Conservative arguments for restrictive citizenship/nationality?

by Chris Bertram on January 7, 2019

One charge that conservatives often level at professors in universities is that we are biased and that in the humanities and social sciences, our teaching amounts to left/liberal propaganda. Much of this is silly and some of it is self-fulfilling: vilify a group of people long enough, attack their funding and, hey presto!, they end up favouring your political opponents. But I take seriously the pedagogical need to put arguments on both sides in political philosophy. And actually, for some issues in political philosophy it isn’t too hard because there are pro-capitalist libertarians out there who aren’t shy about articulating their reasons. Some of them are even very gifted at crafting teaching-discussion friendly cases and examples: Robert Nozick, for instance or Mike Huemer.

But there’s an issue where I’m struggling to find a text that articulates the conservative case well, and that’s the issue of access to national citizenship, an issue where the libertarians and the liberal left are broadly in agreement. The case isn’t entirely hopeless: I can find plenty of people willing to argue that adult immigrants who chose to immigrate, particularly those who don’t share the culture or values of the receiving state, should face obstacles to naturalization, or even should be barred from it altogether. The trouble is that none of those arguments really works to justify similar barriers to membership for children.

In both the UK and the US (and no doubt in other countries too) there are numbers of people who are functionally members of the society in question, who are present through no choice of their own and who are excluded from citizenship. The US, with its ius soli “birthright citizenship” law, offers no path to citizenship to people who were brought to the country as small children and the so-called Dreamers, face a life of politically-imposed precarity whilst politicians endlessly defer doing anything to offer them a path to regularization. The UK has long-since dropped its ius soli provision, with the result that someone can be actually born on the territory and live in the state to adulthood and yet be prevented from accessing citizenship through registration either because they — or those caring for them — lack the financial means to pay the registration fees or because the Home Secretary can refuse to register them as citizens on grounds of “bad character”, a provision that has been applied to children as young as ten. In some cases the people who came as children, if they later commit crimes, may be deported to countries they’ve never seen as “foreign criminals” or they may be denied access to other benefits such as higher education or the right to work.

So here’s the thing: you’d presume that since this is the legal position, a position that the state and its lawyers are willing to fight for, someone is willing to argue why these exclusions are normatively justified, to provide some arguments which would rebut the kind of “liberal inclusivist” view favoured by the left/liberal side. But all I find online is angry comment that these people are “illegal”, which begs the question about what the law should be, together with some worries about incentives to “illegal immigration”. The incentives argument is highly problematic, since it purports to justify sanctioning one group of people to affect the behaviour of another group of people. Moreover it doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter: do the proponents of the incentives argument believe (a) that children should be deprived of something to which they have a prima facie entitlement in order to affect the behaviour of their parents or (b) that there is is no prima facie entitlement in their case? If (a) then some further justification would be needed as to why the entitlement to political membership is so weak that it can be so easily overridden and if (b) then what’s the argument that these people ought not to be entitled to political membership? So, can someone point me towards some good examples of conservative arguments for denying membership to these children so that I don’t just promote liberal inclusivism by default?

{ 88 comments }

1

Z 01.07.19 at 1:02 pm

I don’t like to frame them as liberal or conservative, because these words are anchored in a political tradition that has had meaning in English history but not necessarily in other countries and your reference to Nozick suggests that you are least open to consider arguments not directly relevant to the English case, but surely the standard arguments run somewhat like this.

Citizenship is not a formal right or a legal entitlement (so it’s a b) argument through and through), it is a part (or perhaps a consequence) of a much larger set of shared cultural, linguistic and ethnic traits. Some of these traits are extremely hard to acquire absent direct transmission by someone who already possesses them. In fact, acquisition of some of them may even be impossible, in first approximation. Symmetrically, it is nigh impossible not to have received the alien version of these traits, and dual possession of these traits is impossible. Consequently, not only do (for instance) a child of immigrants not have the required traits, she also has the wrong one, and it is as impossible to acquire those you haven’t received by direct transmission than to abandon those you have indeed received. Of course, in practice the decision to attribute citizenship to someone will follow legal guidelines, but these guidelines carry no special force outside of the framework above and their actual meaning lies in how closely simulate the actual transmission of the essential traits (I would feel slightly stupid to quote material to you, and you could go to the Torah or Luther for classical expression to a certain extent, but if the Declaration of Independence is the prototypical expression of the liberal conception, surely Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation is the prototypical expression of the one above).

In my opinion, there is little use in reasoning with this conception: like the doctrine of Divine predestination, or the self-evident truths of the US Declaration of independence, or the belief in the fundamental brotherhood of men, it is a position grounded in anthropological values, and as such lies outside of the realm of opinions that can be swayed by arguments.

(Indeed, something like the above would be my main comment on your Do states have the right to exclude immigrants?: it describes and argues for a legal, liberal framework of immigration, and with exceptional clarity if I may say so, but the practice of excluding or integrating populations is fundamentally anthropological and so not really amenable to philosophical or legal arguments grounded in a particular intellectual tradition; if there is a link between the two, it is more in the reverse direction – the philosophical and legal tradition piggy-backs on the actual practice of actual populations. I feel slightly bad as this is too terse and too negative a comment on your book, which deserves much more.)

2

Matt 01.07.19 at 1:19 pm

If by “good examples” you mean arguments that I find remotely plausible, even though I don’t accept them myself, then I can’t point you towards any. But, if you mean “arguments by people who are not manifestly insane”, then the best place to look might be the work, both together and singularly, of Peter Schuck and Rogers Smith. Their book, _Citizenship without Consent: Illegal Aliens in the American Polity_ is the longest articulation of the argument. Schuck makes the argument in some slightly different ways in his article “The Devaluation of American Citizenship”, originally published under a different title in the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, republished in his book, _Citizens Strangers, and In-Betweens_. I had thought that Smith had abandoned this view, but he re-affirmed his acceptance of it in a recent op-ed with Schuck in the Washington Post

My own view is that this argument is pathetically weak. The core of it was refuted by Hume well more than 200 years ago. I discuss it in more detail in pp. 210-17 of this paper, but if people want an argument for this position, Schuck and Smith seem like the place to start.
(Smith purports to be a liberal, and in most ways he seems to be. Schuck claims to be a “radical moderate”, which usually means a closeted conservative. I think that’s mostly right for him. But, in any case, I think these are the best arguments you’ll find on this topic.)

3

Murali 01.07.19 at 1:40 pm

Given the way the sausage factory works, I doubt that there are many actual policies which have a coherent defence.

That said, I’d imagine that most plausible argument that could be offered for restricting citizenship is that there is no prima-facie entitlement to citizenship. If we conceive of citizenship as conferring the capacity to exercise political power (hence indirectly, coercion backed by the violence of the state) over others, then, on certain Hobbesian grounds*, you could argue that there is no general prima facie entitlement to citizenship.

To be clear, it is harder to argue that competent consenting adults are not prima facie entitled to move into our out of a territory as they please, work for, with or hire whomever they please and stay in whichever place is willing to accept their rent money etc.

So, even if you could argue for restricted citizenship, I don’t know how you could argue for restrictions on the right to reside, work, go to school etc in a given country.

*On these same grounds you could also argue that there is no general prima facie entitlement to own hand guns. So, I’m not sure how willing anyone on the right is to make such an argument.

4

Marc 01.07.19 at 2:04 pm

Chris – is there a single example on the planet of an immigration system that you approve of? Because what you’re saying is that you can’t find a single moral argument in favor of a policy that is effectively in place everywhere on the planet. People are frequently allowed to live in countries without citizenship, but all nations restrict citizenship using various criteria. Children aren’t being treated any differently than adults – and you fail to give any reason why they *need* citizenship (as opposed to residency.)

What’s fascinating to me in this discussion is that your position is so deeply radical that you don’t seem able to even describe the position of your opponents. I’ll give a stab at it. People believe that citizens of a country have a right to decide who gets to live there and they have a right to define a set of requirements for becoming a citizen. This defines a self-governing society. This is a logical extension of things like private property – where the fact that others lack a place to sleep does not compel people to open their houses to them. Start with this as an axiom.

If you believe that there should be laws for who is allowed to live in a country and for who is allowed to become a citizen, then breaking those laws has legal consequences – such as expulsion. If children are still children then they should be with their parents (who can legally be sent home.) If they’re adults, then they legally be sent back to the country where they are a citizen. There are strong moral arguments for the equivalent of a statue of limitations, but that holds true for all sorts of lawbreaking – there is nothing unique about citizenship, and countries differ dramatically in their degree of mercy on such matters.

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 2:12 pm

@Matt Hmm. Elizabeth Cohen has published work online in which she defends the claim that the Dreamers are Americans and entitled to citizenship, so either you misconstrue her consent argument or she’s changed her mind. I don’t think justice requires American ius soli birthright citizenship (though I think it should be defended against Trump), so I don’t think that denying membership to babies whose stay in the US is going to be of very short duration deprives them of something to which they are morally entitled. But I do think that a 35-year-old who came as a baby clearly has a claim to membership (I actually think that a 5-year-old has), so it is counterarguments to this that I’m looking for. (Since there are conservatives who would deny the 35-year-old, what arguments could they put?)

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 2:15 pm

@Murali “I’d imagine that most plausible argument that could be offered for restricting citizenship is that there is no prima-facie entitlement to citizenship.”

Yes, but given that said conservatives believe that the native-born children of citizens do have such an entitlement, then that’s not a move that’s open to them.

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 2:18 pm

@Z the argument you imagine seems reminiscent of Charles Maurras, though not obviously applicable to the French without a heavy dose of amnesia!

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Matt 01.07.19 at 2:25 pm

Chris, the work by Cohen that I discuss in that paper is much older than what you’re looking at, and I’m pretty sure she’s changed her mind, at least to a degree. (My paper is from 2010, hers is before that.) You should look at the actual paper I cite and see what she says there if you want to know what her view was, rather than accuse me of misunderstanding the view in a paper you’ve not read.

If you bother to look at the rest of my paper, you’ll note that I also say that the strong version of jus soli followed by the US isn’t strictly required by justice! (I do think that there are good administrative reasons for it, though – it will include more people who should be included, even if it includes some who don’t need to be, and leave out fewer people.) In any case, please do look at the actual arguments here, both my own (which is closer to what you’re arguing for) and Cohen’s, in the paper I cite. You’ll get a better view of things. (Cohen, who is a friend of mine, was a student of Smith’s, and in the paper I cite, her view was, I think, a lot closer to his, but in any case, I wasn’t trying to point you to her work, but to Schuck and Smiths. That’s what you want to look at for your purposes.)

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 2:28 pm

@Marc yours is an example of the “consent” argument that @Matt discusses in his paper. It seems to me obvious that your “citizens get to decide who gets to be a citizen” claim is wrong. It is wrong because people can have a moral claim to citizenship irrespective of what the existing citizens think about the matter. Hence the past exclusions of blacks or women from full membership were wrong, independently of the opinions of the existing white or male citizens on the subject.

As for your later stuff “This is a logical extension of things like private property – where the fact that others lack a place to sleep does not compel people to open their houses to them. Start with this as an axiom.” No, that’s a terrible argument. Territory is not like property, and immigration controls are more like everyone else in the street deciding to stop me inviting my friends for dinner than they are like me excluding people from my house.

