Advertise On EU-Digest

Annual Advertising Rates


EU: Inconvenient Truths About Migration- by Robert Skidels

Sociology, anthropology, and history have been making large inroads into the debate on immigration. It seems that Homo economicus, who lives for bread alone, has given way to someone for whom a sense of belonging is at least as important as eating.

This makes one doubt that hostility to mass immigration is simply a protest against job losses, depressed wages, and growing inequality. Economics has certainly played a part in the upsurge of identity politics, but the crisis of identity will not be expunged by economic reforms alone. Economic welfare is not the same as social wellbeing

Liberal over-optimism about the ease of integrating migrants stems from the same source: if society is no more than a collection of individuals, integration is a non-issue. Of course, says Goodhart, immigrants do not have to abandon their traditions completely, but “there is such a thing as society,” and if they make no effort to join it, native citizens will find it hard to consider them part of the “imagined community.”

A too-rapid inflow of immigrants weakens bonds of solidarity, and, in the long run, erodes the affective ties required to sustain the welfare state. “People will always favor their own families and communities,” Goodhart argues, and “it is the task of a realistic liberalism to strive for a definition of community that is wide enough to include people from many different backgrounds, without being so wide as to become meaningless.”

Economic and political liberals are bedfellows in championing unrestricted immigration. Economic liberals view national frontiers as irrational obstacles to the global integration of markets. Many political liberals regard nation-states and the loyalties they inspire as obstacles to the wider political integration of humanity. Both appeal to moral obligations that stretch far beyond nations’ cultural and physical boundaries.

At issue is the oldest debate in the social sciences. Can communities be created by politics and markets, or do they presuppose a prior sense of belonging?

It seems to me that anyone who thinks about such matters is bound to agree with Goodhart that citizenship, for most people, is something they are born into. Values are grown from a specific history and geography.

If the make-up of a community is changed too fast, it cuts people adrift from their own history, rendering them rootless. Liberals’ anxiety not to appear racist hides these truths from them. An explosion of what is now called populism is the inevitable result.

Read more: Inconvenient Truths About Migration

No comments: