Is a case for ‘social cohesion’ racism? If comments by some of the readers are anything to go by, then the answer seems to be ‘yes’. But, this blogger is not clear that it is. It should be possible to have constructive debates in families, in societies and in nations on limits to charity.
Nations created out of communities which, in turn, were created out of tribes or groups have their own character. It is natural to want to preserve that. Within that framework, one can be generous and accommodate strangers, the persecuted, the able, the skilled and the rest. But, when the latter threatens to overwhelm the former or when the former feels threatened, it is time to have a discussion on limits.
In short, there has been and there has to be a core for each society or nation. Otherwise, societies and countries will become the equivalent of ‘travellers’ bungalows’. That will be an existential crisis for societies.
The article in FT on the tough stance adopted by the Centre-Left Social Democrats in Denmark is an important read. Indeed, one can have a seminar for a day or two on that. The Centre-Left immigration spokesperson is the son of an immigrant himself – Ethiopian father and Danish mother.
These remarks of his are central to the entire article:
The areas where the migrants are moving to are classically Social Democrat areas. So typically it will be Social Democrat voters who will have kids in schools that will have problems, typically skilled and unskilled workers who will have new colleagues. This is challenging the social cohesion in the welfare state,” he said [Link]
The conflicts and the challenges faced by open-ended immigration are borne by the poor and the marginalised in those nations that have had a history of being open to immigration and asylum seekers.
That these nations too have their poor and marginalised- even if only in relative terms – is, in turn, a problem of the model of economic organisations that countries have adopted or have been forced to adopt – capitalism without social characteristics.
One can discuss the multiple strands of implications that the article throws up. It is not just about Denmark. That is the ‘beauty’ of the article/story.
Finally, one commentator captured the problem in public debates on these issues:
So, unless you’re an open-borders fanatic, you’re a Nazi? No wonder the votes are migrating to so-called populists.
This is the mistake that the so-called ‘do-gooders’ are making. Their readiness to paint all those who do not agree with their positions as dangerous demagogues or right-wing populists shuts out adult-like discussion on important matters. That is the toxic strawman that the so-called Liberals set up to shut all necessary discussions on the topic.
In doing so, they give rise to the ‘populism-nationalism’ that they claim to abhor or detest. That seems rather daft to me.
It is important to recognise that these are not just issues of budgets or economic viability alone. These are legitimate existential questions for ordinary people.
Postscript: Over the weekend, my friend Srinivas Thiruvadanthai had shared an article by Reihan Salam of the Manhattan Institute on India, written for ‘The Atlantic’. Mr. Salam has an interesting book, ‘Melting pot or Civil War’. Sounds interesting. I have just ordered it.