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The fantasy of open borders Mass migration will only lead to more suffering

Mass migration is not the solution. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Mass migration is not the solution. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images


April 25, 2024   4 mins

Before entering today’s torturous immigration debate, we would do well to remember James Baldwin. “Power without morality is no longer power,” he observed. And the border question is fundamentally a moral one.

On one side, there is a growing belief that an open borders policy is a vital moral response to the economic inequality between countries. In these milieus, national citizenship within a bounded community in the Western world is increasingly seen not as a birth right but as just another unfair advantage. As the political theorist Joseph Carens puts it, Western citizenship is “the modern equivalent to feudal privilege — an inherited status that greatly enhances one’s life chances [that] is hard to justify when one thinks about it closely”. And just like feudal privileges, they should be cast aside.

On the other side, meanwhile, the vox populi disagrees. Polling consistently shows that most Western citizens want less immigration, a sentiment that has risen in recent years in the US, UKFrance and Germany. Faced with the elite-approved “human right” to unlimited free movement, popular opinion responds with an emphatic no.

With die-hards on both sides, it’s no wonder the Senate border bill has become such a point of contention. For Democrats, the problem is not that too many foreigners are abusing asylum claims in order to immigrate illegally; it’s more that, with an election coming up, news coverage of chaotic conditions at the border doesn’t paint Biden in a good light. For the rest of us, meanwhile, the problem is the assumption that everyone in the developing world has a moral right to claim asylum in the US.

This is not to say that immigration should be stopped entirely; but rather that unlimited immigration is incompatible with the right of a bounded community to durable political self-determination. This, in turn, is a far weightier moral consideration than the self-interest of any given economic immigrant. As the political philosopher Christopher Heath Wellman put it: “[n]o collective can be fully self-determining without enjoying freedom of association because, when the members of a group can change, an essential part of group self-determination is exercising control over what the ‘self’ is.”

But how can a community control its “self” in a world of open borders? Inevitably, a subsection of immigrants will acquire the right to vote in their new home. Over time, their presence will change the composition of the electorate, or, in other words, the “self” part of “self-determination”. And eventually this will alter the outcome of political decisions taken by the demos — for immigrants typically don’t share the same preferences or identity as the existing citizenry. Give a large group of outsiders the vote, and you may find that voting patterns start to change. To prevent this, claims Heath Wellman, the demos must have a right to say “no” to radical, unwanted alterations to the citizen body.

The open border advocates would naturally dispute this, insisting that no self-determining group of citizens has the right to protect itself from such change. After all, who’s to say that the next generation of voters won’t also revolutionise politics? Radical change doesn’t just come from abroad. We wouldn’t choose to disenfranchise our rebellious children, even if they threaten to overturn our political decisions. By the same token, we cannot deny the vote to immigrants with conflicting values or interests.

This analogy, however, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Generational changes in the electorate arise from citizens voluntarily exercising their basic human rights: in this case, the right to form a family and the right to freedom of conscience. By contrast, the replacement of the electorate through unwanted mass immigration occurs wholly involuntarily and is facilitated by governments acting entirely morally ultra vires.

What’s more, education and upbringing tend to ensure a large amount of continuity between the preferences, interests and identity of one generation and the next. A parent and child have far more in common than a person born in the US and a newly arrived immigrant. This is especially true under conditions of mass migration across great civilisational distances, and even more so when the state insists on multiculturalism, rather than integration. While new arrivals will be subject to some cultural pressure to adopt the norms of their host society, contemporary liberal democracies encourage immigrants to celebrate their ethnic identities and, increasingly, their grievances. These groups then ask for policy shifts to accommodate their cultural preferences.

“It’s hard to see how open border advocates would enjoy living in the world they propose.”

We have seen this play out in America, the UK and Europe, where — contrary to those who talk of the natural conservatism of immigrants — new arrivals tend to vote well to the Left of non-immigrants. Over time, this can start to distort the political system. As former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once observed, “in multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion”. This can eventually lead to an aggressive style of ethnopolitics evident in many countries around the world from South Africa to Malaysia.

Even if this doesn’t happen, mass migration can warp democracy in other ways. As Robert Putnam argued, “ethnic diversity” can reduce both “horizontal” interpersonal trust and “vertical” trust in political institutions, leading residents of all races to “hunker down”. We can see this in the way social trust had steadily declined since mass non-Western immigration began in the mid-Sixties, while political polarisation has conversely increased. Some have blamed this on the rise of cable news or social media — and indeed, both probably play a part. But the timeline of America’s deteriorating social trust and the geographical distribution of that trust — highest in homogenous places such as New England and the Midwest, lowest in the Southwest and in New York — are consistent with the diversity-trust hypothesis.

