Sunday, June 06, 2021

It's not just the left

If you oppose open borders, you can't just identify the left as the problem. There is an influential part of the political right which also adopts this policy. Take Sam Bowman as an example. He is a Senior Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute and describes himself as a neoliberal. His mindset is what you'd expect from someone whose intellectual formation took place in a university economics/commerce department.

Bowman tweeted that he favours huge amounts of immigration of unskilled workers into Britain even if it reduces the welfare of his countrymen, for instance, through higher rates of crime.

He advocates this despite describing himself as a selfish person in his personal behaviour:

This is a utilitarian approach to morality, in which it is thought that something is moral if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number. Bowman is arguing that the good for the immigrants would outweigh the evil for the natives and therefore the policy would be moral.

It is a mechanical, calculative approach to morality in which it is assumed that the good is the pursuit of material self-interest in the market. Most of the replies to Bowman quite rightly reflect a different view of the human person, as valuing natural forms of relationships that generate particular duties and loyalties. Many of these replies accused Bowman of being a traitor for urging that the welfare of his own countrymen be sacrificed.

It was also suggested by many of Bowman's critics that he was flaunting his upper-class status in his tweet. A wealthy person would be less likely to be adversely affected by the mass immigration of low-skilled workers. Bowman and his supporters responded by claiming that it was a good thing that the rich would be advantaged:

And this:

Bowman and friends believe that their own living standards will be improved by a mass of low-skilled, low wage immigrants, who can act as a kind of servant class to the wealthy. The mindset appears to be that if some native working class people are negatively affected, this is justified by the benefits to the upper classes and to the immigrants.

Although most people do not share Bowman's Economic Man approach to life, a great many influential people at the top do. If we want to create a better political class, we have to be just as critical of the right liberal types as we are of the left liberal ones. 

(One final point. It is difficult to draw any viable notion of a common good from Bowman's politics. The basic idea of the common good is that the rulers of the UK should rule on behalf of all social classes rather than just their own. But if morality only considers the selfish individual and the entire mass of humanity, i.e. if these are the two parts of the equation, then it is likely that the welfare of one part of the community will be sacrificed, as Bowman advocates. In a sense there is no "polis" for a common good to be exercised within, when there is only me as a selfish individual and the whole of humanity as political and moral actors.)

A note to Melbourne readers. If you are sympathetic to the ideas of this website, please visit the site of the Melbourne Traditionalists. It's important that traditionalists don't remain isolated from each other; our group provides a great opportunity for traditionalists to meet up and connect. Details at the website.


  1. This is the one thing I've really started to notice over the last few years. It's impossible to ignore the fact that right-liberalism is far more responsible for the economic and social alienation and atomisation in Western society.

    The Left-liberals might dominate the sinecures of The Cathedral, but they are able to dissolve so many of the bonds that hold our society together in part because of the economic backdrop created by modern international finance capitalism.

    When you really think about it the modern phenomenon of "Woke Capital" was kind of inevitable. The ultimate convergence of left and right liberalism.

    1. Excellent comment. I think your point about right-liberalism is true in terms of philosophy, politics and economics. We need to develop a stronger critique of it.

      Woke capital is one to watch. So many on the mainstream right still think in terms of a Cold War politics of capitalism vs Marxism. But what then happens when the free market corporations increasingly push the leftist/Marxist side of the culture wars? In other words, what happens when the "good guy" in your politics supports the political positions of the "bad guy"?

      Maybe this is an opportune moment to challenge right-liberalism.

    2. Whether it's opportune or not it's now simply unavoidable. "Right-liberalism" increasingly isn't even trying to differentiate itself from the left.

      I think the only thing that was really ever holding the left-liberal and right-liberal factions of the establishment apart from one another was the left liberal sympathy for Marxian economic analysis.

      That had already started to weaken by the 70s and as the support base of the left became less about industrial unions and more an alliance of the newly imported immigrant underclass and the newly educated urban Middle class.

      Then you got Foucault and all his heirs who slowly disconnected the Marxian analysis of power which had been more or less the core of 20th century liberalism from economic class entirely.

      The evil corporations and the hated bourgeois slowly got let off the hook. Now it's just about "white males" instead.

      Considering that every person currently employed in western corporate heirachies has been educated at the same universities that have made Foucault one of the most cited men in human history, and given the slow but steady spread of those ideas across campus from the humanities faculties to what were once the more sensible disciplines, it's very hard to see how we could have ended up anywhere other than where we are.

      That's of course assuming you understand that Right-liberalism and Left-liberalism are twins. People who don't see this truth just seem to be getting more and more confused. Right-liberal partisans like many of the SkyNews Australia crowd don't seem to be able to comprehend that things have changed since the end of the Cold war. The far left is equally confused. I saw an Australian anarcho-communist site today trying to furiously explain how corporations are only adopting gay-pride as part of a vast conspiracy to neuter the inherent revolutionary potential of the oppressed homosexual minority.

      Unless people start to lift the veil and realise not only that the different branches of liberalism are increasingly on the same side, but also WHY they're on the same side, there are going to continue to be a lot of confused people out there.

  2. Bowman types may say that large scale immigration of people from poor countries will allow service industries to serve the upper classes, but this is the weaker end of that argument. More importantly, this view of immigration provides a way to supply cheap labor, thereby benefiting those whose capital is invested in industries that require an ever-growing number of warm bodies.

    The immigrants themselves benefit, and those at the top benefit. Perhaps the only thing that prevents the full plantation model here is the strength of the middle class, which is the main target of the Woke.

    1. "Perhaps the only thing that prevents the full plantation model here is the strength of the middle class, which is the main target of the Woke." Well put, and this raises the issue of how well the middle-class will hold together. It interests me that younger middle-class people don't seem to reject the looming plantation model, imagining that they will be the ones being served, whilst at the same time the asking price for living even a middle-class lifestyle is rising, to a point at which some young people are rejecting having children, as being beyond them. Not sure what will come out of this.

  3. It's not that right-liberals are just as bad as left-liberals. They're clearly much worse. At least on issues like immigration left-liberals are, in their vague woolly-minded way, motivated by a desire to do good. They're confused and deluded and hopelessly unrealistic but their hearts are in the right place.

    With right-liberals you're dealing with naked greed and seething class hatred. It's not just that they're indifferent to the harm that would be done to the working class and lower middle class. They see that harm as a feature rather than a bug. They're not even pretending any more - they're completely open about their desire to harm ordinary people.

    There's almost a religious element to it. Rich people matter because the fact that they're rich proves the they're worthy and righteous and virtuous. It proves that they belong to the Elect and it is therefore quite appropriate for policies to be formulated purely to serve the interests of the Elect.

    The fact that other people are not rich is proof that those people are unworthy and morally degenerate. It is therefore quite appropriate for those people to be punished for their unworthiness.

    Right-liberals regard the non-rich in the same way that slave-owners regarded slaves - they consider the non-rich to be less than human.

  4. I'd say they regard themselves as front line members of a victim group. If they've got barrels of cash it's not enough cash to reach membership of the evil 1%, if they're female and living in 3 stories on the water they are still oppressed by the patriarchy and if they've got a drop of non-anglosaxon blood in them they suffer and they're happy to tell you about it. They give their male children Barbie dolls and are upset with people who don't have a reusable mug for their coffee in Double Bay. As far as they're concerned they're saving the world. Heroes saving Gaia.