'They terk er jerbs!' Do immigrants really drive down wages?


I'll say this just to make my point clearer: I'm talking about the United States and its Latin American immigration, not Europe, and I'm focusing on the economic effects of immigration, so I'll be avoiding any discussion of the usual Trumpian rhetoric and xenophobic canards about drugs, crime, rapists, and whatnot. The Sentencing Project has already released a report demonstrating that 'foreign-born residents of the United States commit crime less often than native-born citizens', simple observation and deduction show that with any population transfer, the absolute crime rate may increase, but the relative crime rate will probably stay the same (and this is an important distinction to understand), and frankly, if you were an immigrant, wouldn't you have an incentive to avoid deportation by, say, not committing crimes, which generally increase your likelihood of being deported?
And what about immigrants being lazy? That stereotype is rooted in age-old ethnic stereotypes of Hispanics, and especially Mexicans, which can be refuted easily by studies showing that immigrants on average work harder than native-born citizens.
So these two myths are instantly busted.
But do they, as the 'pissed-off white redneck conservatives' like to say, 'take our jobs'? Or, as a slightly more economically literate nativist might say, 'drive down our wages'?
Let's apply a little economic reasoning here:
As I've shown, immigrants are, by and large, labourers. And since wealth is derived from labour (Kevin Carson has an excellent defence of this position in Chapter 1 of his Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, which can be read here), additional labour means additional wealth. Furthermore, as immigrants are necessarily, as with all of us, consumers of goods, they create additional demand, and where there is more demand, as any economist will tell you, more supply comes to meet it. This additional supply means that prices go down to achieve equilibrium. It should be clear that these prices don't lower just for immigrants, but for everyone across the board. So right off the bat, we have immigrants making things better for everyone!
So whence the idea that immigrants 'steal' jobs and depress wages?
Employers, generally seeking to maximise profits, see immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, as a source of cheap labour. They can pay documented immigrants minimum wage, as most immigrants are glad to even have a job, and that's equally true for undocumented immigrants, who they can pay even less than minimum wage, as the lack of documentation puts them outside of regulation. Hence the effect of wages in general being depressed and native-born workers being fired.
But is this the immigrants' fault, or is it the employers' fault?
Ultimately, it's the employers' decision to pay these lower wages and fire native-born workers. (Mainstream neoclassical economics seems to have a tendency to treat questions of unemployment, low wages, and poverty as matters of personal responsibility, but then treat employers mistreating their workers as helpless subjects of uunbreakable 'laws' of economics. I wonder why that is...)
There's no gun being held at employers' heads forcing them to pay lower wages. The only reason for that happening is the desire to get higher profits in the short term.
Trump wants to punish immigrants for seeking jobs over here and punish employers for simply hiring immigrants. This is not a policy that will keep citizens' wages high. The real solution is to punish employers for not paying immigrants, documented or undocumented, the equivalent of a native-born citizen's wages for the same amount of work.
It's worked in the past numerous times in various countries during nearly each major immigration wave of the last century. What's so special about the present that it can't work now?

For compassion-based politics, or: a proposal for anarcho-Mohism

I.

The Chinese philosopher Mozi postulated that the primary ill of humanity is too much partiality in compassion. (A further argument can be made that (post)modern society suffers from a deficit in compassion all around.)
Human beings have a bias toward the members of their ingroup. This bias can be exploited in horrific ways: when the Germans accepted themselves as the 'ingroup' and the Jews, Roma, LGBTQ+ people, etc. as the 'outgroup' in the 1930s-40s, the Nazis were able to provoke them to unprecedented levels of evil and cruelty. This rested entirely on the ingroup-outgroup classification.
(For a much more in-depth discussion of this same topic, please see Scott Alexander's now-(in)famous post at Slate Star Codex.)
The ingroup-outgroup bias can be benign, in the sense that a tumour can be benign, or it can reach the level of fascist atrocity.
Mozi's philosophy, known as Mohism, says that one would need to overcome this crude bias in order to become a truly ethical person; an ethical person will have compassion for all and act accordingly.

II.

We can see how this applies to modern politics on the macro scale with attitudes on immigration.
Note this tweet about a young woman who is supposed to be protected under the DREAM Act (although ICE under Trump is trying to deport her):
Now the response from a self-proclaimed Christian and conservative:
For Natasja, undocumented migrants—even those who were brought to the United States as young children—are the outgroup.
Even if they had no real choice.
Even if they have lived their entire life as Americans.
Her rationale, when confronted with that fact, is that this Dreamer's parents made a choice.
For a Christian, she is surprisingly ignorant of her own Bible. For it is written:

'The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father with him, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son with him; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.'