While declining trust probably won’t result in societal collapse, it will certainly weaken our political institutions. A high-trust society can afford the sort of deliberative democracy that offers fair consideration of all affected parties. This system presupposes that political parties play fair, keep their promises and work together for the common public good. But it is easily distorted, and can swiftly morph into a low-trust society with a Lebanon-style “consociational democracy” and a system of zero-sum tribal bargaining. In such a scenario, political outcomes are determined by the balance of power between representatives of different ethnic and religious communities. This makes redistributive economic policies difficult to pass, as warring factions care little about each other’s welfare.

As a result, it’s hard to see how open border advocates would enjoy living in the world they propose. They would be poorer, unhappier and exposed to conflict. What could be more immoral than that?

***

A version of this article was first published on Restoration.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her new book is Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights.

Ayaan

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
20 days ago

I’m prepared to be corrected on this, but the Open Borders movement, aside from some fringe academics and odd-ball sci-fi utopians, only gained ground in the mid 90s with the introduction of the Schengen Area of the EU.
Suddenly “Freedom of Movement” was seen as a positive aim, and the concept was expanded by its proponents to encompass borders globally. Anyone who raised objections or pointed out the obvious adverse consequences of such policies could be safely dismissed as a racist little-Englander (or insert country of choice)
The justification among Open Border supporters was always that it would be reciprocal – the mantra was “They can come here and we can go there.”
But anyone of sense can appreciate that didn’t happen. And why that didn’t happen.
Average monthly salaries for unskilled work are nearly 5 times higher in the UK than in some accession states. UK State Benefits are far – FAR – more generous …. and we offer free healthcare.
What would have been the incentive for a low skilled British worker to relocate with his family to Romania, say?
There was no hope of reciprocity, the movement of the labour force in the EU is almost entirely a one way phenomenon.
It was always disingenuous to pretend that just because British workers had a right to move to Estonia, Latvia, Romania, wherever, that we should welcome FOM across the EU and that it wouldn’t negatively impact British workers’ wages and chances for work.
Since Schengen’s introduction it has been a drain on those countries people were leaving because those that sought new opportunities here or in other wealthy western or northern European states were the boldest and brightest, were the entrepreneurs or the adventurous.
The only extraordinary thing is how the metropolitan left embraced what should have been anathema to them – all so they could enjoy a limitless pool of cheap eastern European labour, whether nanny, plumber or whatever, and avoid an extra 50p on their Waitrose bag of hand picked veg.
Having entirely refused to see the negative impact on both the country of origin and the host country, Open Borderists now insist that we should throw open our doors to the world.
The WEF, that cosy club of wanna-be Bond villians on their annual jaunt to Davos, have magnified this Metro-Lib attitude and want to roll it out worldwide:
“It is time to rethink migration. Over much of the world, birth rates are plunging and populations are ageing. This means that there will be fewer workers to support older people and growth. And this means that most countries will increasingly need to rely on migration. Making the most of migration through smart policies is essential for global development and a prosperous future. And the private sector will play an important role in designing and supporting these smart policies.”
Knowing how the Davos Elite always have our best interests at heart, I can’t see how anything could possibly go wrong with such a vision.
Can you?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Well you might not want to work on Romania but you might want to retire to Spain. Im not saying that there are not arguments against free movement in the EU but at least it is/was a kind of deal. But open borders more generally really is an attack on the idea of citizenship in a global world. It is fundamentally a psy op on the youth to encourage the weakening of the demos in the interests of global capital and the nascent tech dystopia i suspect they want to create

John Riordan
John Riordan
20 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Are you sure about this? Why would capitalists deliberately seek to create such a dystopia? Don’t get me wrong – I’m mostly persuaded that if we’re not careful, our tech-bro class might end up rolling us all into such a dystopia by accident, but that isn’t what you appear to be saying here.

The only class of people who seem actually intent on anything approaching such an outcome is the global political class, if anything. It is they who have all these odd ideas about the rest of us owning nothing, having no rights worth having (but a great many that are actually just obligations masquerading as rights), and living in harmony with nature, which just means dying of starvation the next time there’s a bad harvest and never travelling more than five miles from where you were born. (Luckily though we’ll still have digital communications, so we’ll be able to see what the rest of the world looks like on screen, we just won’t be allowed to go to any of it).

