Control of immigration (was: Multiculturalism)

Clay Shirky clay@shirky.com
Sun, 21 Oct 2001 14:52:23 -0400 (EDT)


> The immigration controls by rich, western nations can be viewed as a
> global system of limiting the mobility of labor.

Yes. I don't even know about the "can be veiwed as..."  part.
Immigration controls are a global system limiting the mobility of
labor.

This is exactly what I dislike about our current system. I have little
sympathy with the soi-disant 'anti-globalization' movement, but the
two areas where I am in absolute agreement with them are the lack of
democratic accountability in the IMF and WTO, and in their sense that
it is unfair that capital can move freely but labor not.

When I am annointed Pope of World Trade, my first and only edict will
be to say that every country can choose any speed, from screaming fast
to crawlingly slow, for mobility of capital and workers, but that no
country may have fast for money and slow for labor.

> OK, this is radical stuff. But there is more than a shade of
> hypocrisy in some of the free-trade rhetoric that comes out of
> Washington and London and Paris. If you want to really follow the
> logic of free markets, the western nations' immigration controls are
> the greatest barriers to world free trade, and the ones that are
> most harmful to the world's population.  Speaking purely from market
> economic theory.

Sing it!

> And yes, of course, there are political issues that override
> this. 

Yep. My point about this is that the wider the franchise, the more
legitimate the governance is (which is one of the reasons
multiculturalism is morally bankrupt, since protecting a culture that
discriminates against women on the grounds that that's what "they"
have chosen excludes women from "they", a priori.)

Even more legitimacy would be conferred on immigration policy if there
was a WITO, a World Immigration and Trade Organization, where
immigration was considered just one more non-tariff barrier to trade,
and countries wanting to participate in a global financial grid had to
accept the views of the rest of the world about _any_ protectionist
policy, whether regarding bananas or banana growers.

> The whole idea of democracy and free markets might not survive, if
> the west really were to allow open immigration. Even so, we might
> sense a litte more the tension between our free-market rhetoric, and
> the global system of not-so-free markets that we carefully
> construct. I'm not sure what to do about it. But recognition of what
> is always seems a good first step.

Yes, absolutely. This is so much what I belive that I'm beginning to
wonder if I'm actually you.

-clay