Friday, 31 August 2012

Prof. Chris Bertram- the undemocratic exclusionist.

Prof. Chris Bertram has a paper which, appealing to the Public Justification Principle,  argues that it is only morally right for a State to exclude would be migrants from its territory if it offers compensation to make them equally well off.
... in order to be justified in coercively excluding individuals from their territory, states must be able to say that those individuals are not thereby denied adequate life opportunities or, perhaps, that they may exclude provided they compensate the excluded in some manner...
The difficulty here is in deciding what 'adequate life opportunities' or appropriate 'compensation' might be. How are we to decide if 'remaining in Bangladesh and being part of the struggle to fight the consequences of Climate Change in that beautiful country' is not just as good a life-chance, if not a morally more worthwhile one, than 'immigrate to the U.K and work supplying already well off people with superb Bangladeshi cuisine while also paying taxes to support all the things the majority community in the U.K thinks desirable' ?
  John Rawls, in his Theory of Justice, offered us a way to make this judgement. Behind the veil of ignorance, in the original position, people don't know whether they will be Bangladeshi or British. Thus, they can come to some consensus regarding the 'maximin' i.e. maximum minimum acceptable provision of 'primary goods' (this assumes people are risk averse) in line with the difference principle (i.e. deviations from complete equality of outcome are only permitted if they raise up the worst off).
  However Bertram, at Crooked Timber, denies that his argument depends on this theory of Rawls. (Just as well, because he is too stupid to make a Rawlsian type argument). Still, he explicitly says that Liberalism has to justify any coercive measure by the State and that justification must be in line with intuitions re. an equitable duty to compensate for damages inflicted. In other words, Bertram is using something like Rawls' Public Justification Principle by which 'reasonable' people in a well ordered Society are willing to discuss its  basic principles in a sincere, truthful and intelligible way. Sadly, Bertram is too stupid to sustain his position within that discourse and so he simply tells ridiculous and stupid lies-
1) about the cause of migration- e.g. that the U.K is causing global warming in Bangladesh and American policy on Narcotics causes the breakdown of law and order in Mexico and that millions of Mexicans and Bangladeshis have to flee to the U.S or the U.K to save their own lives.
2) about the character and conduct of people employed in the U.S or the U.K as part of Immigration Control- Bertram paints them as Nazi thugs using Nazi methods.
Bertram also makes a deeply Racist assumption about quality of life and what constitutes life chances in non WASP countries like Mexico and Bangladesh. He denies that remaining in Mexico or Bangladesh to fight for a better future for those nations is just as worthwhile as emigrating to the U.S or U.K. Bertram refuses to explain why this should be so. The Rawlsian can give a reason, but Bertram says he is not relying on Rawls. What is he relying on? If it is the revealed preference of pent up demand to immigrate to the UK from Bangladesh, then the relevant type of analysis would involve Coase's theorem and a general equilibrium analysis for which he is woefully unequipped. If his argument is based on some sort of ad captum vulgi intuition re. the relative worth of life in non WASP dominated countries, then how does his position not cash out as Racism? Is it really obvious and self-evident that life in the U.K or U.S is better than in Bangladesh or Mexico? During the Blitz, life in London was worse than life in Mexico. Yet, I'm sure there would have been British people who tried by hook or crook to come back to England to help it in its hour of need. As a matter of fact, some Americans decided to come to the U.K to join the Armed Forces.  Even had the Nazis invaded, they would have come to Britain to join the Resistance. The implicit assumption Bertram appears to be making is that life in countries not run by WASPs must suck and suck worse and worse as time goes on. Mexicans and Bangladeshis working to improve their own countries are simply deluded. Bertram's position, unless he takes more trouble to ground his thesis (though, on available evidence, he is simply too stupid to do so), is nothing but National Frontism in liberal guise.
Betram says he is arguing against 'democratic exclusionism' but has no hesitation to ban anyone who calls him on his mendacity and methodological idiocy. Not surprisingly, he is a Rousseau scholar. His contribution to Public Justification discourse is- tell stupid lies and ban anybody who points out how mischievous those lies are.