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Hi john, im not sure but when you look at cbdcs, digital ids, mandatody vax during covid with ” covid psasses in operstion etc i think we are already nearly half way there. Imo the open borders thing will quickly morph in to ” you cant trust your neighbour but lets keep a mandatory id linked to money and/or internet access e.g . world coin for all our security”. This will come from the right – the open borders stuff is from the left. A beautiful left right combination . Thats my expectation anyway

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I completely agree with you. I’ve often thought that open borders is a convenient way for politicians to ‘criminalize’ citizens who then go on to demand greater protections in the form of digital IDs and greater surveillance. In effect we are becoming like an open-air Panopticon where the elites use actual criminal elements to terrorize and control the rest of the prison population (us), thereby making us unwitting participants in our own subjugation.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The ‘deal’ you talk of, as I understood it, was that any citizen of the EU could move to any EU country and the receiving country had no say in the matter. So if 10 million Romanians and Bulgarians decided to move to the UK there was absolutely nothing the Brits could do about that. That might be a good deal for citizens of rubbish EU countries but not so great for the good ones – unless you subscribe to Bryan Caplan’s view that pretty much any human being represents productive human capital. Not sure that Parisians who have just had their wallets stolen by a Romany gang would see it quite like that though. Gotta say, I’d happily give up my right to retire to the Costa Del Sol if it meant we could keep people we don’t want here at arm’s length.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
19 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I am very much for keeping a cohesive and homogenous society, but unfortunately plumbers and nannies for the wealthy are a straw man. The real problem is how you are going to manage a society with a below-replacement birth rate, an increasing proportion of old people needing care, and a desperate need for warm bodies to serve as carers, nurses, agricultural workers, and lots of other kinds of jobs. And that is why the administrative and political elite are all for immigration – because they are making long-term plans for that future. Lots of things can go wrong – as you quite rightly say. I do not look forward to those changes. But the anti-immigration people have an obligation to speak honestly about the real choices and their consequences, just like the pro-immigration people do. They do not fulfil their obligation, to be sure. But do you?

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The choices were available thirty years ago. The political class engaged in the biggest transfer of wealth in history through mass immigration and fiscal slight of hand… and here we are, these are the real consequences of that decision making.

Kevin Godwin
Kevin Godwin
19 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I keep hearing the term replacement rate. But surely you mean ‘economic replacement rate’. The two are entirely different.
To maintain a stable population, a couple would need to produce two children to replace them when they die.
However, economic replacement requires population growth to sustain older, and most likely ‘non productive’ populations and their concomitant costs.

Dr E C
Dr E C
19 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This is what we keep being told, but what if people like Matt Goodwin are right instead:

‘We’ve also just heard how mass immigration is essential in our ageing society, that with a fertility rate of just 1.5 and a rapidly ageing population Britain simply cannot survive without even more and more of this migration in the years ahead.

But this too is nonsense.

All we are doing is pushing Britain, like other Western states, into a looming ‘population trap’ —whereby the rapidly expanding population of a state starts to clash with the limits of what that state can actually provide when it comes to absorbing the sheer scale of this population explosion’? https://www.mattgoodwin.org/p/what-i-told-the-big-immigration-debate

David Harris
David Harris
19 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Of course, the irony is that most opposition to unrestricted immigration comes from those of us in our later years whilst those in favour are younger. That means those who will suffer most from it (and they will) are those that are most in favour of it now. We oldies will be long gone by then… fortunately.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
19 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Pretty well everyone I know in this relatively prosperous London suburb is liberal on both legal and illegal immigration. ‘The more the merrier’. But I know perfectly well that if mass immigration meant collapsing house prices and rents and rising wages, instead of the other way round, every last one of them would be down on the beach with a gun.

Let’s call it what it is: class war.

Leslie Smith
Leslie Smith
19 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I bet these affluent liberals don’t want these immigrants moving to their neighborhoods (unless they are their servants), just like the outrage that accompanied the 52 illegal migrants that Texas Gov. Abbott sent to the posh resort community of Martha’s Vineyard in September 2022.

Alan Bright
Alan Bright
19 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

“But I know perfectly well that if mass immigration meant collapsing house prices and rents and rising wages, instead of the other way round, every last one of them would be down on the beach with a gun.”
But collapsing house prices are good (yes they are). The trade-off is between affordable housing and increased employment costs of NHS and care homes, both of which would be results of less immigration.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
18 days ago
Reply to  Alan Bright

But collapsing house prices are good (yes they are). 
Where did I say they’re not? You should base your response on what’s actually in a post rather than what you assume might be.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
20 days ago

I’m not sure one can conflate morality and power; James Baldwin may have hung out with the likes of Sartre and de Beauvoir but he never met Uncle Joe Stalin. Power is power – “The only real power comes out of a long rifle”, or Comrade Mao, “Morality does not have to be defined in relation to others.”

