Your comment on the behaviour in embassies in developing countries is spot on. A few years ago I spent a year working on a "development" program and my experiences line up with what you say. A few thoughts on that:

The development sector is truly an industry like any other, with a host of veterans and a whole skillset designed to take money from donor agencies and provide them with the write ups and quantified results that allow them to score their programs as a success. I worked in a country with high deforestation rates that have been getting worse for decades. When I began, in an attempt to learn from past efforts I accumulated reports of previous programs that have been run to tackle the problem. There were many, but what was interesting is that not a single one was deemed a failure in the final assessment. 50-60 programs, hundreds of millions spent, 100% success rate, yet deforestation levels were higher than ever...

The program had the usual PMC style objectives - save X hundred thousand of hectares from deforestation in Y years at Z cost per hectare. I worked in an unusual setup in that most of my colleagues were not foreign university educated, or from particularly elite segments of society. We would go on trips into various parts of the country and talk to people involved in and impacted by deforestation. Needless to say it was a complex topic with strong economic incentives and a wide group of interested actors globally. Despite the scale of the problem, every community is unique, every situation different. The more time I spent in the country itself, the more obvious it was that this was not something that should be addressed in a top down manner, and that we were like the drunk man looking for his keys under a light. Taking a 10,000foot view on how to save forests made you in some ways as bad as the deforesters.

My colleagues constantly repeated this, and also bristled at comments from westerners that tended to attribute their country's problem to stupidity, shortsightedness or carelessness (note: despite this they were happy to work in the program due to the pay as well as the opportunity to do _some_ good for some communities at least). The solutions they were most excited by were community specific initiatives, run by locals but limited in their potential scope of impact. Of course they were dismissed out of hand by the donors - these small efforts will never deliver the Xhundred k hectares of protection. As it transpired, only carbon credit schemes can promise such scale of results.

But here is where this story links up with the article.

Sitting in a developing country, the crudeness and inhumanity of ring fencing areas of forest from locals and selling the carbon in them was obvious (even if there is some UBI scheme involved for those communities). It is colonialism of another method. However, once I travelled back home for any period of time and attended conferences where "solutions" were discussed, my revulsion to these big thinking carbon efforts was not as strong. I think the clue lies in the thinking of McGilchrist (mentioned in previous articles), the PMC brain is one that deals in devitalised and abstracted categories - divorced from original meaning or context.

Removed from the far away country, the bureaucratised mindset, that assigns arbitrary values onto overly simplified concepts is easier to accept. Only then can you promote large scale solutions like "carbon credits" without thinking about the reality of such a program on the individual people impacted. Only then can you breeze past the obvious thought experiment on what would happen if you tried to impose the exact same program in the French, English or German countryside. Only then can you construct narrowly logical arguments for a course of action without considering the holistic system that drives the deforestation in the first place (in some cases, different groups within the same western corporate are engaged in deforestation and reforestation efforts).

I think this PMC attitude also plays into the discourse on immigration and culture... the crudeness and simplicity is reminiscent of those deforestation conferences. Abstracted and lacking first hand experience with immigrants, it is possible to project your own views onto them. It is possible to simultaneously champion more immigration in one breath and condemn violence and deprivation in those communities in another. Despite each human being personally complex, and each group and sub group unique, due to abstraction the debate gets collapsed down to jingoistic and simplistic catchphrases and simply quantified numbers.

Immigrants, as estranged as possible, present a much more attractive social problem than long standing native working classes to the PMC mind. The natives cannot be simplified as easily, PMCs may even know a few and are a stark and ugly reminder of the true nature of reality. Being able to now consign these groups as backward racists, and introducing new groups that are deemed more needy removes that problem entirely.

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"It’s true, of course, that Europeans have historically demanded things like decent wages and working conditions, protection of employment and so forth, and immigrants, who have no choice, can usually be coerced into accepting worse. But the idea that mass immigration was only the search for a pliant and exploitable workforce doesn’t really hold up."

No, actually, it does hold up. Mass immigration floods the market with a quasi slave labor which is not just cheap and easy to exploit, but aids in driving down the living standards fought for by generations of domestically born workers. That is the primary reason the ruling class has opted to look the other way at massive unregulated immigration for a generation or more.

Everything that comes after this point in your article is just a massive sophist tangent imo. I realize you despise Marx, materialism, etc, but you aren't hostile to Occam too, are you. The simplest explanation is indeed tends to be correct, as it is in this case.

The solution: make common cause with these immigrants against the ruling class through massive strikes and work stoppages until all workers are granted the pay and benefits to attain a happy and healthy life. Ultimately, replace the wage slavery of capitalism with a higher socioeconomic system run by and for the productive element of society, aka the working class.

You're a good writer Aurelian, but that doesn't automatically make you a good thinker. Because of your writing skills, I get deep into your articles and then feel I've gone down a nonsensical rabbit hole.

