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The migration scam
It is very easy to use migration against the local working class.
Source: Economic Policy Institute.
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I have published a new (short) piece on Helen Dale’s Substack rebutting the notion that conventional centre-right politics is de-stabilised by the rate of social change, pointing out that what actually destabilises conventional right-of-centre politics is social change that by-passes (or threatens to by-pass) electoral politics.
The news that the Quality Assurance Agency has incorporated critical race theory into is recommendations to UK universities is a classic example of the non-electoral politics of institutional capture that we have seen so much of in recent years.
The “de-stabilised by the rate of social change” claim is yet another iteration of the fable of progressive innocence: the notion that nothing bad that happens is the result of anything that progressives have done. This despite the fact that, for instance, in the interwar period (1919-1939) the strength of authoritarian-right politics was directly correlated with, and such politics’ success was clearly a response to, the size and threat of the totalitarian left. As I discuss in the piece.
What I want to expand on here is the incompetent, amounting to dishonest, way that migration is considered in public discourse.
I discuss the Baumol effect in my piece. The Baumol effect is how competition at the high-productivity/high wage end of the economy drags up wages across the economy by each sector competing for labour with the higher productivity sector “adjacent” to it. Hence haircuts cost way more in 2022 than they did 1960 without any change in the service.
If, as is done in the US, UK and Western Europe, you keep adding in low-human capital workers via migration, you suppress the Baumol effect, you suppress competition up the productivity chain, and so suppress wages.
This is not the case in Australia (or Canada) despite their (much) higher rates of migration as their migrants average slightly higher (in Australia) or slightly lower (in Canada) level of human capital as the residents, so they are not suppressing the Baumol effect. (Especially as their migrants bring in other capital as well.)
Studies in relative scarcity
As North American economists regularly claim that migration does not suppress wages (despite the fact that there is plenty of macro evidence that the way migration is done the US, it does) one is left with a whole set of economists who apparently are unable to consider that using mass migration to increase the relative scarcity of capital compared to labour might have some effect on the returns to capital and labour.
This is even more odd given that, to at times startling degree, societies are studies in relative scarcity. Thus, high-wage countries have high levels of capital (labour is more scarce relative to capital). Low-wage countries have low levels of capital (labour is less scarce relative to capital).
Similarly, it was the relative scarcity of factors of production that, in the first era of mass globalisation (1820s-1914), essentially drove trade policy.
A scarce factor of production was imported (labour, capital, food for land). A plentiful factor of production was exported.
If two factors of production were plentiful, so wanted access to the global market, the polity adopted free trade. The prime example of this was the UK, which exported labour and capital and imported food: labour and capital combined to force free trade on landowners.
If two factors of production were scarce, and so wanted to protect their local scarcity-premium, the polity went protectionist.
In the case of the Anglo-settler polities (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand), they imported labour and capital and exported food, so labour and capital combined to force protection on landowners. In the case of Germany, which exported labour and imported capital and food, capital and land combined to force protection on labour.
The most dramatic example across history of relative scarcity mattering is whether land or labour is more scarce. If labour was scarce compared to land, then some form of labour bondage was highly likely to be imposed so elites could extract the scarcity-premium from labour by reducing labour to subsistence income. (Or, in the case of various Marxist terror-famines such as the Holodomor, down to starvation levels.)
If the scarce-relative-to-land population is already in situ, some form of serfdom would be imposed. The advantage of serfdom is that one simply needs to ban exit from the estate (or workplace), so they could only “sell” their labour to the landowner.
As such bondsfolk typically otherwise retain property and family rights, serfdom economised on coercion. Even better, serf populations, having property and family rights, typically reproduced themselves.
If labour has to be imported, then some form of slavery would be imposed. That is, a sufficient level of domination that labour could be moved around at will.
Indeed, such a level of domination that the enslaved folk can be reduced to the status of property. Such a level of coerced domination requires a higher level of coercion.
Moreover, lacking property and family rights, slave populations typically failed to fully reproduce themselves. Hence more imported slaves were continually sought.
So, one can see relative scarcity very much matters. The notion that importing labour in ways that increase the relative scarcity of capital compared to labour does not have a suppressive effect on the return to labour is nonsense on stilts.
A corollary to the Baumol effect is the Borjas effect: while the economic benefit of migration goes overwhelmingly to the migrants, any domestic increase in income overwhelmingly goes to the possessors of capital (including human capital). The stronger the suppression of the Baumol effect, the stronger the Borjas effect is.
*The Borjas effect is a relative scarcity effect: the more scarce factor of production gains more from an increase in economic activity from an increase in population. Particularly if it makes the more plentiful factor of production (labour) even more plentiful.
The Baumol effect is an increased productivity effect, the transfer of whose benefits down the productivity chain can be suppressed by making labour relatively more plentiful. Though, of course, migrants will still benefit from moving to an economy with a stronger Baumol effect as part of the overwhelming majority of the income gains from migration going to migrants.*
Clearly, highly educated folk, indeed anyone who gets their income substantially from capital, have an interest in promoting migration. Given that this absolutely includes economists (and all academics), the failure to grapple with the implications of shifts in relative scarcity is suggestive.
The Granovetter effect
But wait, there’s more. In 1973, sociologist Mark Granovetter published a classic article on the strength of weak ties. Such ties constitute a form of what anthropologists call relational wealth and economists call social capital. The information and cooperation benefits (so risk management and opportunity-identification benefits) one gets from having connections with other folk.
(The piece only has over 67,000 citations. So one can see how economists might have missed it.)
In 1983, Granovetter published a follow-up essay where he explicitly considered how breaking up such social ties greatly reduces the capacity of local communities to protect their interests. (This piece has almost 14,000 citations, so even easier to miss.)
We can thus identify the Granovetter effect: disadvantaging folk by breaking up local connections thereby degrading their local social capital, their ability to use information and connection to manage risks and identify opportunities.
At this point, the importance of the distinction that British social analyst David Goodhart has identified between Somewheres (folk who are born, live, work, marry, raise children and die within a particular locality) and Anywheres (highly educated and mobile folk whose networks are not locality-based) becomes salient.
If you are a Somewhere, having a mass of newcomers move into your area, displacing your locality-based connections and degrading your social capital, is a very natural concern. If you are an Anywhere, it means funky new eating opportunities, cheaper labour, increased return to your capital and decreased ability of Somewheres to resist whatever Anywhere elites might decide is a good idea.
These are, one might say, divergent interests.
Opposition to border control is Anywhere elites attempting to strip Somewhere voters of any serious say over migration policy.
Moreover, Anywheres dominate ALL institutions. That is, academe, government bureaucracies, the media, mainstream political parties, entertainment, IT, etc, etc. In particular, they utterly dominate all what moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls the epistemic industries. The industries whereby societies talk to themselves.
Except, in modern societies, such industries are overwhelmingly Anywheres talking to Anywheres and at, but almost never with (or by), Somewheres. They are, in a deep and pervasive sense, not the society talking to itself.
Moreover, the classic way that human-and-cultural capital classes maximise their social leverage is by determining what is, or is not, legitimate discourse. So, all opposition to migration becomes ignorant, economically-illiterate, racist, xenophobia.
Is that not so convenient? Anywheres not only dominate institutions, they get to own morality, and moral discourse, as well.
A useful case-study in this process is displayed in a working paper co-authored by three economists, including David Card, a recent (2021) Nobel memorial laureate in Economics: Immigration, Wages, and Compositional Amenities.
The paper is a classic way for economic analysis to fail. People are considered as atomised individuals who have economic (wages and taxes) concerns about immigration and what is interpreted as “compositional” concerns (how similar folk are to them) about immigration. Nowhere are patterns of connection, of community, able to directly enter the analysis.
Also appearing nowhere in the paper is the term social capital. (The paper has almost 600 citations).
In the paper, “compositional amenity” is the only way concerns about connections (i.e. social capital) are able to enter the analysis, and that only by inference. Yet, it is very clear when looking at the responses to the surveys examined, that is precisely concerns over maintaining local connections (so local social capital) that explain the patterns identified.
