What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Hamara Des, Hamara Rishta

It is rare for anyone to say that I have responded temperately to anything, so I owe Jeff my gratitude. Jeff has also done a fine job of chewing over what is really the most troubling part of my Scene colleague Tim's post. This is where he describes race and place of birth to be equally morally "arbitrary." They are therefore irrelevant in determining the obligations owed, and an unjustifiable basis on which to distinguish between people as a matter of law.

The argument against legal discrimination according to race holds that depriving someone of fundamental legal and civic rights on account of an "accident of birth" is unjust. Similarly, slavery, which Tim invokes in his post, is the complete deprivation of legal personhood based on either some contingency (e.g., being captured and sold) or an "accident of birth." Both involve a denial of something fundamental that cannot rightfully be denied someone on such a basis. Place of birth, on the other hand, is substantially different. (Leave aside for now that this line of argument, if consistently maintained, would make birthright citizenship--one of the shibboleths of pro-immigration advocates--entirely unjustifiable.) First of all, there is no act of depriving someone of anything that is rightfully owed to him. There is no "right to immigrate," and so there can be no injustice in denying someone entry on the basis of origin and nationality. There is no question of force or coercion being used to "keep" someone in his home country, but simply in preventing entry into our own.

To be born in a place entails a connection to the people who live in that place, and everyone owes his particular good or ill fortune to his place of birth. This creates a bond of obligation between a person and his country that even precedes his civic obligations to the polity of which he and his family are members. Having a common country of origin with others necessarily implies affinities with and greater obligations to those countrymen. This is not only natural, or rather instinctive, in the sense that it is a common, instinctive coping and survival strategy, but it is also moral in that in entails a recognition of mutual obligations to those who generally share a place of origin. A common place of origin has created a relationship between people prior to their decision to associate with one another. It has made them fictive brothers and sisters before they have ever met. Note that the fictive kinship of shared origin is not necessarily forever closed, since a kind of adoption is always possible, but the offer of adoption and the response of oikeiosis (appropriation) are neither automatic nor freely given to just anyone, but must be earned.

In turn, privileging your countrymen is a fulfillment of your duties towards those to whom you are more closely related. Applying a different treatment to foreigners who wish to become a member of the polity is a necessary consequence of the obligations created by origin and through relationship with compatriots: just as we here owe something to the land that bore and nourished us (to use slightly romantic rhetoric for a moment) and have a relationship and duties to those who are from the same place, so the foreigner must have the same obligations to his country and compatriots. To fail to distinguish between compatriots and foreigners is thus a failure to recognise the different sets of obligations that both have to their respective places of origin; to erase the difference in treatment is to deny those obligations, which is itself a kind of impiety. It is in this way contrary to nature, and indeed wars against natural affinities.

It is strange that no one pushes this to another extreme: being born to two parents is unchosen, the "accident of birth" itself, yet we do not (at least if we are serious about the importance of family as the foundation of social organisation) deny that this "accident" entails a whole host of moral obligations of parents to children, children to parents and siblings to one another. The sungeneia (kinship) that binds us to our immediate blood relatives by the same principle binds us to our compatriots in our shared place of origin. The "kinship" with our compatriots is fictive, because it is not a literal familial connection, but it is real enough inasmuch as it refers to common origin. Ultimately, the argument that Tim and others sympathetic to his view are making is that where we come from is an irrelevant consideration, or is at least irrelevant enough not to merit being instituted in law, when origin is one of the most vital parts of a person's identity and an inescapable part of answering that most important of philosophical questions, "who am I?" This is just as true for those who have the relative misfortune of being born in poor, badly governed countries as it is for those who have been blessed with the fortune of being born here. At bottom, ending what Tim somewhat melodramatically calls "international apartheid" means denying that place of origin and nationality have any moral significance, when they typically do have moral significance for everyone.

