"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
Immigrants, Immigration and Their Enemies
Border crossings ' that is, the crossing of national borders ' seem to bring forth two different reactions in the minds of today's mainstream conservatives. On the one hand they find U.S. troops crossing the Iraqi border and occupying the country perfectly acceptable, while rejecting the same act of border crossing and 'occupation,' if you will, on the part of millions of immigrants from various places around the globe.
As long as the 'illegals' are United States military men and women, high ranking government officials and representatives of politically privileged U.S. corporations, the concept of 'illegal alien' has no weight with the assortment of disgruntled talk radio personalities across the country. For instance, Laura Ingraham, the virtual doppelganger of Ann Coulter (both vigorous Republican media figures and yes, fairly attractive) recently decried the fact that Mexican immigrants as far north as Illinois were drawing in Mexican politicians eager for their vote. Claiming that the immigrants were attempting to live as Mexicans and Americans at the same time, she was angered that they wouldn't completely detach themselves from their former home and dive head first into a full blown American identity. (One best achieved by voting Republican, most likely).
I don't find the concept of dual citizenship as horrifying as many prominent conservatives seem to. Maybe if more Americans could experience what it's like to have money, feelings and family invested in various locales around the world, they would understand what it's like to see things from a different point of view. Communication with a place outside of the American media nexus would be beneficial to the majority of Americans that have bought into the glee for unreflective patriotism. What better way to minimize the recurrence of war and strife worldwide than to increase peaceful transnational integration of all kinds? Perhaps Laura Ingraham could take Frederic Bastiat's maxim to heart, but with a twist: 'When people don't cross borders, global ignorance will.'
I'm not buying into the fear of a diluted 'national identity' anytime soon. More respectable conservatives, of the variety who don't cheer the current Bush administration and its ceaseless militarization, still fall short of an embrace of war's dialectical opposite ' freedom. Especially immigration's 'freedom of foot.' Fearing the dissolution of loyalty to the modern nation state, one such conservative is Paul Craig Roberts, who has written for the paleoconservative VDARE.COM, stating:
'Cultural Marxists have successfully used 'multiculturalism' and a de facto open immigration policy to create minority and ethnic loyalties that are stronger than those felt toward the American state.'
Now I'm all for criticizing Marxists of every stripe, especially the ones who have given up on Marx's difficult economic writings (realizing, I suppose, that he was skillfully refuted in that realm) and embraced the easier to identify 'cultural' Marxist aspects of Antonio Gramsci and the like. However, the fact that my Sikh and Hindu neighbors feel their religion to be important, the news and events of their former country worth following, and the practices of their places of origin worth celebrating, cannot be blamed on Marxists. It can be blamed on human nature, globalization and communication technology, but especially the feeling of community that doesn't recognize arbitrary political entities called 'borders.' The idea that there is a 'national identity' is a fallacy. What is this 'identity' composed of? Almost anything you can name I can trace to an earlier time and/or a different location. It certainly isn't apple pie and baseball, both of which have their origins in Europe , a place many of these conservatives claim to be a world away from the U.S. both culturally and in regard to values. This argument reminds me of those who speak of 'society' as if it were a living, breathing organism with a mind of its own. Individuals think and act, and the United States is home to an astonishing array of individuals who should never be subjected to some kind of loyalty test administered by the 'American state.'
Just when you thought this was a one-sided affair, alas the left-wing statists find a way to place anti-immigration sentiments into what seems to be a whole other issue altogether. Supported by Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, BALANCE - an organization 'committed to stabilizing U.S. population in order to safeguard the carrying capacity of the United States '--finds an ominous link between resource depletion and immigration policy:
'BALANCE will keep you informed of legislation we oppose while working to support a moratorium on immigration as a necessary step to population stabilization and sustainable use of resources.'
Well thank you very much for your effort to keep me informed! They go on . . . .
'All other nations, including Canada, are tightening immigration law. Can they all be wrong?'
Yes, they can be. In fact Canada , the U.S. and all others would be well advised to return to the world that existed before World War I, when not only did there exist an open door policy, but there was scarcely a passport in sight. The elites in the so-called 'industrialized world' have no right to impose limits on the movement of human beings onto or off of spaces within the seven continents that are unowned ' i.e., government owned ' or in fact owned legitimately, that immigrants have been invited to occupy. 'Population stabilization' is wholly Orwellian. Although it can mean something as innocuous as birth control awareness campaigns, in this case state employed men with guns will punish those who employ people whose place of birth is not on U.S. soil. State employed men with guns will fire on people who cross a vast desert, amazed at having survived up to this point in search of what they deem to be better opportunities. If you are coming from overseas, men on boats with guns will turn you back after giving you ample warning with their megaphone to make no attempt to land your vessel.
If BALANCE were truly committed to sustaining natural resources, they would not only allow immigrants from 'developing countries' to set foot here, but they would implore the government to give away the 40% of the U.S. that is owned by it ' including the most polluting entity of all, military bases ' to the first person who occupied and 'mixed (his or her) labor' with the land. (Think of it as a neo-Homestead Act.) Property rights via squatter's rights are what I'm talking about here. When resources are allocated appropriately through property rights, then wanton pollution and depletion become minimized. If I own the forest, you better pay me a pretty penny to use it all up, because then it will be worthless! I will think long term. I will think 'sustainability,' a buzzword of the current age and one thrown about by BALANCE quite a bit. If I own the land by fiat, however, why should I care what happens to it? If things go bad and the land is devastated, I can use the same power that gave me that land in the first place to grab more. Basic insights into the 'economic vs. political' means to wealth attainment could be a huge help to BALANCE and its ilk.
Perry De Havilland of the Libertarian Alliance in the U.K. puts things right in his publication 'I Do Not Fear the Immigrant' when he says:
'When people of different cultures and races actually interact economically, the inevitable consequence is familiarity, cultural influence and ultimately miscegenation, not a regression to atavistic tribalism.'
Well put. The tribalistic opponents of open borders should absorb these words.
To remind the proponents of immigration control that they themselves are the product of immigration is by now almost comically redundant. 'Yeah, but my ancestors came here legally!' they respond. Considering the arbitrary and highly politicized aspects of the legality and illegality of immigration, I don't care much for that argument. It was illegal for Jews escaping the Holocaust to come America at one point in time. More recently it was illegal for Haitians to land in Florida because of Clinton 's fear of electoral backlash. When my own father used the legality defense, I felt compelled to point out that if Ireland were located just to the south of the U.S. and shared a border over 1,000 miles long, there would now be a long history of 'Micks,' as opposed to 'Wetbacks,' suffering under Operation Gatekeeper.
We now see that two different epistemologies can result in the same result: Immigration Control. Whether it's based on cultural protectionism, the environment, national security or whatever else, the argument for the restriction on human migration comes from many directions. They are all faulty, however, and result in the revocation of a liberty often taken for granted. Immigration is people control. End people control.