Is Immigration Good for the Economy?

 

“All studies show migration has significant economic benefits… we must robustly refute the false narrative migrants are a drain on resources. Without migrants, many sectors of the Irish economy would struggle to function.”

“All studies show…”

“ALL STUDIES…”

Well, apart from this one study….

Borjas 2003, whose “analysis indicates that immigration lowers the wage of competing workers”. Basically, this study found that by breaking the studied population down by educational attainment and level of work experience then comparing like for like, immigration was seen not to have a uniform impact across the population, but had the most negative effect on lower skilled native workers and those who were in direct competition with immigrant labour.

-In a follow-up piece written in 2004, Borjas noted also that the reductions in earnings created by immigration happen whether the immigrants are legal or illegal, permanent or temporary, and that younger migrants tend to compete more with younger native workers than older native workers. To quote from it “What past immigration has done […] is to depress wages and increase the profits of the firms that employ the immigrants. The labor market effects documented in this paper suggest that the proposed temporary worker program will expose many more Americans to competition from foreign workers, will generate higher earnings losses for workers, and will lead to an even greater redistribution of wealth from labor to those who buy and use immigrant services”.

-In a 2013 piece, Borjas estimated that the presence of immigrant labour in the US economy cost the native workforce approximately $400 billion a year, whilst increasing the income to those businesses who used immigrant labour by $437 billion a year.

– Similar sorts of conclusion could perhaps also be drawn from this 2010 study – Immigration and Construction: Analysis of the Impact of Immigration on Construction Project Costs – which specifically looked at the Washington DC area – where they measured that approximately 55% of low skilled construction labour comes from illegal immigrants. The study concluded that efforts to curb the reliance on the illegal immigrant labour could push overall labour costs up by 18% – meaning that without the cheap, disposable, unregulated workforce, bosses might actually to have pay their workers better! Scary thought!

As has been seen in more recent years though, immigration can and indeed does also affect higher earning, higher skilled industries as well. A 2017 study by the US’ National Bureau of Economic Research found that legal immigration through the H-1B programme – which is aimed specifically at high skilled labour – had the effect of lowering the wages of competing native workers in the computer science field by up to 5.1% between ’94 and 2001. The study notes that simultaneously, this immigration helped bring down the cost of IT consumer goods and substantially increased profits for the businesses.

In a 2017 article for well-known-far-right-mouth-piece, The Huffington Post, Professor Norm Matloff, a computer scientist from UC Davis, suggested that Big tech firms exploit the immobility and limited residence rights of H-1B workers to pay them lower wages. Citing a congressional report, Matloff’s article stated that H-1B workers “received lower wages, less senior job titles, smaller signing bonuses and smaller pay and compensation increases than would be typical for the work they actually did”. Further, citing research from multiple universities, Matloff noted that the foreign workers attracted by the H-1B visa program tend to be weaker than the equivalent American workers they displace – leading to, quote, “immense” harm to the US’s economy, ability to innovate and general national interest.

 

 

OK, but all these studies are focused on the USA, in Europe surely it’s a different experience with immigration, right?

Similar to the findings of many studies on the American experience, Oxford University’s Migration Observatory concludes that most studies pin migration as making a very minimal positive net contribution to the UK economy.

Whilst there is no unified, agreed way to measure the net fiscal impact of immigrants compared to natives, the Migration Observatory notes that the contribution made to the UK economy seems to vary quite considerably across different groups of migrants. To quote:

” Studies consistently find that the net fiscal contribution of the current population of EU-15 migrants (which are the Western European states that were members before 2004) is positive, while that of non-EEA migrants is negative. In contrast, the fiscal contribution of EU10 migrants (the mostly Eastern European post-2004 EU accession states) is contested, with some assumptions giving positive results and others negative results”.

These  conclusions are reflected in other studies, such as in a 2014 report for the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration.

Separate studies from Denmark and the Netherlands that broke down immigrant groups into western and non-western categories both found that non-western migrants were a net fiscal cost to their respective societies, rather than contributors. Somewhat similarly, a 2014 paper found that in Norway, migrants from high income countries tended to have outcomes similar to natives, however migrants from low income countries tended to, over the course of time, have lower employment rates and higher usage of social welfare systems.

A 2003 study of EU countries concluded that the addition of 100 immigrants to the workforce leads to 83 job losses for native workers – particularly in states with high protections for local workers – who may not be as easy to dismiss as foreign workers.

A 2013 study from France showed that despite that country’s rigid laws governing wages, non-naturalised immigrant workers were more likely to accept longer hours, more painful conditions and lower wages – often because they have little choice but to accept such conditions. This in turn leads employers to often replace native workers with immigrant workers, who they can treat more poorly.

Studies from the UK also show that many immigrant groups tend towards lower paying work, even when they possess relatively high levels of education from their home countries, meaning that much of the skills they bring are often being under-utilised.

A somewhat cautious 2008 UK House of Lords report noted the possibility that immigration could affect employment opportunities for young people and may negatively affect the government’s willingness to invest in training and apprenticeships for its own citizens. The report also concluded:

” In the short term, immigration creates winners and losers in economic terms. The biggest winners include immigrants and their employers in the UK. Consumers may also benefit from immigration through lower prices. The losers are likely to include those employed in low-paid jobs and directly competing with new immigrant workers”.

In a similar vein, a UK Home Office report from 2010 acknowledged that:

“migration is more likely to increase wages at the top of the distribution, and reduce wages at the bottom of the distribution. Consequently, migration may have caused the pay distribution to become more unequal than it otherwise would have been.”

In plain language: the rich got richer, the poor got poorer.

One notable area in which immigration has affected the UK job market is in nursing, where the case is often made that immigrants are doing jobs that natives won’t do and that without migrant workers, the healthcare service would cease to function. But to quote from a 2004 paper by David Coleman and Robert Rowthorn:

“The problem in the end boils down to wages and conditions. As the OECD noted with respect to nursing: “The problem is not so much a shortage of nurses as a shortage of nurses willing to work under the conditions being offered to them” (OECD 2003a: 23). When employers in the south of England say that they cannot get workers to perform menial tasks, what they often mean is that UK local workers will not accept, or stay in, jobs at the kind of wages and conditions that they are offering. In this case, the problem is not an absolute shortage of labor, but a shortage of cheap labor”.

 

 

Alright, so that’s Europe quite generally, but the original tweet quoted was in reference to Ireland; what’s the story there?

Unfortunately, the information for Ireland is perhaps not as extensive as with other countries. One study that was based on a similar methodology to that used by Borjas, mentioned earlier in this video, found apparently contradictory results. Depending on how the data was broken down it was possible for the study’s authors to find both evidence that immigration had a negative effect on the wages of low earners, and that it had the opposite effect. It’s difficult to know what conclusions to draw from this particular study, which the authors themselves acknowledge. Perhaps Ireland’s economy in the years they studied was unusual, perhaps there are factors involved that this approach misses, perhaps there was a problem with how the study was executed. Perhaps none of these things.

Beyond this though, we do know that there are in fact some familiar patterns in the Irish economy.

Almost half of migrant labourers are in low paying work. Much of that migrant workforce is highly educated, but working at a lower skill level than they’ve been educated to. On average, migrant workers also seem to be worse paid than natives, particularly better educated migrants. As in other countries, economic impact varies between different migrant groups: for instance western European migrants  (from EU15 countries) tend to earn the same sort of money as Irish natives, whilst Eastern Europeans are worse paid, and Africans are much more likely to be unemployed.

A 2013 paper noted the declining share of national income going to labour, relative to capital. In short, what this means is more money going to businesses and established wealth compared to the wage earnings of ordinary workers. Amongst a wide range of likely factors negatively affecting this, the paper’s authors included the effects of immigration on wage inequality.

Ireland also the highest reliance on foreign medical professionals of any OECD country in Europe, with almost 2/3rds of newly registered doctors in 2018 having qualified outside of Ireland, whilst a 2017 report showed 28% of foreign trained doctors in Ireland came from Africa and 20% from Pakistan. Meanwhile, many native trained doctors and nurses are opting to emigrate in order to find work that pays them enough. Notably, a recent and quite prominent campaign by Irish-born nurses working abroad pressured the Irish health service to provide them with better pay and conditions in their native land, in order to ‘give them a reason to come home’.

Although some acknowledgement has been made by academics of the potential pitfalls of immigration for the native working populace, one might say a general ideological commitment to immigration appears to persist throughout Irish academia, much as it does the Irish political and financial establishment – the latter of which are much less shy than others about stating the effects of immigration on wages.

A recent report from the Irish Central Bank candidly noted that immigration to Ireland prior to the economic crash of 2008 had a ‘wage dampening effect’. Whilst noting also that net immigration drives up rent and house prices – a major social problem in Ireland at present, the report also suggests that Ireland might currently need more migration to drive down wages, if it is to avoid ‘overheating’ in the economy.

To summarise:

Although it seems common for people to focus on the net benefit of immigration to the economy, it’s debatable how useful it really is to look at things in those terms. Whilst it’s certainly useful for businesses and research innovation to have an easy inflow of highly skilled people, the reality is that not all types of immigration are the same, and the effects of immigration are not felt uniformly across society.

The oft heard case also that western economies need immigration to ‘fill jobs natives won’t do’ has questionable merit – and in some cases can be demonstrated as untrue. Further, immigration may lead to native workers, particularly younger workers, being under-utilised at their skill level and under-trained for the actual workforce, and in some cases feeling the need to emigrate to find suitable work.

Calculating the full cost of immigration can be difficult, for example which portions of state expenditure to account to the pre-existing population or the newly arrived, the costs of integrating people from new cultures, the need to expand all manner of infrastructure that results from a growing population, the possible effects on social cohesion, the cost of living (i.e. rent and housing) and so on, weighted against the potential benefits gained from new innovations, new businesses etc. What is a little more clear cut is who particularly benefits from having immigration – who, in the main, profits directly from immigration. Big businesses, and those who are already wealthy.

Professor Borjas, who was mentioned near the very start of this video, summarised it thusly: “Immigration basically hurts people who compete with immigrants; and people who use immigrants – whether it be employers, or consumers, or upper middle class Californians who have a gardener and a maid and so on – those are the people who gain from immigration. So it’s really redistribution of wealth, at heart. When you think of it that way, you understand the political dynamics of this much better”.

This video has focused almost entirely on the economic aspects of immigration, and left out any cultural, political or other concerns that surround it.  Whilst that was very deliberate, I feel I should close out with a more general criticism of thinking only in those terms. Whilst studies can be found that conclude immigration can bring a net fiscal benefit – even if it’s often only very minimal – if immigration was  in fact profitable, is it really actually worth it? As we’ve seen it’s more important to ask ‘who benefits’ than to look at it in aggregate, but it’s important to also ask why economic growth is such an all-consuming concern of our modern culture. Our society’s near religious devotion to ensuring an ever-expanding GDP, even if it’s at the expense of our communities, our environment, our culture etc, is actually quite a poisonous worldview. In the words of the author Edward Abbey ‘Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell’. In the future I hope to focus a little more on discussing the consequences of our modern world on our societies, our mindsets and our environment; but I’ve shown here that even on the terms we’re supposed to value things that the claims often made to justify the way things are, are actually far less clear-cut than they would have you think.

 


 

Sources:

Music at start:
Autumn Day Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

THE LABOR DEMAND CURVE IS DOWNWARD SLOPING: REEXAMINING THE IMPACT OF IMMIGRATION ON THE LABOR MARKET George J. Borjas 2003
https://www.nber.org/papers/w9755.pdf

The Fiscal Impact of Immigration in the UK – 18 FEB 2019 Oxford University Migration Observatory

The Fiscal Impact of Immigration in the UK

Increasing the Supply of Labor Through Immigration Measuring the Impact on Native-born Workers
https://sites.hks.harvard.edu/fs/gborjas/publications/popular/CIS2004.pdf

Immigration and the American Worker – Borjas 2013
https://cis.org/Report/Immigration-and-American-Worker

Immigration and Construction: Analysis of the Impact of Immigration on Construction Project Costs
Sabrina K. Golden, Ph.D. and Miroslaw J. Skibniewski, Ph.D.
https://ascelibrary.org/doi/10.1061/%28ASCE%29ME.1943-5479.0000021

Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the U.S. John Bound, Gaurav Khanna, Nicolas Morales NBER Working Paper No. 23153 – Issued in February 2017
https://www.nber.org/papers/w23153

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/02/the-dark-side-of-the-h-1b-program/516813/

“Trump Is Right: Silicon Valley Is Using H-1B Visas To Pay Low Wages To Immigrants”
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-h-1b_b_5890d86ce4b0522c7d3d84af

The Economic Effects of Immigration into the United Kingdom
Coleman, Rowthorn 2004
https://www.jstor.org/stable/3657331

2008 house of lords report:
“The available evidence suggests that immigration has had a small negative impact on the lowest-paid workers in the UK, and a small positive impact on the earnings of higher-paid workers. Resident workers whose wages have been adversely affected by immigration are likely to include a significant proportion of previous immigrants and workers from ethnic minority groups.”
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeconaf/82/82.pdf

THE FISCAL EFFECTS OF IMMIGRATION TO THE UK
Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini
http://www.cream-migration.org/files/FiscalEJ.pdf

Immigration and the Dutch Economy
Hans Roodenburg Rob Euwals Harry ter Rele
https://www.cpb.nl/sites/default/files/publicaties/download/immigration-and-dutch-economy.pdf

The Impact of Immigrants on Public Finances: A Forecast Analysis for Denmark
Marianne Frank Hansen, Marie Louise Schultz-Nielsen, Torben Tranæs 2015
http://ftp.iza.org/dp8844.pdf

Immigrants, Labour Market Performance and Social Insurance
Bernt Bratsberg Oddbjørn Raaum Knut Røed 2014
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ecoj.12182

PROTECTIVE OR COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE? LABOUR MARKET INSTITUTIONS AND THE EFFECT OF IMMIGRATION ON EU NATIVES*
Joshua D. Angrist and Adriana D. Kugler 2003
https://www.uh.edu/~adkugler/angrist_kugler.pdf

The Impact of Immigration on Native Wages and Employment
Anthony Edo 2013
https://ideas.repec.org/p/mse/cesdoc/13064.html

“We find that the majority of post-enlargement migrants from the new member states have found employment in low paying jobs, despite some (especially Poles) possessing relatively high levels of education.”
Poles Apart? EU Enlargement and the Labour Market Outcomes of Immigrants in the United Kingdom
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1468-2435.2008.00500.x

The Economic Impact of Immigration – report 2008
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeconaf/82/82.pdf
There are two impacts that net migration could have on wages: first, by expanding the labour supply, it might have an adverse effect on the level of wages overall; second, without affecting the average level of wages, it might have impacts on the wage distribution – the spread of wages from the most highly paid at the top to the least well paid at the bottom.
https://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/235

Estimating the Impact of Immigration on Wages in Ireland Alan Barrett Economic and Social Research Institute and IZA Adele Bergin Economic and Social Research Institute
Elish Kelly Economic and Social Research Institute
https://www.tcd.ie/Economics/assets/pdf/dp4472.pdf (mixed results produced from borjas method)

2015 Almost half of migrant workers in Ireland’s low-pay sectors earn less than minimum wage
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/almost-half-of-migrant-workers-in-irelands-lowpay-sectors-earn-less-than-minimum-wage-34237852.html

The Immigrant Earnings Disadvantage Across the Earnings and Skills Distributions: The Case of Immigrants from the EU’s New Member States
Barrett et al 2008
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5019935_The_Immigrant_Earnings_Disadvantage_Across_the_Earnings_and_Skills_Distributions_The_Case_of_Immigrants_from_the_EU’s_New_Member_States

Ireland’s Recession and the Immigrant-Native Earnings Gap
Barrett et al 2016
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/302974135_Ireland’s_Recession_and_the_Immigrant-Native_Earnings_Gap

Labour’s declining share of national income in Ireland and Denmark: the national specificities of structural change
Eoin Flaherty, Seán Ó Riain
https://academic.oup.com/ser/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ser/mwy047/5301501?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Almost two-thirds of doctors on medical register hold qualification from outside Ireland
https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/almost-two-thirds-of-doctors-on-medical-register-hold-qualification-from-outside-ireland-917179.html

Many young doctors choosing to work abroad
http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=26619

Ireland must address growing reliance on foreign doctors, RCSI
https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/ireland-must-address-growing-reliance-on-foreign-doctors-rcsi-794698.html

Migration in the Irish economic
Mac Éinrí, P.
https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/download/doc/paper20051015_migrants_maceinri.doc

Birth rates, immigration and culture
https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/birth-rates-immigration-and-culture-1.2945338
Irish Central bank quarterly report QB3 July 2019
https://www.centralbank.ie/docs/default-source/publications/quarterly-bulletins/qb-archive/2019/quarterly-bulletin-q3-2019.pdf?sfvrsn=12#page=122
There is no single “correct” estimate of this impact. Results of existing studies all depend on the methodology and the assumptions researchers must make (for example, about whether to include the costs of educating UK-born children of immigrants).
https://fullfact.org/immigration/how-immigrants-affect-public-finances/

George J. Borjas: Costs of Immigration – Economics Roundtable – QUOTE 23:00 about benefitting the rich – 26:00 quotes on welfare

Why is Capital So Much Stronger than Labor?

