Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The BBC Debate 2

In my last post I discussed a debate on immigration that was held on BBC radio. John Derbyshire has a report on the debate at Vdare and has also provided a transcript.

If you read through the debate you understand why things are going wrong in the West. Both the secular and the Christian participants held views which made open borders the "moral" position to take. They did so by following what you might call the "intellectual disease" which is to reduce life to a single intellectual principle and then try to derive moral positions from this single principle.

The Christian view was represented primarily by Giles Fraser, an Anglican cleric. Fraser is unusual in that he has very clearly rejected liberalism as a philosophy, but he has done so in the name of socialism (which goes to show that rejecting liberalism is only the first step, what comes next is equally important).

Fraser justifies open borders, and the massive transformation of Europe that necessarily follows, on the basis of certain passages of scripture:
The bit that comes to mind in the Scriptures for me is that very moving bit in Matthew 25 where Jesus goes, you know, "You saw me in prison, you didn't do anything, you, you didn't give me any food, I was a stranger and you didn't welcome me," and they go, "When was that?" and they say, "Inasmuch as you didn't do it to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did it to me." I mean, there's a whole implication there that if you're not welcoming the stranger, you're not welcoming Christ.

...you know, constantly in Jesus' teaching there's stuff about the stranger, there's stuff about the other, there's stuff about the Good Samaritan, and our moral responsibility is always to this person who is more other than us, rather than same as us.

The last line is the critical one. Fraser believes, from his reading of scripture, that our responsibility is always to those who are more "other" to us. If you believe this, then of course you're going to identify with the Muslim Africans seeking entry to Europe rather than with your fellow Europeans. Fraser, despite his repudiation of liberalism as a philosophy, has ended up with a very similar view of solidarity to liberals, namely that true solidarity is with those most other to us, rather than those we are most closely related to.

It should be said that you can see why Fraser might derive this idea from the New Testament. Jesus does emphasise in his teachings that benevolence is to be selfless (in the sense that we do not expect anything in return) and that it extends to strangers. Jesus says things like this:
But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

In context, Jesus is clearly emphasising that we are not to be benevolent to get something for ourselves - that is the intended message. But you can see how it might be taken to mean that the love we have for those we are related to, and who have reason to love us, is insignificant.

I don't think such a reading makes much sense. Jesus elsewhere says that in order to be saved we must honour our father and mother - why would that be so important if all that matters is our relationship to the stranger?

In practice, too, it is no small thing to love those who love us. To truly love our spouse over a lifetime, through all the stresses and hardships of life, and still to cherish them, to admire them and to find delight in our relationship with them is no small thing. To truly love our children, to have a continuing pride in our paternal relationship with our sons and to seek out an active companionship with them, to feel a loving protectiveness toward our daughters, and to be driven to provide the best start in life for our children, that is no small thing. And to love those we are related to as part of our ethny, to sense the life that we share with them and to seek to uphold the good within our common tradition - that is no small thing either.

It used to be the case that Western civilisation continued to respect these loves, but also took seriously the injunction to be benevolent to "the least among you." That gave rise to traditions of Christian charity, of noblesse oblige and of codes of chivalry.

The codes of chivalry are particularly interesting. They combined Christian benevolence (mercy, protection of the weak and the poor) with duties to countrymen and faithfulness to the church. This is a much more viable basis for a Christian civilisation than Giles Fraser's dissolving formulation that "our moral responsibility is always to this person who is more other than us, rather than same as us" - a formulation which would deliver Europe to an Islamic and African future rather than a Christian European one.


  1. At the time Christ spoke these words, a "stranger" was a solitary traveler in need of aid. He was not part of a great wave of thousands upon thousands of Egyptians or Edomites who had decided to take up residence in Judea. But what strikes me more forcibly in the quote from Fraser is its asymmetry. I am asked to show great solicitude for the preferences of a stranger, who is "other" than me, but this strangers is not asked to show any solicitude for my preferences, although I am "other" than him. For Fraser the scolding goes in only one direction. It is always the indigenous people who must adapt to the needs of the stranger, and never the stranger who must adapt to the needs of the indigenous people.

    1. By Fraser's reasoning, parents should deprive their own children of everything but the bare minimum of calories needed to subsist and send it across the world. Hell, forget food and focus on money wasted on education. Why teach some kid algebra 2, something they'll never use, and send it across the world to cure exotic illnesses in foreign populations.

      Did they even have someone n the show who questioned these core assumptions? or was it "open borders" versus "more open borders"?

    2. Asher, your point was in fact raised in the discussion. A Labour Party figure, Matthew Taylor, asked an open borders philosopher, Phillip Cole, the following question:

      Taylor: Can I ask you: Do you treat strangers in the same way as you treat members of your family in relation to … generosity, and …

      [10m01s] Cole: When it comes to moral obligations, I recognize that my moral obligations are to humanity. I may treat …

      Taylor: So you don't feel any greater sense of compassion towards your own family than you do to a complete stranger? So if I was to ask you to give me enormous amounts of help, then you'd feel no differently than if your brother or your sister or your children had?

      Cole: It would depend on what, on why you needed it; and I think the, er, the call for help and assistance is, is one that I recognize throughout humanity. I may have particular attachments to a member of my family, and I may prioritize them, but I don't think I can prioritize them on moral grounds.

      Taylor: But doesn't morality have to reflect who we are as human beings, and who we are as human beings is that we do naturally give preference to our family than to strangers; we do naturally feel a closer affinity to people that we have lived with for some time and we share a culture with, than people who are strangers. Now whatever the rules might be, it seems to me that your moral code denies our very humanity.