Vivek 08.27.12 at 3:51 pm
This post ‘… argues that those who have been placed at serious risk of harm by the actions of wealthy democratic states should not be barred, by those states, from fleeing to them. It does not preclude those states also following policies that relieve these harms in other ways. But so long as the harms are continuing and those policies are not actually in place, exclusion does those would-be escapees an injustice. Your willingness to throw these victims under the bus because you (perhaps erroneously) think this is necessary to protect first-world living standards strikes me as repulsive.’
In other words, the right of immigration is vested in those who have a claim for damages against a nation as a sort of ‘second best’ solution- the optimal one being that they are fully compensated.
How can the feasibility of a ‘second best’ solution become the basis of deontic argument?
The first best solution, on this line of argument, is to maximise the sinking fund for damages- for e.g. by letting healthy billionaires who agree to contribute to that sinking fund through taxes in to the country but keeping poor disabled people out.
That can’t be what Chris wants.
Vivek 08.27.12 at 4:40 pm
The problem with Chris’s argument from damages is that Coase’s theorem applies for finding the first best solution. But that opens the door to a type of analysis which would militate for conclusions Chris would find extremely perverse.
So, the argument from damages is not the way to go especially because, at the beginning of the post, Chris looked liked he was going to rely on imperative logic.
Still, Chris has a right to some ‘democratic exclusionism’ by simply ignoring comments like this. Indeed, the best course would be not to publish them. Chris is a Professor after at all and Academic Credentialism is a rent seeking exclusionism indifferent between legitimating ideologies.












My comments may seem cruel or inconsiderate to Bertram- but, they were far from thoughtless as the following show-