Anyway, this is not a general thread for you to vent about immigration or my views on it. It is specifically about claims to membership and grounds for their denial (and conservative arguments for denial, specifically).

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 2:32 pm

@Matt, no need to be so tetchy. I wasn’t meaning to accuse you of anything, just to say that Elizabeth’s view that I’m familiar with seems to be different from the one you’re discussing.

[OK, fair enough, I expressed myself badly, apologies.]

11

Pete 01.07.19 at 2:33 pm

It’s always seemed to me that the argument was jus sanguinis – that the conservative argument was for ethnostates. We might think this is morally unacceptable, but that seems not to be a universal opinion.

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 2:41 pm

@Matt Schuck writes in the WaPo piece (of his own view) “a sound policy would not grant citizenship immediately at birth, but would grant retroactive birthright citizenship to such children when they have resided here for a certain number of years and have attended a certain number of years in American schools.”

What isn’t clear to me from that is whether Schuck believes that this is the morally required policy and that a more restrictive policy would be unjust or whether the consent argument would permit yet more restrictive policies. It sounds though as if both Smith and Schuck believe that it is wrong that my hypothetical 35-year-old is denied citizenship/

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 2:43 pm

@Pete sure. But conservatives are typically unwilling to come out and say so. The British government doesn’t come out and justify its obstacles to child registration in such terms.

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steven t johnson 01.07.19 at 2:52 pm

Off-topic thoughts:

Citizenship is, functionally, being in it together with the rest of us, and the political system recognizes this fact. This makes jus soli the moral default. Trying to interpose an acculturation standard forgets that public schools regiment conventional mass culture far more effectively than tutoring or elite private schools.

Naturalization is a legal process for recognizing non-citizens have joined their lives to ours. Long-term residence, especially including children raised in the new country, long-time employment, military service, there are all manner of tests that can reasonably expect to show whether the proposed new citizen now has a community of interests. But a standard of community that includes searching out the inner conscience like God searching out a soul is an absurdity.

The conservative argument for claiming people who are part of a nation, especially those who spent their lives here, somehow do not deserve citizenship in my opinion really only boils down to the proposition that the means justify the ends. Unfortunately there is extremely widespread agreement on this. Thus, if legal means fail, then the ends, such as deportation of nationals without legal citizenship to a country they never saw, are nonetheless just, because the law justifies them. It is true that the ends justify the means, but this is a highly controversial position. The real difficulty is that ends and means are not actual things, but moments in life…but that has no part in conservative or liberal thinking as near as I can tell.

I don’t think many (any?) conservative publicists would care to be candid about this. But then I don’t see why they would need to, since so few deny their fundamental premise.

15

Z 01.07.19 at 2:53 pm

the argument you imagine seems reminiscent of Charles Maurras

Well, yes, but Fichte or Tocqueville, in his lesser known work on Switzerland, came there first and are far more interesting thinkers, I find.

though not obviously applicable to the French without a heavy dose of amnesia!

Do I have to spell out that I was only presenting the argument, and that I don’t subscribe to it? I hope not. In contemporary political French political thought, this reasoning is obviously confined to the margin of the far-right, for the reasons you allude to but elsewhere, it might be common. It corresponds roughly to the theory and practice of the Japanese, Swiss and Israeli code of nationality for instance, and at least in Japan, it is also a common if not dominant way of thinking about human identity (anecdotally, for me, it meant that I had three weeks to get a visa for my newborn before he was facing deportation from Japan; normally a formality but one that gets slightly harder to fulfill when your child is born prematurely, as he was).

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 3:05 pm

@Z “Do I have to spell out that I was only presenting the argument, and that I don’t subscribe to it?” That’s exactly what I thought you were doing, I knew perfectly well that you didn’t subscribe to it.

@Matt .. good call on Smith and Schuck by the way, I think it provides the elements of what I’m looking for. Thank you.

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Z 01.07.19 at 3:06 pm

Pete It’s always seemed to me that the argument was jus sanguinis – that the conservative argument was for ethnostates Chris sure. But conservatives are typically unwilling to come out and say so

I think that is unfair, philosophically speaking (keeping in mind that I don’t find philosophy primarily relevant to the question of integration and exclusion of populations, but that applies whatever the philosophical position being defended).

“This, then, is a people in the higher meaning of the word, when viewed from the standpoint of a spiritual world: the totality of men continuing to live in society with each other and continually creating themselves naturally and spiritually out of themselves, a totality that arises together out of the divine under a certain special law of divine development” (Fichte)

This goes beyond an ethnic definition of the state, and while it is easy to deride it as fraught with spurious philosophical pre-suppositions, the exact same can be said of “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. Human beings are autonomous individuals, and are the by-product of social transmission. Believing that nationality is tied more to the second aspect than to the first is neither incoherent nor requires an ethnic definition of transmission (on the other hand, one could imagine a situation in which nationality would be divorced from legal rights, I think Denmark functions in this way in terms of political rights: IIRC you might be or not be Dane, but whether you vote depends entirely on whether you reside in Denmark).

18

Anarcissie 01.07.19 at 3:30 pm

Carl Schmitt?

19

bianca steele 01.07.19 at 3:37 pm

“you’d presume that since this is the legal position, a position that the state and its lawyers are willing to fight for, someone is willing to argue why these exclusions are normatively justified, to provide some arguments which would rebut the kind of “liberal inclusivist” view favoured by the left/liberal side. But all I find online is angry comment . . .”

I wonder why anyone would expect to find recourse to normative arguments in the sorts of places I assume you’re alluding to. Some number of conservative Twitter users, etc., are presumably committed to the impossibility of their, personally, being permitted to pronounce on what the law ought to be. Their goal may be to persuade people that it’s not okay to break the law (though they seem to find it difficult not to butt into discussions of whether it might be okay to change the law, and try to shut those down, as well—treating them like they’re interested in such a discussion only allows them to hijack it).

For them, the question might be solely whether they should tell other people to obey the law, or whether they should express charity towards their personal need not to obey it.

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Marc 01.07.19 at 4:27 pm

Chris – you did ask for people to present arguments as conservatives believe them, correct? Because I’m not giving you my opinions – I’m trying to channel those of others. I think that you’ve hit on the essence of things: you reject the idea that the citizens of a nation are entitled to decide who gets to live in that nation and be a citizen of it, and therefore conservative arguments don’t make sense to you. They would take issue with you at a deeper level – namely, your claim that there is some moral right for people to live in whatever country they wish to. Reject that premise and the global status quo follows.

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 5:16 pm

@Marc Thank you, I wasn’t clear about whether you were speaking in propria persona.

FWIW it is not my claim (or premise!) that “there is some moral right for people to live in whatever country they wish to”. My claim is that any restrictions need to be justifiable to everyone and cannot be justly imposed unilaterally by states. I therefore reject the idea that the global status quo follows from the rejection of a premise I do not assert and in fact deny. But my general views are not the topic of this thread.

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bianca steele 01.07.19 at 5:44 pm

“My claim is that any restrictions need to be justifiable to everyone and cannot be justly imposed unilaterally by states.”

But conservatives (at least in the US) don’t agree, and maybe that’s why you wouldn’t find the kind of thing you describe in the sentence before what I quoted earlier.

I’d think only the kind of Hegelian conservative who thinks we need a justification of what now exists would want that kind of philosophical defense of the status quo. That’s presumably why conservatives like Oakeshott, Scruton, and Gray spend their effort defending the idea of the institution as such.

WRT US laws, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “principle” involved in allowing children in particular to be treated unfairly (and bring up the word “fair” around them btw and see the reaction you get) is something along the lines “edge cases happen, it’s just too bad, nothing to be done.”

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Sebastian H 01.07.19 at 5:45 pm

You made the kernel of an argument in your very last post. “The thought is that people need to be committed to the idea of an inclusive national community if they are going to be motivated to make sacrifices on behalf of others in the form of economic transfers: they won’t stump up for people who are too unlike themselves. But by fighting a culture-war against immigration and the “liberal elite” in order to secure Brexit, those Blue Labour types have succeeded in destroying the illusion of an inclusive national community. They have produced two hostile camps, ranged against one another, who will be unwilling to make the payments those very leftists think are necessary.”

The idea is that people in a nation need to be sufficiently similar in some way in order to be counted on to work together in the relatively hard job of hanging together as a nation instead of just a bunch of small families or clans. The question is about which things count as “sufficiently similar”.

To be clear, I believe that almost anyone in the DREAMERs position of having been moved into a new country very young in life, is probably ‘sufficiently similar’ enough to get citizenship, but I can see the argument that people raised in sufficiently different cultures might not be. (This of course raises the problem of “which cultures are sufficiently different” which I don’t trust the government to get right, so coming from a libertarian influenced position I tend to go for maximal citizenship of where you are, but that is a different argument).

There is a related issue of political economy. When your polity is doing well, your threat sensitivity to “people different than us” is often lower, which at least gestures toward an explanation of why the same people who voted for Reagan under his extremely immigrant friendly concepts are freaking out now

24

Praisegod Barebones 01.07.19 at 7:09 pm

“This, then, is a people in the higher meaning of the word, when viewed from the standpoint of a spiritual world: the totality of men continuing to live in society with each other and continually creating themselves naturally and spiritually out of themselves, a totality that arises together out of the divine under a certain special law of divine development” (Fichte)

I can’t see how Fichte’s view, as presented here, gives Chris what he’s looking for, unless one thinks that the child of non-citizens does not live in society or participates in the process of co-creation described here. And I can’t see way in which one could defend this latter view which is not either circular (they don’t contribute becuase they aren’t citizens, so whatever they do can’t be a contribution) or empirically implausible (they all live in ghettoes and don’t contribute anything to wider society.)

25

Theophylact 01.07.19 at 7:53 pm

I can see all sorts of arguments, both good and bad, for following ius soli or ius sanguinis. But given that everyone seems to feel the injustice of revoking the citizenship of someone entitled under one or the other rubric, what basic principles are actually involved? Why is it justifiable (if it is) to revoke the citizenship of a naturalized citizen for trivial paperwork errors a half-century old?

The Nuremburg Laws rendered Jews not only voteless but stateless and subject to expulsion. This is widely (but I fear, not universally) accepted as a gross violation of human rights (see the current plight of the Rohingya).

Justice and rights are notoriously non-self-defining.

26

Stephen 01.07.19 at 8:12 pm

[I’ve already made clear that this isn’t a general discussion on immigration and the permissibility of restrictions, so I’m deleting your comment to keep things on-topic. Your false claims about my views can be corrected for a mere £8.99 CB]

27

J-D 01.07.19 at 9:19 pm

But I take seriously the pedagogical need to put arguments on both sides in political philosophy.

Perhaps it’s naïve of me to ask, but why?

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Chris Bertram 01.07.19 at 9:36 pm

@J-D because seeing good arguments for and against a proposition helps students to develop.

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Neville Morley 01.07.19 at 9:38 pm

I imagine this is entirely unhelpful in terms of your question, but I’m struck by how far a lot of these attitudes resemble those of Classical Greek city states, which kept citizenship more or less exclusive and restrictive, while being happy to recognise the contributions of a class of resident aliens without offering then any hope of gaining citizenship except in exceptionally rare circumstances. The point being that there is no serious attempt at a philosophical justification for this, but it’s simply accepted as something that states are entitled to do.

