The march of the migrants poses a dilemma for the West

The march of the migrants poses a dilemma for the West, by Lionel Shriver.

Perfectly deserving people, who had the lousy luck to be born in a shitty place. In every single media interview I’ve encountered, a migrant’s story has been sympathetic. In this sense, the open-borders contingent wins hands down, every time. …

The issue of immigration intersects with scores of moral issues, but it isn’t about morality. It’s about self-interest. That’s what makes it so uncomfortable. The pursuit of self-interest isn’t necessarily concomitant with the pursuit of virtue.

Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador all suffer from high crime, political instability and economic malaise. If poor prospects and a culture of violence justify asylum, every citizen of these countries qualifies. That’s 39 million people. Given the recent example of Venezuela, the prospect of whole nations simply emptying out isn’t preposterous. Yet I don’t fancy my home city of New York, already inundated with Central Americans delivering pizzas on electric bicycles, being flooded with still more millions of their compatriots, even if they’re hard-working and ‘good people’. …

But the right conversation is a bitch. Europe lies next door to a continent whose population will double to 2.5 billion by 2050, rising to an eye-popping 4.5 billion by 2100. This is the continent likely to suffer the most from climate change, already afflicted with desertification, and always prone to drought. It’s poor and corrupt. Its governance is broadly appalling. And most Africans have mobiles, connecting them to promised lands where life isn’t quite so nasty, brutish and short.

Population 1950-2010 Africa, ME, Europe

For the US, that surge of Hondurans is a wavelet in an incoming tide; for Europe, 2015 was mere prelude. Yet this autumn’s caravan may further entrench an effective protocol. Populous, organised assaults on borders can overcome physical barriers and overwhelm bureaucracies. …

Millions if not billions of decent, ordinary people in need of food, clean water, shelter and medical care are bound to constitute a form of moral blackmail. They will all have heartbreaking stories. And if we continue to confront the issue as a question of sympathy rather than existential self-interest, they will nearly all get in. …

If in the next few decades we’re looking at migration on the scale I think we are, we may be required to develop a hard heart, or simply surrender to forces larger than we can control. I’m not sure which is worse.

A perfect issue for virtue-signalers versus realists.

The virtue signalers would let them all in, condemning Western countries to become overcrowded low trust failures like the third world s***holes that sent their people.

The realists would let very few in, in the interests of self preservation. But uplifting virtuous feelings would be in short supply.

Feel good or survive — is it really a tough question?

hat-tip Stephen Neil