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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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Bill,
Excellent points. There is another serious problem with Huemer's argument. For the argument to be valid premise (2) must be taken to mean that

(2) the U.S. government, in restricting immigration, knowingly and coercively imposes severe harms on millions of potential immigrants.

This is ludicrous but suppose it were true. Still, it could also be true that


(2*) the U.S. government, in NOT restricting immigration far more than it does, knowingly and coercively imposes severe harms on millions of Americans.

In other words, Huemer is so bigoted (so anti-American, so pro-immigrant) that it doesn't even occur to him to consider whether the (supposed) harms done to potential immigrants in restricting immigration to some degree might be offset and justified by the prevention of comparable harms to other people. He simply asserts that the US government has no good reason for (supposedly) harming potential immigrants; as far as I know he makes no effort to look into the harms that Americans or others in host countries may suffer as a result of immigration.

So far my point is that 2* could be true, and therefore the argument fails unless we may reasonably assume that it's not actually true. But in fact we KNOW that 2* is true, or we can easily know it by looking into things like

(i) how much violent crime is committed by immigrants, legal and illegal;
(ii) how their rates of violent crime compare with those of non-immigrants;
(iii) how the presence of immigrants from specific places, such as Somalia or Mexico or Albania or Romania (etc.) tends to affect the quality of life for non-immigrants in important ways (e.g., health care, education, infrastructure, taxes...)
(iv) how the political and religious beliefs and group interests of many immigrant groups will affect the political autonomy of non-immigrant communities ... and so on -- clearly there are many, many things to consider here. I am not even considering the crushing economic costs and burdens, e.g., Americans being taxed to pay for Somali-Bantus with Stone Age customs to be resettled in Maine in huge numbers, to pay for social services and health care and translators and child-care, etc. With money that could have been used to help their own children or the poorest members of their own communities. But never mind that.

If we take into account just one or two of these things, it's clear that many MILLIONS of people have been very seriously physically harmed by their governments' failure to restrict immigration: millions of women in recent decades have been raped, tortured and abused by immigrants; millions of people murdered, robbed, cheated by immigrants. Millions more have been victimized by non-immigrant criminals whose criminality is partly caused by the criminal behaviors and criminal cultures that many immigrants bring with them. Latin American immigrants to the US bring gangs and violence and human trafficking. Rotherham is just one example that finally got a bit of media attention after decades of systematic rape, torture and sexual enslavement of THOUSANDS of British girls by gangs of Muslim criminals. Same in Scandinavia; most rapes are committed by immigrants. Immigrants from Somalia and Jamaica bring murder and chaos and all-round social pathology wherever they go. How many Americans have been killed by drunk driving immigrants? How many Europeans have now been killed by terrorist immigrants, and how many would be killed if Europeans had the totally open borders Huemer would like? (I guess we may find out, since the European response to immigrant mass murder is apparently to invite even more immigrants from the very same culture and region.)

It's very obvious that real Americans are *massively* worse off as a result of mass immigration from Mexico and other backwards and incompatible cultures; it's almost impossible to identify even ONE serious substantive benefit that immigration holds for them. (I hasten to add that this is not true of *all* groups currently immigrating to the US; I am speaking of the net effects of the current kind of immigration.)

And the US government, like other 'western' governments, knowingly chooses to inflict this reign of terror and mayhem and violence and cultural degradation on its citizens. Even if we take a strictly (excessively) impartial view of this situation, it is very doubtful that the harms involved in restrictive immigration policies are *greater* than the harms involved in non-restrictive or less restrictive policies.


"property rights of the U.S"
This would need elaboration. Is the territory of U.S. a "property" of the U.S? or the people of U.S? or the Govt of U.S?

Or a national territory not a "property" in the sense individuals have properties within a national territory.

1) A property is a rightful claim. It is a right, a moral right and thus something that can be defended through arguments, of the kind usually made in law courts.
2) A territorial claim is justified by brute force.

There is no law court that could adjudicate between two nations regarding their respective territorial claims. Thus, with Locke, we say that the nations exist in the state of nature.
But individuals exist in a state of law. And property is something that makes sense only in a state of law. For, property is secured by arguments.

So, I would deny about the "property rights of US".
Property claims are usually justified by a mixing of labor with an unowned resource. But who can decide how much labor needs to be mixed with what resource? That needs a social consensus and this is precisely why the nations exist. They provide the required social consensus - the rule of law- in which ownership can exist.

Jacques,

Blisteringly on target. Thanks. But given your talk of MILLIONS of women raped, etc. I would have liked to see some sourcing.

Apart from quibbles over numbers, you are right. One has to consider the net benefit of immigration. For example, what is the net benefit of Muslim immigration? Immigrants bring their culture with them, and the U. S., to take one example, doesn't need people who have been brought up to believe that Sharia trumps the U. S. constitution.

It is especially important to curtail this immigration given how lax we have become in the enforcing of laws and the exacting of just punishment. Why is that Tsarnaev scumbag still alive? And the Fort Hood shooter whose terrorist acts Obama dismissed as "work place violence"? Why hasn't he been executed? Hasan, not Obama. Just to be clear and not to given anybody any ideas.

