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Immigrants and socialism.


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Jonah Goldberg

I was going to write about immigration today. I wrote about it in my syndicated column yesterday and I figured, I’d get some extra bang out of my research buck. But about half way into this column, I changed my mind. I decided, instead, that I want to float a theory I’ve been thinking about for a while but have been reluctant to mention because every time I do thousands of spiders with cat heads crawl all over my body. Oh wait that’s what happens when I take really bad acid. Actually every time I try to write about it, I come across racist. Intrigued? Follow me.

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I think immigrants fight off socialism.

“Whaaaaat!?” You can almost hear the nativists scream. Well bear with me.

Have you ever noticed that those countries which are ethnically more homogeneous than the United States — i.e. virtually all of them — are more socialist than America? A couple years ago I went to Switzerland on a fascinating (and phat) junket. One of the things that shocked me the most was how huge their welfare state is. This allegedly free-market, pro-business nation was in fact deeply socialist. Oh, I don’t mean in the Marxist sense. I mean in the Swedish, Euro-twerp sense. There are almost no Horatio Algers, let alone Bill Gates in Switzerland — and even fewer in France, Austria Belgium, etc, etc. There are a bunch of very successful corporations which operate on a global scale and in almost symbiotic accord with the government. The system there is set up for big business to thrive, but there’s almost no chance that the little guy will ever grow so big as to even annoy a Nestle or Credit Suisse.

(You can see this dynamic in the United States too. The really big corporations don’t care that much about new OSHA or ADA or minimum-wage laws and regulations because IBM and GE are so big they can pass the costs of such measures on to their consumers.

Even better, for the big guys, such regulations form a barrier to entry for the little guys. Say you have 499 employees in your small business. The Feds say all businesses with 500 or more workers must be wheelchair accessible, provide health benefits to gay “spouses,” pay for sex-change operations, and offer drug-abuse counseling and you can de damn sure that you won’t be hiring that 500th employee for quite a while.

The failure to recognize this dynamic is one of the chief examples of how left-wing corporation-haters don’t know what they’re talking about).

Anyway, that’s not the point. Switzerland also has a generous social-safety net. Fat pensions, childcare subsidies etc. Indeed, much of Europe is designed as if Hillary Clinton ruled everything west of the Urals. Even our beloved friends in Fair Britannia do not consider the term “welfare state” to have any negative connotations.

One of the reasons this has been politically feasible in Europe is that Europeans are a bunch of boneheads when it comes to economics. But another reason — according to my theory — is that race hasn’t been much of an issue. Politically, it’s a lot easier to support a safety net when the safety net only helps people just like you. In fact, I bet you anything one of the reasons why “welfare reform” is gaining ground in Europe is because Europe is filling up with Asian and African immigrants and all of a sudden the “enlightened” Euro weenies don’t see the benefit in writing checks to poor brown and yellow people when they were just delighted to keep white folks on the dole for generations.

Meanwhile, let’s face it, one of the main reasons European-style welfare never caught on in the United States is that it seemed to go disproportionately to black folks. Actually, “seemed” is diplomatic cover for the fact that welfare did disproportionately go to black folks — and still does. In fact in the 1960s the National Welfare Rights Organization, worked on the explicit assumption that welfare was a form of reparations for slavery. George Wiley, the head of NWRO, used the mantra “Welfare is a Right, not a Privilege.”

In a sense skin color served as a dye-marker for the failures of the well-intentioned but disastrous policies of New Deal and Great Society liberalism. We spent trillions on the poor, who were disproportionately black, and there was very little to show for it. I’m not even sure people would have noticed if it weren’t for the fact that it was apparent that the black underclass was actually getting worse because of, rather than in spite of, the erosion of the family and work ethics caused by welfare.

The Marxists have it right. Race does get in the way of class. Even in Democratic nations, the more “pure” the racial make-up, the more likely the people will be to vote for a fat safety net. The Swedes liked being socialists because there was no “other” group on the social tit (giggle). But let’s just see how generous they are when a few hundred thousand North Africans move in. Proposition 187 will seem like multicultural appreciation week.