ESRI: Immigrants at Work
https://www.esri.ie/system/files?file=media/file-uploads/2015-07/BKMNEXT119.pdf

Immigration into the Republic of Ireland: a bibliography of recent research
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00750770802076943

politicians and tone of debate on migration consistently more pro, less polarised than in other EU countries
https://books.google.ie/books?id=avCTBwAAQBAJ&pg=PA79&lpg=PA79&dq=immigration+ireland+wage+depression&source=bl&ots=zv-9oxN7Mt&sig=ACfU3U3LD4eDvN2gG8xX40MYuK_gJi5ZMA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjvldjDu6PjAhWAThUIHdbPB2U4HhDoATAFegQIBxAB#v=onepage&q=immigration%20ireland%20wage%20depression&f=false

Modelling Overheating Risks in the Irish Economy
Thomas Conefrey, Gerard O’Reilly and Graeme Walsh
https://www.centralbank.ie/docs/default-source/publications/quarterly-bulletins/quarterly-bulletin-signed-articles/modelling-overheating-risks-in-the-irish-ecomony-(conefrey-o’reilly-walsh-and-zavalloni)

This study provides novel empirical evidence for the effect of ethnic minorities on the earningss of native Dutch workers. Using two data sets, various estimation methods and disaggregationss of the labour force, it is shown that immigrants have a small effect on
thee wages of natives from various skill and gender categories. Only the wages of low skilled Dutch workers are adversely affected by immigrants.
Absorption of immigrants in European labour markets. The Netherlands, United Kingdom and
Norway – Zorlu, A 2002
https://pure.uva.nl/ws/files/3563691/21456_UBA002000593_08.pdf

Labour market careers of immigrants in Germany and the United Kingdom 2004
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12134-004-1022-x

The Performance of Immigrants in the United Kingdom: Evidence from the GHS – Brian D. Bell 2003
“Our analysis of relative wages shows that the main group of disadvantaged immigrants are blacks who have significant foreign work experience.”
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0013-0133.1997.161.x

THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF FIRST AND SECOND-GENERATION IMMIGRANTS IN FRANCE, GERMANY AND THE UNITED KINGDOM* Yann Algan, Christian Dustmann, Albrecht Glitz and Alan Manning
https://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctpb21/Cpapers/AlganDustmannGlitzManning2010.pdf
“Their labour force participation rate for those aged 15 and over stands at 73.9pc compared with 59.5pc for Irish nationals.
Between 2009 (when figures are first available) and 2017, 237,000 people with third-level degrees emigrated, while almost 300,000 immigrated.”
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/dan-obrien/immigration-has-brought-great-benefits-for-business-36184902.html
Calling migrants: the Irish jobs market needs you
https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/calling-migrants-the-irish-jobs-market-needs-you-1.3974116?mode=sample&auth-failed=1&pw-origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.irishtimes.com%2Fbusiness%2Feconomy%2Fcalling-migrants-the-irish-jobs-market-needs-you-1.3974116

 

Ireland’s Asylum Debacle

 

At the time that this video is being made, it’s been about half a year since I released The Transformation of Ireland – a deep dive into the world of immigration and demographic projections for the country. Since then, that video has racked up close to 100,000 views – which, for the size of this channel, is an amazing thing to see. Thank you to everyone who watched and shared it, hopefully you got something useful from it.

At the start of that video I began by talking about the town of Lisdoonvarna, and what had happened there after the state and a local hotelier got together and decided to set up a new accommodation centre for more than 100 Asylum Seekers. Prior to this, the permanent population of the town only numbered about 300 people and the proposed centre therefore threatened to transform it  virtually overnight. If you want the full details of that story I recommend you watch the aforementioned video, which you can find on this channel. The short version however is that the state and hotelier eventually chose to ignore overwhelming local opposition and set up the centre anyway.

Fast forward now to the last month or so, where the government have entered into a number of new agreements with other hotel operators in similarly remote, low population parts of Ireland – to set up more accommodation for asylum seekers in underused hotels. As with Lisdoonvarna, the deals to create the new Centres in Rooskey, Wicklow, Abbeyleix and Moville appear to have been done in secret, neither informing local representatives nor the public that live in and around the proposed locations. So far all of these announcements have been met with angry push-back from locals – with one hotel even being subjected to an apparent arson attack. But, as with Lisdoonvarna earlier in the year, there is yet no sign that the government or the majority of the hotel operators are willing to listen to people’s concerns or to alter any of their plans. It’s been estimated that as many as 100 Asylum Seekers will be moved into Moville, 100 into Wicklow, 80 into Rooskey and approximately 60 have already been moved into Abbeyleix.. It’s expected that more locations will be announced over the coming months.

“I think it’s a disgrace, I really do. I don’t like it and I don’t think the town likes it either.” “Nobody knew this was happening” we were not informed. The Department of Justice did not liaise with anybody in this village.” “I’m afraid. I am…like.. I’m afraid… I’m on my own with two kids down here and…having people that I don’t know…like God knows what’s…. They’ve nothing to do up here, nothing whatsoever”. “Adrian Shanagher is the hotel owner and made the decision to close the hotel and reopen it as a direct provision centre.” “We lost about 200,000 in the year to September 2018 and quite simply it was a decision taken for commercial reasons, where we took a view that we could stop those losses or indeed try and turn a profit. Ultimately what I decide to do or not to do with a property that I’m engaged in and involved in and own – that’s a decision for me. I also don’t think that the locality should have a veto.”

What perhaps, to many outside observers, seems like a comparatively small matter has suddenly fired up into one of the most controversial issues in the country.

Many living in the towns in question have argued that the school, medical and police provisions in their locations are ill-equipped to deal with the kind of population increases that these moves will mean. Valid though these concerns are, one can’t help but think many take up this particular angle of dissent as it appears to be the closest thing they have to a ‘respectable’ objection to the asylum centres – given that voicing concerns in the current social climate about the demographic and cultural transformations that result from bringing in significant numbers of people from the third world means being met with accusations of ‘racism’ and ‘bigotry’. But if we reject that sort of framing and question the very idea that demographic transformation, i.e. ‘diversity’, is a moral imperative in itself, we soon see that people’s desire for their home towns to retain the character and population they already have really is not that bizarre. Moreover, although the overall number of asylum seekers is comparatively small, when considered in the broader context of rural Irish life, and migration to Ireland and the West more generally, we begin to understand people’s discomfort.

So let’s start breaking down some of that context in which this debacle exists.

First, before we even look into Ireland’s Asylum Seeker accommodation programme – Direct Provision, let’s look at some of the context that these rural communities exist in.

Ireland as a country is very heavily weighted in terms of population density, governance, wealth and resource distribution toward the two major population centres on the Eastern side of the island: Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and Belfast in Northern Ireland. As a general rule of thumb, the further westward one goes away from these two cities the more one enters territory that feels remote from the centres of power and less well provisioned in terms of basic infrastructure. Although there have been improvements in recent decades, these imbalances have existed since at least the earliest days of Britain’s colonial rule.

Emigration has been a feature of Irish society for many decades, before even partition and the creation of the two modern states on the island. The last couple of years have seen a reversal of this, with many people who emigrated in years past now returning to the county; but most Irish families have relatives who’ve left for The USA, Britain, Australia etc and not returned. This has been especially devastating in rural communities, where many villages and small towns still struggle to retain their youth population, especially the more talented and bright ones – not just to the lure of life overseas, but also to the pull of internal migration to Dublin and, to a lesser extent, Belfast or Cork. This makes economic and cultural development in these areas difficult, and leads to the thinning of important resources such as postal services and doctors surgeries, but on a more a human level also pulls families apart and disrupts community life. Arguably this feeds into the identity that rural Ireland has – proudly more rugged and independent than their urban counterparts, but ironically fostering a sense of neglect at not receiving the benefits that come with being more urbanised. This is of course a complex problem to solve, but it’s one that many rural communities feel has been consistently overlooked by the powers that be.

Now against this backdrop, many feel the government are embarking on a policy of singling out rural areas as places to move asylum seekers into, under the programme of Direct Provision.

Direct Provision was set up around the year 2000, initially as a temporary measure, to house asylum seekers and have their needs provided for by private contracting partners to the state. Asylum seekers are given accommodation, food, heating and household maintenance etc along with a small personal allowance (which is set to rise shortly). Despite this, life in Direct Provision has been described as ‘demoralising’ and ‘overcrowded’. Restrictions are placed on when and where residents can go, having visitors is often made difficult and quite often people are not at liberty to prepare  food for themselves.

Despite this, Direct Provision brings in a significant amount of revenue for the private companies that enter into partnerships with the state to house the asylum seekers. For example, the accommodation centre in Mosney county Meath, owned by Mosney Holidays, reportedly brought in 127 million euro of government money between 2002 and 2017. Another company, Bridgestock Limited, took at least 91 million Euro between 2000 and 2017. Bridgestock have recently been named as the firm who will operate the new Direct Provision centre in Moville, county Donegal. Another company, Millstreet Equestrian Services received 76 million euros in fees from the state between 2000 and 2017.

How much of this money is profit however is unknown, as many companies operating Direct Provision centres (including all three of the abovementioned companies) have unlimited status and therefore do not have to release their accounts publicly.

In total, in 2017 the government paid out approximately 50 million euros to the various Direct Provision operators. In 2018 that budget was increased was to 66 million, to cover the increase in the number of new asylum applications month on month and the aforementioned opening of a number of new accommodation centres – most of which are the result of deals with private companies to convert hotels in rural areas. As of September 2018, before the opening of the new centres in Moville, Rooskey, Wicklow and Abbeyleix, Ireland’s asylum accommodation was running at 97% capacity, with a number of centres reported more recently as being over-full. On top of this, a number of recent closures in the capital city means that there will soon be only two accommodation centres in Dublin, with almost all the newly opened centres being in rural areas.

The most recent centre to announce closure was the Clondalkin Towers Hotel, the largest Direct Provision centre in Dublin. Originally scheduled to close this December, closure has now been pushed back to next summer.

The company that ran the centre are reported as having received more than 27 million euro from the state between 2006 and 2015. Despite tendering for new locations in Dublin to open up and replace the recent closures, the department responsible for asylum reported than no hotels or premises came forward that were based in Dublin. It’s difficult to speculate as to why this might be, but many might wonder whether the enormous property bubble centred around the capital city has at all influenced things – for example the average rent in Dublin was recorded in the latter half of 2018 as an eye-watering 1600 euros, and the price of an average house in the city coming in just under 400 thousand euros. These enormous price spikes have made Dublin more expensive to live in than even Silicon Valley, and has lead to a serious housing crisis for Irish people. Profitable though Direct Provision appears to have been for many companies, perhaps now the current property bubble provides more lucrative opportunities for hoteliers as property speculators. Meanwhile, in rural areas where many hotels are underused for much of the year, Direct Provision is something welcomed by hotel businesses as a more reliable income stream.

Direct Provision isn’t the only expense that government has in relation to asylum in Ireland though. In 2014 it was reported that the government spends an estimated 150 million euro each year on the asylum system, whilst in the five year period between 2005 and 2009 the government reportedly spent 1.27 billion on asylum, of which more than 400 million went into Direct Provision.

Now that we’ve looked a little at who is running the Direct Provision system, let’s take a look at who the asylum seekers themselves are.

As of September 2018 there are almost 6000 people living in Direct Provision centres across Ireland. Perhaps contrary to the public perception of asylum seekers being predominantly women and children, 43% of 2018 applicants – the largest category recorded by the system, are single adult men. Most of the men in the system are aged between 18 and 35. More than half of people are from the continent of Africa, whilst another third are from Asia. Up to September, the top countries of origin for asylum applicants in 2018 are Georgia, Syria, Albania, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. Syria not surprisingly appears high on this list due to the on-going conflict in that country; however, the other countries are perhaps less easily explained. Georgia and Albania for instance, are both European countries that whilst not economically all that well off, do not have any on-going conflicts to speak of.

In 2017 Georgia was granted visa-free access to travel throughout the European Union, shortly afterwards wealthier EU countries saw a spike in the numbers of Georgians claiming asylum. Despite this increase, Georgians have only rarely been granted asylum in the EU. Many EU nations responded negatively to this spike, with Germany going as far as to call it an abuse of the asylum system. Then, earlier this year Germany, Ireland    and a number of other EU countries all declared Georgia a ‘safe country’, effectively ending any hope that people travelling from there would be granted any asylum. At the same time Ireland declared Albania also to be a ‘safe country’. Since then the number of Georgians requesting asylum in Germany has fallen to negligible amounts. However, in Ireland Georgians and Albanians collectively still make up about 14% of the people in Direct Provision. One possible reason for this might be Ireland’s notoriously lengthy asylum procedures. At present, asylum seekers spend an average of 2 years in Direct Provision, whilst some people have reportedly been in the system for more than 5 years. Appeals procedures can drag on for years, meanwhile fewer than 20% of those who’re eventually given deportation orders ever actually leave the country.

Even more incredibly, reports circulated earlier this year of an alleged scheme that officially ‘doesn’t exist’ that enables illegal migrants who’ve been in the country for more than five years to remain in Ireland. This reputed ‘scheme that doesn’t exist’ was brought up in a court case involving a Nigerian woman who’d evaded deportation since 2011, and implies that judges in asylum cases are implementing recommendations from the McMahon report, despite this never being made official government policy. We’ll talk more about the McMahon report a little later.

If we look at the breakdown for countries of origin for existing Direct Provision residents we see that the top countries are Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Albania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Discounting Albania, as we’ve already touched briefly upon it, it can be difficult searching for a pattern or a strong reasoning why people from these countries are coming to a tiny, wet island off the coast of western Europe. Certainly, Ireland has no particular historical or cultural connection to these places that might make it a logical or attractive option.

