David Conway: Nationalism and Liberalism: Friends or Foes?
and have engendered hatreds which can vanish only in centuries.
Under present conditions, the adoption of a policy of outright laissez faire and laissez passer on the part of the
civilised nations of the West would be equivalent to an unconditional surrender to the totalitarian nations. Take, for instance, the case of migration barriers. Unrestrictedly opening the doors of the Americas, of Australia, and of Western Europe to immigrants would today be the equivalent to opening the doors to the vanguards of the armies of Germany, Italy, and Japan….
[T]he most that can be expected for the immediate future is the separation of the world into two sections: a liberal, democratic, and capitalist West with about one quarter of the total population, and a militarist and totalitarian East embracing the greater part of the earth’s surface and population.22
Mises feared a massive immigration into the liberal democracies by peoples of vastly different ethnicity, culture, and outlook. Such immigration, he believed, could radically destabilize and ultimately imperil the political viability of such democracies. These immigrants, given the numbers in which he supposed they would enter, if able, would be not only unassimilated but unassimilable. Without strict immigration controls, Mises thought, host populations would rapidly become national minorities in their own lands. As such, the hosts would become vulnerable to forms of oppression and persecution at the hands of new arrivals. Being unassimilated, after all, the new arrivals would not be indisposed to turning their own population advantage into the political advantage that their numeric superiority might provide them under conditions of representative democracy.
In an earlier work, Mises had identified as the most important threat facing the preservation of world peace the fear these two nations felt of being swamped by immigrants of remote outlook and nationality. He wrote:
In the absence of any migration barriers whatsoever, vast hordes of immigrants . . . would, it is maintained,… inundate Australia and America . . . in such great numbers that it would no longer be possible to count on their assimilation. . . . If, in the past, immigrants to America soon adopted the English language and American ways and customs, this was, in part, due to the fact that they did not come over all at once in such great numbers. … This . .. would now change, and there is real danger that the ascendancy— or more correctly, the exclusive dominion— of the Anglo-Saxons in the United States would be destroyed. This is especially to be feared in the case of heavy immigration on the part of the Mongolian peoples of Asia.23
Having identified and articulated this fear, Mises went on to endorse it as reasonable. He wrote:
It cannot be denied that these fears are justified. Because of the enormous power that today stands at the command of the state, a national minority must expect the worst from a majority of a different nationality. As long as the state is granted the vast powers which it has today and which public opinion considers to be its right,24 the thought of having to live in a state whose government is in the hands of members of a foreign nationality is positively terrifying.
It is frightful to live in a state in which at every turn one is exposed to persecution—masquerading under the guise of justice—by a ruling majority. It is dreadful to be handicapped even as a child in school on account of one’s nationality and to be in the wrong before every judicial and administrative authority because one belongs to a national minority.25