These are three controversial but closely connected issues. Firstly, refugees. There is an international obligation to provide refuge for people in danger of gross human rights violations. This is hopefully a temporary situation, though how temporary depends on the exact circumstances in their home countries.
There are two ways of providing refuge. One is for safe countries around the world to take in a quota of refugees. Obviously some countries are more able than others. Russia, Australia, the USA and other big countries have a lot of empty space so could be expected to take a much larger quota than smaller, relatively overcrowded countries. The other way of providing refuge is to create safe havens nearer to their country of origin, protected by UN security forces. The disastrous ‘safe haven’ in Srebenica in Bosnia, supposedly ‘protected’ by the UN peacekeepers who left the inhabitants of the haven to their fate, has done very serious damage to the ‘safe haven’ option. The UN peacekeepers MUST be prepared to fulfil their obligations to protect the safe havens and their inhabitants with their lives, and sufficient UN peacekeepers must be provided to keep the havens safe. If possible ‘safe corridors’ or air transport need to be provided in order to establish safe havens well away from the area of conflict and danger.
We then come to the issue of emigration and immigration. Ideally, in a world with a more or less level playing field, emigration and immigration is not a problem. There is an exchange of populations as people move from one country to another, so it is swings and roundabouts. Where it becomes problematic is when there is a large flow of population from poorer countries to richer ones, so-called ‘economic migration’. Or when one country’s problems are dumped on another (an example being Britain sending convicts to Australia). When one country poaches on another’s skilled or educated labor (West Germany enticing professionals educated and trained in East Germany for instance, or possibly Britain enticing nurses and other valuable people from West Indian countries).
Mass emigration/immigration is not just a problem for the receiving countries, but also for the countries experiencing mass emigration. East Germany regarded mass emigration by people from the country which fed them, educated them, trained them and looked after them from the cradle to the grave as treachery. The grass looked greener on the ‘other side’ and GDR citizens were offered automatic FRG citizenship. Even so millions decided to stay in East Germany long before the Wall and border installations were erected. They visited West Germany but returned to the GDR.
The West Indies provided many valuable workers to Britain in the 1950s and later, but what effect did this have on the countries they came from? After the fall of Socialism in Poland so many of their menfolk emigrated to Western countries that there were not enough left to run the Polish fire brigade. Surely people have an obligation not to leave their country so impoverished that it cannot raise its living standards or even maintain them?
Another factor is that it tends to be the better off part of the population that is able to emigrate. This is true even of refugees, who often have to bribe smugglers to get them out of the country. This means the poorer people are left to either suffer gross human rights abuses, or a lower standard of living.
The whole question of emigration/immigration needs to be addressed in the much wider context of the global situation. Richer countries need to help raise the living standards in the poorer countries as that is the only long-term solution. It is perfectly obvious that there has to be a limit to both emigration and immigration if it is one-way traffic, that is to say, if it is not a more or less equal exchange of populations from one country to another. Instead of exploiting the cheap labor of poorer countries, investors there should pay a decent living wage or, much more likely, the workers there should be encouraged to form their own cooperatives and not rely on multinational corporations to provide work in often slave labor conditions. It all boils down to the fact that capitalism and the market economy, which seeks low labor costs and maximum profits, causes and maintains inequality and therefore mass emigration and immigration. The only way to create a world where resources are shared fairly is worldwide Socialism, with the richer countries helping the poorer ones to develop without exploiting them.
We then come to the related question of the European Union and the guarantee of free movement within it. Unless the EU becomes a federal union, with central control over the economy and a roughlyÂ uniform level of wages/prices and living standards thruout the Union, then poorer countries should not be accepted as full members of the EU. They can be given associate membership until their economies and living standards are compatible with EU membership, and the EU can provide investment to bring this about. During associate membership there should not be the automatic right of free movement to full EU member states.
Once migrants are in the country they have emigrated to, they have an obligation to learn the language fluently, to integrate into the local cultureÂ and to abide by the laws of the country they are in. So Britons demanding British culture when they emigrate to Spain, for instance, is just not on. They should not be expecting all the local restaurants to provide full English breakfasts, or for their locality to be full of British-style pubs. Those Britons working in or emigrating to Muslim countries cannot expect or demand off-licences or pubs. Muslims emigrating to European countries, Australia, USA, Canada, etc. cannot demand Sharia law to replace the national laws of those countries. What can be provided is limited access to alcohol, pork, etc.Â for Britons and other WesternersÂ in Muslim countries, and limited access for Jewish people and Muslims to kosher/hal-al meat in Western countries.Â Problems occur when whole areas of Spain are swamped by British culture, for instance, or when in certain areas of London it is impossible to find a non-hal-al butcher or take-away outlet. Most Western countries have introduced humane stunning legislation for slaughterhouses, so hal-al or kosher ones where stunning is not allowed have to be strictly limited. The wearing of facial coverings, such as the burka/hajib, or for that matter balaclavas or face masks, is notÂ acceptable in public places in this day and age of terrorism, gun and knife crime, gang warfare and CCTV footage to combat these. What people wear in private or in places of worship is entirely up to them of course.
This is a very controversial and sensitive subject, but the Left and liberals need to seriously address these issues. At the moment many on the Left holdÂ private thoughts about these issues that they dare not discuss for fear of being accused of ‘racism’ or ‘political incorrectness’. However the alternative toÂ the Left/liberals openly and seriously addressing these issuesÂ is to seriously risk a far-right backlash, racial conflict and even the rise of full-scale Fascism.