When we think about the political and social conditions in these locations, they are of course places of instability and inter-tribal conflict – for instance Nigeria has had large parts of its territory occupied by Islamist insurgents within the last decade and the Democratic Republic of Congo is long a place of simmering conflict; but many wonder how these conflicts lead to the large-scale flight of people all the way to another continent. Others also ask whether there aren’t safe, peaceful states much nearer to those countries that people could more readily flee to. In Ireland and the rest of Europe, questions are often raised about whether or not many who claim asylum here are not in fact motivated by economic reasons. But in truth, when it comes the third world, motivations of economics and of survival often blur into the same thing. I’ve touched on this a little bit in the video How Global Demographics Threaten to Transform the West – where I talk about the enormous population growth that has occurred in migrant-sending third world countries, and look at how this is fuelling struggles for food, water and land thereby leading to mass migration. I’d recommend you check that video out for a fuller exploration of the topic, but it suffices here to say that simplistic, emotive narratives about asylum often fail to really capture what is going on and why migrants are coming to places like Ireland. None of this of course is to suggest that Ireland or Europe more generally should be particularly compelled to take in people from the third world, neither is it to say that mass migration in any way could serve to fix any of the problems that exist there.

So we’ve looked at the system and we’ve looked at the people living in the system, what remains now is to look at where things are headed. I mentioned briefly earlier the McMahon report – or to give it its proper, catchier title: ‘Working Group to Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers’. Essentially, a government review headed up by former Judge Bryan McMahon produced a report in 2015 that made various recommendations about how to change the Irish asylum system. Some of its key proposals included speeding up the time it takes to process asylum cases, closer working arrangements between government agencies and NGOs, access to third level education and other training, the right to work, improvements to living conditions and an increase to the financial allowance given to asylum seekers. Most of the recommended reforms have been implemented or are on their way to being implemented, with the exception of a proposed amnesty for people living in the system for five years and people who’ve evaded deportation for the same period (provided they have no criminal record). As we’ve already mentioned though, some in the legal system are allegedly operating as though this were accepted policy.

At the same time as these reforms have been implemented there has also been a radical change to the rates at which asylum claims are accepted or rejected in Ireland. In both 2016 and 2015 more than half of claims were rejected at the final decision stage, and only a little over 10% were given refugee status at the first instance. However, in 2017 approximately 80% of claims were accepted at the final stage and roughly 75% given refugee status at the first instance. Quite what explains this turnaround, whether or not it’s an anomaly or is in some way a result of the government’s response to the McMahon report, is something I haven’t yet found out. For now we’ll have to wait to see what 2018s numbers look like.

Ireland has also recently implemented into law the European Reception Directive – which effectively commits EU states to homogenise the conditions that asylum seekers live under across the union – meaning that Ireland’s system must now in principle at least be as generous as, for example, Germany’s.

As chaotic and mired in controversy as Ireland’s asylum system is, in real numbers Ireland actually takes in fewer asylum seekers annually than other comparably sized EU nations. This appears to be a legacy feature of Ireland’s system, whose strictness and inefficiencies were allegedly an attempt to dissuade higher numbers of people from coming to Ireland through the asylum route. However various policy changes and international agreements look likely to spell an end to whatever remains of that restrictiveness.

Ireland, like other states, currently is waiting on reforms to be finalised by the EU that will update the super-state’s common asylum policy, with the possibility of introducing mandatory quotas for the redistribution of refugees, and amending the Dublin regulations – which hitherto meant asylum seekers looking for asylum in the EU had to claim it in the first EU country they entered, rather than choosing which one they wanted after entering the EUs borders. At present these reforms have been held up by a handful of dissenting countries – who reject in particular the mandatory relocation quotas. For now, it seems the EU will be going ahead with a ‘voluntary’ resettlement system – whereby countries can apparently opt in to take a share of refugees. Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney earlier this year expressed support for ‘voluntary’ redistribution, stating that any states that fail to ‘volunteer’ should be forced to pay “significant” financial contributions to the EU, to cover the costs involved with taking in refugees.

Back in Ireland, another reform that is currently under discussion concerns family reunification for refugees. Up until a few years ago, Ireland had quite an open policy when it came to family reunification, in 2016 though changes were brought in that tried to restrict reunification effectively only to spouses and dependent children. Under the pre 2016 system Minister for Justice David Stanton reported that the average number of family members applied for was 20, whilst the highest recorded was 70. However a bill is currently going through the Irish political system that, if passed, would overturn these recent restrictions and broaden the definition of ‘family’ to include extended family members. In the Dáil debate concerning this amendment Justice Minister David Stanton defended the current law, noting that the discretionary powers it affords the relevant Minister quite often enables extended family members to enter Ireland anyway. He also noted that alongside the normal system of family reunification, the government is running a parallel family reunification programme, called IHAP – which does allow for a broader range of family members, and is aimed at the families of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Eritrea and Burundi. Over the next two years IHAP will allow for a further 530 individuals to come to Ireland, and is in part formulated with the specific aim of speeding up the family reunification process.

Also relevant to the issue of family reunification: The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission have recently put two cases before the court of appeal that argue naturalised citizens no longer availing of the ‘refugee’ designation should also be entitled to family reunification – on the grounds that family reunification for refugees (even after naturalisation) is guaranteed by the right to family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and also, potentially, the Irish constitution. It’s maybe worth noting that the controversial Article 8 has been used in other European countries to define much broader definitions of ‘family’ than any Irish legislation hitherto has, and has also been used elsewhere in Europe to block deportations.

Perhaps unsurprisingly Family Reunification is alleged to be exacerbating the current housing crisis and putting pressure on homelessness services.

Additional to all of this, Ireland recently signed the controversial UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The compact is intended to reframe political discussion on migration, to focus its management more across international lines and to better ’empower migrants’, protecting them from the abuses of people traffickers and so on. Perhaps most worrying to some, the compact also outlines commitments for states to  combat media that, quote, “promote intolerance, xenophobia […] and other forms of discrimination towards migrants”. The Compact, although not binding in law, is perhaps best taken as an indication of where those states that signed it intend for their national policy to go – i.e. to stifle robust criticism of migration, and to facilitate, rather than restrict or slow down, the mass immigration that the world is in the midst of.

There’s much more I could go into, but here is perhaps a good place to start winding down. Before we end the video though it’s worth looking at some comments made by Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney recently, after he was asked by a member of the public to talk about the UN Compact on Migration.

“On the continent of Africa, in the next 25 to 30 years we expect there will be another billion people on that continent. And so, we need to find new ways of addressing the realities of the mass movement of people by trying to create…. economies and societies that people want to be part of. If you take an example of this: in Ethiopia, which has a rapidly growing population, to simply keep unemployment at the rate it’s at today, because there’s so many extra young people coming of age in terms of employability, they need to create an extra 2 million jobs every year. That’s all the jobs in Ireland every year needs to be added to the working population of Ethiopia alone to simply keep pace with their population growth. Next door in Kenya it’s an extra million people. These are impossible numbers. And so this is part of the development challenge that the EU has to take on with a much, much more ambitious partnership with Africa – partly because of what we know the alternative will be, which is a huge migration challenge for the EU – instead of there being hundreds of thousands of people looking to enter the EU we may well be in the millions, and all the tensions that that will cause. I happen to be someone who is quite liberal on migration, I believe that Ireland has been enhanced significantly by the fact that so many people who are not born in Ireland are now part of our society and economy… but of course we need to also ensure that we can manage the numbers that’re being welcomed and that they can integrate appropriately. We estimate over the next 20 years that the population of Ireland will certainly grow by an extra million people – linked to that estimate is that half of that number won’t have been born in Ireland. I think that will be a really good thing for Irish society, but we do need to manage it carefully, so that we don’t allow the politics of migration to play a big part in Irish politics, because I think it pulls us down a dangerous direction.”             

What Coveney’s comments reveal is that he, and likely much of the rest of Ireland’s political elite, are well aware of the epochal demographic changes that are occurring in the third world – and that are the real drivers behind mass immigration into the west. But rather than take on people’s concerns and look to shield the country from the adverse affects of this enormous change, he views it as something to exploit. What it also reveals is that, as with most neoliberal, western politicians, he views Ireland as little more than an economy – a marketplace – rather than a home for a distinct culture and national community.

The implications of this sort of thinking at the very top of our society are huge – and as I noted in the aforementioned video, The Transformation of Ireland, the consequences have the potential to totally reshape Ireland over the next few decades.

Although the asylum system is really just a small strand of the immigration to Ireland, it’s one with powerful moral implications to the public discourse – selling immigration to people on the basis of compassion, and framing opposition to it as bigotry and meanness, even when it leads to virtual overnight transformation of one’s own hometown.

On this matter both Ireland’s state and private media companies are effectively all in lockstep with the government’s own thinking – helping to promote multiculturalism and diversity as virtuous and enriching, immigration as essential to ‘the economy’, and portraying those who seek asylum in a suitably sympathetic light – as seen in RTÉ’s recent – Taken Down.

“when you read the paper and you read an article about Direct Provision, and you see the pictures of the prefabs out in Athlone or wherever, it’s very hard to understand the… kind of…human factor, and so what the show is really trying to do is put a human face on it and let the people tell those stories.” “Ah… racism, sadly. Taken Down writer Stuart Carolon blast racist trolls for hijacking new RTÉ drama’s hashtag to peddle sick and poisonous messages. There was one here that called me that was: ‘perhaps our broadband would be better if government invested some of the millions given to direct provision for random third world chancers on a national broadband infrastructure instead.’ And I just kinda went: ‘really? wifi?’ That’s literally first world problems.” “I look at my children and my children god love them, god forgive me for saying this, they’re kinda mongrels, they’re Serbian.. they’re Serbian, Egyptian, Irish, everything. They go to school they’ve got every creed and nationality, I think  there’s even a Klingon in their class. Do you know what I mean?” [I Love that] “And it’s perfect. and  you look at that and I just think ‘wow, how we’ve progressed.'” “this right wing thing at the moment, that’s been happening over the last few years, it’s not just in Ireland, it’s everywhere and you hear it so much that it’s becoming kinda normalised. It’s not something I think we need to concentrate on, but we just need to keep a kinda eye on it.”

Amusingly, a concurrent incident at a bus stop, in which a man of African appearance was caught on video engaging in an indecent act, right beside a poster for the show, perhaps gave everyone a glimpse of a less noble side of third world immigration.

But much like the hotel owners and Direct Provision centre operators, the Irish political elite’s objectives here have less to do with compassion, and are just more of the same old Irish-style cronyism and petty profiteering that has the plagued the country for many generations. The Irish state’s turn towards ‘global openness’ and simultaneous expression of contempt for ‘backward’ rural Ireland, are not coincidental. The new Ireland they envisage is to be a global marketplace, where Irish people are not at the centre of things. Unless a rapid sea-change occurs in Irish politics, and the vision of the current political elites begins to face serious questions, than the disenfranchisement of the Irish people in their own homeland will only continue.

———–

Sources

Thumbnail image:
https://www.flickr%5Bdot%5Dcom/photos/pocketrevolution/27170452244/in/album-72157669432895692/

The Transformation of Ireland

Contract Signed for Lisdoonvarna
http://www.clare.fm/news/contract-signed-lisdoonvarna-direct-provision-centre/

Moville hotel 100 asylum seekers
https://donegalnews.com/2018/11/moville-hotel-to-accommodate-100-asylum-seekers/

Secret’ arrangements being made to open refugee centre in Rooskey, Dáil told
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/secret-arrangements-being-made-to-open-refugee-centre-in-rooskey-d%C3%A1il-told-1.3689995

Rooskey Residents Seek Meeting Over Use of Hotel for Asylum Seekers
https://www.rte.ie/news/connacht/2018/1108/1009542-rooskey/

Irish Refugee Council founder opposes imposing asylum centres on communities

Fury at Wicklow asylum centre meeting: Locals fear rape and crime threat

David Stanton blasted for not consulting Moville community over asylum centre plans

Moville Direct Provision meeting

Wicklow Town hall St Patricks GAA Part 2

Arson in Moville: ‘People won’t tell you what they really think’
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/arson-in-moville-people-won-t-tell-you-what-they-really-think-1.3715028

Population density of Ireland map
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Population_density_of_Ireland_map2002.svg

Prime Time: Why are people opposed to asylum centres in their communities?

More people are returning to Ireland than leaving for the first time since 2009
https://www.thejournal.ie/emigration-ireland-3-4206044-Aug2018/

Small towns ‘hit hardest’ in the past 10 years, Dublin least
https://www.thejournal.ie/small-towns-deprived-3687306-Nov2017/

Big study finds 1 in 4 rural households have had someone emigrate
https://www.thejournal.ie/emigration-figures-ireland-ucc-1101795-Sep2013/

Who goes where? Population change in Ireland
https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/who-goes-where-population-change-in-ireland-1.1901961

https://www.thejournal.ie/readme/rural-broadband-needs-3834399-Feb2018/

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/rural-ireland-losing-another-lifeline-as-up-to-50pc-of-gps-to-retire-35916635.html

Dublin will rue its contempt for the countryside
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/dublin-will-rue-its-contempt-for-the-countryside-9x0pghfsl

Report that rural Ireland is dying is hardly a shock
https://www.independent.ie/regionals/enniscorthyguardian/news/report-that-rural-ireland-is-dying-is-hardly-a-shock-but-what-will-be-done-37591439.html

Direction provision FAQ
http://www.ria.gov.ie/en/RIA/Pages/Direct_Provision_FAQs

Q&A: What is direct provision?
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/q-a-what-is-direct-provision-1.3373747

Hotel Limbo: how Ireland institutionalises asylum seekers
https://www.newstatesman.com/2018/07/direct-provision-ireland-asylum-seekers-hotel-limbo-

https://www.dublininquirer.com/2018/07/11/in-direct-provision-it-can-be-hard-to-invite-a-friend-over-for-a-cup-of-tea

Physical and mental health issues among residents are very common. Asylum seekers are 5 times more likely to experience mental health issues and psychiatric conditions.
http://dorasluimni.org/direct-provision/

Mosney PLC Biggest Earner as Direct Provision Firms Share %0mmil bonanza in 2017
https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/mosney-plc-biggest-earner-as-private-direct-provision-firms-share-50m-bonanza-in-2017-830997.html

66 million budget for 2018
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/number-stuck-in-direct-provision-due-to-housing-scarcity-soars-1.3566992

Ireland spending €150 million a year on asylum system
https://www.thejournal.ie/asylum-seekers-cost-1670088-Sep2014/

“Bridgestock has received a total of at least €68 million in State funding for running direct provision centres.”
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/asylum-industry-companies-behind-the-direct-provision-system-1.2030500

Significant increase in numbers seeking asylum in Republic
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/significant-increase-in-numbers-seeking-asylum-in-republic-1.3465992

How direct provision became a profitable business
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/how-direct-provision-became-a-profitable-business-1.2030519

Five direct provision centres oversubscribed
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/five-direct-provision-centres-oversubscribed-with-others-almost-full-1.3717684

More than 200 Asylum Seekers May Lose Homes Before Christmas
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/more-than-200-asylum-seekers-may-lose-homes-before-christmas-1.3653361

The national average rent is €1,122 per month
https://www.thejournal.ie/rental-prices-income-4390977-Dec2018/

Average house price in Dublin at €375k, report shows
https://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/average-house-price-in-dublin-at-375k-report-shows-472534.html

Dublin is back top 100 most expensive cities list
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/dublin-is-back-in-top-100-most-expensive-cities-list-37000502.html

RIA Monthly Report September 2018
http://www.ria.gov.ie/en/RIA/RIA%20Monthly%20Report%20September%202018.pdf/Files/RIA%20Monthly%20Report%20September%202018.pdf

“High numbers of applications and low acceptance rates,”
https://www.dw.com/en/germany-warns-georgia-over-spike-in-asylum-applications/a-43348436

Germany’s government launched a renewed attempt Wednesday to declare three North African states and Georgia “safe countries of origin”, which would raise the hurdles for asylum requests by its citizens.
https://www.thelocal.de/20180718/german-bill-to-cut-asylum-seekers-from-nafrica-georgia

Germany declares Georgia safe country
http://georgiatoday.ge/news/11066/Number-of-Georgian-Asylum-Seekers-Decreased-in-Germany

Belgium tells georgians not to claim asylum
http://georgiatoday.ge/news/10753/Belgium-Calls-on-Georgians-Not-to-Request-Asylum