You're ability to think things through rationally and efficiently would improve if you'd seriously engage with some of your boogiemen, like Marx for example. You don't have to agree with him, but by seriously engaging with the work, you're critique would be so much stronger. As it stands you just beat up straw men on the "left" taking what the ruling elite say and ignoring what they actually do and are. By this time, most people know that all major parties in the west calling themselves left are actually capitalist war making parties of the extreme right. Labor, Dems, etc. It's a con on the working class which exploits the fact that most workers truly seeks a more rational and just society. To take ruling class "leftists" at their word is just naive at best and at worst you are aiding and abetting their political fraud.

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"but I have suffered a lot over the years from self-styled Marxists."

We all have, but it's time to call a spade a spade. These people are aggressive capitalists that despise the working class and enjoy watching them divided against one another, politically silenced and economically crushed. They can call themselves whatever they wish, but we should never accept it as true without deeds. Referring the corporate mass immigration crowd as left is just what they want us to do.

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As much as i enjoy Aurelien's writings (I found the last two essays really really really excellent), i tend to disagree on most of what he has written here.

1) To my liking, he excessively understates the "filthy lucre" side of the immigration question. IMO the argument of immigrants driving down wages (and lowering working standards and busting unions and everything else that comes with it) is by far the most powerful explanation of the whole issue. I do not buy at all his argument that many/most immigrants are not qualified to work in the host countries. I've rather turn the argument upside down: while there are definitely some immigrants that are unemployable, i say that the GREAT MAJORITY of them can and do find some kind of work. As for the comment of the business owners complaining about the low quality of current workers, I can only say: LOL! Of course do business owners say such things! It comes with the job description... Show me pls some business owner who says that he loves so much the performance of his hardworking employees that he is going to unilaterally raise their wages and give them extra vacation for their effort... ;-P

Also, there are other secondary effects of immigration & increasing population sizes:

The rentier class will be more than happy to see its real estate assets appreciate.

The government number-crunchers and spinmeisters will also be happy to have a rising population because this has the direct effect of rising GDP, irrespective of other governmental policies.

""""Left-wing"""" political parties will have the opportunity to develop their power base with all kinds of foundations, NGOs etc. catering to immigrants.

Plain old "divide and conquer" - the less cohesive a society is, the more division points can be found to apply it.

2) I am also VERY skeptical of the argument that the late (British, French, German etc.) Imperialism was in a large part driven by "moral things". He again dismisses the economic angle too fast by implying that Empires were a net economic loss for the Imperializing nations. I don't buy it at all. Maybe we can agree that Empire management was a PUBLIC LOSS for Paris or London, but I could bet a Paella that the PRIVATE business side of Empire was a large WIN for French or British businesses, respectively. Once both the private and public sectors are included into the equation, I am sure that the bottom line was positive for the Imperial powers.

Other commenters have already dissected the "self-styled Marxists" issue, so i will not delve more into it.

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1. "At the local level, parties of the Notional Left no longer really try to appeal to immigrant communities as such. They cut deals with local “community leaders”, often religious figures, but sometimes, let’s say, crime-linked individuals, who deliver votes in return for jobs in the Town Hall and grants for their organisations. And this gets noticed too, which is why in many European countries, the immigrant vote is moving to the Right, as the Notional Left abandons any policies that might persuade them to continue to support it."

Of course, if it's merely a question of money, the Right can pony up a few Euros as well as the notional left.

2. If you think of the various embassy staff pushing PMC values in former colonial capitals as basically a jobs program, everything makes sense.

3. A Wilders could feed refugee children alive to piranhas and nobody in the PMC would raise so much as a peep, as long as he was on board with American hegemony and the War On Russia and his likely alternative was not.

A generation ago, the Greens were given a similar choice, ans now they gratefully fellate their American Masters at every opportunity.

Europeans like being slaves.

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Dear Aurelian,

reading the comments, I would be pleased if you could write an essay on the topic of the political left. What exactly is 'left'? Are woke people even considered left-wing? I believe there is a great need to clarify this question because the term is thrown around on the internet, even though most people, including leftists themselves, have only a very vague idea of what is behind this term.

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Dec 6, 2023·edited Dec 6, 2023

Hum... The lure of exotism might play a role among the Outer Party. Along some virtue signaling and some ill-digested feelings from colonialism time.

But I would not underestimate the PMC's economic incentive.

Yes, even if only 1 out of 5 newcomers can read and write well enough to get a decent job, the others can always clean offices, push food delivery bikes, lay rebars or pickup veggies...

And anyway, if they don't get a job, they will still get some money one way or an other. And all of them will use the best part of what ever they get to buy cheap consumer goods.

And somehow, this is one of the few things left that keeps the GDP growth barely positive and thus guarantee PMC's position. As short-sighted as it is.

BTW thanks for the link to the Naked Capitalism article. Priceless.