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Alan White 01.07.19 at 10:12 pm

Chris, my thinking on lots of topics has shifted after reading Neil Levy’s Hard Luck several years ago. I’m probably way out of my league to even post on this, but I wonder if matters of what Levy calls “constitutive luck” might be relevant to this debate, at least as it concerns adolescents-and-under children of all stripes. After all, no one asks to be born into any circumstance one finally finds oneself to be in, whether one is a “natural” citizen or not.

31

Michael Cain 01.07.19 at 10:40 pm

[sorry, off-topic CB]

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Moz of Yarramulla 01.07.19 at 11:42 pm

I’m confused: has the US withdrawn from the obligation not to create stateless persons? It’s all very well debating how people become citizens, but one of the preconditions is that you either allow or deny the existence of people who are not citizens of any country. If you don’t allow statelessness you have an obligation not to do it…

That’s a pragmatic problem for a philosophical question, but it also means that anyone advocating the creation of stateless people has to answer the reasons why that’s disapproved of in general, as well as specifically (not just the capital-H Holocaust, but the Palestinian question (is it a state or not?), countries like Myanmar that don’t necessarily grant citizenship to residents , even the emancipation of slaves).

Also, Australia where I live might be special in having (had?) an explicit “white Australia” policy, and also in having an explicit debate about whether to grant citizenship to the indigenous inhabitants. So some of these questions either don’t make sense, or have accepted answers (we have agreed that we can create stateless persons by decree of the Minister of Immigration… the “conservative position” here is that it’s UnAustralian to question the government… get in the van).

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de Pony Sum 01.08.19 at 12:08 am

With all of these things you can find arguments, it’s just a quesiton of how ugly you’re willing to consider. That’s why I sort of find your question confusing- of course there are arguments it’s just that they proceed radically from radically different (and in my view, inferior) moral conceptions to ours. It feels like the hidden presupposition in your quesiton is that these arguments must be of a sort that people like you and me would find ‘reasonable’ or ‘fair’. Many of these people are basically tribalists about moral obligation, of course their reasons will appear alien to us.

For me all of this raises an interesting ethical-methodological issue in political philosophy. If we believe, on reasonable grounds, that the real arguments driving a real point of view are ‘ugly’ arguments, should we continue grappling with ‘cleaned’ versions of these arguments, or in doing so are we implicitly engaging in a form of apologia, doing the work of making cruel views seem halfway just?

With that said, these seem to me to be the main lines of ugly arguments driving opposition to dreamers in practice:

A) Suppose you concieve of the state as only having moral obligations to citizens. A pretty horrific view in my opinion, but nonetheless, seemingly quite a common view. In such a case the state should only admit new citizens if doing so is in the self-interest of its citizens, it can never be ‘morally’ obligated to exend citizenship.

B) You allude to one of the less ugly arguments in this area (still pretty ugly)- punish the children to deter the parents. I personally think this is a bit of a smoke veil- I often see conservatives advocating punishment to alter behaviour in circumstances where we have good reason to think behaviour is inelastic. At first I thought they were simply wrong in their presuppositions about how incentives effect behaviour, now days I wonder if they don’t just use the idea of deterrence to justify forms of cruel treatment that they simply want to do anyway. If you simply don’t like someone you’ll ‘reluctantly’ punish them quite easily!

C) Probably the most coherent defence is to combine a bit of A&B- states have only extremely limited moral obligations to non-citizens, and refusing to extend citizenship to children has at least some deterrent effect on parents.

D) From there we move to uglier arguments like cultural supremacism, and from there a short jump to the even uglier racial supremacism. We don’t want *their* types around here, and since they’re ‘illegal’ we have the perfect excuse!

E) Related to the above, an argument that’s made on occasion “They come from bad families that break laws, so they’ll probably break laws themselves”.

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Faustusnotes 01.08.19 at 12:27 am

Chris, do you have any sense of how many countries this issue applies to? I can think of Germany and the us (unsure about Germany) but I’ve lived in four countries and all of them allow children to become citizens independently of their parents as far as I can gues – or if they don’t it may come down to practical issues about who signs forms. The uk issues you cite I think you should rethink in terms of equality rather than some fundamental principle of citizenship – there is no conservative objection to children being naturalized, just an objection to poor people having the same rights as the rich. So is this a common problem in conservative “thought” or just another weird American idiosyncrasy?

I guess you could say that the fact that conservatives from quite culturally close nations have such different conceptions of what the rules of citizenship should be is a problem for conservative ideas of citizenship generally. But that seems a different issue and irrelevant, since conservative “thought” is an incoherent hodgepodge of racism, greed and treachery.

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MisterMr 01.08.19 at 12:45 am

I think that the “Fichte” argument could be restated in this way, IMHO closer to conservative tought:

There is a society that is organic in nature and preexists laws and governments.

This society is naturally divided in communities that also are organic and logically preexist laws (those communities might be seen as ethnic groups although not many conservatives would say it explicitly).

These communities have a right of self government, from which laws and governments descend, and therefore have the right to exclude outsiders if they wish so, because the community is the locus of rights, not the individual.

On the other hand the view that immigrants should be locked out only for good reasons assume that is the individual (in this case the immigrant) that is the locus of rights.

This sounds weird because there is a preconception that the righties are for ethical individualism and the lefties for comunitarian ideologies, but in many ways I think that lefties have a much more individualistic view than righties, although it’s an individualism for the abstract individual not for a specific person.

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Dwight L. Cramer 01.08.19 at 12:48 am

Not sure if this a tangent, but I suspect a huge part of the problem in framing the issue in terms of current political debate is that the modern concept of citizenship is itself residual and derivative from modern concepts of the nation-state. We speak today of citizenship in an entirely different context than say, the legal status of citizen was defined at different times in the Roman Empire, just as the American racially driven concept of slavery is a unique and distinctive chapter in the long sorry history of human slavery. The legal formalities of chattel slavery in the 19th century Southern United States didn’t have autonomous and morally defensible underpinnings, to put it mildly. They were situational adaptive (and reprehensible, but perhaps modern notions of citizenship will themselves seem that in a more civilized future).
This means that the different moral attitudes and political perspectives towards citizenship of conservative/nativist and liberal/progressive are themselves derivative from other, deeper and closer to primary differences. If you consider the 19th century origins of European nationalism and citizenship, against the backdrop of empire and subject-hood, all dressed up in Latinate phrases and glossing over the little problem of ‘nations’ simultaneously the same territory, the current conceptual distress is, thank God, a rather tepid and minor echo of truly murderous disagreement.
It’s all a bit like pretending that art criticism or feminism are independent fields of study rather than acknowledging that most of the issues in those fields derive for underlying realities of political economics, history and philosophy.
Hope I have contributed rather than drifted . . .

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J-D 01.08.19 at 2:22 am

@J-D because seeing good arguments for and against a proposition helps students to develop.

Thank you. I appreciate the response, and it makes sense to me, so now I fear I may be pertinacious as well as naïve. But I really am just working this out now.

There are some propositions which really do have good arguments on both sides; but there are also some propositions which really don’t. So if you’re having difficulty finding good arguments on both sides of a proposition, isn’t it possible that the reason is because there aren’t any? In that case, if you want to give students the developmental experience of being exposed to good arguments on both sides of a proposition, it would seem to follow that you would have to drop the idea of using the proposition in question for that purpose and to use a different one instead. Or is there something I’m still missing here?

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LFC 01.08.19 at 2:43 am

Istm debates about citizenship and immigration laws might benefit (as would nearly everything else, come to think of it) from being situated against a historical backdrop.

I know a little bit more about the U.S. context than the UK, so I’ll just talk about the U.S. in this comment. The ideology (or ideologies, plural) of white supremacy played a central role in U.S. territorial expansion/conquest during the C19th and thus in the geographical and ideological shaping of the U.S. “nation,” and a case can be made that it is only the last 60/70 years or so that white supremacy stopped being the ideology of substantial segments of the elites and substantial segments of the political leadership. (Not counting Trump into the mix here for purposes of this historical sketch.)

As the quasi-official, dominant/elite ideas of the meaning of the phrase “inclusive national community” have changed, the ethnic composition of the population is also changing fairly rapidly, as such things go. At the level of both ideology (or worldview, if one prefers that word) and demography, these changes seem threatening to a certain segment of the electorate, which constitutes Trumpism’s base.

In this context, one is less likely to encounter serious normative arguments for, say, denying access to citizenship to “Dreamers” (though some such arguments may exist somewhere) and more likely to find what one seems to find — namely, howls of basically visceral (and, thus, generally poorly reasoned) outrage issuing from people who have seen changes in recent decades that, for one mix of reasons or another (definitely including, but not limited to, straightforward and conscious racism) they find unacceptable and/or personally threatening. Some of them probably sense what is in fact almost certainly the case — that the broad demographic changes underway are irreversible and that, in demographic terms, the U.S. of 2050 will have almost no relation to the U.S. of 1950. If I happen still to be alive in 2050, I’ll be fine with that, but there are people who won’t be, and they are mostly the ones forming the constituency for restrictive immigration policies. (I’m also under the impression, w/o being at all an expert on the subject, that official immigration policy over the last century or so has tended to move in cycles (from more restrictive to less and back again), so there may be an element of that here as well, plus, as Sebastian mentioned above, overall perception of economic conditions may matter.) None of this, btw, in any way justifies or excuses the patently immoral and stupid ways that the current administration has gone about trying to implement its policies, even if one thought the policies justified (which I don’t).

The bottom line of all this being, I guess, that while students of political philosophy should indeed be exposed to the best normative arguments on different sides of any particular issue, those students should also be trained to think about such issues in their fullest possible historical and sociological contexts. Which means in turn that the most skilled and persuasive normative political theorists are also likely to be good (if necessarily amateur) historians, sociologists, political scientists, and legal scholars. That this is a high standard that probably relatively few contemporary Anglophone political theorists can claim to meet is also true, but beside the point.

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Kurt Schuler 01.08.19 at 4:32 am

The answer to the question in the opening post is (b). For all countries I know that restrict immigration, unauthorized entry is illegal no matter what the age of the immigrant, and crossing onto the country’s soil does not automatically entitle an immigrant to citizenship. (There have been policies such as the U.S. “wet foot, dry foot,” but they have been exceptions to the general framework of immigration law.)

You say that comments that people are illegal beg the question of what the law should be. The current law may not be to your liking, but in countries with representative government, it has been made after public and legislative debate in which points such as yours have had a chance to be aired. The law reflects deliberation by multiple minds about what constitutes legality and illegality. Moreover, the law can be changed if there is sufficiently strong sentiment to do so. If anyone is begging the question, it seems to be you, by implying that the premises of a lone unelected blogger trump the deliberations of the legislature.

You might try the Web site of the Center for Immigration Studies to see if they have made arguments in the case of the United States along the lines that you are seeking.

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Chetan Murthy 01.08.19 at 5:27 am

Chris, this is a very worthwhile topic and OP. Um, I thought maybe it would be useful to describe an analogous problem, and an answer, as a way of pointing-out what’s *missing* from this immigration debate.