Ireland – Albania and Georgia declared safe countries of origin in April
http://www.asylumineurope.org/news/03-05-2018/ireland-new-list-safe-countries-origin-adopted

Residents were spending an average of 23 months in direct provision by the end of December 2017, while 432 people had been in the system for five years of more.
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/q-a-what-is-direct-provision-1.3373747

Deportation row as officials fail to carry out 80% of removals
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/deportation-row-as-officials-fail-to-carry-out-80-of-removals-f8h62w37n

“the scheme that doesn’t exist”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/mother-resorted-to-prostitution-to-fund-sons-medication-court-hears-36518112.html

A scheme where refugees can bring relatives to live in Ireland is putting pressure on homeless services, and pushing refugee families into emergency accommodation, the director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has said.
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/refugee-family-reunification-putting-pressure-on-homeless-system-1.3589753?mode=sample&auth-failed=1&pw-origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.irishtimes.com%2Fnews%2Fsocial-affairs%2Frefugee-family-reunification-putting-pressure-on-homeless-system-1.3589753

UN: Two million children risk starvation in DRC
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/million-children-risk-starvation-drc-180309171812287.html

Revived Boko Haram makes mockery of Nigerian army
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/16/boko-haram-gain-support-nigeria-move-away-killing-civilians/

How Global Demographics Threaten to Transform the West

McMahon report
http://justice.ie/en/JELR/Report%20to%20Government%20on%20Improvements%20to%20the%20Protection%20Process,%20including%20Direct%20Provision%20and%20Supports%20to%20Asylum%20Seekers.pdf/Files/Report%20to%20Government%20on%20Improvements%20to%20the%20Protection%20Process,%20including%20Direct%20Provision%20and%20Supports%20to%20Asylum%20Seekers.pdf

2015 acceptance rates
https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=File:Distribution_of_first_instance_decisions_on_(non-EU)_asylum_applications,_2015_(%C2%B9)_(%25)_YB16.png.png&oldid=285844
https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=File:Distribution_of_final_decisions_on_(non-EU)_asylum_applications,_2015_(%C2%B9)_(%25)_YB16.png.png&oldid=285843

2016 acceptance rates
https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=File:Distribution_of_first_instance_decisions_on_(non-EU)_asylum_applications,_2016_(%25)_YB17.png&oldid=330752

2017 acceptance rates

All change for asylum seekers?
https://www.rte.ie/eile/brainstorm/2018/0123/935294-all-change-for-asylum-seekers/

International Protection Act
http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2015/act/66/enacted/en/html

http://www.asylumineurope.org/news/08-07-2018/ireland-new-reception-rules-following-opt-eu-directive

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/direct-provision-must-be-overhauled-report-says-1.3725440

dec 2018 – EU ministers hit a wall in ongoing effort to reform asylum system
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/eu-ministers-hit-a-wall-in-ongoing-effort-to-reform-asylum-system-1.3722995

Coveney – refugee resettlement “Countries that are willing to take migrants and refugees in order to share the burden with countries that are bordering the Mediterranean should be encouraged to do that,”
“And countries that refuse to actually take migrants, I believe should be made to actually make significant financial contributions to helping the EU response towards the overall migration crisis.”
https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland/talk-of-no-deal-brexit-is-a-negotiating-position-irish-minister-idUSKCN1LD1U8

Dáil debate family reunification
https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2018-12-06/40/

Full Dáil debate on the proposed expansion of the family reunification programme

International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed) – Seanad, Wednesday, 8 Nov 2017
https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad/2017-11-08/12/

The Humanitarian Admission Programme 2 (IHAP)
https://berkeleysolicitors.ie/humanitarian-admission-programme-ihap-now-open-for-applications/

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/refugee-reunification-scheme-opens-to-bring-family-members-to-ireland-1.3492313

“Irish citizens should not have been denied access to the family reunification scheme, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has said.”
“The commission concludes that article 8 of the ECHR, which protects private and family life, does guarantee a right to family reunification to refugees even if they have acquired citizenship.”
https://irishlegal.com/article/human-rights-commission-argues-citizens-who-came-to-ireland-as-refugees-should-not-be-denied-family-reunification

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/judge-rules-minister-must-reconsider-family-reunification-application-by-mother-of-disabled-child-887407.html

Article 8 info UK law
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-and-comparative-law-quarterly/article/respect-for-private-and-family-life-under-article-8-echr-in-immigration-cases-a-human-right-to-regularize-illegal-stay/0FC7513860C0FA7993C179EAC06B3D12

Article 8 and Irish law
http://www.asylumlawdatabase.eu/en/journal/right-respect-private-life-under-article-8-echr-%E2%80%93-irish-cases-dos-santos-and-ci

Article 8 used in UK law to prevent deportations
https://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/251

Family definition allowed by article 8 potentially very broad (various courts have ‘family life’ to include ‘indigenous’ ‘multi-generational’ family setups, non-blood ties, aunts and uncles/nieces and nephews)
https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/5a9029f04.pdf

Refugee family reunification putting ‘pressure’ on homeless system
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/refugee-family-reunification-putting-pressure-on-homeless-system-1.3589753

Homelessness of asylum seekers becoming an issue
https://www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie/news/irish-refugee-council-calls-for-government-to-urgently-address-issue-of-people-seeking-asylum-being-made-homeless/6697

https://www.irishcentral.com/news/irishvoice/house-prices-rent-housing-crisis

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/abroad/i-couldn-t-afford-to-live-in-dublin-the-city-of-my-birth-1.3610710?mode=sample&auth-failed=1&pw-origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.irishtimes.com%2Flife-and-style%2Fabroad%2Fi-couldn-t-afford-to-live-in-dublin-the-city-of-my-birth-1.3610710

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/press-release-101218-minister-flanagan-to-represent-ireland-at-un-conference-on-global-compact-for-migration-in-marrakech

GLOBAL COMPACT FOR SAFE, ORDERLY AND REGULAR MIGRATION – FINAL DRAFT
https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/sites/default/files/180711_final_draft_0.pdf

Simon Coveney asked about the Global Compact — 500,000 migrants for Ireland over next 20 years

“We can’t have Ireland just for the Irish” -Soc Dems candidate Sarah Durcan

Laois TD says Ireland a global island
https://www.leinsterexpress.ie/news/news/352559/laois-td-says-ireland-is-a-global-island-that-has-benefited-from-immigration.html

Michael D. Higgins urges Irish people to embrace immigrants in Christmas address
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/michael-d-higgins-urges-irish-people-to-embrace-immigrants-in-christmas-address-37651596.html

The Irish Times view: We must dismantle barriers for immigrants
https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/editorial/the-irish-times-view-we-must-dismantle-barriers-for-immigrants-1.3738792

RTÉ promote campaign to halt deportation of Chinese illegals but no air time for opposing views

Texters slam Newstalk host over views on anchor babies & birth-right citizenship

Brian Gleeson on new drama ‘Taken Down’ | The Ray D’Arcy Show | RTÉ One

Racist Reactions to Taken Down | Brendan O’Connor’s Cutting Edge

Ex-justice minister John O’Donoghue cashes in on asylum application fees
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/ex-justice-minister-john-odonoghue-cashes-in-on-asylum-application-fees-ddzjckgs0

State asylum cases earned ex-minister’s wife €1m
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/state-asylum-cases-earned-exministers-wife-1m-29908349.html

‘Global Ireland’ – Ireland’s Global Footprint to 2025
https://www.ireland.ie/en/stories/global-ireland-irelands-global-footprint-2025

‘The Global Island’ Foreign Policy document
https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/alldfawebsitemedia/ourrolesandpolicies/ourwork/global-island/the-global-island-irelands-foreign-policy.pdf

 

Why Conservatism Fails

 

Conservative film-maker Dinesh D’Souza has a new documentary out. Let’s check out some clips from the trailer to get a sense of what it’s about.

“Lincoln was selected to unite a country and stop slavery. Democrats smeared him, went to war against him, assassinated him: now their target is Trump. Who are the real racist? Who are the real fascists?” “…Mussolini and Hitler set up and ran welfare states.” “This is done by the do-gooders, the liberals.” “Which party attacks our free speech?” “How dare you speak against the Fuhrer!” “A nation dies when its people are not free. The stakes could not be higher”.

Well, if that was somehow too subtle for you, let’s spell it out: the message of the film is ‘Democrats are the real racists’, ‘leftists are the real Nazis’, ‘Conservatives are the real guardians of liberal values, democracy, equality, anti-racism blahblahblah…’. And, safe to say, the argument goes beyond the moderately credible, but stale idea of a ‘bigotry of low expectations’, going all the way to more absurdly implying that leftists somehow are closet fascists, tracing a direct ideological line back to Hitler, Mussolini, Slavery etc etc. To a lot of you, I probably don’t need to explain why this line of reasoning is faulty: most people I suspect just look at something like this and intuitively know the argument doesn’t really make sense, unless you construe the whole thing as a cheap attempt to ‘own’ the democrats that’s been taken a bit too far.

Apparently though, D’Souza has set out a convincing enough case that some people actually do take this seriously.

So let’s get into it and look at why this argument will NEVER win over many people on the left, why conservatism just doesn’t understand how politics operate in our present time, and, maybe more importantly, look at why conservatism has failed to conserve anything at all in the last half century or so.

On the surface of things, ideological conservatism makes a lot of quite dry and even technical arguments as part of its political approach, but beneath that lies a bedrock of quite airy idealism. For instance, conservative engagement with the public debate often centres around discussion of this or that tax rate, the size of the private sector vs the size of the state; underpinning this though are civic ideals that treat all people as rational but atomised beings, who operate primarily on the basis of individual interest, and who will more often than not vote for the candidate or party that makes the best argument. The modern conservative worldview holds that a sufficiently ‘free’ populace is one that not only will make better decisions but is one that is closer to a morally ‘good’ state of being. Part of this is the belief that everyone is inherently endowed with inalienable rights that are transcendental and enshrined by semi-divine documents like the American Constitution, Magna Carta and so on. Too large a state is bad for ‘freedom’ and therefore is evil. Citizenship constituted on the basis of anything other than a person’s ‘inalienable’ humanity is also treated as an evil. Restricting the wealth of certain people or groups is in and of itself ‘bad’, even if those groups wield disproportionate and disruptive influence on a society. What passes as a jumble of practical, even a little bit pessimistic, approaches to policy, begins to look murky when one notices the almost religious idealism that it frequently falls back on.

In reality though, most people don’t fit the idealistic mould of a citizen that conservatism on some level envisages. Most people don’t always give their vote to the person who outlines the best ideas, they don’t always view themselves as atomised individuals but will often pick their political allegiance based on tribal or other ‘irrational’ motives.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that conservatives just don’t understand the modern political dynamic. The reality of our contemporary political axis is that it doesn’t rotate around principles, ideas or the methodology of statecraft, but rather is about the conflicting interests of different groups. What The Left understands that conservatives don’t, is that the real axis of modern western politics is the ‘core’ of society vs the ‘fringes’ – those who identify with the majority heritage, majority ethnic and cultural group vs a coalition of groups who consider themselves outside of this. Although The Left often uses similar language to conservatives about human rights, liberty, freedom and equality, on an intuitive level, they seemingly understand that politics is a much more concrete battle for control of resources and control of society itself. This is why The Left can encompass radically different and even oppositional groups such as gay rights organisations and traditional practitioners of Islam. What they have in common is that they are all on the outside and they are all willing to game the political system that conservatives defend.

Conservatives have been caught unawares by this dynamic – if their ideal of a rational and civically engaged democracy ever existed it has most certainly been eroded over recent decades as The Left has gained ground for its political objectives by playing to win and playing by a much more tribalistic strategy. Conservatives (and so-called ‘classical liberals’), are loathe to acknowledge that they implicitly reflect the ‘core’ power group of society and thus as individuals are seen as belonging to a larger ethnic and cultural group, but instead continue to uphold the atomising ideals that The Left smartly exploit to their advantage. Whilst conservatives naively treat all people as interchangeable rational units, The Left recognises that group identity is real and group loyalty matters, and so has gone about changing the very demographics of western countries in the hope of shifting things culturally and electorally permanently in their favour.

We see this in America, where for example, mainstream Republican strategists have described Hispanics as ‘natural conservatives’ and aggressively tried to court their vote; meanwhile polling data suggests that time and again Hispanics are unfazed by their efforts and continue to vote with other minority and fringe groups for The Democratic Party – who then enact policy that directly benefits those fringe groups, whether it be on matters of immigration, speech laws, freedom of association, public spending, etc. And this same pattern plays out no matter which minority group you look at, whether it be African Americans, Asians, Jews, Muslims, LGBT people etc.

We see this also in the U.K., where despite repeated attempts to court more Muslim voters, The Conservative Party continues to lag far behind in support from Muslims compared to The Labour Party.

Arguably then the modern political dynamic is entirely conceivable in Darwinian terms – different groups with irreconcilable survival interests competing with one another – even if one of those groups refuses to openly acknowledge the fact. Perhaps only the unprecedented material abundance of the age in which we live masks the fact that different groups are in fact competing in the same space for the same resources.

All of this may sound cynical and even a little horrifying, but unfortunately it’s just the way the world seems to work.

When you understand this though, you see that quibbling over the type of state or details of policy implementation are mostly secondary questions, and ultimately confuses the means of the state with the end of securing resources for one’s group. We see this in how D’Souza notes similarities in policy between the Nazi party of the 1930s and the modern American Democratic Party, but fails completely to see how this is irrelevant to the real dynamic of contemporary American politics – and the Democratic Party’s own real objectives, which are actually about transferring resources from the core of society to the fringes (arguably the opposite of what the Nazis claimed they were doing).

“Read the Nazi platform at the Democratic National Convention and most likely it would provoke thunderous applause! State controlled healthcare, Profit-sharing for workers and large corporations, state control of education, state control of media, state control of banks and industries…This reads like something jointly written by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders”.

Arguably the rise of Donald Trump can be seen as a rejection of much of the conservative status quo. By appealing directly to the concerns of a specific constituency – namely middle and working class Americans of mostly white European background, Trump played politics more like The Left does, and in the process embraced rhetoric that many considered dog-whistling to illiberal, nationalistic currents. Certainly, during his campaign the mainstream of American conservatism responded very negatively to his attacks on their sacred cows, for example free markets and endless Middle Eastern wars – nonetheless his approach proved wildly more successful than they predicted.

Trump aside though, conservatism in both the U.S and Europe has played politics in the last number of decades by a losing strategy; that always meant even when they won electorally they lost the bigger struggle. For example, take the fact that between the end of World War 2 and the election of Donald Trump, the U.S spent as much time under Republican Presidents as Democratic ones, yet despite this the direction of the country’s culture could only really be described in the long-term as having gone in the direction that The Left wanted, and demographically further and further away from retaining the ethnic composition the U.S had in 1945.

Take also the example of the U.K: where between the end of World War 2 and the present day the country has spent much more time under Conservative Party rule than under Labour Party rule: yet again the values of the country have crept only really in a leftward direction: whether it be in terms of multiculturalism, tolerance of sexual minorities, abortion, family law and so on. In fact, some recent years under the Tory Party have given the U.K higher levels of immigration than even Tony Blair’s time as Prime Minister, and the introduction of flagship left-wing social policies like gay marriage – which was bizarrely presented as a ‘conservative’ value by then prime minister David Cameron. Imagine going back in time and explaining that one to a conservative-minded voter even ten or twenty years prior.

If we look at their record on matters of the economy and national sovereignty, we see the Tories have a long and ignoble record there too: being the party that took the U.K into the European Union and the party who famously privatised much of the country’s energy and industrial assets, weakening the U.K’s self-sufficiency over the long term and destroying numerous communities – in Northern England, Scotland and Wales in particular.

