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How Brexit Turned Into an Immigrant’s Nightmare

When did we acquiesce, as a species, to overt racism? When did we decide it’s OK for our leaders to speak publicly and candidly about human beings as though they’re chattel? When did mutual mistrust take the place of charity?

It wasn’t the beginning of Donald Trump’s run at the White House, and it wasn’t when voters in the U.K. decided to leave one of the most important multinational coalitions in our species’ history. Both of these events are symptoms – not the cause – of the anti-immigration hysteria that’s sweeping the entire globe.

Like each of his many other spectacular failures, Trump’s political career is destined to become a sad little footnote in human history – but Brexit? That could be something else entirely. The implications are enormous, and will be felt for a very, very long time to come.

While the developed world is still reeling from the result of the referendum, another group of human beings is waiting in the shadows for their fate to be decided. Immigrants are now left to face the fallout from Brexit – and – if things continue on their current trajectory, it’s going to be a very long time until they wake from this fresh new nightmare.

Racism Is Not Patriotism

Anti-immigration sentiment might claim to come from a well-meaning place – protect our borders, our jobs and our women, etc. – but you’d have to be both ignorant and remarkably strong-willed to not see it for what it is: racism, pure and simple.

A significant plank in the Leave Campaign’s platform was the promise of returning so-called democratic control of immigration policy to the people, rather than leaving it in the hands of the governing body we know as the European Union. As in: Forget international cooperation and due process – we’re doing this our way!

As a result, in the days following the Brexit result, racism and violence toward nonwhite human beings in Europe has reached a fever pitch – particularly where Polish and Middle Eastern immigrants are concerned. One might have hoped that, over the last hundred years or so, we’d learned to look past the color of one’s skin. Unfortunately, this hardly seems to be the case, if modern politics is anything to judge by.

We’re now seeing the results of these kinds of sweeping judgments, and it’s about to make life for immigrants in Europe a living hell.

What Comes Next for Immigrants?

Theresa May, Britain’s new Prime Minister, confirmed earlier this year that tying the fate of Brexit to the fate of immigrants in Britain wasn’t just going to be an accidental byproduct of Brexit, but rather an actual, intentional feature of the then-ongoing negotiations. Her Tory rival was quick to deny that immigrants would be used as a bargaining chip, but we can see now that the damage is done.

Now that Brexit has come to pass, the fates of some 3 million EU citizens in Britain hangs in the delicate balance.

Before and since the Brexit vote, street violence committed against immigrants – Poles in particular – has seen a dramatic uptick. The message, loud and clear, is “Get out of our country.” Stacked alongside their other outlandish claims was the Leave Campaign’s assertion that “lawful” residents in the U.K. would be allowed to remain indefinitely.

Naturally, the meaning of the word “lawful” is anything but certain now that the votes are cast. Both lawful and unlawful immigrants who have resided in the U.K. – some of them for decades – are, along with the hate crimes and death threats, now finding themselves pushed about, as though on a global chess board.

So what’s going to happen to EU immigrants in the U.K.?

First, a nonbinding – but still important – motion was passed in the House of Commons that would allow EU citizens currently residing in the U.K. to remain there for good. The motion was backed by 245 MPs, and opposed by just two others. This would seem to have struck a blow against May’s suggestion that she was comfortable using the fates of these people as bargaining chips as the particulars of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU are hammered out.

Again, though, this motion is nonbinding, and does little to assuage the fears of these 3 million immigrants. MP Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has added his own voice to the quagmire, saying: “I think it is absolutely right to issue the strongest possible reassurance to EU nationals in this country.” Important words from the new Foreign Secretary.

Is widespread deportation likely – or even possible? A number of prominent figures appear to believe the answer is no. Here’s an interesting wrinkle, however: Even if the worst should come to pass, and the U.K. chose to throw 3 million people under the proverbial bus, a great many of them – British expats, mostly – would still have legal recourse and protections. Article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights explicitly prohibits exactly this sort of collective expulsion of any group of people.

Another small shred of good news in all this chaos is the fact that that the global attention now being paid to the U.K., the EU and the Brexit negotiations is, even as it exacerbates them, also drawing the world’s eyes to the recent rise in anti-immigrant activities. A blessing and a curse, then.

Trumpism Is Not an Exclusively American Phenomenon

No discussion about the plight of migrants, immigrants and refugees would be complete without a thorough wag of the finger in Donald Trump’s direction. One needn’t go so far as pretending he invented xenophobia or racially driven paranoia, but it’s clear by now that he’s politically savvy enough to have sensed the winds of change in time to hitch his wagon to the global rise in immigration-based paranoia. The tragic part is, it’s working. By fueling the flames of mistrust and racism – both the implicit and explicit varieties – he’s both profited from, and managed to worsen, global racism.

Brexit is more of the same, but worse: It’s an example of what happens when democratic due process is used as a device to turn fringe sentiments into national and international law. We can claim all we like that the Brexit vote was democracy in action, and a lawful and civil way to settle significant differences, but the fact remains: The paper it’s written on is stained with blood.

Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, has indicated that never before in his lifetime has the U.K. been home to the sort of venomous, violent anti-immigrant actions we’re now seeing: “Since the referendum, we have seen an outswelling of poison and hatred that I cannot remember in this country for many years.”

He went on to add that Brexit has “cracked the thin crust of politeness and tolerance” in the U.K.

Sound familiar? If images of a golden-haired tyrant are swimming before your eyes, you’re not imagining it. What Welby describes here is Trumpism writ large: It’s a surge of vocal protest from the so-called silent majority – that is, the regrettably substantial portion of the world’s population that appears to have been held hostage all this time by the sort of political correctness they spend time at campaign rallies screaming about. Trump’s rise to prominence has merely given them an excuse to start spewing their poison. Across the pond in the U.K., that excuse was Brexit.

Now that immigrants in Britain are facing potential deportation back to other member nations in the European Union, we have to come to terms with deeply uncomfortable parallels between the American mindset that resulted in Trumpism and the European mindset that handed the Leave Campaign their ill-gotten win during the Brexit vote.

The legal fallout from both of these racist crusades is going to be staggering. Lawyers and advocates across two continents are now busying themselves with the dizzying number of factors in play. This includes locating next-of-kin for detained immigrants, representing those immigrants at deportation hearings and assisting with immigration appeals should they prove necessary for people whose entire futures are now anything but certain.

A Land of Opportunity – Some Exceptions May Apply

We can pretend we’re protecting our precious homelands by making life more difficult for political and economic refugees, but it should be clear by now to any freethinking adult that the costs are going to be astronomical – and we’re not just talking about money.

Consider the Statue of Liberty: a gift from France that crossed an ocean to become a national landmark and a breathtaking symbol of intercontinental solidarity. It says something there on the tablet about welcoming the poor and the downtrodden. Did we miss some fine print? If we did, it probably says something about chipping off a piece of our collective soul each time we turn away so much as a single human being from shores that were supposed to be a safe haven.


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Holly Whitman is a writer and journalist based in Washington DC. She loves to share her thoughts on the intersection of politics and culture, and writes on everything from feminism and human rights to climate change and technology.

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185 thoughts on “How Brexit Turned Into an Immigrant’s Nightmare

  1. It’s a lot easier to call people racists (and no doubt some are) than grapple with the fact that globalization and trade policy is leaving a big chunk of citizens in Western countries behind. If I were British I’d have voted to stay and I certainly don’t support Trump. However I understand why someone who lives in some former industrial town where the jobs left decades ago and the standard of living has dropped and low skill work is now done by immigrants for peanuts might see the world differently.

    But yes, it’d be racist and xenophobic for the state to ever take their interests into account.

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    • Yes, we should take their interests into account.
      But the conversation and engagement demands honesty on both parts.

      If the massive pain and suffering caused of global trade deals can be ignored in favor of “Mexicans with calves the size of cantaloupes are loafing on welfare” then we aren’t really taking their interests into account.

      It might be helpful to be able to honestly talk about the fear and insecurity that comes with being a member of a declining tribe, and how to cope with being a minority.

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      • I have no disagreement that there are some really ugly sentiments that come out of that movement. I also don’t want to give the impression that I object to calling a spade a spade. What I think is that, if we want to keep those ugly sentiments from becoming a truly dangerous political movement, we need a better answer than ‘shut up you stupid insecure racists.’

        That racism is wrong can and should be part of the message, but that message also needs to include a plan for how those people are going to have a decent economic quality of life and a stake in the government.

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        • That racism is wrong can and should be part of the message, but that message also needs to include a plan for how those people are going to have a decent economic quality of life and a stake in the government.

          I think it’s interesting that our answer has to have that, when the people we’re talking about are generally flocking to movements and candidates who don’t have anything resembling a plan to address those interests. Boiled right down, Trump doesn’t have a plan for anything. Where’s the evidence that such a plan will be a persuasive argument?

          I can think of dozens of reasons why we’d want to have and implement that plan, of course, but I don’t see any reason to believe articulating it will shut down the racist sentiments.

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          • I think you’re incorrect when you say they aren’t offering plans. The plans they’re offering just aren’t sensible, plausible, or likely to improve the lot of the people who are being appealed to. However I think even a ridiculous plan, especially one that plays on latent (or not so latent) prejudices sounds appealing in the absence of an alternative.

