On Preserving the British Way of Life
Nobody contests the legal right of a ‘sovereign’ state to decide whether or not immigrants are to be allowed to settle in it, or even its right to discriminate between settlers. Nevertheless, those who favour a policy of exclusion or partial exclusion feel the need to find arguments in support of it. They hardly ever say: ‘It is enough that the people of the country should want to exclude the would-be immigrants, and there is no need to give reasons in justification.’ As a matter of fact, the people never do want to exclude all would-be immigrants; they want to exclude only some, and they often differ considerably as to those they want to exclude. Besides, there have always been large movements of population in the world, and some of the richest countries have been quite recently settled or have taken in immigrants in large numbers to do work that the natives were unwilling to do. In parts of the world where demo cratic and liberal ideas are widely accepted, where it is taken for granted that there should be greater equality of opportunity among individuals inside the community, it is not easy to deny that there should also be greater equality among diverse peoples. Why should not people from poor countries be free to move into rich ones where there is a demand for their labour when people from the poorer classes in a country are free to move into the richer ones where there is a demand for their talents? Have not the rich and powerful countries, by their industry and trade, by their science and their social and political ideas, changed the conditions of life for all peoples all over the world? Have they not in the recent past created great empires, coming in uninvited among weaker peoples to rule them as conquerors and showing little respect for their ways of life ? Such considerations as these have no doubt made it difficult for politicians and other leaders in demo cratic and liberal countries simply to assert, without more ado, a right to exclude would-be immigrants. They have felt the need to back up their assertion by putting forward reasons which they have believed to be compatible with their democratic and liberal principles.