To encourage people to write off their own countries as lost causes, as the mass immigration-to-reduce global poverty argument urges us to do, is to encourage them to neglect their obligations to their land and to their compatriots, even as it is an attempt to deny our own obligation to privilege the interests of our countrymen. With this proposal, we are confronted with moral failures upon moral failures: it is a summons to others to act impiously, while committing impiety ourselves. Nothing good can ultimately come from it. It is telling that those immigrants who do not neglect their obligations to their home country and their relatives back home, and who have come here primarily to make a living for the benefit of their folks at home, are necessarily among the least desirable immigrants from the perspective of the native population, since they have the fewest reasons to remain and assimilate.

Their "contribution," if you like, to the country is very limited, while the costs imposed while they are here tend to outweigh these benefits. (This is exacerbated by those who came here with no original intention of remaining permanently, but who are now unwilling to risk returning home--such is the ridiculous situation arising from marginally improved border security and virtually non-existent internal enforcement.) These are also going to be among those most likely to evade the legal procedures for immigration, because this entails costs of time and money that they cannot afford and are unwilling to pay. In this sense, the immigrants who are acting most morally with respect to their own countries and in keeping with their original obligations are the worst immigrants from the perspective of the interests of the host country, which means that it is actually part of the duty of the native inhabitants, out of their own obligations to their country, to arrange the laws on immigration in such a way as to discourage such temporary migrants from coming. To the extent that the native inhabitants wish to have a steady stream of new settlers, it is those who wish to settle permanently and adopt local habits who should be encouraged. This, of course, requires far more control over who comes into the country, rather than less.

Comments (6)

I understand that there are a few brainless libertoads and not so few,unfortunately, anti-/post-American lefties, that will equate national borders to racial apartheid.

That is one of the reasons libertoads are ridiculous people and are not taken seriously by absolute majority.

But is it necessary to debate and defend national borders and idea of nation-state?

Whole libertoadian idea is idiotic on its face.
More, much more important to discuss how to make distracted majority understand that we need separation from Muslim world.

In these times, unfortunately it *is* necessary to defend national borders and the idea of the nation-state. If it were a case of an isolated writer here or there, it might not be, but a generally "open borders" position is not all that rare, or it is not so rare that it can safely be ignored. It may be incredible that it is necessary to do this, but a shockingly large number of people in the West see nation-states at best as constituent, subordinate members of regional, continental or global political organisations and at worst as a barrier to social and political progress and a source of all manner of evils that would supposedly be solved if nation-states disappeared or were stripped of all significance.

You and I may find all of this absurd, but these ideas have enough supporters in influential positions to make it important to contest them. This has mostly been a problem in Europe, but as we can see in arguments over trade and immigration here that appeals to national sovereignty and borders do not decide the issue, because there is a sizeable faction in this country that regards these appeals as illegitimate and immoral.

I have had the intention of inquiring: what is the (transliterated) language in which the title is written? Armenian? And the precise meaning?

Okay, I guess the title wasn't as clever as I thought it was. It is Hindi for, if I am not mistaken, "our country, our relation/relationship." It had a nice ring to it when it came to mind, but I suppose it wouldn't have meant anything to anyone else.

Well, Hindi was my second guess!

The posting makes a number of good points which are rarely made in the desirable nations today, due to the malignant influence of tranzi-like sentiments. Loyalty to nation and fellow citizens are not morally insignificant; being a citizen vs. being a foreigner is morally significant and in high degree. This is especially clear in terms of the US constitutional definition of treason, if there were no such moral significance as to citizenship status, as, where one owes loyalty to our nation and the other does not, foreigners could be charged with treason here. The nation cannot mean less than that we owe loyalty to fellow citizens at least when the foreigner raises the level of aggression within our borders. That is what the nation is before it is anything else, such as a constitutional republic with well-defined principles such as one could be loyal to, regardless of origin. It is not at the minimum a matter of piety or sentiment, nor of magical blood, sacred soil, holy myths, nor of loyalties such as cannot be commanded of everyone within the boundaries. The principles and objects of worship are further developments beyond the basic loyalty which minimally constitutes the nation. That this de minimus loyalty relative to the foreigner in terms of aggression carries conviction is seen also in that only smears and fallacies can be used to maintain otherwise. Citizens of the world disunite, you have nothing to lose but your moral stateless person status.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.