            Some such people can probably never be swayed but insisting that none of them could be strikes me as a dodge, and maybe a tacit admission that the cosmopolitan progressive side of this debate doesn’t have an answer either. I’d like those of us doing ok in the current economic order to start coming up with one before the dispossessed of globalization succeed in putting a demagogue in power.

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            • Some such people can probably never be swayed but insisting that none of them could be strikes me as a dodge, and maybe a tacit admission that the cosmopolitan progressive side of this debate doesn’t have an answer either.

              I just don’t see evidence that the plan is a useful argument. I suppose it might be possible that successfully implementing that kind of plan would help undermine the sentiments fueling the rise of Trump et al., but that’s very different from persuading anybody.

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          • I can think of dozens of reasons why we’d want to have and implement that plan, of course, but I don’t see any reason to believe articulating it will shut down the racist sentiments.

            I don’t see why it *wouldn’t*.

            As was pointed out, there are two things people see: Half the jobs left, and the other half are being done by immigrants who get paid less. (Note: This is the *perception*, it doesn’t matter how true it is.)

            People do not actually understand why all the jobs left, so that’s hard to complain about, but it’s easy to demagogue against the immigrants, which quickly turns into racism.

            If you give them a way to get those original middle-class jobs back, some sort of plan that explains where and how they left and how to get them back, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t latch on to that, and *leave* the min wage job *to* the immigrants…the manufacturing jobs pay better anyway.

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            • But…but they’d still be racists!

              I really do get the idea that, despite fulminations about inequality, leftists don’t actually have a problem with white racists having a bad time. They enjoy the opportunity to see bad people be punished, and to rub those bad people’s noses in just how bad they were and how they absolutely deserve to be where they are now.

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              • DensityDuck:
                But…but they’d still be racists!

                Yes, I’m arguing that they’d still be racist, since there really has been no argument to the contrary. I’m not arguing that the fact that they would still be racists is a reason not to try to improve the economic situation of poor and working class white people who happen to be racist, and really don’t see how I could have been clearer about that.

                The idea that we should try to help out economically distressed people because doing so will somehow make them better people strikes me as bizarre nonsense. We should try to help out economically distressed people because poverty sucks.

                I really do get the idea that, despite fulminations about inequality, leftists don’t actually have a problem with white racists having a bad time.They enjoy the opportunity to see bad people be punished, and to rub those bad people’s noses in just how bad they were and how they absolutely deserve to be where they are now.

                As opposed to right-wingers, who always… well, usually… well, very occasionally refrain from arguing that poor people are poor because of their horrible choices, pathological culture, and generally being a bunch of lazy moochers, takers and “welfare queens” who lack any sense of “personal responsibility”.

                Pull the other one.

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                • Yes, I’m arguing that they’d still be racist, since there really has been no argument to the contrary.

                  Do you want the term “racist” to lose its sting?

                  Because that’s how you get the term “racist” to lose its sting.

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                    • I’ve no problem with assumptions that anybody can be racist.

                      My issue was more with the whole “the burden of proof is on the racist to prove she’s not a racist” thing.

                      It could easily be that she’s a racist. But the question shouldn’t be begged like that.

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                      • My issue was more with the whole “the burden of proof is on the racist to prove she’s not a racist” thing.

                        That’s not what I’m saying at all.

                        What I am saying is that no one has presented an argument that people who are economically distressed and racist will suddenly stop being racist when they stop being economically distressed. Everybody is evidently just supposed to implicitly assume that’s true.

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                        • So if the argument is that the problem of racism is orthogonal to the problem of economic distress, I’d say okay… so what do we gather from that?

                          If the answer is that we need to solve the racism problem before we solve the economic distress problem (or that we should be inclined to solve the racism problem before we solve the economic distress problem), then I’d say that we’ve caught ourselves, red-handed, tying the two problems together.

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                          • So if the argument is that the problem of racism is orthogonal to the problem of economic distress, I’d say okay… so what do we gather from that?

                            That it’s unreasonable to demand that we present a plan to deal with the economic distress (let alone successfully implement such a plan) prior to dealing with racism, and that if we fail to do so, we are partially responsible for racism.

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                                  • I don’t think that’s right.

                                    “You haven’t dealt with economic distress, and because people are being racist due to their economic distress, you are thus partially responsible for their racism,” entails the argument that, “You haven’t dealt with economic distress, and thus are partially responsible for economic distress,” as well as a lot of other assumptions about the relationship between economic distress and racism.

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                                    • The problem of economic distress is an engineering problem for the most part.

                                      The problem of racism is a spiritual, for lack of a better word, problem.

                                      At the very least, you can measure things when it comes to economic distress. Are people getting enough food? Are they getting enough heat in the winter? Do they have shoes? Better distribution of food, environmental controls, and footwear can address these problems. Perhaps even replace them with new and less horrible problems.

                                      When it comes to racism… well, it’s complicated.

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                                  • That’s not fair, Jaybird. Pillsy is saying that issues of racism, on his calculus, take priority over issues of economic distress in terms of mitigating adverse effects. You apparently disagree with that prioritization but that doesn’t mean Pillsy (or any other advocate of that view) is furthering racism by not adopting your preferred calculus.

                                    Seems to me anyway.

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                                    • But he says “if we fail to do so, we are partially responsible for racism.”

                                      It’s apparently the case that he believes that we’re furthering racism by not adopting his preferred calculus.

                                      Or am I not appreciating the fine difference between furthering a thing and being partially responsible for a thing?

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                                      • I think the difference is that you went meta: that you’re imposing your own view on Pillsy’s claims and concluding that since he’s not adopting your view he’s expressing the opposite of what he intended and so he’s hopelessly confuzed.

                                        As opposed to simply disagreeing with him about what YOU view as the source and solution to the problem.

                                        Add: It’s the difference between saying “I’ma gonna analyze your claims in terms of my own ideological theory to show why you’re hopelessly confused” VS “I’m gonna analyze your claims on their own terms and say why I disagree with them”.

                                        It’s perhaps a subtle distinction…

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                                        • My view is that the problem of racism and the problem of poverty are two distinct problems and only one of the two problems is measurable.

                                          To say that people who think that this one is prior to that one are partially responsible for that one not being solved is to stack the deck. A deck that gets just as stacked when you start thinking that that one is prior to this one.

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                                          • Racism is measurable. Too many studies measuring it to link to, in fact. Everything from name association to speech patterns to skin color. I think your point is that it’s not materially measurable in the sense of definitive causation. Which exhibits – in my view – a bias in favor of causal materialism. Or as you say, for some unknown reason: “only one of the two problems is measurable.”

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                                            • When it comes to setting official policies to remediate problems, I think you’ll find that causal materialism is a far more useful tool than whatever it is we’re using to define the attitudes of British people towards Polish plumbers as “racism”.

                                              If you show me a bunch of malnourished, shoeless children, I can figure out a way to make them neither and put together a gameplan with a budget and everything.

                                              How would you suggest I fix a bunch of British children who are racist against Poles?

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                                              • To your last question, I have no idea. But I have no idea how to solve problems of irrationality by rational solutions. What we can do (you and I anyway) is agree that economic problems ought to be distinct from racial/racist ones. Course, insofar as the racist problems are interconnect with economic ones I’m not sure that we’re solving political problems by so agreeing.

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                                                • They’re distinct as hell.

                                                  But one problem is, at least, measurable. To imply that we’re responsible for the other if we only try to fix the measurable one is going to do more to prevent the measurable fix than inspire us to jump in feet first to the much more complicated one.

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                                      • But he says “if we fail to do so, we are partially responsible for racism.”

                                        No, I’m saying the opposite. I’m saying that I’m not convinced improving the economic situation will have the desired effect of reducing racism. Thus, I don’t think it makes sense to try to shift responsibility for racism away from the people who are actually racist to everybody who has failed to solve difficult economic problems.

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                                          • I think you’re still (intentionally?) misnderstanding – or at least being unfair to – pillsy.

                                            Suppose that we increase the economic opportunities of blacks and latinos in Murka. I think we all (all three of us) agree that such an action won’t “solve” the racial problems. But insofar as those increases are viewed as coming at the expense of white people, folks who have an inclination to view things racially, all we’ve done is increase the racial tensions in the US.

                                            I’m with pillsy on this one: racism (and etc) are a bigger problem in US politics than economic disparities. And those racist inclinations are both the source of such disparities as well as the cudgel by which they’re maintained.

                                            I mean, I hear ya about rising above and getting past all that. But you’re talking to two people (of three!) who are more or less viewing reality thru the same filter. We’re not speaking to anyone outside our own cohort.

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                                              • So how do we go about fixing them?

                                                As I said, I’ve no idea. Marginalization seems like the most effective method, but Trump (with the help of overly PC liberals) has blown that outa the water.

                                                And if we don’t have an answer, can we lay off the people who keep eyeing the economic problems?

                                                Sure. Except when they appear to deliberately misrepresent/misunderstand the views of folks who also want to keep those issues distinct because they’re referencing stuff that goes beyond the purely economic*.

                                                * Subjective value? Median income? Per capita GDP? Etc etc etc

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                                                • I suppose it might also behoove us to ask what our responsibility is to both Brits and Poles to make Brits less racist.

                                                  I can get on board with the whole idea that we should feed the sick, clothe the hungry, and heal the naked but when it comes to making people overseas be less racist, I’m finding myself wondering at which point that became a moral obligation on my part to the point where their racism is our responsibility, even if partially.

                                                  You know the thing where some get upset at street missions giving out free* food (but you have to sit through a prayer, a hymn or two, and then a sermon)?

