Grand Delusions: Open Borders Will Destroy Society

By Mehlman, Ira | The World and I, August 2005 | Go to article overview
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Grand Delusions: Open Borders Will Destroy Society

Mehlman, Ira, The World and I

On the morning after Christmas in 1991, a failed experiment in society building came to a deserved end. Not with a long-feared nuclear confrontation, or even with a bloody revolution, but with a mere whimper the Soviet Union expired in its sleep of natural causes.

Communism failed because it was in its essence tyrannical. It was tyrannical because it stood the whole structure of human society on its head. Under communism, the people were subservient to the state, rather than the other way around. The state commanded and the people obeyed, and if they didn't they were likely to find themselves in the gulag, or worse. Under the seventy-year failed experiment known as communism there were no "people," only workers and servants of the state. And, though it never came to full fruition, communism promised ultimately a world without borders and without other distinctions.

At the dawn of the new century, there is a new utopianism that is raging across the planet, and within certain intellectual circles in this country--including some with close ties to the current White House. Globalism is the latest ideology that promises to be the cure for every ill of humanity. A basic tenet of globalism is that for every problem there is a market-based solution, if only it were free to operate without constraints.

As in the failed communist experiment, in the utopian world envisioned by the globalist Bolsheviks there are no people, only workers and consumers who serve the almighty economy. Like the world promised by Marx and Lenin the utopia promised by radical globalists will have no borders or other distinctions.

The model of human-society-stood-on-its-head espoused by the fathers of communism ultimately gave way to the brutal tyranny of Stalinism, because the Russian people saw themselves as something more than just workers and servants of the state. The promised utopia of a world completely controlled by market forces will inevitably result in a form of tyranny of its own, because it fails to grasp the essential reality that human beings are driven by more than their desire for consumer goods. We are a much more complex species, driven by many powerful and often contradictory impulses.

We cannot turn back the clock. The world has shrunk radically and it will inevitably have an impact on every aspect of life everywhere on earth. The challenge before us is how to maximize the benefits of global trade without destroying the fabric of societies and the social stability that make economic growth and prosperity possible.

Cracks in the European model

Supporters of open borders and free trade as the cure-all for illegal immigration (and almost every other problem) invariably cite the European Union as their model. The creation of the European Union--from germination in 1957 to fruition in 1992--was a gradual process that included most of the continent's industrial nations on the free side of the Iron Curtain. This thirty-five-year process took into account that integrating the economies of nations with significant cultural, political, and linguistic differences, not to mention disparities between incomes and wealth, would be a difficult and sensitive one. The potential impact of workers from relatively poorer nations like Greece and Spain, on wealthier ones like Germany and France was one of the chief reasons for the go-slow approach to full integration.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain, the process of integrating the newly liberated societies and economies of Eastern Europe was compressed into just a few years, as new nations rushed to become part of the unified European market. In addition, Europe is now giving serious consideration to the inclusion of Turkey, which not only isn't geographically part of Europe but is culturally and religiously not part of Europe.

As workers from the former Soviet-bloc nations have moved into the higher-wage countries of the original EU, and those transitioning countries have become a conduit for economic migrants from much of Africa and Asia, public support in "old Europe" for a fully integrated continent has cooled considerably.

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Grand Delusions: Open Borders Will Destroy Society


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