Friday, September 27, 2019

How Israelis could benefit from US-style politics

by Jeff Jacoby

FOR THE SECOND time in five months, Israeli voters last week reached the end of a hard-fought election campaign and went to the polls to choose a new government. And for the second time in five months, nobody knows what the new government will look like.

The complexity of Israeli elections can make even hardcore political junkies whimper. Since there are 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, a government must have the support of at least 61 members. But no Israeli party has ever won an outright majority: After last week's election, the Blue & White party, headed by former general Benny Gantz, had 33 seats, edging Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party with 31.

Which means that Gantz or Netanyahu must assemble a coalition with smaller parties — or form a unity government and take turns as prime minister. So far, the obstacles to either path are formidable. Blue & White has vowed not to share power with Netanyahu as long as he faces potential corruption charges. Netanyahu has promised to keep the religious in any coalition he joins. Gantz says he will only a join a "secular" unity government that excludes religious parties. Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, is pushing the two men to find a way to break the stalemate. And if they can't? Well, there are already rumblings about a third election.

What should Americans make of all this? What are the most important takeaways from the election? Here are four:

1. There are worse things than a two-party system.

With rare exceptions, every US election campaign is contested by Republicans and Democrats. The two parties have dominated American public life for more than 150 years, and the shortcomings of our system are well known — from the polarizing of political debate to the stifling of independent voices.

Yet for all its flaws, our two-party structure means that minor parties can never thwart the will of the electorate. In Israel, mainstream parties with broad public support are routinely held hostage by tiny parties more committed to their ideological purity and narrow parochial concerns. Indeed, it was the intransigence of just such a minor faction — Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party, which prevented the formation of a coalition after the April election — that forced Israel to hold a second election.

2. Prime ministers, like presidents, should be term-limited.

No American president can run for a third term — period. Even presidents who believe themselves indispensable must leave office after a few years. But there is no time limitation on Israeli prime ministers, and it was never Netanyahu's intention to step down voluntarily.

In many ways, "King Bibi" has been a first-rate leader. But his determination to stay in power led him to the belief, in the words of Israeli analyst Yossi Klein Halevy, "that his personal interests and the interests of the state converged." Instead of grooming potential successors, he repeatedly undercut anyone who seemed to be a rising Likud star. That kept Netanyahu unchallenged at the helm of the party. But it ensured that once his appeal faded, the party would pay the price. Which is just what happened: Likud effectively lost eight seats between the April election and last week's do-over.

3. On the biggest issue — security — Israelis aren't divided.

The media have been describing Blue & White, which is now the Knesset's largest party, as "center-left." That is true in some areas, especially when it comes to the influence that religious authorities and Orthodox Jewish rules should have on Israeli life. But Blue & White is led by three former Israel army chiefs of staff: Gantz, Moshe Ya'alon, and Gabi Ashkenazi. They are not starry-eyed peaceniks prepared to squander the country's security."Netanyahu's remarkable staying power," writes Halevy, "comes from one source: his ability to project power, to embody the Jewish will to survive." Many voters felt comfortable making the switch to Blue & White because they think Israeli safety and deterrence, so effectively tended to by Netanyahu, will be just as well maintained under new management.

4. A vibrant Middle East democracy? Only in Israel.

No other country in Israel's neighborhood has anything like the Jewish state's boisterous and entrenched democratic tradition. There are no competitive elections in Egypt and Syria. Voters have no influence in Lebanon and Jordan. Dictatorial regimes, not the people, control Iran and the Palestinian Authority. Only in Israel do the people go to the polls to chart their nation's course, in elections that are heatedly contested and democratic to the core. That core includes Israel's Arab citizens, who turned out in near-record numbers to vote, and won 13 seats — more than a tenth of the Knesset.

Americans stand with Israel because in it they recognize a liberal democracy much like their own. Last week's election leaves Israelis trying to figure out their immediate political future. But about their enduring commitment to liberty and self-government, there is no doubt at all.


Girls vs. Boys: Brain Differences Might Explain Tech Behaviors

Many parents of both boys and girls have witnessed striking differences in the way their kids use technology, with their sons generally gravitating to videogames and their daughters often spending more of their screen time scrolling through social media.Emerging research indicates that brain differences between males and females help account for the split.

“It is entirely plausible from a neurological perspective that there’s an underlying biological component to this difference people are seeing,” said Larry Cahill, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California, Irvine, who has spent decades researching gender differences in the brain.

