Monday, July 05, 2010

Assimilate and Then Go Back Where You Came From

So yeah, immigrants are taking our jobs, taking advantage of our social programs, bringing drugs and filth, speaking gibberish, and blah, blah, blah...

I’m pretty sure decent arguments could be made against unregulated immigration if we got down to local enough of a level. Participation in Josiah Warren’s anarchist experiment “Utopia” did, after all, require invitation so as to maintain a sort of positive right to free association. Whether I personally would support such measures to limit immigration at the local level would depend on a lot of factors as they apply to the reality, but my tendency would be to promote free immigration at any level.

Such discussions, however, about the merits of immigration as they apply to specific locales is preempted by the scope of our current government which decides for the whole what is generally only advantageous to the few.

There’s not really anything about the immigration debate that makes it that much different from any other debate we have. Some people don’t want to “have their jobs taken.” Some never want to see or hear combinations of symbols and sounds that do not form into what is known as “English.” Whatever the supposed reasons for promoting restricted immigration, isn’t it at least the obligation of those proponents to come up with solutions that will accomplish the goals? Or is it part of our childish voodoo-Statist culture to think: “If we build it, they won’t come”?

Kevin Carson’s recent piece at C4SS challenged the sanctimonious cries for an “official language.” And while I agree there should be no official language, the idea of a “universal” language seems quite pleasant to me. Of course this is wishful thinking, but I don’t think it’s a hideous scar on my personality to say that I don’t want to learn Spanish or Chinese or any other language and that I would prefer everyone else learn the language I use. Does that make me selfish? Indeed, very selfish, but I’m only being honest. The ability of people to communicate simply promotes cooperation and discourages violence. The mistranslating of Middle Eastern leaders certainly doesn’t promote our friendly relations with that region. And it’s matter-of-factly more difficult to engage in trade without common language. Translation is a transaction cost and I don’t want to bear that transaction cost (better someone else than me anyway).

But, in any case, my preference for a common mode of communication isn’t easily realized. And it certainly isn’t realizable at all by doing exactly what would hamper the achievement of such a goal. Although I suspect a lot of the anti-immigration rhetoric is just cover for protectionism or xenophobia, it’s still worth a look.

The most common complaint seems to be, which includes the language issue, the “unwillingness” of immigrants to assimilate. I mean, how dare Mexicans fly the Mexican flag, demonstrating their own nationalist stupidity! If you’re going to be stupid, be stupid like the rest us! But the assimilationist's argument doesn’t make any sense. Exactly how does someone assimilate when they are here illegally? It’s a pretty serious catch-22 they’ve got going there: we’re going to make it as hard as possible to come and assimilate and then complain when you don’t. It’s like tossing a toddler into a closet, handing them a book, and then spanking them because they can’t read! Has it ever occurred to the pro-assimilationists that maybe assimilation is promoted by certain circumstances that black markets and poverty, the inevitable result of restricting immigration, are not conducive of? And maybe, just maybe, providing more opportunities for cultural mingling without fear of deportation might provide some incentives for them to communicate on our own terms?

It’s always funny how people will ascribe various qualities to the outsiders:

“Of course I would never steal, but you can’t trust anyone else, that’s why we need a State.”

“Of course if China invaded the USA, it would be perfectly acceptable for us to attack their soldiers, but our soldiers mean well in Iraq. Those people are just barbarians hell-bent on destruction.”

“Of course I would try to learn and adapt to my new surroundings, but Mexicans are stubborn.”

Apparently the ferociousness and obstinacy of a person and their culture is directly related to how little we know about them.

I don’t think the immigration issue is as pragmatically simple as some libertarians make it out to be, but, honestly, is it reasonable to think anti-social solutions are going to yield pro-social results?