*What residual would there be to “compositional amenity” beyond local connections in a society with a history of residential segregation?*
The authors tell us that:
We find that compositional concerns are substantially more important, explaining 2-5 times as much of the variation in answers to the question of whether more or fewer immigrants should be permitted to enter than concerns over wages and taxes. They also account for a much larger share of the gap in attitudes between more- and less-educated respondents, and between younger and older people.
So, older Somewheres are likely to have a richer array of local connections, so more to lose if those connections are displaced. The less educated, the more likely one is to rely on local connections. These are clearly social capital, i.e. local connection, concerns.
… differences in the intensity of economic concerns explain a relatively modest share (6-20%) of the age and education gaps in average opinions about admission of different groups. Differences in the intensity of concern over compositional effects play a larger role, explaining 50% of differential between high- and low educated respondents in views about admitting people from rich European countries and 90% of the gap in views about admitting people from poorer countries or those of a different ethnicity.
Yes, because if you are a less educated, locality-based Somewhere, poorer folk are more likely to move into your area and a different ethnicity is likely to displace your own connections.
So, a trio of Anywhere economists use the construct of “compositional amenity” to transmute concern over the loss of social capital into implied xenophobia. A Nobel memorial economist apparently cannot notice locality-based social capital when it is right in front of him.
Smug condescension to (quite rational) Somewhere concerns pervade so much of Anywhere “analysis” of Somewhere social and political dynamics.
And worse than smug condescension. Anywhere hostility to Somewhere-specific concerns breaking through into public discourse is so relentless, that one has to be a very unusual figure to even attempt to do so. Whether from being already highly ideologically alienated or having a combative egotism (or some combination thereof).
Conversely, Somewheres are so starved for having their contra-Anywhere concerns expressed in the public arena, that if someone does break through to prominence articulating such concerns, they are likely to inspire considerable loyalty, with the more vicious the attacks of Anywhere elites on the breakthrough figure, and the concerns they express, the more the Somewheres are likely to feel vindicated in their support.
One ends up with a process of polarising alienation, whereby Anywhere elites harp on the flaws of the Awful Dissenter while Somewheres stick by said Awful Dissenter, reinforcing Anywhere contempt for Somewheres and their vulgar concerns and Somewhere alienation from the self-righteously self-serving Anywhere elites.
In the 2016 US Presidential election, a whole set of counties that only ever voted for the Republican candidate in Republican landslide elections or, in one case, had never voted for the Republican nominee (so had voted for Obama twice), voted for Trump. Who lost the popular vote to his Democrat opponent (but won the Electoral College).
A careful study of this phenomenon by husband-and-wife political scientists Stephanie Muravchik, Jon A. Shields, Trump’s Democrats, identified that it was Trump’s ability to sound like one of them, and to articulate their concerns, which created this remarkable phenomenon. These errant counties were very Somewhere communities.
Trump, the New York construction mogul, was functionally the first major Party Somewhere Presidential candidate in US history. And the first Somewhere President since Andrew Johnson succeeded the assassinated Abraham Lincoln. That both of them were also impeached may not be entirely a coincidence.
The Fogel effect
But wait, there’s still more. In his magisterial study, Without Consent or Contract, Nobel memorial laureate Robert Fogel examines how mass migration destabilised the American republic, leading to the Civil War.
Yes, the US Civil War was absolutely about slavery. You only have to read the Confederate Constitution, or the Secession convention debates, to see that.
The problem was, the development of the railway and steamships in the 1820s opened up the US to mass migration. This had two destabilising effects. Firstly, most of the immigrants went to the free States, steadily increasing their share of the House of Representatives and increasing the likelihood that new States would be free States.
The second was to increase the number of “masterless men” in the South. That is, folk who had no commitment to the plantation system and slavery and were, in fact, disadvantaged by slavery. For slavery lowered both the wages and the standing of manual labour while raising the value (so price) of land.