The present Tory administration are widely regarded as poor defenders of civil liberties and free speech – both of which are supposedly conservative civic ideals, and the party are enthusiastic supporters of multiculturalism – with the current Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, a son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants, tipped to succeed Theresa May as leader of the party and possible next Prime Minister. Amusingly, this monumental act of diversity virtue signalling has not shielded the party from allegations of ‘Islamophobia’ – with one of their own party members – Muslim peer, Baroness Warsi, loudly leading calls recently for investigations into the party’s ‘poisonous’ attitudes to Islam.

A similar sort of story has played out with Republicans in the U.S , where even conservative icon Ronald Reagan famously signed off on revolutionary family law in his time as Governor of California that made it the first state to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce, and then as President of the U.S approved amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, precipitating the demographic transformation of the country.

With these examples in mind and many more not explored here, it all begs the question: what exactly has conservatism actually conserved? what is the point of conservatism? If it can’t preserve the culture or demography of western countries, and if it does a shabby job (at best) of preserving the civic ideals it claims to uphold: what does it really exist to conserve?

“You call yourself a moral and social conservative, and unapologetically so, but you’re not a Tory. In fact you’re very hostile to modern Tories.” “Yeah” “Why?” “Because it calls itself the ‘Conservative’ party; if it called itself the ‘Socialist Worker’s Party’ I wouldn’t have anything against it.” “But it’s not a left wing party…” “It is a left wing party. It’s egalitarian. It’s got a lot more in common with the SWP than it has with conservatism.” “Do you think the, uh…” “In fact I often hear David Cameron and George Osborne coming out with things that I used to say when I was a Trot.” “well let’s think about…” “The difference is that I knew when I said them that they were Trotskyist things to say, they have no idea. They are left wing, but they don’t know they’re left wing.” “But do you think…” “Which is even more alarming in some ways, at least Jeremy Corbyn knows he’s left wing.”

Part of the impotence of modern conservatism stems from its inability to understand the ideological and moral roots of both its own movement and the modern Left. Both effectively are a product of the enlightenment, the French Revolution and the debates that surrounded it. To make a long story short, modern conservatism combines the relatively practical and reformist outlook of Edmund Burke with the same idealised vision of individual rights and egalitarian values that animated the French revolution and is exemplified by the writings of Thomas Paine. Essentially, conservatism espouses the same core beliefs as what we’d characterise as left wing ideology: opposition to aristocracy and tradition-centred systems, a belief in the equality of all people, but a preference for overturning society at a slower pace. Conservatism’s roots are as radical as those of socialism, which makes it difficult for it to launch an effective defence for either the culture or the very people that make up European and European-descended nations.

As rudderless as conservatism may seem, The Left has long been animated by an opposite spirit: a determined sense of its revolutionary nature and radical objectives. From the Fabian Society, to the Frankfurt school, to New Labour: the left has maintained a cohesive enough strategic outlook that it has been able to wage a long-term culture war through the public education system and popular culture. The Left has consistently framed the moral debate with its terms and its ideas for decades, shaping the minds of people to the point where ‘equality’ is accepted near universally as a good in itself – with The Left, naturally, positioned as the standard-bearers for ‘equality’. This is why The Left haven’t necessarily needed to dominate electorally to see their social vision implemented. It’s also why when Dinesh D’Souza reaches for a slur or analogy for ‘bad people’ on The Left, he picks words that are implicitly associated with The Right: ‘Nazi’, ‘fascist’, ‘racist’; rather than ‘Communist’, ‘Stalinist’ etc. Thus, even when arguing AGAINST them, conservatives can’t help but reinforce the moral framework created by The Left.

And so we’ve come full circle, back to D’Souza and his newest film, although, really this is hardly a new routine for him. But as much as having a brown-skinned immigrant defend the Republican Party and call the Democrats ‘the real racists’ is a novelty, it’s not really going to affect the fortunes of either party in any significant way.

The Democratic Party is de facto the vehicle for the political aspirations of marginal groups. The Republicans, along with conservatism more generally, are seen by the Left coalition as an implicitly white thing. But if all conservatism offers its support base is a more ‘principled’ version of leftism, then it is worse than useless.

Conservatism’s problems are twofold: Firstly, ideological conservatism only really appeals to rootless individuals whose primary interest is in conserving their own wealth and the wealth of an elite social strata that has minimal loyalty to country or community. Most people don’t think like this though; and Trump has proven not even most conservative-leaning voters think like this.

Secondly, because the Left’s voter base defines itself in oppositional, racial and cultural terms it will never to any significant degree migrate its support to conservative politicians.

Further, as long as The Left continues to play to win, whilst The Right blithely go along with their moral framework, bending over backwards to prove how totally-not-racist-or-bigoted they are and only ever getting animated about tax reform, then the political direction of history will not change. What’s more, the demographics of western countries will continue to drift in a direction that will eventually make it impossible for conservatives to ever wield political power.

Should conservatism as an ideology be sidelined by The Right, then politics might actually get interesting again.

The Transformation of Ireland

Ireland: land of saints and scholars – also the land of dodgy politicians and EU lackeys. Tax haven for mega rich global tech corporations and beloved marketplace for big alcohol companies, who’ve successfully managed to equate the national addiction with the national identity.

Some of us also call it ‘home’. A place inhabited by our ancestors for thousands of years, that through both hard times and good always inspired love and romanticism; and whose emigrant sons and daughters always kept in dear regard.
At least that’s how it was thought of up until quite recently. Like many other western countries, Ireland has undergone quite a rapid transformation of its culture and morality, so much so that a person who left it only two or three decades ago would struggle to recognise parts of the society now. This can be argued as being for better or for worse, but I’ll leave that aside for this video. Instead, this will be about another transformation that Ireland is arguably on the cusp of: a demographic transformation.

Let’s start our story in a small town in the west of Ireland.
Earlier this year you may have heard about a news story from the small town of Lisdoonvarna. Famous for being the subject of a Christy Moore song, and frequently visited by tourists from around the world, Lisdoonvarna suddenly caught people’s attention for another reason. The Irish government had entered into an agreement with local hotelier Marcus White to set up accommodation for 115 Asylum Seekers, who would all be moved into the town this year. As the town’s permanent population numbers little more than 300, the proposal meant increasing the town’s population by roughly a third, thereby substantially changing its demographics virtually over-night.

After the agreement was announced, residents of the town met up to discuss and vote on whether or not they would consent to the proposal. The town voted overwhelmingly to reject the Asylum centre, with 93% of the people at the meeting voting ‘no’ to it.

Marcus White – whose hotel is to be used to house the 115 Asylum Seekers – had initially agreed to meet with the citizens of the town, and to respect whatever decision they made about the plans he was party to that would transform their town. In the end, he chose not to listen to their wishes, but to go ahead with the centre. A little more than a week later the first Asylum Seekers were arriving in Lisdoonvarna.

After the controversy, officials moved to reassure locals and other people who had spoken up in support of them that the majority of asylum seekers being moved to the town would be women and families with young children. However, although these assurances may be true for Lisdoonvarna for now, it does not reflect the broader statistical picture for asylum seekers in Ireland. Data for all of the people being looked after by the government’s asylum seeker holding programme, called ‘direct provision’, shows that more than a third are single adult men, more than half of applicants in December 2017 were single men, and that the vast majority of men in the system are between the ages of 18 and 45. Further, although most people probably think of Syrian families fleeing that country’s war when they think of refugees, that too is not reflected in the statistics. Of asylum applicants recorded in 2017, only 18.6% were Syrian, and a majority, 63.2%, were adult men. Further, More than half of people in the system as a whole are from the continent of Africa, whilst the largest individual countries of origin are Pakistan, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Only 8.2% are from Syria.

It’s perhaps worth noting also that a large majority of asylum applications in Ireland are turned down. Notable also is that an investigation in 2012 revealed 2/3rds of failed asylum seekers were known to UK asylum authorities and had applied in both countries under different names. Nonetheless, asylum seekers remain in the Irish system for on average of 2 years, some times longer than 5 years.

Direct Provision has long been criticised for its inefficiency and for affording people too few liberties. Asylum Seekers in Ireland are housed collectively in centres, where their food is typically prepared for them, and a small financial allowance is afforded to them as well.

However, new proposals mean this system will soon be scrapped in favour of adopting the EU’s own directives on the treatment of Asylum Seekers. The change will mean improvements in Asylum Seekers living conditions, an increase in the financial allowance afforded to them, the right to work, access to education, and more. At the core of the directive is the homogenisation of asylum conditions across EU member states, and commitments to, in principle, share the burden of responsibility for dealing with refugees between member states, and create living conditions that are comparable across all states – meaning, in principle at least, Ireland must now provide Asylum Seekers the same standard of living as they would receive in Germany, Sweden or other currently more generous countries in the EU. It’s been argued that the restrictiveness of the previous system existed to discourage Asylum Seekers from coming to the Republic of Ireland and to keep their numbers relatively low. As the new changes come in, it’s perhaps not unreasonable to imagine that the numbers of people will begin to increase. Figures for the last year, when reforms had already begun to be tentatively implemented, show that the numbers of asylum seekers had increased by 30%.

Another highly significant pending reform to the system is in the area of family reunification – i.e. the right of refugees to bring in members of their families. In 2016 legislation was actually changed to restrict what family members a person could bring into the country once they had been granted asylum. Currently though, on the back of pressure from NGOs and politicians, those restrictions are being overturned and a return to a more liberal approach to family reunification is very likely. According to the minister of state for justice, before the 2016 restrictions, the average number of family members applied for was 20, whilst the highest recorded was 70.

Whatever the system may mean for Asylum Seekers though, the asylum industry has certainly proved to be a profitable enterprise for the private companies that are tasked with accommodating them. Each year the Irish government pays out roughly 50 million euro to the various companies who own and operate the direct provision centres, with figures indicating some companies receiving between 50 and 90 million euro over a ten year period between 2000 and 2010.

As numbers of arrivals increase, more centres will need to be built, meaning new financial opportunities will open to these companies and others who wish to enter the burgeoning asylum industry.

This is where the likes of Marcus White, the hotelier in Lisdoonvarna, come into the picture. Marcus is the son of Fine Gael politician Jim White – Fine Gael for those watching from outside of Ireland are the country’s current ruling political party and one of the two parties who’ve dominated politics in the state since Ireland was partitioned in the 1920s. In 2005 White and his hotel company were fined for illegally employing 14 migrants without work permits. At the time of the case, the hotel groups solicitor defensively remarked “there are dozens of migrant workers employed by the White Hotel Group, and they have a very good system in place for processing legitimate work permits”.

Here then we see a politically connected individual, with a significant financial stake in an industry that has turned heavily towards the use of cheap migrant labour in recent times, and whose company even has a record of illegally employing migrants – who now is turning to a business area which involves drawing a lot of money from the state to house a particular kind of migrant. It’s perhaps not an unfair assumption for someone to think Mr White, and others like him, are not involved in the business of housing Asylum Seekers out of any strong humanitarian considerations – even if these disruptive housing projects are sold to the public affected by them on the grounds that they must be charitable and humane.

But the asylum industry is not just profitable to those who house migrants. For instance, barristers whose job is to contest the lengthy and drawn-out asylum applications, and who (curiously) are often also quite well connected politically, are recorded as some of the highest paid legal counsel retained by the state.
Although, as we’ve seen, sudden changes in the application of asylum policy have the power to dramatically alter the demographics of small towns, the numbers of asylum seekers are actually only a small part of the bigger tale of recent migration to Ireland. Although the Lisdoonvarna case arguably only affects a small amount of people, the story is emblematic of a much larger pattern of government indifference, commercial opportunism and a growing sense of suspicion among native people about the impact of mass immigration.

According to the 2016 census, the Republic of Ireland is about 83% white Irish. It’s hard to get historic data on ethnic trends in the country as censuses in the republic have only included a question about ethnicity since 2006. Nonetheless, it can be reasonably assumed based on Ireland’s history, along with a glance at some secondary data, that the majority of Ireland’s non-native population arrived in the country no earlier than the mid 90s or the early 2000s – at a time when Ireland’s economic fortunes took a sharp upward turn. Recent OECD data shows that close to a 3rd of 15 year olds in the Republic of Ireland have an immigrant, non-Irish background. Also although the post-2008 economic downturn saw the numbers of immigrants arriving to the country decrease, post-2016 the numbers have begun to move upwards again.

So Ireland has moved from virtually homogeneous to rapidly more multicultural in the space of only 2 decades. For comparison, the UK, another country facing rapid demographic change, took about 50 years to make the same transformation – with the white British population recorded at about 85% in 2001, with mass immigration having started there around 1950.

The scale of this immigration has unsurprisingly put pressure on the availability of housing, healthcare and school places, as the country’s infrastructure scrambles to catch up with the changes in its population.

Economically, the impact of mass immigration is a mixed affair.
It can be difficult to come by clear-cut data that relates specifically to Ireland, but what we do know is that immigrants have hitherto tended to have higher levels of education than natives, and were primarily attracted to Ireland for reasons of work. Evidence is mixed as to whether or not immigration depresses the wages of Irish natives, and it’s clear that certain industries are more likely to have immigrants working in them than others – such as hospitality and retail. Also, whilst it’s common to hear the benefits of Eastern European migration lauded, immigration from other parts of the world tends to present more problems. For example, a study in 2010 recorded Africans in Ireland were four times more likely to be unemployed than white Irish.

To make up for the apparent dearth of Irish data, media commenters and immigration advocates tend to cite information from the UK and elsewhere as to the economic benefits of immigration.

However, what’s clear there is that not all immigration is equal, and its impact is not felt equally across society. For example in the UK where EU migration brings a net positive to the state purse, non-EU immigration is a net drain; and lower skilled jobs there are more likely to experience wage depression when the share of immigrant workers increases.

Wealthy businesses have long been in favour mass immigration; particularly in the agriculture, meat processing and hospitality industries, where immigrants are often recruited to fill low wage, low skill jobs. Given especially the political influence a number of these industries have in Ireland, it’s perhaps not surprising to see some of the recent things at the policy level; for example the expansion of the right to work for Asylum Seekers, and the creation of hundreds of new work permits for non-EU workers in low skilled work.

However, the Irish public are not so universally enthusiastic about immigration, with many polls over the last decade showing skepticism or outright resistance to immigration from the public at large. One interesting poll in 2017 showed support for immigration and multiculturalism was higher among wealthier people, compared especially to low-income and unemployed people who expressed much more clear disapproval.

But mass migration is not just a matter of profit maximisation for businesses looking for cheap labour. It can also be useful to establishment politicians looking for a ready-made voter base.

Recently Fine Gael minister David Stanton along with politicians from a number of other major political parties attended a conference hosted by the rather official sounding NGO ‘The Immigrant Council of Ireland’. The focus of this conference was the mobilisation of the immigrant vote in Irish elections. In exchange for platitudes about support for diversity and inclusion, Irish politicians are seemingly looking to court en masse the votes of the immigrant populations.

Arguably immigrants provide establishment politicians with a more pliant voter base, disrupting native voting patterns and typically voting for more of the immigration that politicians and businesses appear to want.

For instance, elsewhere in Europe, studies have shown recent immigrants tending to favour more immigration and more ‘diversity’ – i.e. more people like themselves being brought into the society.

However, immigrants are obviously not just passive clients for an aloof political class; they of course are real people with their own concerns, desires and values. Immigrant groups that exist in sufficient numbers in other western countries show, to varying degrees, in-group loyalty to their own community’s interests, using their position to form voter interest blocs, leveraging their collective votes in one manner or another to affect elections and impress their values or culture onto the political landscape of the country that has received them. Thus, little by little, hopes of integration give way to patterns of balkanisation and combative tribal politics.

Whilst immigrant communities have not yet existed in sizeable enough numbers or concentration to swing elections in Ireland, clearly politicians are noticing the demographic trends and the likelihood of them playing a decisive part in the near future.

