An argument in favour of immigration

Interesting opinion piece from the Lex column on the back yesterday’s FT on the huge economic value that migrant workers bring to their newly chosen countries.

  • Sol

    Not to mention cultural wealth.

  • Joe

    Totally agree Sol. I live in Canada now which is a country based on immigration. It’s awesome the cultural diversity we have and the skills these people bring. and they all need new houses, domestic goods etc which really drives the economy forward. Don’t be afraid people; embrace it with open arms.

  • Jim Bob

    The simple fact is that immigration is necessary to retain competitive advantage. That’s the way of the modern world.

    In my discussion with Young Irelander I pointed to the flaws in his traditional Irish nationalism. There are even greater flaws in Ulster nationalism of course and more overtly, expressedly and obviously so.

    Those flaws are most evident in the DUP but they underscore all Unionist philosophy including that of the UUP.

    That’s why Ulster Unionism is a failed philosophy.

    It always reminds me of something that could only survive in a Galapagos type environment.

  • Joe

    Patriotism (nationalism?) is the last refuge of the scoundrel…

  • Davros

    Throughout this book I have examined various dichotomies in Northern Ireland. Nationalism has also served to reinforce a sense of polarity. Bauman (1992: 678) speaks of nationalism in terms of ‘we-talks’ that ‘tend to promote ego-centred binary divisions, divide the world into friends and enemies – sharply separated from each other by mutually exclusive sets of assigned rights and duties, moral significance and behavioural principles’ (original emphasis). In this context, nationalism operates as a force of division. An essential element of the self-assertion of political leaders is the reinforcement of cultural difference and the drawing of boundaries between ‘indigenous’ and ‘foreigners’, between insiders and outsiders. It is in this context that Bauman conceives of nationalism as the racism of intellectuals. Conversely, he also suggests that ‘racism is the nationalism of the masses’ (Bauman 1992: 686).

    Plural Identities – Single Narratives The Case of Northern Ireland by Máiréad Nic Craith, Berghahn Books, © 2002 page 139.

    Bauman, Z. (1992) ‘Soil, Blood and Identity’, Sociological Review, 40 (4), pp. 675-701.
    (Bibliography, page 204)

    It is in this context that Bauman conceives of nationalism as the racism of intellectuals. Conversely, he also suggests that ‘racism is the nationalism of the masses’

    (My emphases in bold)

    Obviously applies to Unionism(British nationalism)as well as Irish Republicanism (Irish Nationalism.)

  • Jim Bob

    Republicanism is not a nationalist philosophy. I’ve made that point to both Ulster Unionist nationalists and to Irish nationalists

    At some stage Davros you just have to face up to the truth, and leave your own petty Ulster nationalism behind.

  • JD

    That context (nationalism’s demarcation of an inside and an outside) is crucial, however.

    I don’t think that the immigration policy of an elected nationalist party running a country can be so easily collapsed into other nationalist/ republican philosophies. For instance, Bauman’s theoretical model is of limited use when dealing with those aspects of Irish nationalism/ republicanism that are very open to so-called “foreigners.”

    I might go even further and suggest that the touchy-feely analysis is perhaps a little naive when talking about the manner in which identity is formed and maintained. “False-consciousness” is a necessary part of the ego-image we have of ourselves. The demolition of that image is a very difficult and painful process; it takes time and it can only ever be partial (it’s also why I’m not surprised things take a while to get doen in NI). It’s no accident that psychosis is often associated by head-shrinkers with the dissolution of that fundamental image/ misrecognition of ourselves.

    I’m also skeptical of the attempt to scapegoat nationalisms when it’s dome like this: it boils down to suggesting that we’d all get along if there were no borders and no nationalisms, or if we could only overcome our “egocentred binary divisions.” I’m skeptical not only because it ironically leaves intact the mechanism of exclusion without ever tackling it (i.e., “exclude nationalism, and we’ll all be alright, because we are ONE”), but also because I see it as a mechanism for silencing political action/ change through the production of a debilitating quietism that ends up supporting through inaction the status quo. It’s the classic intellectual’s sin of trying to constantly balance the equation.

  • Davros

    Republicanism is not a nationalist philosophy.