vivek 08.28.12 at 8:28 am
I think Chris argument goes as follows
1) Liberalism needs to justify (as opposed to merely rationalize) any coercive measure by the state and Rawls’s ‘difference principle’ is relevant to that justification.
2) States which have imposed a huge cost on people outside its borders should let them in to their country so that they are compensated by State provision of goods and services allocated according to the difference principle.
Chris is not claiming that compensatory migration is a ‘first best solution’. Moreover, he has framed the OP in such a way that the onus of proof is on the democratic exclusionist that their position is indeed compatible with ‘difference principle’ Liberalism. Judging by the comments on this thread, no JUSTIFICATION as opposed to Rationalization is available to the Exclusionist within the framework of Rawlsian Liberal political philosophy.
Furthermore, Chris is not merely making some arcane intellectual point. Migrants themselves use this argument to legitimate their action. Mr. Masud may be a pious Muslim. As such, he has a negative duty to avoid settlement in a ‘Dar ul Harb’ like U.K or U.S, and a positive duty to remain within Bangladesh to build it up as Dar ul Salam in line with Islam’s own ‘difference principle’. However, Mr. Masud can and does (I happen to know an actual Mr. Masud from Bangladesh who is well settled in the U.K) use Chris’s argument. Essentially, this comes down to the past sins of the East India Company which destroyed an Islamic State in Bengal with catastrophic results for the ordinary people. Britain used the wealth it extorted from Bengal to finance the industrial revolution. The Industrial Revolution caused Global warming. Only advanced countries can
1) shield their populations, in line with the difference principle, from Climate Change
2) devote resources, derived from tax payers, to combat Climate Change.
Hence, if Mr. Masud moves from Bangladesh to the U.K, he is both shielded from the consequences of, as well as contributing to the solution of, Global Warming.
Furthermore, Chris Bertram, who is not some armchair intellectual or bloviating blogger, would be aware that, prior to 1960, Masud would have had automatic right of entry and settlement in the U.K. Indeed, even now, as a Commonwealth citizen, should he acquire British residence, he would be entitled to vote in the U.K. Thus, the onus is on the exclusionist to show that between 1960 and today something changed such that a right which previously existed ceased to do so and that this can be JUSTIFIED (not rationalized) in line with the difference principle.
Another country, India, faces a similar dilemma but in a far more pressing and urgent manner- especially in view of the recent violence in Assam and its terrible repercussions for people from the North East domiciled in other parts of India (many fled fearing Muslim violence in retaliation for a clash between indigenous tribals and Bengali Muslim migrants).
The situation in India is especially piquant because if the forested areas in the hills and mountains are cut then flooding in Bangladesh will be worse- i.e. people escaping the consequences of deforestation on the plains make that particular problem worse by migrating to the hills. In other words, protection of indigenous tribes- but also wild life- from encroachment or ‘infiltration’ (ghastly word) by the demographically dominant cultivating class is essential to secure the livelihood of that very class in their own natal habitat.
It may be India, whose present masters are certainly Liberals, will resettle Bangladeshis away from tribal areas and, clearly, that would be the right thing to do given that no political party objects to Bengali migration- clearly Bengali speakers are ‘Indian’- and the only issue is the suspicion of ‘Islamophobia’ which can endanger the Secular nature of Indian democracy.
Speaking personally, I feel that States are more unstable, subject to worse Agent Principal, Preference Falsification and Moral Hazard type problems than voluntary coalitions- if Mr. Masud is the same age as my father he would have been the subject of three different States within his life-time- thus the onus is on Chris to show that
1) State action in this regard is justifiable on the basis of the difference principle
2) the State can survive after taking the action he suggests without violating the difference principle.
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Chris Bertram 08.28.12 at 8:39 am
Vivek – nothing I’ve said rests on anything in Rawls, let alone the difference principle.
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vivek 08.28.12 at 9:51 am
@ Chris- two questions-
1) Is that ‘what natural justice requires’ or what the rule of Law (Rechtsstaat) requires (i.e. a State that doesn’t compensate foreigners who have suffered damages by its actions by permitting them to settle within its borders is somehow on a slippery slope to the ‘State of Exception’).
If the argument is from natural justice it fails because the restitution offered is of a vastly different type than the damage inflicted. Indeed, under plausible assumptions (viz. that those who want to immigrate from Country X have similar preferences- including the desire to contribute more to Global Warming- to those inflicting the damage on Country X) it is adversely selective in a perverse way. It is like saying Vampires are required by natural justice to compensate the humans they prey upon by admitting any human who wants to become a Vampire to their fold.
If the argument is Agambian in some sense it fails because Agamben is clearly some sort of unclean Continental type who probably eats horse flesh and is nasty to donkeys and wears too much cologne and sports a gold medallion on his hairy chest and is currently sleeping with my wife.
2) Is Rawls’s difference principle relevant to similar arguments you have made elsewhere and if so are you sure it isn’t implicit in the reasoning behind your OP?
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vivek 08.28.12 at 10:55 am
@Chris- Sorry, just looked again at the paper on your web-site on this topic and it differs from what I remembered it as saying. I read the difference principle into it so as to avoid the problem your argument faces when it comes to showing that M and H have an option at least as good by being denied entry. This follows because no M or H would be caught dead denying the proposition that – ‘Being ‘coloured’ and living in a mainly ‘coloured’ dominated country is just as good as being WASP and living in a WASP dominated country.’ The corollary is that it is perverse for people to want to immigrate and perhaps they are only doing so because of preference falsification or adverse selection or irrationality or ‘false consciousness’ (the ‘self-hating nigger’ or Niradh Chaudhri type East Bengali who decides to move to England because one can’t write proper English unless one lives in Oxford and eats with a fork and knife and wears tweeds rather than a Dacca muslin)
