Philosopher John Rawls focuses on articulating the difference between justice and fairness. Is justice the same as fairness? If justice is not synonymous with fairness, what then is it? Rawls poses two questions that any civilized society has to grapple with:
- How can you say that you live in a just society if your basic freedoms, like freedom of expression, right to self, property rights, etc. , can be taken away by the state, most obviously in the form of taxation and laws?
- How can you say that you live in a just society if there are people who live an impoverished life through no fault of their own?
The key concept is ‘through no fault of their own’. There is a huge difference between how we should treat a child born blind, versus how we treat someone who gouged out their own eyes on a bad meth trip. I’m willing to pay lots of money to give the child a fair and just life, but the meth-head? Not so much.
I’ve been genuinely struggling to understand open borders advocates, who appear not to believe in basic concepts like private property, or worse, believe their own private property will be respected, while not caring what happens to yours. The exemplar for this kind of hypocrisy would be Hollywood celebrities who live in gated communities with armed guards, arguing for the rest of us to live in a world with no borders or walls and no right to arm ourselves against the threats that might arise. The Oscars isn’t a free for all with no walls, no guards and open access to everyone, now is it?
I wonder why not?
Scott Adams asked a great question on Twitter yesterday, to demonstrate the efficacy of Quillette writer Matthew Blackwell’s thesis that progressive thinkers are hostile because they fail to think through the costs and benefits of proposed actions.
…conservatives see an unfortunate world of moral trade-offs in which every moral judgment comes with costs that must be properly balanced. Progressives, on the other hand, seem to be blind to, or in denial about, these trade-offs, whether economic and social; theirs is a utopian or unconstrained vision, in which every moral grievance must be immediately extinguished until we have perfected society. This is why conservatives don’t tend to express the same emotional hostility as the Left; a deeper grasp of the world’s complexity has the effect of encouraging intellectual humility. The conservative hears the progressive’s latest demands and says, “I can see how you might come to that conclusion, but I think you’ve overlooked the following…” In contrast, the progressive hears the conservative and thinks, “I have no idea why you would believe that. You’re probably a racist.”
Adams proposes that you ask progressives this: how much illegal immigration is the right amount?
I tend to think the open borders people fall into the same trap: the idea that everyone should be able to live and move wherever they want feels nice – and that’s as far as the analysis goes. I feel that open borders is a good idea, therefore it must be a good idea.
But there are some important questions we need to ask. Let’s look at the Mission Statement from George Soros Open Society Foundation, and I’ll show you what questions I think need addressing:
The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.
Great! Is there an example of a current society that works this way? Can all societies work this way? What might some of the problems be? What are the costs?
We seek to strengthen the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and a diversity of opinions; democratically elected governments; and a civil society that helps keep government power in check.
How are minorities calculated? In every society, there are more women than men, making men a minority, yet men hold most of the formal power in these societies. That’s a pretty good indicator that minorities can wield disproportionate, yet perfectly legitimate and justified power. How are you going to account for this? Does diversity of opinion include the right to disagree with your opinion?
We help to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights.
Is fairness the same as justice? How is it different? How is it the same? Who decides? What do we do with people who are impoverished due to their own choices?
We implement initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media.
Who controls the content? Who decides what education means? If democratically elected governments, chosen by the people, disagree with current initiatives, can they change them? Who decides?
We build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information.
Lovely. What do you do with the corrupt players who lie to you?
Working in every part of the world, the Open Society Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
Pedophiles are a marginalized community. So are cannibals. And people who prefer to handle resource acquisition by stealing other people’s stuff. Which marginalized communities are you talking about, and what are you going to do with communities that are marginalized because they’re evil, like ISIS?
We believe in fundamental human rights, dignity, and the rule of law.
Rights come with responsibilities, or they are not rights at all, but entitlements. What responsibilities do you believe in?
We believe in a society where all people are free to participate fully in civic, economic, and cultural life.
Are they free to choose not to participate?
We believe in addressing inequalities that cut across multiple lines, including race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and citizenship.
What if those inequalities have been freely, determinedly and happily chosen? I choose not to have a job and to raise my children and family instead. Do I have that right, even though it results in my having no income?
We believe in holding those in power accountable for their actions and in increasing the power of historically excluded groups.
Great, as long as that includes you. And what are we going to do with groups who have been excluded because they are savage maniacs hell-bent on the destruction of the world?
We believe in helping people and communities press for change on their own behalf.
What if they want to press for no change? Do you believe in helping communities be conservative and adhere to values developed over many years that they cherish? What if those values are barbaric? Do people have the right to choose their own destinies, or will you do that for them?
We believe in responding quickly and flexibly to the most critical threats to open society.
What are those threats? And how will you respond? What the hell does this even mean? This is rather ominous.
We believe in taking on controversial issues and supporting bold, innovative solutions that address root causes and advance systemic change.
Again, what if the people do not wish to change? What if they wish to resist that change?
We believe in encouraging critical debate and respecting diverse opinions.
Let’s hope so, but I rather doubt it.
Nothing in this set of statements makes me optimistic about open borders or open societies. Ignoring evil will not make it go away. On the contrary, evil thrives when the naïve and willfully blind are in positions of power.
Progressives have already cost 170M people their lives.
That seems sufficient for me. Nice and diverse, too.
I’ll keep my borders, thanks.
Lots of love,