Brexit and bigotry (crosspost from CT)

Following my previous post, I’d like to add a bit more to the debate about Brexit and migration. On this issue, a common defence of the Leave campaign is that the central concern was about the need to cut the number of migrants to the UK so as to reduce competition for jobs. The plausibility of this defence has been undercut by recent negotiations, widely reported in the Australian press, but largely ignored by British media.

Prior to the Brexit vote, and constrained by freedom of movement within the EU, the Cameron government sought to address these concerns by imposing stringent restrictions on non-EU migrants, notably including Australians. Unsurprisingly, Australians weren’t happy about this, and the Australian government voiced these concerns.

But, given the validation of concerns about migration by the Brexit votes, and renewed pledges to cut net migration, you might have expected Australia to get short shrift from the new government. Not a bit of it. On the contrary it seems pretty clear that the hoped-for cut in EU migration will allow more room for Australians (someone has to do all those jobs, after all). Boris Johnson has been explicit about this, but what really matters are the favorable noises coming from Home Secretary Amber Rudd, whose portfolio covers migration.

The underlying idea, again made explicit by Johnson, is a restoration of free movement within the ‘white Commonwealth’ (Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain). This would take British migration policy back to the line advocated by Enoch Powell in the 1960s, and arguably further back than that.

It’s easy enough to point out the racism* implicit in Johnson’s position. But, as I said in my previous post, that has to be the starting point, not the end point. It’s necessary to respond to the particular form of racism present here, and show that it’s untenable. The assumption underlying Johnson’s position is that it’s possible to operate a large scale migration program in a way that avoids explicit discrimination, but ensures that only “people like us” get in.

One illustration of the problem, put very neatly by one of my Twitter commenters, is that Johnson might be surprised at the range of colours young Australians come in these days (unlike the largely Anglo-Celtic society he apparently visited as a youth). The same is true of New Zealand and, I think, of Canada. Free migration to the UK will bring in plenty of the people that the Brexiteers want to keep out.

On the other side of the coin, there’s the irony that the Polish government (along with the rest of the Visegrad group) is simultaneously ready to fight to the end for the principle of free movement within the EU and to resist demands that Poland should take its share of refugees from Syria. This kind of hypocrisy is, if not the norm, at least very common among supporters of discriminatory immigration policies: they are keen to keep others out of their own patch, but resentful of any constraints on their own freedom of movement. That makes sense from a viewpoint of racial/tribal superiority, but it’s hard to see any other basis for it.

The contradictions inherent in racism and tribalism mean that it can’t be sustained for long as a basis for policy, as it will need to do if Brexit is to work. But that doesn’t mean it can’t do an awful lot of damage in the meantime.

* Writing this, I realised that someone would be bound to raise the point that, as white Christians, Poles could not be the subject of racism or religious bigotry. Anyone thinking raising this point might want to think about the bloody history of scientific racism regarding the Nordic and Slavic “races”, not to mention the role of anti-Catholic bigotry in English history.

63 thoughts on “Brexit and bigotry (crosspost from CT)

  1. The reason migrants are flooding into UK is economic.

    The reason UK is reacting is economic.

    Religious, tribal, ethnic, racist, differences disappear if everyone has the same economic rights, opportunities, and standards.

  2. Lame. It’s wrong to hate people different from you but not wrong to care more about people that are similar. The two are not mutually exclusive. Why do you find that a difficult concept? You are trapped in a binary world view.

  3. So, Ivor, the proposed preference for Australia, Canada, and New Zealand entrants to Britain is economic. And the exclusion of European, and particularly Eastern European, entrants is economic. And refusing to share the burden of providing for refugees who have reached parts of Europe is economic.

    I do not think ‘economic’ means what you think it means.

    And I do think JQ is right: what is now happening is inconsistent with an ‘economic’ explanation while reinforcing that the ‘bigot’ explanation fits reality.

  4. A large part of the reason that there is support in Britain for replacing non-Irish EU migration with immigration from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, is similar level of economic development. This reduces the job undercutting and underclass factors. Of course this does have a racially discriminatory history, as they are European colonial settlement societies, but it is not just people who only want white immigrants who would prefer Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians.

    Having the same language (the Francophone monoglots in Quebec excepted) is another part of it.

    A shared cultural history, on the same side, is another part of it. The UK and before that Great Britain and before that England have a long history of wars against continental European powers but have never fought a war against Australia, Canada or New Zealand.

    Maybe if the Blair Government had decided to use the phase-ins for EU migration available, which almost everywhere else in the pre-2004 EU did, it would not be such an issue in the UK.

    One way to increase solidarity among EU citizens would be to make EU-wide wage negotiations easier. This would increase European solidarity among ordinary people and reduce the economic inequality and wage competition and thus lower wages that are driving a lot of the anti-EU hostility.