    Irish Republicanism IS nationalist Jim Bob – that’s why they use the adjective Irish …

    Sinn Féin say they are a nationalist party Jim Bob…. but write to them and tell them you disagree LOL

    From the Sinn Féin website ……..

    Introduction to Sinn Féin

    Sinn Féin is the fastest-growing political party in Ireland.

    It is a republican and labour party, taking its inspiration from the politics of Wolfe Tone, James Connolly and the 1916 Easter Rising.

    Sinn Féin, the only all-Ireland party, is committed to achieving a 32-County democratic socialist republic and the end of British rule in Ireland.

    Sinn Féin is nationalist and internationalist. It is anti-imperialist, anti-fascist and anti-racist.

    Gerry Adams’ Own words from January 2005 launch of the Céad Bliain :

    “We know as the leading nationalist party in the north and the largest pro-Agreement party, that there are huge responsibilities on us. We are up to the task. But we cannot achieve this alone.”

  • Jim Bob

    To JD

    “I’m also skeptical of the attempt to scapegoat nationalisms when it’s dome like this: it boils down to suggesting that we’d all get along if there were no borders and no nationalisms, or if we could only overcome our “egocentred binary divisions.” I’m skeptical not only because it ironically leaves intact the mechanism of exclusion without ever tackling it”

    It’s about moving beyond nationalisms and exclusions on the basis of “nationality”.

    “(i.e., “exclude nationalism, and we’ll all be alright, because we are ONE”), but also because I see it as a mechanism for silencing political action/ change through the production of a debilitating quietism that ends up supporting through inaction the status quo.”

    The only quietistic element here is in accepting the reality of the modern world. It’s a given!

    That’s where you begin. No point questioning the fundamentals in terms of the local.

    “It’s the classic intellectual’s sin of trying to constantly balance the equation.”

    The intellectual is now a pragmatist.

  • Jim Bob

    To Davros:

    “Irish Republicanism IS nationalist Jim Bob – that’s why they use the adjective Irish …”

    Republicanism means nothing if it’s nationalist. Irish republicanism is only confused with a nationalism in the minds of Ulster Unionist nationalists because those who confuse it understand nothing beyond their own concept of competing nationalisms.

    Look at the policies Davros

  • Davros

    Republicanism means nothing if it’s nationalist. Irish republicanism is only confused with a nationalism in the minds of Ulster Unionist nationalists

    Oh dear Jim Bob – don’t tell me, tell Sinn Féin who repeatedly claim to be both Republican and Nationalist LOL

  • JD

    That’s where you begin.

    I’d like to see you move beyond “nationalism.” Honestly, just try it and then tell me what nationality you are.

    My point was that it is a lot less easy to get to the beginning than simply repeating a mantra. People have to feel it, believe it and live it in order to act on it. There’s precious few capable of preaching that brand of political gospel.

    I also think you may have missed my point about intellectual quietism: if all the “intellectual” does now is obsessively balance the equation in terms of bogging down any proposal in an endless mirror-play of scrupulously balanced “whatabouts,” and “one side is as bad as the other-isms” then s/he is powerless to act, and the old nationalisms and nationalities remain in place. (Unless, of course, that is the intent, which is another day’s argument…).

    I’m talking about the sort of intellectual stagnation that arises out of an overly-theoretical concern for “no borders” that is paradoxically all the more vulnerable to those borders because they think they’ve done away with them: to use a recent example, the “no borders” argument can just as easily be made for “the archipelago” as for “the island.”

    Lines of exclusion are drawn every day, and they can be redrawn. That is perhaps the best we can hope for.

    For an intellectual to be a pragmatist, then s/he will have to be partisan in some way and be both fully aware of it and honest about it. Which is both very close to and very far away from being “nationalistic” in any simple sense.

  • Alan2

    Suggest you take a look here Jim Bob:-

    http://www.victims.org.uk/nazi.html

    Very biased article but not untrue either.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    Republicanism as a generic ideology is not nationalist, but Sinn Fein/IRA’s brand of republicanism certainly is – otherwise they would just be arguing for a republican form of government, not caring whether we were part of a British Republic or an Irish Republic.

    In essence the problem is that the so-called republicans on ‘the island of Ireland’ are more than just republicans. They are also nationalist and, to a greater or lesser degree, socialist.