Regardless, the fractious nature of a multicultural society is already manifesting in Ireland – with areas such as Balbriggan and North Dublin city – once hailed as shining examples of a new ‘diverse’ Ireland, slowly descending into ethnic violence, resentment and crime patterns that are considered too potentially divisive to address honestly and fully.

And so we come to the point where predictions have to be made about the direction the country is heading in. Of course, no one has a crystal ball that can see into the future and any number of things could reverse recent trends. But if they are anything to go by, then the trends do indeed suggest Ireland will be a radically different place by the time most of the people watching this video enter the latter years of their life. In 2005 the then president of Dublin City University reportedly said in a speech, that the Irish could likely become a minority in Ireland by 2050: apparently citing unpublished and unnamed research from the UK. For the Professor, this development would clearly only be positive – boosting the economy and making the country more ‘diverse’. Whether or not any monetary gain would really be worth the price of dispossession from one’s own country, apparently didn’t enter the Professor’s considerations.

As incredible and alarmist as these claims seem, the idea of Ireland becoming majority non-Irish within this century are really not that far-fetched. Differences between average fertility rates of migrant groups and natives, coupled with the observably more youthful age profile of most migrant groups, the relatively small size of the country – especially when compared to the fast expanding populations of migrant-sending countries, and the apparent lack of any political will to reverse current trends are all indications that a momentous transformation is entirely probable.

But none of what is happening in Ireland is actually an isolated occurrence. From the exploitation of Asylum Seekers by profiteering housing providers, the tribalistic manipulating of elections, the failures to integrate newcomers, the disconnect between political elites and the general public on attitudes to immigration, and the looming demographic trends – all these things are happening across the western world. I’ve discussed this in greater detail in other videos, which I’d recommend you watch – but it suffices to say here that the broader political forces – from Europe to America and beyond are all enthusiastically in support of mass immigration, particularly from the 3rd world, to the west; ostensibly as a way to prop up the economies, pensions and welfare states of our aging, low fertility countries and to transform ‘problematically homogeneous’ nations into multi-ethnic, pluralist states.

As elsewhere, Ireland feels the influence of global political entities and multi-national NGOs to admit more people from outside of its borders, promoted on humanitarian grounds. But when viewed in the broader context of changing global demographics and the ideological commitment of immigration advocates to push for more immigration regardless of consequences, it’s not surprising that many view these emotional appeals with cynicism.

Mass immigration to the west has been happening for several decades; but perhaps like never before these wider trends could very well affect the demographics of Ireland.

In the last few years an accelerated wave of migrants has been headed into Europe. In 2015 after German Chancellor Angela Merkel signalled that her country would take in refugees without restriction, an unprecedented number of people began to arrive in the EU via the Mediterranean, across the Turkish border and elsewhere. Germany alone took in 1.1million asylum seekers in 2015, and another 400,000 in 2016. Since then Merkel and others have sought to rewrite EU asylum procedures and redistribute the migrants across the various member states – threatening that EU funding will be withdrawn from those countries that refuse. Nevertheless some EU countries have refused – for example Hungary and the Czech Republic – who say that acquiescence to such mass immigration will fundamentally transform their countries in a way that they are not prepared to accept. One country that has signalled a willingness to participate however is the Republic of Ireland. Despite having no obligation under EU law to take in a quota of migrants, Ireland agreed to take in an initial 4000 people from migrant camps on Europe’s peripheries as well as from UN run camps in Lebanon.

This number however only represents a very tiny fraction of the people who arrived and who continue to arrive as migrants to Europe. And whilst 2015 may have been a peak year, there is no reason to believe the pattern of mass migration to Europe will be changing any time soon. With the EU announcing it will begin processing asylum applications in Africa – before migrants even first travel to Europe, increasing levels of instability in Libya potentially fuelling more migrants coming through that country, and a whole range of political and environmental issues that mean people will continue to leave the 3rd world en masse – it can be reasonably assumed that the migrant wave is far from over. In a recent television appearance, France’s President Macron stated his belief that Europe is entering an ‘unprecedented era of migration’; that will see the population of Africans living in Europe swell from 9 million to as much as 200 million in the next 30 years. In light of incredible statements like this, Ireland’s slavish devotion to the migrant redistribution policies championed by the EU and western European heads of state, should be viewed with a great deal of foreboding.

In what’s perhaps a final strange twist to the story of Irish involvement in the migrant crisis: many of the migrants who’re coming to Europe are being brought by the Irish Navy. Since 2015 a number of Irish naval vessels have been operating in the Mediterranean, often close to the Libyan coastline, and have rescued thousands of migrants journeying from Libya and brought them to European shores. Quite what the Italian and Greek locals who witness Irish military boats bringing endless waves of migrants to their home shores must think of the Irish Navy, is anyone’s guess.

A 2017 report by the U.K.’s House of Lords found the operation that deployed the Irish navy to the Mediterranean had done nothing to dissuade people smugglers or migrants coming from Libya, but may in fact be encouraging them.
So to summarise, in a country where the government were recently caught pushing literal ‘fake news’ – propaganda masqueraded in supposedly free media as independent editorials on the country’s future demographic expansion – it is difficult to trust much of what they communicate or do with regards to arguably the most important issue of our time. The disconnect between what’s promoted by Irish social and political elites, and what is lived and experienced by ordinary people is quite vast.

As easily as one can read the objectives of the Irish political class as being focused on the short-term political and financial gain from immigration, its ramifications are much greater than just elections and economics. Mass immigration of the kind that has hitherto gone largely uncritiqued has the potential to irreversibly transform Ireland.

More than 400 years on from the plantations, Ireland is still feeling the seismic cultural effects created by the importation of another group of people by an indifferent ruling class for economic and political ends. How much more seismic then will the effects be of settling untold numbers of people from considerably more alien cultures than the Scots and English ever were? Could Ireland even prepare for these effects even if it wanted to? Until this most important of issues enters serious discussion in our public life, we may never know how prepared we are and may never get the chance to overturn the policies that are making it happen. For as dire as the projections are, nothing is set in stone, nothing is yet irreversible; and Ireland’s transformation is not yet complete.

 

Sources:
https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/new-direct-provision-centre-in-clare-after-30-rise-in-asylum-seeker-applications-829379.html
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/lisdoonvarna-says-no-to-plan-for-115-asylum-seekers-to-move-into-town-36664275.html
http://www.clare.fm/news/contract-signed-lisdoonvarna-direct-provision-centre/
RIA Monthly Report December 2017 – http://www.ria.gov.ie/en/RIA/RIA%20Monthly%20Report%20December%202017.pdf/Files/RIA%20Monthly%20Report%20December%202017.pdf
http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/republic-ireland/statistics
http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/a-nation-of-welcomes-assessing-the-republic-of-ireland-s-record-on-asylum-and-immigration
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/twothirds-of-failed-asylum-seekers-had-used-false-identities-26855916.html
https://www.esri.ie/publications/monitoring-report-on-integration-2016/
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/legal-case-to-expose-the-degrading-treatment-of-asylum-seekers-30319663.html
https://www.thejournal.ie/direct-provision-working-group-2737653-Apr2016/
https://www.rte.ie/eile/brainstorm/2018/0123/935294-all-change-for-asylum-seekers/
Seanad and dáil debates on opting into the Reception Directive:
https://beta.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad/2018-01-23/9/
https://beta.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2018-01-23/30/
McMahon report:
http://dorasluimni.org/progress-of-mcmahon-report-recommendations/
http://humanrights.ie/tag/mcmahon-report/
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013L0033
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/oireachtas/government-defeated-in-seanad-on-private-member-s-refugee-bill-1.3284829
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/refugees-separated-from-family-suffer-depression-and-loneliness-1.3417418
https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad/2017-11-08/12/
View at Medium.com
https://www.newstalk.com/Over-4200-people-are-seeking-asylum-in-Ireland-Heres-where-they-live
https://www.thesun.ie/news/2271781/hotelier-opening-direct-provision-centre-for-asylum-seekers-in-clare-has-conviction-for-illegally-employing-migrants/
Marcus White RTÉ radio interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G-ivlbFisM
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/state-asylum-cases-earned-exministers-wife-1m-29908349.html
David Stanton RTÉ Prime Time interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J990ZK3xnmA
http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-cp8iter/p8iter/p8e/
https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/9789264292093-en.pdf?expires=1526429401&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=7C7A583C2F99D6A02AB1B83A568DD828
https://www.thejournal.ie/migration-increase-2943445-Aug2016/
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/david-quinn/huge-scale-of-immigration-is-making-our-housing-crisis-worse-35498057.html
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/health-service-will-have-to-deal-with-extra-1-000-000-people-by-2030-1.3268712
https://www.herald.ie/news/over-half-on-housing-list-are-foreign-27973856.html
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migration/eu-migration-boost-public-coffers-in-most-of-europe-study-idUSKBN1GY053
https://www.atlanticphilanthropies.org/research-reports/report-migrants-and-irish-economy
https://www.esri.ie/news/ethnicity-and-nationality-in-the-irish-labour-market/
Estimating the Impact of Immigration on wages in ireland https://www.tcd.ie/Economics/assets/pdf/dp4472.pdf
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/european-immigrants-contribute-5bn-to-uk-economy-but-non-eu-migrants-cost-118bn-9840170.html
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/12063052/Mass-migration-driving-down-wages-offered-to-British-jobseekers.html
‘Biten by the Celtic Tiger’ https://aran.library.nuigalway.ie/xmlui/handle/10379/2078
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/agri-business/agri-food/meat-processors-on-collision-course-with-unions-over-plans-to-recruit-2000-noneu-workers-36721387.html
https://www.rte.ie/news/2018/0514/963430-work-permit-scheme/
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ireland-immigration-poll/majority-of-irish-want-immigration-curbed-poll-idUSLA8125420080910
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/attitudes-on-immigration-harden-since-crash-poll-suggests-1.2194158
https://www.irishcentral.com/news/politics/poll-suggests-people-in-ireland-would-support-trump-s-immigration-bans
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/negative-attitudes-towards-immigrants-coming-into-ireland-revealed-in-new-report-36754592.html
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/unemployed-and-lowpaid-resistant-to-immigration-35482822.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/fine-gael-senator-calls-for-day-to-honour-immigrants-to-ireland-1.3488409
http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/resources/briefings/uk-public-opinion-toward-migration-determinants-of-attitudes/
Are Immigrants in Favour of Immigration? Evidence from England and Wales http://www.aiel.it/Old/bacheca/Pisa/papers/Waqas.pdf
Dual Allegiances? Immigrants’ Attitudes toward Immigration http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/678388
https://www.cato.org/survey-reports/state-free-speech-tolerance-america
With Dutch-Islamist ‘Denk’ Party, Immigrants Rebel Against Assimilation
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ed-miliband/11570745/The-price-that-Ed-Miliband-is-prepared-to-pay-to-win-the-Muslim-vote.html
https://www.dublinlive.ie/news/dublin-news/tyrrelstown-residents-fight-back-against-12958624
https://www.herald.ie/news/balbriggan-teen-gang-terror-forces-200-into-protest-36368874.html
https://www.dublinlive.ie/news/dublin-news/fears-mob-rule-north-dublin-14179739
https://www.thesun.ie/news/2048259/schoolboy-gangs-who-are-terrorising-west-dublin-locals-and-targeting-taxi-drivers-being-left-to-run-amok-by-gardai/
https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/editorial/warning-signs-on-racism-1.3448199
https://www.irishcentral.com/culture/is-ireland-a-racist-society-many-immigrants-there-believe-so
http://www.ibtimes.com/ireland-warmly-welcomes-obamas-black-african-immigrants-not-so-much-1310105
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/irish-could-be-minority-ethnic-group-here-by-2050-professor-1.424517
http://www.childrensrights.ie/sites/default/files/submissions_reports/files/Immigration%26Citizenship_0.pdf
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/18/swedish-private-housing-sector-refugees
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/11/election-fraud-allowed-to-take-place-in-muslim-communities-becau/
The Death of the Most Generous Nation on Earth
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/western-europe/failure-multiculturalism
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/23/baby-crisis-europe-brink-depopulation-disaster
https://sg.news.yahoo.com/ageing-europe-needs-immigration-eu-foreign-affairs-chief-144748453.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/hsbc-eu-migration-note-europe-needs-immigrants-for-to-pay-pensions-raise-tax-receipts-and-increase-the-workforce-2015-10
https://www.thelocal.de/20131126/germany-needs-more-immigration
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2012/07/europe_is_facing_a_demographic_crisis_that_will_threaten_the_continent_s_prosperity_unless_it_opens_itself_to_mass_immigration_.html
https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/why-migration-to-ireland-should-be-encouraged-1.3157810
https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/ireland-rapid-immigration-recession/
Peter Sutherland taling to the U.K. House of Lords https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaZ7FDr7hD0
Ronit Lentin – Ireland: Racial state and crisis racism https://www.academia.edu/777786/Ireland_Racial_State_and_Crisis_Racism
http://www.nascireland.org/about/our-funders/
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-06/germany-says-about-1-1-million-asylum-seekers-arrived-in-2015
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/29/germany-quota-system-eu-migrant-distribution
http://www.breitbart.com/london/2018/02/23/merkel-eu-funds-third-world-migration/
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/9/11/eastern-european-countries-reject-migrant-quotas.html
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/irish-refugee-opt-in-sets-us-apart-from-britain-and-denmark-1.2347107
http://www.france24.com/en/20170828-paris-summit-urge-migrants-refugees-apply-asylum-before-europe-hotspots
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/25/january-sees-rise-in-number-of-people-reaching-italy-from-libya
http://time.com/4024210/climate-change-migrants/
http://www.breitbart.com/london/2018/04/17/macron-europe-migration-destiny-africa/
http://www.newstalk.com/Mediterranean-rescused-migrants-refugees-Irish-Naval-Service-Ireland-Paul-Kehoe
https://navaltoday.com/2015/07/21/le-niamh-rescues-256-migrants/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/11/eu-anti-migrant-naval-mission-med-failure-lords-report-finds/
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/martin-attacks-dubious-2040-media-deal-c6wtq772d
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/make-2040-ads-look-like-real-news-papers-told-kq20xcs67

Photo credits:
Spire at night – Sam Nabi
Dublin street – Paolo Trabattoni
Bobby Sands mural – Jennifer Boyer
Loyalist mural – Richard Leeming

Cheddar Man: Science as Propaganda

So you’ve probably seen this story in the news. Ahead of an upcoming documentary for the UK’s Channel 4, researchers released images of a facial reconstruction for the ancient human remains known as ‘Cheddar Man’. Cheddar Man is a roughly 10,000 year old skeleton found in a cave in Somerset in England, at the start of the 20th century. It dates back to a time when the ice sheets had receded from much of Europe, Britain and Ireland were still attached to continental Europe, and groups of people were slowly migrating into the still new land.

Researchers have extracted DNA from the remains, and from that have been able to determine a number of things about who the Cheddar Man was. Fascinating though it is, ordinarily such a story wouldn’t really get the sort of reach that this one has had in news media and elsewhere. What’s made this story stand out is just how dark-skinned the reconstructed face of Cheddar Man has been portrayed. This, along with statements in the media effectively saying this research ‘redefines’ what it means to be British or European, has not surprisingly stirred controversy.
There are reasons to be sceptical about this story – both about the announced findings and, even more so, the way the findings are being used to advance a particular narrative about our own time.