>>It's very obvious that real Americans are *massively* worse off as a result of mass immigration from Mexico and other backwards and incompatible cultures; it's almost impossible to identify even ONE serious substantive benefit that immigration holds for them.<<

I think you are overstating your case. Would it not be better to say that there is no net benefit to legal and illegal immigration from these backward countries with cultures incompatible with our own?

Not ONE substantive benefit?

There's a libertarian name of John Stossel. He talks a lot of sense, but then he will say something like, "open the borders and let 'em in!" How can someone so smart suddenly become so stupid?

How would you explain this?

Bill,

I grant that Huemer's argument is dubious as it stands.

But it can be supplemented by good replies to your and Jacques's objections. In fact, Huemer himself provides some, in his paper "Is There a Right to Immigrate?" (2010).

Huemer's friend economist Bryan Caplan provides many more. He has argued persuasively, and in detail, that the goods of more open borders would swamp the evils. Check his 2012 paper: econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/pdfs/whyimmigration.pdf

That being said, if you read you'll perhaps say to yourself that Caplan is ignoring the specifics of Muslim immigration. But even then you'll also see how his argument might be adapted against that sort of worry.

I also highly recommend Caplan's debate at mediasite.northwood.edu/Mediasite/Play/da4e536f404d4037a2859c815d3d226b1d

Bill, I agree with your conclusion and was also going to make some of the points that I see that Jacques has already made in his comment concerning the great costs that people of a nation bear in accepting various immigrant populations. But while I think that the crime and economic costs that Jacques refers to are very important considerations, I would like to add that the cultural damage is also tremendous and must be taken into account. An important aspect of well-being is having a culture (just like having a family is important for well-being). Not recognizing this is not only a colossal failure of libertarianism , but classical liberalism as well, which extends to American "conservatism". And much of what we are seeing in the western world today is a result of this fundamental error and blind spot in political thinking. It's no coincidence that no politician or political party in America can even articulate the point about culture that I'm getting at here. It's not that they are afraid to. They just don't even think of it. That is part of the political legacy of classic liberalism.

Human beings are not autonomous, disconnected, individuals, but deeply social beings. To live with neighbors and citizens of your country who are part of your _nation_ - a large group of people who share things like language, a history, a vision of the future, and an important set of values - is a fundamental good. Mass immigration destroys this. I would go as far as to suggest that the deprivation of this good caused by mass immigration is so great that it bars the permissibility of mass immigration _even if that immigration imposed no extra criminal or economic costs_. Imagine, e.g., a hundred million peaceful, economically self-sufficient Muslims coming here. Further suppose that, even though they commit no more crimes than whites and require no more tax-payer-funded programs for food, housing, etc., they don't assimilate and persist in their attempts to turn our culture more Muslim (e.g., getting alcohol banned, making women cover up, having loudspeakers everywhere blaring their calls to prayer, etc.). It seems to me that this in itself is a sufficient reason to disallow their emigration. Do you guys agree with my position?

Bill,
You're right that I was going a bit too far, but I'm not sure the problem was overstating the relevant numbers -- millions of rapes, or not even one substantive benefit. I should have been more precise in characterizing these numerical claims, and I should have toned down their epistemic force.

Since western governments have opened their borders, over the past 50 years or so, huge numbers of native women have been raped and otherwise abused by these new immigrants and their descendants. Bad immigration can also have effects on natives, raising their rates of criminality and general dysfunction; so we should consider that too; some rapes committed by natives are partly caused by the general cultural decline and pathology caused by bad immigration. It is (at least) reasonable to believe that when we add up all of these cases the number of victims will be over a million in the US during that time. (Especially since, as feminists like to stress, many rapes and other kinds of sexual assault or abuse go unreported.)

When we add those kinds of harms to others, such as assault and murder and mugging, drunk driving incidents and terrorism, we are very likely to get millions of native/citizen victims in recent decades. But, it has to be admitted, we are not able to calculate these numbers with great precision, partly because of the inherent difficulties in this kind of estimate and partly because governments and media do all they can to conceal and distort the facts.

In any case, I should have just pointed out that when we take into account ALL of the ways in which natives and citizens have been seriously harmed by current immigration policies -- physically, psychologically, culturally, economically, politically -- the total harm to them is far greater and far more obviously a species of serious harm than the 'harms' to which Huemer is appealing.

As for benefits, my claim was unclear. I have friends who are immigrants, or children of immigrants, and their presence in my country has many substantive benefits to me. Friendship, for example. What I meant was something like this:

"For any substantive good G, and natives of western country C, the bad immigration that has been imposed on C in recent decades either (i) does nothing to provide those natives as a group with G or else (ii) whatever it may do to provide them with G could or would also have been provided, at an equal or lesser cost, without the bad immigration."

Education is a substantive good. Obviously the presence of huge numbers of backwards or unassimilable or hostile immigrants in western schools does not help western children get an education. (I lived through this kind of thing myself, to some extent.) Meaningful secure employment is a substantive good. The never-ending flow of cheap labor, much of it illegal, does nothing to help natives and current citizens find meaningful secure employment. Cultural belonging and the proper development and flourishing of a unique human culture is another substantive good; again it would be absurd to imagine that flooding your country with an arbitrary assortment of people who barely speak your language and are indifferent, at best, to your traditions and norms will help you to realize this good.