    Hypocritically opposing immigration of significantly poorer and/or different people to your nation while favouring the economic opportunities for your own nation`s citizens is a fairly standard immigration policy. Pretty much all immigration control policies are highly discriminatory. This is one of the reason`s a global government is a good idea, so that immigration controls can be banned.

  5. “ cut the number of migrants so as to reduce competition for jobs”.

    I think it is a little more complex. Perhaps, if actual unemployment is high we could instead say “cut unnecessary or unfair competition for jobs” when capitalism employs “labour market discipline (rataan canes swishing?), ie playing off workers against each other and this induces a qualitative change in social relations in a pluralist society.

    The destruction of the union movement only allows even more egregious social infrastructure cuts, now unchallenged, to the point that there is change to social relations in society to authoritarianism, perhaps irreversible, in a civil society.

    The reality that people like John Stumpf the Wells Fargo CEO can pull two hundred $million from what a thinking person might regard as criminal activity, no tax paid from memory, while vast numbers of honest people live has giving a tired nod to capitalism, but wondering , “where is the the sense of proportion any more?

    The notion that many ordinary people are motivated by “racism”concerning immigration, particularly of the “open borders” type some activists appear to suggest, really needs a second think.

    I think, people are uncertain of the future when notion of fairness have been ditched and they wonder if they being patsied for the likes of Stumpf.

  6. Bigots eh? Is John Quiggin referring to Aussies criticising European immigration policy when their own country is both (a) one of the least populated on our planet but (b) with some of the toughest immigration laws? If not, I think John Quiggin should turn his attention to Oz.

  7. @John Quiggin

    Maybe you should read Johnson again before posting.

    There is no concept of ‘white Commonwealth’.

    It maybe directed to “people like us”, but Australians and the British come in all types of colours, creeds, and ethnicities. You can be “like us” from any number of identies.

    You have missed the real point.

  8. The implications of immigration did drive Brexit and with some justification. The gains from increased labour mobility within the EU went to capital owners in London while areas such as the north of the country bore the costs.

    Actual net migration to the UK is quite low because of high emigration – certainly, net migration is much lower than Australia. There are also many, many people on temporary work visas both leaving and arriving.

    There are good historical reasons for favouring migrants from within the Commonwealth – similar languages, well-educated and cultural similarity. To call it “racism” is to attach an emotive, loaded word to what is entirely reasonable policy. And to be clear Britain is one of the most culturally diverse countries around with all races and creeds. Most migrants come from outside the EU.

  9. @hc

    One tragicomic attitude that was unearthed during the run up to the Brexit vote was British expats in Spain who said they were going to vote Leave because Britain was overrun with migrants.

  10. @Apocalypse
    I thought the best argument for Remain was the visa free access that British had to all the other countries in Europe because something like 4 million of them live in the rest of Europe

  11. It is worth remembering that Australian shearers also criticised migration of New Zealand shearers.

    Pure economics, not racism.

  12. So because in an Australian instance there was a specific objection to using New Zealand shearers to cut wages and conditions therefore the Brexit arguments, and post-Brexit proposals, can’t be racist or bigoted and must be economic.

    Had Ivor not made this argument I would have thought it unlikely. It remains unsound and untenable.

  13. J.Q. says “someone has to do all those jobs, after all.”

    The UK has 4.9% unemployment official. The argument that they need immigrants to fill jobs when they have 1.63 million unemployed people is absurd. I assume J.Q. was saying that this was Boris’s implied argument.

    At the same time, indiscriminate accusations of racism against all pro-Brexit arguments have now become standard fare. There is a considered leftist pro-Brexit position that is not racist. I put it some time ago in our Brexit discussions. I won’t repeat myself at length here.

    Suffice it to say, that in the absence of effective supra-national democracy, the only way to fight neoliberal globalism is from within democratic nations where the people reassert their full sovereignty. This can be done and indeed must be done without being racist.

  14. @ChrisH

    Maybe the mindset of this blog is not at a level able to discuss such matters.

    Another example – the most oppressive economic system was/is Indian caste system.

    This is not racism, but economic, which over time creates alienated identities.

    This is not to say that only economics is involved, but you cannot counter Hanson and others, or understand Brexit based on racism.

  15. @Ikonoclast

    At the same time, indiscriminate accusations of racism against all pro-Brexit arguments have now become standard fare. There is a considered leftist pro-Brexit position that is not racist. I put it some time ago in our Brexit discussions. I won’t repeat myself at length here.

    You might have to.

  16. Prof Q posted, not about possible arguments for Brexit, but about what the actual arguments of the Leave campaign were and about what subsequent proposals reveal of the actual Brexit reasoning.

    By all means make a ‘considered leftist pro-Brexit position that is not racist’. (Bill Mitchell has already done so.) For that matter make a considered rightist position that is not racist.

    Just don’t mistake such a position, if you put one, as having anything much to do with what really drove Brexit: or with Prof Q’s post, to which neither Ivor nor Ikonoclast have responded yet.

  17. @ChrisH

    If you check the internet using your favourite search engine you will discover that arguments of the Leave campaign were arguments about Brexit.

    The Brexit issue demonstrates mixed forces that neither you nor John Quiggin have either noticed or acknowledged.

    If you want to wave “what really drove Brexit” by all means do so. But the destruction of working conditions by oppressing offshore workers and then introducing them (or their products) elsewhere to extract super profits, exists independently of the Brexit occasion.

    It is pure Keynesian economics and one of the mechanisms for propping up their fortunes.

  18. Ikonoclast :
    Suffice it to say, that in the absence of effective supra-national democracy, the only way to fight neoliberal globalism is from within democratic nations where the people reassert their full sovereignty. This can be done and indeed must be done without being racist.

    The best way to fight neoliberalism in Europe is to fight to democratise the EU. Start with the European Parliament stand up for a parliamentary system and choose the Commissioners.

  19. @Ivor

    Ivor :
    Maybe the mindset of this blog is not at a level able to discuss such matters.
    Another example – the most oppressive economic system was/is Indian caste system.
    This is not racism, but economic, which over time creates alienated identities.
    This is not to say that only economics is involved, but you cannot counter Hanson and others, or understand Brexit based on racism.

    I agree. Those who cannot or will not understand political economy are stuck at and obsessed with gender politics and race politics issues only. Such issues are important but something even deeper and more fundamental lies beneath them and exacerbates them. This is the problem of capitalism, the issue of the imbalance of ownership and exploitation systemically built into our economy and world system. In fact, I am coming to see the vehemence with which all problems in our political economy are diagnosed on the personality, gender and race scales as indicative of a deep denialism about the fact that our most fundamental problem is capitalism.

  20. Free movement from the “white commonwealth” wouldn’t work.
    From what I understand, the reason Poles and others flock to the UK is to get jobs that are too low-paying and arduous to attract UK locals, such as fruit-picking. They are keen to do these jobs because pay is much lower in E. Europe, and hence they can save to buy a house etc back in Poland.
    I don’t like to quote Milton Friedman, but can anyone disagree that you can have open borders or a welfare state, but not both?
    While there are huge disparities in living standards, unmanageable numbers of people will try to move from the poorer to the richer countries.

  21. From the Canadian perspective: Is Boris totally nuts? Never mind, it’s a redundant question

    He expects substantial immigration from Canada? Why?

    Our standard of living is as high or higher than that of the UK. Unemployment is a bit too high but not the equivalent of what it was in Poland when the mass of Poles started moving to the UK — most skilled trades and professionals are doing okay. And the Brits don’t play hockey.

    Heck, given climate differences, I can see more Canadians thinking of moving Australia.

    And if he thinks Canada is a lily white country he is either colour blind or has never visited Toronto.

    As StatCan puts it “In 2011, Canada had a foreign-born population of about 6,775,800 people. They represented 20.6% of the total population, the highest proportion among the G8 countries.” &
    Asia (including the Middle East) was Canada’s largest source of immigrants during the past five years, although the share of immigration from Africa, Caribbean, Central and South America increased slightly.

  22. JQ appears to conflate Brexit and Bigotry as if the two completely coincided. He may correct me if this is a wrong inference. IMO, Brexit and Bigotry overlap but they do not completely or even nearly coincide except on the right. There is a valid position of rejection of the EMU without it being associated with bigotry. It relates to an assessment of the EMU as one, a dysfuntional currency zone, and two, a thorough-going neoliberal project. I’ve made that case before. The pro EU position however appears to be a faith position. No matter how dysfunctional the EU gets and how much the peripheral economies are hollowed out, the pro-EU position remains held as a faith position which cannot be shaken.

  23. @Ikonoclast


    I hope that we never see comments from John Quiggin that:

    … it’s hard to see any other basis for it.

    Its not so hard after all, just a bit complex.

  24. @Mark Pawelek

    I thought about replying, but I can’t be bothered. Nothing more from you on this thread please.


    “JQ appears to conflate Brexit and Bigotry as if the two completely coincided.He may correct me if this is a wrong inference.” I’d say the opening “a common defence of the Leave campaign …” suggests to a reasonable reader that there may be others.

    To give an obvious example, some people voted Leave as a protest against the imposition of austerity on Greece or against EU neoliberalism. I think this was a mistake, since UK Tory neoliberalism is even worse, but clearly the OP says nothing about it.

