VDARE.com editor Peter Brimelow spoke about Canada and immigration with Canada’s Bruce Dowbiggin on the Full Count Podcast. Subscribe to the podcast here, follow Bruce Dowbiggin on Twitter here, and check out his website Not The Public Broadcaster
Bruce Dowbiggin: The immigration debate is causing waves in both Canada and the United States. Donald Trump’s election was, in part, due to the promise of building a wall against Mexico and reviewing immigration from a number of nations with majority Muslim populations. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is determined to stay the course on his ambitious plans to bring in refugees. Some are already coming across the border from the United States. The Left Wing is in the streets to protest immigration restriction, the Right Wing, however, is reevaluating a crucial schism from the 1990s when anti-immigration factions were purged from the Conservative Movement.
One of the prominent members of this faction is author Peter Brimelow. His 1995 book Alien Nation made the case for closing borders to preserve the social and political nature of North America. His stand eventually led to his firing from the National Review, the conservative oracle started by William F. Buckley. In 1999, Brimelow started a website called VDARE.com. It’s named after Virginia Dare; she was the first white English child born in the New World. He’s been labeled as everything from a defender of traditional American values to a racist.
He’s also worked extensively in Canada in the past. His 1996 book, The Patriot Game, is considered to be the inspiration for the reform movement in Canada’s conservative community that resulted in Stephen Harper’s decade as Prime Minister.
Peter Brimelow joins us today from Connecticut. Welcome aboard, Peter.
Peter Brimelow: Thanks for having me on, Bruce.
Dowbiggin: For people who knew you in Canada, tell us what you have been doing since.
Brimelow: Well, Bruce, I came to Canada in 1972 and I was there for most of the 70s; I left in late 1979. I was a financial journalist with the old Financial Post and Maclean's Magazine. In the US, I worked on the Senate staff and then I went back into financial journalism and continued until a couple of years ago, primarily for Barron’s, Fortune and Forbes and latterly I did a column for Dow Jones’ MarketWatch on very arcane investment issues.
But one of the things about this immigration debate is that it’s not possible to maintain a presence in the Main Stream Media if you are on the wrong side. Dan Stein, who is the head of the Federation for Immigration Reform, warned me of this when I wrote the National Review cover story that became Alien Nation, over 20 years ago. So we call it the Curse of Stein. Almost everyone who gets involved in the immigration issue on the wrong side—the Politically Incorrect side— ends up being purged.
Dowbiggin: Tell me how it is that you arrived at the philosophy that you have. What was the central thing that pushed you in this direction to this philosophy, which as you say, is not a popular one at the moment?
Brimelow: It’s not a popular one, but at the advent of the internet, journalism has been disintermediated, we’ve been liberated—in the U.S., at least, where the market is very deep—from corporate journalism. So we’ve been running the VDARE.com webzine since 1999 and we’ve been able make the case for what we call “patriotic immigration reform.” Since then, we’ve been joined by a lot of people—most notably, of course, Ann Coulter, whose wonderful book Adios America had tremendous impact on Trump. .
But to answer your question, I guess I’m just naturally contrary. The consensus in favor of immigration among the Politically Correct people in North America was just so great that it got on my nerves.
But, I was enormously influenced by Enoch Powell and his great speech in 1968, which is always called the “Rivers of Blood” speech, although he didn’t actually say that, basically attacking non-traditional immigration into Britain. That speech, although it’s conventionally said to have ruined his career—I don’t think it did—succeeded at holding at bay mass immigration into Britain until Tony Blair opened the floodgates after he became Prime Minister in 1997.
Dowbiggin: Try to explain to our audience your definition of what immigration policy should be. I’m assuming you would say the same thing for Canada as for America.
Brimelow: Actually, it’s true across the industrialized First World. The overwhelming evidence from labor economists—and as I said, I worked in financial journalism for 40 years—is that this great influx of immigration that we see everywhere in the First World now essentially does not benefit the nativeborn, the people already living in the country, at all. The so-called immigration surplus is vanishingly small. It does increase GDP, but the great bulk of that is captured by the immigrants themselves in the form of wages. However, it has a secondary effect, which is quite evil, in that it causes a massive shift of GDP from labor to capital. In the US, it is on the order of 2-3%. That’s a very big number.