Maybe there is some substantive good that natives enjoy as a result of this mess, which they couldn't have enjoyed otherwise, but I am unable to imagine what it might be. And apparently the media and elites are also unable to come up with anything halfway plausible. Otherwise, they would surely tell us about it; instead they are forced to resort to transparently dishonest garbage about "diversity" and "vibrancy" and "openness" and the like. Or else they just point to all the new restaurants.

Incidentally, it's interesting to consider this issue from the perspective of Huemer's own epistemology. Suppose I agree with his principle of 'phenomenal conservatism', and apply it as follows:

"It seems to me that a certain proposition is true:

(HARM) The US government's failure to impose radical new restrictions on immigration is causing serious harm to millions of American citizens.

But, (PC) if it seems to me that some proposition p is true, and I believe that p because p seems to me to be true, then, absent defeaters, I am justified in believing p.

Nothing is a defeater for my belief in HARM.

I believe HARM because it seems to me that HARM is true.

Therefore, I am justified in believing HARM.

Therefore (given other claims that Huemer accepts) I am justified in believing that it is morally wrong for the US government to fail to impose radical new restrictions on immigration."

Huemer is committed to allowing that this reasoning is sound, provided merely that I have no defeater for my belief in HARM. So if he would say the reasoning is not sound, he must claim that I have a defeater; but what could that be? What reason could I possibly have for thinking that HARM is not true, or that the relevant appearance or impression of its truth was generated in some epistemically faulty fashion? (I guess he could just say that I am a mentally unstable racist or xenophobe, or something like that.)

But if he would admit that my reasoning here is sound, he would be in a strange epistemic situation: he'd have to say that some of his opponents, like me, are fully justified in rejecting his argument for open borders. No less justified than he is in accepting it. And also that those opponents can know that they are fully justified, once they realize that his principle of phenomenal conservatism is true. But then what is the point of the argument? To convince those opponents whose opposition is not based, even in part, on some such appeal to the appearance that HARM is true? I doubt that he has any such opponents; whatever other reasons one might have for restrictions, surely one reason is just that it so plainly seems that current immigration policy is massively harmful to Americans and other westerners.

Thanks, Vlastimil.

Here is a paper by Bryan Caplan: http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/2012/1/cj32n1-2.pdfpaper

Jacques and Anon: what would you say in response?

Anon:

Excellent comments! You touch on something that bothers me too: libertarians cannot seem to think in cultural terms, but only in economic terms. To put it bluntly: what gives Mexicans or Muslims the right to change our culture? They don't come here to assimilate and become Americans, but for economic reasons.

You do a good eloquent job of pointing this out. But then you say

>>An important aspect of well-being is having a culture (just like having a family is important for well-being). Not recognizing this is not only a colossal failure of libertarianism , but classical liberalism as well, which extends to American "conservatism".<<

The last clause is a mistake. What makes you think that American conservatives share in the error of the libertarians/classical liberals? Many of us American conservatives are conservatives and not libertarians in large part because we reject the colossal failure you point out.

Hi Bill,
That link doesn't work for me, but I did check out Caplan's paper "Why Should We Restrict Immigration?", which Vlastimil recommends above. I'm familiar enough with Caplan. I can only assume that he is very stupid -- despite no doubt having a high IQ -- or he has a hidden agenda. Anyway I don't see that anything in this paper, at least, rebuts any serious restrictionist argument from crime or violence or cultural destruction.

Perhaps I haven't read his paper carefully enough, but I don't see that Caplan offers any kind of estimate of the amount of violence and crime that natives have suffered at the hands of immigrants. I don't see that he offers any argument against my (reasonable) hypothesis that there must have been millions of victims in the last decades. He addresses concerns about wages and property rights, etc., but seems to make no mention of rape, murder, terrorism, etc. Maybe Vlastimil wanted us to look at a different paper? (Please let it be a paper. I can't bear to listen to him talk; forgive me for not watching the video of his debate with someone :))


He addresses other harms to natives only in a superficial fashion. One example: he points out that 'overall' wages are not depressed by immigration, at present, because most Americans are not 'low-skilled' workers. And *that* is supposed to counter the argument from economic harm? First of all, the non-majority of Americans who *are* low-skilled workers (i.e., poor people) are the ones who will suffer most from losing their jobs, insecurity, etc. But secondly, if we were to have MORE immigration, as he wants, there would be even more wage depression for even more Americans. There are a zillion things he's ignoring here. Hard to know where to begin. But set aside wonkish debates like this that can go on forever. Visit the places where Mexicans are settling and taking over in the southwest. Do these look like the kinds of places or people who are going to build a successful first-world economy? One that is better, or at least not seriously worse, than the economy Americans took for granted in the past? Come on.

He says that "vaguer cultural complaints" -- about things other than language -- are "harder to evaluate" (12). Then goes on to make a quick, facile argument about restaurants (of course) and another facile argument appealing to the correlation between percentage of foreign-born and culture (NY and California). This barely deserves discussion. The whole western world is now full of filthy, dangerous, over-crowded, ugly places where immigrants live; visit any major city and you will find these places. Of course the particular style of filth and vulgarity or semi-criminality is 'diverse'. Besides, even Bryan Caplan can't be so naive as to think that the cultural contributions of New Yorkers are coming from Guatemalan illegals or Somalians or whatever. New York is a 'cultural capital' because of its WASPS and Jews and Italians, etc. And anyway here 'culture' is something relatively superficial. We're trying to talk about western civilization, and Caplan is thinking of the opera and the Blue Note and the Met, or whatever. He's just not a serious thinker.