  25. Zed Hogan :
    It’s wrong to hate people different from you but not wrong to care more about people that are similar.

    During the war against Vietnam in the 1960’s many Australians showed that they cared for the Vietnamese without necessarily wanting them all to settle here. Since then, many Australians have shown similar compassion for other victims of wars in which the Australian government was complicit, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

    Native Americans were clearly right to object to the uncontrolled immigration of Europeans into their lands after 1492 just as native Australians were also right to object to uncontrolled immigration from the United Kingdom after 1788 and native Arabs were right to object to the uncontrolled immigration of Jews into Palestine after 1947.

    For the Palestinian Arabs, the result of uncontrolled immigration of European Jews was loss of their land, exile and terrible oppression for those remaining. For the rest of the Middle East, the results included: aggression against Egypt in 1956, more aggression by Israel in 1967 including its sinking of the USS Liberty, Israel’s meddling in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and elsewhere.

    In Australia, the result of uncontrolled immigration in recent years includes: housing unaffordability – welcomed by John Howard in 2006, the loss of habitat for our native fauna, traffic congestion, crowded public transport, ever greater council rates and taxes to pay for the additional infrastructure to accommodate additional people and loss of social cohesion.

    In 2014, without consulting Germans or other European leaders, Time magazine’s 2015 Woman of the Year German Chancellor Angela Merkel suddenly announced that anyone who could make it to Germany from Turkey, the Middle East, central Asia and North Africa would be granted residence in Germany. The results included chaos in Germany, Sweden and the Balkans and thousands drowned in the Mediterranean whilst people smugglers were enriched.

  26. @James I think we are in agreement. I care about the welfare of people everywhere, but it is natural and not racist or unreasonable to want to maintain your local community and all the characteristics that make it a viable community, including the economic factors but also the cultural traditions and common values. This is bias but not unreasonable bias, which is how we should define bigotry. It always amazes me that leftists who will write entire books criticizing “cultural imperialism” or colonialism will whole heartedly support the destruction of traditional cultures through voluntary immigration or the dismantling of borders. It’s cognitive dissonance. They are what they criticize.

    As I have stated here before though, I consider war refugees and perhaps political dissidents to be legitimate emigres. Whether or not they should be allowed to stay permanently depends entirely upon the specifics of each case but should not be a given.

    Economic migration is almost never legitimate in my book. It isn’t theft but is not far from it. Very few people that migrate to another country are truly poor. Usually they have employment but want more money. The very fact that they are able to make the move in the first place illustrates their capability to produce money for something that is optional. Dare I say it here, “Opportunity cost?” They move not because they are suffering but because they want more. In this regard, they are like neoliberals. I have personally worked with not one but several immigrants who grew up in households that had a staff of servants. I’ll leave out the country they migrated from but suspect many of you could guess. I don’t know about you, but my family did not employ household servants.

  27. @Zed Hogan

    “I don’t know about you, but my family did not employ household servants.”

    Surely these people you object to who once had servants realise they can’t have servants now they are here and how do you define having a servant?

    My grandmother had servants – she actually had her own ladies maid – when she was young but she ran off with a no-hoper handsome man back in the 1920’s who was also from one of the first families in the colony and they were both disinherited. Sigh.

    And my uncle and aunt when serving in New Guinea in the Army had servants. They are cheap there.

    You have had such a narrow and measley life haven’t you?

    And you are very confused about a lot of things, and I don’t think you have what it takes to be part of a community.

    Are you part of your community? Do you do any community work for free? Church groups perhaps where you feed the homeless? Progress associations? Lions Club?

  28. @Zed Hogan

    “They move not because they are suffering but because they want more.”

    Is this only true for people from other countries or places or does it apply to someone from one of our emptying country towns in Australia?

    There are no jobs and no opportunities out here but people aren’t actually suffering are they, and so they shouldn’t move to the city just to get ‘more’?

    I have asked a group of ladies some of them even voted for Pauline Hanson how they would feel if a couple of families with kids moved into town and after we talked about it they agreed that if there were kids, if the man had a job and the women didn’t wear a burka – a hijab is ok because I wear hats and what is the diff – and the kids went to the local state school then there was a pretty good chance that things would be okay and they would fit in and be enough like us in a few years.

    I am going to stop reading your stuff though, or I’ll be all afternoon picking out ways in which your less than admirable personality is revealed by your petty complaints and judgementalism.

    I think it could be true that you are more motivated that most of us to criticise ‘other’ people like those who have servants – omg!! is a paid cleaner a servant? – by feelings of envy. Take heart though because envy is only one of the seven deadly sins and can be overcome. See a psychologist.