So, basically, what we see in the First World is an alliance between, on the one hand, the owners of capital and, on the other hand, professional ethnic entrepreneurs who want to build up up their own ethnic groups for rent seeking purposes, against the native-born working class.
Immigration is the US was kicked off by the ‘65 Immigration Act, which came into force at about 1968. Since then, incomes for the great majority of Americans have simply stagnated. There are several reasons for this, but immigration is one of them.
Dowbiggin: This is a big deal. Charles Murray has talked about it in his books as well.
Brimelow: Well, I’ve known Charles Murray for many years. I have to say he was very slow to reach this conclusion because, I’m afraid, he figured had done enough damage to himself with The Bell Curve, he didn’t want to go any further. He has moved now in that direction, really under the impact of Trump. He wouldn’t listen to me but he would listen to Trump!
Dowbiggin: How much immigration is enough immigration?
Brimelow: I think what we have to do right now across the First World, particularly in America and Canada, is to have immigration moratoriums—that is to say, no net immigration. In the US, about 200-300, 000 people leave every year, so you could have 200-300,000 people coming in and you would still have no net immigration. And that would take care of any hardship cases or any desperately needed skills (much exaggerated, of course).
So, that’s what we need: immigration pauses, moratoriums, for a long time, until we figure out what we actually want to do.
The case against immigration that we make at VDARE.com is very broad. There are a lot of issues involved. We have people from a lot of different political traditions who have different reasons to support immigration restriction. For example, labor unions used to support restriction because immigration busts down workers’ wages. Immigration restriction used to be a Left Wing cause.
In any case, to make an additional point which is not popular among some of our supporters, or they’re too frightened: I don’t think the federal government should be monkeying around with the racial balance of the country. In the US, the federal government is essentially abolishing the people and electing a new one. In 1965, the US was 90% white; it’s now somewhere below 70% white—it’s hard to determine exactly because the census is so poorly designed—and that’s entirely because of public policy. The government is basically driving the Historic American Nation into a minority in the state it created. Whites will go into a minority in this country by 2040 or so.
There is no economic rationale for it at all. So the question is why are we doing it? Why are we remaking the demographics of the country like this?
You can see why the Democrats are doing it, You can see why the Canadian Liberals are doing it. They think they are going to be able to colonize these Third World people who are coming in for votes. The Democrats openly said that they were going to become the majority party in the country because of immigration. They’ve simply given up appealing to the white working class in this country. But why are Americans as a whole, for that matter Canadians as a whole, supposed to put up with it?
Dowbiggin: What about the racial balance that we do have in the United States—12-13% Black, the Latino community etc.? Do they have a place in this America that you are talking about?
Brimelow: I’m not making any plans to remove any populations.
I think the United States is going to break up. That’s not because I want it to happen, that’s because I think it will happen because of the divisions introduced by public policy. The only population that I have hostile intent toward are the illegals. They should simply be removed. And that can be done easily by simply enforcing the law. They’ll self-deport.
Dowbiggin: The logistics of deporting 11 million people are complicated. It’s a very tendentious argument.
Brimelow: It’s easy. It’s not a problem at all. They came in, they can leave. They can leave by themselves if you enforce the law. You enforce the law against employing illegal aliens in the workplace and you also remove the substantial government subsidies that there are for illegal aliens right now, and they will leave. It’s not something that requires a lot of effort.
I think there should be more deportations. For example, every time a Democrat put up an illegal alien to speak at one of their conventions, they should be immediately arrested and thrown out. That’s what we call at VDARE.com “strategic deportation,” because it sends a message.
There was a huge illegal immigration crisis in the US in the early 1950s. And Eisenhower, when he came into office, ended it in 18 months with what they called then Operation Wetback. A million and a half people left the country, but very few of them were actually deported. It was only 100-200,000. The great majority simply left when they realized the game was up.
Dowbiggin: So what’s the responsibility of a First World nation, like Canada or the United States, when we have compassionate cases of refugees who are displaced in other places?
