Unfortunately, people in Sweden and throughout the EU have failed to realise that the evidence is strong that most of the migrants coming into Europe this year are not genuine refugees, but merely economic migrants. Europe cannot take in 1 million or 1.5 million people a year for the foreseeable future when most of these people are economic migrants. You cannot stick your head in the sand and ignore realities.
In the European context, the policy of open borders, both within and into Europe, is one of the last bankrupt tenets of the neoliberal catastrophe that is the Eurozone and European Union.
First of all, which political ideology has historically been in favour of open borders immigration?
Surely you know the answer: libertarians, and especially the unhinged anarcho-capitalist libertarians. These crazy bastards love open borders partly because they hate the state and understand that open borders undermine the welfare state and the social democratic model for society.
Of course, some left-wing libertarians seem to support it too, but they are equally deluded. For the left anarchists, they seem to support open borders as part of their long-run model of human society as a federated, decentralised system of free associations. But this is incredibly naïve and utopian nonsense. For the moment, human beings are far too attached (whether rightly or wrongly) to their own languages, cultures, nation-states, traditions and interests for such a vision of society to be an effective system. In our present world, it is just an unhinged idea, for reasons we will see below.
Here is the primary reason why, if you are left-wing and in favour of a social democratic system, you should vehemently oppose open borders:
A social democratic government cannot effectively and efficiently engage in short-run or long-run planning and funding of public services and infrastructure if it has no control over its borders and has no idea how many people will enter its country in any given year or in the long run.It’s that simple. A government has finite resources and needs to engage in planning to provide effective public services and infrastructure, such as universal health care, education, public housing, transport and welfare, etc. You can’t do this without the knowledge necessary to plan public services and infrastructure, and that knowledge requires good and reliable estimates of future population.
What is a humane, sensible and general left-wing policy on borders and mass immigration? It is as follows:
(1) it would not oppose immigration per se, nor a country taking in its fair and reasonable share of refugees in desperate need.A new left-wing, anti-open borders camp should proudly stand up and defend its position. Its view is different from that of certain sectors of the anti-immigration far right, where genuine and irrational xenophobia or bigotry can be found.
(2) it would not oppose controlled immigration of a reasonable number of economic migrants, if this can be justified on economic or social grounds, e.g., a skilled labour shortage. But here you have to very careful about the West “brain-draining” the developing world. What good does it do to suck in vast amounts of talented and skilled labour from the developing world? This policy just contributes to preventing development in the third world.
(3) however, the left ought to be well aware that huge mass immigration in many circumstances will tend to lower or hold down real wages.
(4) the left should oppose endless mass immigration that simply provides big business a club with which to smash trade unions and organised labour. This will polarise working class communities and tend to contribute to the already serious issue of wages not rising in line with productivity growth.
(5) the left should recognise, as we have said above, that a government cannot effectively and efficiently engage in short-run or long-run planning and funding of public services and infrastructure if it has no control over its borders and has no idea how many people will enter its country in any given year or in the long run.
(6) the left should recognise the fact that unending mass immigration is partly based on an extreme and foolish cultural relativism that comes right out of Postmodernism. More cultural diversity is not necessarily a good thing for your society, if this means more extreme religious fundamentalism, parallel legal systems and the introduction of values that radically conflict with the core values of a secular Western society (e.g., gender segregation, homophobia, female genital mutilation, misogyny, etc.).
(7) in the special European context, there are more and more urgent security issues within Europe that are so obviously related to the open door borders policy.
(8) finally the left should recognise the fact that unending mass immigration will tend to cause severe issues related to urban overpopulation, supply of housing and cost of rent.
The reasons above I have listed for opposing open borders and mass immigration are compassionate, humane, sensible and intelligent. An opposition to open borders is a fundamental way in which a decent and compassionate left-wing government would look after its citizens – no matter what their race or ethnic origin.
Finally, what is the solution to the problem of global inequality? The solution is radical reform of global international institutions like the World Bank, the IMF and World Trade Organisation. A reformed global reserve currency along the lines suggested in Post Keynesian economics is needed. For those countries with large enough economies, what is needed is a space for import-substitution industrialisation and industrial policy.
If necessary, the industrialised world should directly pay for basic infrastructure projects in the developing world (e.g., sewage, clean water, education and health care) and even subsidise the transferal to the developing world of the technology and capital goods they need to build modern industrialised societies. Radically reform the outrageous and hideous corporate intellectual property rights regimes that have been a hallmark of neoliberalism for the past 30 years (e.g., concerning drugs and pharmaceuticals).
Only these solutions can allow the developing world to escape its poverty and lack of development.