However, I do not disagree with the premise of this rather fine article, which is that nation states have an inherent duty to their citizens to define, defend and control their borders. Otherwise they will pretty quickly cease to be states.

It never ceases to amaze me that all the advocates for multi-culturalism forget (or choose to ignore) Putnam’s research of nearly twenty years ago. Cultural diversity erodes social trust and social trust is a fundamental requirement for social cohesion.

Many countries in Europe are going to pay a heavy price for this oversight over the next few decades; the pro-gaza protests across the capitals of Europe are the tip of a very large large and ship-of-state sinking iceberg.

Dr Anne Kelley
Dr Anne Kelley
19 days ago

I suspect the self-appointed global powers don’t care about a lack of social cohesion, because they disapprove of the nation state.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
20 days ago

A high-trust society is homogenous society and that is all there is to it
“A declining trust probably won’t result in societal collapse” The author is a fool. That is precisely where we are heading. Time are relatively good at the moment and the fault lines are all to visible and we already have tribal bargaining, just look at how we are policed. Wait till things get tough and see how bad it gets

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
20 days ago

“The author is a fool”? Your choice of words is very poor indeed.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
20 days ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

Probably, but I am exasperated. Anyone who can’t see where we are heading is either wilfully blind or a fool.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
20 days ago

I know how you feel.
The reckless abandon, with which we computerise & connect everything everywhere, while the law completely fails us in cyberspace, adds a truly diabolical dimension to the insanity discussed here.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
20 days ago

I would quality the homogenous part by saying that it does not necessarily have to be racially homogenous. Multi-ethnic is fine, but what is essential however is a universal and homogenous set of values.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
19 days ago

No. I used to think like that but it is a fallacy.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
20 days ago

Brilliantly stated as always. In truth, the open borders argument is an extremely weak Matxist and liberal Christian miasma set against a massive concrete reality. Absolute intolerance meets suicidal hospitality, in the words of Algirdas Degutis.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
20 days ago

Open borders are self destructive on their face. I appreciate this essay and the arguments laid out by the author, but border control is common sense. Every newcomer needs to be stopped and vetted – period. We can debate the merits and philosophical underpinnings or high or low immigration, but open borders are nonsense.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
20 days ago

The whole premise of this article is nonsense. There are no serious open borders advocates.
The writer is known as a far right, anti-immigrant, anti-muslim extremist. She needs the open borders myth to rail against, just like Fox News, the Sun, and all those idiot politicians who use this rhetoric to fire up the ignorant base.
That seems to include most Unherd commenters.

Andrew R
Andrew R
20 days ago

Where’s is your evidence or counter argument? You don’t have one, just a bunch of fallacies that are mostly insults. Your stupidity has no bounds.

David L
David L
20 days ago

Owen Jones just popped by.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
20 days ago
Reply to  David L

🙂

John Riordan
John Riordan
20 days ago

Go have a lie down in a darkened room until you can prevent your idiotic spittle-flecked diatribes from defacing this page.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
20 days ago

“new arrivals will be subject to some cultural pressure to adopt the norms of their host society”. In the UK, it’s the other way round. Creeping islamisation means we have to adopt the norms of the new arrivals.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
20 days ago

Ayaan is saying culture and community are the great social reality, assaulted by a flimsy but popular Marxist myth that can destroy that reality. We may all have our Balkan moment.

j watson
j watson
20 days ago

Great fan of Ayaan, but this is not one of her best. Who are these open border advocates she refers to? Can she just name one major Policy maker or significant politician who’s promulgated fully open borders? Come on Ayaan this is sloppy scaremongering nonsense to which you should know better.
Of course that doesn’t mean not a major issue about borders needing to be better managed and controlled. Nor that we need more honest discourse about what immigration we might welcome – the US economy of course has always been driven by attracting the best from around the World.
I daresay there are some loons who would support fully open borders but they’d be crackpots on an extreme.
(Note: Free movement Articles in the EU are not the same as fully Open Borders before we go down that over simplification. Fact UK failed to use the levers available to limit and manage it, nor introduced ID cards to address all the illegal stays etc, our own fault and nobody else’s)

Andrew R
Andrew R
20 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Rather disingenous of you JW (though not a surprise), you do not have to look far, try any Left leaning NGOs (Borders are a social construct” and “No one is illegal”), publisher (op-eds), think tank papers to the EU commission, WEF and the UN. Here’s my personal favourite:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18519395

Another simple search on YouTube will show the US has lost control of its southern border. As the article says, the majority of western electorates have rejected mass immigration for the last decade but their governments have simply ignored them.

j watson
j watson
20 days ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Left leaning NGOs are not Policy makers AR. They may have a position they push but they are not in power and even these one you refer to are not suggesting fully open borders. Come on name the politician in power who’s advocating fully open borders?
Losing control of a border is not the same as supporting open borders. The position in US is complicated by Republicans rejecting the Biden border controls, which are pretty firm, because they don’t want to give him a political win. It’s classic Right – keep the immigration fear going to garner support rather sort it.

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Sophistry: specious argument used for deception, crafted to appear logical but representing falsehood.
Does it take you hours for you to come up with this nonsense? If NGOs aren’t successful policy makers, then what exactly is the point of their existence! Did you even read the Peter Sutherland quote? An unelected individual representing the UN, a non executive chairman of Goldman Sachs telling another supranational body (that in your opinion, doesn’t have any political power) that it should “do its best to undermine” the “homogeneity” of its member states (i.e. without the consent of its citizens). Such a policy can only be achieved by an act of extreme prejudice against migration control but since he didn’t literally say “open border” this controversial statement can be simply brushed away. An ideology you agree with, no doubt.
A government can pursue a policy without saying it out loud, easier not to have anyone disagree with it that way.
How many million irregular migrants are needed to enter into the U.S. unchallenged before it becomes an “open border”?
You’re unhinged.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
20 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Your use of the word “sloppy” is a perfect example of the “kettle calling the pot black”. You might stimulate better discussions if you tempered your antagonistic approach – rather than just inviting down-ticks.

j watson
j watson
20 days ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Name a politician in power who’s advocating fully open borders? Just one will do.
Certainly not worried about downticks in the slightest. Surprised you hadn’t noticed that.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
19 days ago
Reply to  j watson

As usual you mis-read for your own convenience. I made no comment on whether you liked down ticks or not. I’m not surprised you didn’t notice that …

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago
Reply to  j watson

So unless it meets your very tight criteria, it can’t be true. That lets Angela Merkel off the hook.

Cool

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago
Reply to  j watson

You writing nonsense doesn’t bother you in the slightest either.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
20 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Having worked for a number of multi-nationals, I am in no doubt at all about their desire to source the cheapest labour that they can. Free movement increases this supply. You need look no further than their lobbying activities.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
20 days ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Correct! Thats why the leftist progressive Remainiac embrace of the ultra capitalist EU and its single market was so comic and absurd. The Left’s deranged ideological commitment to open borders is of course driven by their underlying equality mania and derangement; to deny any non white ‘victim of western imperial exploitation’ freedom to cross border for a better life constitutes a discriminatory act, something they are programmed to fear and abhor.

j watson
j watson
20 days ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Good you are noting it can often more be Big Business that pushes the most liberal approach. But I still doubt you’ll find many advocating fully Open Borders anywhere. But regardless who’s the key politician you can name in power on the record advocating fully open borders?

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Saying the same specious nonsense over and over again, doesn’t make it valid.

Dr E C
Dr E C
19 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Are you ok? No one has ever said, at any time, that any politician is _openly_ advocating an open border policy.

The whole debate currently raging – & one of the points of Hirst Ali’s essay – is that politicians keep getting elected on the promise to tighten border control & reduce immigration – because that’s what the majority of most western populations want – yet instead keep letting mass migration rise because they couldn’t care less about the will of the people.

j watson
j watson
18 days ago
Reply to  Dr E C

That’s different though Doc. The fact managing migration is not as easy as Populists might convey is not an excuse for indicating everyone in power is advocating open borders. Nobody is advocating that as Ayaan well knows and comment leavers here too. It’s infantile to hide behind such a sweeping generalisations. The issue is much more a technical problem about you manage borders effectively and how you manage migration you might want vs that you don’t. I don’t actually know anyone who doesn’t want migration much better managed.

Andrew R
Andrew R
18 days ago
Reply to  j watson

The problem began when mass immigration was introduced without the concent of the electorate. A policy that was not only undemocratic but incompetent and with lasting repurcussions

It’s gone well beyond a “technical problem” or loony postmodernists arguing out loud for open borders. Looking at the French coast, the English Channel and the U.S southern border, it’s obvious to anyone other than an idiot that the system has collapsed.

