March 12, 2004

Xenophobia v. Restrictionism

I'm an open borders sort of fellow. Being a gradualist, I don't favor just opening them without taking adequate precautions and wartime is not the best time to start such experiments as a practical matter. But as an end state, I'd like the world to get to the point where borders are a minor formality.

There are people who never want that to happen. They're commonly labeled xenophobes. I've even met a few who consciously and purposefully embraced the label for themselves. They are a somewhat small group in my personal experience. Much larger is the restrictionists, the people who think that immigration, in moderation is fine, but the rate of immigration should never exceed the rate of assimilation.

I'm not to unhappy with that idea in principle as a sort of mid-term state on the road to my happy minarchist ultimate society. Keeping the ideology of liberty alive as a persistent majority until we can get government small enough that it doesn't much matter and hemmed in enough that it can't break out of its restraints is an important practical necessity.

The major real world problem lies in another cultural force, multiculturalism, which is absolutely opposed to assimilation. They want a salad bowl instead of a melting pot and preferably without dressing at all. No blending of flavors for them in their worldview. They have been awfully good at reducing the incentives to assimilate and thus the reductionists want to reduce immigration to match the new lower assimilation levels.

And that's where they lose me. Instead of fighting to increase assimilation. They act as if the battle is lost. Instead of even mentioning it to keep it on the political agenda, they simply assume assimilation is a policy area that is beyond their control so they exclusively concentrate on reducing immigration.

What makes things worse is that this tactic is self-destructive. The major difference between the xenophobes (who are almost universally ignored) and the reductionists is in the reductionist willingness to raise immigration if assimilation capability is likewise raised. But by not mentioning assimilation, it is awfully easy to tar reductionists with the xenophobe label.

So why am I ranting on this particular topic? I'm having this very conversation with Mark Krikorian and this is something of a recap of our email. He's a reductionist and seems as if he would be willing to talk more about assimilation if he got some support. So I'm looking at pro-assimilation ideas that reductionists could love and would move them to ease up the pressure against higher immigration quotas.


Posted by TMLutas at March 12, 2004 10:29 PM