Ezekiel 18:20, JPS Tanakh 1917.

I must note that I do not consider illegal immigration 'iniquity'; rather, I consider it iniquity that we have a system which leaves many with no other choice but to risk life and limb to come here and I consider it iniquity the way we treat undocumented migrants:

'And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not do him wrong. The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.'

Leviticus 19:33-34, JPS Tanakh 1917.


Were not Natasja's ancestors strangers in the land of America when they came here?
Was my own father not a stranger when he came here, and my great-grandparents before him?
Show me in the Holy Bible, or indeed the Holy Qur'an, or the Bhagavad Gita, or indeed any sage text, where it says that only sojourners or strangers who have had to pass through invasive security theatre are worthy of compassion.
The Oxford English Dictionary says that the word 'iniquity' comes ultimately 'from Latin iniquitas, from iniquus, from in- ‘not’ + aequus ‘equal, just’.' The etymology of 'inequity' is the same.
What, if any, distinction can be made between the two? For this is the truth that has been understood for so long, and which has levelled great empires and laid barren the noblest of republics: Inequity is iniquity, and iniquity can never remain unpunished.

III.

In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus Christ says that '[t]he kingdom of God is within you.' (Luke 17:21, Lamsa.) And as Charlie Chaplin expanded in The Great Dictator, 'within you' means 'not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men.'
It is in this spirit, and in recognition of the above principle, that Nikolai Berdyaev, the great Russian philosopher and mystic, wrote:

'There is absolute truth in anarchism and it is to be seen in its attitude to the sovereignty of the state and to every form of state absolutism.…The religious truth of anarchism consists in this, that power over man is bound up with sin and evil, that a state of perfection is a state where there is no power of man over man, that is to say, anarchy. The Kingdom of God is freedom and the absence of such power…the Kingdom of God is anarchy.'

—Nikolai Berdyaev, trans. R. M. French, Slavery and Freedom, New York, Charles Scribners, 1944, p. 147.



IV.

Mozi 'advocated a form of state consequentialism, which sought to maximize three basic goods: the wealth, order, and population of the state' (P. J. Ivanhoe and B. W. van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, Indianapolis, Hackett Publishing, 2005, p. 60). By 'order', Mozi does not necessarily mean hierarchy, but rather the prevention of violence and the avoidance of warfare, which he saw as destructive and pointless; and by 'material wealth', he meant wealth for all, and not merely for a few.
But taking into consideration that we are embarking upon a fundamentally libertarian project, we must reject the idea of the state as part of our ethic. It also does not seem obvious to us that population growth is an inherent moral good.
Let us now turn to the words of the philosopher himself:

'It is the business of the benevolent man to seek to promote what is beneficial to the world and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for the world. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit men he will leave alone.'

—Mozi, Mozi, 5th century a.e.v.; Mozi et al., Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu, trans. Prof. B. Watson, New York, Columbia University Press, 1967, p. 110.


From this summation of Mozi's moral philosophy, we may deduce that the state is not a necessary part of the ethic of universal compassion; rather, it is the effect upon the world that determines what is right or wrong.
Let us finally turn to the moral philosophy of St. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred by the Nazis, of St. Karl Barth, who wrote much of the Barmen Declaration, which laid the cornerstone for the Christian German resistance to the Hitler regime, and of Paul Tillich, who summarised this philosophy, known as situation ethics, in his statement that 'Love is the ultimate law.' (P. Tillich, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1951, p. 152.)
The ideas of situation ethics harmonise with those of Mohism, as situation ethics demands only those actions which produce the most love, the most agapé, and nothing more. Any laws, any norms, any dictates or decrees which inhibit love are to be broken.
Here we see a clear return to that truth which Berdyaev stated so clearly: namely, that 'the Kingdom of God is anarchy.' The law of Love, of universal compassion, being the highest—no, the only law, has profoundly radical implications. The state, being an inherently violent institution, is an impediment to compassion, as is capitalism, which utterly negates compassion in its inhuman logic of profit and growth for the sake of growth ('the ideology of the cancer cell', as environmentalist Edward Abbey put it).
'Think globally, act locally', the slogan of social ecology, is a guide for a Mohist anarchy. Whatever action increases the well-being of a given community will, in a holistic manner, increase the well-being of the whole world.

V.

Only through universal compassion can an anarchist order be maintained and even created, and only through anarchy can compassion be realised.
It finds its purest expressions in the reemerging mutual aid movement, in the credit union, and in the cooperative. Though times are dark, and wars and genocides are raging, and it appears that all promises of a better future are lost, the hope of ages, which guided the Israelites to the Promised Land, which guided the Diggers and the Quakers to endure brutal repression in order to spread a Gospel of love and generosity, which led the Parisians, the Ukrainians, and the Spanish to establish free territories in the face of authoritarian assault, which led the Partisans of Warsaw and Vilna to rise up even when they knew they faced certain defeat, which led millions of black Americans to march against brutal segregation, which led the unemployed and the homeless to camp in Zuccotti Park to demand justice for the poor and destitute, which still leads the poor of Chiapas and Rojava to fight against their oppression, still burns in the hearts of human beings, and if I squint hard enough, I can see the Sun on the horizon ready to rise—but only when we reject all fear and hatred and hold on to compassion.

Solving the problem of transgender pronouns with discourse ethics

I. Background.

Discourse ethics is a metaethical theory developed by Jürgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel that states that moral truths may be known by examining the presuppositions of discourse or debate. (A bastardised version developed by neo-feudalist anarcho-capitalist philosophaster and fascist sympathiser Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who studied, oddly enough, under Habermas, is known as argumentation ethics, and aims to demonstrate the truth of the right-libertarian conception of self-ownership, but fails by confusing the idea of a liberty right with a claim right.) The theory is as follows: When two or more people engage in discourse, there are certain norms that everyone is obliged by necessity to presuppose. For instance:

  • The participants are engaging in the same language-game.
  • No relevant argument is being suppressed or excluded by the participants.
  • The only force used is that of the superior argument.
  • All participants are motivated solely by a concern for the better argument.
  • Everyone agrees to the universal validity of the thematic claim.
  • Everyone capable of communication and action is entitled to participate.
  • Everyone is equally entitled to introduce new topics.
  • Everyone is equally entitled to express their attitudes, their needs, or their desires.
  • No claim to validity is categorically or uniquely exempt from critical evaluation through argumentation.

Following from these presuppositions is the universally binding obligation to maintain impartial judgement when engaged in discourse, which requires each participant to adopt the perspective of every other participant.

Now, an important notion in discourse ethics is that of the performative contradiction; that is, when asserting a proposition, the proposition contradicts the very presuppositions of asserting it. For instance, if I were to state that I do not exist, then that would be a performative contradiction, since in order to assert that I do not exist, I must exist. The very action of asserting that one does not exist presupposes that the one who asserts it exists.

In discourse ethics, the performative contradiction takes a central role in deducing moral rules. As an example, one of the presuppositions of discourse is that, unless the participants have already mutually consented to a fight, violence should not be used to resolve a dispute. Thus, to argue for the use of violence to resolve a dispute is a performative contradiction, and the moral rule 'Do not use violence to resolve a dispute' can be deduced.

The fundamental principle of discourse ethics may be paraphrased as such:

The only norms that may be claimed to be valid are those which have the ability to meet with the approval of everyone in a practical discourse affected by them.

This principle presupposes Habermas' conception of universalisation, again paraphrased:

Everyone who is affected by the anticipated consequences of the general observance of a given norm can accept said consequences for the satisfaction of everyone's interests, and said consequences are preferred to those of alternative possibilities.

II. The argument.

The presuppositions of discourse listed in Part I are not the only ones; rather, they are simply initial examples. By further examining the necessary obligations of discussion and referencing the initial examples, I may derive some additional presuppositions, which I will justify and use in my argument:

  • Everyone capable of communication and action must be made to feel that they are equally welcome to participate, as an atmosphere in which anyone is discouraged from participation hinders discourse.
  • Each participant's needs or desires which are necessary for their participation must be satisfied.

From all of these presuppositions, I'm pretty sure I can construct a damn fine argument.

Premise I. To make a person feel that they are not equally entitled to participate in discourse or to dismiss a person's stated needs or desires contradicts the presuppositions that everyone is equally entitled to participate in discourse and that everyone is equally entitled to express their needs and desires by implicitly establishing a hierarchy of participants and their needs and desires in opposition to the principle of universalisation. (Hence the two additional presuppositions listed in this part.)
Premise II. To use pronouns inconsistent with those preferred by a person can make them feel uncomfortable and alienated; these feelings of discomfort and alienation may make them feel that they are not equally entitled to participate in discourse. If they express the need or desire for others to use their preferred pronouns, then, given that failure to satisfy this need or desire may make them feel that they are not equally entitled to participate, this need or desire must be satisfied.
Conclusion I. To use pronouns for a person inconsistent with those preferred by that person or to argue against using any given person's preferred pronouns contradicts the presuppositions that each person must be made to feel equally entitled to discourse and that each person's desires and needs necessary for them to equally participate in discourse must be satisfied.
Conclusion II. Given that any argument against using any given person's preferred pronouns is a performative contradiction, then to use others' preferred pronouns, even if reluctantly, is a universally binding obligation.