Long ago my moral philosophy prof (ya Larry Temkin!) pointed out to us that there was no moral basis for differential pay based on jobs or performance. That one’s ability as a programmer, morally, should have no relation to whether or not one gets to eat or live under a roof. And he’s right. The answer to that argument is that sure, it’s morally unjustified. But we make economic adjustments that are morally wrong in individual cases, because we believe that overall they improve the lot of the entirety of the population. [and then we start getting into the fact that it doesn’t actually work like that, but that’s a long story, not so relevant here.] The point is, that there’s actually a coherent argument for why the wherewithal to live, is connected to one’s job and performance. Or that of one’s ancestors. It might be a bad one, but it isn’t simply “FYIGM”.

Whereas, all the arguments for these immigration restrictions seem to be either “FYIGM” (“them that’s here already, get to stay, everybody else, outta here!”) or “wypipo uber alles, fuck yeah” (“all those brown people with their funny accents and funny-smelling food!”). Nobody wants to defend these positions as baldly stated, so they gussy them up with all sorts of florid language and hand-waving. But really, that’s what it’s down to.

I think there are reasonable arguments to be made for immigration restrictions [not that I agree with them], but none of the current batch of advocates would make those arguments, b/c it would involve goring various of their sacred cows. To wit, one could argue for restricting immigration because one wants to prop up wages for low-skill native-born.[1] But then (in keeping with “don’t kick down”) one ought to criminalize hiring undocumented immigrants, with rewards (a green card) for immigrants who report such employers. And of course, high-skill immigrants (of whatever origin) ought to get instant citizenship (solid evidence they’re net positives). And of course, all of this is *irrelevant* when it comes to people claiming asylum, b/c we’re signatories to various international conventions, and for *very* good reasons. And there again, we might want to take actions to reduce the flow of such immigrants. Again adhering to “don’t kick down”, we’d want to make sure that our corporations weren’t unmitigated bastards in (e.g.) Central America [United Fruit, Augusto Sandino, etc]. We’d want to make sure that our foreign policy, and that of rich Americans, wasn’t worsening things in other countries. [maybe send those Union Carbide execs to India to be fucking sentenced, and if not them, then transfer the entire stock of Union Carbide to the Bhopal city government as reparations, idunno] But that would gore yet another sacred cow. All of this amounts to “don’t punish the immigrants, punish the assholes who drove them to migrate”. Thing is, it’s clear that the same rich folks who want to criminalize undocumented immigrants, are massive employers of those same immigrants [hellloooo Devin Nunes’ family dairy in Iowa]. All this criminalization is just a way to keep those immigrants scared, powerless, and willing to work for even lower wages and worse working conditions.

[1] yes, there’s lots of evidence that in fact, low-skill immigration doesn’t hurt the employment prospects for low-skill native-born. But let’s just pretend, b/c otherwise, we’re back to “wypipo uber alles”, eh?

I myself don’t agree with those arguments for one simple reason: I believe that it really does come down to “wypipo uber alles” for all these people, and since I and my kind will never be white, it’s a matter of self-preservation to get as many immigrants in as possible, and outbreed the Cletuses.

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Z 01.08.19 at 7:31 am

@24 I can’t see how Fichte’s view, as presented here, gives Chris what he’s looking for

That’s probably because this quote was not an answer to the original query of Chris, but to the observation made @11 that the argument ultimately rested on the desirability of an ethnic definition of the state (which might be the case in practice, but need not be so in theory). The most complete version of Fichte’s argument – what Chris is looking for – is probably in the fourth address, while the quote is from the eighth, as surely you knew.

@Neville Morley I imagine this is entirely unhelpful in terms of your question, but I’m struck by how far a lot of these attitudes resemble those of Classical Greek city states, which kept citizenship more or less exclusive and restrictive, while being happy to recognise the contributions of a class of resident aliens without offering then any hope of gaining citizenship except in exceptionally rare circumstances. The point being that there is no serious attempt at a philosophical justification for this, but it’s simply accepted as something that states are entitled to do.

Far from being unhelpful, I think this is an interesting illustration of the pre-philosophical nature of the question (but I would dispute your last statement that this is something states do, this is something populations do).

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Chris Bertram 01.08.19 at 7:47 am

@Kurt, but not just @Kurt … Matt and others have already rehearsed these consent-based arguments. But to revisit: (1) it isn’t just a matter of people who have entered “illegally” but more their children; (2) the US case is slightly peculiar but it is odd to think the current position reflects democratic deliberation anyway. In the US case people born on the territory do get to be citizens but not those who enter one-week old. (3) Your framing of one blogger’s premises versus democratic deliberation is not helpful. Of course the state and democratic publics have the power to do what they do, but the question is whether it is just and according to what criteria. In any case your assumption is that insiders get to set the criteria, and of course that’s the status quo, but how do the insiders get to be the relevant democratic public for this question?

@Faustusnotes the UK issue isn’t just a matter of money, because the path to registration (not naturalisation, note) for children is also subject to other tests, just as good character. The issue is pretty general, but takes a slightly different form in different places: people who are on the territory through no fault/choice of their own, having been born there or having entered as infants, who are then denied a path to citizenship. I think the Swiss recently relaxed their law to allow the …. grandchildren … of immigrants to apply for citizenship (though under still-restrictive conditions). The issue is then one of underinclusion/exclusion and I want to know what the argument for that could be. So far we’ve had two candidates: consent/democracy (Smith and Schuck, and Kurt and others here) and Fichte/Maurras etc. with ethnonationalism).

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Chris Bertram 01.08.19 at 7:50 am

And folks, I realise that some of you want to argue about immigration and think that the US and its constitution and politics are all that matters in the world. But this issue is first and foremost about criteria for membership and exclusion in many countries afflicts people who are not immigrants because they were born on the territory (and in some cases their parents and grandparents were!).

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Murali 01.08.19 at 8:13 am

MisterMr @35

Its not a question of left or right.

Liberalism of the leftish (welfare-state capitalist democracies) or rightish (more neoliberal/libertarian versions of the same) varieties can have an individualist grounding. That is not the only grounding possible, (e.g. we could ground such arrangements in some version of neutrality instead). Conservatism, especially of the blood and soil type is going to be communitarian, as are the various kinds of socialisms. Put in a facile left-right axis, the centre-left and centre- right are more individualist while the far left and far right are more communitarian.

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Murali 01.08.19 at 9:18 am

Chris,

Yes, but given that said conservatives believe that the native-born children of citizens do have such an entitlement, then that’s not a move that’s open to them.

Conservatives seem to subscribe to something like the following principle:

Status Quo-ism: Longstanding social practices generate a prima facie moral entitlement to the distribution of goods generated by said practices.

So, even if there is no practice independent moral entitlement to citizenship, current longstanding practice is to give it native born children so that practice generates a specific moral entitlement for native borns but not people who come over when they are infants. Status Quo-ism explains how conservatives in each era are initially resistant to expanding citizenship, then grumble about it when it is expanded and later accept it.

I don’t know that Status Quo-ism is true or even very plausible, but some story about legitimate expectations and the their role in allowing us to plan our lives around them might make it half-way plausible.

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Murali 01.08.19 at 9:24 am

Chris,

Also take a look at David Miller. I haven’t read the argument, but from the blurb and other reviews, I understand that he is some kind of political realist and that defends immigration controls on some kind self-determination grounds.

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Anarcho 01.08.19 at 9:54 am

“the issue of access to national citizenship, an issue where the libertarians and the liberal left are broadly in agreement.”

This is doubtful, given the track record of “libertarians” (that is, propertarians as “pro-capitalist libertarian” is a contradiction in terms) in favouring dictatorship:

“if one starts a private town […] persons who chose to move there or later remain there would have no right to a say in how the town was run.” (Anarchy, State and Utopia [Oxford: B. Blackwell, 1974], 270)

And least we forget, Nozick also favoured voluntary slavery (371) — nor should we forget von Mises supporting fascism in the 1920s and 1930s (see Propertarianism and Fascism).

This is consistent with their general perspective, namely that property trumps liberty — they do not argue, like genuine libertarians, that workers should run their workplaces. No, Nozick’s position rules — the owners rule, so no liberty for the proles…

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Z 01.08.19 at 10:19 am

Chris The issue is then one of underinclusion/exclusion and I want to know what the argument for that could be.

Anyone who wishes to build a liberal account of the question of inclusion faces an uncomfortable observation, I think: that this notion of underinclusion/exclusion has played a critical role in the genesis of modern states and in particular in the genesis of democratic practices, a fact that Neville Morley recalled above for the case of Greek democracy but which is equally true for the US and Swiss democracy of the 19th century. As Sebastian H wrote above, people need a reason to carry on together as a society and, in actual history as in the history of ideas, the chief impulse that has been mobilized to achieve this cohesion has been exclusion: “The titles of “fellow citizen” and “countrymen”, unopposed to those of “alien” and “foreigner”, to which
they refer, would fall into disuse, and lose their meaning […] the sense of a common danger, and the assaults of an enemy, have been frequently useful to nations, by uniting their members more firmly together, and by preventing the secessions and actual separations in which their civil discord might otherwise terminate. And this motive to union which is offered from abroad, may be necessary, not only in the case of large and extensive nations, where coalitions are weakened by distance, and the distinction of provincial names; but even in the narrow society of the smallest states”, as Adam Ferguson wrote.

So it is not so much that demoi usually require an argument for submitting perceived others to legal exclusion: in actual practice, it is because other were perceived as such and excluded that the demos got to believe it was one in the first place (and that holds equally for explicitly universalist communities, like the Catholic Ecclesia, the Islamic Ummah or Soviet Communism); a pre-condition for its achieving political agency – and in particular for a political philosophy to emerge in its midst.

Needless to say, that this is what happened carries no normative force. To me, it does suggest that the task of building an inclusive democracy is hard, that it goes way beyond legal frameworks and philosophical systems, and that there is little to gain in optimistically thinking otherwise.

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Chris Bertram 01.08.19 at 10:23 am

@Anarcho: that’s a fair point. However most libertarians currently writing about these topics do not support the idea of the state as the collective private property of insiders in that way and would grant equal rights to the native born and to immigrants. There are, as you say, some pretty big tensions within the group describing themselves as “libertarian” on this.

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Chris Bertram 01.08.19 at 10:36 am

@Z my main historical reference on this (for obvious reasons) is 18th century Geneva, where the oligarchy and the citizenry were in permanent conflict over sovereignty whilst most of the population (immigrants and their descendants) were mere spectators. (Rousseau has virtually nothing to say about the excluded majority, beyond noting their different status.) Needless to say, the majority — the real society — got increasingly annoyed about their exclusion and eventually put an end to their inferior status.

I’m puzzled by your final para, which repeats things you said above. Of course I am hardly unaware that having the better philosophical argument (even if one does) doesn’t secure victory in the real world. Nevertheless, it is hardly the case that real-world actors refrain from making normative claims (even if they put little effort into backing them up) and critical argument over those claims is often a part of real-world struggle. The widespread conviction that apartheid South Africa (or the American Deep South for that matter) was a moral abomination played at least some role in its demise.

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bianca steele 01.08.19 at 1:36 pm

I would think it would go without saying that the idea that a state should be based on an organic community with the kind of shared worldview suggested is deplorable. As Sebastian and LFC said, the modern state tends to have a more inclusive view of citizenship. I’m sure it’s possible to find “thinkers” defending this idea online, in the seedier corners of the Net, but not likely among the respectable sort of conservative.

