Or: "Pericles, all roads lead to open borders."
To be fair, the people I've seen object to open borders on "cultural harm" grounds usually believe that long-term there would be tremendous material economic harms proceeding from the cultural harms. The argument seems to go like this (let's see if I can pass the ITT for this argument I don't personally accept):
1. Modern prosperity, aka the Great Enrichment, depends on civilizational features historically specific to Western culture and to Western population groups. Some immigration opponents take these to be ideological features; some include attributes of the immigrants themselves as people, such as population average IQ or conscientiousness.
2. Sufficiently high levels of "the wrong kind" of immigration would fatally undermine these pillars of civilization in developed nations.
3. The resultant collapse of economic growth, innovation, and/or social order would produce enormous long-term social welfare costs that would outweigh the short-term benefits of better labor market matching.
This would have been a stronger dialogue if Pericles had taken something like this line.
>Socrates: Perhaps you’re right. Imagine, however, that my detractors admitted that I had no bad effects on any particular student, but still claimed that I was shaking the foundation of Greek society.
>Pericles: A strange position, I agree.
>Socrates: Yes. If my teachings are noxious, the harms should at least be visible in my immediate vicinity. Then we could extrapolate to the aggregate damage.
I'm pretty sure Garrett Jones would advise Pericles to retort "sure, but suppose your teachings made your students much better people, but much worse parents. A strange hypothetical, I admit, but run with it. One could have a coherent anti-Socrates position despite conceding that your students are made much better off by your teaching. They'd do this by saying your students are wise and graceful, but they raise mentally disturbed misanthropes. This is analogous to immigration. The one-off benefits to both migrants and their receiving communities are immense. But this is because the immigrants are heavily selected for being peaceful, productive, and cooperative. Even if we grant that all this filtering is due to the strenuousness of the journey and not at all due to the immigration filtering system you want to abolish, we have good reason to believe their children and grandchildren will revert to the mean of their ancestral country. Since this mean is more violent, more criminal, less trusting, and less productive than their immigrant descendants, we should discount the gains from open borders. With a sufficiently low time-preference, which I hope you agree our policymakers should ideally have, and something like a society-level o-ring model of economic productivity - a more aggressive assumption but not a totally unsupported one - this downside effect plausibly outweighs the initial gain from immigration."
I'm curious what your/Socrates' response would be.
"Socrates: Face-to-face, immigrants are alright?"
This hasn't been my experience at all. Every single time I deal with the genetic underclass I come away with a lower and less tolerant opinion of them.
As experience with different immigrant groups can vary, rather than go through every single example I will give a more universal example of "if you just met those people." After all, when people say that inclusion breeds tolerance it was this group everyone has in mind.
I grew up not knowing any black people. There might literally have been zero in my town or school. The first black person I can even remember was the one kid in my high school.
Back when I didn't know any black people I used to have an at least neutral and probably even hopeful and sympathetic view of them. They are like Will Smith on Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I accepted the basic narrative about everything that had happened to them and how they were working hard to integrate into society. I didn't know anything about black crime or whatever, there were no black people around me, and if I heard about it maybe I would blame the war on drugs or something.
Then I moved to Baltimore as an adult, a majority black city. I was around black people all the time. I got a lot of exposure.
I hated it. It basically turned me into a Klan member. Meeting these people face to face dramatically lowered my opinion of them.
Even the white underclass was better to deal with than them. We had a white trash neighborhood near us and it never caused anywhere near as many problem as black people traveling in on the light rail to do crimes.
Even black people that had middle class jobs and weren't literal hood rats weren't much better to deal with. They were always worse to deal with than a white equivalent. It seemed like every single one worked for the government.
Finding out from Charles Murray that they were genetically doomed to be as such made me slightly more sympathetic (its not their fault), but also not wanting them to be around because they were doomed and couldn't be fixed.
I've always assumed the the Swedish experience with Arabs is functionally equivalent to my experience with blacks. The people in Oslo probably feel a lot like how I felt in Baltimore.
Based on living patterns and property values, I assume that my experience is statistically valid and not just anecdotal.
Few groups are as bad as blacks, but I could give other examples. I just don't buy this "familiarity will cause respect" line. It will cause respect if the person deserves respect. If they don't, it will cause contempt.
Currently Jewish communities are leaving Sweden and Norway at a rapid clip and Jews are emigrating from France at a slower but large rate because of anti-semitism of recent immigrants. How does that fit your model?
I think most of the arguments presented by Socrates here suffise only for giving immigrants the status of foreign residents ("metics" in ancient Athens) rather than citizens.
In present day these arguments basically lead to the situation in Emirates where there's a great influx of immigrant workers (to Dubai for example), some stay there for a long term and live there with their families, but few get citizenship.
So, this is not so much a case for open borders than for generous influx of migrant work + not necessarilly generous policies of granting citizenship.
This type of reasoning really is persuasive. A great dialogue.
This article is great!!
The funny thing is, that as soon as you change the subject from open borders to wealth redistribution, Bryan Caplan will change seamlessly from the role of Socrates to that of Pericles. He's a utilitarian consequentialist, so he'd start out with a utilitarian consequentialist defence of reducing tax and spend, and then as soon as I pointed out the obvious point that a dollar has more marginal utility to a homeless person than it does to Elon Musk, he'd start waffling on about vague and unproven "cultural harms" or whatever the equivalent of that is for slashing the state.
Re the Hell-hole argument: neither participant in that dialog considers the possibility that the Hell-holes from which immigrants are fleeing may be awful to live in because of innate deficiencies of intellect and/or innate perverse propensities that are far more common among the inhabitants of those countries than among Greeks.
Recommended reading: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/facing-reality-charles-murray/1138379266
Foreign places are not "hellholes" because they are full of wild boars, while Athens is magically not. The big reason why the quality of life in inhabited places varies is... people.
Great conversation! Precisely the type of banter that alarmed the conservatives to the point they made Socrates drink hemlock!
Exactly! Socrates drank hemlock due to his stand against the remnants of the Thirty Tyrants and their fight to maintain privileges.
Speak your peace?
Bryan, the next step is to make a rap battle on YouTube.
Love this Bryan. Thanks for being on the cutting edge and pushing the dialogue of more open borders. You're doing amazing work.