Caplan sounds like an alien from outer space who is trying to engage with human phenomenology. At best, he has a few wonky and dubious technical arguments -- "Studies have shown..." -- that can be countered by similar wonky counter-arguments. Plus he is so politically correct that he just ignores crucial possibilities. He doesn't even consider the possibility that Haiti -- Haiti! -- might be such a "terrible" place because of deeply ingrained qualities of Haitians, and that admitting Haitians in huge numbers to America might mean bringing all of that "terrible" stuff to America. (This is already happening, of course, wherever they are admitted.) He just doesn't even consider it. A Haitian is just a human. So is a Dane or Korean. Just rights-bearing humans seeking equality and freedom.

Thanks, Bill. I don't think we really have much of a disagreement here. I agree that there are some conservatives who are attuned to the point about culture that I was making. But it doesn't have a very prominent place in American conservatism, which is why, e.g., you don't see any of the "conservative" candidates articulating the point. I think the reason for this runs fairly deep. American conservatism is pretty much just the conservation of classic liberalism because that's what the idea of America pretty much was. There is no real explicit political tradition in America that recognizes a dimension of value beyond the kind of individual freedom championed in classic liberalism and enshrined in our founding documents. Culture is a vaguely and intuitively recognized good, but even most conservatives do not have the conceptual tools or words to explain why and how. And you see this when, e.g., people like Marco Rubio say that immigrant workers will be assimilated because they will be paying taxes, or when Donald Trump's only argument against immigration seems to be concerns about crime.

I read a bunch of the Caplan paper that I think you were linking to. I'm not an economist and I don't want to overstep my boundaries, but the claim that unrestricted labor migration would not lower wages for skilled workers along with unskilled workers (who the libertarians concede would be negatively affected) strikes me as bullshit. Aren't we now hearing stories about how companies (e.g., Disney) are already replacing skilled software employees with foreign workers so that they can pay less? Why wouldn't they?

And the lack of any awareness of the real world practicalities of these proposals is comical. Caplan proposes, e.g., a tax on immigrants to compensate low-skill American workers who are displaced. Yeah, right. I can see the "immigrant tax" being readily embraced in a culture that is obsessed with giving every possible advantage to non-whites and hyper vigilant for the slightest signs of "inequality" or "racism". Caplan lives in a pointy-head, libertarian fantasy world.

And when it comes to the concerns about culture that I've expressed, Caplan doesn't even seem to understand what I'm talking about. He says:

"America’s top two cultural centers, California and New York, have the largest foreign-born populations in the country— 26 percent and 20 percent, respectively (U.S. Census Bureau 2003). While states with few immigrants—like Alabama (2 percent foreign-born), Arkansas (3 percent), Montana (2 percent), North Dakota (2 percent), South Dakota (2 percent), and West Virginia (1 percent)—enjoy great natural beauty, even their tourism bureaus would not paint them as cultural meccas."

Why would Caplan think that by 'American culture' people like me mean "whatever is going on in NYC or LA right now"? Is he really that socially and morally oblivious? Unfortunately, he and many of the these libertarians seem to be.

Amen to all of Anon's comments especially re conservatism and Caplan's bullshit!

"Caplan sounds like an alien from outer space who is trying to engage with human phenomenology."

Good one. Yes, the libertarians often strike me as autistic nerds who went from their childhood fantasy world of Dungeons and Dragons to an adult version that involves people and markets.

Bill,

You be the judge whether your commenters do justice to Caplan's paper.

One hint: Caplan is _not_ claiming that taxing immigrants to compensate low-skill American workers is, for a foreseeable future, a politically realistic scenario. His point is moral: the scenario would be morally better than the status quo.

Another hint: One might be for more immigration yet against Muslim or otherwise unusually violent immigration. Caplan does not state this option but it is compatible with his argument for more immigration.

I will not defend here Caplan any further. Not just because I don't have enough spare time. You be the judge whether your commenters promote the search for truth when they regard Caplan as stupid, as a bullshitter, and listening to him as unbearable.

Hi, Vlastimi. You seem to think that Jacques and I are being uncharitable or unfair to Caplan. But why should we take people like Caplan seriously when, first, they are arguing for positions that would obviously be disastrous if implemented. You seem to think that Caplan is only talking about some ideal, libertarian world. You say:

"Caplan is _not_ claiming that taxing immigrants to compensate low-skill American workers is, for a foreseeable future, a politically realistic scenario. His point is moral: the scenario would be morally better than the status quo."

But this is _not_ how Caplan is presenting any of this, is it? His position is not presented as an exercise in what the libertarian utopia would look like even though this is all totally unrealistic and unattainable. Did I miss the parts where he explains that, and tells us that we should, of course, never try to implement what he is saying because the results would be terrible? I don't recall that. Instead, I recall him citing various empirical studies to explain why it would really work out just fine.

Second, Caplan and other llibertarians really are morally blind to the cultural aspect of a country and the idea that it's morally permissible, and even required, to preserve and protect that culture.

Hi everyone,
Please forgive the super-long reply.