  29. @Zed Hogan

    Back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I was, regrettably, a member of that ‘left’ tribe to which you refer. I remember being denounced as a racist by another supposedly more informed member of that tribe for voicing concerns that Vietnamese refugees appeared to be stridently right-wing in their political expression.

    The fact is that those Vietnamese, who sided with the occupying powers, including France, Australia and the United States against their own people were rewarded by being allowed to settle in Australia after Vietnamese patriots, at a terrible cost, finally defeated them and their masters in 1975.

    This sudden influx of right-wing immigrants undermined Australian democracy by:

    1. Giving more votes to the Liberal Party of Malcolm Fraser (1930-2015), who was Defence Minister during the Vietnam War, thereby making it harder for the Australian people to reverse the coup of 11 November 1975. (However, notwithstanding this, Malcolm has since found his conscience and opposed war in more recent years); and

    2. Undermining the militancy of Australian trade union movement, particularly the then APTU (Austraian Postal and Telecommunications Union) in the Melbourne mail exchange.

    Julie Thomas wrote on September 24th, 2016 at 15:41:

    … my uncle and aunt when serving in New Guinea in the Army had servants. They are cheap there.

    Can’t you see that a system, that made it possible for relatively ordinary citizens of one country (Australia) to be able to afford to employ ordinary citizens of another country in which they werre resdent (New Guinea) as domestic servants, was unjust?

  30. @James

    You do not care for people by dropping napalm on their families, Agent Orange on their farms, burning their homes, herding them into hamlets and torturing their relatives all on the basis of a false scare from the United States and various religious zealots.

  31. @Zed Hogan

    Voluntary migration, for the right reasons, does not destroy Australian culture. It enriches it.

    Traditional Australian culture, whatever this is – is marked by Cronulla Riots, attacks on International students, and red-neck jingoism and a history of massacres and enslavement of Aborigines.

    You just have to ensure that everyone gets a fair deal and no one benefits from the exclusion of others or by accumulating the products of the sweat and toil of others.

  32. @Julie Thomas Thank you so much for your condescending posts. I have done my small share of community service, perhaps less than you, but like many others here believe that governments also should provide mitigation for at least the worst of the suffering, thus rendering community service less necessary.

    Migrating within a country is legitimate (i.e. your country to city migration). Migration from without the country breaks labor markets and drives down wages. One of the aspects of this that is missed by well intentioned leftists is that they are allying themselves with big industry that wants access to cheap supplies of labor. Dismantling borders is one of their tools for achieving this. They like migration because it undermines wages. It forces workers in higher wage countries to compete with workers from lower wage countries. There isn’t really a shortage of labor in a country as large and wealthy as Australia. There is only inadequate pay. What are you going to do, develop every last square inch of the continent in the pursuit of unending economic growth? Business people will say yes and claim there is a shortage of labor. Environmentalists and labor activists should say no. This doesn’t even begin to discuss the transfer of huge amounts of natural resources between countries which is allowing uncontrolled population growth and thus further destruction of the environment, furthering demand for still more cheap labor and natural resources. The world economy is in a death spiral from an environmentally aware perspective.

    The correct conclusion from my example is that people who live like members of an aristocracy in their own country can’t be trusted to move into a wealthier country and still preserve egalitarian beliefs. They don’t believe in it. They only migrate because they want to accumulate further wealth. They will then vote very conservatively and help to create an underclass to provide cheap labor, just as they are accustomed to in their own country. This is happening before our very eyes in most of the advanced nations of the world. Of course, there are many people less well off migrating. It’s a judgment call as to whether or not they are truly needy or just greedy. There is a need for influential left thinkers like John Quiggin to change their position on migration and put a stop to it before more damage can be done.

  33. @Ivor Traditional Australian Culture: Republican government, free speech, law and order, etc.

    You are choosing to see only the negatives. You are also seeing only the positives of immigration.

    Of course, voluntary migrants can “enrich culture,” but they can also oppose the democratic process, ban speech, and demand integration of unfree values into the local value system and laws. All of this is happening around the world right now. It seems to me that there are always enough of these forces acting within free countries already. There is no need to import more. If you can explain to me how open borders ensures we get the good without also getting the bad then I will agree with you. I have yet to see this achieved in all of history. Just because you like to be able to eat in a Vietnamese or Chinese restaurant (me too) does not necessarily justify letting anybody in, especially if you have any regard for labor rights as I have mentioned in my other posts.

  34. @Zed Hogan

    ” like many others here believe that governments also should provide mitigation for at least the worst of the suffering, thus rendering community service less necessary”

    Community service is the fundamental way to create a community; it is never unnecessary and ffs where is the money to pay for government services to come from?

    Are you suggesting we all pay tax to the government so they can decide what services we need and then provide them rather than working out at a community level what is required through hands on involvement?