Brimelow: This refugee stuff is just a bunch of bunk. What they are is expedited, subsidized, politically-favored immigration flows. They come into this country ahead of everyone else and they can immediately go on welfare and they do. That’s why you see so many refugees entangled in welfare and they never get off. It’s a completely ineffective way of conducting any kind of humanitarian mission. There are millions of people in trouble all over the world. The fraction that could conceivably come into the US and Canada is extremely small.
The government likes it. The Obama administration likes the refugee flow because they had it set up where they could plant these people in Republican areas with the obvious intention of eventually swamping them. And they did it in collusion with capitalists. The owners of meat packing companies and so on would actually contract with the government to get refugees as cheap labor. They would dump them in these small towns in Iowa and the Midwest and so on.
There is nothing compassionate or humanitarian about this. It’s a racket. It’s a political racket because the Left wants votes. It’s an economic racket because the capitalists don’t want to pay Americans a living wage.
Now, Bruce, you know why Africa was partitioned in the late 19th century. It was essentially done for humanitarian reasons. Missionaries wanted the metropolitan powers, the European powers, to stop the slave trade In Africa, which was then largely run by Arabs.
The point is that these areas now in chaos were ruled by the metropolitan powers until after the World War II and they were relatively peaceful and stable then. You can’t have responsibility without power. If we withdraw from these areas, in Africa and the Middle East, and people start eating each other and so on, there’s nothing we can do about these humanitarian problems unless we want to go back in—which we don’t. We just have to let them work their problems out.
Dowbiggin: One of the great surprises of the election, at least to the Establishment, was just how Mr. Trump’s message on immigration resonated and got him to the presidency. Give us a sense of how he’s doing on this front.
Brimelow: In a symbolic sense, he’s doing great. He’s raising the issues and forcing debate on them. What he said in his speech to Congress a week or so again—he continues to surprise, he raised the question of reforming legal immigration and moving to a merit system. So, from that point of view, I think he’s done well.
I think in terms of Executive Action, he’s done the best he can. There’s obviously a huge clash coming in this country between the Judiciary and the Executive Branch. The American Judiciary has become increasingly unrestrained and has seized more and more power, really going back 60 years now. At some point, there is going to be a huge fist fight over this between the Executive Branch and the Judiciary, certainly the largest since the Roosevelt Court-packing fight, and actually maybe even going back to Andrew Jackson. But at the moment. I think he’s started off well.
My problem with Trump is that I don’t think he aims high enough. For example, there is absolutely no reason why the American cannot have a ban on all Muslim immigration if they want. It’s absurd to say that it’s unconstitutional. The US is a sovereign power, they can choose whoever they want to come in. But, he’s not done that. He’s tried to finesse the issue by using country bans, increased scrutiny on the inflow from specific countries. It’s not done him any good, of course. So, I think he should have gone to a Muslim ban.
I think he should also flat-out call for an immigration moratorium, which he has not yet done. There is a bill in Congress by Senator Cotton, which calls for reducing immigration by half. And that’s a substantial step. But it’s no more substantial than what the Jordan Commission recommended 20 years ago, which was embodied in what was called the Smith-Simpson Bill, which was sabotaged during the Clinton Administration actually largely by Republican nogoodniks.
Progress is quite slow; I’d like to see him shoot higher.
What he is doing is, he’s making people talk about the issue. The big problem we’ve had about immigration, ever since Buckley purged National Review really, is that it simply wasn’t possible to get discussion about immigration in the Main Stream Media. It’s gone completely underground, into the catacombs of the internet.
Dowbiggin: How much about your complaint about immigration is race-based and how much is values-based?
Brimelow: Well the answer to that is, yes. The critics of immigration in this country are very varied, they come from all kinds of political traditions, it’s a coalition. I do think that the different values of some of these groups cause problems, most obviously with Muslim immigration because it’s very hard for an observant Muslim to tolerate living in a non-Sharia society. So hat’s the values problem.
But, you know, Bruce, the fact is that race is a proxy for values. People differ systematically on all kinds of things based on race. So, on the whole, I think it would be much better if we’d kept the White population of the U.S. at 90%. It would be a much happier society.
And it would have been better for the blacks, by the way. American Blacks are now no longer the largest minority. This peculiar category of “Hispanic” is now the largest minority.
