Alphabet of Classical liberalism 4: Immigration — good or bad?

Migrants are threatening us! Europe will lose its identity! Migrants set fire to the streets! Let’s not let them in! We don’t need them! Yes. Migration evokes emotions. It has its risks. but it also has benefits. What are the views of classical liberals on migration?

The Alphabet of Classical Liberalism was a successful small book focused on describing the basic principles of classical liberalism. It was first published by the F. A. Hayek Foundation Bratislava, Slovakia in 2001.

Now it comes in the form of animated videos prepared with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

The video introduces Adam (the namesake of the famous Adam Smith), a classical liberal and his worldview dealing with many of current problems.

Adam ponders the problem of migration. He shows that migration can bring not only positives but also negatives. Adam shows that there are two types of migration — economic (beneficial) and migration motivated by the social system. Today’s states are often a mix of these two reasons for migration. How does classical liberalism approach migration?

Alphabet of Classical liberalism: Immigration – good or bad

Hi, I’m Adam, and we’re going to talk about immigration today. Migrants naturally go to richer countries. The countries that are richer also have more freedom. Wealth and success attract members of other societies, cultures, and politics. Is immigration good or bad?

Immigrants usually have a net economic benefit. Why? They often fill jobs that the locals are not interested in, thus increasing the wealth of the country. But immigration can also bring tensions between different religions, increase the risk of extremism, crime, or terrorism.

Throughout history, there have been many examples of ethnically diverse minorities running their own business literally carrying the weight of the economic life of the host countries. This sometimes caused envy, hatred, and the feeling that immigrants have become rich at the expense of the majority population.

Various populist movements were created in response to these feelings and, after seizing power, the leaders, expelled the creative minority, or even worse murdered minorities, and nationalized the property of its members. But no society has become rich by robbing and expelling its enterprising and hardworking citizens, or by preventing such people from entering the country.

Classical liberals admit that the coexistence of members of different cultures in one territory will always cause some tensions.

However, tension can be resolved precisely through the consistent application of liberal principles of respect for human life, private property, the exercise of religious freedom (including the freedom not to believe), and tolerance.

There are two types of state in this context. The first group attracts immigrants through a generous social system. The second offers rather a vision of hard work, effort, and the right to seek one’s own idea of happiness.

While the first type often attracts immigrants, who are only speculating on how to misuse the social system of their host country, the second type attracts skilled people with ambitions to achieve something. However, it is true that there are many countries that are some mix of these two possibilities.

To which group does your country belong?

That would be all on this subject. And by the way, how often do people think of the possibility that we will run out of oil one day? You won’t believe me, but the correct answer is never. Why? We’ll talk about that next time. See you again. Bye!

Matúš Pošvanc and František Chroustal

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