In this column I’ve chronicled the aggression some boys exhibit when they have to shut off videogames as well as the problems some young men face when they go to college and have to juggle game time and school work without mom and dad’s help.

That led some readers to question why girls don’t appear to be having these problems. Of course, girls have issues of their own, such as smuggling “burner” phones to keep up with forbidden social media accounts. It’s just that when it comes to videogames, most girls seem to have a better handle on when to stop.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 41% of teenage boys said they spend too much time playing videogames while only 11% of girls said they do.

Marc Potenza, a psychiatry professor at Yale University, teamed up with researchers at universities in China to find out why. Using functional MRIs, which measure brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow, the team studied neural responses in young male and female gamers, particularly in the parts of the brain associated with reward processing and craving— a motivating factor in addiction.

When the men and women were shown photos of people playing videogames, those parts of the men’s brains showed higher levels of activation than those parts of the women’s brains.

Brain regions that have been implicated in drug-addiction studies also were shown to be more highly activated in the men after gaming.

The researchers said the results suggest men could be more biologically prone than women to developing internet gaming disorder.

But girls and women aren’t free from problems when it comes to digital media. Data from Pew shows that, in general, women use social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest far more than men. Many girls and women are drawn to those photo-sharing sites because they like to form bonds and find similarities, says Rosanna Guadagno, a social psychologist at Stanford University.

Even if women only use those sites more than men because that is where their friends are, many experts and parents say they have found that girls appear to have a greater fear of missing out, which compels them to keep up with what their friends are posting.

Some studies show that girls feel the ill effects of too much social media use, such as depression and anxiety, more than boys do.

Liz Repking, a cyber safety expert and mother of three in suburban Chicago, has seen the differences in her own sons and daughter. This summer, her 15- year-old daughter said her phone was driving her crazy. She told her that she felt pressured to follow her friends’ Instagram stories and like and comment on their posts, and that it was eating up a lot of her time, Ms. Repking said.

Her sons, 18 and 21, use social media—Snapchat, in particular— mostly to communicate with friends but don’t feel compelled to keep up with what people are posting.

“There’s more peer pressure and validation I see with it for her than for the boys,” she said.In August, Ms. Repking’s daughter decided to impose some limits, such as being on her phone no more than three hours a day and checking Instagram less frequently.

“When I asked her a week later how that was going, she said, ‘I’m only looking at Instagram three times a day but I can’t catch up,’ “ Ms. Repking said.

One might argue that multiplayer videogames are the way boys connect with friends online.But it’s different. “Videogames can be social but there’s also a physical distance because you don’t see photos, and communication is largely through text, which is more consistent with the direct way men tend to communicate with each other,” Dr. Guadagno said.

Researchers at the University of Zurich looked at how differences in brain functioning can help explain why women tend to be more prosocial—that is, helpful, generous and cooperative—than men. In the 2017 study, they hypothesized that the areas of women’s brains related to reward processing are more active when they share rewards and that those areas in men are more active when receiving selfish rewards. Brain scans conducted on men and women, in which they chose between receiving a monetary reward only for themselves or one that involved sharing money with others, supported their theory.

Game Overload

Far more boys than girls say they spend toomuch time playing videogames

The Lego Group learned a lot about the prosocial nature of girls more than a decade ago when it conducted research on who buys the brick building kits. At the time, about 90% of the Lego sets purchased in the U.S. were intended for boys. That led the company to conduct more research with girls which revealed, among other things, that girls wanted more role-playing opportunities. Lego created a pastel-colored line called Friends, which sold well but was criticized by some consumer groups for reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Academics who study gender differences also have faced backlash for pointing out that boys and girls aren’t the same.”It’s not a debate that there are sex influences throughout the mammalian brain,” said Dr. Cahill.

“How they all play out is what we should responsibly explore.” Scientists say understanding those differences is critical to parents’ ability to help kids navigate the fast-changing world of tech.

Our brains haven’t caught up to modern times, says Dr. Guadagno, which is why kids’ digital behavior can feel so confusing and overwhelming to parents trying to manage it. “Human brains are wired for survival on the savanna,” she said. “They’re not wired for social media and videogames.”


Hundreds of doctors call for an urgent inquiry into risky treatment of children who believe they are transgender - as website of man who led the petition is sabotaged

More than 200 doctors have called for an urgent inquiry into the risky medical treatment of children who believed they were transgender.