                                                  Yeah. That.

                                                  (And it doesn’t seem to me that they’re being kept distinct. It seems to me that when they are our responsibility despite our helping with one but not the other, they are somehow tied together.)

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                                                  • (And, note, I’m not talking about stuff like laws mandating this or that other form of discrimination against their own citizens. Separate water fountains or the like are perfectly good reasons for us to say “we’re going to re-negotiate our trade deal with you!” I’m talking about stuff like the racism that resulted in people voting “leave”. And, I suppose, some of the racism that resulted in people voting “remain”.)

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                • “The idea that we should try to help out economically distressed people because doing so will somehow make them better people strikes me as bizarre nonsense.”

                  Nobody is actually making this argument.

                  What is being argued is that since Remain has such a long list of benefits and Leave would destroy all of them, and nobody can articulate a coherent position in favor of Leave without resorting to racist ideology, then therefore the Leave position is mostly (if not entirely) founded in racism, and working to mitigate the harmful economic effects of Brexit is meaningless without first and foremost addressing that racism.

                  It’s not “we’ll help them so they’ll stop being racist”; it’s “we shouldn’t help them if they don’t stop being racist”.

                  If you say “but we shouldn’t give a damn about their racism so long as they don’t take certain legally-proscribed actions”, that’s great, and I feel the same way, but it’s important to recognize that there are left-liberals out there who see economic hardship as a useful cudgel, and there are more of them than there are of you and me.

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                  • With all due respect, I’d say Bollocks

                    Xenophobic (I won’t say Racists) Leavers don’t live in a separate island from Remainers. The bad economic consequences will be bad for everyone. We should try to mitigate those as far as possible, irrespective of the xenophobia of (1/3)x(52%) of Brits, or whatever the xenophobic Leave vote was.

                    Would it be nice they stopped being xenophobic? Yes. But that’s an orthogonal problem to the economic impact of Brexit.

                    The second order issue is that the xenophobic Leavers would not agree to mitigate the pain of Brexit, perhaps like with a Norway option, because it doesn’t fully deal with the issue of Polish plumbers (and no matter what it will never deal with Rotherham)

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              • But…but they’d still be racists!

                I have to disagree with this.

                To quote Yoda: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate.

                There are a bunch of ex-middle class white people *very scared*, and rightfully so, about their future. And thus they get scared, and thus they get angry.

                A certain set of political actors *direct* that anger at other groups, but, honestly, I’m not sure we’d be a lot better off if those people didn’t exist and that anger was just directed *randomly*.

                In an ideal world, the anger would be directed at the actual *problem*, but that is, honestly, too much to hope for.

                The actual way to get rid of the anger is to…get rid of the fear.

                I really do get the idea that, despite fulminations about inequality, leftists don’t actually have a problem with white racists having a bad time. They enjoy the opportunity to see bad people be punished, and to rub those bad people’s noses in just how bad they were and how they absolutely deserve to be where they are now.

                I can’t disagree with this. I’d really *like* to disagree with it, but I can’t.

                See, here’s the weird thing: It’s *fear* that leads to anger, not helplessness. People who had poor parents, grew up poor, and never had a good job, *they* aren’t the fearful ones. And I just described minorities…and millennials.

                It’s the people who assumed they were getting the same as their parent, a comfortable amount, and now are scared they *aren’t*, that are the frightened ones.

                That’s not to say no one on the left is frightened, or angry. But they tend to aim at…’correct’ targets. Now, sometimes these targets aren’t actually the *true* problem, but they are usually pretty bad things. Fixing student loans and payday loans and whatnot really aren’t going to help the general situation, but those are, indeed, things that should be fixed.

                The problem is that the right often is completely mislead in their targets, which everyone on the left already knows…but what they don’t seem to understand is that doesn’t make the right’s *anger* bogus. The left, in concluding that the right is angry at the wrong things, and in fact has become angry in *evil* ways like racism, seems to think that there is no cause of their anger.

                But the thing is…I don’t think it matters. The left’s policy solutions, if it ever gets to do them, will be *generally* helpful to the angry people on the right (If only because they’re generally creating more financial security), at which point they will become less fearful and angry. The left might totally dismiss the anger of the angry white middle-class right, but it hardly matters, because they have also exactly the same concerns as middle class women or middle-class ex-union workers.

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                  • That’s not a fair comment. The Little England is fearful of different things than the USA White Working Class(*)

                    The USA would be better if things available in the UK, like Universal Health Care, were available here. And that would help assuage the fears of American WWC. Little Englanders are not afraid of medical bankruptcy, they are afraid, among other things, of the social service cuts the Tory Austerity implemented.

                    Different original fears, same mechanics

                    (*) Using very generalized descriptors whose accuracy I won’t defend right now

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                    • Little Englanders are not afraid of medical bankruptcy, they are afraid, among other things, of the social service cuts the Tory Austerity implemented.

                      They’re afraid of social service cuts?
                      Seems weird to spend so much energy talking about racism, then.

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                      • The reality (I have family in the civil service in the UK) is that cuts are driven by the Tory Austerity policy

                        The perception, particularly in Tory voters, is that is driven by X ends demand from Polish plumbers. Cognitive dissonance makes it difficult for them to relate their vote for Tory politicians with Tory politicians enacting the policies they promised (Austerity) and making their life more difficult.

                        It can’t be the politicians they voted in. It must be something else.

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                        • @j_a

                          This argument turns on it being the case that there is a large and significant bloc of conservative British voters who voted for what you are characterizing as Tory Austerity Policy, but who don’t really understand what Austerity means, so they blame budget cuts in Polish plumbers.

                          I’m not saying that can’t be the case, but generally when someone makes an argument that depends on the folks on the opposite side of the political divide being either stupid or evil, I get suspicious. So, do you have any evidence that this is the case?

                          Might it also be possible that Tory voters understand how budget cuts work, which makes them more suspicious of sharing their cut of shrinking public expenditures with newcomers? Because that would be something a bit different than what you are suggesting.

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                          • I don’t have much more than a combination of anecdata compiled from:

                            – My UK born and raised siblings, and their families, including civil servants (at the local level -EHS).

                            – Four to five trips a year there

                            – Reading the UK press (mostly the Guardian, because it’s the only free one) almost daily to keep up with what happens there so I can discuss with my brothers.

                            The combined anecdata (my siblings vote Tory, even though I beg them to go LibDem) is:

                            1. Austerity is very popular with Tory voters. They have drunk Osborne/Cameron recipe and rejected G. Brown’s Keynesianism.

                            2. Austerity has cut the civil services to the bones. They don’t have enough resources to do what they used to before 2010

                            3. The press has been reporting for years the frustration of people with the loss of services, consolidation of schools, closing of hospitals, closing of and privatization of postal services, etc.

                            4. There’s been a palpable sentiment of too many foreigners going around for quite some time. Even my siblings, children of a foreign parent (our dad) and grandchildren of foreigners (or their mum’s side), fume against not hearing English spoken in the street.

                            I agree your reading of my anecdata is as valid as mine, and perhaps the correct one. I don’t get that impression. Is not that I’m doing just tea leaves reading, but I can’t go beyond trying to make an informed, but informal, reading of my personal anecdata

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                            • One thing I’ve heard a lot about over the past year or so, that strikes me as relevant here, is how restricted a lot of EU member labor markets are. So if all the borders are open, but not all the labor markets are, then people will move toward the more open markets, which will create problems for the entrenched interests in those open labor markets.

                              So, should we be critical of Britain for being upset with immigration & employment issues, or should we be critical of the rest of the EU for being overly protectionist?

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                              • That’s actually an interesting point.

                                I’m not up to speed on how difficult it is for Polish Plumbers to plumb in France, but as a general rule, the employment laws within the EU are hardly consistent. What the EU needs are more interchangeable cogs. Its hardly fair for France to privilege their widgets (wee-jay) and look down on English cogs. The Germans, are from what I hear, somewhere in between… we’ll call them sprockets.

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                          • Might it also be possible that Tory voters understand how budget cuts work, which makes them more suspicious of sharing their cut of shrinking public expenditures with newcomers?

                            But we see the same phenomenon here in America, and I can’t wrap my head around how the logic would work:

                            “I think we should spend less on social services! And now that they are crippled, that really makes me angry, and now I resent having to share the smaller pie that I insisted be made even smaller!

                            I mean, does this make even slightest bit of sense?

                            I don’t see logic here, I see a religious conviction in the demonization of the public sphere, and the exaltation of the private.

                            We have actual empirical evidence of people who prefer to spend more on a private service, than less on the public version.

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                            • Brexiters (though not May) have been now offering that existing foreign EU residents will be allowed to stay permanently, with restrictions applying to future migrants only.

                              If your concern is the dwindling pie of social services this is a bonehead idea. Many Polish plumbers (and this has been documented in the past in the UK press (and Polish press) only want to stay in the UK for a few years, and then go back home with enough saved money to buy a house or set up a small business. And these are young healthy people (many with no children) contributing taxes but taking little from the system.

                              Now Brexit is going to convert them into permanent residents who will start requiring more services and contributing less as years go by. They’ll be reluctant to go home because, if things don’t work there, they won’t have the option to come back.

                              Same bonehead move in the USA converted male agricultural migrants that stayed for half a year, consumed little, had no children, and went back at the end of the season with a little money that went a long way home, into permanent migrant families, illegal and legalized, that required school and medical services, and eventually social security and Medicare.