III. Afterthoughts.

This whole argument can really be applied to any form of misgendering or invalidation, including the use of a trans person's dead name, not just in the case of preferred pronouns, and not even specifically limited to trans people.

Engaging in this argument has left me with an even more intense curiosity about Jürgen Habermas' work. As I write, I have three Habermas-related tabs open in my browser. Both his earlier work developing critical theory with the Frankfurt School and his later work on communicative rationality and pragmatics interest me.

If you find a flaw in my argument, please let me know in the comments. I'm always happy to learn from my mistakes and improve my knowledge of philosophy!

Some ideas for a non-identitarian, egalitarian feminism

  • The mistakes and excesses of the second and third waves must be understood and discarded, while their accomplishments and good ideas must be preserved and expanded on.
  • The idea of intersectionality must be replaced with what I shall call 'multidimensionality', in which systems of social oppression or marginalisation are not conceived as binary oppositions (male/non-male, white/of colour, straight/LGBQ+, cisgender/transgender), but as systems which harm everyone bound by them in different ways (male disposability, female objectification, non-binary invalidation; straight fear of being perceived as 'queer'; cis male and female fears of being perceived as 'too feminine' or 'too masculine').
  • The demonisation of 'oppressor classes' (men, white people, straight people, cis people, Christians and culturally Christian atheists) must be recognised as toxic, counterproductive, and harmful and must be discarded.
  • Anecdotal evidence and personal experience must not be considered a substitute for statistical research and theory.
  • If you don't speak a dialect that normally refers to people as 'folk' and 'folks' then please stop referring to us as 'trans folk' or 'trans folks' it's really annoying and it bothers me for some reason
  • The two fundamental rules of the movement must be:
    1. Do no harm, whether physical or emotional.
    2. Respect everyone (and their identities).
  • The objective of the movement must be to change society such that it embodies those rules.

On punching Nazis

By now, almost everyone has seen the video of white nationalist leader Richard Spencer getting punched.
Notice how he got decked instantly after mentioning Pepe? It appears that Kek has turned on him. Praise Kek!

I've noticed left-wingers. both my friends and random people online, celebrate Dick's decking. Myself, I'm mildly amused by it. He's a hateful white nationalist bastard, and while I cannot condone the unidentified protester's action, I feel like he got what he deserved.
Until I saw this tweet:
Oh dear God.
(Hat tip to Spinosauruskin for pointing it out in his video.)
Leading ethicists have weighed in on whether it is acceptable to punch a Nazi:

Are you familiar with this video of Richard Spencer getting punched?

Yeah. Do you really not know if it's ethical to punch someone even though they have odious politics? I mean, should we call your mother? Or my mother? Or anybody's mother?

—David Cohen, interviewed by Newsweek
Some people have even argued that not punching Nazis leads to genocide:

Let me read to you one comment that I saw on Twitter: “If you don't punch Nazis, Holocausts happen. That's what we learned from letting Nazis speak in public the last time. You have to punch them.”

That’s ridiculous. That's nonsensical. One does not flow from the other. Because one of the most monstrous catastrophes in human history occurred, it is not because people failed to punch Nazis. It simply doesn't follow. Nor does it follow that if you fail to punch Richard Spencer, there will be dire consequences. It would seem to me Gandhi's example or King's example are quite to the contrary. Where even allied against incredibly powerful armed opponents, genuine social change is possible without resorting to the gutter tactics of people like Spencer.

There are two different arguments here. One is: Is the behavior justified on its own terms? Is physical violence a morally justifiable response to the expression of odious ideas. In my view, it is not. The argument you're reading on Twitter is what's called a consequentialist argument. So this person is asserting that the only way to stop the rise of Nazism is with physical violence. And I think that's a quite dubious assertion. Even if one were doing a consequentialist analysis here, this is a dubious assertion. The assertion becomes: It is necessary to punch Richard Spencer in order to halt some impending Holocaust, and I just don't think that's true. It seems to me this fails both on the grounds of moral reasoning and on the grounds of political strategy.

Cohen went on to note that, while the act of punching is itself immoral, there's nothing wrong with laughing at the video and its various remixes (as I have done myself; my favourite remix is the one set to New Order's 'Blue Monday':

This next question is not really an ethical question. But did you personally watch the video of Richard Spencer being punched?