    You have totally misunderstood what people are capable of creating when we work together for the good of the group and our children’s future.

    You said you are American I think and I did forget that when I wrote the last condescending – if you interpreted it as such I can’t help that – comment but as well as having a dysfunctional inaccurate understanding of how people work, I don’t think you understand what this country is and what we are capable of creating here.

    There are big differences between our two white man cultures.

    Have you heard that Lyle Lovett song, That’s right you’re not from Texas but Texas wants you anyhow. Insert Australia instead of Texas and that’s us.

    We can take those untrustworthy people and turn them into good productive citizens.

    You think people divide into the trustworthy and untrustworthy just like that, and of course you are the sort of superior person who can tell at a glance which is which?

    “The correct conclusion from my example” you say?

    “It’s a judgment call as to whether or not they are truly needy or just greedy.”

    Zed I’m not condescending; I’m seriously upset by the depths of your ignorance and hypocrisy and the delusion you have that you are a better person than the rest of us.

    Are you a Christian? Ask yourself what the fck would your Jesus do?

  35. @Zed Hogan

    Many religions oppose the democratic process, ban speech, demand integration of unfree values into local value systems and laws. Many religions set off bombs and wars and fraticides – Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Moslems. Also such opposition and demands are not restricted to religious movements.

    Having the good without the bad is not restricted to migration as civil wars can erupt without any migration based on home grown discontents.

    However screening of migrants and emigrants can address this issue. Under Menzies they screened out the good and let in the bad.

    The best solution is to protect society against religions generally (Christians, Jews, Hindus etc.) through education and by ensuring everyone gets a fair go – in their home country as well as in any place of new residence.

    But when the West has built its wealth on centuries of violent exploitation of the Third World, we should not be surprised if our sins are visited on us in strange forms several years later.

    In the case of Brexit – the immigration from Eastern Europe was a result of Western economic warfare against Eastern Europe and the subversion and collapse of Socialism. The UK reaped what it had sown.

    There would be no Africans flooding across the Mediterranean if there were car factories and textile mills, and electronic manufacturing in Africa. These people are not moving to oppose democracy or to ban free speech or set up Sharia Law or any Caliphate.

  36. @Julie Thomas
    What would Jesus do? He would have tried to convert the non-Christians to his belief system. If you think otherwise then you haven’t read the New Testament.

    By the way, I have two university degrees, both in science, but then I’m ignorant, so you are not listening to me anyway.

    I will not bother to respond further to this nonsense. These posts were not meant to be trolling, yet I find troll-worthy responses. I will contemplate this further later.

    I will add one more thing though as an aside. The reason I feel free to comment here as a US citizen is because Quiggin comments frequently on US society and politics. I believe in free exchange of ideas so I don’t mind his criticism, but it invites reciprocation.

  37. @Ivor
    You make several good points here that I will not dispute, but why do you think Europeans have a responsibility to send employment to Africa? Their own neighbors do not all have a good living wage. It’s unfair to expect them to employ people in a faraway land when they have cousins and schoolmates that are having difficulties.

  38. I do not agree with this argument that the left should oppose immigration. The argument is that ordinary in rich countries have separate and more important rights (the sort of people who might be described by the oximoronic description nationalist leftists may well argue that these rights are separate but equal but that is just as inaccurate as it was in Plessy v. Ferguson) and that is wrong. The whole world`s pool of surplus labour should be employed and wages around the world improve. At the very least the trade untions in Europe should start the fight to negotiate wages on a European level.

  39. @John Quiggin

    I misread “a common defence” by interpreting it as “a defence common to (all)” Brexit arguments. Just as I read the Title as “Brexit and Bigotry (and Nothing Else). My bad. It seemed to bill itself that way but I got my inferences wrong.

    I don’t think UK Tory neoliberalism would be anything to worry about if UK voters, or at least the 99% of them, understood their own best interests, within the constraints of the now apparently operative Brexit. In that case, the UK Tories would get 1% of the vote. Problem solved.

  40. @Zed Hogan

    This is a completely different question and depends on your level of humanity and morality and interets in a long-term future based on peace and balanced trade and labour flows.

  41. @Zed Hogan

    “I will not bother to respond further to this nonsense.”

    Thanks that would be a really good idea but I suspect that you won’t be able to resist responding further to my ‘trolling’.

    “These posts were not meant to be trolling, yet I find troll-worthy responses. I will contemplate this further later.”

    And when you are contemplating how incredibly superior your irrational judgements are and how stupid, lazy unfair greedy and selfish and all the other things people are, why don’t you offer a prayer to your Jesus to come back and sort out this disagreement about what he would do faced with people who want to migrate to another place which is something that human beings have been doing since we became human beings.