Indeed, that’s one of the reasons so many foreign countries make it difficult to become naturalized. Once you’re a citizen, you qualify for the same generous benefits that the white folks got. In Switzerland, for example, foreign-born residents have to stand on one leg, sing the alphabet backwards and recount from memory all of the rookie players in the 1943 Negro leagues, just to get a citizenship form.

The fact that ethnic homogeneity is conducive to socialism was also given credence — according to my still theoretical theory — by the experience of our old friend Pat Buchanan. It turns out that as Pat became more isolationist he also grew more anti-free market. Watching Pat, it became pretty clear that you can’t be against immigration and opposed to free trade without also becoming more and more sympathetic to subsidies and various social welfare programs (after all trade barriers are subsidies to domestic businesses).

By the end of his self-destructive hoo-ha he was supporting caps on executive pay, boosts in unemployment benefits and deploring the “harshness” of the free market. Buchanan’s toughest critics called him a Nazi because of his racial and ethnic views, and that was more than a little unfair (though he seemed to enjoy, foolishly, goading people into making such charges).

But, Buchanan notwithstanding, it bears repeating that the Nazis were, after all, socialists.

Open the Borders, Shut Down the Government
So, let’s get back to immigration for a second.

If we could guarantee the permanent abolition of pretty much everything associated with the welfare state and multiculturalism — including welfare, affirmative action, quotas, set-asides, bilingual education, self-esteem training, various state-sponsored ethnic pride months, and all the academic “centers” for the study of Indian Marxist Lesbians who hate white folks but love Paris — I would actually sign on with the Wall Street Journal’s “open borders” position (those guys, God bless’em, want a constitutional amendment stating “there shall be open borders.” I am not making this up).

Take America out of the equation for a second. Assuming you are a good classical liberal type, what kind of country would you design from scratch? My guess, if you think about it, would be one with a profoundly small government with a clearly stated, nigh-upon absolute, respect for contracts and property rights. It would be colorblind and would not at all interfere in your business or personal dealings so long as you respected the rights of others and your contractual obligations. You know what I’m getting at.

So, who would you want to populate this new land of…hmm let’s call it NationalReviewville…no, that’s not quite right. Hayek Town? Close but…I have it Liberty City. Okay so who would you invite to live in Liberty City? Would it be just whites?

Well, no. Caucasians are just as susceptible to the asinine socialist gene as blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc. Invite a random pool of Swedes and Belgians and pretty soon Liberty City will head down the crapper to become New Santa Monica.

Would you invite just Asians? Well, no, for pretty much the same reasons. Ditto blacks, Europeans, Eskimos, etc. etc.

Now you might invite just Jews or Muslims or Christians if you were setting up Godburg. But that’s an entirely different proposition.

No, if you wanted the right kind of citizens for Liberty City, you would invite anybody and everybody who found the idea of living in total freedom with no governmental safety net very attractive. It would be like open tryouts for a football team — or for these purposes a wrestling team (a sport with a less crypto-fascist organization). Anyone who could hack it made the team. Everyone else gets sent packing. No tears.

After all. As with sports, if you insist on only signing white players, Jackie Robinson will go elsewhere (this lesson is lost on some quarters of the Right where, for example, NR’s Ramesh Ponnuru is shunned in part, it seems, because he’s of Indian descent — despite the fact he’s as much a citizen as you or I and, more tellingly, a proponent of curtailing immigration).

So in Liberty City, you can be black, Christian, Jewish, Hmong, fat, skinny, tall, short, Tibetan, or pretty much anything else you want to be except of course circus folk (we all know Carnies smell like cabbage). You could even be French. The one thing you couldn’t do is expect to live off the government dole or get any special breaks from the government (if your family or Church wants to carry your freight, who cares?). Sink or swim, it’s up to you and yours.

Well, this describes my ideological approach to immigration. It also explains how profoundly pernicious the racial group-rights, welfare-state stuff really from my perspective.

In a perfect world we would have open borders because in a perfect world America would be a lot more like Liberty City than it is today. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world where the ideas on the drawing board perfectly match the world outside our window.

But the ideal remains the same. Anyway, that’s my theory.



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