Rawl’s original position behind the veil of ignorance- such that no one knows if they are going to be Bengali rather than British, Mexican rather than from Massachusetts- can give rise to agreement re. what constitute primary goods and also what ‘fair’ usage of resources (such as those involving Carbon emission) might be. Add in Rawls’s (empirically false and non Evolutionarily Stable Strategy of) maximin assumption and you get a global difference principle which can make claims about primary goods such that your argument is not shot down immediately by playing the race card in its Politically Correct form.
Chris Bertram 08.28.12 at 12:55 pm
vivek: sorry, your comments require too much work to extract a clear meaning.Vivek 08.28.12 at 1:52 pm
@Chris- :-) That took me back to my days at the LSE!
Let me break it down for you-
1) You say it is unjust to stop people we’ve harmed coming to our country so as to escape that harm. I say this ‘is like saying Vampires are required by natural justice to compensate the humans they prey upon by admitting any blood thirsty human who wants to become a Vampire to their fold.’
2) You say your argument does not depend on Rawlisan reasoning- in particular that by which the application of the minimax principle under the Original Position makes it plausible that people can agree on what constitute Primary Goods. I say you have left yourself no way to maintain that the option ‘remain in Bangladesh and struggle to improve things there, if necessary attaining martyrdom in that true Jihad for the greater glory of God and the honour of the Bangladeshi nation’ is not at least equally good as ‘settle in the U.K and consume ten or twenty times as much non renewable resources as you could otherwise do’.
It may be you have a non-Rawlsian way of establishing consensus regarding Primary Goods.
What is it?
Unlike you, I have done the work to try to extract a clear meaning from your writing on this topic. IMHO no such meaning exists.
Vivek 08.28.12 at 2:33 pm
@Katherine- ‘This is all sounding a bit People’s Front of Judea/Judean People’s Front.’LOL!
The problem is that righteous indignation jus’ feels so damn good that the market will support both such products as actually address the root cause of the underlying injustice as well as others that have no interest in addressing the underlying cause and concentrate instead on maximising the feeling of outrage and moral superiority that dwelling on the topic induces. This ‘second order’ Public Good (i.e. not the provision of a Public Good but the demand for it) can crowd out the Public Good whose deficiency gave rise to it.
The Psychoanalyst, Christopher Bollas, has written of the psychic violence done to the insulted and injured when their pain and suffering are, as it were, confiscated by someone in a superior position- a parent, a politician- for their own self-dramatization leaving the victim inwardly empty and no better off.
Worse than this ‘extractive introjection’ is Munchausen’s Syndrome where supposed care-givers cause or aggravate harm to the person they claim to care for so as to attract attention to themselves.
Bad Political Philosophy has great appeal to those whom, were they in loco parentis, we would accuse of extractive introjection or, worse, Munchausen’s Syndrome. For this reason, it is worth making the attempt to communicate with people who produce bad Political Philosophy though, of course, anything sensible one might write would be far too much work for them to extract a clear meaning from.
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Vivek 08.28.12 at 3:10 pm
I have the highest respect for both Bangladesh and Islam and certainly did not mean any sort of slight. Great Bangladeshi Muslim thinkers have shown how true Islam enables rather than denies all the virtues of liberal democracy with functioning institutions. Plenty of British people including Bangladeshi origin British ers visiting ‘Sonar Bangla’ for the first time, fall in love with it and scheme to make their home there.
This is not to say that Bangladeshis are stupid or perverse if they want to leave. On the contrary, It makes sense for people with the same preferences or endowments to move to a Schelling focal point where the provision of Public Goods and infrastructural Social Capital is optimal for that preference set. However, such movement does not need Chris’s brand of polemics to come into existence. On the contrary, the history of Bangladeshi immigration to the U.K (which increased under the voucher scheme after the earlier clampdown on free migration) shows that immigration in line with preferences/endowments is best left to those who actually have an interest in the matter. They can strike bargains with Govts. Britishers like Bangladeshi food. Bangladeshi restaurants needed more Sylheti cooks. They spoke, the Govt. listened. Everybody was better off.
Chris is using an argument for lifting migration controls which has no merit and poses significant dangers to precisely the cause he has himself shown genuine dedication.
Since he is a Professor of Political Psilosophy (or whatever) and (I’m guessing) he is using this forum as a sounding board, it is worth our telling him that Bad Political Philosophy is not the solution to this or any other problem arising from grievous injustice. My own principled refusal to have any truck with the number 6 or 9 led to my failing my Accountancy exams while at the LSE even though I explained that the terrible sufferings of the Palestinians made it incumbent on Accountants everywhere to, like, stop counting stuff and just sign the Audit report already the way Arthur Anderson would later gain acclaim for doing.
Alas, I was ahead of my time.
Vivek 08.30.12 at 2:54 am 
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ftr ll, ths Wht Mn, whs bd fth s rvld by th mly mthd mnnr n whch h dls wth vn nt whlly dvrs cmmnts, s n n wy dscmmdd f th cs h prtnds t dvnc s nt ttlly scpprd by th vry mldrt mnnr n whch h xprsss hmslf.
Nnc dmmts th gd nd fthfl Srvnt. D s ll fvr nd jn th Ntnl Frnt.
(this comment was deliberately garbled by Chris Bertram. He won't, or can't,  produce a defense against the following charges
1) he is lying when he says the U.K and U.S have a duty to open their borders because in the one case the UK is responsible for the effect of global warming on Bangladesh and in the second that US drug policy alone is responsible for a Law & Order crisis in Mexico
2) His assumption that Bangladeshis and Mexicans don't find it worthwhile and rewarding to build up their own countries, that they don't have the determination and skills to do so, is based on the same racialist assumptions as those of right wing, Hitler loving, outfits like the National Front.
This is his response. Chris Bertram 08.30.12 at 4:49 am
Vivek: I don’t have to put up with that. A site-wide ban for you.