First of all, it’s worth noting that the researchers held off publishing their full findings, and instead waited till after the broadcast of the accompanying documentary. Nonetheless, the conclusion seems to be that Cheddar Man was a Western Hunter Gatherer – a group of people who lived in Europe after the last Ice Age, who it’s reasonably believed had darker skin than the modern day European. This is supposed on the basis that genetic information obtained from other Western Hunter Gatherer fossils indicate they lacked a couple of genes almost universally possessed by modern Europeans, that are linked to decreased skin pigmentation (SLC24A5 & SLC45A2). However, skin and hair pigment are known to be a product of a number of genes interacting with one another, rather than just single isolated genes. The absence of these genes by itself might not be an indication that Western Hunter Gatherers were dark skinned, for instance, East Asians also lack the aforementioned genes, yet still have a somewhat light skin pigment. Certainly, based on the demands of the climate and environment – for example, decreased sunlight and therefore decreased availability of Vitamin D – it’s reasonable to presume Cheddar Man and his relatives might not have survived very long if they had skin as dark as the reconstruction portrays. Early refutations of some of the data so far released also seems to suggest a skin-tone nearer olive or brown might’ve been more accurate. Further, very dark skin – as one finds in Nigeria and Sudan for instance, is associated with an additional gene (MFSD12) that increases Eumelanin production in such populations’ skin. As yet, there has been no mention of this gene in relation to Cheddar Man or Western Hunter Gatherers.

Some recent studies have suggested very fair skin may be an adaptation that arose in Europeans as recent as the Neolithic Period. The theory goes that the switch from a Hunter Gatherer diet, heavy in oily fish, to an agricultural Neolithic diet probably resulted in people receiving less dietary Vitamin D. This would’ve created a selection pressure for fairer skin – which would more readily absorb Vitamin D from sunlight. There are caveats that I could add here, but I’ll avoid that so as not to get too bogged down in what is ultimately a side issue. If accurate, all this speaks to is the relative rapidity with which our European ancestors adapted to the environment of the time, and became something that would resemble an ethnic European of our present time. In light of this, it’s not surprising that Cheddar Man might not have looked, for instance, like a stereotypical modern Scandinavian.
Which leads me to the next thing to note: Most modern day Europeans, including, of course, the British and the Irish, derive at most only 10% of their ancestry from the group that Cheddar Man was a part of: Western Hunter Gatherers. Later migrations from the East of the continent in the Neolithic and Bronze ages saw massive upheavals to Europe’s population – as groups of fair skinned people, 10s of thousands of years removed genetically from Cheddar Man and his people, all but replaced them. It’s these later migrations that modern Europeans are primarily descended from.

The next thing to note is that despite the likelihood of his skin being darker than modern Europeans, Cheddar Man was neither African nor ‘black’ in the sense that most people use the term: i.e. basically to mean Sub-Saharan African (although sometimes the term is used to describe Australian Aborigines as well). This is contrary to statements made in the Natural History Museum’s initial press release that might lead one to think he was African, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Cheddar Man is approximately 10,000 years old. The ancestors of both Europeans and Asians diverged from Africans about 60,000 years ago – whilst Europeans diverged again from East Asians about 40,000 years ago. Also, in any meaningful sense, the only living peoples with any notable genetic similarity to Western Hunter Gatherers are European. And just to further the point that modern Europeans are not in any notable way descended from Africans, after diverging from them 60,00 years ago: the following map shows the amount of admixture from Africa in modern European populations. As you can see, it’s effectively negligible – below 0.5% for instance in the British isles, where Cheddar Man was found.

This leads me quite neatly to the core point of this video. For as interesting as the science is, the real heart of this story is how it has been used to advance a particular political narrative about our present day relating to mass immigration and multiculturalism, and to dishonestly deconstruct the identity of Europeans. It’s probably not surprising to see this from low-T Bug-men news outlets like Salon.com or The Young Turks, but this narrative has also been picked up by state funded news outlets like the BBC. Even more unfortunately, the same line has arguably been advanced by some of the scientists involved with the initial project.
Here in the original press release from the Natural History Museum, Cheddar Man is misleadingly described as having markers for skin-pigmentation associated with Sub-Saharan Africa – whilst also described basically as typical of the European population of the time. As we’ve already seen, this first point is not accurate, but it has formed a cornerstone of the narrative about Cheddar Man advanced by various news media organisations. It’s perhaps worth bearing in mind that this press release wasn’t written by a researcher or geneticist from the Cheddar Man project, but was written by a ‘digital content manager’ with a background in marketing and communication – so the description could quite easily just be a mistake.

One thing we’ve been told by the press is that Cheddar Man was ‘the First Briton’, and that the first Britons were, by implication, Black African immigrants! Conveniently, this overlooks that Cheddar Man is not even the earliest example of a fossilised human in Britain. His may be the oldest nearly-complete human skeleton in the British Isles, but there are in fact a number of much older, less complete human remains that have been found – such as the so-called ‘Red Lady of Paviland’ which is 34,00 years old, and remains that were found in the same location as Cheddar Man, that date back 4,000 years earlier him. So assertions such as this by the Express, are in this sense at least false. Also dubious are these from Sky News and The Independent that assert Cheddar Man was ‘a modern Briton’, without offering a particularly convincing qualification of what exactly makes one a ‘modern’ Briton. Also, we’ve already seen that at least 90% of the ancestry of people in the British isles is unrelated to the group Cheddar Man comes from – so calling him a ‘Briton’ in this sense is a bit tenuous.

But the narrative that has been pushed relies on the impression that the nations of the British isles were founded by non-white people; that the perceived Britishness or Irishness etc of the people who, until a few decades ago, were regarded as its indigenous inhabitants – is nothing but a flimsy falsehood clung-to by racists and remnants of a brutal colonial era.

Along with this have been opinion pieces that have chided so-called ‘white supremacists’ – whose entire sense of ‘whiteness’, is now, they claim, undermined; and pieces from non-white people, whose ancestors emigrated to Europe less than a century ago, that tell us how much more welcome, and apart of things they now feel after seeing Cheddar Man’s swarthy visage. Part of this a naive conflation of skin colour with ‘race’, which is excessively simplistic, especially when looking at ancient populations.

The ultimate conclusion one is supposed to draw from all of this is that, effectively, Britain and Ireland and Europe more generally, have always been multicultural: there have always been brown people here – i.e. there have always been Africans and South Asians and so on in Europe, indeed these people were here BEFORE white people – therefore the modern equivalents of such people have as much right, if not more, to be in Europe as anybody who sees themselves as ‘white European’ – which by the way is, just a ‘social construct’, of course.

This narrative is not a not-so-subtle accompaniment to the mass immigration to the west that I have discussed in other videos, and is obviously intended to justify and disarm European people’s opposition to it, by undermining their sense of distinctness and sense of belonging to a place and culture.

None of which, by the way, is meant to imply a grand conspiracy of behalf of the media or the researchers, but is an indictment of the morals and values that have taken seed in our culture. It is also a criticism of the nakedly political editorial polices of major broadcasters and news outlets, that are committed to the notion that diversity is a ‘strength’, multiculturalism is a self-evident good, and the determination that any notions of identity or homogeneity among European peoples must be undermined – for fear that they will lead to another genocide or imperial order being enforced upon non-white people.

All of this may seem quite absurd and a bit difficult to take in, particularly if you’re not used to looking critically at the worldview that many of us have absorbed through mass media, academia and so on. So I’d like to look quickly at a piece of media that I feel illustrates nearly of what I’m saying here. Here’s a discussion from Channel 4 news, that followed on from a report about Cheddar Man.

It’s true to say that simplistic narratives don’t work in the context of population genetics or the study of ancient peoples: but this does not mean we should shrug our shoulders and uncritically accepted fashionable platitudes about diversity. To state that ‘race is a social construct’ in the middle of a discussion about genetic discoveries, is simply a genuflection to the political zeitgeist – and we must not forget that ‘multiculturalism’ is itself a simplistic narrative, propped up against strawmen arguments of ‘white supremacy’ and ‘racial purity’, which no one really believes in.
To be fair to the documentary itself, it does have moments where it clarifies one or two things that have been misconstrued in the media hype, but it still parrots a simplistic multicultural narrative about our present time right from the very start of the film.

The idea that any of what has been found out about Cheddar Man, or the prehistoric populations of Europe more generally, invalidates the concept of race or the sense of identity held by Europeans – is absurd. If anything, the fact that we are able to analyze even the DNA of long dead individuals, document their traits and place them within a context of other populations, REINFORCES the idea of biological heredity – at a level even finer than the commonly understood broad racial categories.

If we should draw any political lessons from the tale of Cheddar Man – perhaps it’s that the power of migration to rewrite the ethnic and cultural landscape of a place is immense. Migration brings with it population upheavals, and whilst it is by no means a constant throughout history, it has been the catalyst for massive historic turning points.

—–

Sources:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-first-brit-the-10000-year-old-man

How Cheddar Man Flips British Identity
https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/opinions/how-cheddar-man-flips-british-identity-jones/index.html

The genome of “Cheddar Man” is about to be published
https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2018/02/06/the-genome-of-cheddar-man-is-about-to-be-published/

Map of Ala111Thr allele frequency
By FonsScientiae – Own work based on the Yale School of Medicine’s ALlele FREquency Database, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27455242

Vitamin D deficiency among Africans
https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/immigrants-from-africa-are-they-aware-of-vitamin-d-deficiency/

contentions about conclusions drawn from Cheddar Man’s DNA data
https://anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?13384-Blue-eyed-dark-skinned-earliest-modern-Briton&p=350270&viewfull=1#post350270

skin/hair type analysis (based on modern populations)
https://hirisplex.erasmusmc.nl
http://meeting.physanth.org/program/2017/session33/walsh-2017-the-prediction-of-human-pigmentation-phenotypes-from-dna-for-forensic-and-anthropological-usage.html

Genes for Skin Color Rebut Dated Notions of Race, Researchers Say

How Farming Reshaped Our Genomes
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/01/how-farming-reshaped-our-genomes

Molecular Phylogeography of a Human Autosomal Skin Color Locus Under Natural Selection
http://www.g3journal.org/content/3/11/2059.full

Modern Europe’s Genetic History Starts in Stone Age
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130423-european-genetic-history-dna-archaeology-science/

Neolithic mitochondrial haplogroup H genomes and the genetic origins of Europeans
https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2656?WT.ec_id=NCOMMS-20130423

Nomadic herders left a strong genetic mark on Europeans and Asians
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/06/nomadic-herders-left-strong-genetic-mark-europeans-and-asians

Tracing the tangled tracks of humankind’s evolutionary journey
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/feb/12/tracing-the-tangled-tracks-of-humankinds-evolutionary-journey

Distribution maps of autosomal admixtures in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa
https://eupedia.com/europe/autosomal_maps_dodecad.shtml

Europeans descended from 2 main groups
https://www.nature.com/news/ancient-european-genomes-reveal-jumbled-ancestry-1.14456

Cheddar Man ‘shows Britain has hosted migrants a lot longer than we think’
https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/cheddar-man-%E2%80%98shows-britain-has-hosted-migrants-a-lot-longer-than-we-think%E2%80%99/ar-BBJcUlK

Cheddar Man is “black”! Another racial panic for white supremacists
https://www.salon.com/2018/02/12/cheddar-man-is-black-another-racial-panic-for-white-supremacists/

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/07/first-modern-britons-dark-black-skin-cheddar-man-dna-analysis-reveals

Twitter reacts to Cheddar Man’s dark skin and blue eyes
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-42976121

‘Cheddar Man’ Britain’s Black Ancestor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w172vr0slsv5z1f

Cheddar Man Press Release
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/cheddar-man-mesolithic-britain-blue-eyed-boy.html

Cheddar Man FAQ
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science/our-work/origins-evolution-and-futures/human-adaptation-diet-disease/cheddar-man-faq.html

Red Lady of Paviland
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/apr/25/paviland-cave-red-lady

The cannibals of Gough’s Cave
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/the-cannibals-of-goughs-cave.html

First Irish populations had dark skin similar to Cheddar Man, DNA research suggests
https://www.thejournal.ie/cheddar-man-irish-dark-skin-3840186-Feb2018/

After Cheddar Man: How the mongrel English found their home during the Dark Ages
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/cheddar-man-english-people-country-england-romans-saxons-celtic-vikings-a8205371.html

After the discovery of Cheddar Man, white supremacists should eat their hearts out
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/cheddar-man-first-briton-womens-rights-votes-brexit-gig-economy-a8199171.html

‘Suck on that Richard Spencer’: Internet reacts to news that first Brit could have been black
https://www.rt.com/uk/418148-cheddar-man-twitter-reaction/

Thanks to Cheddar Man, I feel more comfortable as a brown Briton
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/12/cheddar-man-brown-briton-national-identity-white-skin

Response to the Guardian piece ‘Thanks to Cheddar Man I feel more comfortable as a brown Briton’.
https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2018/02/15/white-modern-northern-europeans-are-genetically-more-like-brown-south-asians-than-brownish-ancient-northern-europeans-were/

Controversial ‘Problem of Whiteness’ course reintroduced at UW-Madison
http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/40421/

Yale University teaches students ‘counternarratives around whiteness’
http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/42121/

Abolish the White Race
https://harvardmagazine.com/2002/09/abolish-the-white-race.html

Stanford University Introduces Course on ‘Abolishing Whiteness’
http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/08/11/stanford-university-introduces-course-on-abolishing-whiteness/

The Irish are not a diverse population
https://www.thejournal.ie/ancestry-gaelic-irish-3744043-Dec2017/

lots of worldwide, recent (holocene – 11,700 years ago) adaptations in different racial/geographic groups – including metabolism, serotonin transporters, female immuno-response to sperm, sperm protein and motility, hair, skin, bone structure and more. Distinctness, though perhaps relatively new, is not arbitrary
http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.0040072

The Truth About Band Aid/Live Aid and the Ethiopian Famine

So the Christmas season is almost over, and for another year at least, the shops and radio stations are putting all the awful Christmas music away. By no means am I Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, and there’s many a beautiful Christmas carol that it’s heartwarming to hear at this time of year. But one song I’ll definitely be glad to see the back of – other than that terrible John Lennon song – will be ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ by saint Geldof, saint Bono and a pantheon of other 1980s celebrities – all brought together under the banner of ‘Band Aid’.

For those that don’t know, Band Aid was a charity single put together in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure: the idea being to get as many famous people together as possible, to all sing on one track – then use the money raised from the sale of that single to help relieve a famine that had hit Ethiopia.

Famously, Geldof says he got the inspiration to put Band Aid together after watching a BBC news report, filmed in Ethiopia at an apparent camp set up for the victims of a drought-induced famine. Following shortly after the single’s success a mega-concert was organised: Live Aid – which took place in both London and Philadelphia simultaneously, featured even more famous performers than the single recording, and was again set up with the aim of raising money for the Ethiopian famine. More than a hundred and fifty thousand people attended the two concerts and as many as 2 billion people world-wide watched it on television.

Since then the song has been re-recorded multiple times by various flavour-of-the-moment pop stars and other concerts have been put on – always with the more-or-less nebulous goal of helping the sick and the starving in Africa. In total, Live Aid and Band Aid combined have raised almost $200 million, and have potentially influenced governments to donate countless billions more.

Few, if any, Christmas songs have transcended the season and had the cultural impact that the Band Aid single has. Indeed, Band Aid, Live Aid and the mid 80s Ethiopian famine have all collectively entered into the mythos of our society, in much the same way the 2nd world war has: a massive event whose influence echoes through our politics and social discourse, and symbolises the core values our alienated and increasingly fractious society upholds.

This was the moment being a celebrity went from meaning someone who was a popular performer, to someone whose fame transfigured them, deity-like into a person whose utterances, however uninformed, were treated like pearls of wisdom that everyone from the powerful to the poor sought. This was the moment Africa became synonymous with images of starving children, perpetually in need of more money from charity and aid programs; and the moment when uncritically transferring wealth to the 3rd world became a moral good in and of itself for western people.

But what is the legacy of Band Aid? Was it really the moment of great moral sanctification people thought it was? And How is Ethiopia faring today?