I would have replied to Vlastimil but I gather that he's bowing out. He had just "enough spare time" to allude to certain "good replies" and "persuasive" arguments of Caplan's, and enough to offer some "hints" as to the nature of these arguments, but not quite enough time to say what exactly these arguments are (or even where in Caplan's paper they can be found). But I figure it's worth responding in case others are interested.

First consider my original point about serious violence and harm. Remember the dialectical situation: I claimed that immigration causes massive physical harm to western people, and Vlastimil then referred us to Caplan for "good replies to [Bill's] and Jacques' objections".

Where then is the reply to my objection? Where does Caplan counter my hypothesis that millions of western women have been raped as a result of immigration in the last 50 years? Where does he even address the issue of violence and crime? Looking over Caplan's paper, I find that these issues are simply IGNORED. Vlastimi has yet to address this point, which he himself introduced, except by a few mysterious "hints". Vlastimi, if you're still there, lay it out for me: the hints are over my head, so please just tell me explicitly what Caplan's "persuasive" reply is to my objection.

Who is it, then, who is not "doing justice" to the views of others? Caplan must know that anti-immigration sentiment is based partly on concerns about criminality and violence. If he doesn't know this, he is not competent to write a paper on the subject. And if he does know this, but chooses to ignore this crucial matter -- a matter of life and death for many people -- he shows a callous indifference to the vital interests of his fellow citizens. (At best that is what he shows.)

Though Caplan does pretend, at least, to address cultural issues, he is again IGNORING the most important aspects. Where does he address the arguments of Anon? Or Pat Buchanan or Jared Taylor or the French 'new right' or, for that matter, Edmund Burke? We can see with our own eyes the cultural devastation spreading throughout our countries. We can see areas of Paris and London that might as well be Islamabad, where real French or British people cannot even safely visit; we can see the American southwest being reduced to a colony of Mestizo peasants. Caplan just blithely tells us that it's "harder to evaluate" these things.

Again, who is it who is not "doing justice" to the ideas of others? Did Caplan read any of the serious restrictionist literature before writing his paper? (Did Vlastimil read the objections in this thread with any care before referring us to Caplan?)

Certainly if my only response to Caplan's writings had been to call him stupid, or call his arguments bullshit, that would be unfair. But bullshit does exist. Also, treason exists. Callous indifference to the lives and interests of western people exists. Hatred of the west and western peoples exists. Having read Caplan's stuff over the years, I formed the justified belief that he is either stupid or a callous and malicious bullshitter.

Frankly, it is a waste of time to read any of this wonky libertarian stuff about immigration.

You are bitten by a colorful snake. Five minutes later you notice an itchy rash on your face. An hour later your nose is turning black and oozing pus, you're going blind and you can't swallow. Your buddy Bryan Caplan is busy looking up studies about snakebites; so far he's found some really cool evidence that, in 78.3% of cases, snakebites have all kinds of benefits. Turns out they might help with your lactose intolerance! Look at this study: these guys lost their noses but they're really happy about that because now they can wear these cool new prosthetic noses. And hey, even if you do become totally blind, studies show that blind people are better at smelling and hearing than the rest of us. "But Bryan, my fucking nose is rotting off my face! It hurts like hell and I don't want to lose my nose!"... "Hmm, well your claims about 'hurting' and 'rotting' are harder to evaluate than the facts about lactose intolerance. And it might be that you only want your nose so much because you have some irrational bias; besides, why are your wants so much more important than the interests of the many micro-organisms that are feeding on your wound? Maybe you should reconsider your selfish attitudes." In this story Bryan is not really your buddy, or if he is there is something terribly wrong with him.

We don't need more "studies" or wonky arguments about the precise percentages of this or that. Enough is enough. We can see our world being destroyed. If Bryan can't see that, or doesn't care, we should ignore him and do what we can to get others to ignore him too. An example of good intolerance, perhaps: it's criminal that Caplan has the megaphone, the tenured position, the media attention, etc. A sane, moral society would not *tolerate* someone like him occupying those positions in a time like this. Journals would not publish his wonky little papers; universities would *fire* him or set him to work in some field where his feeble bullshit wouldn't be so damaging to young minds. (At least I'd seriously consider such a policy in a time of civilizational crisis.) If we allow Caplan's wonky little "studies" and arguments into our discussion, we are never going to get around to *doing* anything; we won't even get to the point of admitting to ourselves that there is a terrible problem. There's always another "study", another little paper. At some point it's enough. Whose side is Bryan on? Whose side is Vlastimil on?

[P.S. -- The great Larry Auster once said something like this: "Christians say 'In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost", Muslims say 'Inshallah', and liberals say 'Studies have shown'".]

Anonymous,

Of course Caplan thinks we should implement his proposals, gradually. But he does not believe we shall be willing, in a foreseeable future, to implement his (conditional) proposal to tax immigrants in order to compensate low-skill native workers.

Culture? An easy word. But I don't know what you mean exactly. Anyway, wherever culture is so worthy that it swamps the needs of immigrants, it may well be preserved by restricting those sorts of immigration which are detrimental to it. I mean especially Muslim immigration.