You will continue (in spite of all the evidence) to post the sort of platitudes you’ll find at the end of a A Level geography essay.

Deluded

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
20 days ago

The open border advocates would naturally dispute this, insisting that no self-determining group of citizens has the right to protect itself from such change.”
If the group is self-determining, then it has the right to determine whether the composition of the group should change.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
20 days ago

There are no human rights … the only rights are those you win !

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
20 days ago

Go back a few hundred years and another word for unmandated ‘open borders’ was war. The retention of patently outdated 1950s ‘international laws’ on refugees and asylum by the UN Mafia is a recipe for global social anarchy – the entire Global South can claim asylum to escape a hot climate. So that is another theoretical 83 million houses please Mr Gove, why not! The ongoing failure of Western states to amend these bogus laws is an extraordinary slow motion failure. Watching the French police wave off witnesses and perpetrators to the unlawful murder of 5 people on their beaches – citing other bogus laws of seas – is just astonishing. Surely this must trigger an overdue assault on all such perversions of justice and on the sick progressive ideologues in our corrupted political and administrative state & immigration system who tacitly collaborate with criminal mafiosi to service their luxury beliefs.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
20 days ago

It’s worth examining the liberal response to reckless mass immigration, ‘but we need to import workers to run our services’.
My instinct is that this has largely been produced by the demands of a disproportionately aged population which is itself turns modern welfare democracies into a victim of their own success. Progressively the issue of a low birth rate comes into play in terms of the sheers numbers needed to take care of the elderly and retired: on the level or simple service provision, public or private, for retired people before old age care.
The resulting pressure on services for families and the corresponding cost of living becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy thanks to these huge lumps of population addition. These vicious circles characterise Europe today and cause the young to dream once more of abandoning these devastated welfare states for the promise of the New World.

John Riordan
John Riordan
20 days ago

“As a result, it’s hard to see how open border advocates would enjoy living in the world they propose.”

Great article as usual from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but this last sentence doesn’t present the conundrum she implies. The advocates of open borders have no intention whatsoever of living anywhere that the negative consequences of their beliefs will emerge. They intend to live in metropolitan enclaves where their neighbours, no matter what their ethnic origin, belong to the same politically-homogenous sort of middle class people who find common ground with each other on the subject of how everybody else’s money ought to be spent, and what freedoms belonging to everybody else are to be sacrificed next.

I realise that in reality, it won’t be very easy to maintain the internal borders around such enclaves if the rest of society descends into the dystopia that more intelligent people can see coming. But the open-borders brigade don’t believe that’s going to happen to them, which is why they don’t care.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
20 days ago

We should be doing far more to improve lives for people where they live, rather than have them migrate in the hope of an illusory better life. The biggest obstacle to developing countries developing to look after their own populations is access to cheap energy. Is it just a coincidence that those who want open borders also favour stifling development in the developing world with net zero policies?

John Tyler
John Tyler
19 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Some other people claim the main issue to be transport infrastructure, education, health, water availability, tribal rivalries and corruption. I think it’s rather oversimplifying to suggest that a single issue is ‘the biggest’. Surely, what is needed is leadership that seeks to integrate solutions to these multiple issues.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
19 days ago
Reply to  John Tyler

I am not saying that there are not other problems to address, but they all require energy. The reason why Britain was the first to industrialise and then became the largest empire in the world was because it exploited the massive coal reserves we had.

John Tyler
John Tyler
20 days ago

“it’s hard to see how open border advocates would enjoy living in the world they propose”
So true, and ties in nicely with another of today’s articles on Unherd.
(Ayaan, you have a wonderful style which is eminently readable while maintaining an academic rigour. So much more fun to read than some other commentators who appear to quote or refer to philosophers etc. in order to sound intellectual and oh, so erudite! Thanks!)

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
20 days ago

Western citizenship is “the modern equivalent to feudal privilege 
I guess if you buy into this nonsense then all bets are off-

John Riordan
John Riordan
20 days ago

Only plausible to metrollectual ignoramuses who have never set foot outside their own echo chambers. Britain has never at any time been a nation where the average adult is wealthy or possesses any tangible privilege, and the irony is that only the sorts of people who benefit from the modern equivalent of feudal privilege – ie belonging to the political and managerialist classes – could possibly be isolated enough to believe otherwise.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
20 days ago

I note with some amusement that even the Irish Government is starting to see the benefits of a hard border.

R S Foster
R S Foster
19 days ago

…problem with well-intentioned metropolitan types is that too many read Fukuyama’s “End of History”…not enough read Samuel P. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”…and all of them think the rest of the world are by nature as kindly and well-intentioned as they can afford to be, and are conditioned by their current comfort and complacency to expect to be reciprocated…

Stan Konwiser
Stan Konwiser
19 days ago

The author ignores the ‘why’ of migration. Things ARE greener across the border because Western Values have made them so. Controlled (not blocked) immigration is needed to preserve the existence of those Western Values benefits.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
19 days ago
Reply to  Stan Konwiser

Most definitely! Thank you for stating that.

Point of Information
Point of Information
19 days ago

Hirsi Ali’s argument that (native) community rights should trump (non-native) indivuduals’ rights, because the individuals within the community will be adversely affected, is circular.

Ultimately this argument only works if you assign greater importance to the rights of the individuals of the (native) community than to (external) individuals.

It is a tribalist – not to say discreetly identitarian (usually a fault of the Left) – argument. “In” people matter more than “out” people.

The 20th century and 21st centuries have seen inequality rise to a level unmatched in history (far more under globalisation than ever under colonialism) via the transfer of wealth across borders.

If an individual in, say, the UK, has the right to hold a pension fund that invests in, say, a cobalt mine in DRC, then why should a person in the DRC not have the right to try to improve their lot with the same disregard for national borders.

The argument against borders is about human freedom (I’m not arguing for state benefits or against integration, these are “community” decisions) to try to achieve the best for oneself.

Otherwise liberals (those on the Left and Right who believe that they believe in freedom and oppose statism) are fighting for freedom of speech, thought and self-determination for some of the human race and none of the above for others.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
19 days ago

This statement remains as true today as it was the first time that it was uttered: you cannot have open borders AND a welfare state. Pick one because the two are incompatible, as the West is learning the hard way.
In the great immigration waves of the 20th century, there was no safety net. There were relatives and friends from the old country who would provide temporary shelter until the newcomers could get on their feet. The idea of those immigrants complaining about free food and lodging in four- and five-star hotels would have been incomprehensible.
Beyond that, we sometimes overlook that immigration must first and foremost benefit the host country, not the immigrant. The folly of failing to recognize that basic truth is playing out in real time across multiple American cities, in the UK, and in other parts of Europe. The equation is complicated by the wholesale importation of people who are ignorant of of hostile to the local norms and culture.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
19 days ago

What a great article. It spelled out very simply what is wrong with the open borders argument and anticipated one or two likely objections from open borders advocates. Terrific stuff.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
19 days ago
Reply to  Keith Merrick

What is wrong with the open borders argument is that it doesn’t exist. Nor do open borders advocates.
Here’s a tip for you, Andy – stop watching Fox New and get outside for a bit. Will do you the word of good…

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago

If “open borders” do not exist then there’s no need to defend something that doesn’t exist is there.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
19 days ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Try reading it again, sport. See if you can follow along..

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago

Still no point defending an argument against something that doesn’t exist and no one is advocating for.

So you don’t believe in open borders then… you racist.

Go on Champs, prove to me you are not a racist.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
19 days ago
Reply to  Andrew R

This is some authentic frontier gibberish! Marvelous!
“Champs”?!?!?

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago

So you are a racist then, it’s ok I won’t tell anyone.

Dr E C
Dr E C
19 days ago

I personally know about 50 open borders advocates in my immediate academic circles & hundreds more among students & former students. I’m afraid you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
19 days ago
Reply to  Dr E C

Academics? No doubt some of them have been published on the subject and you can direct us to where they support open borders.
I’ve never heard anyone advocate for open borders. You must move in very liberal circles!

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago

Racist

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

The policy of immigration….one that works to protect and build the nation being governed, is very straightforward. The torture comes from corrupt traitorous governments that have conspired to engage in 21st century human trafficking dressed up as “immigration”. It is an obvious multi-national conspiracy by so-called leaders who believe they are better off importing new peons to dilute the uppity citizens who mistakenly gave these scumbags power.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
19 days ago

There are no open borders advocates or policies.
Grifters like Ayaan Hirsi Ali make a pretty good living out of scaring the rubes with this kind of nonsense. And you suckers fall for it every single time!

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago

Good to hear that you approve whole heartedly of human suffering but that’s only natural. All Left wing ideology leads to social collapse and the death of millions of people.