So much for his critique of 'democratic exclusionism'. He is just an exclusionist without the 'democratic' camouflage.
That's what happens when shit-heads read Rousseau. Bertram thinks there is some fundamental principle lurking somewhere such that he gets to do Political Philosophy without taxing his brain unduly. He says

In other words, since the real world is complex and demands a lot of brain work to understand, some fundamental principle must exist such that Political Philosophy can avoid that brain work while continuing to pretend to occupy the moral high ground with respect to a real world issue.
Bertram is not wrong. Such a principle does in fact exist. It is called lying. Bertram tells stupid lies- U.K is causing global warming in Bangladesh and that's why Mr. Masud wants to immigrate to Britain- and Bertram thinks that makes him one of the good guys. It doesn't. Lying is the basis of a Rousseauian Political Philosophy. It is called Nazism. Bertram is a Professor. I shudder to think what effect he is having on his students.

15 comments:

  1. Bit harsh! Someone got up on the wrong side of bed today.
    I don't think the U.S has a right to stop Mexican immigration because they stole their land in the first place. Also, you are very naive if you think the U.S is not responsible for what is happening there.
    Britain and Bangladesh is a different situation. You yourself point out that there was free migration before 1960. So there could be some legal argument.
    One other point- all this business of Coase's theorem and Pareto optimality and so on- do we really need it? How does it help ordinary people make sense of what is going on?
    Lastly, it is very easy to accuse anybody of Racism. Where is the evidence? This Professor is supporting open borders. How does that make him Racist?
    If he does not like your ideas- so what? That is his right. You are angry with him and that is your right. Why bring Racism into it?

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    1. Why bring Racism into it? Good question. However, awareness of sources of Institutional Racism, Misogyny, Homophobia etc- i.e. negative stereotypes of alterity- should cause us to exercise restraint rather than utter reckless falsehoods of the Bertram type.
      We can all slip up and utter statements which we regret. For example I may say, 'I support Gay marriage because Gay people keep their house very clean.' This is a stupid and offensive thing to say. It is based on a false stereotype. Some people are house proud, some are slatterns. Gender and Sexuality does not come into it.
      If I said 'Gay marriage is a fundamental right because it contributes to Happiness and Security.' then, maybe there is some stereotype in my thinking and if so, I'd be grateful if you point it out. I am not a bad man but I confess I had or have various prejudices- Jews are good at Maths, Thai people are more attractive- which though they don't appear to me to be harmful, in fact have that potential. What if someone says 'the Ivy League quota on Jews was justified because Jews are cleverer than average?' Or else, 'Sex tourism to Thailand is just the result of their people being more attractive.' Clearly this type of statement, though not intended to hurt anybody, can have this potential. Some Jews must be bad at Maths. If others, by hard work, came to the top in that field we should praise them for their hard work and dedication rather than dismiss their achievement by attributing it to their genes or their Religion. In the case of Thailand, all countries should crack down on perverts who abuse the hospitality of that country. If Thailand has more attractive people why not see if their diet is better or system of exercise or dance or other such past-times contribute to better health and appearance? That way everybody can benefit.
      In the case of Mexico and Bangladesh- who can doubt the tremendous cultural and other riches, including investment and work opportunities, in those countries? Be it noted, Bangladeshi immigration was welcomed under the voucher scheme because the people were hard working and conscientious. Praise a country for its achievements by all means. Why put the tag 'basket case' on it? How does that help anyone?