                              Curtailing freedom of movement is actually making the problem worse.

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                      • if you haven’t already, you should read Jonathan Haidt’s most recent article in The American Interest… right up your alley in terms of high-trust/collaboration juxtaposed to Globalism/Nationalism. Should be required reading for the Left.

                        That said, I’m pretty sure that Haidt’s Liberal card is in jeopardy, and the next time he makes his way through Whole Foods they will surely confiscate his re-usable bags.

                        I’ll show why immigration has been so central in nearly all right-wing populist movements. It’s not just the spark, it’s the explosive material, and those who dismiss anti-immigrant sentiment as mere racism have missed several important aspects of moral psychology related to the general human need to live in a stable and coherent moral order.

                        What I also find interesting is that the stable moral order is not necessarily “conservative” or, perhaps better put, “traditional.” The Progressive moral order is and will be increasingly “authoritarian” as it sees threats to cohesion.

                        In the end, I’m just not convinced of mass democracy… there’s a point at which the moral cohesion cannot be sustained without excessive violence. The irony is that if Globalism were more multiculturalist instead of universalist, there’d be less tension. But I’m a reprobate devolutionist at heart, so I would think that.

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                        • I haven’t read it yet but from your excerpt alone, I love it already.

                          (Whole Foods story. Maribou told me about an acquaintance of hers who was complaining that she got chewed out at Whole Foods by a Facebook Friend for having a particular set of political beliefs as evidenced by a handful of Facebook posts.The culmination of the chewing out was the claim that the acquaintance was hypocritical by having these political beliefs while also shopping at Whole Foods… and, therefore, the acquaintance shouldn’t shop at Whole Foods anymore.)

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                        • Okay, I finished it.

                          Here’s my main takeaway: it seems that Globalism suffers from one hell of a collective action problem.

                          Additionally, it seems that one of the things it measures is signals (rather than actions) so that there is benefit to a group that signals “We’re on board with X!” but still actually acts as if they were not X but not to a group that signals “We’re *NOT* on board with X! No way, no how!” but actually acts as if they were.

                          Which means that the problem they’re going to end up fixing is one of signalling rather than one that actually results in the outcomes they claim to be hoping for.

                          But maybe those claims are nothing but singals too…

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                • “The left might totally dismiss the anger of the angry white middle-class right, but it hardly matters, because they have also exactly the same concerns as middle class women or middle-class ex-union workers.”

                  Historically, “fuck your feelings I’m doing this for your own good and you’ll be better off afterwards so shut up and take it” has not been a message of intellect, tolerance, and moderation.

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                  • Historically, “fuck your feelings I’m doing this for your own good and you’ll be better off afterwards so shut up and take it” has not been a message of intellect, tolerance, and moderation.

                    This is a bit late reply, but the reason I said it doesn’t matter is not that ‘People should take it’.

                    It doesn’t actually matter if they *like* this or not. I’m not expecting any sort of *gratitude*.

                    The point is that policies that help the poor and black middle class and working women will also improve *their* life, making it more secure…which will reduce their *fear*.

                    Which, as I said, is the cause of this sort of racism.

                    If there is no economic fear, there is no anger at people causing the fear…or to be misdirected at groups of people by political demagogues.

                    (Well, except *other* sorts of fear will still exist.)

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            • If you give them a way to get those original middle-class jobs back, some sort of plan that explains where and how they left and how to get them back, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t latch on to that, and *leave* the min wage job *to* the immigrants…the manufacturing jobs pay better anyway.

              Well, I suppose that is really hard to do if one reason why those jobs left is because the minimum wage is too high (or exists at all) or because inflationary monetary policy ate away at your real wage when nominal wages remained the same.

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              • What I wonder about is if anything can be done to lower costs of living down to the level of a developing nation. There was an episode of Cooked on Netflix that interviewed an Indian woman whose job was to make lunches for office workers in her home. She made an incredibly low amount of money but something that was presumably a survival wage or somewhat okay in India. An office manager can earn under 4000 USD a year in India.

                We can build more to lower housing costs but I am not sure we can lower costs that much. I am pretty sure we cannot.

                I wonder how much regressing the Western World would need to do to be competitive with developing nations in this regard.

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                • You don’t have to compare yourself to India. I’m now in the UK and a lot of my daily staples are twice as expensive as they would be in Singapore. But the standard of living is comparable (or actually because of the price difference, is actually better). In fact, my wife is earning slightly less before taxes and a heckuvalot less after taxes than she would in Singapore even though technically her position is higher now (but in a smaller firm) than it was when she was in Singapore. So, there are a lot of things britain could do to to make living here more affordable. Maybe one of those things would be to make its tax, welfare and regulatory policies look more like Singapore and Hong Kong’s.

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                    • UK can grow more produce, but Singapore imports from basically everywhere and IIRC has really low (or maybe even 0) tariffs for most things except cigarettes, alcohol and petrol. Petrol in Singapore costs as much as it does in the UK. Depending on how the exchange rate works out, Milk is cheaper (or at least it used to be when £1 was equivalent to about $2.10. You can often get 1 litre of milk in Singapore for $1.75 or less. Here, except if there is a sale at the university grocery store, milk tends to cost £1/litre.

                      The difference becomes more apparent with eggs. A carton of 6 large eggs costs $2.25 in Singapore, but is £1.75 here. Maybe groceries are cheaper in the US, but cooked food is not.

                      In Singapore, fast food is more expensive than in the US, but you could get a full meal at the hawker centre for under $3. When I was in Arizona, I never came across anything like that. The cheapest meal I remember getting was for about US$5 and that might have been at subway or taco bell. And when you convert that to S$, that gets you about $7 when the exchange rate is good but closer to $9 when the exchange rate is worse.

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              • Well, I suppose that is really hard to do if one reason why those jobs left is because the minimum wage is too high (or exists at all)

                So now the economimally Economic Argument is that the minimum wage is responsible for driving manufacturing jobs overseas? And here I’d spent all this time coming to terms with the idea that it was unions…

                or because inflationary monetary policy ate away at your real wage when nominal wages remained the same.

                What inflationary monetary policy? Things have changed a bit since President Carter, ya know.

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              • one reason why those jobs left is because the minimum wage is too high

                Again with this notion that the price of labor is somehow the prime mover of all business decisions.

                Was the minimum wage in America competitive with Bangladesh in say, 1956? So why didn’t American factories rush there then?

                Here, allow a liberal to self-importantly give you a lecture in Business 101-

                Business location decisions are determined by the price of labor, but also the price of energy, the price of rent, the price of materials, the availability of skilled labor, the availability of infrastructure, the availability of consumers, the availability of vendors and suppliers, and so on.

                When a business relocates its operations, all those other factors have to balance out to a positive.

                One of the ways those things balance out, is by the government structuring the laws and regulations with the intent of producing this outcome.

                It used to be very risky to make a contract with a firm half a world away; now it is easy, and backed by international government force;

                It used to be difficult to buy or lease land far away; now the laws and rules have changed specifically to make that safe;

                The jobs moved offshore for many reasons, some technical (like intermodal freight) and some political, like trade laws that are intended to facilitate moving the jobs away.

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                • One huge exogenous factor that is going to become more salient is that other countries are going to catch up on the industrialisation bandwagon. And that means that the global supply of skilled labour is just going to increase. As other governments become more stable, it is again going to be a lot less risky of a bet to relocate production overseas. But these are exogenous factors. What are the things that the US or British government could do.

                  1) Bomb or otherwise reduce foreign competitors back to the stone age.

                  2) Punish people for relocating production overseas

                  3) Compete on wages.

                  1) is off the table if you have any type of functioning moral compass. In principle, so should 2). Even if 2) is not per se wrong, it is likely to be futile. In a world of globally mobile capital, businessmen can give up their american citizenship to live and set up business in places which would give them a better tax and regulatory environment. A lot of countries may not yet be at the place where this is currently very attractive, but that is only a matter of time. That really leaves you with 3)

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                  • 4. Establish mandatory minimum wage, safety, and environmental polices as a condition of trade treaties. So if other countries want access to American consumers, they have to practice certain policies that protect the interests of workers.

                    5. Allow international labor unions to enjoy the same international global legal structure that corporations do- so steelworkers in China and Korea can form partnerships with American steelworkers for example, and jointly strike.

                    Yes, these are virtually impossible to enact given the current political winds, and other countries are not powerless to give in to our demands.

                    But we don’t flinch from using our economic and political power to exact other concessions from our trading partners, so I don’t know why its impossible to do it here.

                    Again, the current structure and shape of markets are not organic and naturally occurring- they were designed and constructed to be this way.

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                    • So, suppose I was minister of trade and industry in Singapore, why would I want to accept a trade deal which would force me to practically ruin my economy in order to trade with you? Remember, any such terms are so vicious that lots of countries would not want to deal on those terms.

                      Would you want to impose a $50 minimum wage across the US?

                      Using your economic power to cripple other people’s economy is of the same sort of monstrosity as sending them back to the stone age (even if to a somewhat lesser degree).

                      Well, ultimately that policy may work, but it would only do so by depressing real wages because would be highly inflationary. If factory workers everywhere are paying american factory wages, then the cost of living is going to increase tremendously and the purchasing power of the dollar will fall. i.e. inflation. But I suppose your unions would be clamouring for an increase in minimum wage to compensate for inflation. And you could then force other countries to comply in order to screw their economies before they can adjust. I suppose you might be able to live with yourself after that but…

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                      • All trade agreements are negotiable.
                        Obviously Singapoer will not be able to agree to a minimum wage equivalent to America.