Sebastian’s idea that a certain kind of shared worldview is necessary to engage in “a common project” strikes me as also wrongheaded. Even if a nation-state has a “project,” most projects involve bringing together people with different worldviews in coordinated action. He seems to suggest the common worldview somehow eliminates the need for deliberate coordination, I think. I think I’ve seen that attempted (on a much smaller scale than a nation-state). I’ve never seen it work. (Flaming out in a spectacular display probably doesn’t count as “working.”) Even if it did, it would be inappropriate as the basis of a state.

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LFC 01.08.19 at 1:40 pm

@CB
…I realise that some of you want to argue about immigration and think that the US and its constitution and politics are all that matters in the world

Definitely don’t think that. Just happened to have been reading recently about 19th-cent US “expansion” so my comment reflected that among other things.

FTR, I think it’s hard to come up with a good normative argument for “born on the territory, you are a citizen; enter at one-week old and you are not.” Strict jus soli is probably generally better than jus sanguinis, but that’s not saying much…

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Sebastian H 01.08.19 at 2:22 pm

Bianca Steele, for the most part I was just the messenger. The post about need for common worldview was Chris’s. He’s the one who suggested that we can’t expect coordination. But it’s definitely one of those “how far the abstraction goes” kind of problems. Your formulation just bumps it back a stage. Even if the commitment is “just” to work hard to live together in peace, that isn’t a commitment everyone shares. If enough people don’t share it, you don’t have much of a nation.

I’ll also note that a bunch of the Russian interventions were deliberately about attacking the idea of a common project. They showed racial animus on both sides of the divide, not just on one side. They sowed some of the identity/gender attacks that became framed as Bernie Bros. Perhaps they are on to something in thinking that the death of the common project is the way to destroy us.

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Z 01.08.19 at 3:16 pm

Chris I’m puzzled by your final para, which repeats things you said above.

What I intend to convey is that I find more productive to think about how different populations came to think of themselves as populations, what that entailed and what it entails now rather than in abstract legal or moral arguments, not because I don’t value legal or moral analyses but precisely because I value them: as I believe legal and moral positions and arguments mostly derive from the actual practices of populations (and not vice-versa), I want the emphasis put on actual practices in order to understand (and be able to act upon) moral and legal codes (insofar as this action is indeed possible).

Applied to the topic you discuss, this means I don’t believe that collecting arguments in favor of exclusion of immigrants or refutation thereof can change the terms of debate or improve our understanding of this phenomenon more than trying to understand the actual anthropological behaviors underlying these intellectual constructions.

But I think this difference between us, beyond a difference in intellectual approach, might reflect the fact that you approach these questions as an activist and as a moral philosopher whereas I’m tend to view them almost solely through the political activism lens, and a mathematician criticizing someone else for taking an exceedingly abstract approach to a problem that should be grounded in sensible and human reality is admittedly a rather bold stone-thrower in a rather glassy house.

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bianca steele 01.08.19 at 5:31 pm

Sebastian: “Even if the commitment is “just” to work hard to live together in peace, that isn’t a commitment everyone shares. If enough people don’t share it, you don’t have much of a nation.”

I don’t know you well enough to know whether by “work hard to live together in peace” you mean live as a single community, work hard to understand other community members immediately and/or to be understood, and consequently have a dim view of lasting dissent or conflict, however well that conflict or pluralism might be managed or privatized. Something like that is suggested by Philip Gorski’s “American Covenant,” which somehow fails to answer whether the expanding circle of membership is to be drawn narrowly at the start (that is, in the 21st century) to include only conservative heterosexual white male Protestants among those who already “belong”, and which in any case seems to me to present a religious ideal, not a political one.

If “it isn’t like my religion” is going to be a knockdown argument against any conceivable political or social arrangement, we aren’t going to get very far.

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Erl 01.08.19 at 7:27 pm

A proposal (not one I endorse myself) for a perspective missing from this conversation:

A lot of this argument ignores the role of the “principled unprincipled act.”

For example: under a well-formed theory of property rights, I’m perfectly entitled to dig the uranium out of my back yard, refine it, and use it to build a nuke. Why not? Oh, I can’t use the nuke, or even threaten to do so, but so long as I don’t, what’s the principled objection to me having one?

And yet we would all agree that if some person were to pursue this project, the government could and should stop them. We could come up with various principled rationalizations for doing so, but honestly, my base motive would be intensely pragmatic. I believe in high moral principles, in the government of laws, in non-arbitrary decisions. I also don’t want some fucker to have the Bomb just cause, no matter how much he promises not use it. I’m willing to bend on the former to get the latter. Simple as that.

I think a lot of the thinking underlying the defense of status quo borders goes something like this:

“The current international order—states with exclusive territory, one supreme government per state, each government possessing the power to arbitrarily restrict movement to its territories and citizenship of each government, most governments restricting immigration pretty strictly—has its ugly sides, but it also enables much good that presently exists. Recognizing the intrinsic right of persons to immigrate where they choose would cause this global order to collapse. This collapse would usher in a substantially-diminished state of affairs. Therefore, we must continue to implement such restrictions. If we can find a principled reason for doing so, how lovely; if not, so what.”

The premises that do the work here are in the middle:
1) Permitting unlimited immigration would collapse the global order
2) The new order would be much worse than the present order.

There are good reasons to be skeptical of both!

Re: the former: under the original Westphalian system, the right of kings to choose the religion of their states was considered substantially load-bearing, but we replaced that principle with, broadly, individual freedom of religion, and that change has vastly improved matters. Similarly, we might find that allowing unlimited immigration wouldn’t change things as much as we thought, and that the good things about the global order would remain and its abuses would abate.

Re: the latter: maybe the new borderless world would be a vast improvement! Maybe we’d have a utopia of affinity identities, c.f. a buttload of speculative work on the topic; maybe we’d have the global paradise of the Internationale.

But if you accept those two premises—and I suspect a lot of conservatives do, in one way or another—then the principled case really becomes a sort of window dressing. And for that reason, principled counterarguments don’t have a lot of traction.

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Neville Morley 01.08.19 at 7:49 pm

@Z #41: yes, ‘state’ was loose anachronism – but I’m not sure ‘populations’ is necessarily much better, insofar as it implies *all* members of a particular group (mostly descent-based) rather than just those with full citizenship rights, including role in law-making.

@Z #48: lots of focus in Ancient Greece on exclusion of and self-definition against ‘the other’, yes, but while it’s presented as a natural distinction it clearly isn’t, not least because different poleis had different rules and criteria for membership, and most obviously Pericles pushed through a law to *change* the rules, making them much more restrictive by insisting on the need for both parents to be citizens.

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Phil 01.08.19 at 9:05 pm

I don’t think you’ll find many principled arguments for denying citizenship to this adult or that child. It might be more productive to start with the existence of nations and work forward through national communities and nation states, the desirability of collective buy-in to national projects, the regrettable tendency for solidarity to be limited by perceived differences and consequently the need to limit the admission (to the nation or to the benefits of citizenship) of people who are a bit too different, with the denial of citizenship to this or that individual merely an inevitable by-product of the system in action.

I admit I don’t know the philosophical progenitors of this, only the people who have been pumping it into the national discourse for the last quarter-century – but you’d imagine that one of the latter (Glasman, G’hart, Ted Cantle, Norman Dennis…) would have some references.

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Royton De'Ath 01.08.19 at 10:27 pm

Some aspects of Australia’s migration policies gain attention (indefinite detention, boat “turn-backs” etc); sometimes seemingly inflected/reflected in hardline responses to migrants in the northern half of the planet.

I wonder, for teaching/thinking purposes whether the trajectory of Australia-New Zealand migration policies might be useful? Shared history (Gallipoli, ANZAC; potential of joining together). Relatively “young (historically) views of citizenship. Potentially, increasingly divergent approaches to inclusive/exclusive migration over time. But, ‘family’, supposedly. Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement being an open door expression of that. But, also a back door, too. Apparently.

Perhaps. Don’t know. The post 2001 population of NZers in Australia (as near as dammit metics) and their children (including those born in Australia) might provide food for thought? Particularly, the until recently, almost non-existent paths to citizenship.

But, readily available texts that articulate the basis of such approaches to ‘family’? Not so easily found (and both sides of Australian politics played their bit roles in the current situation. NZ politicians having their own agendas, too). My, admittedly amateur, impression is of post-hoc rationalisations of shitty attitudes.

Here’s some starter reading, if of interest.

And. Yep. I’ve skin in the game, having lived in Australia as a NZer for over 16 years. Most switched-on Australians I’ve spoken to have little or no idea of government policies, and impacts thereof, about/on the sizeable population of temporary migrants in their midst. Except, of course, where scandal erupts (e.g. crimes, abuses and rorting).

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Kurt Schuler 01.08.19 at 11:53 pm

Chris Bertraam @42: Insiders get to be the relevant democratic public because they are the group that is living under the country’s rules and that in the cases of some people has fought and died for them.

Some countries have better government than others; that’s why there are many more Salvadorans in the United States, Syrians in Turkey, and Zimbabweans in South Africa than the reverse. Countries that are worse governed are so not because of their topography or climate, but because of their people. For better-governed countries to admit and grant citizenship to unlimited numbers of outsiders, especially those from worse-governed countries, risks importing on an indigestible scale social and political behaviors that degrade adherence to the rules that have made the better-governened countries so.

On the downside, the insider principle also prevents, for instance, millions of Americans, Turks, and South Africans from moving to El Salvador, Syria, or Zimbabwe, respectively, becoming the majority there, and bringing governance closer to the level of their home countries. Or would that be imperialism?

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Faustusnotes 01.09.19 at 12:33 am

Chris I know you dismissed my question above but I don’t think your dismissal is adequate. In fact I realized in reflection that I am a loving counterpoint to this issue: I took Australian citizenship at 23, though never born in Australia and my parents never took citizenship. I suppose this might have been impossible before the age of majority, but the completely mainstream nature of what I did suggests that if I could not make the choice before age 18 it would be a simple matter of my ability to legally consent. I think similar principles apply in japan, where a person born to foreign parents in japan has dual citizenship until they turn 20, when they have to choose one (Japan does not otherwise have dual citizensh). So I guess I want to ask again, where is this “dreamers” type issue actually an issue and in other states how much of the denial of citizenship rights to minors is based on their legal status as children rather than foreigners? You have admonished us against arguing the us case but if the us is the main country where this is an issue then …?

I would also ask you to reconsider your dismissal of the uk case. I have at least one friend who took uk citizenship after a few years there as an adult, I guess due to a grandfather or something. I really think the issues you are outlining in the uk may be about financial inequality not national exclusion. This may de facto effect citizens of some states more than others, but I think it’s a different issue that conservatives would defend on different grounds.

I think the broader issue raised by Sebastian about whether you can avoid this problem while defining states by whom they exclude is an interesting one. But it’s peobab trivially defensible on practical grounds since every conservative thinks their country is the best in the world and if you dropped border controls 7 billion people would live their (see eg dipper who thinks that everyone in the world is desperate to experience cloudy skies and soggy chips).

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David Duffy 01.09.19 at 4:38 am

” (a) that children should be deprived of something to which they have a prima facie entitlement in order to affect the behaviour of their parents or (b) that there is is no prima facie entitlement in their case?”