  • JD

    Republicanism as a generic ideology is not nationalist

    What does that even mean? What do you suppose constitutes the “-public” part of “Republic.” A generic people who live in a nonspecific generic space?

  • Alan2

    “That’s why Ulster Unionism is a failed philosophy.”

    aye right. we have a couple of East Timor methodist guys waiting to join our lodge.

  • Alan2

    No. He`s making a point of seperating sinn Feins type of Republicanism from say American Republicanism.

  • JD

    I know Beano’s post is agenda driven; but I’m saying that it’s a dishonest argument type of argument to make.

    Even in backing him up, you fell into a “nationalism.”

  • Jim Bob

    “I’d like to see you move beyond “nationalism.” Honestly, just try it and then tell me what nationality you are.”

    Personally I’ve no difficulty moving beyond “nationalism, because I was never in nationalism. My whole generation was brought up hating the very idea of it. Our complaint was with the Ulster nationalism that really did exist.

    “My point was that it is a lot less easy to get to the beginning than simply repeating a mantra. People have to feel it, believe it and live it in order to act on it. There’s precious few capable of preaching that brand of political gospel.”

    Politics is always about leading people. There are ways of leading them forward and there are ways of retaining them in their prejudices.

    “I also think you may have missed my point about intellectual quietism: if all the “intellectual” does now is obsessively balance the equation in terms of bogging down any proposal in an endless mirror-play of scrupulously balanced “whatabouts,” and “one side is as bad as the other-isms” then s/he is powerless to act, and the old nationalisms and nationalities remain in place. (Unless, of course, that is the intent, which is another day’s argument…).”

    Yeah but I’m not doing that. I’ve stated explicitly why it’s necessary that the political “extremes” are now elected. It’s part of the process. No point in having the deal-doers looking over their shoulders at critics, is there?

    “I’m talking about the sort of intellectual stagnation that arises out of an overly-theoretical concern for “no borders” that is paradoxically all the more vulnerable to those borders because they think they’ve done away with them: to use a recent example, the “no borders” argument can just as easily be made for “the archipelago” as for “the island.” “

    There are a number of idealist arguments for a United Ireland. Then there’s the physics and gravity of economics too.

    “For an intellectual to be a pragmatist, then s/he will have to be partisan in some way and be both fully aware of it and honest about it. Which is both very close to and very far away from being “nationalistic” in any simple sense.”

    What about if this intellectual just read the runes?

    What about if this intellectual just told you what was really going on?

    Should this intellectual deceive the people?

  • JD

    Just one question: what nationality do you see yourself as? Why?

  • Jim Bob

    To JD

    “Just one question: what nationality do you see yourself as? Why?”

    I don’t see myself as a nationality as such. I don’t have much interest in nationalism.

    I’m Irish just because that’s what I am and will be defined as such by others. If I look at my ancestors a few generations back they’re all Irish. I’ve yet to detect the blow-in aspect to me own Irishness.

    I’m more Irish than most Belfast people.

    I’m probably more pure Irish in many ways, than many Free Staters

    I probably need a good kick up me hole!

  • JD

    I probably need a good kick up me hole!

    Heh! We could all do with one of those. In fact, I need one myself: I asked you two questions instead of one!! I’ll just blame the Spanish Inquisition!

  • Alan

    Mick,

    Any chance of a synopsis of the article?

    Others,

    There is something augean in the Irish Republican mindset that can work so hard to define itself in so many different ways, yet stumbles over the real problem without recognising it for what it is.

    Nationalism is exclusive, cannot then be internationalist and therefore cannot be socialist. Nations in Europe have to some degree become subsidiary administrative units with a direct though often fitful relationship to a wider European project.

    Indeed, John O’Dowd of Sinn Fein recently argued for SF’s abstention policy by saying that Westminster legislation was 70% EU directed. That is true, as it is for the Republic and all the other member states. The logical extension of O’Dowd’s arguement, however, is to suggest that abstention from the Dail is, equally, a reasonable policy. It can also be argued from such a position that there is an inherant recognition that nationalism is a limiting, if not a revisionist, political project.

    Why would socialists and internationalists within Sinn Fein wish to limit the range of their politics by proclaiming a defining nationalism as core to their project?