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Thank you Aurelien🙏

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I usually find your essays interesting although I don't agree with a lot of your conclusions. This one makes me pretty angry: "And this, perhaps, is the ultimate benefit of the current policy of uncontrolled immigration: moral superiority, which comes this time not from anything you have done, but just from what you think." What, you Europeans, have done is follow the US/NATO to Syria and Libya (also Iraq and Afghanistan) and utterly destroyed and destabilized them. Your governments can't speak about the immigrants who are coming from these countries because they would then have to acknowledge their complicity. You also forgot about the million Algerians killed by France. And all the gold and uranium France has looted and continued to loot. Oh no! The empire was actually based on good intentions you say. Now let us not even talk about the latest flood of immigrants from Ukraine.

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I am somewhat dubious about your identification of the "vanguard parties". The original vanguard party wanted power and took it. The type that you describe here does not seem interested in any grand political transformations. They are not really a vanguard for anything, though sometimes they pretend to be one on the issues that they care about (and even then their act is generally that of gradualist evolutionists - although sometimes they say "revolution" and other such buzzwords). No army follows them and they are not going anywhere in particular. I think that is probably just as well.

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Great article.

I have seen no other article anywhere that makes such a clear link between “development” attitudes of the modern day, “leftist” PMC and those of their predecessors in the imperial governing elites. As in most human endeavours I suspect too that the various motives of money, status, power and a genuine desire to do good all come together even within the same individuals.

If I understand correctly, a large part of the ideology that China and Russia are seeking to identify themselves with is opposition to the west’s continued urge to change the societies of other countries. Both seem to be “empires” of the traditional type comprising large numbers of peoples of different ethnicities and languages. Which is not to seek to vilify them either. Just a statement.

My personal belief is very strongly that we should leave other cultures alone and let them develop in their own ways at their own pace. It’s far easier said than done though and I do wonder if China will maintain her current stance as she continues to grow in influence. Maybe our western urges to export our morality are just a product of our culture (and Christian tradition) rather than universalist. After all, the ancient Roman Empire accepted other religions until it became Christian. The Ottoman Empire (by and large) accepted non Islamic religions. It has been western empires that have struggled to cope with the idea that there is no one universal way to live.

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We’ve reached a point in the “west” where it feels like all politics is performative. If the political leadership acted for the betterment of the population - whether native born or immigrant - there wouldn’t be the same problems with immigration. It might mean fewer immigrants with better access to education, employment, security and the whole Rights of Man cornucopia. It would necessarily mean more for the native born and the people born of immigrants, being not truly immigrants anymore.

A less performative politics might even realize that the situations around the world that prompt mass immigration could be ameliorated with substantive political action. Even - just maybe - a realization that violent destabilization abroad is bad for immigration at home. But that would reduce the joy of the performance which produces a feeling of superiority that the desperate immigrants yearn for what “we” have rather than the age old tale of immigration that always begins with how bad things are at home, bad enough to try one’s luck somewhere far away.

I’m from a family of immigrants to a land of immigrants. The American myth that everyone came here because they thought the streets were paved with gold is tripe. Many of course did and people still do believe that, but the real reason was usually that life at home was real bad. Only WWII and the economic boom after saw most of those large immigrant waves integrated and accepted. Before that they worked the worst jobs for the lowest pay and went home to ethnic ghettos where much of the mythologized organized crime of Hollywood took root.

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The problem with discussing immigration with fear driven people like your self is that you make stuff up, and then consider your fantasies confirmed by the fact that nobody wants to talk about them.

I happen to live in Sweden, so I’m calling BS on your statement about the dangers of living in my country. Yes, there has been an uptick in gun violence the last decade or so.

But if you look at UN statistics on overall homicide rates Sweden is on par with the rest of Europe, and a lot safer than for example the US.

And it’s true that homicide rates have been rising for a while, but from a very low starting point. So now they are about what they were in the 1990-ties. When Sweden was a perfectly liveable country. As it still is. As for Shite Britain, well you have some serious problems my friend, and they are not caused by immigrants. (Aside from your prime minister.)

I mostly admire your work, but I respect you enough to call BS on BS. Now go do some research.

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Attraction to everything over there isn’t unusual but culturally wanting to be involved without any idea what this means as you say hadn’t changed at all.

By people without any experience shows this simple curiosity.

Where does lead us?

It’s not a immigrant problem at all but a war problem displacing these people from their homeland which is never brought up socially by the elite who profit from its misery.

Cultural superiority stemming from material wealth leads to The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad about the Belgian Congo.

The horror of who they became showed a embarrassing cultural question of who they really were and none could stand it for long .

To question one’s cultural underpinning is a very sensitive issue by those afraid souls.

Your looking at a cultural issue of coexistence . I’m glad you’ve brought up this very important issue of the day contributing to an understanding of what the hell is going on.

Mathias Desmet is as well .

Thanks for being a diplomat with its unique cross cultural perspective ,

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Unfettered immigration is how the closet communists get rid of the class they hate the most, the bourgeoisie.

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A brilliant synopsis as always!

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