For (b) – if many jurisdictions allow temporary migration without possibility of citizenship to the parents, how can this not also apply to offspring of these migrant workers? If this is the case, then offspring of “illegal” migrants should at the very least be treated in the same way, especially if a ius sanguinis is the usual rule.

From Rainer Bauböck (2011) Temporary Migrants, Partial Citizenship and Hypermigration:

“[C]itizenship in independent states is constructed as a life-long membership that is acquired at birth and passed on across generations through descent or birth in the territory. This intergenerational nature of state membership would be severely disrupted if immigrants could acquire citizenship automatically by taking up domestic residence or if emigrants would automatically lose their citizenship by taking up residence
abroad. Intergenerational citizenship is thus characterized not only by automatic birthright acquisition, but also by the absence of strict ius domicilii, i.e. automatic acquisition or loss as a result of a mere change of residence. First generation immigrants have to apply for naturalisation and first generation emigrants lose their citizenship only through explicit renunciation or through withdrawal for other reasons than mere residence abroad.
“The intergenerational character of state citizenship has been regarded as morally problematic by some political theorists. In contrast, I consider birthright membership as morally defensible and indeed functionally required for the formation of stable political communities with a potential for comprehensive self-government….
“The intergenerational character of state citizenship explains why foreign national temporary migrants can be only partial citizens in their host country. It also implies that they remain citizens of their country of origin while residing abroad and can even pass on this citizenship to children born there…”

And, stating the obvious background (Kraler in Baubock (2006) Migration and citizenship: legal status, rights and political participation:

“Historically, ius soli corresponded with the interest of traditional settler societies (e.g. the United States, Canada or Australia) to automatically confer citizenship to second generation immigrants in order to ensure their loyalty and to assert territorial sovereignty against immigrants’ countries of origin [My emphasis, recalling some countries had (and still have) irrevokable citizenship]. The dominance of the ius soli principle in the UK, on the other hand, is a legacy of old and may be traced back to the `common law doctrine of monarchical allegiance, which labelled as
British subjects anyone perchance born within the king’s dominions’ (Everson 2003). This principle prevailed in similar form in most pre-modern European societies until the Napoleonic wars. Since World War II, European countries, such as the UK, which
based their citizenship on this `demotic’ principle experienced a rapid increase of `new nationals’ by sole fact of birth in the territory to an extent no longer acceptable to increasing proportions of the public. As a result, the UK gradually began to reverse its ancient tradition through the installation of a series of new immigration acts that put limits to the automatic access to British citizenship.”

That is, the original law of jus soli had a no longer practical rationale.

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Collin Street 01.09.19 at 7:05 am

I have a half formed idea that the problem with jus sanguinis has to do with the exclusively-geographical nature of modern sovereignty. Giving your non-citizen residents extraterritoriality is as valid a solution as giving them citizenship: the nation state was supposed to fix the dual loyalty problem by aligning geography and culture, but that could never really work.

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Chris Bertram 01.09.19 at 8:34 am

@David Duffy, I don’t see how you can simply presuppose the legitimacy of a policy that denies citizenship to temporary workers and then use considerations of consistency to argue for extension to others. That’s simply question-begging. Our issue is the denial of political membership to people who were born on the territory or arrived as children and have then been socialized on the territory. What could be a principled rationale for that? Citing the practice of this state or that doesn’t answer the question.

@Faustusnotes, the short answer is “in lots of places, both historically and now”. In Germany it was an issue until they changed the citizenship law, as the children of Turkish Gastarbeiter remained foreigners with no route to membership. In Switzerland it continues to be an issue, down to the grandchildren! In the UK, the policy you regard as merely reflecting financial inequality is highly racialized in its effects, but in any case, as I already said obstacles like the good character test are not merely about inequality of money.

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Chris Bertram 01.09.19 at 8:41 am

And further @David Duffy, the quote from Rainer Bauböck defends the practice of allowing people to pass on citizenship to their children and the denial of automatic citizenship to first-generation immigrants. It does not defend the exclusion of children born or brought up on the territory. You could get to such a position by (a) disallowing dual citizenship and (b) allowing as he does the first generation to pass on their citizenship, but you’d have to supply additional arguments for (a) and you’d have to explain why exclusion is the default rather than, say, giving the children, when they are able to choose, a choice over which nationality to have.

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Z 01.09.19 at 10:14 am

Chris What could be a principled rationale for [the denial of political membership to people who were born on the territory and have then been socialized on the territory]?

Changing my rhetorical stance for a minute, I think we can analyze this question from the strict point of view of logic.

A principled rationale for that exclusion is logically possible only if it is believed that being born somewhere and having been socialized within a given society is not enough to get something which happens to be necessary for political membership. If, like in Japan, Switzerland or Israël, there is in addition almost no path to citizenship open, then this means that this something cannot be acquired or learned, willingly or unwillingly. If on the other hand, there is never any debate on whether children of politically recognized actors (PRA) socialized within the society are indeed PRA, then this means that this something is transmitted through a very specific link that children of PRA have access to, but children of non-PRA lack. Whatever this thing is supposed to be (the German language, culture and religion for Fichte, membership in the white race in the US, 大和魂 “the Japanese Geist” and the theses of 日本人論 “theory of Japanese people” in Japan, a special elective relation with God in Israël, aristocracy for Jospeh de Maistre…), it logically has to be transmitted by the parent/child link, as we have seen this link is both necessary and sufficient.

So there you have it, I think: if you can conceive of characteristics that are 1) transmitted solely through the parent/child link and 2) relevant for being a PRA, then you will be able to conceive of principled rationale for excluding children of non-PRA from the category of PRA. If you can’t, then as a matter of logic, you won’t be. Typically, people who can’t conceive of such characteristics instinctively deny their existence either because they think (or perhaps more accurately feel) that the parent/child link is later in life superseded by the freely chosen socialization with peers, or because they think (more accurately feel) that whatever can be transmitted through this link does not obliterate the fundamental equality of human beings, or because they think (more accurately…) that willing adherence to whatever is supposed to be transmitted through this link is enough. Needless to say, I am personally convinced that there is no such objective reality underlying the supposed characteristic transmitted in this way, but I am as convinced that this objection applies equally well to the three abstract beliefs or feelings I just mentioned.

A final remark, I have moved from immigrant, non-citizen or non-national to non-PRA because the two categories do not precisely overlap (it is very common that formally recognized citizens and nationals are nevertheless non-PRA through a variety of discriminative mechanisms while, though this is rarer, some non-citizens might be PRA, as is the case in the UE, for instance) and more importantly because I think the relevant category seems to me to be that of PRA, not that of nationals (to take an analogy, suffragettes were not campaigning to become men, just to be as politically relevant as men).

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Z 01.09.19 at 10:31 am

@Neville Morley. Thanks for you illuminating comments, as always.

but I’m not sure ‘populations’ is necessarily much better, insofar as it implies *all* members of a particular group (mostly descent-based) rather than just those with full citizenship rights, including role in law-making.

If I understand you correctly, I think I indeed want to refer to all members of a particular group on a particular territory. I understand it can appear paradoxical if not outright monstrous to impute, say, the White Supremacy of the American South to the population as a whole (rather than to the White masters) but what I want to convey is that the totality of the population is required for the anthropological system to make sense, so that, to continue the example, a poor Southern White of 1850 (or 1950) could enter in certain anthropological relations with a rich Southern White (those for instance allowing them both to think of as fellow citizens, equal and free) because of the presence on their territory of oppressed Others.

lots of focus in Ancient Greece on exclusion of and self-definition against ‘the other’, yes, but while it’s presented as a natural distinction it clearly isn’t, not least because different poleis had different rules and criteria for membership, and most obviously Pericles pushed through a law to *change* the rules, making them much more restrictive by insisting on the need for both parents to be citizens.

Of course, I don’t believe that these distinctions are natural (either in the sense that it would be anywhere else but in human minds, or in the weaker sense that it is part of the natural social behavior of humans, as for instance infant-mother mutual gazing is). Adam Ferguson’s thesis is weaker: that establishing such exclusionary distinctions is (naturally!) a powerful psychological prop to establish a community of political equals. The specific form of the exclusionary distinctions being established will of course vary through times, places and cultures, and the relative strength they carry will of course vary, but it is possible (says Adam Ferguson) that they play a specific and important role in ensuring the cohesion of communities of politically equal agents; look at Catalan or Scottish separatism for contemporary examples. This means that if we want to eliminate arbitrary distinctions in our own poleis yet preserve them as community of politically equal humans, as I think we should, then we should also give a lot of thought to what equally strong psychological helps could replace exclusion.

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Faustusnotes 01.09.19 at 10:59 am

I wonder then how widespread such policies are or if they are confined to states with particular racist histories? That might give a clue as to the level of self deception required of modern conservatives to defend the policies.

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rjk 01.09.19 at 11:05 am

Chris @ 64:

Our issue is the denial of political membership to people who were born on the territory or arrived as children and have then been socialized on the territory. What could be a principled rationale for that? Citing the practice of this state or that doesn’t answer the question.

Citizenship is granted automatically to those who are children of existing citizens, and not to those who are not. Children of citizens are automatically presumed to be part of the multi-generational endeavour of constructing and maintaining the national community. Children of those who are not (as non-citizens) part of that community do not get the same presumption. I don’t think a conservative would see much reason to go beyond this – it’s your job to prove why such a person ought to be granted these rights.

The conservative’s job here is mostly to argue that ius soli is a bad idea, and leave it at that. Conservatives are generally afraid of automatic grants of anything to anyone because they believe that conniving schemers will exploit such automation. Often these fears are outlandish – “welfare queens”, for example. A conservative would cite some thought experiment of illegal immigrants who sneak into the country in order to give birth and claim citizenship for their child, and would (correctly) observe that this violates the spirit of a law designed to allow the children of immigrants to become citizens. Once the law has been shown to be compromised in this way, they will argue for its abolition or restriction on a kind of precautionary principle. This undermines ius soli in the conservative mind without needing to confront the individual cases of innocent children affected.

The question of control and cheating does seem like a reasonably clean dividing line here: one cannot easily cheat a citizenship test, or a requirement to have great wealth or talent, nor can one easily fake the existence of parents who are already citizens. In the case of tests there is an objective and difficult standard to reach, in the case of wealth and talent there can be investigations that eliminate fraud, and one’s parentage is similarly difficult to lie about. Citizenship granted to anyone born on the territory allows for a theoretically unbounded number of people to have children on the territory and for their children to become citizens without possibility of review by any authority. I think that this is what motivates conservative objections, and not much else.

I realise that this was anticipated in the OP, where it was described as the “incentives argument”. There are two responses: firstly, that my point is less about incentives than it is about legitimacy of the source of citizenship; secondly, conservatives may also be more likely to see this as a multi-generational question, rather than an individual one, where the separation between the motives of the parents and the rights of the child is not as clearly made as it is in left-liberal thought. I appreciate that none of this helps, but I think the reason this thread hasn’t found a good answer might be because there isn’t one.

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Chris Bertram 01.09.19 at 11:44 am

@rjk Citizenship is granted automatically to those who are children of existing citizens, and not to those who are not. Children of citizens are automatically presumed to be part of the multi-generational endeavour of constructing and maintaining the national community. Children of those who are not (as non-citizens) part of that community do not get the same presumption. I don’t think a conservative would see much reason to go beyond this – it’s your job to prove why such a person ought to be granted these rights.

