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Joseph Sobran’s
Washington Watch

The Immigrant and
The Servile State

(Reprinted from the issue of July 29, 2004)

Capitol BldgMy recent item on immigration, dissenting from conservative alarm on the subject, has riled a number of readers, probably including many who haven’t written to say so. I should add a few clarifications.

Since writing that piece (a hasty last-minute substitution, by the way, for another item that had to be pulled), I’ve done further reading and thinking on the subject, and I can see why some of you think I was too sanguine. I remain open to persuasion.

First, I in no way endorse current U.S. immigration policy; I agree that it’s disastrous, flooding us with problems that are bound to get worse. More on this in a moment.

I don’t deny that immigrants themselves can be annoying and worse, though my own ample experience of them has been happy. I haven’t run into the youth gangs and organized crime that some of them have brought to parts of the United States.

Pat Buchanan is among the most famous of those who favor restrictions on immigration, and his recent book The Death of the West is, in my view, indispensable reading. But I do have one reservation about it. Pat shows, with powerful evidence, that government policies, here and in Europe, have systematically undermined the Christian peoples and their culture for the last generation. Yet he persists in thinking these same governments can be brought to cure the evils they have created.

But government, as we know it, is the real enemy. It produces nothing except distortions of social life, through war, taxation, regulation, and the general redistribution of wealth and resources. Its immigration policies are part of this picture. While driving down white birthrates (one of the effects of heavy taxes), its welfare system has encouraged the wrong sort of immigrants, the sort among whom crime and other destructive behavior are most apt to flourish. The U.S. government discriminates precisely against the productive European immigrants who would be most compatible with us and add to our material wealth and cultural health.

Starry-eyed proponents of limitless immigration recall the last great period of immigration, which occurred more than a century ago and was largely from Europe. But that was before the welfare state, and it was a blessing, in most respects, because the Europeans (my father’s father among them) were coming here to make their fortunes in a free market, not on the welfare rolls. The U.S. government has managed to turn an essentially good thing into an evil.

Could there be a more insane practice than importing a gigantic new welfare class from alien cultures? Yet this is precisely what Western governments have been doing, under the giddy slogans of “diversity” and “multiculturalism.” This has immeasurably aggravated the inherent flaws of the welfare state, and will inevitably make it far more burdensome, dangerous, and finally insupportable than even its most apprehensive critics have been warning all along.
No Opposition

Nearly a century ago, with deep misgivings, Hilaire Belloc foresaw the advent of “the Servile State”; and he wasn’t even imagining the possibility that it might expand to include an unlimited immigrant population in its dependent classes. He was alarmed by the mere prospect of the harm such a system would do to an England populated exclusively by Englishmen.

That predatory state, not the immigrant as such, is our enemy. And just when sane men agree that socialism has failed, that the welfare system is the source of myriad social problems, and that programs like Social Security and Medicare are becoming impossible to sustain, we have a “conservative” Republican president who wants to enlarge this morbid system, increase spending incalculably, and welcome more subsidized immigrants aboard.

Time was when we could think of the socialist corruption of the U.S. government as a Democratic legacy, and the Republican Party as a sort of brake, however faulty, on its further growth. But with George W. Bush in the White House, the Republicans have finally become full partners in the operation — the care and feeding of the Servile State.

It was bad enough when the Republicans were merely the Servile State’s loyal opposition. Now there is no opposition at all. The uproar over terrorism and the Iraq war have distracted us from this development, which may in the long run prove far more ruinous than anything else the Bush administration — whose “big-government conservatism” is celebrated by The Weekly Standard — has done. Since the Democrats fully support any growth of the welfare state (and see prospective immigrants as future Democratic voters), there won’t even be a public debate, unless the overloaded system simply collapses like the bankrupt Soviet Union.

Irony of ironies, we were only just now gloating that we had won the Cold War, showing the superiority of our democratic capitalist system. It might be more accurate to say that the United States displaced the Soviet Union as the world’s Socialist Motherland.

So much for “limited government.” The U.S. Constitution has been a dead letter for ages, and some conservatives still haven’t noticed that the great majority of the countless laws on the books are unconstitutional. Some of them think our salvation lies in even more unconstitutional laws (supplemented by some constitutional amendments). But how can the state, particularly our Servile State, deliver us from the state? Can tyranny drive out tyranny?

Today conservatives nearly as much as liberals accept the deadly premise that the state is the answer for every problem, when most of our huge problems are created by the state itself. Immigrants don’t tax us; the state does (while also imposing trillions in debt on our descendants into the bargain). Immigrants don’t send our sons (and, now, daughters) to war; the state does. Immigrants don’t attack our traditional morality and the natural law itself; the state does. So whom do we need to be protected from — immigrants or the state?

While the tyranny Belloc predicted keeps growing new tentacles, we are constantly distracted from the implacable pattern before our eyes by momentary but essentially minor excitements — terrorism, same-sex “marriage,” elections, even politicians’ verbal gaffes. Truly, to quote one of Belloc’s friends once again, “Men can always be blind to a thing, so long as it is big enough.”

Old-timers may recall the Brezhnev Doctrine: “What we have, we keep” — Communism’s answer to property rights. The same slogan will do for the Servile State. Its gains are irreversible. Its programs are eternal. It always demands more. Like any parasite, it won’t stop until it kills the host and itself.

SOBRANS takes a close look at one of the latest alleged evils the state allegedly protects us from: “homophobia,” formerly known as, well, normality. If you have not seen my monthly newsletter yet, give my office a call at 800-513-5053 and request a free sample, or better yet, subscribe for two years for just $85. New subscribers get two gifts with their subscription. More details can be found at the Subscription page of my website.

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Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2004 by The Wanderer
Reprinted with permission.

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