Nice work comrade

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
19 days ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Oh goodie! We’ve got a live one here!
Where, exactly did I say that I “approve whole heartedly of human suffering”?
Or, like the author of this article, are you just making up silly things that you would like to be true but, as is obvious to anyone with a brain, are total rubbish?

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago

Yeah, I know you didn’t. It’s fun making childish comments and stuff up isn’t it. You do it all the time on here kiddo. Now go on, genius tell us why it’s rubbish… what’s that, you can’t. Oh well, nevermind just carry on being the ignorant and obnoxious individual you are.

Cheers!

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
19 days ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Have you considered a remedial punctuation class? Either don’t use it at all or use it correctly. Your approach makes you look completely mental.
Now, was there a question for me in there? Tell you why this open borders policy is rubbish? That’s an easy one! Its rubbish because it does not exist.
Let me know what part of that you don’t understand.

Andrew R
Andrew R
19 days ago

Why is the article rubbish, other than you saying it’s rubbish. You can’t because you are stupid .

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
19 days ago

The problem is the people pushing these policies never suffer the consequences. The affluent and the elites simply move to ‘safe’ neighborhoods and gated communities. They benefit from depressed wages among low skill workers and feel better about themselves, while the domestic working class watches wages stagnate and workplace standards deteriorate in a world where employees are easily replaced by importing new ones, who by the way are dependent upon their employers and employment for whatever lifestyle improvements they gain over their countries of origin.
The driving force of immigration is not the immigrants. They are by and large the poorest of the poor wherever they came from who have no personal power or wealth to speak of. The driving force is a corporate culture that has emphasized profit and economic efficiency to the exclusion of nearly every other human concern. Ms. Hirsi Ali speaks of an open borders ideology based on the notion of free movement and the privileged position of western societies and suggests those pushing for open borders do so out of some ideal of human equality. I don’t give them that much credit. Certainly that ideology does exist, and it is often used by elites and politicians, but I wonder how serious any of them are about it. I wonder how many of them actually believe it and how many simply talk like they do while knowing at the back of their mind that immigration benefits them personally and disadvantages those ‘other’, uneducated people who they don’t much like anyway.
She mentions self-determination and that’s a good point because part of the reason the west enjoyed a period of relative stability following the World Wars was because they had already resolved their issues of national self-determination through extensive violence, both organized and unorganized. People aren’t passive actors who can be ordered about like ants. If they can’t affect their rights to self-determination through elected governments and laws, they’ll do so informally, through the same methods humanity has used through most of it’s history, that is low level tribal violence and the enforcement of group identities. The author uses Lebanon as an example. The former Yugoslavia is another.
That’s what the elites don’t seem to get. There is no scenario where humanity ceases to be tribal in any way. There’s no path from where we are now, or anywhere, that ends with one big happy planet and everybody getting along. That’s simply not possible the way a perpetual motion machine is impossible or the way time travel is impossible. The attempt to do so would end up looking like some dystopia where the government is simply a formalized veneer and the real power is exercised through informal organizations, perhaps local governments or organized crime. Put simply, if the US is already a ‘low trust’ society, then a truly globalized society would be the ultimate ‘low trust’ society, an absolute minimum trust society. I don’t know what that would look like and I don’t want to know. I doubt even the elites would win in such a scenario. They’d be beleaguered and hated everywhere, wholly dependent on military power, and constantly spending time and effort putting out fires. It would never end.
Fortunately, I don’t think it will come to that. If populists movements don’t check the power of globalist elites, a return to a multipolar geopolitical situation certainly will. China isn’t going to stop using its economy as a weapon of their government, and at this point they have enough economic power that rivals can’t simply let it go. The US and others will be forced to view their own economic policies in terms of national security and geopolitical power. They’ll be forced to use their own countermeasures, which will begin to fracture the global economy. We’re already in the early stages of it, and I doubt there’s anything anyone can do to stop it now. As much as the author and others wring their hands over current levels of migration, I suspect what we’re witnessing is simply the last gasp and the final push of globalism before the competition really gets started.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
15 days ago

Why is this article difficult to understand by me, an English speaking tertiary educated individual ?, long words are not a substitute for clarity. However I get an inkling of scholarship today, a type of academic word salad written in the passive voice. All this article says at immense length is that if you open your borders completely your society will be destroyed and we will have a Lebanon which if you don’t have gun, anybody can take your house, steal your car and with a gun to your head, obtain the passwords to your bank account. Can you imagine.women’s rights living in an Afghani neighbourhood? Laughable