                        But the point here is that the stakeholders of trade agreements are American consumers and 3rd world property owners, and therefore the agreements reflect their interests.

                        But conspicuously they do NOT represent the interests of American workers and 3rd world workers.

                        3rd world workers would enjoy a higher wage and workplace safety provisions, even if they were lesser than their American counterparts were getting.

                        And there would still be an advantage to relocating to 3rd world, just not the massive imbalance there is now.

                        The losers would be American consumers who would pay higher prices, and 3rd world property owners who gain smaller returns on their investments.

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                        • 3rd world workers would enjoy a higher wage and workplace safety provisions, even if they were lesser than their American counterparts were getting.

                          Some 3rd world workers would enjoy a higher wage. Others would be out of a job or working at the even lower wage that local employers set. Wages set by MNCs in third world countries are still much higher than the wages they could get form local employers even if the former is much lower than the wages they would have if they did the same job in a first world country.

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                    • , Another thing might help bring some jobs back to America is to front load the environmental impact of shipping the items from half way around the world. What little research I have done on large cargo ships is that they a mega polluters.

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                      • That won’t help as much as you think. For one, there is going to be some amount of american exports which are made more expensive as a result. Also, if this depresses global trade more generally, there will be knock on effects which further lower the demand for american manufacturing. It might be necessary from an environmental perspective, but the benefit to american jobs may be very weak.

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                        • , Since our trade deficit is around 30 billion a month with China alone I think it would benefit us more a lot more than the others.
                          Plus, I think the problems caused by global warming are going to be much worse than most people think and the time to do something is now.

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                  • Murali,
                    “One huge exogenous factor that is going to become more salient is that other countries are going to catch up on the industrialisation bandwagon.”

                    Does this still work when parts of India start dying due to excessive dewpoint? When Bangladesh starts becoming inundated more frequently? When Egypt can’t feed itself?

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                • Also, people have a trade-off schedule. Wages which are slightly lower than they currently are, together with the other benefits of operating in the US can tip the balance even if the wages are still much higher than in bangladesh. American manufacturers may be willing to pay some amount for the convenience and other benefits of operating in the US, but not any amount.

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      • “the conversation and engagement demands honesty on both parts.”

        Well, yes, it certainly does.

        Funny how this always winds up meaning “…and until you honestly admit that you’re a giant goddamn racist with no legitemate concerns, I won’t even talk to you”.

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        • I think in some ways we have done too good a job at making the word “racist” a catchall for any sort of ethnic resentment.
          The word has become so toxic it makes any sort of honest analysis difficult- people are so terrified of it they go into full metal defensive mode, and like Lee Atwater, start speaking in abstract code.

          But part of the honesty I think we need is for my tribe of liberals to accept that it is natural and not evil to feel insecure and anxious when we are in the minority, when we move from being the dominant culture to being just one of many cultures.

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          • But part of the honesty I think we need is for my tribe of liberals to accept that it is natural and not evil to feel insecure and anxious when we are in the minority, when we move from being the dominant culture to being just one of many cultures.

            Why is it “honesty” to admit something you don’t believe is true?

            I mean, the liberals you’re referring to are either part of the dominant culture moving to be one of many cultures, and don’t feel that way, or aren’t part of the dominant culture, so aren’t losing that status.

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          • Chip,
            If I make a principled stand against genocide, I expect you to fucking listen to my argument before you say a goddamn word about me being a racist xenophobe.

            And then, if you want to argue my point, bring some numbers and facts. Don’t just deride my character.

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    • So, to be clear, when white workers complained about having to compete for jobs with native-born black workers and demanded that the government shield them from competition, you don’t think that was racist, either?

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    • ut yes, it’d be racist and xenophobic for the state to ever take their interests into account

      Why should white people on one side of a border matter more than brown people on the other side of it?

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      • Because people on this side of the border finance it, live by its laws, and die for it if it tells them to. They do all of these things because they (at least in theory in a Western democracy) have a say in how its run. As long as the nation-state in its current paradigm remains the primary political entity on this planet then its duty will be first and foremost to its citizens. When that ceases to be the case (or even when it’s perceived to cease to be the case) it loses legitimacy and rightly so.

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        • Agreed. That right there is why economic (and I guess political, by extension) libertarianism is inconsistent with democracy: in a democratic society, people have a prior right to assert their claims against folks who aren’t part of the electorate. What Murali is suggesting implies that democracy itself ought to be dismantled, since it allows for taking the bad (according to one calculus) with the good.

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          • What Murali is suggesting implies that democracy itself ought to be dismantled, since it allows for taking the bad (according to one calculus) with the good.

            Well I am sceptical about democracy (Trump and Brexit certainly didn’t help). But nothing I say suggests we need to go that far (Or some argument would have to be made to show that it does). What I do think it does suggest is that there are some things that governments, elected or otherwise may not do to others no matter how popular such a policy may be. But this is a familiar idea. We think constitutions limit what governments may do to people citizens or otherwise, and that this is right and proper. If it is impermissible to use force to prevent people from permissibly pursuing economic opportunities then democratic support does not suddenly make it ok. Compare with the notion that if it is not ok to enslave people, democratic support for slavery does not change that.

            Suppose Paul bought up all the property around Peter’s house such that Paul enclosed Peter and built a really high wall that was impossible for Peter to climb. As a result Peter is unable to go to the market to buy food for himself, or to go to his job etc.

            Intuitively, Paul seems to have wronged Peter even though it is normally permissible to build a wall around your own property. If Paul has wronged Peter the only way he could have wronged Peter is by forcibly preventing him from permissibly pursuing economic opportunities, i.e. opportunities to trade for goods that he can permissibly trade in and opportunities to work in permissible jobs.

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            • If Paul has wronged Peter the only way he could have wronged Peter is by forcibly preventing him from permissibly pursuing economic opportunities,

              Only if you assume the only wrongs are economic ones. One might just as easily claim the wrong was that he was deprived freedom of movement, which is a pre-economic concept, one distinct from but necessary for economic activity. Insofar as folks try to make Economics a Theory of Everything it simultaneously becomes a theory without any specific explanatory value other than that people do what they do. It’s been defanged.

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              • But everyone would nevertheless wrong Peter even if they arbitrarily decided to shun him. So, Peter could move anywhere he wanted but was unable to engage in economic activity. There is a reason for anti-discrimination law. Anti-discrimination law became necessary precisely when discrimination became so pervasive and systematic that whole groups of people were shut off from meaningful economic activity. Whatever else we may say about forcing people to associate and transact with those they do not wish to, surely it is wrong to prevent two people who are perfectly willing to transact and associate with one another in permissible ways from doing so just because one of the parties happens to live on the other side of the border.

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                • Murali, it seems to me you’re saying that depriving a person of economic activity is a sufficient reason to view it as a harm. But there are all sorts of economic deprivations that we don’t view as individual harms. (Or if we do, we think the burden has been born to override those individualistic concerns. Eg., free riders, externalities, collective action problems, and so on.)

                  Anti-discrimination law may have come into being as a result of deprivations from engaging in economic activity, but only because the purpose of anti-discrimination law was to prevent harms specifically revolving around exclusions from participating in economic activity.

                  Anti-discrimination law became necessary precisely when discrimination became so pervasive and systematic that whole groups of people were shut off from meaningful economic activity.

                  No, that gets the history wrong. The laws were designed to ensure that people who, as a matter of cultural norm and codification in law, had been excluded from engaging in economic activity were finally accorded rights to do so, rights which culture didn’t honor.

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                  • FWIW, civil rights laws originated less from economic deprivations than affronts to human dignities.

                    Separate drinking fountains and bus seats never deprived anyone of economic activity, but were a major trigger for the civil rights movement.

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                      • You’re absolutely right that everything can’t be reduced to economics and Brexit illustrates where believing it does can fail so massively. The biggest mistake the EU makes is trying to paper over the difference between being a German and a Greek or Romanian and a Swede. This isn’t to say economics don’t matter (they absolutely do) but it takes more than removing trade barriers for governing institutions to earn legitimacy.

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      • Murali,
        I don’t believe that the white people matter more. I do believe that rampant immigration to places that can’t fucking feed themselves is idiotic. That applies as much to the United States, in the time scale I deal with, as it does to Egypt.

        This ain’t white people versus brown people. This is “do we have enough resources for the people we got?”

        Parts of India are going to die. Parts of the United States are going to die (hilariously, in a shitstorm, or not so hilariously from a hurricane). These are predictable events, if you draw a hundred year horizon. And mostly predictable in a 50 year timeframe.

        We are already drawing up plans to evacuate major American cities (by which I mean a friend of mine just got done writing up the plan).

        This is NOT your ideal world where white people are barring brown people because of STUPID. This is a world where the wheels are coming off the miracle train.

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  2. I’m going to say some things here that are probably going to get harsh criticism, but I think some of these topics need to be laid bare.
    Liberalism in it’s current form is racist. One of it’s current functions is to group people, and start assigning differential weighed protections. It wasn’t always like this but it is now. Liberalism has to often dismissed concerns in developing public policy.