John Whitehall, a professor of paediatrics at Western Sydney University, is taking a stand against minors being prescribed puberty blocker hormones as a precursor to getting a sex change in adulthood.

His petition to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, calling for a parliamentary inquiry into childhood gender dysphoria, received 131 signatures on its first day earlier this week.

That number grew to 200 within three days, with doctors concerned about children as young as nine being rendered infertile as a result of taking the controversial medication.

Their Word Press site, however, has been sabotaged with hackers preventing it from accepting new signatures.

'The site has been subject to an attack, subsequent to it being publicised in the media, and the signatory page is suspended until we can work out how to prevent this,' it said on Wednesday. 'Apologies – watch this space for developments.'

Professor Whitehall also wants the inquiry to determine if puberty blockers had the potential to cause 'the irreversible loss' of fertility.

'I write to thank you for your concern about the rapidly increasing number of Australian children reported to be suffering from gender dysphoria and to express my concern at the lack of a scientific basis for the medical pathway of treatment of childhood gender dysphoria,' he said in his letter.

Shortly before noon on Wednesday, his Word Press website was sabotaged.

Transgender activists and the ABC's Media Watch program have been critical of Professor Whitehall, even though he has a medical career spanning 50 years.

Puberty blockers are a relatively new treatment but there is evidence they can affect fertility, with Professor Whitehall concerned at children as young as nine getting the medication.

He is leading the charge against the sharp rise in the number of children being prescribed these puberty blockers.

In his letter to Mr Hunt, he referred to evidence from Dr Robert Kosky, a former director of psychiatric services at Perth's Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and the state director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services.

He noted that between 1979 and 1984, only eight gender-confused children sought help.

Now, two to three children were being presented to the Perth children's hospital every week.

'I respectfully propose that a parliamentary inquiry would be the best forum for the proper consideration of a social phenomenon that has emerged with such speed and caused such consternation,' Professor Whitehall said in his letter.

'It seems that public policy and medical "best practice" is being declared in haste without a sufficient foundation of fact and reflection, and a formal parliamentary inquiry could provide that foundation.'

The spokesman for the doctors' letter, Rob Pollnitz, a retired paediatrician with 50 years' experience, said he believed gender confusion in children and adolescents was chiefly a psychological issue, not biological.

'Before we give them unproven treatments with hormones and surgery, we ought to do our very best to sort out their psychological issues,' he said.

World-renowned child and adolescent psychiatrist Christopher Gillberg said the unproven treatment of gender-confused children was 'possibly one of the greatest scandal¬s in medical history'.

Last month Carlotta, Australia's first transgender woman to star in a TV drama show, spoke out against teenagers being prescribed puberty blockers.

The 76-year-old cabaret singer, also known as Carol Spencer, told the Studio 10 program she was 'strongly against' doctors approving hormone treatment for children before they had a true grasp of who they were.

The former television actress, who had a sex change in 1971, said children 'should not be put on treatments' until they have 'matured and are of age'.

Kirralie Smith, the director of the grassroots Binary group concerned about the de-gendering of society, said doctors needed to be allowed to speak frankly about puberty blockers.

'We need these doctors to be able to do the research, do the studies without being labelled or threatened in any way as bigots or bullies,' she told Daily Mail Australia.

'This enquiry needs to go ahead so that doctors can have the unhindered ability to look at the research without activists trying to shut them down.' 


The Epochal Challenge of Mass Immigration

Wolfgang Kasper

Allow me to begin on a personal note. When I was a child, my family was “ethnically cleansed” and, soon after that, we became refugees because my father had to flee for his liberty from the Soviet effort to “harvest” German engineers for the post-war reconstruction of the Russian Fatherland. Later, we became migrants. As an adult, I have been a guest worker in half a dozen countries. And over the past forty-six years I have lived in Australia, the country with the biggest share of foreign-born residents, bar Israel.

I therefore claim to know a thing or two about migration.

Migration and integration

The most important thing I know is that one cannot and must not discuss the act of migration without considering the subsequent process of integration. To me, integration means that the newcomers must make every effort to learn the host community’s rules of conduct in the public domain, and obey them. What meals they cook at home, to what gods they pray—that is left to their own private choice. Integration, though personally gratifying and potentially rewarding, is a huge challenge. It touches on deeply held feelings of personal identity and demands the adaptation of normally persistent cultural norms[1].

