John Derbyshire has a report up at Vdare about a debate on immigration that took place on BBC radio. The positions taken by the participants were as disappointing as they were predictable.
Why predictable? There is a growing consensus amongst liberals of all stripes that the point of life is to be self-made, particularly in the market. If you believe this, then you will see economic migrants as the ideal sort of person, since they are the ones who take the most initiative to be self-made in this way.
One of the panellists on the BBC debate was Claire Fox, who is the director of the Institute of Ideas. This is what she had to say on immigration:
So I believe in freedom of movement and therefore open the borders, but I suppose morally my main thing is that, being human, one of the most inspiring things about it is that you can make yourself not accept your fate and create your own destiny. And in that sense the immigrant is an ideal moral figure, and could be seen to embody it. So that's what I find inspiring.
Isn't that a revealing statement? She is saying that what defines us as a human is that we are autonomous in the sense of being self-determining or self-defining. That's step one in the thought process. But how do we self-define? To be consistent, we can only self-define in some area of life that we can pursue as individuals, such as career, travel, lifestyle, hobbies and so on. Career is the weightiest of these, so liberals tend to put most of their eggs in this basket. So what it all boils down to in the end, for a liberal, is being self-made in your career and economic status.
An economic migrant goes to all the trouble to uproot himself in order to make himself in the market and so he becomes for the average liberal "an ideal moral figure."
The mistake made by liberals like Claire Fox is to think of human life in terms of a detached self-making. We are supposed to make our lives as abstracted individuals, as this abstraction is supposed to give us the greatest freedom to self-create.
But we are not detached or abstracted selves. When we make our lives we do so as created beings with given natures. Freedom means a liberty to unfold (or fulfil) the best within these given natures.
And we do that best within natural forms of community, such as family, tribe and nation. This is particularly true for men, as our masculine talents are especially directed toward our roles in upholding these forms of human community.
In arguing for a borderless world, liberals are not adding to but are taking away from our freedom to creatively unfold ourselves as individuals. They are dissolving the longstanding communities within which such creative self-expression best takes place.
There were also some arguments relating to Christianity mentioned in the BBC debate, but I'll leave these to the next post.