“Capitalism has given rise to a special form of migration of nations. The rapidly developing industrial countries, introducing machinery on a large scale and ousting the backward countries from the world market, raise wages at home above the average rate and thus attract workers from the backward countries.I think this passage is the key to understanding why so many Marxists and Communists love open borders.
Hundreds of thousands of workers thus wander hundreds and thousands of versts. Advanced capitalism drags them forcibly into its orbit, tears them out of the backwoods in which they live, makes them participants in the world-historical movement and brings them face to face with the powerful, united, international class of factory owners.
There can be no doubt that dire poverty alone compels people to abandon their native land, and that the capitalists exploit the immigrant workers in the most shameless manner. But only reactionaries can shut their eyes to the progressive significance of this modern migration of nations. Emancipation from the yoke of capital is impossible without the further development of capitalism, and without the class struggle that is based on it. And it is into this struggle that capitalism is drawing the masses of the working people of the whole world, breaking down the musty, fusty habits of local life, breaking down national barriers and prejudices, uniting workers from all countries in huge factories and mines in America, Germany, and so forth.
America heads the list of countries which import workers. ….
The bourgeoisie incites the workers of one nation against those of another in the endeavour to keep them disunited. Class-conscious workers, realising that the break-down of all the national barriers by capitalism is inevitable and progressive, are trying to help to enlighten and organise their fellow-workers from the backward countries.”
V. I. Lenin, “Capitalism and Workers’ Immigration,” Za Pravdu No. 22, October 29, 1913.
It is quite clear from this passage: they see mass immigration and the destruction of national differences as “progressive” and think that once people have been mixed up into multicultural or multi-ethnic states, this will create a huge class-conscious proletarian movement, which will then overthrow capitalism.
Notably, this was also the vision of Engels in The Principles of Communism (written in 1847) for the Communist world he envisaged:
“What will be the attitude of communism to existing nationalities?History shows us that this is a dangerous and unhinged Marxist fantasy.
The nationalities of the peoples associating themselves in accordance with the principle of community will be compelled to mingle with each other as a result of this association and thereby to dissolve themselves, just as the various estate and class distinctions must disappear through the abolition of their basis, private property.”
The vast majority of people have an in-group preference: generally speaking, people of the same culture, same nationality, same religion or same ethnic group prefer to live together. This explains why many people, generally speaking, when left alone, prefer to self-segregate.
As has been shown in Robert D. Putnam’s paper “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty‐First Century” (2007), when diversity is increased in a community, this has devastating consequences by tending to destroy that community’s internal social cohesion, trust and social capital. (One of the few exceptions in the West is the collapse of endogamy between people of the same denominations of Christianity; see Putnam 2007: 160).
For ordinary people, the cultural, national, religious and ethnic differences between human beings are often far more important than the economic or class interests that they share in common.
This is the reality that Marxists and the regressive left fail to understand, and precisely why their vision is collapsing all over the Western world.
Paradoxically, this may be less true of the Western multicultural neoliberal elite of the modern world, who love the vision of open borders and free trade, which they see as good things per se, but it is surely true of the broad mass of normal people, more and more of whom desire an end to open borders.
And, paradoxically, neoliberals and many Marxists/Communists have the same vision of a world with no borders and nationalities dissolved and destroyed.
But the Marxist internationalist vision of open borders is doomed to abject failure, just as the neoliberal vision of the same thing is. In the Western world, the neoliberal world of mass immigration is falling apart, and all the evidence suggests that socialism or social democracy as beloved by the left works best in highly homogeneous societies, not in multicultural societies.
A world with open borders and unending mass immigration will not result in a Marxist proletarian revolution, but – on the contrary – is more likely to unleash a nationalist and nativist backlash, and, in extreme cases, might even provoke fascism.
This is the trajectory of the modern world, and the mainstream left is simply committing political suicide by its adherence to the combined neoliberal and Marxist internationalist cult of open borders and diversity.
It’s time for the left to ditch this ridiculous cult and, instead, adopt a realistic and pragmatic policy of restricting mass immigration and ending open borders.
Putnam, Robert D. 2007. “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty‐First Century. The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture,” Scandinavian Political Studies 30.2: 137–174.
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