    “another group of human beings is waiting in the shadows for their fate to be decided”

    This sentences plays the ever flailing liberal victim card. This assumes that every persons fate is determined by social constructs. This needs to stop. It starts at the biggest fulcrum to deny power of a people. It assumes they should have faith that a social construct is going to some how ‘save’ them. This lie really needs to stop. They need to become aware that their fate is a function of their own responsibility, not the rest of society or nation states.

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    • The notion that everyone’s fate is “a function of their own responsibility” is one that I have a hard time accepting that anyone actually believes. To pick one of innumerable examples, suppose one is born in a Christian family in eastern Syria, works hard, avoids the attention of the authoritarian state one lives under, and establishes a stable job and family. Then the war happens, and that person can choose between being murdered by fanatics or being a poor, desperate refugee in a strange land. Where did “responsibility” enter into that outcome?

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      • Whether they stay and go, they should not accept that their fate is to be determined by a social construct.
        The murdering fanatics often show at the doorstep. Are people better off to consistently run at it’s appearence? Is there any responsibility to show that coercion resistance?

        If the strange land requires your fate rest in their social construct, it may statistically be superior to find another land.

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        • What a meaningful choice you have to offer! Fighting hopelessly and being murdered, or searching for a place free of “social constructs” to flee to. I still have no idea what you mean when you use that phrase.

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          • Hey, if you want to dismiss creating attrition rates of murdering fanatics as hopeless, be my guest. We start at a different place there, I guess agree to disagree or something.

            Let’s unpack what social constructs can mean here.

            (a.)There is a list of countries that would require your fate to be suspended until they can work out cultural/economic determinations of your fate.

            (b.)There is a list of countries that don’t require your fate to be suspended by cultural/economic determinations.

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        • You said, “Liberalism in it’s current form is racist. One of it’s current functions is to group people, and start assigning differential weighed protections. It wasn’t always like this but it is now. Liberalism has to often dismissed concerns in developing public policy.”

          I agree with that. I don’t see how it connects to the rest of your statement, though, or to the broader discussion. So I was wondering where you were taking that idea in the conversation.

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            • The liberalism is racist meme sounds like a right-wing meme that has not exactly been a winning message for the right or libertarians.

              Trump is currently polling at zero percent with African-American voters in more than one state. Zero. He is talking about excluding whole classes of people from immigration based on their religion and ancestry. How is that not racist? The GOP has been stoking racist resentment for decades.

              Yet somehow liberals (who include most minority voters) are the real racists.

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                • Various libertarians and republicans do seem sincerely interested in attracting the minority vote. They seem perplexed at any idea that government laws like the Civil Rights Act help minorities achieve full access to civil and economic life.

                  Yet they keep repeating the Ds are the real racists meme. I’m Democratic. My worldview is that government action is necessary to combat bigotry and discrimination. I don’t believe in Joe’s worldview and haven’t been convinced of its correctness.

                  The GOP and the Libertarians are the ones who are not attracting minority voters. Why are we to still assume they are right? I make no such assumption.

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                  • The GOP and the Libertarians are the ones who are not attracting minority voters. Why are we to still assume they are right? I make no such assumption.

                    Because the electorate isn’t comprised entirely of “minorities”?

                    Personally, I’m distressed that the white working class has abandoned the Democratic party with such vehemence. Not because they’re racists and xenopohobes, but because the Dems have politically really let them down. (Not that conservatives have done any better, mind. Hence, Trump.)

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                    • I don’t agree with the whole the Democratic Party abandoned the white, working class.

                      1. Why do we separate the WWC from the rest of the working class? There are plenty of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians who are working class?

                      2. Who are the white-working class? Is a white taxi driver in SF somehow less working class or less white than a white factory worker in Ohio or a miner from West Virginia?

                      3. The Democratic Party does okay to well with the WWC outside of the South.

                      4. Democratic Party policies that help the entire nation (Obamacare) are really popular in super-Republican strongholds even as those areas decry Obamacare. See Kentucky and their health care exchange. Just don’t call it Obamacare. Medicare was also massively hated when it came out and now it is a third-rail cherished program along with Social Security.

                      The WWC began breaking away from the Democratic Party as early as 1948. This is when Hubert Humphry gave his famous “sunshine of human rights” speech at the Democratic Convention and Strom Thurmond walked out and formed the Dixicrats. If Humphry’s speech is what caused the break than it seems to me that the Democratic Party did not abandon the WWC but the WWC abandoned the Democratic Party.

                      Serious, the Sunshine speech was one of the finest and bravest ever given by an American public figure. It is up there with Debs speaking against U.S. involvement in WWI at Canton, Ohio.

                      http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/huberthumphey1948dnc.html

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                      • I don’t agree with the whole the Democratic Party abandoned the white, working class.

                        Back when unions were The Thing the Dems were the party – very self-consciously and intentionally – of the white working class. Now, it seems to me that the Dems have simply abandoned those folks by appealing to two distinct segments of the electorate: college educated middle-to-upper income “liberals and minorities. When both parties agreed that unionism was dead, the Dems cleverly appealed to two disparate and (economically speaking) disparate groups. And it worked! Up to now, at least.

                        But I also wanna make clear, Saul, that by criticizing the Dems I’m not equating them with the Republicans. On most important issues I care about the Dems are still – for all their faults – a better party than the GOP. But let’s be honest here: Bernie exposed the holes in the Democratic Party platform in exactly the same way Trump shook up the GOP’s with the only difference being one of scope. Hllary’s doing her best to congeal the disparate groups around a singular Democratic party oriented goal; Trump is content to take his chances blowing the GOP up.

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  3. While I agree with Holly that racism played a part in some segments of the leave vote, and there definitely are racists capitalizing on it, I highly recommend my comrade Alan Johnson’s essay as to why he voted “leave.” Alan is a left-wing social democrat and lays out a pretty good argument for why Brexit was a justified left cause. Here is a snippet:

    “I am for Leave because the EU political project has four built-in and fatal flaws: it is undemocratic, neoliberal, corrupt and a bad foreign policy actor in a dangerous world.
    ….

    By forcing all the nations of Europe into one polity and one economy, with no European identity or loyalty, no European demos, no European democratic structures, the charisma is drained from the nation-state, the social contract that sustained the national welfare state is frayed badly, the anger about the results of free movement finds no echo in the mainstream political parties (where it is dismissed as racist, to be shunned as the product of ‘just some bigoted’ people, as former Labour Leader Gordon Brown famously put it in an unguarded but honest moment).

    This is a mix that the far right are exploiting. Austria has just escaped a fascist victory. As Paul Mason’s argues, ‘The EU’s economic failure is fuelling racism and the ultra right.’ He points out that ‘Boris Johnson’s comparison of the EU with the Third Reich was facile. The more accurate comparison is with the Weimar Republic: a flawed democracy whose failures fuelled the rise of fascism.’ Mason’s question is this: ‘do I even want to be part of the same electorate as millions of closet Nazis in mainland Europe?’

    The Liberal Left are vaguely aware of this but are paralysed and unable to do anything about it because they are committed to the EU political project and the EU Ideology as an article of faith now. (Also because social democratic parties they have somehow got themselves in the ludicrous position of believing that even to raise questions about the good sense of mass, rapid, semi-controlled, and seemingly unending immigration is, in and of itself, unspeakably racist, even though more or less their entire electoral base wants to have that very conversation.)

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    • If you poll the individual ways in which the EU membership impacted the life of Britons, you will find, like with Obamacare, that each REAL (*) impact is highly popular, except for Polish plumbers (and the Euro, but the Euro did not pact the UK): this goes from agricultural subsidies, to human rights legislation, to pan European defense agreements, to being able to retire in sunny Portugal and still enjoy all your benefits.

      And I doubt the average guy will be aware that all those things they do like come from the EU membership.

      Not a single Brexiter wants to lose any of those things. They just want Polish plumbers out. That’s all they think EU membership means. And I have my doubts that they are willing to pay the price of losing the benefits in order to get rid of the Polish plumbers.

      Like with Obamacare’s mandate, politicians, for their partisan benefit, hijacked this resentment about foreigners as a tool against their opponents. Like those that have voted 40 times plus to repeal and replace Obamacare, there is no Replace plan, because the only replacement they were envisaging was who was to sit in which seat.

      (*) There was wide opposition to the fictional impacts, like the European regulations on the shape of bananas. But then, those impacts were really fictional.

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      • Those are some nasty accusations. Isn’t it possible that people could like the benefits of a system but believe that, overall the costs of the system outweigh the benefits? To believe otherwise is to assume that we’re merely consumption machines.

        Actually, now that I think about it, you’re really arguing the same thing I am. You’re just arguing that the intangible that the voters favored over the benefits is racism. I suspect it’s sovereignty, the right to make bad decisions without governmental approval. I don’t see any reason to believe that your theory is stronger. I mean, nearly everyone who’s had a chance to vote against the European Nation (in any of its recent forms) has done so.

        We’re dealing with Chesterton’s Fence here. I can articulate a reason that decent people would vote Remain. Can you articulate a reason that decent people would vote for Brexit?

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        • I can think of several reasons why decent people would vote Brexit believing they are doing the right thing.

          I just feel that most of those reasons mostly emotional, not very rational or well thought, and that several of those reasons are really fictional through no fault of the decent voter.

          A decent Brexiter who is totally cool with Polish plumbers (who have a reputation for being honest and hardworking, btw) will tell you:

          1 – I don’t want all these European regulations telling us what we can and cannot do. Then, when you ask for examples or despised regulations: shapes of bananas (fictional), power usage of vacuum cleaners (real); and size of containers in metric units come up a lot.