The great existential fear of the plantation elite was that the slaves and the “masterless men” would make common cause, as slavery oppressed them both. The response of the plantation elite, outlined in Keri Leigh Merritt’s enlightening study Masterless Men, was the “Southern system”.
The masterless men were systematically under-policed, generating a violent bravado culture that separated them away from “decent” folk. At the same time, a set of arbitrary offences were created or extended, with folk convicted under them becoming felons, so barred from voting. Poll taxes were also used to block voting. And there was extra-judicial killing (i.e., lynching) of these violent, desperate folk.
Sound familiar? Yes, what became Jim Crow was the racialised version of a system originally created to oppress the “masterless men”. After all, there was no need for the Antebellum South to create a system to oppress folk of African origin: slavery already did that.
This is why the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency was an existential threat to the planation elite. Not because of his (mild) anti-slavery platform: there had been previous anti-slavery Presidents.
It was the addition of the rest of the Republican platform—protection to raise wages and land available via the Homestead Act—that was the existential threat. For it was political catnip to the masterless men.
As Fogel points out, the Republican program was an attempt to appeal to both resident and migrant workers, as the number of migrants was already too large for nativism to work. Yet, as Fogel documents, migration was clearly depressing the income (indeed the height) of resident workers. The solution was to blame their problems on the Slave Power, plus trade protection to raise worker incomes and opening up the West via the Homestead Act.
A Republican President able to appoint Republican organisers to federal positions throughout the South could organise the coalition that terrified the plantation elite—of freed slaves and the masterless men. That is why the Deep South seceded after Lincoln had won the Presidency.
So, yes, the US Civil War was about slavery. But it was mass migration, and the political responses to it, that destabilised the American republic along its deepest fault line.
You have to be very unobservant, or an economist, to not notice how mass migration in the contemporary US, UK and France is increasing divisions between metro centres and provincial areas.
Meanwhile, migration-generated demand for housing, combined with zoning and other restrictions on housing supply, that are much easier to impose if a lot of the incoming folk aren’t voting citizens, drives up rents and housing prices. Making the costs of migration even higher for Somewheres and blocking their ability to move to economic growth areas.
A Nobel memorial laureate sets out at length how mass migration destabilised the American republic leading to the Civil War and the entire economics profession has apparently failed to notice.
Political systems do not expand in the way commerce does. On the contrary, they are full of positional goods (also known as political offices: only one local Mayor, State Governor, local Representative, etc.). We can thus refer to the Fogel effect: migration intensifying competition for positional goods. *[Positional goods as excludable, supply-rationed, status/amenity goods.]*
Political systems are the most dramatic case, but not the only one. Both geography and zoning can create positional goods in housing. It is very clear that the combination with migration drives up house prices and rents.
Access to infrastructure, given that there is a lag before new infrastructure can be built, is another case. If migration increases coordination costs (as it often does, the more so the more cultural distance there is between groups: the balkanising-the-demos effect), so increasing the lags in infrastructure construction, then the congestion costs will be lengthened.
Muslim migrants as class weapon
Then there is the notion that migrants are interchangeable. This is flatly not true.
Christianity and Islam are both Middle Eastern monotheisms. They both appropriate the Judaic prophetic tradition. The two religions also have huge differences.
Christianity sanctifies a farming synthesis; Islam a (raiding and trading) pastoralist synthesis.
Within the permanent-minority forms of Islam (Ibadis, Alevis, Ismailis, Ahmadis, etc.) the rightful-dominion elements of Islam have been abandoned. In islander and Malay Islam (spread by trade and without local pastoralists), trading Islam is the more dominant form.
Conversely, as Saudi Arabia is the most recent polity to be founded by raiding pastoralists (who were raiding pastoralists within living memory), its version of Islam (the one its oil money has been proselytising across the world) is very much back to sanctifying the original pastoralist-raiders synthesis.
Islamic martyrdom is being killed while attempting to kill the enemies of the Muslim community. This is a raiding-pastoralist culture notion of martyrdom.
