immigration

October 7 and the Limits to Immigration

10 November 2023

4.7 MINS

Konstantin Kisin continues to seriously impress. At last week’s ARC conference in London, Kisin gave one of the most powerful speeches of the year, if not the twenty-first century so far. But he has almost immediately backed it up with another prescient vignette on the current socio-political situation currently ailing the West:

The monologue is aptly titled, ‘The Day the Delusions Died’. Kisin rightly perceives that the horrific events involving Hamas terrorists on October 7 — where 1400 innocent people were raped, abducted and/or murdered — shattered many people’s long-held delusions.

Referring to the seminal work by Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (1987), Kisin states:

We disagree about politics — Sowell argues — because we disagree about human nature. We see the world through one of two competing visions, each of which tells a radically different story about human nature.

Those with an unrestrained vision think that human nature is malleable and can be perfected. That believe that social ills can be overcome through collective action which encourages people to behave better. To subscribers of this view poverty, crime, inequality and war are not inevitable. Rather, they are puzzles that can be solved. We need only say the right things, enact the right policies and spend enough money and we will suffer these social ills no more. This worldview is the foundation of the progressive mindset.

By contrast, those who see the world through a constrained vision lens believe that human nature is a universal constant. No amount of social engineering can change the sober reality of human of self-interest or the fact that human empathy and social resources are necessarily scarce.

People who see things this way believe that most political and social problems will never be solved, they can only be managed. This approach is the bedrock of the conservative worldview.

Kisin is again right when he comments that many people on the left are starting to wake up — pun intended — to the woke mind virus. In particular, that it’s not so much about protecting victims as it is the validation of power. As Kisin goes on to explain:

Nowhere is the shift from the constrained to the unconstrained vision starker than on immigration. For decades both Europe and America basked in an unconstrained vision of immigration. In the US the melting pot which could integrate the 19th century Germans, Irish Catholics or Japanese could surely absorb those crossing the southern border. And many of these new arrivals would do jobs Americans would not want to do.

Europe needed immigration to deal with an aging population, with many Europeans countries inviting people from their former colonies to fill labour shortages and skills gaps. But over time, especially from the late 90s onwards, the unrestrained vision ran rampant through media and political elites. And immigration went from being a solution to specific problems to a moral good in its own right.

I am myself an immigrant. When I moved to Britain from Russia in 1996, net immigration into Britain ran at 55,000 people per year. Last year, in 2022, net immigration stood at over 600,000 people per year.

Significantly, a similar situation is occurring here in Australia as well. According to Beidar Cho, Australian Bureau of Statistics head of demography, “13 months after international borders were re-opened, net overseas migration accounted for 81 per cent of growth and added 454,400 people to the population in the year to March 2023.” In comparison, back in 1993, net immigration was a paltry 23,422.

Conflicting Worldviews

The West is rapidly changing. And the events of October 7 are a sign of just how disparate our political views have become. But even more importantly, the false ideological assumptions of a constrained and unconstrained worldview have been exposed. And no amount of money, social policy or money will fix it. For the real battle goes to the very depth of the human soul and is concerned with what people actually believe.

None of this is to say that multiculturalism is wrong or particularly that one people group is better than another. But there are limits as to how many immigrants any one nation can take. And especially when they operate out of a completely different worldview.

Dr James Hoffmeier, a leading American Old Testament scholar, has written an insightful book on this subject, The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens and the Bible (Crossway, 2009). Hoffmeier argues that the key to understanding what the Old Testament teaches on this topic is to realise that there is a definite distinction between those who come from other countries to settle in the land of Israel as legal ‘aliens’ and those who do not, i.e. ‘foreigners’. As Hoffmeier explains:

‘Nowhere in the Old Testament is there any sense that a nation had to accept immigrants, nor was being received as an alien a right… The Bible clearly distinguishes between the status of a legal alien (ger) and a foreigner (nekhar and zar), and one consequence is that there really is a difference between the legal standing of a present-day documented alien and an illegal immigrant. Therefore, it is legally and morally acceptable for government to deal with those in the country illegally according to the nation’s legal provisions. The Christian insists, however, that they be dealt with in a humane manner.’

Hoffmeier’s insight here is critical, because all too often, Christians cherry-pick one or two verses of the Bible to ‘proof texts’ their entire understanding of a subject. From a New Testament perspective, theologian Dr Wayne Grudem argues in Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan, 2010):

‘Another important consideration from the Bible concerns the general responsibilities of governments to seek the good of the nations that they rule (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14) and thereby truly serve as “God’s servant for your good” (Rom. 13:4). This means that the immigration policies of a nation should be designed to bring benefit to that specific nation. Therefore, immigration policies should be designed to bring benefit to the well-being of the nation as a whole.’ [emphasis his]

According to Grudem, the practical ramifications for following such Biblical principles are as follows:

‘It is appropriate that priority in immigration be given, for example, to those who have sufficient education and training to support themselves and contribute well to… society, those who have demonstrated significant achievement in some area or another, and all those who otherwise give evidence that they will make a positive contribution.

It is appropriate, also to exclude those with a criminal record, those who have communicable diseases, or those who otherwise give indication that their overall contribution would likely be negative rather than positive in terms of advancing the well-being of the nation.’ [emphasis his]

That is the proverbial ‘other side of the coin’ when it comes to thinking about refugees. Yes, we should help those fleeing from war, persecution or famine. But a Biblical perspective will also seek to discern how many people we can in fact help, as well as how dire their present circumstances may be.

Hence, while a Judeo-Christian framework will emphasise care and compassion towards those seeking asylum, it will also seek to protect and benefit the citizens of the country taking refugees in. Tragically, the events of October 7 are clarifying why making such distinctions are so important.

___

Originally published at The Spectator Australia. Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich.

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3 Comments

  1. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich 10 November 2023 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    The High Court of Australia has decided that Detainees cannot legally continue to be locked up, including a person convicted of paedophilia. Apparently , he is not the only criminal who is now going to be set free. They may, also, receive huge compensation? Time to stop the madness of importing some 600, 000 a year without any proper security checks or whether they can intergrate into “the Australian way of life “. These numbers are a major contributor to Australia’s inflation for which we all have to suffer, especially those people with mortgages and the would -be -renters. It leads to more and more interest hikes on mortgages which I do not see stopping . Time to stop the Ponzi madness which is wrecking Australia !

    • Kim Beazley 11 November 2023 at 8:33 am - Reply

      The High Court is correct, in that it IS inhumane to detain people indefinitely. That’s no different to holding people accused of a crime indefinitely without trial. There should be reasonable parameters for both parties.

      And it’s incorrect to say that those who come here as legal immigrants do so “without any proper security checks”. It is also not possible before the fact to tell whether or not a migrant will integrate into our culture. Many do, but some don’t. That’s always been the case whether it’s English, Irish, Italian, Greek, Vietnamese or Lebanese, or any other nationality.

      Nor does immigration add to inflation. There are many other more powerful drivers of that at play, many of them global, and therefore beyond our national ability to avoid or control.

  2. Kim Beazley 11 November 2023 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Excellent summary, Mark. A pity, though, that you linked to the abbreviated Tik Tok version of Kisin’s address. Here is the complete 12 minute version:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyW4SMK0Fpc

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