Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Has the Left in Britain Finally Turned against Open Borders?

See these articles:
Rob Merrick, “Jeremy Corbyn’s relaunch dubbed ‘day of chaos’ after climbdowns on immigration and high pay,” Independent, 11 January 2017.

Anushka Asthana, “Corbyn on Brexit: UK can be better off out of the EU,” The Guardian, 10 January 2017.

Paul Mason, “We can Escape Brexit Doom with one Small Tweak to Free Movement,” The Guardian, 17 January 2017.
In short, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech in Peterborough in which he stated that Labour was not “wedded to free movement” of people – but then seemed to backtrack and leave everyone in a state of confusion over what Labour’s policy really is.

See a recent interview of Corbyn here from 13.44:

Even now Jeremy Corbyn seems wedded to the dying European Union as some idealistic institution, when the EU is the most dangerous force to the economies and social cohesion of Europe. But I predict the EU will be dead in a few years, and Britain should demand an end to free movement and reject all attempts to impose it from Brussels.

Curiously, in contrast to Corbyn’s confusing stances, Paul Mason in a Guardian article here does call for an end to free movement.
There are some truly remarkable developments in this Guardian article: Mason can say that “Labour has recognised that free movement is not a basic principle of socialism.” If we are talking about the non-Marxist socialist, Social Democratic parties and trade union movements, this is true.

This is precisely what I said here and here.

Mason also says that:
“Free movement does not just suppress wage growth at the low end. It says to people with strong cultural traditions, a strong sense of place and community (sometimes all they have left from the industrial era) that ‘your past does not matter’. It promotes the ideal worker as a rootless person with no attachment to place or community, and with limited political rights; whose citizenship resides in their ability to work alone. In case you haven’t noticed, shouting, ‘Don’t be racist!’ at the Labour voters who backed Brexit, isn’t working. That’s because most of them are not racist.”
Paul Mason, “We can Escape Brexit Doom with one Small Tweak to Free Movement,” The Guardian, 17 January 2017.
Well, indeed. But we need to go further than this: our culture and social cohesion matter a great deal, and we in the West cannot continue this mad, failed experiment in open borders and multiculturalism.

This is, more or less, precisely what the ex-Marxist Bob Rowthorn said years ago as I noted here.

But until recently anybody saying that culture matters and mass immigration is bad for social cohesion would have been viciously condemned as a “racist” or “xenophobe” by hordes of smug liberals and cultural leftists.

How times are changing.

In reality, the cultural leftists and Marxist internationalists demanding open borders and huge mass immigration are deranged cultists who do not speak for the majority of the people nor for the working class. These leftists are – whether they know it or not – sinister allies of the worst aspects of the failed ideology of neoliberal capitalism.

The cultural leftists and Marxists make the same demand made by libertarians and free market fanatics: they want a world of free movement of people, which is the logical free market corollary of free movement of capital and free trade in goods.

However, if we look at the past of the (non-internationalist, non-Marxist) Left, we can see that hostility to open borders and mass immigration has a long and very strong history before the 1960s (again, see here). I have no doubt that the Old (non-Marxist) Left would have understood the dangers of capitalist open borders and the reality that people need social cohesion, and that they – including the working class – have national and cultural feelings that are undermined by mass immigration of people with different and incompatible cultures.


  1. Mason's articles is a mush of concepts and complications trying to pretend that they are addressing Open Borders without actually doing so. It's just another exercise in triangulation.

    An awful lot of his recent article have had this 'man struggling with his religion in the face of reality' feel to them. Full of complicated ruses to try and square the circle.

    For me the standout comment I linked to on twitter describes the situation beautifully. The EU is no Garden of Eden. It is Purgatory in disguise.

  2. Hey LK - You're not reporting on this?


  3. The problem with the EU is not just open borders. It is the whole single market project as I outline here. The single market is a neoliberal concept that threatens the minimum wage, the NHS, and our ability to raise the necessary taxes required to fund our public services. It facilitates tax avoidance and has also failed to deliver the promised economic growth as I have highlighted here.

    1. "and our ability to raise the necessary taxes required to fund our public services"

      Once again for the Queen.

      Taxes have *nothing* to do with public services. Taxes are simply a natural consequence of the spending chain starting when government decides to buy something.

      You have your cause and effect backwards.

    2. Surely taxes function as collateral for borrowing to fund public works at least?

      If taxes don't fund public services how can we justify a progressive taxation system?

  4. If you haven't seen this already, check out this very interesting article on the 'poverty reduction' narrative: