Is it ethical to be against immigration?

Our ethical columnist on the need to start reducing the population.

Ethan Greenhart

Topics Politics

Dear Ethan,

I live in a village that has always been tranquil, where everyone knew everyone else, and where everyone pulled together to reduce our ecological footprint. However, recently a lot of strangers have moved in. They have strange foreign accents – if they speak English at all – and are all here ‘to get a better life’. I wish they would leave but I feel bad about this – I don’t want anyone thinking I’m a racist. What do you think?


Michael Pyre-Windrush

Dear Michael,

You have no reason to feel guilty. You don’t have to be a member of the burger-scavenging racist white trash to think that there are too many people coming over here.

The earth simply cannot sustain so many people living luxurious lifestyles. As those marvellous people at the Worldwide Fund for Nature pointed out only last year, if everyone had the same standard of living as us in the UK, we’d need THREE planets!!! Well, Michael, we don’t actually have three planets. We only have one. To make sure that others cannot live a UK lifestyle, the simplest way is surely to stop them from living in the UK.

Some would say that immigrants are good for the economy because they ‘generate wealth’. Even Sheba had a Polish plumber for a while, though he seemed to spend a quite inordinate amount of time doing ‘odd jobs’ around the house when I was away. When I finally sent him packing, she was inconsolable for days – but I don’t believe we should be encouraging them. Where does this wealth come from if not from the earth’s bounty? If more people come to live here, they will simply be using up valuable resources even quicker than before.

And if immigrant labour makes things cheaper, that only encourages greater consumption. Extending or refitting our houses is an ecological disaster as I have pointed out before in relation to bathrooms. Just think of all the bricks, mortar, timber, glass and plastic wasted on building jobs made affordable by workers from other countries! Even if they’re not building things, they’re driving, eating, drinking (often alcohol!), smoking (they ALL smoke!), demanding places to live, using doctors and dentists (especially the ones who ARE doctors and dentists)… the waste goes on and on.

That clever analyst Dr Susan Blackmore put it brilliantly in the Guardian last year: ‘In all probability billions of people are going to die in the next few decades. Our poor, abused planet simply cannot take much more. As Jim Lovelock points out in his Revenge of Gaia, she has a fever, and we are the bug that’s causing it. The carrying capacity of the earth is possibly a billion or two; it’s certainly far lower than the current plague of humans.’

Noting that the world will soon be ‘awash with eco-refugees’, she ponders whether we should stop immigration now, or simply allow our own greed to lead to our inevitable downfall: ‘[I]f we fail to make any decisions then I believe the most likely outcome is that we in the rich west will go on trying to salve our consciences by giving aid to the poorer parts of the world until we realise, far too late, that Gaia is going to chuck us all off whatever we do, and nothing can be saved at all.’

So you see, Michael, pulling up the drawbridge now is really the kindest thing to do. Please don’t, as that ridiculous sonnet The New Colossus states: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore’. There’s quite enough ‘teeming’ going on over here as it is.

Some will say we should allow special cases, like people who have been the victims of torture. It is true that such experiences must be utterly terrible. But the asylum system is abused by ‘economic migrants’ so we do need to be careful. And in any event, if people are being tortured, surely that is their culture? To run away from that would be to deny their own identity (and transplant all sorts of dangerous ideas into Britain).

Others will say that culture is precisely the reason we should encourage immigration. Think of all the wonderful food that immigrants have brought to this country, the music, the objets d’art. Now, I have a lot of sympathy for those who buy ornaments made in the style of Africa. Simple, handmade products at prices that will ensure we cannot over-consume them. But as for the food, all I can ask is: where do the ingredients come from and how do they get here? As you tuck into that exotic dish, I hope you’re deafened by the sound of aircraft engines starting up – and the planet heating up.

In any event, I think you will find that all those people who come here to set up ‘ethnic’ shops actually pander far too much to the white-sliced-bread-and-a-packet-of-fags masses. My friends who run fabulous shops filled with indigenous art seem to have a much better understanding of the real Africa or Asia than the people who come from there! All the more reason to let them stay exactly where they are.

Of course, there is a much bigger problem of how we reduce the existing population here. After all, if we follow the logic of our ecological footprint through, we should have 20million people living here, not 60million. How do we stop people – especially the wrong kind of people – having so many children? And can we just allow people to carry on getting older and older, relentlessly draining resources? It’s something I hope to return to in a future column.

Read on:

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Topics Politics


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