          2 – We need to reestablish our sovereignty. Too many things are decided in Brussels. We are giving up our place in the world

          3 – The EU costs us 350 million a week (gross – though it’s true the UK is a net contributor)

          4 – Ill add the “too many immigrants are overstretching the resources of schools, NHS and social housing”, though we are getting close to “Polish plumbers” area.

          But a lot of this arguments are fairly minor (really, vacuum cleaners? bananas?); do not correctly allocate the responsibility of the problem (the Tory beloved Austerity is the main cause in the deterioration of public services- see for instance the conflict between the Department of Health and the NHS Junior Doctors, which has dominated the first pages of British newspapers since late last year, and is still unresolved), or is very mushy (do they really know the limit of responsibilities and functions between Brussels and Westminster?)

          You will notice that no decent Brexiter will say:

          a – The EU imposed Human Rights legislation on us. We won’t be free until the EU and the European Chart of Human Rights are out of our land.

          b – The EU provides half the revenue of the smaller family farms through the CAP. We need to let those marginal farms sink or swim.

          c – The EU grants support a large part of university research and technological development in the UK. That research should be transferred to the private sector.

          d – Free movement of capital within the EU has been critical in making London the Financial Capital of Europe and Financial Services one of the most important items in British GDP. We need to bring the Financial world down a peg. Exiting the EU will reduce the size of the Financial sector within Britain, and probably bring down the pricing of London housing.

          One of the reasons they don’t say is because the vast majority of people are not aware of these things. The other big reason is that those that are aware do support those things.

          The problem with modern states is that they are are complicated things, the EU is a particularly complicated thing, and the decent Brexiter has very little idea how the EU works, what is it’s interaction with the UK, and what is the EU impact in his life. The EU is the proverbial Chesterton fence. The Brexiter does not know how it works and it offends its sense of aesthetics and order, restraining he doesn’t know what, so out with it.

          It is not that he is willing to bear the costs of removing the fence. It is that he doesn’t know that there are costs associated, except the most trivial ones (hey, bananas might come with funnier shapes). He is a fish that disapproves of the sea, but can’t see the water around

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  4. When did we acquiesce, as a species, to overt racism? When did we decide it’s OK for our leaders to speak publicly and candidly about human beings as though they’re chattel? When did mutual mistrust take the place of charity?

    I’d like to submit that we’ve been living in a bit of a bubble and what we are seeing is regression to the mean.

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      • I’ll steal a quotation I read the other day.

        Political Horrorism in a nutshell:

        1. Things Are Absolutely Horrible
        2. Things Are Better Than They’ve Ever Been

        Here’s what I’m going to add to that:

        3. We’re Fixing To Regress To The Mean

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    • It is a modern vice to dismiss as “racism” a whole number of attitudes and behaviors that are cut from a distinctly different cloth. England is a 1,500 year old society (counting from the Anglo Saxon invasion), with a distinctive language, culture and set of traditions. These have been upended in the last 50 years by a new set of ideological propositions that are driven primarily by economic considerations. And that this doesn’t sit comfortably with a lot of people is completely unsurprising. The notion of “free movement of labor” into an old and tradition-bound society from different cultures is a radical one, and that is pretty much unprecedented in human history.

      But to reduce cultural discomfort to the reductive trope of racism is to ignore the impact of these changes on the tenor of day-to-day life of the average Briton.

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  5. “Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, has indicated that never before in his lifetime has the U.K. been home to the sort of venomous, violent anti-immigrant actions we’re now seeing: “Since the referendum, we have seen an outswelling of poison and hatred that I cannot remember in this country for many years.””

    I don’t know what A+ Welby is talking about. Disdain and distrust of the foreigners have been a constant of English culture since at least the Victorian times. Xenophobia has always been present in the fore

    Whatever else you can think about them, Agatha Christie depicted in her stories the rural upper middle class England that she inhabited. That is, Tory England. All, or almost all, of Agatha Christie’s novels and stories, spanning from the 20s to the 70s have characters describing foreigners as stupid, lazy, coy, treacherous, dishonest, liars that can’t be trusted, and eating horrible food. The foreigner is always a suspect, because “you can’t trust a foreigner”. And this foreigners were always Europeans: German, French, Scandinavian, Italian, Irish, Spanish, Dutch, Swiss, Eastern European, they are all the same (actually, no, in Dame Agatha’s characters’ mind, hell has a special section for Eastern Europeans). I can’t even recall a non white character in A.C. stories except some Indian servants. And though, to Agatha Christie’s pride, the foreigner is never the culprit, I think this is because it would be too easy. Her audience did think the foreigner was probably guilty.

    Brexit was about two things: the xenophobia of the Tory Englshman, this time directed against Polish plumbers, and an intraparty feud that’s been going on for decades. The xenophobia, high is real, was used as a tool against your political opponent. If Cameron had been a Brexiters, Boris would have championed Remain

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    • This gets to my issue with this essay. Racism != Xenophobia (for lack of a better term). Holly couches all of this into the domain of racism, and that is extremely unfair. I’m sure racism has some part in it, but someone first has to explain to me how racism works between a Brit & a Pole, both of whom are more than likely as Caucasian as the day is long, and who, under other circumstances, would get along swimmingly. In short, the charge of racism assumes too much. Anti-immigrant attitudes are a lot more nuanced than straight up racism.

      As for Xenophobia, as much as I am an advocate for “open borders”, I can still understand that people like their change to happen in measured doses. Even in America, where internally we have what amounts to complete freedom of movement, people don’t like mass influxes of populations. Ask people in Portland how much they appreciate all those folks moving up from CA, and hell, that’s just a trickle compared to the migrations happening in Europe.

      The failing of the EU seems to be that instead of trying to get all the member economies working for their populations, it was better to just let the stronger economies try to absorb those populations.

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        • I think there is a difference between xenophobia and racism. Again, to use Dame Agatha as my mirror. Her characters’ relationship towards European foreigners was always negative, but their (very limited) attitude towards non whites was in a complete other league: Foreigners are treacherous, non whites are inferior. You can trust a non white, but he/she is way down there. Like a little child that will never grow up and become an adult

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        • Depends on how you define racism, I guess. I tend to view it narrowly as thus: “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits”. Going off that definition, Brits & Poles are the same race, even if they aren’t the same ethnicity. Now…

          and who, under other circumstances, would get along swimmingly

          I could be wrong, but I’m not aware of any cultural/ethnic conflict between Brits & Poles (e.g. India & Pakistan) such that there would be any friction should a Brit & a Pole sit next to each other in a French Cafe’.

          I can see that there exists an element of Xenophobia, or culturalism; Brits certainly can think an awful lot of themselves and look down their noses at other ethnicities, but I wouldn’t call that racism.

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          • Depends on how you define racism, I guess. I tend to view it narrowly as thus: “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits”.

            Maybe I’m biased by being Jewish, but European and American anti-semitism often overlaps heavily with racism, and is usually targeted at people who look totally white. (There are lots of Jews who don’t look white, but they’re a pretty small minority of a pretty small minority in the US and Western Europe.)

            Now, maybe you’re right about the case of the British and Poles, but I don’t think the argument you used to support it is correct.

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            • Perhaps, but I take claims of racism very seriously, so if Holly wants to make that claim, she needs to do more work to demonstrate that racism is the driving motivation, as opposed to the much more complicated anti-immigrant attitude.

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              • Perhaps you were just a little loose with your language, but doesn’t “anti-immigrant attitude” sort of give up the gig?

                Being opposed to immigration because of the impacts of immigration is one thing. Immigration is a noun, a practice, a set of policies.

                Immigrants? Immigrants are people. Being anti-immigrant is to oppose the people themselves.

                I realize that may seem like a distinction without a difference, but I’d actually argue that it is a very real difference.

                Now, all that said, I think we too often get bogged down in whether something is racism or is not racism or is some other form of ism… Bigotry, hatred, and supremacism should be resisted in all their forms. Opposing immigration is not necessarily or inherently bigoted, hateful, or supremacist… but being anti-immigrant surely is.

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                • I think context matters there Kazzy, and it is one of those things that gets multiple layers of gloss over.

                  Governments, nations, corporations, and politics have interest in moving portions of people around. The immigrant doesn’t land at any particular place on the globe without considerable association with those constructs. I mean, I wish it worked like that, but it doesn’t.

                  I mean hell, when I finally move to Somali, those folks are going to look at me and think I have some pretty apparent associations to social constructs they might not appreciate.

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                • A racist could oppose immigrants from, say Kenya, but be fine with immigrants from Sweden. Someone who has an anti-immigrant attitude doesn’t give a shit where they are from, they would just very much like them to stop coming because they are disrupting the local economy/culture/mood/feng-shui/etc.

                  Hell, you could have someone who is just fine with immigrants from anywhere, but who is very upset with the current volume of influx of immigrants, or would prefer the government be a bit pickier with who they let in, or would like the government to force new immigrants to live in ghettos/prevent them from forming ghettos/etc.

                  So yeah, I am using anti-immigration/anti-immigrant interchangeably, I can see how that is sloppy.

                  My meaning is anti-immigration.

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                  • @joe-sal

                    I should have been clearer myself: I did not mean to say that you were anti-immigrant or racist or anything of the sort. Rather, if someone self-identifies as “anti-immigrant”, there is a chance they were just sloppy with their language but there is also a chance that there is something nefarious to their beliefs.

                    I think there are plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose immigration, in general or specific policies regarding it. My point here is not to argue the merits of immigration or strike out against those who oppose immigration for legitimate reasons. Rather, I was pointing out that if someone is indeed anti-immigrant… if they oppose immigrants as people… we have ventured into different territory.

                    “I hate immigrants!” is a very different statement than “I hate the impact of immigration on this country.”

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                    • There’s just a common mind-reading game I see played in these types of discussions and I’m getting more and more sensitive to it. It’s all about using subtle language cues to convince yourself that the person isn’t saying what they’re saying but rather revealing deep secrets about their real (and always morally suspect) motives for believing what they believe. Sure, they gave colorable reasons why they have a position, but we know that people who disagree with us really do so because of some deeper failing and they’re all just pretending to be reasonable. It sort of goes:

                      A: I believe X because Y.
                      B: Aha! Through subtle language cues, you’ve let slip that you’re a secret racist and that you don’t really believe X because Y but rather because you’re a racist! [Also, this means I don’t have to engage your point about Y at all! Mic drop!]

                      It fails on a whole litany of points, and it’s something I think we should all try to avoid doing, even when it’s really tempting because a large percentage of people really do believe some ideas simply because they’re racists/sexists/anti-semites/Death Eaters.

                      I’m not so much concerned that it’s used against me as I am that it’s used anywhere at all, and I’m particularly bothered by it because it’s a trick most often deployed by people on my side of the political fence.

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                      • I also want to be clear that I’m not accusing you of playing this game, but phrases like “gives the game away” trigger my spider sense on this stuff pretty strongly. There’s a big jump between using “anti immigration” and “anti immigrant” interchangeably and coming straight out with, “I hate smelly brown foreign people.”

                        A lot of people seem to spend most of their time listening to their opponents looking for a slip of the tongue that allows them to say, “Well, you’re clearly Hitler, or close enough, anyway,” and pretend they’ve scored the big knockout punch instead of asking, “Can you clarify what you meant by that?” It’s not listening so much as looking for the green light to unleash the Doomsday Weapon.

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                • Immigrants? Immigrants are people. Being anti-immigrant is to oppose the people themselves.

                  Even if you stopped opposing those people as soon as they stopped trying to immigrate? This seems to me like a semantic point to spin peoples’ motives as being more nefarious than they necessarily are.

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        • Why is the fact that they’re both Caucasian relevant to the question of whether it’s racism?

          These loaded “-ism” words naturally experience a lot of semantic creep, but it seems like once you start using the term “racism” to describe a phenomenon that has nothing to do with race, it might be time to find a different word.

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          • Except “race” doesn’t have some fixed, objective meaning that makes it clear that the issue here has “nothing to do with race”. I mean, it might not be, but an appeal to them both being “Caucasian” makes for a very weak argument.

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  6. “When did we acquiesce, as a species, to overt racism? When did we decide it’s OK for our leaders to speak publicly and candidly about human beings as though they’re chattel? When did mutual mistrust take the place of charity?”

    This is a moral claim, which anyone can make. And at the same time, anyone can ignore. Remainers are adamant that this has been a racist act, having ample opportunity to to call it that in almost as many places as there are remainers. Leavers have ignored this claim, seemingly to roll their eyes at it. Why? Could it be that the “stick” of calling a group of peoples racist was no longer matched to the “carrot” of a better life for all through the EU? While I am proponent of free trade and movement from a economic standpoint, I must say that from a political standpoint it has not been a success for many people. And while we hear that they are not making the rational decision, which of course would be to remain, the remainers are assuming that the rational decisions would of course match the needs of those who would wish to remain, not taking into account that the leavers might be weighing the issues from their own point of view, what has worked for them and what hasn’t re: the EU. Chattle indeed.

    To not allow these people the agency to make their own minds, indeed to call them vile names for not using your moral compass, speaks to one reason why they feel that this might have been in their best interest.

    I read somewhere The Reaction is the Reason. Wish I remembered where, to quote it properly.

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    • I do believe that the Leavers have moral agency, and that the Leavers believe “rationally” that Leave is a better option.

      The problem is that , xenophobia apart, they are mostly, objectively wrong.

      This is perhaps more clear in the context of the Trump followers.

      The jobs that were lost will not come back. Because they no longer exist. Not in the USA, not in the UK, not in Mexico, not in China. Foreigners are not doing those high paying industrial jobs. They have been automated away. Power plants run on their own, without anyone there except for a caretaker that feeds the dog, and a dog that makes sure the caretaker doesn’t touch anything.

      We can do things to minimize the pain, to help the decades long transition. Or we can vote for policies that will exacerbate the pain. For reasons that we have discussed a lot in other threads, the USA White Working Class, like the Little England Tories, have consistently voted against their economic interests. Against Unions. For Austerity, etc. They believed they voted for their interests, or for non economical cultural interests that were worth the costs.

      Plenty of pro Remainers raised their voice saying that the costs would be great, the wins negligible or non existing. Leavers laughed at what they called “Project Fear”.

      The costs will be big, the wins puny. That’s the likely result of Brexit.

      Likewise in the USA: Even if Trump really wanted to, he cannot bring back jobs that do not exist and in the meantime disrupt the global economy. The cost of breaking the Global Economy will be high pain for everyone, and those that are already left behind will end in an even worse place.

      You can have illusions, ideals, hopes. But reality is what is outside of your head. You ignore reality at your peril

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      • “You can have illusions, ideals, hopes. But reality is what is outside of your head. You ignore reality at your peril”

        As I said, the economics of it are spot on, you are right. But the politics don’t match, and if the people who want to be in charge, indeed feel they alone should be in charge, don’t see “what is outside your head” and how it is affecting those who are not succeeding in the new glory, then a Trump or a Le Pen or a Farage etc. will arise. The US gov’t system was set up the way it was to prevent those people from gaining too much power, unless the populous really wanted them to have it. That is why we have so many checks and balances, why we have separation of powers. So many veto points, if you will. The erosion of those powers, for ANY reason, is what scares me.

        Ignoring reality lead to the French Revolution, if I remember correctly.

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    • With Brexit, as with Trump, there are a number of constituencies that aren’t allied, or even fellow travelers, just coincidentally being in the same place at the same time:
      – A loud, and overestimated, group of out-and-proud racists who are happy to finally be able to throw away the dog whistle
      – Some people who are fairly well off, but are sincerely mistaken about what has actually been driving it, and think they are voting in their own interests when they probably aren’t
      – People who globalization has left behind. They weren’t involved in the recovery, and no one in their town was, either. The jobs are gone, they aren’t coming back, and neither liberals or establishment conservatives give a flying French coitus about their very real plight. We need to do more, but no one is listening. Even Trump, really.

      The last group is probably the biggest, and indicative of a major societal failing. The first group is the loudest, and indicative of a completely different societal failing. Which failing a person cares more about sadly seems to be pretty divided along party lines right now.

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  7. When did we acquiesce, as a species, to overt racism? When did we decide it’s OK for our leaders to speak publicly and candidly about human beings as though they’re chattel? When did mutual mistrust take the place of charity?

    Prehistoric times, prehistoric times, and prehistoric times, respectively.

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  8. So let me get this straight Holly…

    Poles are non white? And you use Vox to back up your claims? Vox?

    “When did we acquiesce, as a species, to overt racism” Holly, overt racism has a longer history than the entire western world’s existence. It was acquiesced, nay promoted, for oh, say a few thousand years.

    “Anti-immigration sentiment might claim to come from a well-meaning place – protect our borders, our jobs and our women, etc. – but you’d have to be both ignorant and remarkably strong-willed to not see it for what it is: racism, pure and simple.” Yeah, no. The UK finally decided that they were tired of the EU telling them what their immigration policy was. That’s a completely legitimate national sovereignty issue regardless of where it arises from: economic, racist, or what have you. Side note: I spoke to several folks in Ireland a few years ago and they were all pissed off at the EU as well….for agricultural issues, so being cheese off at “rules to live by from folks we didn’t elect in Brussels” is pretty wide.

    And now the folks who moved to the UK under the EU don’t have that mobility anymore. Seems like to logical thing is for the UK to decide who they would like to keep and who they want to bail–you know…kinda like a sovereign country.

    “.. European mindset that handed the Leave Campaign their ill-gotten win during the Brexit vote.” Ill gotten? Perhaps those low information voters should never have gotten to vote, obviously they didn’t listen to their betters who told them to vote to stay. How DARE the commoners get uppity and upset the WAY OF THINGS. Perhaps you think they need to be put in their place. Your tone smacks of elitism and that wonderful self confident leftism that you know what’s good for all the little people. You just can’t seem to understand that that’s EXACTLY what is being rebelled against.

    Legal fallout staggering? Maybe. Maybe not. I suspect that it’ll be more difficult for the UK to actually exit the EU fully than dealing with the immigration issues, although the immigration issues may actually take more time.

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  9. I wonder why I have seen NO racism evident amongst Leave voters – either before or after the election?

    I have seen lots of accusations of racism in the Remain press, and attempts to paint the vote as racist. But I have’t actually seen any.

    What I have seen is lots of wild-eyed panicking Remainers, who had predicted that the sky would fall, and who are now building ever more extreme predictions of disaster or reasons for reversing the decision. Anything rather than admit they were comprehensively and completely wrong…

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