I did not. It wasn't because I was averting my glance; I just didn't see it. I would make one other exception. I have read about images of Richard Spencer being punched set to music. That sort of thing. To delight in a kind of comeuppance when someone is hoisted by his own petard—when someone who advocates violence against others meets a kind of of nonlethal violence—to enjoy hearing about that, that's not a crime. That's not an ethical transgression. That's asking more of human beings than they can resist. When someone who's truly despicable gets punched in the nose, you commit no ethical transgression by enjoying that idea. Now we're describing—

Schadenfreude.

Yes, yes. In the recesses of my heart, do I take any pleasure in this? Well, yes. Would I advocate this as an action or defend the action? Well, no. There are no thought crimes. If in your heart of hearts you're enjoying this, well, you do no one any harm. But no, you do not get to go out and respond to contemptible political ideas with physical ideas.


Now for me, as a lefty and an armchair philosopher, there are two main questions here: ethics and tactics.
I've already stated that my ethical position is one that I call rational extrapolated preference utilitarianism; essentially, everyone's preferences should be fulfilled unless they're in an irrational state, in which case their preferences if they were in a rational state should be extrapolated from circumstance and fulfilled.
It seems to me that Richard Spencer has a preference not to feel pain, and thus his preference to not feel pain was violated. This is unethical.

But there's also a tactical argument to be made here: Most people have no idea who the hell this Richard Spencer guy is. They don't know that he's a white nationalist and they don't know that he's called for a 'peaceful' ethnic cleansing of America. They don't know that he has refused to disavow people within his movement who have advocated violence.
But when Dick got decked, his name and face were plastered all over the media. It gives him a platform to spread his odious views and makes ordinary conservatives start to think that 'the intolerant left' is coming for them next. When Richard spencer gets branded (correctly) as alt-right, and people like Milo Yiannopoulos or Alex Jones are branded (incorrectly) as alt-right, it just muddies the waters and makes it seem that ordinary Trump-supporting conservatives are under attack.
And remember the tweet I embedded above? Well, guess what: he's right.
His being punched makes it seem that his ideas are valid and that the only possible response to them other than agreement is violence. It makes it seem that his 'race realism' is true and his white nationalism is just a normal political position that just happens to provoke 'the intolerant left' to irrational violence.

Let me tell you a little story:
In the 1980s and '90s, there was a Dutch MP named Hans Janmaat. He was vocal in his opposition to immigration based on economic reasons: with immigration having to be addressed, it was difficult to focus on unemployment and slow economic growth for the native population. He had a cordon sanitaire imposed on him by the majority of other MPs, which basically meant that they would walk out of the building when he began to speak and only return when he was finished.
In the early 2000s, Pim Fortuyn became a notable and controversial public figure in the Netherlands. He opposed immigration on cultural grounds, arguing that Muslim immigration into the Netherlands would end up reversing the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people and stated that Islam is a 'backward culture' (the Dutch word for 'backward' can also mean 'retarded'). He was assassinated by a mentally-ill schizoidal left-wing activist who believed he was going to 'save the Netherlands' from the right-wing.
In the late 2000s, Geert Wilders, an outright Islamophobe who has compared the Qur'an to Mein Kampf and advocated for its banning, believes that the European Union and Muslim organisations are conspiring to 'Islamise' Europe, and was convicted of hate speech last December, is now a major political force in Netherlands, having become the de facto leader of the populist right in the Netherlands. The aforementioned conviction has only led to more popularity, since Dutch right-wingers can now claim persecution.

Let me tell you another story:
Holocaust denier Bradley Smith took out a full-page advertisement promoting Holocaust denialism in multiple university newspapers in the United Kingdom. Rather than refusing to run them, those papers ran them alongside an editorial on the opposite page refuting every point made in Smith's advert. Today, his influence is negligible and his group, the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust is minuscule and its influence limited to the fringes of the far-right.

I know I won't convince some people with these examples, but banning or using violence against white nationalists is only going to expand their influence. It'll just help them thrive in the shadows and on the fringes until they can refine themselves enough to mainstream their views.
Violence is not the key. Effective debate is.
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Eva Gnostiquette

Eva Gnostiquette
Hi!
My name is Eva Gnostiquette.
I'm a multimedia artist, podcaster, game developer, programmer, and aspiring physicist and neuroscientist. I'm an Oriental Orthodox Christian.
I enjoy reading, music, and various other things. I write about nerd stuff, spirituality, and conspiracy theories, alongside more mainstream politics and science.
I am also a queer trans girl of Jewish, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish descent with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, OCD, and PTSD.
Please enjoy my blog!

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