  • carlosblancos

    Worringly Micheal Howard was praising the policies of the ‘Irish Deputy Prime Minister’ last night on C4 news saying what great immigration policies she had. Another reason not to vote Tory ever.

  • Gringo

    Dont buy into this whole open borders argument.

    Firstly, would it not decimate the countries from whence these immigrants have come- we are being told that such immigrants are often highly skilled, if so would it not be beneficial for them to remain in their home nation, as these nations are probably the ones already in receipt of aid, which will, undoutedly get worse if their “highly skilled” workers are plundered.

    As for cultural wealth, to a certain degree, the cultural wealth can be enriched if immigration is carried out in a controlled manner. Since the premise of this article is extreme, ie no restrictions, let’s take an extreme example and take the position that 40,000 muslims (of a fundamental variety) decide to move to a town in Donegal- they become the majority and impose the most extreme form of Islamic law- would this have enriched our culture? For me, Id have to say no, it wouldn’t. As I say, an extreme example in response to an extreme article

  • Sol

    Hello Gringo.
    Interesting post.
    Firstly, I dont assume that all immigrants come to a country for solely economic reasons.
    As a significant proportion of the poorer countries rely on agriculture, a person with say, a law or accountancy degree would have trouble finding work that would enable them to use their skills.
    Or perhaps their is a rich vein of a particular skill from a particular country (e.g. Engineers from Germany, Doctors from India).
    In addition, most immigrants tend to send their earnings back home to feed and educate their families, so your concerns of plundering can be eased at this thought.
    Also, as the West has benefitted greatly from the poorest regions of our world (cheap gold/diamonds coffee), some people do not see a problem in returning and sharing some of the wealth.
    Further to this is the fact that we are currently living in a global economy that open ups new resources and opportunities for everyone, although their are negativities associated with this.

    Cultural wealth is more than just having a chinese takeaway on a Saturday night, its the collaboration of ideas, new ways of seeing the world, and diversity is always a good thing.

    As far as I am aware Islamic law is for Muslims and comes from the teaching of the Koran which teaches tolerance of your neighbours. As the law in Donegal is the same for the rest of Ireland, and passed by the Dail I doubt that Islamic law would become legislation unless passed by the government. Even in the most extreme circumstances Islamic law in Donegal is not likely to occur with a population increase of 40,000.
    Immigration should be controlled in the context that criminals, psychopaths/sociopaths and those with contagious diseases should be investigated UNBIASEDLY prior to rejection/acception into their new country.
    In conclusion, The reasons why one person chooses to leave his homeland and set-up home in another are entirely subjective and rarely whimsical.
    Regards
    Sol

  • Gringo

    Thanks for your response sol.

    As regards most immigrants not coming to a country for solely economic reasons- in terms of the UK, this clearly cannot be the case. The reason for this is, quite simply our location. If economic reasons are not the answer, then why do most of the immigrants trek thousands of miles, bypassing “friendly” countries along the way, in order to reach these island nation (s)? For example, the ones claiming asylum on political / persecution lines, if this is the case, why bypass the numerous countries along the way to reach the UK, if safety is the key?

    Also, as regards the immigrants supporting their families back home, does this not reinforce my argument? ie, instead of staying and enriching these nations (I note your comments about the minority of highly skilled immigrants not being able to put their skills to use, but then again, if they don’t stay in their home country, then how can such skills ever be put to use for a future generation) they are merely reinforcing a notion of dependence, just another form of aid if you will, with little development in their former nations, just a reinforcement of and “aid culture”.

    I do know that having a “chinky” isnt the sum total of the potential for cultural enrichment- however, that again reinforces my point. I am a supporter of different cultures, if I travel to India I will be enthralled to witness Indian culture, if I go to Kenya, I will be delighted to asborb the local customs. Similarly, if I go to some town / village in Britain or Ireland, I am happy to enjoy the local culture.

    As regards my example of 40,000 muslims in Donegal,this was, as I suggested, an extreme example to an extreme argument, however, when taking a leap of imagination in terms of decades it is not as far fetched as you imagine. The sustained immigration practices, as espoused by the person behind this article, would mean such a situation of a muslim majority, within Ireland, is not beyond possibility by the end of the next century. The Koran may teach tolerance of your neighbours, in part *other parts do not, which we can debate in another thread*, and you may say people can misquote the bible and use it for fundamentalist purposes, HOWEVER, in this modern world, christianity is not the one which is responsible for imposing medieval practices and laws, whereas some followers of Islam do in many parts of the world.