    It’s been 2,000 years hasn’t it? So when do you think Jesus will be coming back? Or do you not believe in your Jesus at all and use this set of beliefs as a trump ‘card’ to play when proving to others that you are the high point of white culture and if we all were just like you everything would be hunky dory?

  42. @Tom the first and best World wages will not improve everywhere as a result of mass migration. I dispute that conclusion. Globalization will simply result in further concentration of wealth in the hands of a few elite and lower typical wages for average people. Open borders will only result in further impoverishment of those already poor and will force those who make just enough into the category of being impoverished. I propose that responsibility for equalization of income distribution resides locally. Any attempt to deal with the problem internationally will inevitably fail. This has been demonstrated in contemporary history. It is an established fact rather than speculation.

    My argument is that migration supports brain drain from the source country and supports the breaking of labor markets in the destination country resulting in lower wages. Migrants (immigrants) that are capable and productive should remain in the region of their birth to help improve things. Moving elsewhere is done only at the expense of the local residents both in their country of origin and in the destination country. This is unfair in any conceivable world view and has been criticized as colonialism or cultural imperialism in other contexts. Please, do not help these people. They are wronging the poor.

    There are many possible objections to globalization. I support all of them, both the leftist, labor rights criticisms, and the rightist, nationalistic criticisms. All of these criticisms are legitimate. Supporting open borders, open immigration, and international free trade is the same thing as supporting the failure and suffering of your neighbors and countrymen, and the destruction of the environment. Please stop doing that.

  43. A few people have responded already to Zed Hogan.

    I think Hogan’s difficulty can be explored a bit further. Who are ‘people who are similar’, about whom we may reasonably care more? To whom have we obligations to ‘remain…to help improve things’?

    ‘Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto’: I am human, nothing human is alien to me (Terence). The stranger needing help is as similar to me as any other person, and as different from me as every other person.

    When I go somewhere to help improve things, I believe I am doing better than I can do in another place – at home or elsewhere. (Enough people think the same that I have a fair bit of project work on public administration, tax design, tax administration, public finance, ‘non-tax revenue’ and so on and in quite a few countries.) Maybe I am wrong: but I certainly have no moral obligation not to go where I can.

    If I went for my own reasons, I would have the same justification, and the same chance of being wrong, as if I chose to seek a different and more local activity. Wanting what is better for me, and wanting what is better for others, are both reasonable things that are not tied to one place because I happen to be there, or to another because I was born there.

    As it happens, I have often worked to ameliorate aspects of globalization, or to block bad things. And as it happens, I have often benefited from things from other places. What I can’t do is find anything but bigotry in arguments based on ‘looking after those who are like me’. Really, everyone is like me in many important ways, and unlike me too. Making categories or classes to justify exclusion, restriction, or compulsion is – well – imperial, in the worst way.

    The Fijian client I had, thirty years ago, who had become an exceptionally skilled aluminium fabricator and foreman for a plant intended for Fiji had no work at home. The plant project never went ahead. His skills were valuable in New Zealand and in Australia. The suggestion that he had a moral obligation to Fiji not to leave, but to let his skills go unused for his working life, seems crazy; the suggestion that he was doing something wrong in seeking to use his skills somewhere where he would be needed and valued seems crazy too.

    When Hogan says going where your work is valued is ‘unfair’ to a country of origin he supposes that we are all tribal units, owing the tribe. But the valuable worker of, say, Malawi, if locked into that country alone, must work not for Malawi but for the employer who exploits that country restriction to pay less. Malawi won’t benefit: the employer will: and the employer is likely to be a foreign multinational distributing its gains where no country can collect tax on them. It’s no fetter on globalization to keep workers limited to the company store.

    And when Hogan talks of people seeking refuge as if they were getting above their station, rather than seeking human treatment, I think he disregards our common humanity.

  44. @Zed Hogan

    The evidence from around the world shows that once the labour surplus is significantly reduced, wages are driven up. Industrialisation has spread sufficiently around the world that it is reasonable to conclude that the world`s rural surplus can be significantly reduced to the level that the level of the lowest wages around the world can be driven up. Immigration actually helps this process by allowing the world current labour surplus access to more of the worlds jobs.

    Whether a migrant is draining an impoverished country of skills depends on the occupation. It is a big problem in many fields of specialised medicine and for doctors but there are places like the Philippines that are nurse exporters and not suffering a nursing drain. Migration of poor, unskilled workers does not create brain drain as there is a surplus of them in poor nations.

