The Elites and Open Borders

No one wants to leave his or her own family unprotected. There is no such thing as a true proponent of open borders. It is only a question of what the borders look like -- and whom they are designed to protect.

When almost everyone believed in nationalism, or what we used to simply think of as patriotism, borders got drawn around the country as a whole. Nobody questioned it, or even thought about it. The border was defended by the military and the border patrol. America, the “national family” in the public mind, was defined by the people whom the border protected -- the citizens of the United States. In the current, post-nationalist way of thinking that is the brainchild of progressives, the elites who advocate for open borders certainly don’t intend to let American riffraff into their neighborhoods -- let alone the great unwashed of foreign shores. Their borders are the gated community, the homeowner’s association, the local police or private security, and, in the case of high government officials, the Secret Service. The polity are the political, media, and academic elites and their retainers. To them, what it is important to protect is no longer the nation, but rather the class.

This modern conception of borders is, in some ways, a throwback to the Middle Ages, when the landed aristocracy lived in castles with retinues of armed men, and had a deeper sense of kinship with the nobility of other nations than they had with their own peasants. In some ways, unfortunately, the current state of affairs is worse than medieval. In the Middle Ages, a large population meant both military power and economic wealth. The nobleman might look down upon the humble peasant, but he had a vested interest in protecting him. Now, in an age in which both wars and industry are increasingly the province of machines, most of the populace yields very little benefit to the people who rule over them. When people vote in line with the aristocracy’s wishes, they retain some marginal political value. When they don’t, they are seen as nothing but a resource-hungry nuisance. The revelations from Wikileaks have shown this clearly. No U.S. citizen now living on the dole should be fooled into believing that the elites look down from their high places with loving concern. Peons are not cherished. Moreover, a dirty peon of one’s own country is no better than a dirty peon of a foreign one. Citizenship is a concept that progressives have slated for destruction, as it gives rights to people with whom the elites feel no particular kinship. To the remarkably insular ruling class, the people who run the machines and make the lattes are fungible. That we are deemed “deplorable” as soon as we rebel against the interests of the elites should come as no surprise. If the ragged remnants of our democratic institutions can ever be dissolved or fully nullified, we will find out just how little we matter. Some of us are finding out already.

One need look no further for hard evidence of this process than the current state of the black community. Perhaps the welfare programs of the 1960s and 1970s really were an attempt to fix the problems of the ghetto, but by any measure other than the simple alleviation of hunger, the welfare state has made things worse. There is now more illegitimacy, more crime, more drugs, and fewer jobs in predominantly black communities than there were in 1960. However, the gated community, the homeowner’s association, and the local police in the most affluent neighborhoods make this a distant and rather academic problem for the ruling class. The failure of social programs to eliminate actual poverty has had no real consequences for policy makers themselves. So why should they care? Impoverished, miseducated people living on the taxpayer’s largess can usually be counted on to vote for the people who confiscate their livelihood for them. Conveniently, the Black Lives Matter narrative -- that the racist police that patrol the ghetto are the oppressive force that keeps the black population down -- does no substantive harm to the elites either. Policymakers do not own the little businesses that end up getting burned or looted in riots. Those belong to peons of one sort or another, and are expendable. The political class can only be glad for a narrative that absolves their failed policies of any culpability. Section 8 housing subsidies that relocate the decivilized populations of the inner cities to middle class neighborhoods never deposit their beneficiaries in Georgetown, Marin County, or the Hamptons. Chappaqua NY, where Hillary Clinton lives, has an African-American population of a mere 0.94% -- and those are, no doubt, well-educated and successful professionals like everybody else in Chappaqua. To the elites, middle class neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods are functionally indistinguishable -- both places they never visit, populated by unfortunates and inferiors in a variety of unpleasant shapes, sizes and colors. A person who lives in Bethesda (an affluent suburb of Washington DC) is far more likely to visit the nicer parts of London or Paris than any part of SE Washington. A defended border around the U.S. makes no sense to such a person. Their true nation consists of an archipelago of protected enclaves of their own kind scattered here and there across the Western world.

