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March 12, 2014



What if the newly-immigrated religion/belief system is irreconcilable with that of the host nation?

Islam's attitude towards criticism, women, LGBTs, apostates etc. is rather problematic to say the least in a (relatively) liberal PC democracy.

How can the resulting tensions be resolved?

(NB - I don't know, but not by pretending they don't exist).



Typo in title?

Jim M.

I agree with Luke.

The immigration issue is tricky enough already. Let's leave guns out of it. ;)


@ Luke - not now there isn't. Thanks.
@ Wibble - I'm not sure there's necessarily a tension, except insofar as there's one between liberty & democracy. In a free society, people can hold whatever damnfool ideas they want, as long as they don't impose them upon others.

Ralph Musgrave

Ooh Wibble – you wicked xenophobic, racist promotor of “hate speech”. You should realise that killing the cartoonists and authors one doesn’t like, treating women and apostates like dirt, anti-semitism and the various other elements in Islamic culture make our British culture more “diverse”. And diversity as such is beneficial. Or so we’ve been told a billion times.


I'll point out, just because it needs doing, that most of the "economically literate" arguments for immigration assume both more redistribution and better quality redistribution than our society currently undertakes.

The fact that just about no-one, from Portes, through to you Chris, is prepared to acknowledge that, remains a big reason why all the crying about "economically illiterate" arguments falls on deaf ears with the public.

Deviation From The Mean

If you take away a few of the modern references and add in a few pictures of Aryan children walking hand in hand through meadows or partaking in physical activity you are well on your way to reproducing the ideal late accompaniment to 1920/30’s Nazi propaganda leaflets.

I think the psychologist Oliver James comes at unhappiness from a different angle.

“Islam's attitude towards criticism, women, LGBTs, apostates etc. is rather problematic to say the least in a (relatively) liberal PC democracy.
How can the resulting tensions be resolved?”

Sit down and prepare for a shock! This is no theoretical proposition, for more than century now those dastardly Islamists have actually been coming to this country to settle and live.

As an aside, why do i feel that I sometimes have to remind left socialists that socialism is pretty much incompatible with liberal bourgeois democracy! The security services knew this, which is why they infiltrated leftist groups.

But if driving out the ethnics is the only thing that will increase happiness the Germans have offered their solution. Maybe time for another Wannsee Conference, but this time including left leaning liberals!

Stephen Boisvert

"Is it really just a coincidence that the one developed nation founded upon immigration just happens to be the one that historically has lacked a major socialist party or tradition?"

Unless this is some sort of definitional tautology Canada, just as immigrant based as the United States, is a problem for this line of argument as it has some socialist political history and achievements.


Deviation, are you saying that open borders are the only alternative to hatred of immigrants?

It seems to me that those are not our only choices.

Dave Timoney

The USA was not founded upon immigration, in the sense used here, but on colonial settlement. The Jamestown pioneers did not compete with the native Powhaten for jobs, they marginalised them into reservations and then imported African slaves to work the new toboacco plantations.

The large-scale economic migration to the USA in the nineteenth century led to an upsurge in socialist politics, notably in the industrialised North East (Karl Marx was a sometime correspondent for the New York Tribune). This eventually fed through into the social democratic reforms of the mid-twentieth century. The myth of self-reliance (like the frontier spirit and the ubiquity of personal firearms) is an ideological invention.

More broadly, immigrants (particularly those driven by economic opportunism rather than flight from oppression) tend to be relatively broad-minded, pro-integration, and open to innovation (they self-evidently have "get up and go"), even if to natives they initially appear overly-embedded in a traditional culture.

This can mean that they and their children will be individualistic, but it can also mean that they have a strong sense of social obligation. For every Philip Green there is an Ed Miliband (I suppose the blend would be Alan Sugar, which is strangely depressing).


If you want to argue against immigration, how about caution? In the sense we don't really know what will happen, so let's be cautious. You don't need to go the full Ralph M/Inspector Dreyfuss to say something might go wrong.

I think I agree with A to E about the US, but what about other colonising countries like Argentina or Australia or other high immigrant countries. Not disagreeing, just wondering.

Steve M

Why optimize your society for happiness? The most admirable societies historically, from renaissance Italy to classical Greece, do not seem happier than their neighbours.


For the sake of argument, suppose immigration (aka imports) reduces investment in a supposedly important industry - people. If I can get engineers, doctors and other useful folk from abroad just as good but a bit cheaper why invest at home? Indeed, I can redistribute tax money or even cut taxes.