"wherever culture is so worthy that it swamps the needs of immigrants, it may well be preserved by restricting those sorts of immigration which are detrimental to it"

Then here is a cultural argument against all current immigration:

(1) ALL large-scale immigration from non-traditional sources is massively detrimental to ALL western cultures. [A general rule: the distinctive culture of group G cannot flourish or even survive if some other group G* with a different culture is flooding into the land of the Gs in numbers so great that Gs will be a minority in their own land within decades. Can anyone seriously doubt this?]

(2)ALL western cultures, such as those of France or Ireland or America, are at least "worthy" enough that it is permissible to preserve them by restricting "those sorts of immigration which are detrimental" to those cultures. [By any rational standard, western cultures are at least as good and valuable, both for western peoples and also the whole of humanity, as any that have ever existed. And in addition, it is highly plausible that western cultures are radically superior in every important way to all of those currently being imported into the west by mass immigration.]

Therefore,

(3) ALL large-scale immigration to western nations from non-traditional sources should be immediately stopped.

Jacques,

At the top you speak of "all current immigration," but then in your conclusion you add the qualification "from non-traditional sources."

You have a plausible argument against immigration from non-trad sources, but not against all immigration. Or do you support the latter?

But you need to tone down your rhetoric. "Massively detrimental" will be hard to show in a manner that convinces. It is enough to say that large-scale immigration from non-trad sources offers no net benefit and exposes us to grave dangers, both cultural and 'existential' (getting blown to pieces for example). This is obvious when it comes to Muslim countries, which is not to say that some Muslims shouldn't be let in or that some Muslims would not make a contribution to our societies.

(2) is well-stated. The superiority of our culture is demonstrated by the fact that so many want to come here. We need walls to keep people out; commies need walls to keep people in.

Jacques, good points about Caplan. It's frustrating that the space of political views in academia is a vast majority of socialist type views with almost the entire remaining "opposition" being libertarians like Caplan. It does keep the discussion from ever getting serious about the problems that are destroying western civilization.

But your comments at the end raise a difficult and important question about free inquiry. How do free societies deal with free discussion and inquiry when it can end up just like it is in our society, where the views that we are discussing here about hugely important topics are relegated to the pages of a blog that would be considered a hate site by most academics, and all the views that get attention and influence the larger culture are destructive?

Hey Anon:

I go a kick out of this: >>the views that we are discussing here about hugely important topics are relegated to the pages of a blog that would be considered a hate site by most academics . . .<<

How could anyone who is half-way rational and half-way decent consider this a 'hate site'? If that would be the view of most academics, then the country, and the world, is doomed. Free speech and the pursuit of truth are dead.

Of course things may be much worse than this old man thinks, which is why I need you young guys to keep me informed.

As you have probably gathered, I don't tend towards cheery optimism. But I think a sober analysis of the situation is that the moral and political reasoning of the western world is rotted to the point where it really is not clear that there's any possible recovery of what currently stands. I think you can see this quite clearly in the all the recent "protests" (i.e., irrational mob aggression) at colleges and universities and the pandering and acceding reactions to them. The academic world is filled almost entirely with people who either agree with the mob or don't have the will or ability to stand up to them.

On the positive side, there are a few people out there like you and Jacques! It's good to talk with you guys just to confirm that I'm not insane.

>>The academic world is filled almost entirely with people who either agree with the mob or don't have the will or ability to stand up to them.<<

That's right. Mainly, people go along to get along. They are lemmings. They want to be liked, to fit in, to be accepted, and of course to keep their cushy jobs. The West has become soft and decadent and spineless.

People think that they can retreat into their private lives and everything will work out for them. Surely there are a lot of people in the universities, especially in the hard sciences, the schools of engineering, the business schools, and elsewhere who appreciate the absurdity of the PC statement I posted that is used as an indoctrination tool at UCLA and elsewhere. But they won't speak out from fear of the mob.

This is a bit of digression (feel free to ignore it) but, other than the empirical arguments (e.g. Caplan), libertarianism fails because (in most versions if I'm right; Nozick e.g. waffles on this issue) it grounds property rights, and other rights, ultimately in self-ownership. Self-ownership thesis: I own my body and myself.

See this website for one example: http://openborders.info/?s=self+ownership

But self-ownership can't be the ultimate ground of property rights or other rights for that matter, since I only have a reason to value you qua property if I already have reason to value you in the first place.

Regarding the academic world, consider some examples of what is becoming normal thinking in the university.

Admins and profs congratulate each other on finding ways to praise the contributions of students who don't understand how modus ponens works or who believe that World War II occurred before the French Revolution.

The following enthymematic arguments are regularly used by those who try to justify accepting poor assignments from students:

-- Everyone brings their own experiences and views to the class. Therefore, everyone's views are correct.

-- Everyone sees the world from a particular perspective. Therefore, no perspective is wrong.

-- Students are highly creative and original thinkers. Thus, even if their answers seem incorrect with regard to the facts, we must interpret them in a way that makes them correct.

-- We can't appear to be insensitive and intolerant. Thus, even if the student's paper is poor, we must find a way to praise it.

Too many admins and profs have given the academic authority to the "motley multitude" of students, believing it necessary to "produce whatever they praise". Given this belief, amazing absurdities become commonplace.

(Quotes are references to Plato's Republic, Book 6, 493 d)

Elliot,

You are in the trenches and you know whereof you speak. Is it really true that a majority of admins and profs these days use the arguments you have presented? I find it hard to believe.