I say it’s peculiar because it’s defined in such a way by the Census to maximize the number of Hispanics. If you have a Hispanic surname, you’re likely to be counted as Hispanic even though your ancestors lived in the US for hundreds of years and you’re as white as I am. They do everything they can to maximize the size of that minority group. But it is the largest minority group—and what good has that done American Blacks? It’s astounding to me that the’ve stood still for it.
Dowbiggin: Are we talking about race here? A homogenous white population whose values are superior to others?
Brimelow: Well, they’re different from others. I think the US in 1965 had assembled, from various parts of the world but predominantly from Northern Europe and Britain, a functioning nation—a nation that controlled the state. It was what we call a “nation-state.” They had not assimilated the black population at that point, but they were working on it. Every index of economic progress shows that blacks had been improving until the 1960s. They’ve actually stalled since the1960s, because of this increased competition from unskilled workers, which has fallen particularly hard on them.
Dowbiggin: I suspect what the complaint is about your philosophy is that somehow we are talking about values that are intrinsic to whites that are superior to values of Muslims, or blacks, or something else. Is that the case?
Brimelow: Let me start off by saying that VDARE.com is a forum site. We run anyone from any political tradition who is critical of current immigration policy. So, we do have Hispanics writing for us. For example, we had a Mexican-American writer recently complaining about the new influx of Mexicans and how much damage it had inflicted on her community.
But I’m not going to back away from this issue. I personally think The Bell Curve is right: race does matter. So if you import people from very different racial traditions, you’re asking for trouble. Diversity is not strength, it’s weakness.
I can say this now, Bruce; I’m nearly 70 years old. We have this independent website, which is a struggle because we keep getting dropped by advertisers and so on under political pressure, but we have people who support us. So I think we can face these issues frankly.
The debate that should have taken place in the wake of the publication of The Bell Curve—which just summarized the evidence that there were significant racial differences in IQ—that debate has never taken place.
Dowbiggin: We’re not talking about one race being superior to the other? We’re talking about races having different world views. Is that your point?
Brimelow: Yes, characteristics. There is some type of relationship between ethnicity and culture, which is very hard to disentangle, but as a practical matter ethnicity and culture can be pretty much treated as the same.
When you say “superior”—as I say, it’s not a question of superiority. It’s differences in taste. The reason we have a federal government in this country is that the Founders saw that human beings are not totally homogenous. They’re not totally interchangeable. They tend to develop separate communities. So they wanted to have those communities represented. They didn’t just go for a head count in forming the government. They actually tried to make sure there is a balance between the different communities, so that the smaller communities are not swamped by the larger communities. And that was so even in a totally white society—because at the time of the Revolution, there were blacks in the country, but the only people who got to vote were white. And it wasn’t only a white society, it was a Protestant society and a heavily British society. But they still saw the variations and the need to accommodate them.
That’s needed much more so now with the divergences introduced by public policy. But the fact is that we are moving in the exact opposite direction: the government is trying to get more centralized.
Dowbiggin: Clearly, you haven’t taken this position to get more popular or to get rich. This is not an expedient decision that you have made here. Obviously, it is one that you have made out of conviction. I know that you are having trouble with Facebook carrying some of your stuff. We’ve also seen the riots at Berkeley and the Inauguration—which you attended by the way—and the disruptions on campuses like Berkeley and Middlebury. What is your sense about the intimidation of thought in the United States?
Brimelow: I think we are headed for Civil War in this country, Bruce. I think the divisions are so profound now, and the American Left has become increasingly extreme and totalitarian, I don’t see any way to resolve it.
This is a country where people are armed. At some point, there is going to be a demonstration like at Berkeley or these attacks on Trump demonstrators—they had several pro-Trump demonstrations last weekend and several of them were attacked, not just the Berkeley one—well, one day, someone is going to pull out a gun and start shooting. Then people are going to be shooting back and we’ll be off to the races.
There’s going to be a hard landing here. The only way to stop it is to shut down immigration immediately. But we’ll see if that can happen.
