Why Libertarians’ Immigration Stance Will Cause Them to Go the Way of the Shakers

Why Libertarians’ Immigration Stance Will Cause Them to Go the Way of the Shakers March 26, 2018

Hal Pashler, of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Department of Psychology, wrote an interesting study on libertarian views towards immigration. Generally, they are very open to it even though immigrants don’t generally hold libertarian views.  Here’s an abstract of his study:

While there has been much discussion of libertarians’ (generally although not universally favorable) attitudes toward liberal immigration policies, the attitudes of immigrants to the United States toward libertarian values have not previously been examined. Using data from the 2010 General Social Survey, we asked how American-born and foreign-born residents differed in attitudes toward a variety of topics upon which self-reported libertarians typically hold strong pro-liberty views (as described by Iyer et al., 2012). The results showed a marked pattern of lower support for pro-liberty views among immigrants as compared to US-born residents. These differences were generally statistically significant and sizable, with a few scattered exceptions. With increasing proportions of the US population being foreign-born, low support for libertarian values by foreign-born residents means that the political prospects of libertarian values in the US are likely to diminish over time.

This reminds me a little of the Shaker religious sect, which was an English restorationist Christian sect founded in the 18th century named after their enthusiastic (thus, “shaking”) worship style.  You may be most familiar with them, because “Shaker style furniture” is that which is very simple in style.  However, in addition to their simplicity and severe devotion to God, they  also practiced celibacy.  I guess it doesn’t take a social scientist to figure out what happened next.

In the mid-19th century, 6,000 Shakers existed. By 1920, only 12 Shaker communities remained in the United States.  There’s only one village now, in Maine, and sociologist blame their emphasis on celibacy — shocker — for the thinning of their population.

Similarly, Pashler’s study is a primer on how libertarians are promoting the death of their own governing philosophy in the United States.  They’re promoting an idea that — in and of itself — will strictly limit their own reach and popularity. Maybe, before embracing rampant, unbridled immigration, libertarians should travel out to Maine and see the last remaining Shakers and see how adopting such self-limiting policies worked out for them.


Image Credit: PRO Elvert Barnes on Flickr

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