And the rest of you: do you agree with Elliot?

It may be that my Bradleyan reclusivity has sheltered me from certain harsh and ugly realities.

Elliot,

You allude to the fact that it is the business model that is at the root of the abdication of authority on the parts of the admins and the profs. In exchange for an insanely high tuition, the latter give the students what they want, which is not an education, but a credential that parents and students foolishly think will secure for them what they really want, namely money and social status.

"And the rest of you: do you agree with Elliot?"

Yes, although I don't think they are consistent when these platitudes butt up against other conflicting values of the left. It seems to me that a large share are like most people in this regard; they really just don't care about logical consistency. They might see for a moment that there is an inconsistency in their thoughts, but it doesn't bother them and they don't dwell on it. "This inconsistency too shall pass."

Where I work, versions of these arguments, and others like them, are regularly articulated as academic dogma. The thinking behind these arguments actually drives grading policies. For example, it is taken for granted that the student must be praised for his work, even if it is subpar.

Take the claim that "everyone's views are correct." If questioned, the admin might say that in some circumstances -- such as on a logic proof or a history facts test -- he doesn't mean "objectively correct" or "factually correct." Rather, he means "we will re-interpret the term 'correct' in a way that accommodates the student's confused work. And if we just can't stretch 'correct' far enough to cover the confusion, then we will at least praise the confusion with terms such as 'original' or 'creative'." But in other circumstances, such as in areas of the humanities that admins take to be merely subjective, it is assumed that the student's views are somehow correct.

I don't know if the majority of admins and profs really agree with this way of thinking, but from what I see they cheerfully profess agreement. I have questioned the dogma in faculty meetings and in private conversations with colleagues and supervisors, only to be politely ignored or to hear that I shouldn't expect students to actually learn the course material in any complete sense. (I find this paradoxically denigrating to students. How can people be zealous about praising the students in the presence of the students, but behind the scenes they say things like "most students are not capable of mastering the course material, so we will just lower the grading bar so that they can pass"?)

I don't know how things are elsewhere, but when I read about what's happening in universities around the country, I recognize views that are commonly expressed where I work.

Yes, the business model of education may be part of the problem. Students are treated as customers who deserve to get what they want if they pay for it. For many of them, what they want is the sign of having an education, not the actual education. And, as you suggest, the sign is considered an instrumental good, a mere step toward acquiring money or status or both.

But I think another part of the problem is a kind of philosophical sentimentalism combined with a radical relativism. Desires and emotions are taken as the primary ways to obtain truth, which itself is relative to cultural or individual preference. Thus, feelings are taken to be sovereign, and reason is reduced to rationalizing in support of feelings.

>>Thus, feelings are taken to be sovereign, and reason is reduced to rationalizing in support of feelings.<<

Right. As Dennis Prager says, we are living in the Age of Feeling.

This is a betrayal of the educational enterprise. Moral and intellectual improvement presuppose that one NOT feel good about one's present self, and feel that one ought to progress to a justified feeling good about oneself. And until one is both a saint and a sage -- i.e., never in this life -- one must always feel a little uneasy about one's present moral and intellectual state.

>> This is a betrayal of the educational enterprise. Moral and intellectual improvement presuppose that one NOT feel good about one's present self, and feel that one ought to progress to a justified feeling good about oneself. And until one is both a saint and a sage -- i.e., never in this life -- one must always feel a little uneasy about one's present moral and intellectual state.<<

Well said, Bill. I'd add that moral and intellectual improvement, to the extent that it can occur in the university, require academic freedom to pursue truth and virtue wherever they lead, without being obstructed by "safe spaces" and other forms of coddle-mongering. And teachers should be experts in what they teach, should be recognized by students and admins as such, and should act accordingly. Teachers should not act as if they are mere intellectual equals with the student. A fortiori, teachers should not act as though they are below the student in terms of relevant expertise and authority, obsequiously catering to student desires and feelings.

For those interested, here are a couple of relevant articles:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/for-thin-skinned-college-students-we-have-nobody-to-blame-but-ourselves/ar-BBnpuYc?li=BBnb7Kz

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/427567/princeton-student-group-no-politically-correct-intimidation

Anonymous,

You ask:

"How do free societies deal with free discussion and inquiry when it can end up just like it is in our society?"

Good question! At a superficial level, we see that in the west we haven't really had 'free discussion and inquiry' in any normal or traditional sense for many decades. In Europe people who want to treat WWII as a historical event like other historical events are often put in prison. Less dramatically, people in the US who try to seriously investigate any political topic in a dispassionate manner are in real danger of losing their jobs. And in any case, it's almost impossible to have a sensible public discussion about anything important because most people have been totally brainwashed and take extreme Leftist propaganda for indisputable facts about history, biology, etc. So you're 'free' to discuss these things with people in roughly the way that you're 'free' to convince a paranoid schizophrenic that the CIA might not really be tracking him. So we might say the solution is to remove the many official and unofficial constraints on free discussion and inquiry. And one way to get rid of those constraints would be to build a new kind of community based on organic loyalties and relationships. After all, in a normal human society with a shared religion, ethnicity, culture, historical understanding, etc., it will be the hostile alien or subversive or fifth columnist who gets relegated to the margins.