Let’s answer the latter question first.

At the time of Band Aid, the population of Ethiopia was approx. 40 million. By 2016, Ethiopia’s population had more than doubled to over 100 million.

Although a recent modernisation of farming methods has increased food production, more than 80% of Ethiopians are still subsistence farmers cultivating crops prone to failure in drought. As many as 30 million Ethiopians live in ‘extreme poverty’ – almost as much as the entire population of the country at the time of Band Aid – and malnutrition remains a serious and costly problem.

The country’s exploding population, coupled with climate change, soil erosion and other environmental factors, has meant the spectre of famine has not gone away for Ethiopia, but instead looms larger than ever before.

What’s more, the country has become dependent on food aid in a way that has been compared to a patient who becomes addicted to painkillers. That dependence on food aid also weakens the country’s food security – how reliably it can feed its own people, exacerbating its vulnerability in times of drought or famine.

Unsurprisingly, by 2016/2017, the threat of catastrophic famine in Ethiopia had returned to the headlines, after severe drought hit across the horn of Africa, causing crops to fail and animal herds to die out. In Ethiopia alone, as many as 10 million people were affected by famine in 2016 and more than 7 million in 2017 needed food aid.

As Ethiopia’s population grows, these issues just become larger and larger. Yet the country’s population growth shows no sign of stopping. Roughly 2 million more people are added to its total every year, whilst Ethiopian women currently have an average of 4.3 children – admittedly, a fall from the high of 7.4 children, at the time of Band Aid, but still more than enough for the country to continue growing throughout this century.

The aid the west gives to Ethiopia, and other African countries, contributes not only to its lack of economic self sufficiency, but stunts any attempts to overcome that lack of self-sufficiency and fuels the population growth that makes the challenges of infrastructure, education, food and so on that much more difficult to surmount.

But drought and famine are not a new phenomena for Ethiopia. Numerous famines have been recorded in the country since at least the 1500s; many of them devastating, many of them horrifying to those who observed them. The harsh environment and the subsistence nature of the lifestyle led by the overwhelming majority of people in Ethiopia has meant the country has inevitably see-sawed between periods of stability and periods of scarcity.

So what was different about the famine in 1984? Well, for perhaps the first time, the growth of mass media meant the entire world could bear witness to the carnage. Wealthy westerners, whose lives were orders of magnitude more comfortable than those of the Ethiopians they saw in the media, felt both outrage and impotence before the suffering. So, many of them determined to assuage those feelings of discomfort and vicarious guilt, and set about addressing the problem in the simplest way the saw: ‘people are hungry, so buy them food’. This is where the likes of Band Aid step into the picture, offering people a way to raise money and feel a sense of participation in the act of ‘saving’ Ethiopia.

However, beyond the inability to foresee long-term complexities, like those already outlined, Geldof and the other Band Aid organisers failed to address the complexities of the situation as it existed at the time – sometimes WILLFULLY ignoring these complexities, instead presenting a simplistic vision of ‘human suffering’ that could be sold to a public ready to buy into ostentatious acts of virtue signalling.

The famine in Ethiopia during the mid-80s was not entirely the result of environmental catastrophe – but was perhaps largely the product of actions taken by the communist regime who ruled Ethiopia at the time, and the civil war they were waging against various rebel groups. Failed economic policies coupled with deliberate napalming of farms in rebel areas worsened the conditions that the drought had created. A refusal by the regime to allow food aid into rebel held areas turned starvation into a weapon of total war, and the forced resettlement of people by the government led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

The massive amounts of aid brought into the country as result of Band Aid and other funding drives, may in fact have provided a pretext for the regime to speed up its program of resettlement; with many people tempted into aid camps on the promise of food, then facing forced relocation at the hands of waiting government forces.
Though not specifically related to Band Aid, substantial evidence exists also that food and monetary aid were diverted by government and insurgent forces for use in the purchase of arms and other military hardware. Declassified CIA documents, and a controversial report by the BBC allude to this.

Geldof, Band Aid, and the numerous other aid organisations operating in the country at the time were by no means ignorant to these complexities, but chose neither to communicate them to the public nor to cease their operations in the country. Only Medecin Sans Frontiers at the time pulled their aid workers out of the country, citing a refusal to collaborate in the terrible situation they saw unfolding.
When confronted, Geldof has typically scolded critics for the indignity and immorality of daring to question his competence or his objectives, using the very fact that he ‘intended’ to do ‘good’ as though it were a shield to deflect criticism.

As grim as it may seem, there may be no real humanitarian answer to persistent famine in areas such as Ethiopia. The more the west intervenes with aid, the more the population grows, the more people there are struggling to feed themselves in an area that has limited capacity to sustain them.

With each famine, the situation becomes more precarious for more people, and with each intervention of western aid, more people are born who will amplify the problems of starvation and suffering. All of this also facilitates mass migration from the 3rd world into the west – bringing new problems into the countries and lives of the very people who donated their money in the hope of making the world better.

The legacy of Band Aid is hard to understate. Third world aid became a fashionable cause, rock stars became political figures, donating to Africa became synonymous with doing good. Suddenly, consumerism became moral – the public could participate in redemptive acts of good merely by watching television, attending a concert or purchasing a record by their favourite artists.
In an age that is spiritually empty – where fewer and fewer people express a belief in god, and fewer still understand the morals and values that they base their lives upon – things like Band Aid, showy acts of public charitability towards people one secretly perceives as lesser beings than themselves, are a way to temporarily fill that emptiness and distract from the dissonance created by a lifestyle and value system that connect little with reality.
Few other Christmas songs arguably have ever had the impact that the Band Aid song has had. Few others have ever summed up a zeitgeist, let alone one as rotten as our modern age, like this one song. The folly of our foreign policy, our naivety about those outside the west, our obsession with vacuous celebrities and the sheer superficiality of our conception of what is ‘good’ – all are embodied by this one song. Thankfully we’ve heard the end of it, for at least another year.

——–

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_They_Know_It%27s_Christmas%3F

View at Medium.com

“In the contemporary cultural narrative, Live Aid was arguably the most important music happening since Woodstock”
http://time.com/3955010/live-aid-30th-anniversary/

Ethiopia Population 1985: 40.8 million
Ethiopia population 2016: 102.4 million
https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=ET

Ethiopia Fertility rate:
https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN?end=2015&locations=ET&start=1960&view=chart

2014, 30% of Ethiopia lives in ‘extreme poverty’
https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/21323

“2015 report, food production quadrupled due to irrigation projects”
https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/world/2015/07/10/29950737

https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21693624-governments-achievements-appear-increasingly-precarious-edge

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4671690.stm

https://sites.tufts.edu/jha/archives/1754

16.5% GDP lost to malnutrition
https://www.unicef.org/ethiopia/FINAL_Ethiopia_-_COHA_Summary_Report_June_20_24pg_72dpi.pdf

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/ethiopia/10083186/Ethiopias-lasting-legacy-of-famine.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/world/2016/02/22/history-repeats-itself-in-ethiopia

https://www.forbes.com/sites/unicefusa/2017/06/05/how-a-changing-climate-hurts-children-and-contributes-to-famine/

For God’s sake please stop the Aid: http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/spiegel-interview-with-african-economics-expert-for-god-s-sake-please-stop-the-aid-a-363663.html
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123758895999200083

Azarenert – Foreign Aid, Fertility & Population Growth
https://www.biu.ac.il/soc/ec/wp/2009-12.pdf

BBC report on aid money being used to buy arms in Ethiopia (and editorial response):
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2010/03/ethiopia.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/comp-reports/ecu/ecu_bandaidmoneydonatedethiopia

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/07/live-aid-anniversary/398402/?UTM_SOURCE=yahoo

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/jun/24/g8.debtrelief

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1394154/Live-Aids-corrosive-legacy-David-Cameron-UKs-overseas-aid-budget.html

Live Aid: The Terrible Truth: https://www.spin.com/featured/live-aid-the-terrible-truth-ethiopia-bob-geldof-feature/

REPORT: How aid underwrites repression in Ethiopia: https://www.hrw.org/report/2010/10/19/development-without-freedom/how-aid-underwrites-repression-ethiopia

Africa’s population boom fuels ‘unstoppable’ migration to Europe: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-africa-analysis/africas-population-boom-fuels-unstoppable-migration-to-europe-idUSKCN12D1PN

“Fast-rising populations degrade economic and agricultural resiliency; add a recession or drought and the human consequences magnify.”: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/15/sunday-review/overpopulated-and-underfed-countries-near-a-breaking-point.html

history of famine in Ethiopia: https://ecadforum.com/2015/11/24/a-historical-reflection-on-famine-in-ethiopia/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famines_in_Ethiopia

2017 ethiopia facing famine: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/05/01/ethiopia-is-facing-a-killer-drought-but-its-going-almost-unnoticed/?utm_term=.f24d760cb391
authoritarianism to blame according to huffpo https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawit-ayele-haylemariam/the-cause-ethiopias-recurrent-famine_b_8019244.html

What is the Real America?

 

With the recent controversy surrounding the NFL ‘take a knee’ protests and the scandals currently emerging out of Hollywood, I’ve noticed American people are beginning to ask quite deep questions of themselves – questioning whether the culture they believed themselves to be part of really exists in the way they’d always thought it did. Different people, supposedly part of the same body politic, view these events in irreconcilably different ways.

Leftists and black people perceive the NFL protests as the valiant stance of an oppressed people, whilst the white, right-leaning, predominantly non-coastal dwelling population sees it an entirely different way – as an insult to the very symbols that represent their culture. Hollywood, and the culture that has been built around the entertainment industry – the very people responsible for managing and filtering the way Americans see the world, managed to run for decades on a system of vice, exploitation and corruption, the like of which seems incomprehensibly ghastly to the average, home-making American.

American people are questioning whether their culture really is as cohesive and united as they once thought, or whether there may, in fact, be multiple Americas, each a reflection of the different cultures, ethnic groups and social classes that make up the USA.

As an outsider to America, who nonetheless falls within the cultural hegemon of the USA, I’d like to make an observation about two versions of America that I see; two Americas whose existence are fundamentally at odds with one another. Let’s call one: America; and the other: Murica.

America is made up of the actual people that live in the country and form a continuity from its 17th century colonial founders. It consists of their traditions, their values, their families, their way of life and its relationship to the landscape and environment.

Murica is a media constructed fantasy.

It is patriotism and community expressed through substitutes like watching professional sports, and a sense of nationhood that relies on hollywood and corporate media for its mythology. It’s archetype is the urbanite tech worker, happily providing web support for facebook whilst consuming soy lattes and stars wars memorabilia. It has no real rooting in a people or place, thus signals universality over loyalty or heritage. It is a giant cultural supermarket.

Murica is phrases like ‘a nation of immigrants’ ‘land of opportunity’, Murica is Zangwill’s melting pot and Emma Lazarus’ latterly added inscription on the statue of liberty beckoning the worlds ‘tired, and poor’ to the country’s shores.

America is the Mayflower, the exclusive 1790 immigration act, a spirit of self-reliance and family values, and a blood connection to the civil war, the war of independence, the pioneers and the Oregon trail.

Conservatives in particular like to think these two Americas are the same thing – Hollywood and George Washington are part of one and the same cultural lineage. Leftists, increasingly, notice the disconnect, but do not look fondly on the latter or the culture that he represents.

I should note by the way that with this dichotomy I’ve set up I’m not denying that other, parallel Americas exist: for instance there is the America that African-Americans inhabit, and the America that Native Americans inhabit, which despite decades of propagandising and attempted integration, clearly remain separate cultures from that of white America. If anything, Murica is the lie that these disparate and very real elements all exist as one nation – that despite their differences they all ultimately put everything aside and find common identity through watching football, and consuming burgers, light beer and high fructose corn syrup.

I’m also not going to gloss over the fact that the ‘America’ I’ve proposed as a counterpoint to ‘Murica’ is a thoroughly white, gentile construction, that exists in part because of the conquest of other peoples by white European settlers. ‘Murica’ may in recent times have taken to guilt-tripping whites quite heavily for the aggressions and transgressions of their forebears, but it is fundamentally a colour-blind fantasy: one that sees the erasure of ethnic differences and integration as a good above other goods. But the question is: integration in to what? What is the ‘host’ culture that will absorb these different groups and make them one? As well as this, one can ask: is this integration ideal really something being lived out in the lives of the people that make up the present day USA?

The answer to that first question about what culture to integrate all these people into is: a culture of indulgence and atomisation, where an individual does not express their connection to the world through their heritage family or community, but rather through what they consume – through the television programmes they watch, the trendy political causes they champion without any self sacrifice, the food they consume, the holidays they take and the sex they have. The ‘American dream’. To me this sounds more like a living nightmare, and I pin the blame for the pervasive anomie that stalks western culture on this sort of outlook. For although America is a country and a people with borders and a place, Murica is potentially world consuming in its aspirations, with certainly any English-speaking western country now living almost totally under its dreamy spell. For sure, the USA is not the origin of the worldview and values that plague the modern west, but it is certainly its most powerful agent for spreading them.

As to the second question: do most people in America really strive for or act out any desire for integration with the other cultures inhabiting the same land mass: the answer is a resounding ‘no’. An overwhelming number of neighbourhoods throughout the country are majority one ethnicity. The phenomena of ‘white flight’ is testament to the often unconscious desire of white Americans to live away from other ethnic groups, and the hatred African Americans have for ‘gentrification’ speaks to their desire to be away from whites and other groups who would change their communities into something other than what it is.

 

The illusion of Murica is created by the likes of Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood corporate entities. The mythology is woven into the cinema and the artwork of that culture, all of it sustaining the idea of a nation sprung from anti-national ideals. A culture that is headed nowhere in particular, but is committed to a world in which people can follow their individual appetites into whatever personal abyss they choose.

It is from this emptiness that the culture of anti-white masochism we are currently witnessing can spring. When nobody has any personal bonds to a people or a past, it becomes ‘moral’ to show how willing you are to spit upon your roots and signal your devotion to the universal but surface-deep ideals of individual freedom and consumption.

Perhaps I am being a little cynical, and I am overlooking just how much the multiculturalism and bourgeois consumerism of the west is coalescing into a new culture, with new potential in a technologically advanced world. But I sense that the outcome will not be so utopian. What is lost when this becomes our ideal vision of ourselves? Can a community or nation exist whose only points of commonality are shopping, spectator sports and movie-watching?

If the future of a Murica-led west looks like the overweight, oestrogen-laden, Super-hero franchise t shirt wearing shadows-of-men I see shuffling timidly about western cities – then I don’t want it. If America however is to rediscover a sense of itself in this present identity crisis, if it re-learns the hardy but humble values that sustained all European cultures for many generations, then it may project another vision of civilization on to the west, and we may yet wake from the American dream.

 

 

http://wjla.com/news/nation-world/main-stream-media-continue-to-lose-the-publics-trust

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-do-americans-feel-about-the-nfl-protests-it-depends-on-how-you-ask/

http://library.uwb.edu/Static/USimmigration/1790_naturalization_act.html

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/16/politics/blacks-white-racism-united-states-polls/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/06/30/diversity-in-americas-counties-in-5-maps/

https://www.wired.com/2013/08/how-segregated-is-your-city-this-eye-opening-map-shows-you/

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/07/white-flight-alive-and-well/399980/

https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/04/mapping-racial-diversity-by-county/361388/

https://www.brookings.edu/research/melting-pot-cities-and-suburbs-racial-and-ethnic-change-in-metro-america-in-the-2000s/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/cultural-activist-fights-to-preserve-black-art-history-in-gentrifying-southeast-washington/2017/08/14/d4b6435e-7858-11e7-8839-ec48ec4cae25_story.html

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kgnixer/15413845483/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cuboctahedron/22286081694/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fibonacciblue/15076397553/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fibonacciblue/15076254883

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/109799466@N06/32546062345/