    Many immigration controls actually help undermine workers in richer nations. Temporary migration, which means the employers can almost always get their workers deported if they want, does reduce worker power not because it is migration but because it gives too much power to employers. Creating a class of clandestine workers, by placing bans on them working legally, also increases employer power in the same way. This is true whether they are tourist (or other non-work) visa holders, visa over-stayers and clandestine border crossers. Backpacker visas, while not giving employers too much power through visa control, encourage highly transitory migration undercutting wage levels where more permanent migration would give workers a greater incentive to fight for higher wages and better conditions.

    I once read a suggestion that the USA should have high tariffs but no immigration controls, to reduce the power of rich multi-national companies.

    Combining current nations together, with fully democratic structures, would reduce the power of rich multi-national companies. The EU is actually a step in this direction, it just needs to be more democratic and introduce common wage negotiation procedures. The USA is much more powerful than its individual states would be as independent nations. The same with India, Australia and many other places.

  45. @Tom the first and best We don’t want ever larger and more powerful states. That hasn’t worked in the past and there is no reason to believe it will work in the future. Trying to force together disparate peoples results in strife if not outright war. I implore you not to see that as a solution. The reason the EU is not democratic enough is because it can’t be democratic and still be successful. Therefore they immediately headed in the authoritarian direction. Left to their own devices, they will go further with it. We’ve already heard much of that in the wake of Brexit. Britain withdrew by democratic means and there were plenty of people saying they should not have been given the option in the first place, and that membership should not be up for referendum.

    As for rising wages worldwide, I suspect we will just disagree on that. It is possible to raise wages through trade, but this is done only at the expense of common people elsewhere. Maybe it need not work that way but I see no signs of the alternative outcome. Perhaps this is an American perspective, but as we have seen wages rise in our trading partner countries, we have seen our own wages fall. This has been going on for decades now. There are a few US citizens that have gotten wealthy from free trade but everybody else got the ripoff. Meanwhile China is wealthier than ever. That happened specifically at the expense of the US and some other nations. Americans are less wealthy because China has prospered. There’s your free trade. I realize many here will see that as justice but I find it a peculiar form of justice. Most Americans are not billionaires. Since I admit to being a tribalist, I care more about my neighbors than I do about Chinese citizens. I dislike suffering anywhere but dispute that I have as much responsibility towards someone from Asia as I do for my own neighbors. As I say, we may not agree on that subject.

    Strangely enough, it seems that one of our other big trading partners, Mexico, seems not to have benefited all that much from free trade. I’m not sure what to make of that exactly but suggest it might be due to their chaotic politics and their dysfunctional immigration relationship with the US, which perhaps is somehow short-circuiting success.

    I’m tiring of this discussion. Many good counter points have been made and I admit to playing devil’s advocate to a certain extent. On the other hand, I haven’t changed my position on anything.

  46. @ChrisH This can be taken ad ridiculum. Surely you would help your family before your neighbor before someone from another town that you had to travel 200 km to get to? I find it very, very difficult to believe that you would not help an old friend before you would help a stranger. What you are saying is fine in a philosophy lecture but does not translate to the real world.

    I admit to being a tribalist, but claim this is not the same thing as racism. Bigotry is unreasonable bias, but there is such a thing as reasonable bias. We can and should use rational judgment in our lives. I actually think it’s wrong to not exercise that against others and I expect they will do the same to me. To do otherwise is moral failure. Judgement is what keeps you from falling in with criminals or for instance, believing everything that Donald Trump says. You have to get to a place that you understand that practicing universal tolerance merely makes you vulnerable and as a policy is unwise. My axiom is to be as tolerant as possible, but not more. There is definitely a limit of tolerance beyond which you persist only at the risk of folly.

    One other thing on this subject. People should not believe themselves to be immune to bias. That isn’t possible. Everybody is bigoted in some way, even if they think they aren’t. Indeed, especially if they think they aren’t. I could pick apart several posts on here that reflect bigotry, not from the right wing perspective, but from the left wing perspective. Even applying the label “tribalist” is a form of bigotry. Just like that, you lumped everyone together and applied a label. See what I mean?

    There is no end to it. We should keep everyone from shooting each other over their differences but beyond that nothing can or should be done. Let us keep our differences. Trying to cover them up by forming an EU or trying get rid of them will only lead to failure. You can argue with me here but you will not win that argument in the real world. Consider that a prediction. There will be no global super state without borders.

    People are tribal. It’s human nature. It’s best to accept that rather than fight against it.

  47. @Zed Hogan

    I fear you are right that migration, in the current neoliberal world, will lead to higher inequality.

    But there are a lot of people who need to migrate (refugees) or want to migrate. Australia could take the money we spend on our gulags on Nauru and PNG and commit it to providing really good refugee cities, where refugees could live, learn and thrive while waiting to be settled.

    Spend the money so that refugees make a rational decision to wait in a refugee city rather than take their chances.

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