06 March 2016

A Prediction

I wrote a post in 2014 that dealt with the idea that “Cthulhu always swims left”. This catchphrase of Moldbug's has become commonplace in neoreactionary circles, and has even spread beyond. But it has troubled me that it doesn’t seem to be entirely true.

The key point is that nobody in the system has the aim of destroying society. That is an incidental byproduct of the competition for power. When a particular leftist trend gets to the stage where the destruction of the governing institutions becomes imminent,  some conservative will actually be allowed to stop it. After all, the individuals in the permanent establishment are choosing the holy policy in order to retain their power; if it comes to a choice between accepting a less holy policy or seeing the institution in which their power resides fall apart, there is less to lose by compromising on purity.

But a compromise made in the face of imminent catastrophe is still made, and can’t be immediately reversed once the threat has passed. It sticks, not for ever but for a generation at least. In the previous article I identified the state of nationalised, unionised industry in the 1970s, particularly in Britain, as close to producing an institutional collapse, which was seen off by Thatcher's economic reforms. To a considerable degree those reforms have lasted; even the most recent Labour government took a line on unions, nationalisation and international trade that was to the right of the Conservatives of the 1960s.

This theory is OK, but looked at critically it is hard to distinguish from post-hoc rationalisation of the failure of the “always swims left” theory. When I put it forward in 2014 that's really all it was.

Today, though, I have the opportunity to make a prediction based on the theory. The position today as I see it is that immigration has got to the point that nationalisation had reached by the late 70s: if not changed, the current policies produce a real risk of institutional collapse within a timespan to affect the careers of present-day decision-makers.

Therefore I think those immigration policies will be changed, drastically, and soon. The obvious chain of events would be a Trump election victory in the US leading to border enforcement, a clampdown on illegal immigrants and a reduction in legal immigration. According to my theory, that is what the Trump candidacy is all about; that means we would not expect to see meaningful changes in other areas of policy.

We might well see broad changes of a superficial nature; an elected politician, like Thatcher, who comes in with a mandate to change a progressive policy has a different image to project than a normal politician, and that will be exhibited in the newsworthy but unimportant elements of the media–political circus. But the central prediction is that the change is not a total repudiation of progressivism, rather a piece of damage control on a limited policy area.

That's the first prediction: if Trump wins the presidency, there will be a massive change in immigration policy, no meaningful change in other areas of policy. I would not even expect to see any significant change in the status of American blacks, for instance.

It is possible to go further, however. Elections are not the major decisive events in history. If Trump does not win the election, the immigration clampdown will happen anyway. It might take a few more years, but the reason it can happen is not because the public is clamouring for it, it is because it is genuinely necessary, and that means it probably will happen. If Hillary wins, it will quite possibly happen even within her term, and if she refuses, then 2020 will see Trump II, with less (but still some) establishment hostility.

There's more though. The popular discontent that produced Trump has also produced hard-left candidates; Sanders in the US and Corbyn in the UK. There are a number of similarities between the rise of anti-immigration politicians like Trump on one hand and these candidates on the other. However, those similarities are all on the “public” side of their popular, anti-establishment appeal, and that is unimportant. If any of these hard-left characters get into power (which seems unlikely at the moment), the result will simply be more of the same. Cthulhu will continue to swim left, and probably no faster than he has done under Blair or Obama. Immigration is likely to be somewhat fixed anyway, but not necessarily immediately.

There is no immediate evidence of any sympathy within the establishment for an anti-immigration position. Why would there be? The permanent establishment is not looking for votes. If Trump loses, having shown any less hostility to him than the next apparatchik will be shameful, and if he wins, there will be time enough to come around to the inevitable. He will have to fight to push his policy through, but the opposition will not be as determined as it would have been ten years ago. Privately, many of those he fights will be OK with losing, as long as it doesn’t look like their fault that the incorrect policy has happened. And once the policy has happened, it will be a done deal; reversing it outright will not truly be on the table for twenty years.


Dave said...

An example of what you describe is New Zealand in 1986: socialist, heavily regulated, nearly bankrupt, with masses of unemployed young people fleeing to Australia. The ruling *left-wing* party then made deep tax cuts, abolished most regulations, and slashed the government down to size, eliminating whole departments one after another. Government can shrink itself, but only if the alternative is death, and they're smart enough to know it.

Outside the Anglosphere, governments tend to just drive blindly off the fiscal cliff, where they're either rescued with an IMF loan or replaced with a military junta.

A Nonny Mouse said...

I suppose that some progress has now been made if Immigration has been demoted to being a ‘leftist trend’.