Insisting on the newcomers adopting the habits and modes of public behaviour of the host community is not racist. Racism is abhorrent, because it amounts to discrimination according to what we have been given by nature, characteristics which we cannot change. By contrast, habits and modes of behaviour come from nurture; they are cultural features, which are learnt and can be relearnt.

In this article I shall use the shorthand “the West” to describe the countries of Western Europe, North America and Australasia, which are the three pillars of Western civilisation. By and large, they are democratic and have capitalist market economies. I shall speak summarily of “the South” when I refer to Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America, namely the regions that are the main sources of the new mass migration.

The new mass migration

As of 2017, an unprecedented 260 million people (or 3.4 per cent of the world’s population) were living in nations other than where they were born. Among them are about 40 million illegal migrants, who are poorly adjusted to life in the West and have little prospect of being allowed to stay. It is these people that I am mainly concerned with here[2]. They are mainly young men from dysfunctional communities and polities. They are not dirt-poor, and they have some, albeit idealised, notions about life in the West. They are able to raise the US$10,000 to $30,000 that one has to pay people smugglers to be conveyed to the West. Last year, I had a long chat with two Nigerians in front of converted steel containers at the edge of a forest in Bavaria, which were their home. One of them had sold his trucking business to bankroll the journey after people smugglers had told him that Germany welcomed people like him. His friend had paid $30,000, which about twenty family and friends had pooled to get him on the way.

Traffickers play a big role in motivating people to migrate. They are well organised and well resourced thanks to previous experience in the international drugs and arms trades[3]. And they are alert entrepreneurs when it comes to finding customers and discovering new migration routes. For them, smuggling people is a good business model: unlike arms or drugs, smuggled people do not come with the costs and risks of distribution in the destination countries. People take care of themselves once landed on a beach or moved across a border. Moreover, the traffickers can often rely on the cost-saving help of do-gooder NGOs and government agencies who act as accessories to this criminal business.

If we look at recent trends, take account of opinion polls in Southern countries about intentions to migrate to the West[4], consider the prospect of chain migration—followers taking advantage of compatriots having created a beachhead, and family reunions[5]—I would guess that 5 per cent of the 2 billion people in the South, some million souls, could join us in the West over the next three to five years. This is the potential if nothing resolute is done. We may soon hum a new version of the Beatles song: “All the many people, where do they all belong?”

My two Nigerians looked, based on my research, typical of the new type of illegal mass migrant. Unemployed and bored, they dreaded their second Bavarian winter. They were disgusted with the selfishness of the Germans, who had huge television sets at home, but had given them only tiny sets on which it was hard to watch the soccer. Most people in the South come from a sharing culture; they have little or no understanding of private, exclusive property rights; people who do not share what they have are regarded as selfish and punished with contempt. The two migrants also expressed testosterone-infused disgust with the immodestly dressed German women. And I heard about frequent fights with their Iranian neighbours in the container settlement, because the Iranians were Shia unbelievers. Moreover, the German police were remiss in their duty to side with them, true Sunni believers. Despite all these misgivings, my two interlocutors would not return home, because that would amount to admitting failure and be insufferably shameful.

Most migrants from the South lack the basic behavioural attitudes, let alone the life and work skills, to fit into modern Western society. A recent study by an intelligence unit of the German criminal police about the many Arab and Turkish criminal clans now making headlines concluded that “archaic anarchism, inclinations to take violent revenge and contempt for outsiders … have led to ethnically shuttered communities”. The imported culture among an estimated 200,000 illegal Middle Eastern immigrants makes it near-impossible for clan members to escape the control of the elders and to refuse to engage in criminal activities. In return, young clan members are rewarded with status symbols, for example big BMWs to drive, despite being on the dole. While these cases are of course extreme, lesser but similar obstacles to integration are widespread. There is a real danger that a new underclass, hostile to the host country’s culture, will establish itself[6].

Some 10 per cent of migrants are genuine refugees in the definition of the original Geneva Convention, having justified fears for their life and liberty. These people deserve our sympathy and our support. However, many of them, once in a safe place, begin shopping for a more advantageous host country and then become illegal migrants.

The remainder of the newcomers from the South are either illegals or are accepted under orderly, official settlement programs to stay permanently or temporarily. Concepts such as “asylum seeker” and “economic refugee” are poorly defined weasel words, which should be avoided when discussing rational immigration policies.