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  2. Well, I don't know much about Mexico. But this proposition is false- ' The reason why the situation of the Hernandez family is so desperate is largely because of the domestic demand for illegal drugs in the United States, the violent policies used to suppress that demand and trade (the “war on drugs”) and the supply of weaponry into Mexico from the United States.'
    This isn't true. There are policies that the Mexican Govt. can implement which would neutralize these factors. It is worthwhile being Mexican and fighting for a better future. It has fabulous potential. Regardless of Bertram, Mexico has a good future and, under plausible assumptions, might give as good or better life chances to the Hernandez children going forward.

    Bertram's lies do harm not good because it seems he, as a Professor, is saying Mexico is a basket case. Don't invest there. Don't go on holiday there. Disregard its diplomats voice in International arenas because the ruling class is just a bunch of crooks hired by the U.S Govt.

    Similarly, Bertram is telling a stupid lie when it comes to Bangladesh- 'The reason they now face destitution as internal environmental refugees is because of the carbon emissions of wealthy people in industrialized countries.' This is not true. British emissions occurred before a tipping point was reached and there is no evidence that Britian specifically has any responsibility because as first mover its pollution was free of negative externalities and have been grand fathered in so to speak- i.e. a damages type argument fails. There is a superior argument re. the removal of a previous right to migration without sufficient cause in the Sixties. Bertram introduces a bad argument based on lies to scupper a good argument based on Law.
    The point I'm making here is that Bertram is setting a bad example to his students by saying
    1) you don't need to engage with anything that is difficult and involves brain work
    2) telling ludicrous lies is okay- regardless of the fact that those lies are implicitly Racist.

    Bertram may have wedged himself into a niche as a tenured Prof. plying worthless shite. His students will have to live in the real world where they will find people don't take kindly to liars and fuckwits.

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  3. 'The problem with Chris’s argument from damages is that Coase’s theorem applies for finding the first best solution. But that opens the door to a type of analysis which would militate for conclusions Chris would find extremely perverse.'

    This doesn't make sense to me. How is Coase's theorem relevant? Isn't free migration a way to 'internalize the externality'?

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    1. I mean that a Coasina 'Law & Econ' type analysis is needed to see there is a proper, incentive compatible, allocation of property rights such that claims for damages become justiciable in a way that really does internalize the externality.
      Gracielly Chichilinsky's earlier work I'm skeptical about the Carbon Xchange thing) would also be relevant for the Gen Eqbm thing and for insights re. Preference Diversity.
      In other words, people willing to do brain work probably could agree on all sorts measures which would be good for everybody= but Bertram is not part of that debate, more, he thinks that debate is probably evil and maybe ought to be banned, because he has found a superior alternative- viz. telling stupid lies.

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  4. On the subject of Mexico, the sociologist Randall Collins wrote an interesting post (http://sociological-eye.blogspot.com/2012/05/drug-business-is-not-key-to-gangs-and.html) in which he argues that the common view of the various Mexican gangs as produced by and dependent on the drug trade is false, and that "It is a non sequitur to argue that if the US would stop drug consumption, Mexican cartels and their violence would disappear."