The cynical might think investment in effective education was cut years ago and imports have been a useful way of covering the shortfall.

As for increasing fragmentation, housing policy and industrial change seem to have driven that - for those who feel a need to get ahead.



"In a free society, people can hold whatever damnfool ideas they want, as long as they don't impose them upon others."

That's exactly the point. Islam doesn't want to protest or write a strongly-worded letter if it (for example) disagrees with a cartoonist's portrayal of Mohammed. It wants to cut off their head.

@D from the M

"Sit down and prepare for a shock! This is no theoretical proposition, for more than century now those dastardly Islamists have actually been coming to this country to settle and live."

Right, so the cultural tensions with Islam have been a problem for a long time, that makes it more of an issue not less of one.


"Which kind of makes me wonder why it's so rarely heard."

I suspect there are two reasons why people focus on the economic rather than cultural effects of migration: (a) because even Conservatives tend to be cultural liberals whose right wing-ness is expressed through Thatcherite economic views, and they can't think in any other terms, and (b) because it inspires responses such as that of Deviation From the Mean.

We should all try to understand opinions that we do not hold now and again. Empathy is good.


As an immigrant and foreigner in this country, I see class as a bigger issue than immigration, but I don't think the working/middle class British people want to see it that way. They prefer to attack people who look different from them, while all the time the upper class are squeezing their day to day lives. Ok so some Islamists want to kill anyone who makes fun of their Prophet- but how often does it happen? Meanwhile, the rich, upper class whites are laughing at your plight day in day out.

Yes not many Brits have friends from Romania and Bulgaria. But I don't see very many upper class English having best friends from the working class either. And speaking of social capital- how can everyone forget the scandals of the white elite- from corporate greed, austerity, wars, sheltering dirty Russian money etc?

I'd love to see the expression on Mr.Musgrave's face when next time he walks in to a Hospital he is served by an Immigrant Indian doctor (quite a high likelihood by the way).

ken melvin

A big problem soon to become enormoous. We are no longer a nation with huge sparcely occupied spaces. Anyone can see the consequences of over population. Speaking of which; global warming will be displacing a billion or more from Asia.


Andy is quite right. Lets slag off the white Homophobic Russian oligarchs; and the bloody Romanians and those catholic Polish people all itching to drown us in their Papist superstition. Why single out the Muslims when there are so many targets?

The problem with cultural objections to migration is that the people who get most worked up about it give a check list of prejudices that they say the Immigrants suffer from and then soon reveal that they suffer from the same prejudice as well as numerous others. If the opponents of immigration were as liberal as they often claim to be I suspect they would be latter day hippies living in a commune with ten children all a different colour.

Just a shot time ago a UKIP bod mentioned here, in a recent post said firms should be free to deny custom to Gay people. While the leader of this party is slagging off immigrants for changing our cities into third world hell holes. Prejudices are fine for UKIP so long as their party members hold them. It is all deeply inconsistent at the level of ideas. Not that they would be able to identify an idea if it hit them.

Churm Rincewind

This discussion is misplaced, and reflects a reliance on a "forget the people and let the data decide" approach.

The fact of the matter is that there is enormous public concern about immigration, which in my view cannot readily be dismissed. But this is a question of culture and identity, not susceptible to numerical analysis, and for which the ruling class and, seemingly, the chatterati have little feeling or understanding.

The debate has been hijacked by the data-obessessed into an argument about the numerical levels of immigration. This is completely beside the point. The questions should be about the social and cultural impacts of immigration, and to what extent these concerns can be accommodated.

Alex Bollinger

I think the happiness argument is rarely heard because it's just plain silly.

If emigrating makes people unhappy, then they wouldn't do it. Studies may show that people need social networks, but I doubt any study has found "100% of people need a many friends to be happy, and 0% of people can make friends if they move to another country." As long as some people will be happier if they move, and if those are the people who are moving, then open immigration will increase happiness.

There's no reason to think that people are the happiest in whatever country they were born in, and even less reason to think that governments that restrict immigration are doing so because people are too stupid to figure out where to live and need to be forced to stay where they are.

Also, the people who worry about immigrants coming and imposing sexism and homophobia on the West: how OK are you with the West taking in women and LGBT people from homophobic and sexist countries?



I'm perfectly fine with allowing residency to those who are genuinely being persecuted, on the non-negotiable condition that they are willing and able to integrate into our society.

If they are likely to cause problems for others however (forced marriage, genital mutilation, beheadings, honour killings, spreading fanatical doctrines etc.) then tough luck. Citizens have responsibilities as well as rights.

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