is slowly declining because of our elitests decisions. They are allowing immigrants to come over here, often uneducated and unskilled, to work for cheap wages. Yes, it is saving that small group of elitests money, but it is creating a ton of problems for the rest of the working U.S. citizens.

The number of illegal or legal immigrants coming to this country not knowing any English is absolutely ridiculous, especially if they are all jobs in which they are coming into contact with English speaking Americans everyday. I don’t think that I need to learn Spanish in order to communicate with them because I am in America…they should be trying to learn English!

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