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    1. Many thanks for this quite exceptional link. I had read a paper about how 'black money'- i.e. tax evasion creating a parallel economy- gave a new lease of life to the Mafia and that model fits India- esp. Bihar very well. Essentially, cosmetic 'Land reform' led to uncertainty re. title to land which in turn meant that all sort of contracts ceased to be justiciable save through the local 'Don'. In the case of Bangladesh, the unusual feature is conflict within the armed forces itself. Why did this not occur in Pakistan? It would be unthinkable for mutineers in India or Pakistan to kill not just their officers but even their wives. My initial guess would be that Pakistan was very successful in continuing the British policy of rewarding valour with land grants- Pak still has a lot of Public land to allocate- and building esprit de corps on that basis. Maybe Bangladesh did not have surplus land to distribute and furthermore the unusual circumstances of the War of Liberation prevented the Army from consolidating itself properly. On the other hand, Bangladesh did have a large minority which became depleted as people fled and maybe that created surplus land or other rents which could reward people with power but the whole mechanism was opaque so factions within the armed forces felt cheated.
      Interestingly, the recent horrific BDR mutiny made a demand for more postings as UN peace keepers! The Haitians have complained about rape of minors by Sri Lankans and Pakistani peace keepers have been accused of trading guns for diamonds in the Congo. Clearly, the BDR deserve their place in the Sun.

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  5. I think the salient point here relates to Public Justification theory. Ignoring the specific examples, the general question is 'can coercive border policies be justified when our country has created a refugee problem by its action?' Suppose the action was intentional, then if we fail to take in the refugees and they die- we have committed genocide. Suppose it was unintentional- then, once we realize what we have done, if we don't take them in it is still genocide. But if genocide can be justified against outsiders, why should it not be sanctioned with respect to a section of our own population?
    One way of answering this question is to make a distinction between lawful and unlawful acts. There are many sound reasons why a Govt. may wish to create a legal channel of entry and to clamp down on illegal entry. But, do these reasons apply to refugees who are fleeing for their lives? In practice, the Govt. may allow illegal immigrants to stay if their lives would be in danger if they were sent back. That being the case, what is the justification for preventing refugees landing in the first place? But for this coercive measure, the refugees would have landed and been granted residency by the Courts. How can this coercion be justified? This is a serious question which needs to be addressed.

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    1. I suppose the easy answer is that the legal power to distinguish between a refugee and an ordinary illegal immigrant is vested in some particular body. So coercion here is merely part and parcel of regulating the inflow of fresh claims to that adjudicating body.
      A less facile answer would have to do with the changes a Society would need to make to place itself on a footing to receive the Refugees to whom it feels a moral obligation. Once again, coercion would be reclassified as merely the business of ensuring orderly queuing and warehousing of applicants and so on.
      The difficulty arises where the necessary changes in Society for the reception of the Refugees involve a change in coercive measures internal to the country not previously agreed and justified. This is the point where the whole house of cards of Public Justification theory falls down. Presumably, entitlements change when people are let in. Presumably those entitlements are enforced at some point by some coercive measure. If so, must not each change in coercive measures attaching to the enforcement of an entitlement be Publicly Justified? The market may have some more or less frictionless method to go from one general equilibrium to another. Does Public Justification? Why should it not get stalemated in a concurrency deadlock?
      In this context, I don't think the question you ask really is a serious question or that it should be addressed by sensible people.
      Ultimately, this sort of pi jaw is about preference falsification- people pretending to be more moral and good that they actually are- and also painting ordinary people doing ordinary jobs- policemen, soldiers, Immigration officers- as horrible Nazis with sneering faces.
      But why stop there? I could say the usher at the Cinema hall who asks me to shush is a horrible Nazi trying to stifle my creativity and prevent other members of the audience from benefiting from my insights into the Wayans Brothers cinematography. True, you immediately understand I'm a fuckwit if I make that particular point. But, if I seek to vent my bile by talking about our country's secret genocide against innocent Refugees carried out by the Jackbooted thugs of the Immigration Service who 'are just following orders' then I occupy the moral high ground. Except I don't really. The thing is too transparent. This sort of stuff was played out in the Seventies. People like Bertram didn't get the memo. So what? Shitheads we must always have with us. As Pascal said 'there will always be more Monks than Reason'.