The funny thing is that in my home town of Köpenick the presence of migrants was unknown: there was a fraternal interchange with Vietnam at the time of the Vietnam war which occasioned a certain amount of intermarriage, so one occasionally sees young people with semi-Oriental features: this indicates that they are children of intermarriage, not of familial immigration, which did not happen.

The DDR was a planned economy: there should have been sufficient of everything, but it could not cope with the loss of trained personnel, particularly doctors, to the GDR. In the UK, when doctors migrate to the USA in search of better wages, they are merely replaced by doctors from the 3rd World. The GDR did not have this option: it would have been unfraternal.

By contrast, the motive force of a market driven economy is to drive costs down by whatever means, ethical or unethical. The problem is that cost savings are purely for the benefit of the firm making the economies: the country as a whole may actually lose out on the transaction.

Asian immigration into West London began when a certain rubber factory (R.Woolf) found the unpleasant working conditions and the pittance they were paying meant it could not recruit workers and got permission to bring them in from Mirpur. The new workers were not daft and stayed only as long as they had to, before moving on to open their own Curry Houses. Woolfs’ kept replacing them from the same source, but eventually was bankrupted anyway: Mrs Thatcher didn’t leave much heavy industry in Britain, but this went even earlier.

So not merely did they import in droves workers no longer required for the stated purpose, but they chose one of the most contentious zones to accept immigrants from (in preference to say, Latin America) from the least suitable area (Mirpur, now in ‘Azad Kashmir’ is now highly radicalised due to its position on the Indian/Pakistani border). A little planning might have helped.

As for cutting down on (illegal) Immigration, I am reminded of the American President who was determined to appoint a female Attorney General, but failed because each successive appointee was found to be employing illegal immigrant labour to look after her children. It is the employers and management who create the demand for immigration and illegal immigration, not the workers. So why are English workers allegedly so feckless and useless?

A certain Spaniard of my acquaintance (with a penchant for pyramid schemes) explained the nature of his work, which involves teaching English to Brazilians who work as cleaners. They come to London, live six to a room and return home in 18 months having made enough to buy a house there. That they can do this is because the UK is operating a hothouse economy, creating an area where everything is artificially expensive. Thus someone from Estonia who intends to return to Estonia with his wages is laughing: an English worker who intends to remain in England is barely staying afloat. This is to be contrasted with conditions under the Wilson government, when for a time it was actually forbidden to export capital altogether. You wouldn’t get Brazilians to do your cleaning then, I suspect.

It follows that governments are using three different mechanisms to manipulate the economy: the best known one is inflating and devaluing the currency, the second is using planning laws to push the price of property up or down, and the third turning the tap of immigration on or off.

So your perennial habit of dividing the political world into two wings after the fashion of the French Revolutionary Parliament and ascribing all stupidity to the other wing is merely the political equivalent of farting and blaming the smell on everybody else. There are issues and each one is worthy of debate on its own merits, not labelling it as something the left or the right do.

A Nonny Mouse said...

So what can we say about the phenomenology of Immigration? It is, in Europe, largely a feature of the last 70 years. In England it is fed by the invention of the Jet plane. The construction of Heathrow Airport was an important milestone, and immigrant penetration is at its highest in the area around this point of entry.

Feminism and Human Rights have contributed: formerly women who married foreign males were obliged to adopt the Nationality of their husbands, and reside in his country. Equally, where both male and female work, the birth rate falls to below replacement rate and the GDP rises to make immigration attractive to outsiders.

The U.K.’s habit of not fighting proper wars any more contributes. Security concerns during the Second World War meant that any potentially dangerous alien was sent to the Isle of Man. Nowadays the US and UK are fighting a number of proxy wars which never involve actual declaration of war against the adversary, while immigrants from those countries are left free to roam at will.

A special thanks should be given to market driven improvements in the world of telephony, especially Lebara. In the 60s and 70s, anyone wanting a landline phone installed in Ireland (mobiles certainly did not exist) faced a 6 month wait and a hefty bill. Now Afghans locked into the people smuggling network can keep in constant contact with the network and plot their entry through the most convenient loophole: nor do they even need to interrupt their conversations with their family. And as soon as they are successfully installed, they will be phoning back to their brother with the message: “This is a good place: you should come over.”

As to which side promotes immigration, they each do their own bit, the Right in their unending pursuit of lower paid workers and worse conditions which is the driving force of immigration in the first place, with the left striving to make sure they are treated properly when they get here. Angela Merkel, it should be pointed out, leads the Right Wing Coalition in Germany. It is arguable that Trump/Le Penn/Powell and the like are merely in search of votes, the votes of the white working class who are the victims of this process, but would not actually keep their promises if elected.

Anomaly UK said...

Some excellent points. My reply ended up much too long to enter as a comment, and was well worth being a post anyway.