Differing reactions

The reactions of the incumbents in Western societies are asymmetric.

On the one hand, the affluent elites and the social-media class, who benefit from globalisation, rarely come into direct contact with illegal migrants. They are aware of the demographic decline in most Western nations and see the newcomers as a cheap new workforce, as well as customers for run-down real estate. Many in the left-leaning and the libertarian elites also plead for open borders to signal their virtuous political correctness, some even falling prey to “noble-cause obsession”. Some insist that the newcomers add diversity and need not integrate themselves in the new country[7]. Many, who move in circles that consciously or unconsciously share neo-Marxist or postmodern worldviews and therefore reject our egalitarian democracy and the market economy, welcome destitute immigrants as yet another identity group of victims who demonstrate just how unjust and objectionable our society is[8].

On the other side of the spectrum are those whom some in Washington call “the deplorables”. In Australia we have a nicer expression: “the battlers”. Already struggling to come to grips with accelerating technical, economic and social changes, they now encounter illegal immigrants in their midst and discover that these strangers often behave in off-putting ways[9]. This causes additional stresses, real or imagined. Only visit places like downtown Palermo, police no-go zones in the banlieu of Paris, Lisbon’s Afro bairros or the inner West of Sydney, and you will understand that the ordinary folk who call these places home find it difficult to cope with the newcomers. The battlers regard the many new immigrants as competitors for affordable housing, in many places competitors even for sheer living space. They also see them as competitors for scarce, tax-financed health and education services[10]. And they get angry when illiterate and rebellious students from a migrant background lower the standards in the local school and teachers leave. Unsurprisingly, they feel dispossessed, confused and marginalised when they discover that traditional norms no longer apply—that the familiar order, which they treasured and trusted, is no more. These uncertainties may turn into existential fear[11].

The battlers feel particularly threatened when politicians, civil servants, police officers and judges treat the migrants preferentially or tolerate their breaches of familiar norms and laws. They are deeply upset when, as is for example the case in Germany, they see that 240,000 illegals have exhausted all appeals against deportation, but have their deportation suspended. They perceive this as a gross dereliction of the core duty of government, namely the protection of the citizens. They feel betrayed and let down. No amount of clever regression analysis in ivory towers and no argument by the media will convince them that their fears are irrational. Only orderly, limited immigration will restore their confidence.

The rise of atavistic populism

Add to this mix a few opportunistic, populist political entrepreneurs who appeal to our deep-seated, atavistic tribal instincts, offering salvation and protection[12]. They can be found mainly on the nationalist Right, but ever so often we now also encounter left-wing and Green populists who preach primitive paleo-Marxist ideas. This new crop of populists presents itself everywhere as the only legitimate voice of the people. They depict the opposite side of politics, as well as more moderate democrats, as outright enemies and reject all compromise. Long before Twitter and other social media, Thomas Hobbes—writing in Latin—described this type of political actor as puer robustus, which I’d translate as “immature elbow politician”, an unyielding, self-centred stirrer and, by being unpredictable and erratic, always in the limelight. These operators endanger the tender institutions of democracy and the decent, free society.

Add—on top of this—a drift towards populism in the major political parties, whose DNA in any case contains but few liberal genes, and you have to conclude that the liberal, open democratic order enjoyed by recent generations can no longer be taken for granted. The “Fukuyama moment” of the 1990s has passed. History and ideological conflict have resumed with a vengeance.

Shared institutional assets

To understand what is happening, we get no help from standard economics or the econometric models, which the UN and World Bank use to argue for open borders. We need Austrian economics, an approach that is based on realistic assumptions about psychology and sociology and that above all takes account of the central role of institutions, namely the informal, evolved rules of social co-operation, such as customs, habits and unwritten conventions, supplemented by the formal rules designed by legislation and administrative practice. What matters in particular are respected and enforced property rights and their free use under the law. There is of course not only private property. Clubs own shared property rights, as do wider communities and nations[13].

These institutions, which most of us take for granted and which therefore seem invisible to most observers, form valuable, intangible capital. If shared and broadly obeyed, these rules create confidence and trust, reducing the transaction costs in interacting with each other. They also encourage creative discoveries of good solutions to emerging problems. Most of these shared assets have evolved in the light of experience, and some may have been hammered out in conflicts, even civil wars. Our time-tested institutions make us feel safe and at home. The right institutions make the difference between wealth and poverty, social harmony and discord, confidence and distrust, joie de vivre and angst.

