May 9, 2000
and Intervention are not the Same Thing
The outside world ain't all bad
Wing parties across the European Union have suddenly discovered
a new strength. A year ago they were feeling their feet at the European
elections, then they were seemingly knocked for six by Left
Wing governments with a more ruthless streak. A possible victory
in the election to be mayor of London was blown off course for the
Conservatives with a politically motivated police investigation
of their candidate, the popular novelist Jeffrey
Archer. The German government used the Kohl
funding scandal to financially cripple their main opposition,
the Christian Democrats, by withdrawing state aid (who said that
state aid for political parties will help democracy?). The
Italian government again tried to delve into the murky business
dealings of their main opponent the media tycoon, Berlusconi. The
Right when it wasn't weakened by internal wars (as in France) had
been crippled by the astute actions of Europe's centre-left governments.
Or so it seemed.
RIGHT RESURGES II
right has taken a bad knock and is back up again. The British Conservatives
once again out
polled the Labour Party
by about 7%, whereas the opinion polls showed them 20% behind. The
German Christian Democrats suddenly seem to be rapidly climbing
in the opinion polls once they had properly ditched Kohl. In Austria
the Social Democrats are out of power for the first time in a generation.
The Italian right won a set of local elections in such a resounding
way that they forced the resignation of the Prime Minister.
reasons for the resurgence of the right are fairly complex, in Italy
and Germany there is a resentment about the austerity measures brought
about by the Maastricht treaty. In Britain there is a fierce debate
about the effectiveness of the police and a feeling that taxes are
being ratcheted up. In Austria there was a general feeling that
the Social Democrats had been in for too long and had become too
corrupt. But there was one issue that was common throughout the
whole of Europe, a resentment towards immigrants.
WILL PAY OUR PENSIONS?
presents a problem to European politicians. Europe needs immigrants.
With the average European growing older there will need to be a
large influx of working age refugees. The pensions crisis is a looming
problem in most EU countries, with the exception of the UK, Ireland
and Holland. The governments in most of these countries have realised
far too late that the pay as you go system is like a pyramid scheme,
lucrative for those at the start of the queue but ultimately unsustainable.
Many measures have been tried, such as lowering the payouts to poverty
levels and putting high profile but ungenerous tax breaks on pension
payments. But the root problem remains, many people expect to retire
and have been led to believe that they will have a decent retirement,
and free health care. They are a growing number which means not
only that they will be more expensive to look after but that they
will have an increasing number of votes. There is only one way in
which they can be cared for, and that is by allowing in more immigrants
to produce more money.
TO GET IT WRONG
problem with immigration is not that it is not needed but that it
is being done in the wrong way. The present system of virtually
ignoring economic migrants and welcoming asylum seekers is actually
increasing the burden on the welfare state rather than decreasing
it as intended. Asylum seekers are rarely allowed to work, and so
become welfare addicts at an early stage. The "backlash" against
immigrants is rarely an actual backlash, and more a wish to preserve
the welfare state, as witnessed by the strongest reactions to immigration
coming from those countries with the strongest welfare states France and Austria. The inability of the liberal political elite
to grasp the nature of the problem means that they overestimate
it's severity. Calls for a high handed refusal to listen to the
people, from establishment organs such as the
Economist and the
London Independent, are frequently heard. Because of the
refusal to listen they don't quite know what is being said.
IS NOT INTERVENTION
non-interventionists confuse intervention and immigration. They
are not the same issue. Some non-interventionists are anti-immigration,
such as Pat Buchanan, but for different reasons. Buchanan sees intervention
as weakening American military power and needlessly making enemies
while immigration (and free trade) worsens the economic position
of working class Americans. Other arguments against immigration,
whether on population growth, cultural dilution or even crime have
nothing to do with the case against intervention. It would be a
massive mistake for anti-interventionists to tie their boat with
those wishing to restrict immigration. It is perfectly consistent
to believe in both causes (as with protectionism) but it is also
perfectly consistent to be a non-interventionist and a believer
in free trade and economic immigration (as I am). But the biggest
problem is not that it will turn off some potential supporters
on that score it will attract as many if not more but that
it leaves us with a tactical liability.
DO THEY WANT MORE?
yourself, if having to choose between subsidised immigration and
global intervention, which would your average liberal elitist prefer?
Which would he (or sometimes she) think makes the world a better
place, or pays higher lobbying fees? The answer is obvious. The
fact is that if a serious isolationist movement drawing in non-intervention,
immigration restriction and protection, got off the ground and caught
the imagination of an electorally significant number of voters,
what would the authorities do? They would throw away the peripheral
immigrant and keep the foreign policy. There really is no short
cut to educating the voters as to the cost, both economic and moral,
of our disastrous urge to intervene everywhere.