Just to note that in some jurisdictions it is not sufficient to be the child of a citizen even, and that there are or have been highly-gendered restrictions on the transmission of citizenship. So those who lack two citizen parents sometimes end up being excluded too (and proof of paternity can be an issue).

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bianca steele 01.09.19 at 1:26 pm

I don’t know if it’s relevant, but it’s interesting that (possibly under Neville Morley’s influence) we’ve shifted from defending access to citizenship as a right to work or receive public benefits (free elementary education, and so on) to access as a right to help make the laws. It would be entirely possible to grant almost all of what many immigrants want without the latter. The problems mostly arise for the next generation, who are raised with the new country’s expectations without having all its rights. (And for immigrants from places where they already had those expectations, who didn’t all along intend to send money back and probably leave once they had a nest egg.)

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MisterMr 01.09.19 at 2:39 pm

(This comment is a bit OT as it is an answer to Murali @44 and a statement of my political opinions, but I strived to put something relevant to the questions posed by the OP at the end).

@Murali 44

“Its not a question of left or right.
Liberalism of the leftish (welfare-state capitalist democracies) or rightish (more neoliberal/libertarian versions of the same) varieties can have an individualist grounding. That is not the only grounding possible, (e.g. we could ground such arrangements in some version of neutrality instead). Conservatism, especially of the blood and soil type is going to be communitarian, as are the various kinds of socialisms. Put in a facile left-right axis, the centre-left and centre- right are more individualist while the far left and far right are more communitarian.”

I don’t see things this way, in particular I don’t think that socialism tends to be communitarian: I’m a self proclaimed marxian/marxist and I certainly have a very individualistic world view. I also think that socialist thinkers (as opposed to socialist countries) generally took an individualist approach, and I have big problems when I see self proclaimed communists/socialists/lefties making arguments against immigrants because I think they are jumping ship toward being reactionaries: socialism is “workers of the world unite [against capitalists of the world]”, not “workers of Italy unite [with italian capitalists] against other workers who come from somewhere else”.

The way I see things there are actually 3 “stages” that are represented by 3 different ideologies/modes of thought:

1) traditional (pre-capitalist) societies, that work on a traditional/religious worldview and justification of social hierarchyes, each person has a “role” that he or she is supposed to fulfill, and morality is seen mostly in terms of duties, not rights (duties being the fulfillment of one’s social role). The corresponding ideology is “reaction”.

2) then societies evolved into bourgoise capitalist states, and the former traditional worldviews were smashed and largely superseded by an idea that people do not have a pre-estabilished role from birth, the free market and the idea of individual rights (the three are related). Social hierarchyes are largely based on wealth, so the equality of all people is limited in pratice by differences in wealth. The corresponding ideology is liberalism in the old sense, however for clarity I’ll call it “capitalism”.

3) but the capitalist world view promises equality and people nowadays do expect some level of equality, that is however limited by differences in wealth. The corresponding ideology to this point of view is “socialism” (broadly defined). In socialism the idea that everyone is equal and thus has the same rights (that came from “capitalism”) is extended also to economic rights, so you have the right to work (or to a decent job) etc. This ideology is individualistic in the sense that it is based (like capitalism) on a conception of individual rights, though this conception is wider than that of capitalism, and laws and governments are supposed to produce these rights.

This 3 stages conception is my reading of Marx’s “on the jewish question” essay, so I’m definitely not speaking of a recent view or a view limited to center-left guys. Also these are 3 stages because, in Marx’s view, there was a natural progress (through crises and revolutions, but still a progress) from 1 to 3.

But while in Marx’s view these 3 ideologies are 3 steps on an historical ladder (with reaction as the earliest, socialism as the last and capitalism in the middle), apart from whether marx was right in his opinions about history, in pratical terms no cultural shift happens so completely, so that in pratice we have the 3 ideologies coexisting today.

What we call right wing populism, today, is a situation where proponents of 2 find it practical to ally whith proponents of 1 (capitalists pander to reacionaries so that they can pass tax cuts while prtending to be populists because thei kick immigrants).
Other combinations are also possible:
I think that in many “really existing socialist countries” the various socialist regimes strongly used nationalism (that is part of 1) to stay in power, even if they professed and probably believed that they stood for 3.
I think also that in various historical periods (like the postwar years) we can see a sort of uneasy alliance between 2 and 3, but this is more difficult because 2 and 3 are most obviously set one against the other.

When I said that righties are more communitarian than lefties, I mostly meant righties of the (1) kind, that is reactionaries, not capitalists.
However in our present society 1+2 is the most likely and evident alliance.

And now, the part that is partially relevant to the OP:
The concept of nation state that we have today developed more or less together with capitalism, however it developed by taking the place of a more multiform and complex set of relationships making them more inclusive, so it is something that is somewhat between stage 1 and stage 2: on the one hand, all citiziens are equal and have the same rights, and in fact citizienship is defined os a set of rights; on the other it evolved from older forms of communities and thus has a big “us against them”, cultural unity bias. The “Fichte” justification (as I expressed it previously) is based on concept of community that are still linked to the conception (1).

Hence the problem of finding a “principled” reason to excluding migrants (most obviously in the case of kids but I think this is true for immigrants in general): because the philosophical principles that we generally accept mostly come from 2 or maybe 3, whereas philosophically 1 was almost toally defeated by 2 during illuminism, so we reject this kind of communitarian/traditionalist thinking, at least philosophically, today.

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Faustusnotes 01.09.19 at 3:11 pm

Chris if the uk regime is allowing some people through then it cannot be the case that it meets the criteria of your original post. In this case conservatives in the uk don’t have to defend dreamer-like laws because they don’t exist (since some dreamer-type people qualify)(I am using dreamer as a shorthand for the children you have identified in the op). Tories will defend this policy in explicitly racist terms – saying they prefer a racist migration policy and so what? – or by the disingenuous shuffle they always do when presented with the racist consequences of institutional practices. But they don’t have to defend the blanket exclusion of all children raised in the uk since by your own admission some are getting through.

So again I wonder how many countries have the policy in a strict form (rather than a racist form) and why for example the us does but none of the other anglophone countries do. I think the argument above about America’s genocidal past gives the big clue, and I think Switzerland doesn’t have a great history either. Were germany’s policies set by ghq in 1945 or are they a throwback to the imperial era?

(Another classic conservative argument is “it has always been done this way”, which could explain the German approach if their citizenship policies derive from an ancient order)

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Trader Joe 01.09.19 at 3:40 pm

With respect to “ (a) that children should be deprived of something to which they have a prima facie entitlement in order to affect the behaviour of their parents or (b) that there is is no prima facie entitlement in their case?”

Apart from the theoretical underpinnings of this question there is at least one very practical aspect of this – namely not making medical professionals be the arbiters of citizenship.

If a child is born in territory they are issued a birth certificate which is in fact one of the few prima facie documents of citizenship. Every kid gets one who is born here, no kid gets one if born somewhere else.

If a mother shows up at a hospital (hopefully) to give birth, the medical staff shouldn’t need to do a background check to issue the cert, they just issue it. I suppose a conservative might make the case that if the parents can’t show citizenship the cert could be issued in some sort of amended or asterisk form, but again – checking legal status isn’t the hospital’s primary responsibility, its providing care and they can’t discharge a newborn without paperwork.

That might not be a moral or theoretical underpinning for ius soli, but it’s a practical one and superior to creating ‘stateless’ persons who are definitionally helpless to do anything about it. A one week child brought to/over the border doesn’t get there themselves so their exclusion would depend implicitly on the status of their parents.

I don’t honestly know how often people cross the border for the primary purpose of giving birth and getting citizenship for their child – conservatives would have us believe it happens all the time and squanders zillions in resources – whatever the case, it would seem to be the most obvious example of a highly moral exception to whatever a society might otherwise deem to be the base rule.

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Sam B 01.10.19 at 5:39 am

I don’t know the literature, sorry, I’m not in academia.

But I can think of one argument against citizenship by birth/acculturation: that the moral responsibility for this unfortunate situation lies on the parents rather than the state. That is to say, if you decide to emigrate in the knowledge that your children cannot become citizens of the state they will practically and emotionally identify with, you must accept that outcome – assuming your decision to emigrate was voluntary and not compelled. Maybe you were tossing up between relative poverty in your country of origin on one hand, and cultural dislocation and political disempowerment for both you and your offspring on the other, and chose the latter.

I don’t think this proves that such laws are sensible or logical, but there is an emotional appeal to it. If I voluntarily move to a country with stupid laws, I won’t get much sympathy from the public when I complain about the consequences of those laws on my life. I think those with a vaguely authoritarian mindset might find that argument compelling. “Japan didn’t screw your kid over, you did by moving to Japan and deciding to raise your kid there knowing the score.”

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Faustusnotes 01.10.19 at 5:44 am

Trader joe that is another practice I would like to see conservatives offer a theoretical defense for – denying people basic services even though they have paid taxes, on the basis of their nationality. Also the related nastiness of refusing asylum seekers the right to work. It’s simply might makes right, we don because we can, but those conservatives who want to pretend their political theory isn’t just vindictive racism presumably have something to offer here. I don’t think they can handle the task though.

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David Duffy 01.10.19 at 5:54 am

@64-5 Chris Bertram “simply presuppose the legitimacy of a policy that denies citizenship…simply question-begging”. Actually I thought it was a pretty good analogy,
since I haven’ t seen exact discussions of the original point, and there seem to be such large differences between how nations justify these matters eg denationalisation and construction of alien citizens as necessary to the common good. So to try and patch up the argument,

1. ius soli previously had practical statecraft reasons, which are no longer relevant to conservative patriots, who pride themselves on being tough minded when required.

2. For conservatives, the family is the basis of society, so it is natural for citizenship to flow via parental citizenship. Minors should follow their parents wherever they go, so as to maintain the integrity of the family, even if this might lead to economic or social disadvantage [though not of course risk to life].

3. “birthright membership [is] morally defensible and indeed functionally required for the formation of stable political communities with a potential for comprehensive self-government”

4. An unbridled ius domicilii will lead to a loss of “peoplehood” or “community”. [eg Renshon’s testimony to US House Committee on Dual Citizenship, Birthright Citizenship, and the Meaning of Sovereignty, 2005]

therefore:

ius sanguinis is a necessarily imperfect but overall best primary rule for citizenship, and the naturalisation path for immigrants should be “a privilege not a right”

So, children of parents who have only a revocable citizenship should not necessarily be entitled to an full citizenship themselves, provided their parentage entitles them to full citizenship elsewhere.

Subsequently, I did find that that “John C. Eastman, a leading advocate for exempting children of illegal aliens from birthright citizenship has argued that a reinterpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment became urgent [i]n the wake of 9/11 .” He puts his arguments in his written submission also to the Hearing on Dual Citizenship, Birthright Citizenship, and the Meaning of Sovereignty, where he argues the “Won Kim Ark” decision was wrong, in that “Elk v. Wilkins” had already decided that Indians born in
the US owed immediate allegiance to one of the Indian tribes (“an alien though dependent power”) in the same way as children born on US soil of subjects of any foreign government.