The institutional order breaks down when numerous newcomers cannot or will not spontaneously comply with the prevailing rules or when newcomers profit from breaking rules. Sustaining a good order is thus to a large extent a matter of numbers. What follows from this for immigration policy is that the number of immigrants needs to be limited, and orderly immigration needs to be enforced to uphold the loyalty of the entire resident community. Border crossers who have thrown their ID papers away or who come with invented, impossible-to-verify hardship stories are not welcome.

Upholding a good order also means that the laws must be enforced. This will often require resolute government action, but freedom and security are not always cost-free. Immigrants who have been found to be illegals must be promptly repatriated. The current weak-kneed attitude of most Western governments to deportations, because they are difficult or are opposed by international bodies such as the UN and do-gooder NGOs, makes a joke of the law. It destroys the confidence of the citizenry in democratic government.

Much more must and can be done. A combination of bribery in the form of foreign aid to persuade corrupt Southern governments to take returnees back and robust measures to protect the external borders can be highly effective in stopping mass migration. Disappointed deportees would spread the word that the traffickers are telling lies. Information campaigns in Southern source countries that tell potential migrants the truth have also proven effective. The Australian policy of ensuring that no illegal migrant attempting to come in by boat will ever be granted settlement rights—though criticised by open-border advocates at home and abroad—has de facto stopped people-smuggling. Yet, most Western governments have so far been reluctant to act resolutely.

Governments who want to limit how many migrants to admit per year have of course to be selective. This necessarily involves profiling, something liberals are rightly uncomfortable with. But I know no alternative. Based on experience with migrant integration around the world, families and young people, especially educated professionals, tend to integrate themselves better than singles and older people. Also, people from neighbouring cultures tend to fit in relatively easily. Immigrants from societies with cultural flexibility normally make better fellow citizens than those from communities with rigid cultural norms. To be candid: experience in all Western nations tells me that East Asians fit in better than West Asians, who often organise themselves politically to impose the rules of their failed home countries on the new hosts[14]. It should also be acknowledged that host societies with free-market economies fare better with peaceful integration than regulated economies, such as those of Europe. Mass immigration to welfare states causes endless political headaches.

If immigrant selection is pragmatic, if the host country invests in the human-capital formation of selected new residents[15], and if the markets for labour and capital, goods and services are open and competitive, then an annual migrant inflow equal to 1 per cent of the resident population can in my opinion be sustained, with 1.5 per cent as an upper limit, judging by historic experiences in successful immigrant nations.

Orderly migration policy also requires a resolute commitment to repatriating illegal migrants. That is difficult, but not impossible. The governments of source countries are often opposed to accepting their citizens, never mind that this breaches national and international laws. The UN and other international bodies, instead of promoting the law, tend to exert pressure to stop deportations. This should not deter governments that are committed to defending liberty from acting robustly. They can stop development aid to recalcitrant governments and suspend the issue of visitor visas to the elites of those countries, or make these favours conditional on co-operation in accepting failed illegal migrants back. The latter are of course reluctant to admit failure and return voluntarily. Policies to bribe them with resettlement grants have had limited effect, but drastic reductions of welfare hand-outs, as for example Swiss authorities now implement, and the forced expulsion of those who commit crimes would seem measures that signal to the citizens that their government is committed to upholding the law and a confidence-inspiring order.

All this reinforces the conclusion that immigration must be limited, selective and orderly. It does not mean zero immigration. After all, the lesson of history is that openness to newcomers has been a key driver in the progressive evolution of the rule of law and individual freedom, which are now the hallmarks of Western civilisation. European rulers had to constrain their predatory instincts when they tried to attract talented people and capital by guaranteeing newcomers certain rights. Inter-jurisdictional rivalry in providing reliable, citizen-friendly rules played, for example, a big role when thuggish Renaissance princes tried to attract Jewish merchants and artisans from Iberia, or later when princes rivalled with each other to attract well-to-do, skilled Huguenots in order to foster the growth of their tax base[16]. More recently, the freedom they offered was a critical factor in turning Switzerland, the United States and Australia into prospering places where migrants thrive and, in turn, where openness helps to foster freedom.


The rejection of open borders and the advocacy of limited, selective and orderly immigration meet with a number of objections.