But this just brings up the deeper point that the kind of 'free discussion and inquiry' that we value is not really any more 'free' or 'open' than the diseased discourse of the Left. As with our earlier discussion of tolerance, the real difference has to do with who or what is free, and in which respects. What would our ideal world be like? In my ideal university, there might be some Leftists of a certain kind; but there would be a deep and wide shared understanding that Leftism was an extreme and dubious theory. People who openly expressed hatred for whites or men or Christianity, as is now common or obligatory for 'scholars' in our universities, would not be allowed to hold positions of responsibility or authority. Certainly they wouldn't be invited to teach courses in philosophy to young people. We can't be 'free' to inquire in ways that we regard as good or useful or rational unless people like that are (at least) excluded from the discussion. And our public, authoritative discussions and inquiries can't do any any good unless people like that are excluded from having any significant public authority or public role in the discussion.

So the deeper answer (I think) is that we should not frame our problems in terms of what a 'free society' needs, or the importance of 'free discussion'. We should start by considering what a good society needs, e.g., how much freedom, and for whom, and of what kind. Bill points out that in order to determine that kind of thing we need some kind of free inquiry. But then, in order to be motivated to determine what is good (and inquire freely) we must first have some fundamental conviction that *we* are good, that *we* should exist, that it is worthwhile struggling for what *we* need in order to exist as individuals and as a concrete society. Maybe the scope of good freedom -- including the good freedom needed for inquiry into the scope of good freedom -- will be fixed in part by reflection on what we most love in the life-world, people, things and traditions of our concrete societies. Of course that's much too abstract and I'd have to think more about what exactly it would mean in practice.

Jacques,

>>What would our ideal world be like? In my ideal university ...<<

In reviewing some political philosophy/ethics books in my small home library, I found a passage from Austin Fogothey's Right and Reason that seems relevant to your points about responsible free inquiry. Fagothey argues that academic freedom is necessary for the pursuit of truth, but that the moral duties of the teacher put some limits on his academic freedom. For example, the professor has a duty to his students.

"Even the university professor is dealing with immature minds, unable to compete with him on the same level ... Speaking to these impressionable minds with the authority of his position, he must consider not only his own convictions and theories, but what effect these will have on the minds of the young. He is supposed to be forming and developing youth, not merely using them as a sounding board for any sort of idea he may get. If he feels that loyalty to his own convictions requires him to preach doctrines commonly regarded as revolutionary and subversive, let him cross swords with his equals and not with babes; he has no business teaching. Some teachers make it their express policy to unsettle all the ideals and convictions their students have received at home, and then leave them in this state of vacuity and disorientation. Such abusers of academic freedom are among the greatest enemies of the youth." (Ch. 27, p. 439)

Does this passage from Fagothey sound like what you are saying about responsible free inquiry?

Hi Elliot,
That's an interesting quote, isn't it.

I agree with the first three sentences: the teacher has a duty to frame things in ways that will help the students, and that will often mean that he shouldn't just tell the students what he thinks; he shouldn't treat them as if they were peers. (I'm guilty of doing this myself, I think.) But I don't agree with the last sentences. On the contrary, it seems to me that the philosophy teacher nowadays has a moral duty to teach 'revolutionary' or 'subversive' doctrines; after all, in our society all kinds of important truths and principles are 'revolutionary' or 'subversive', because we are ruled by bad people and they've brainwashed most of our friends and neighbors and even the children. So given that the teacher does have to bear in mind that the students are philosophical babies, and the effects of his teaching on their impressionable minds, he should definitely teach subversion if that's the only way to teach what is good and true and inspiring to them. (And that's how I excuse myself up to a point for my tendency to 'profess' my own beliefs too much.)

P.S. I think you're right, in a way, that 'sentimentalism' is one cause of the decline in real education. But it's important to remember that only *some* feelings, or feelings of only some people, are taken to be all important. The whole universe is supposed to come to a screeching halt when we hear that a black guy felt a little uncomfortable in his economics class because of something he misheard, but it doesn't matter at all that white students and Christians and men are subjected to a non-stop propaganda regime that is clearly intended to instill life-long feelings of shame, guilt, fear, insecurity, etc. My theory is that the people in charge care about feelings the same way they care about women's rights or the natural environment: they care if and only if caring will harm people like you and I, or benefit someone else.

Tully, I agree. Some don't care about logical consistency. They may not recognize that their views are inconsistent. But if they recognize, they are not concerned. If logic impedes desire-gratification, they defenestrate the logic -- although logic can't really be thrown out the window or anywhere else. It can be ignored for a time, but it won't go away.

Jacques,

Thanks for your reply. It is an interesting quote.

Fagothey wrote and taught from a conservative, Christian, Aristotelian-Thomistic perspective. He wrote Right and Reason during the 1950s. So the revolutionary and subversive ideas he had in mind may have included much of what has become normal in contemporary Western pop culture.

About university teachers treating their students as peers: I think there is a sense in which this is permissible. If the students are serious truth-seekers, then the teacher can dialogue with them as a fellow truth-seeker. The teacher should not relinquish his position as authority and expert, but he can treat his students as dialogue partners. For example, if a teacher is using the Socratic Method in a philosophy or history class, he will enter the discussion with the students and in that sense will be a kind of guiding peer -- especially if he is trying to teach his students how to think, and not just how to memorize facts about the subject.

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