The question of Islamic migrants yields entirely the same story. Any Muslims who live among the elites are themselves educated -- and largely westernized -- elites. You will find no Syrian refugees in Georgetown, Marin County, or the Hamptons for the same reason you will find no Section 8 housing there. So long as terrorists only kill off members of the lower classes, the damage they do can be seen as a statistical abstraction. If you look at Islamic terrorism statistically, the numbers of victims are indeed quite small – far, far fewer than the numbers accounted for by ordinary crime or traffic accidents. When Obama said groups like ISIL (ISIS) are not an existential threat to the U.S. -- this is exactly what he meant. There are more than 300 million Americans. What’s a few dozen, a few hundred, or even a few thousand more or less? Stalin said famously -- “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.” The problem for us is that we are among the rats rather than among the experimenters. That more people die in traffic accidents is not the point. The government makes some effort to reduce the death toll from traffic accidents. In the case of the dangers posed by Islamic migrants, however, the elites have taken the position that a few deaths among the peasantry are more than worth the perpetuation of their diversity meme. They were shaken by 9/11 -- but only because that attack managed to kill a few of their own.

While I cannot, in good conscience, recommend actually hating anyone, I have come to find the passivity and naive optimism of many of my fellow middle class citizens unbearable. The daily drumbeat of outrages against the great sleepy bulk of the American public should not be, and cannot be, ignored. Our republic has been quietly suspended, not in favor of a better and more modern form of government, but in favor of a far older and infinitely worse one. Friedrich Hayek warned us this was coming in The Road to Serfdom -- and now it has arrived. We are ruled with no less callous disregard than we might expect if we’d been invaded by a foreign army. Any customer picked at random from a Walmart in the heartland of America would probably serve the public interests better than either the Democratic nominee, or the current Republican Speaker of the House. 

No one wants to leave his or her own family unprotected. There is no such thing as a true proponent of open borders. It is only a question of what the borders look like -- and whom they are designed to protect.

When almost everyone believed in nationalism, or what we used to simply think of as patriotism, borders got drawn around the country as a whole. Nobody questioned it, or even thought about it. The border was defended by the military and the border patrol. America, the “national family” in the public mind, was defined by the people whom the border protected -- the citizens of the United States. In the current, post-nationalist way of thinking that is the brainchild of progressives, the elites who advocate for open borders certainly don’t intend to let American riffraff into their neighborhoods -- let alone the great unwashed of foreign shores. Their borders are the gated community, the homeowner’s association, the local police or private security, and, in the case of high government officials, the Secret Service. The polity are the political, media, and academic elites and their retainers. To them, what it is important to protect is no longer the nation, but rather the class.

This modern conception of borders is, in some ways, a throwback to the Middle Ages, when the landed aristocracy lived in castles with retinues of armed men, and had a deeper sense of kinship with the nobility of other nations than they had with their own peasants. In some ways, unfortunately, the current state of affairs is worse than medieval. In the Middle Ages, a large population meant both military power and economic wealth. The nobleman might look down upon the humble peasant, but he had a vested interest in protecting him. Now, in an age in which both wars and industry are increasingly the province of machines, most of the populace yields very little benefit to the people who rule over them. When people vote in line with the aristocracy’s wishes, they retain some marginal political value. When they don’t, they are seen as nothing but a resource-hungry nuisance. The revelations from Wikileaks have shown this clearly. No U.S. citizen now living on the dole should be fooled into believing that the elites look down from their high places with loving concern. Peons are not cherished. Moreover, a dirty peon of one’s own country is no better than a dirty peon of a foreign one. Citizenship is a concept that progressives have slated for destruction, as it gives rights to people with whom the elites feel no particular kinship. To the remarkably insular ruling class, the people who run the machines and make the lattes are fungible. That we are deemed “deplorable” as soon as we rebel against the interests of the elites should come as no surprise. If the ragged remnants of our democratic institutions can ever be dissolved or fully nullified, we will find out just how little we matter. Some of us are finding out already.