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Chris Bertram 01.10.19 at 9:05 am

@Sam B That is to say, if you decide to emigrate in the knowledge that your children cannot become citizens of the state they will practically and emotionally identify with, you must accept that outcome – assuming your decision to emigrate was voluntary and not compelled.

The idea that the actions of the parents may be visited on the children so long as the parents knew what they were doing is an … interesting one. Consider a law that not only deprived felons of their civil rights but also their children, yea unto the nth generation. The parents made a choice, so the children shouldn’t complain?

@DavidDuffy For conservatives, the family is the basis of society

Well, they often say that, but then they pursue policies, including in immigration (also welfare etc) , that split families up on a massive scale. So maybe this is not something they actually believe but a pious slogan.

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Z 01.10.19 at 10:38 am

Chris Consider a law that not only deprived felons of their civil rights but also their children

Putting aside my own preferences (which are in favor of the extension of all political and social rights to all permanent residents, as you know), I don’t think this is a persuasive analogy. The law you describe would deprive children of all political rights. The law, as it exists in many countries and in especially drastic forms in a few, indeed deprives children of the political rights of the country they live in, but only under the presumption that they have retained the full political rights of the country their parents are from. When this presumption is false, the policy is generally much more lenient, and even Japan grants its nationality to children born or found in Japan of stateless or unknown parents.

The justification advanced is frequently the usual one: no one can be a meaningful member of two fundamentally distinct polities.

As an aside, I would point out that it is easy to believe that formally inclusionary policies are Good and formally exclusionary policies are Bad, but the actual effect of the immigrant population and its children is, I believe, more complicated than that. For instance, the designation of foreigners (and their children) as irremediably alien is surely terrible, and it leads to human tragedies no question about that, but it can also promote a form of tolerance and acceptation of differences (say, cultural ones) that comparable societies with more inclusionary policies sometimes lack. Anecdotally, every echelon of the Japanese administration was perfectly fine with me (a permanent resident) having a baby there while Canada viewed even the temporary residence of my pregnant wife with extreme suspicion (what if she gave birth and decided to stay forever?), and I don’t have to think for a minute to decide where a Moroccan graduate student will be better treated: in Switzerland or in France.

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Faustusnotes 01.10.19 at 11:27 am

I would say the idea that children suffer the sins of their parents is a core conservative idea. It explains so much about their resistance to redistribution, state education, universal health coverage, death taxes … cruelty is their core belief.

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nastywoman 01.10.19 at 10:11 pm

@79
”and I don’t have to think for a minute to decide where a Moroccan graduate student will be better treated: in Switzerland or in France”.

just curious – where does somebody -(who lives in France?) think such a student would be better treated? –
As we once followed -(with a hidden camera) – a student who could have been ”a Moroccan graduate student” – through Switzerland – Germany France and Italy – and about his ”treatment”:
Better in Switzerland than in Italy and France and Germany.

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J-D 01.11.19 at 2:12 am

But I can think of one argument against citizenship by birth/acculturation: that the moral responsibility for this unfortunate situation lies on the parents rather than the state.

Therefore spake he unto them a parable, saying: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And after the priest came two Levites, and likewise saw the man lying half dead.
Then said the one Levite to the other: Surely it is for this that the priest passed by on the other side, when he saw this man lying there.
And his companion answered him, saying: Shall we not give aid to the man, and bind up his wounds, forasmuch as he be half dead?
And that Levite who had spoken first also returned answer to him, saying: If the priest passed by on the other side when he saw this man, is it not even this same priest that beareth the moral responsibility?
When the twelve heard this parable, Philip, being one of the twelve, did say, What then should these Levites do, when they saw the man that lay half dead after the priest passed by?
And Conservative Jesus did even give answer to Philip, and to other of the twelve, who questioned him likewise, saying: Ye ask of the deeds that men should do, when they see the ills that are suffered by many in this world; but verily, verily, I say unto you, ye should rather ask who beareth the blame and the moral responsibility for these ills, and occupy yourselves with the like questions day and night; for unless ye do even so, ye shall never pass through the gates into Conservative Heaven.

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Sam B 01.11.19 at 3:43 am

How you weight responsibility might depend on your perception of what exactly laws are – as being either moral/immoral, or simply a fact of life.

If you think the former, then responsibility will lie both with the parents and with the state for enacting immoral laws.

If the latter, then the responsibility lies totally with the parents. The analogy you might use then could be something more like prenatal drinking — a decision made by the parents whose consequences no one else bears responsibility for, because it doesn’t make sense to blame the biological facts of child development.

I can’t imagine being an immigration official and deciding to reject citizenship to a five-year-old whose whole life has been in this country; at the same time, we are very often obliged to consider the consequences of laws we disagree with and adapt our behaviour accordingly. I’m confused.

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Z 01.11.19 at 8:19 am

@nastywoman just curious – where does somebody -(who lives in France?) think such a student would be better treated? –

In Switzerland. And I don’t think so, I know so, from literally dozens of personal accounts on all relevant sides (if I understand correctly the end of your comment, you came to the same conclusion). My point was that the same dispositions that get you a permanent exclusion of immigrants from citizenship also gets you this relatively better treatment, and vice-versa.

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Murali 01.11.19 at 8:58 am

MisterMr @72

At some point we may just be using communitarian differently. Or we may be understanding socialism differently.

I understand communitarianism as the claim that we have pro tanto enforceable duties of solidarity with some proper subset of persons smaller than the entire human race

So, right wing versions of communitarianism claim that there are enforceable duties of solidarity towards people in your church, nation, family, clan, caste, race etc.

The left wing version of this changes the target to all members of the working class. Somewhat more identity rather class based versions may claim that we have duties of solidarity towards all underprivileged and subaltern peoples. (e.g. towards people on the LGBTQ spectrum, historically disadvantaged ethnic groups, the differently abled etc)

There’s a question about socialism as well. Is solidarity something that socialists are only committed to as a means of achieving certain individualist goals? If so, does this really matter when they are still committed to solidarity?

Socialism, it seems to me is not just the claim that everybody ought to have a whole chunk of cash and that the chunk of cash should be equally distributed. Because a capitalist society with a large social safety net funded by high marginal tax rates is still fundamentally a capitalist society. It’s still got free markets and private property in the means of production. Socialism, it seems to me, makes more substantive claims about man and his place in the world.

On a socialist picture, does it make sense to reduce the interest of the working class as a whole to the interest of each member of the working class? If it does, perhaps socialism is individualist. If not, then socialism is communitarian.

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Faustusnotes 01.11.19 at 10:16 am

Nice one J-D!

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MisterMr 01.11.19 at 3:41 pm

@Murali 85

“At some point we may just be using communitarian differently. Or we may be understanding socialism differently.”

Perhaps both. Furthermore, I’m not the archduke of language who can define the meaning of the word “socialist” or “left”, so is you or others have a different opinion about what socialism is or ought to be, I’m not going to say that my acception of the terms is the only correct one. However I’ll try to explain the terms more clearly and restate my opinion in a slightly different way:

1) Communitarianism:
If we take religions as an example, there are two sides of a religion: on the one hand, a religion is a set of belief and moral principle, so that it is a personal, private thing; on the other, a religion is generally a group of people who share the same principle but also most often the same rituals, and thus creates an in-group and an out-group.

The “personal set of beliefs” is an individualist kind of things, the “group of peoples” is a communitarian kind of thing in my view.

A funny example is this: in Italy, the Lega party (that is strongly anti immigrant) generally is pissed off by the idea that muslims should be allowed to buils mosques in Italy or that the cross should not be displayed in public schools, but when the pope or this or that cardinal say that true christians should welcome foreigners and help the immigrans that are at sea in the mediterranean, the Lega says that the pope/cardinal should mind his own business and not stick to politics (this happened).
If we see religion as a set of beliefs and morals, the Lega behaviour doesn’t make sense, but if we think in terms of religion as a marker of a community it does.

In this terms, both the left and the right might be individualist or communitarian, depending on whether we are speaking of a set of principles or of the allegiance to a certain group of peoples (or even to a political tribe).

2) Socialism:
While there are various definitions and beliefs about the term, I think that the basic conception is still this:
The world where we live is a very hierarchical world, because workers have to obey employers to have a job that lets them put food on the table.
They have to obey employers (capitalists) because capitalists own the mean of productions or in general because workers have no other options (hence, theories about the reserve army of the unemployed etc.).
Capitalists then are in a position to claim profits, with which they extend the ownership of the means of production.
The purpose of socialism is to make the world non-hierarchical, that might take various means depending on various political movements:
– eliminate private property of means of production;
– put workers in a situation where they can say “no” to employers (e.g. through social safety nets);
– and many others.

For example, if someone created a free market system where it is impossible for anyone to own more than an average share of the means of production I would count it as socialism, even if this would still be based on private ownership.

The level of “extremism” in being a leftie/socialist IMHO depends both in how much one wants to change things as they are and on how sudden one wants the change to be, but is unrelated to wether one does have a more individualist or communitarian (in my acception of the term) approach to socialism.

3) Righties are more communitarian:
While one can have a more communitarian or idividualist approach to any ideology, one can have also a communitarian view of the world without references to ideologies, but just about groups based on vicinity, cultural affinity etc.

My contention is that the economical right (people who want low taxes for example) used this sort of communitarian identification to go agains various leftish (included moderate leftish) projects, in order to have an appeal.
Thus present day righties (in our societies) show this apparent paradox: on paper, capitalism, free markets etc. are all about individualism, so righties tend to see themselves as the individualists VS the communitarian lefties; but in pratice most communitarian (in the sense I used the term) approaches come from the right.
For example you might have a right leaning guy in the USA who has a huge national flag at home and thinks that leftish politics are unamerican and brags about american values of individualism, but in reality this guy is mostly acting this way because he is a communitarian, he is buing individualism (on paper) because this is a marker of him being part of a community, like the Lega with the cross in my example above.

On the other hand “pure” socialism is a conception about rights so in itself is an individualistic conception; there might be groups that have a “communitarian” link to socialism because they want to be parto of a particular community but in our society they are few, because there isn’t really a socialist community, at most political tribalism, but still it is a weak community for most.

Re-reading this, I see that I’m using “communitarian” in a sense very close to Atlemeyer’s RWA, so probably I was influenced by this.

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nastywoman 01.11.19 at 4:15 pm

@84
”if I understand correctly the end of your comment, you came to the same conclusion”

I did – but I just don’t know? –
about the point –
”that the same dispositions that get you a permanent exclusion of immigrants from citizenship also gets you this relatively better treatment, and vice-versa”.

If you are Swiss you are not only a citizen of a country where four languages are spoken
and where more than 2 million ”fureigners” living -(comprising of more than 24 percent of the total population)

So – you’re chances – as a Swiss – when you meet a student who looks like a Moroccan graduate student – that this ”student” actually is –
A: one of your fellow Swiss Citizens…
or
B: A (wealthy) tourist or visitor… are sooo high – that – as a Swiss – you ALWAYS treat the Moroccan looking student better than anybody else from any countries – where there is only one language spoken and only one ”national identity” builds the base of ”citizenship” – and where ”citizens” are often forced to choose just ONE citizenship – while the Swiss tolerate any amount of – second – third – fourth or any amounts of passports -(citizenships) their citizens want.

And that’s a… disposition which ”also gets you this relatively better treatment, and vice-versa”.

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