If we look at the wide open spaces of Eastern Europe, we can see a pattern across the medieval and early modern periods. Farming polities go Christian. Pastoralist polities go Muslim.
With Muscovy being a mixed case. The Greek Christianity of the Eastern Roman Empire mixed in with the political and institutional culture of Tartary.
(It is fundamentally a mistake to see Muscovy-derived Russian political culture as European. It does not follow or exemplify any European model, however much it may adapt elements therefrom. It is most definitely Eurasian, an heir of Tartary.)
Christianity sanctifies the Roman synthesis: single-spouse marriage, no-kin-groups, no cousin (or other consanguineous) marriage, law is human, female consent for marriage. This is a farming synthesis, albeit a very odd farming synthesis. The continuities, such as they are, from Classical civilisation to Christian-cum-Western civilisation come from Christianity’s sanctification of the Roman synthesis.
Islam is the sanctification of the pastoralist synthesis: polygyny, kin-groups, law as revelation, plus conquering, raiding, raping and enslaving of non-Muslims.
Raiding-pastoralist (Medinan) Islam absolutely sanctifies sexual predation on women who have not accepted subordination to the rules of Allah, the sovereign of the universe. It is sanctified by the 15 references in the Quran to “those thy right hand possesses” (ma malakat aymanukum or milk al-yamin: i.e. women captured by violence); by the example of the Prophet in killing the men of the Jewish tribes of Medina and distributing their women and children as slaves to his followers; by the various hadith where Muhammad explicitly discusses having sex with slaves (captured women); and by the provision in Sharia that if a woman is captured by a Muslim man, her marriage is automatically annulled.
Polygynous cultures, particularly polygynous pastoralist cultures, are typically raiding cultures. If the top 5 per cent of men have four wives each, the bottom 15 per cent of men have no marriage prospects within the community.
The only possible social strategies in response are:
To do nothing, so create a violent, non-breeding underclass: the traditional Chinese response, hence bandits being such a perennial feature of Chinese literature and history.
Also permit polyandry: so if you cannot afford a wife, maybe you can afford half a wife, or a third or a quarter of a wife. Which Islam does not permit: a Muslim woman is only allowed one husband.
Wait your turn, which only works in foraging societies or societies where women do most of the farming, so older men can support several young wives.
“Those people over there have women, steal theirs”. The response of every polygynous pastoralist culture ever. Which, as we have seen, is the response Islam sanctifies.
What happens if you import lots of low human capital males from a civilisation in which cultural schema (pattern of belief) and scripts (pattern of action) sanctify sexual predation against women (including young girls) who have not accepted the rules of your religion?
An utterly predictable problem of sexual predation: of coordinated sexual predation. Whether the mass sexual assaults in Koln and other German cities, the “lover boy” gangs of the Netherlands or the “grooming gangs” of a string of northern English cities.
*A 2015 New York Times report dealt at length with what it accurately calls a theology of rape in reporting on abuse of Yazidi girls and women under the Islamic State, including reports from victims. A 2018 report in the Independent by a survivor of also points to religious justifications cited by the perpetrators. The logic of belief is not the logic of all believers. Nevertheless, it has been a social cost of large-scale Middle Eastern Muslim migration.*
This little difficulty with Middle Eastern Muslim migration has generated the nadir of uncaring contempt for the lower orders by “progressive” Anywhere elites. A British feminist establishment that patently don’t care how many Muslim gangs—which are not allowed to be called Muslim gangs but must instead implicitly slander Hindus, Buddhist, Sikhs, Christians, etc. by calling them Asian gangs—sexual predate on how many underage girls in care, or from welfare or working class families, provided they get to keep their Pakistani nannies.
These are folk who go from 0 to outrage in 280 characters. If they cared, we would hear about it.
Then there is the little difficulty of centuries of high rates of cousin marriage. Also sanctified by the example of the Prophet, as Muhammad’s first cousin Ali (his first convert) married his daughter Fatima.
It is well known that Middle Eastern Muslim migrants generate a very elevated rate of birth defects. But centuries of high rates of cousin marriage generate a wide range of health difficulties. In societies with publicly funded health care, that means they generate higher fiscal costs.