One need look no further for hard evidence of this process than the current state of the black community. Perhaps the welfare programs of the 1960s and 1970s really were an attempt to fix the problems of the ghetto, but by any measure other than the simple alleviation of hunger, the welfare state has made things worse. There is now more illegitimacy, more crime, more drugs, and fewer jobs in predominantly black communities than there were in 1960. However, the gated community, the homeowner’s association, and the local police in the most affluent neighborhoods make this a distant and rather academic problem for the ruling class. The failure of social programs to eliminate actual poverty has had no real consequences for policy makers themselves. So why should they care? Impoverished, miseducated people living on the taxpayer’s largess can usually be counted on to vote for the people who confiscate their livelihood for them. Conveniently, the Black Lives Matter narrative -- that the racist police that patrol the ghetto are the oppressive force that keeps the black population down -- does no substantive harm to the elites either. Policymakers do not own the little businesses that end up getting burned or looted in riots. Those belong to peons of one sort or another, and are expendable. The political class can only be glad for a narrative that absolves their failed policies of any culpability. Section 8 housing subsidies that relocate the decivilized populations of the inner cities to middle class neighborhoods never deposit their beneficiaries in Georgetown, Marin County, or the Hamptons. Chappaqua NY, where Hillary Clinton lives, has an African-American population of a mere 0.94% -- and those are, no doubt, well-educated and successful professionals like everybody else in Chappaqua. To the elites, middle class neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods are functionally indistinguishable -- both places they never visit, populated by unfortunates and inferiors in a variety of unpleasant shapes, sizes and colors. A person who lives in Bethesda (an affluent suburb of Washington DC) is far more likely to visit the nicer parts of London or Paris than any part of SE Washington. A defended border around the U.S. makes no sense to such a person. Their true nation consists of an archipelago of protected enclaves of their own kind scattered here and there across the Western world.

The question of Islamic migrants yields entirely the same story. Any Muslims who live among the elites are themselves educated -- and largely westernized -- elites. You will find no Syrian refugees in Georgetown, Marin County, or the Hamptons for the same reason you will find no Section 8 housing there. So long as terrorists only kill off members of the lower classes, the damage they do can be seen as a statistical abstraction. If you look at Islamic terrorism statistically, the numbers of victims are indeed quite small – far, far fewer than the numbers accounted for by ordinary crime or traffic accidents. When Obama said groups like ISIL (ISIS) are not an existential threat to the U.S. -- this is exactly what he meant. There are more than 300 million Americans. What’s a few dozen, a few hundred, or even a few thousand more or less? Stalin said famously -- “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.” The problem for us is that we are among the rats rather than among the experimenters. That more people die in traffic accidents is not the point. The government makes some effort to reduce the death toll from traffic accidents. In the case of the dangers posed by Islamic migrants, however, the elites have taken the position that a few deaths among the peasantry are more than worth the perpetuation of their diversity meme. They were shaken by 9/11 -- but only because that attack managed to kill a few of their own.

While I cannot, in good conscience, recommend actually hating anyone, I have come to find the passivity and naive optimism of many of my fellow middle class citizens unbearable. The daily drumbeat of outrages against the great sleepy bulk of the American public should not be, and cannot be, ignored. Our republic has been quietly suspended, not in favor of a better and more modern form of government, but in favor of a far older and infinitely worse one. Friedrich Hayek warned us this was coming in The Road to Serfdom -- and now it has arrived. We are ruled with no less callous disregard than we might expect if we’d been invaded by a foreign army. Any customer picked at random from a Walmart in the heartland of America would probably serve the public interests better than either the Democratic nominee, or the current Republican Speaker of the House.