      [10m52s] Cole: I think my moral code recognizes our humanity. I think what we feel attachment to are people we encounter. I was discussing this with students this morning, and someone made the point that if I encounter people, it doesn't matter whether they're members of my family or my race, if they need my help, I will give it to them. Um, so the people I encounter every day, they may be strangers or they may not be strangers, but my moral commitments to them are the same.

      So Cole's answer is that although in practice he may prioritize members of his own family this is not morally justified. Taylor runs a good counterargument, I think, that we are made as humans for particular relationships and to deny this is to deny our humanity.

  2. Reflecting on Matthew 25...can one still be called a "stranger" once you've invited him to live permanently in your home?

  3. Mark,

    Plain and simple question. Is there a argument for strict immigration restriction that is also a moral framework? Not a fact base argument but a moral one.

    1. Asher, I think there are several moral perspectives which favour immigration restriction.

      One of them has to do with a good that inheres within longstanding ethnic traditions. If we are called to uphold the good, and there is a unique and valuable expression of human life inhering within an ethnic tradition, then we should act to conserve this tradition and that does require immigration controls. At one level, this is recognised even by liberals, as when they complain about the possible loss of tribal cultures. Here, for instance, is the very liberal Robert Manne writing in the defence of traditional Aboriginal communities:

      ... if the traditional communities are indeed destroyed, one distinctive expression of human life - with its own forms of language, culture, spirituality and sensibility - will simply become extinct. Humanity is enriched and shaped by the diversity of its forms of life. It is vastly impoverished as this diversity declines. If contemporary Australians allow what remains of the traditional Aboriginal world to die, we will be haunted by the tragedy for generations.

      Another moral argument has to do with human purposes, i.e. what brings human life to its fullest expression. Just as masculinity and femininity find at least some of their expression within the family, so too does our social nature as humans find some of its commitments and ends within a close knit and longstanding ethny, one which connects us to people and place, to a church and a culture, to generations past and future - and which helps to generate a range of social commitments, such as a concern to uphold moral standards within a community, to maintain a health and a stability of family life and so on.

      Finally, for those who accept a religious world view, there is an argument that our love of our ethny is one of those transcendent goods - an aspect of the spiritual in life - that helps to bring us to an orientation toward God. To have no such love is to be alienated from one of the sources of spiritual life, which is what Sir Walter Scott was trying to express in his poem which begins "Breathes there a man with soul so dead".

    2. Morality is derived from religion therefore one cannot separate the moral argument from the religious one. One can compare the religious moral position with the secular amoral one which is explicitly based upon political and economic considerations. In the Western media and Governments, the latter view prevails.

      The Bible explicitly commands the preservation of ethnic groups and nations and therefore any "Christian" who promotes the immigration of aliens is not misinterpreting the Bible but taking selective quotes to distort its teachings with the intention of producing specific political, economic or social objectives.

  4. Liberalism inverts the natural order of morality. Our first duty is to those closest to us (1 Timothy 5.8), then others.

    1. The passage referred to by Southron is as follows:

      "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

      It is very clear from this passage that our first duty is toward those closest to us (relatives, household). The language here is very strong "has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

    2. I remember reading a piece in the UK "Quarterly Review" which was based on 1 Tim 5:8. It was written as a rebuttal to the weaker points in Bascio's last book on the "Immorality of Illegal Immigration". A devastating piece, highly recommended.

    3. The liberal would respond that they are indeed providing a rich diversity for their own. And they would rather provide a 'tolerant' environment to raise their 'nice' children than a 'bigoted' and 'racist' one. They would see immigration as positive provision because utopia demands it.

      Although we might see a hierarchy in the Timothy passage, they would see it narrowly as an instruction to provide for their own family (nuclear) which they try to do. They don't see their race as an extended family (distinct from other ethnic groups), nor do they see glory in loving those closest to them. Their triumphs are in loving the 'other'. To preference those close to you would mean relegating those further away; to a liberal, that is an act of 'hate' or 'discrimination'.

      You could use any passage and argument you want and they will come back with the beatitudes (Luke 6):
      “30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them."

      "See, if you love your family... well, *everyone* does that. So, prove you're a real Christian and love the stranger first."

      This is why I find this topic so tough with Christians. The moral element overwhelms the believer so much that they ignore the ludicrous nature of the proposition (it's unsustainable, historically unsupportable, and destructive). Simply, it is more important to most Christians in the West that they be 'nice' than anything else.

  5. In the face of the state's demands and the liberal takeover of the Anglican Church, the radical conservatives are reaching the limits of their tolerance and are just waiting for the right words, the right occasion, for a decisive move.

    Here in this 15:22 minute YouTube, GAFCON II: Interview with Gavin Ashenden we hear the radical right-wing alternative articulated to liberal Anglican Christianity. And what is its final word?

    "Satan's greatest lie is that our DNA is our unity."

    Satan's greatest lie...

    I doubt a family can survive through many generations with a scale of values like that. I'm sure a nation can't.

    Why does a nation that will cease to exist need a church?

    I can see why it needs a church that would save it from destruction. But it certainly doesn't need a church that will support its destruction, with genocide through mass immigration and forced integration clearly being in line with confounding "Satan's greatest lie".

  6. One more point. I believe that the passage in Timothy, in principle, can be extended to the wider ethnic family. The phrase "his own" also appears in John 1:11 where it refers to the Israelite nation. The apostle Paul, the author of Timothy, evidently affirmed this view in Romans 9:1-3 when he said he would be "accursed from Christ" for the sake of his "kinsmen according to the flesh." It was not an offer he made to any other group.