Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Immigration - the unanswered questions

Mass immigration is here to stay and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That was the message of EU Commissioner on Migration Dimitris Avramopoulous in a piece he wrote for POLITICO entitled “Europe’s Migrants Are Here to Stay”. So stop your whining and get used to the new normal.

This is an old debating tactic: steer clear of fundamental questions, which, if answered, might cause your argument to collapse, and advance the debate so far beyond these questions that it's generally assumed they were settled in your favour and that your position is the sensible status quo. These assumptions are then established as gospel, which only heretics and lunatics would dare speak against.

So it is with the immigration debate in the UK - if there were one, of course. The Tories briefly flirted with the issue when they thought a failure to do so would cost them votes (which Theresa May managed to lose, anyway), but since then the party has reverted to its ‘don't frighten the horses’ policy. Labour, suffice to say, is a strident supporter of mass immigration, having kicked it off under Tony Blair, and is in no hurry to discuss the matter. This leaves an enfeebled UKIP and a few fringe groups trying to keep the debate alive, who are easily dismissed as extremists.

The issue is talked about more vigorously elsewhere in world, but the fundamental questions remain unanswered. Sweeping assumptions about the inevitability of widescale migration go unchallenged, allowing the pro camp to control the conversation and confine its opponents to arguing the small stuff.

Supporters of mass immigration talk as if the time prior to it happening was one of racial apartheid - as if would-be migrants were penned up in enclaves (aka their own countries) by white devils - a travesty that ended with the dismantling of border controls, which granted them rightful passage to their nations of choice.

Now that unchecked immigration is the Western norm (or the aspiration of most politicians, at least), this view of border controls as a form of apartheid is commonplace. Respectable opinion holds that it's not only selfish to deny foreigners unhindered access to your country, but counterproductive, due to the benefits they bring - namely a more diverse culture, a willing labour force, and a greater tolerance of foreigners among the natives.

This is the common answer to the big question about mass immigration: What's in it for us? These supposed boons of welcoming untold millions into your country have never been properly challenged or qualified, and they don't hold much water, anyway, since they're based on the principle that immigration is the cure for problems caused by too much immigration.

For instance, to say we need more diversity to encourage tolerance of foreigners in our midst only makes sense if you accept continual mass immigration as a fait accompli. Otherwise, it’s like telling a vegetarian they should eat more bacon to get used to the taste. If we didn’t have such a torrent of newcomers in the first place, there wouldn't be a need for more of the same to acclimatise the natives to their arrival.

This analysis of immigration as cause and cure applies to the cheap labour argument, too. Importing migrant labour drives down wages among the low-paid until the indigenous workforce opts for the dole queue, leaving jobs that are only fit for more migrant labour. The ensuing increase in population drives demand for goods and services, creating new jobs that need filling by - you guessed it - yet more migrant labour. It’s a perpetual motion machine that exists to solve problems of its own making.

Which leaves us with the alleged benefits of a more diverse culture, the need for which apparently grows the more of it we have. To this I would ask: what was wrong with our country exactly that needed fixing with greater diversity? Why was our largely homogeneous society of old so bad that it required an injection of foreign blood? Was there widespread discontent at such undiluted Britishness? Was our reluctance to compromise our national identity an impediment to our success?

Tightening our borders might send the message that immigrants aren't as welcome as they used to be, which could hurt the feelings of those who've already reached our shores; but unless you believe the relentless influx won't eventually lead to unpleasant trade-offs, we'll eventually have to take action. If not now, when? How much is too much? And when the time comes, will you know or admit to knowing?

If the introduction of alien cultures into our own has made things spicier and more interesting than they used to be, that doesn’t mean there's no upward limit to the process. At some point the indigenous culture becomes so diluted that people stop recognising the country as the one they grew up in. Whether that's a good thing or not is a matter of opinion, but it's not one that's ever been gauged or listened to by our decision-makers. Certainly the only opinion that should matter in this regard is that of the people who already live here, but current policy prioritises the interests of the people who want to live here.

One thing’s for sure: those flocking to Britain must think it’s a better place to live than their own countries, or they’d have stayed put. In which case, shouldn't we be preserving our customs, rather than trading them for those of places people are fleeing in droves? Even if there are aspects of those cultures that would enrich our own, how can we be sure we’ll get the good and keep out the bad, especially when the creed of multiculturalism discourages this kind of discernment? And if we can’t be sure, why risk it? Is the prospect of doing without more diversity really that awful?

If the West desperately needs to adopt more people and customs from the developing world, why isn’t the opposite true? You don’t hear anyone ticking off Pakistan for being too Pakistani, or Somalia for being too black. In fact, any attempt to recommend Western values to impoverished nations would be labelled cultural imperialism. They're fine as they are, apparently, despite millions of their people voting to the contrary with their feet. Why the double standard, when it would seem they’d be better off being more like us?

To answer these questions honestly is to understand the real reason for the mass immigration movement. Virtually no one is against migrants living and working in Britain, providing they accept our laws and values, and arrive in controlled numbers. Nor is anyone against taking in genuine refugees, providing our solution to strife in other countries isn’t to siphon off their populations and turn our own into a giant soup kitchen. But the pro-immigration lobby isn't interested in just importing the best or the wretched few. It wants to invite the unskilled Third World masses, too, without any expectation of them adapting to our way of life. Indeed, it actively discourages them from doing so by promoting the doctrine of multiculturalism and doing down our own culture at every opportunity.

The truth is that pro-immigration types don't expect Western society to remain essentially unchanged by the mass influx of people from foreign lands. On the contrary, they expect and hope that it will be radically and irrevocably altered. They have a visceral dislike of our culture and the people who find it amenable, and want to see them suffer. They want to introduce so many alien influences that the centre cannot hold and the whole thing comes crashing down. From the ruins they imagine a society will rise run for and by people like them.

These wreckers are ably assisted by useful idiots who've ingested the idea that any criticism of immigration is racist - the recourse of prejudiced proles and bourgeois bigots - and think that flying the flag for immigrants makes them better people. Because they don't rub shoulders with migrants (except for the educated, assimilated kind) or compete with them for work, they can blithely ignore their effects on the wider community and lecture the rest of us on the virtues of tolerance and diversity.

It’s tempting to avoid the immigration issue in the belief that it’s something bad people obsess over; but it’s not an understatement to say that it will determine the fate of the Western world. It’s more important than ever, then, that those who wish ill upon us don’t get to fast-forward past the questions that matter.