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    2. 'If so, must not each change in coercive measures attaching to the enforcement of an entitlement be Publicly Justified?'
      No because the PJP is about general principles. So long as all the changes are in line with the Principle, Society can move frictionlessly from one equilibrium to another.

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    3. This isn't true. Let me give an example. During the hoodie riots in London last year the amount of coercion needed to deter young people from stealing and burning shops greatly increased. This changed the quantum of Publicly Justifiable coercion over the course of the riot and was reflected in the amount of physical force used over the course of the riots by stakeholder. By the end, when shopkeepers showed willingness to confront rioters themselves, the Publicly Justifiable quantum had increased whereas previously it had fallen.
      Similarly, the amount of coercion necessary to repossess a property will change depending on how widespread such repossessions are, what caused them etc.
      If migration impacts on entitlements then coercion used to enforce entitlements will change in manners violating a PJP consensus.

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    4. This is sheer nonsense. We are talking about general principles- the proper domain of Philosophy. You are talking about Public Opinion, that during an unexpected and unprecedented social convulsion.
      Civilized debate is impossible if you can't see the distinction. According to your view point general principles have no place in Public discourse. Is this a reasonable view? What is alternative can you propose?

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    5. My point is not against the relevance of general principles but their being tied to specific quantums of coercion in the existing Social Contract. Since the quantum of coercion changes qualitatively and quantitatively in a tactical manner, and since, moreover, that coercion might itself be the object of strategic manipulation, it follows that general principles should divorce themselves from a grounding in specific quantums of coercion. For example, we might agree that it is wrong to kill simply to protect property. But what if there is a political faction which aims to overthrow the Govt. and replace it with a brutal tyranny which uses crimes against property- for example mobs looting shops and indulging in arson- to shake confidence in the Govt. and to encourage vigilantism and the further polarization of Society? Surely, one has to delink the general principle from what is happening on the ground?

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  6. Economic Migrants would be prepared to pay a fee representing the Capitalized value of the difference between their wages in the developed country and their transfer earnings in their own. Hence, ceteris paribus, people from the poorest countries would pay most to migrate.
    The most cruelly treated or vulnerable Refugees would probably pay an amount equal to their entire capital stock plus that capitalized value of the difference between their wages and the bare minimum needed to survive.
    This brute fact of Economics means that the greater the income inequality between rich and poor countries or the worse the treatment of vulnerable Refugees in their place of origin, the more sophisticated and ruthless the trafficking of illegal migrants- which by itself might be a humanitarian catastrophe. Add in the cost of policing borders and deporting illegal migrants, which beyond a certain point is also a dead weight loss and the argument becomes compelling that accepting that some migration is inevitable and part of the burden should be borne by the immigrants. The problem here is that some Refugees have better access to loans than others- in other words a purely economic approach is much less fair than would appear.
    On the other hand, I suppose you could argue that the ability to borrow to migrate reflects some positive externality so though it seems unfair it's still good Economics.
    Still, I can see an advantage in countries like the U.S and its allies adopting a statutory duty to take in people displaced by their military actions- e.g. in Iraq or previously in Vietnam- so that those costs are 'internalized' by decision makers contemplating military action.

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    1. '..the U.S and its allies adopting a statutory duty to take in people displaced by their military actions- e.g. in Iraq or previously in Vietnam- so that those costs are 'internalized' by decision makers contemplating military action.'
      Fair point. I wonder if the health effects on G.I's (including post traumatic stress etc) is fully factored in currently.
      I suppose there must be people working on a proper 'audit of war' and ordinary people like me should try to find their work on the internet before shooting our mouths off.
      I recall a general equilibrium studies on 'Brain Drain' from India back in the 70's. My recollection is that there was a negative effect for people with more than one year of College education. I wonder whether that still holds? Surely, the hi tech guys from Silicon Valley have changed the equation making 'Brain Drain' a positive.
      If so, maybe some version of Bertram's argument might be reasonable- i.e. the migrants help people back home so much that it is a first best solution to the underlying injustice.

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