Liberal-Left Delusions about Economics and Migration

“Migration Dilemma” was the title of a four-person late-night discussion programme broadcast (12/9/15) by the BBC (Radio4) on the responses which Britain should make to the migration crisis currently reported and discussed widely across the media.

Ed Stourton, the chairman, endeavoured to keep the discussion connected to the real world, but it was hard to do this when one contributor, a political science lecturer, maintained that large immigration flows were the result of systematic exploitation of poor countries by rich ones, through fixing the terms of trade in some way not disclosed. Her “solution” was that rich countries like Britain should “share” their riches with poor countries, particularly by opening their borders to all who wanted to come. David Goodhart, director of the think-tank Demos and author of a widely reviewed book on post-war immigration to Britain[1], attempted to back oars against this deluge of impractical nonsense by commenting that the people of rich countries aren’t just economic units, but they are nations made up of a huge range of relationships bound up with identity – their sense of place and kinship, informal rules of conduct between them, as well as respect for the law of the land – none of which large numbers of strangers can be expected to share.

Apart from this contribution, the whole discussion was redolent of the left-liberal consensus on immigration, essentially that mass immigration was something Britain and other Western countries had to accept. This is what the new euphemism “diversity” means[2]. There was no mention of the democratic wishes of the British people, who though kindly disposed towards others in trouble, are opposed to having parts of their country swamped by strangers remote from them in distance, language and history, a viewpoint that has been regularly established by British Social Attitudes, among many other surveys.

Apart from Goodhart’s contribution, the discussion gave no consideration to the people most affected by mass immigration, that is the people of England, the ancestral owners of their land, now the most densely populated country in the Western world, under continuing population pressure from immigration, with transport congestion and housing need felt in every corner.

The position of the hard left was equally dismissive of the interests of the English people. Earlier on the same day when Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader of the British Labour Party, he took part in a noisy demo (11th September) on the streets of London in “support” of Syrian refugees and other migrants. “Open our Borders” was a frequent slogan on the banners on display, waved by the Refugee Council among others. Corbyn’s personal view is apparently the usual denaturalised Marxist one, based on his belief that England, unlike Scotland and Wales does not have a “collective history”, is not entitled to its own parliament and should be broken up into administrative regions – a view taken also by the European Commission.

What makes rich countries rich?

The standard left-wing view articulated by the political scientist in the discussion is that rich countries are rich because they exploit poor countries in some way. While the British self-loathing left will never be dislodged from this belief about their own country, which is indeed an article of faith for them, how do they explain China’s advance from being a poor country, with a GDP per capita of $83 (about the same as North Korea’s) in 1960, to around $7,000 in 2014 (12 times that of North Korea). China is now the second largest economy in the world, bigger than Korea and Japan combined. The answer is they can’t explain it because the left’s theory of the economy is based on Marx’s primitive, mid-19th Century description. It takes no account of the intricate mechanisms of investment, production and management by which a modern market-based industry and services economy actually works. In this, continued investment plays a vital role in keeping an economy going.

One analogy is that of an aircraft – it has to be kept going, otherwise it will stall and collapse to the ground. To a degree it can be steered in flight by precisely designed controls, but it cannot suddenly accommodate a huge increase in passengers, nor can parts of it be “shared” with other planes. Its fuel system and control mechanisms are akin to the huge range of people and businesses involved in any major economic activity – the supply chains, production and market systems in fact.

Rich countries are those which can organise these supply chains and marketing systems and train their people to run them. There isn’t a lump of this you can “share” with other economies, but you can, often need to in fact, engage them in your supply chains and marketing systems through mutually beneficial trade.

What rich countries can share

What they can share is knowledge, above all through education and training. This is what Britain has done and continues to do with a wider range of countries for longer than any other country.

Allowing immigrants from poor countries to settle in rich countries, often helps the immigrants as individuals, but, apart from small amounts of remittances, does absolutely nothing for the people in their countries of origin; if anything it impoverishes them by the loss of talented, energetic, young people. Only the systematic transfer of knowledge, above all the English language, science and engineering, and the rule of law help poor countries, as the Chinese will readily testify from their own experience.

End Notes

[1] David Goodhart “The British Dream: Successes and Failure of Post-War Immigration”.

[2] A senior Brussels official, Vice President Frans Timmermans, actually just said (24th September) that “all EU countries will in time become more diverse”, i.e. contain more non-Europeans.

Top| Home

Leave a Reply

Top| Home