Much of the point of those intergenerational and interpersonal patterns we call culture is to generate congruent expectations to enable more robust cooperation. The evolutionary advantage of religion is that it both provides mechanisms for better handling the problems of being self-conscious (such as fear of death) and increases the robust inertia of such expectations.
Islam is structured to generate such cooperative cultural inertia. Muslims, if they reach critical mass, so their internal expectations are self-reinforcing, tend to be particularly resistant to cultural assimilation. Which means they create both “denser” and more “interior” connections. That is, they will tend to more thoroughly displace local connections.
Sharia is the attempt to find the rules of the Sovereign of the Universe through fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). Rules that are held to apply to everyone (because Allah is the Sovereign of the Universe). Hence jihadis feel entitled to kill anyone, believer or not, who violates Sharia. Leading to various acts of violence, increased security spending and such measures as “diversity” bollards.
Muslim migrants to Western Europe have been generally low human capital, so tend to suppress the Baumol effect, and so wages.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Denmark (which explicitly tracks this) has found that its Muslim migrants are a net drain on the public fisc in every age group.
So, if the object of the exercise is to screw-over the domestic working class, break up their communities, balkanise the demos and expand the capacity of the welfare-state apparat to colonise its own societies, then importing lots of Middle Eastern Muslim migrants is exactly what you would do.
All this is much clearer viewed from Australia, as one can compare from a polity whose migration policy generally avoids creating critical masses of problematic migrants and does not suppress the Baumol effect, with countries whose migration policy do precisely these things.
Which raises the question: Western European Anywhere elites, are they fools or knaves? Did they screw up like this deliberately, or are they just stunningly incompetent?
It is generally a good analytical choice, faced with the alternative of conspiracy or incompetence, go with incompetence. Nevertheless, for the fools or knaves question, it seems appropriate to apply the Australian analytical presumption: in the race of life, back self-interest, it’s the only horse that’s trying.
After all, they have had plenty of time to course correct yet continue to oppose border control, continue to seek to disenfranchise Somewheres from having any say over migration. (Oh, and read my piece on Helen Dale’s Substack.)
*Added after original posting.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights, HarperCollins, 2021.
Abdulbari Bener, Ramzi R. Mohammad, ‘Global distribution of consanguinity and their impact on complex diseases: Genetic disorders from an endogamous population,’ The Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics. 18 (2017) 315–320.
George Borjas, ‘Immigration and the American Worker: A Review of the Academic Literature,’ Center for Immigration Studies, April 2013.
*Rukmini Callimachi, ‘ISIS Enshrines A Theology Of Rape,’ New York Times, Aug. 13 2015.
David Card, Christian Dustmann and Ian Preston, ‘Immigration, Wages, and Compositional Amenities,’ Norface Migration Discussion Paper No. 2012-13, February 2012.
Robert William Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery, W.W.Norton, , 1994.
David Goodhart, The Road to Somewhere: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics, Penguin, 2017.
Mark S. Granovetter, ‘The Strength of Weak Ties,’ American Journal of Sociology, Vol.78, No.6, (May 1973), 1360-1380.
Mark S. Granovetter, ‘The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited,’ Sociological Theory, Vol.1, 1983, 201-233.
*Ella Hill, ‘As a Rotherham grooming gang survivor, I want people to know about the religious extremism which inspired my abusers,’ Independent, Sunday 18 March 2018.
Peter McLoughlin, Easy Meat: Inside Britain’s Grooming Gang Scandal, New English Review Press, 2016.
Keri Leigh Merritt, Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South, Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Stephanie Muravchik, Jon A. Shields, Trump’s Democrats, Brookings Institution Press, 2020.
Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study, Harvard University Press, , 2018.
Ronald Rogowski, ‘Political Cleavages and Changing Exposure to Trade,’ The American Political Science Review, Vo. 81, No.4 (Dec. 1987), 1121-1137.
Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Liveright Publishing, 2017.
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