Future Citizens of All Kinds
November 7, 2012 79 Comments
Post by Chris Hendrix (see all posts by Chris Hendrix)
Citizenism advocates like Steve Sailer have been clear that citizenism is a philosophy for promoting the interests of current citizens. For instance, in his article on citizenism versus white nationalism, Sailer explicitly writes (emphasis added):
By “citizenism,” I mean that I believe Americans should be biased in favor of the welfare of our current fellow citizens over that of the six billion foreigners.
Let me describe citizenism using a business analogy. When I was getting an MBA many years ago, I was the favorite of an acerbic old Corporate Finance professor because I could be counted on to blurt out in class all the stupid misconceptions to which students are prone.
One day he asked: “If you were running a publicly traded company, would it be acceptable for you to create new stock and sell it for less than it was worth?”
“Sure,” I confidently announced. “Our duty is to maximize our stockholders’ wealth, and while selling the stock for less than its worth would harm our current shareholders, it would benefit our new shareholders who buy the underpriced stock, so it all comes out in the wash. Right?”
“Wrong!” He thundered. “Your obligation is to your current stockholders, not to somebody who might buy the stock in the future.”
That same logic applies to the valuable right of being an American citizen and living in America.
Just as the managers of a public company have a fiduciary duty to the current stockholders not to diminish the value of their shares by selling new ones too cheaply to outsiders, our leaders have a duty to the current citizens and their descendants.
Leaving alone for the moment the argument that natives do in fact benefit from migrants, specifying current citizens is a necessary step for the citizenist position. For instance, Tino Sanandaji, in a blog post titled Open-Borders Daydreams, uses this citizenist logic to attack those arguing immigration benefits society:
Another amusing line of reasoning increasingly advanced by libertarian economists is that low-skilled immigration is good for “society”, as long as we redefine “society” to include the entire planet!
If the focus is not restricted to current citizens, then migrants might have to be considered future citizens, and therefore their gains would have to be considered in government actions. But this opens up a potential inconsistency: namely why include “descendants” under this system? If you want to include potential future citizens, why not also include migrants?
The reason Sailer includes descendants is not given in that article, but immigration advocates have noted the parallels between population expansion through child-birth and immigration. With his focus on current citizens, there appears to be no reason why posterity should not also be ignored. From a moral standpoint this leads to unpalatable conclusions. If only current citizens are to be considered what is to prevent the government from limiting births from groups that tend to receive more from society than give to it? Would that not be a moral necessity given the concern for current citizens? Or to take an argument to its logical end, if current citizens could be helped by ensuring that their as-of-yet not conceived children live in a civilization that has reverted to complete barbarism, the government would have to implement that policy as the needs and desires of the future citizens should not be considered.
So what reasons might there be to include descendants in citizenism? There could be the position that those who are born to citizens are guaranteed citizenship, but aren’t migrants who follow the guidelines and requirements for naturalization guaranteed citizenship? And further more, what is to stop the state from guaranteeing citizenship to every immigrant? Only the benefit of current citizens. Thus what about the converse? What in this moral philosophy prevents the government for removing the guarantee of citizenship to the posterity of current citizens? An argument might be made that citizens do not prefer immigration while the act of child-birth demonstrates a preference for children. But can this not be considered analogous to the right to invite? Just as in child-birth, citizens with a right to invite are demonstrating a preference for that new person to enter the society. If you argue that the right to invite needs to be balanced against the interests of fellow citizens, then the same should apply to the right to bear children.
But even setting this question aside, a preference for children is not the same as a preference for giving children equal citizenship rights. Say current citizens had a stronger desire for increasing their standard of living at their children’s expense than for preserving a good society for their children. To ensure that the government would be morally obligated to follow this course, they could declare all their children would no longer receive automatic citizenship, and hence would be outside the sphere of collective moral concern. Thereby the benefits current citizens receive would not have to be weighed against the costs of a policy on future children.
Some restrictionist advocates do nonetheless argue that this parallel is valid and that this supports a limited right to invite. Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, makes this argument in his book The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal (pages 228-229):
The American people grant the right to their fellow citizens to decide, in their individual capacity and without any affirmative determination by the government, who will move to the United States. Some categories are, of course, numerically limited and the community retains the right to veto relatives considered undesirable, but the fact remains that these private decisions by individual citizens will determine the future makeup of the American people.
This is a profound responsibility that we devolve onto each other individually, as profound in its way as the decision to bear children. And because the consequences of such individual decisions are of such import, limited only to marriage to a foreign spouse or adoption of a foreign child. In other words, family based immigration should not be subject to any numerical cap but should include only the legitimate spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.
The right to invite to Krikorian is viewed as important as giving birth to children and he asserts that society has a right to limit the right to invite. If society has a right to limit the right to invite why not the right to have children? Indeed, Krikorian’s argument does not rely on blood ties existing between the citizen and the invitees as he shows in the very next paragraph:
This means eliminating altogether today’s immigration categories for the adult siblings of citizens, the married and unmarried adult sons and daughters of citizens, the parents of adult citizens, and the adult sons and daughters of legal residents. These are grown people with their own lives, for whom “family reunification” is a misnomer.
Spouses however all also grown people and in societies with strong kinship ties having even extended families live together is the norm. The distinction between the spouse and a brother, mother, or cousin who has lived with the citizen his/her whole life seems arbitrary. Can not the emotional connection between siblings or parents and their children be as strong as the connection between spouses? And this still leads to the question that if, as Krikorian has accepted, giving birth and inviting immigrants are analogous, what limits are acceptable on child-birth? If no limits are acceptable why not?
Indeed it is particularly odd that Krikorian is against adult relatives being allowed into the country. Children are a large drain on society’s resources and will not start adding to society’s production for many years. Adult immigrants can begin adding economic benefits to society immediately. If the concern for citizenists is producing greater benefit for current citizens, then Krikorian should be more cautious about admitting minor children and more accepting of adult children.
What benefits current citizens does not always jibe with basic human rights or moral intuitions. This is especially the case when systems of voting encourage systematically biased beliefs. One may also conceive of situations where what benefits current citizens does not benefit those citizens’ children. A society following citizenist morals consistently could, with the complete blessing of that moral philosophy, be a one generation society.