Dowbiggin: I know you have been out of Canada for a while now. Pierre Trudeau had just left office when you wrote The Patriot Game. It must be a little strange to look up now and see his son is the Prime Minister of Canada after all the thought you gave to his father—
Brimelow: [Laughs] Well, Bruce, I often say that all modern political diseases are invented in Canada: multiculturalism, bilingualism—things that the Americans are now just starting to grapple with have been around a long time in Canada.
From the point of view of the analysis that I had in The Patriot Game, Stephen Harper was sort of endgame there because he did what I said could be done, which was win the election from English Canada.
Unfortunately, and this requires some more thinking about, I don’t think that Harper seized his opportunities.
I personally think that Quebec should be thrown out of the Confederation. I don’t think it’s a question of their seceding, I think they should be thrown out, like the Czechs threw the Slovaks out of Czechoslovakia.
Good fences make good neighbors. What you would have now in Canada without Quebec, after the 2015 election, would be another minority government—even assuming that Trudeau would then have been able to win in Ontario and get himself back into the West if he had been faced with a real Anglo nationalist government.
Dowbiggin: You said that Pierre Trudeau wasn’t a particularly clever or wise man, but he was a great man, possibly one of the greatest that Canada had produced in the 20th Century. What did you mean by that?
Brimelow: I think he had tremendous capacities of courage and will. He wasn’t someone who looked at opinion polls. He was able to impose himself on Canadian society, he was a real leader. I think the solution he came up was absurd—I think that in some sense, he actually believed that Canada was a bicultural and bilingual society. It is possible to think that in Quebec, you’re from Quebec yourself, it’s possible to think that there because so many Anglos in Quebec do speak French, particularly now. But, west of the Ottawa river, and particularly west of the Lakehead, that’s just not the case. You’re living in a substantially Anglophone society.
I think one of the reasons for the Canadian Liberal party moving to mass immigration— as you know, immigration into Canada is actually larger than it is into the U.S—is because they were looking for some way to break down Anglophone Canada. They were trying to establish bases in Anglophone Canada by bringing in people who they could one way or another bribe with government subsidies and so on.
And that’s essentially what’s happened. You have these various redoubts of immigrant groups all over Western Canada, which is a major factor in the Liberals holding on there.
Dowbiggin: The stresses you talked about in the US are apparent in Canada between the areas, communities, and the cultures. I suspect that, maybe in a more docile way, we are headed to some sort of crisis in Canada. How do you see a possible breakup of the United States affecting Canada? Do you see parts of Canada joining parts of America if we sort of scramble this whole equation?
Brimelow: Yes, I do. I always thought that’s a possibility. In various different ways, My first wife was a Newfoundlander. Confederation was a complete disaster for Newfoundland, as it has been for the Maritimes in general. It’s just reduced them to dependent status. They would be much better off with free trade with the US.
It is often said that there’s a possibility of a Pacific alliance developing between the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia and Alberta and Alaska. They have a great deal in common.
But I wouldn’t rule out Ontario being the first to want to join the US—because they’ve had a happy experience with Confederation. They think of themselves as competitors or on the same level as Washington. As you know, a great deal of Central Canadian intellectual life is just basically America-envy. I could see it working out in various ways.
The problem is that the US itself is in trouble now! So we may just see boundaries redrawn across North America, regardless of the 49th Parallel.
But you could move toward a European Union situation—not the European Union that the Brussels bureaucrats want to move to, but the European union that has actually existed for the last twenty or thirty years, where you have sovereign states where you have a common market—
Dowbiggin: That’s the message we seem to get from Quebec sovereigntists. Living in Alberta now, I see people here in Alberta would be happy to have a common market with Quebec, but if we’re not going to have shared values, perhaps we should go our own way.
Brimelow: It’s amazing to me that Alberta in particular has stayed in Confederation at all. They’ve clearly been net losers from it, and they could do perfectly well by themselves. Canada, after all, subcontracts its defense to the Americans, it’s the American military that’s responsible for the peace and security of North America, and that wouldn’t be any different if Alberta were independent.
Dowbiggin: You’ve described yourself as a contrarian, and you’ve certainly lived up to your own billing. [Brimelow laughs].
I’m glad we’re finally having some of these discussions, Whether I agree with you or disagree with you, that’s a different thing!
Brimelow: Bruce, I’m prepared to wait for another twenty years!