    Immigration can be good for both economics and cultural growth if encouraged in a controlled manner- enforced *and lets face it, non democratic* enforcement of mass immigration on unprecedented levels in these island *forget the smokescreen of this island being a nation of immigrants* can never be a force for good.

  • Sol

    You have raised valid points some of which I can agree with.
    It is best not to confuse immigration with asylum seekers, who do pass through friendly countries en route to the UK.
    In my post I laid out that I didn’t assume all immigrants come to a country for purely economical purposes. I know its nit picking but quite a few don’t, nowhere near a majority but quite a few. Marriage/love of current inhabitant, reshuffling of jobs (factory moves) and general “liking it here” are a few of the other reasons.
    It is common on Slugger for a person to say “I dont assume that all immigrants come to a country for solely economic reasons…” and another person to interpret that as
    “As regards most immigrants not coming to a country for solely economic reasons…” (I’m not offended by the way).

    With reference to “aid culture”: this implies that some of the impoverished nations have a choice over whether or not to accept aid, well they do to an extent of, accept it… or starve to death, I have no knowledge of anyone from those countries wishing to starve themselves to death, unless you were referring to the case that some of the dictatorships that exist in the impoverished nations, have been accused of swindling and squandering the aid sent.

    Immigration can be a benefit in terms of economy, the new economies of the east, including economies on the other side of the Iron Curtain have used cheap labour to lure in companies that would have otherwise set-up camp in the UK or Ireland. A more eloquent and informative piece of writing can be found here http://www.policylibrary.com/Essays/SMFImmigration/SMFImmigration.pdf#search='case%20for%20immigration‘ which saves me a lot of typing.

    With reference to the skilled labour:
    If they stay in their own country they will not be able to put their skills to use (To spend years at college studying a useful subject, only to find his/her best hope is to work in a call centre or stitching shoes), the fresh ambitious graduate is desirous into putting his skills to use with immediate action, the proposition to sit around and wait for his country to catch up with the west would undoubtedly fall on cloth ears.
    It is normal in some countries for the family to work hard just to put at least one of their offspring into education, were he/she would undoubtedly have a better life and be able to support the family unit.

    With reference to the Saudi hack-em-up style of justice.
    Northern Ireland is one of the most Christian countries in the world, yet medieval style punishment beatings still occur and are supported, I fully understand that this is not legislation as it is in other countries. This consolidates many peoples views on LEGITIMATE asylum seekers, with many of them actually coming from Ireland to live in England or America.
    We could also go on to discuss the vile act of female circumcision that is carried out in some African countries, not to mention stoning to death, beheading and a range of other vile acts perpetrated by some people of those nations, only to realize that we have mutual disgust of these acts.
    Further to the 40,000 in Donegal as an example, what if, 40,000 of the indigenous population in this county decided to convert to extreme fundamentalist Islam, would it be a good idea to ship them off to somewhere sunny?
    The Islamic faith has taken a bashing in the press since 9/11 and NOI days of the late 60’s. And I am sure there is recognition, that it is only some followers of Islam lead by nefarious characters with chips on their shoulders that cause the most problems, and antagonize relations with Christians.

    As for the protecting the culture of the Irish and British: Village pub, craic, music and way of life in general, these often overlooked national treasures should and must be protected.

    In conclusion; Controlled immigration that is not based on an unfair quota, race or religious belief can be a force for good.

  • Gringo

    Cheers for the info Sol- I disagree with some points but can accept others you have raised.

    In conclusion our stances arent too far apart.

  • Sol

    Hiya
    Nope not too far apart, and it did take me ages to type all that and manage to avoid making generalisations, I am of mixed heritage so its a sensitive issue on a personal basis.
    Regards
    Solomon

  • Gringo

    Solomon

    Interesting article I just noticed from BBC linking quite nicely (without sounding too smug) with one of the points of my original argument, regarding the “drain” of skilled workers from countries with limited amounts of these skilled workers in the first place.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4535805.stm