First, radical libertarians argue that every person should have complete freedom to live where he wants. They deny that communities and nations have legitimate rights to exclusive group property. However, may I settle in the living room of their family and help myself to the contents of their fridge? May I just walk into their club to use the swimming pool and the tennis court? They tend to march in demos demanding the sovereign self-determination and secure living spaces for Palestinians, Tibetans and Uighurs, but deny the same rights to their own fellow citizens! This school of thought peddles childish, utopian tripe, only acceptable to people who appreciate neither history nor reality. In the final analysis, such anarcho-libertarianism is inimical to freedom because it drives voters into the populist camp.

Charitable souls want more open borders, possibly inspired by Judeo-Christian guilt feelings for the good life they enjoy. They argue that we must share our wealth. I applaud charity, but not when it comes at the expense of others. Moreover, I am reminded of Milton Friedman’s insight that the choice of equitable sharing over freedom ultimately leads to less that can be shared, whereas the choice of freedom over charitable sharing produces more resources, including some which may then be willingly shared. And besides, let’s not forget that Jesus said: “Love thy neighbour”—not all and sundry from far and wide!

Some argue for open borders because they are inspired by the successful immigration story of the US in the nineteenth century or the more recent example of Australia’s transformation and enduring prosperity. They overlook the fact that the cultural gaps between the new mass migrants and us in the West are much wider than in the above cases, mainly because the economies of the West now rely on complex technology. The Polish peasant who had walked behind an ox could quickly become highly productive when deploying four Clydesdales pulling a multi-furrow plough through Iowa soil. The English-speaking Irish immigrant could easily become a good publican or railway worker in the colony of New South Wales. The son of a Honduran witch doctor, by contrast, is unlikely to make a good Canadian pharmacist. And would you entrust a migrant Pakistani truck driver with a Greyhound bus on the US Inter-State?

Yet another objection one hears is that, admittedly, there are evident integration problems, but these are temporary. Eventually, the new migrants will become ordinary members of the host society. Yes, eventually! The Goths, Vandals, Avars, Franks, Saxons and Vikings, who finished off the internally weakened Greco-Roman civilisation, eventually became champions of Western civilisation—a few Dark Age centuries later.

Radical libertarians and UN econometricians object to migration limits with the argument that immigration controls prevent huge increases in world per-capita incomes, which could be realised if only poor people were able to move freely to areas where great wealth is being created[17]. Border controls prevent an almost effortless gain, they tell us, similar to “picking up hundred dollar bills from the pavement”. That assertion, which has a long standing in the literature, is based on the classical Marxist-materialist conceit that only material gain matters. But man does not live for GDP alone! Social harmony, peace, justice, freedom and security are fundamental values that matter as much to people as material prosperity. An immigration policy based on the assumption that these fundamental values do not matter is as rational as a transport policy based on the assumption of zero gravity. In reality, completely open borders would come with huge transaction costs—cultural fragmentation and societal fractiousness, social mayhem, linguistic cacophony, civil conflicts, dislocation and the destruction of all that is valuable in Western civilisation[18]. The only additional income generated would be through the employment of more security guards, more policing and profits from selling barbed wire and screening devices.

A better, less disruptive alternative to opening the borders to uncontrolled migration from the South is free trade. Economists have long shown that the free trade of goods and services is a substitute for the movement of people[19]. Of course, if Western protectionism prevents the produce and products coming in from the South, then the farmers and the workers will come. If US tariffs hinder the import of cars from Mexico, then Mexican workers will dig tunnels under the border wall to come in.

Finally, objections come from political pragmatists who see the demographic divergence between the South and the West and who believe that a migrant avalanche is by now inevitable[20]. These are lazy political opportunists who have given up on defending our freedom. We must expose them for what they are and we must explain anew the merits of a free society.

 A stress test for Western civilisation

The free, humane political order—inspired by the likes of John Locke, David Hume and our other heroes of the Enlightenment, given shape by the Fathers of the US Constitution and promoted by generations of members of the Mont Pèlerin Society—is now more threatened from within and without than at any time since the late 1940s, when Friedrich Hayek brought together some concerned friends on that mountain in Switzerland[21].

In this era of polarised politics and societal tribulations, migration-triggered populism subjects Western civilisation to a mighty stress test. No one can be sure that Western civilisation will be able to survive it intact. After all, the big lesson of history is that civilisations rise and fall.

We face an epochal challenge. Only the force of argument for freedom and a robust commitment to protective government will decide whether and where Western civilisation will survive.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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