JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Beyond The Hulk Hysterics, Signs Of An Immigration Patriot Left?
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

The political Left in advanced Western countries is now firmly in the hands of world-saver anti-nationalist activists. The smart ones have law degrees, the midwits have degrees in Grievance Studies, but they all agree that the nation-state is a shamefully white-supremacist idea and unlimited immigration is a blessing. There’s a particularly awful case from Britain this week—but I also think I see some slight signs that some on the Left in Europe may be having second thoughts.

First, the awful case: As I’ve been reporting, the Brits have taken to heart my urging to deal with illegal entrants the way their 18th- and 19th-century ancestors dealt with common criminals, including my own Great-Great-Grandpa George: by accommodating them in hulks—disused or decommissioned old ships moored offshore.

The first of these modern hulks, a hideous great barge named the Bibby Stockholm, has at last been put into service. Earlier this week the first fifteen wetbacks were boarded there.

Hideous it may be, but the Bibby Stockholm is a pretty nice place to live. The occupants, who will number 500 when the barge is full, get three cooked meals a day, clean spacious rooms with TV, desk, and wardrobe, a gym, a pool room, and one-gigabyte-a-second wi-fi. Note carefully: they are NOT actually imprisoned—they can leave the barge at will, with free bus and taxi passes so they can explore the neighboring town [Inside the Bibby Stockholm: Migrant shares footage from barge praising the ’good food and beds’—but others complain the floating ’prison’ with a pool room, gym and TVs in rooms is ’like Alcatraz,’ Daily Mail, August 9, 2023].

To Open Borders activists, however, Bibby Stockholm is the Bastille. One of their groups, name of Care4Calais [Tweet them] has been working the Human-Rights law firms at full stretch to prevent any illegals from being put on the barge. Here’s the CEO of that outfit quoted in the Daily Mail story, Steve Smith:

To house any human being in a ”quasi floating prison” like the Bibby Stockholm is inhumane. To try and do so with this group of people is unbelievably cruel. Even just receiving the notices is causing them a great deal of anxiety.

Steve Valdez-Symonds [Tweet him], Amnesty International UK’s “refugee and migrant rights director” [Tweet him], explicitly compares the Bibby Stockholm to the hulks I’ve been talking about:

Reminiscent of the prison hulks from the Victorian era, the Bibby Stockholm is an utterly shameful way to house people who’ve fled terror, conflict and persecution.

At week’s end I read that the labors of these activists and law firms have borne fruit. As I mentioned, the first fifteen illegal aliens were shipped to the Bibby Stockholm earlier this week. Well, now they’ve been un-shipped, and further boardings are on hold.

How did the activists pull this off? We’re told that pathogens causing legionnaire’s disease were found in the hulk’s water system [EXCLUSIVE: Moment Bibby Stockholm barge migrants are EVACUATED amid fears of Legionnaires’ disease—just DAYS after asylum seekers moved aboard in Dorset, Daily Mail, August 11, 2023].

Yeah, right: like it’s really difficult to bribe a health inspector.

Whatever. The Bibby Stockholm’s out of commission until the water supply’s fixed… by which point the activists and their legions of lawyers will have come up with something else to make boarding impossible.

The politicians huff and puff and flap their arms; the activists are totally in charge of the situation there… just as they are here, where most of the politicians keep their mouths shut and pretend nothing’s happening.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people? Sure—so long as the people are foreign scofflaws looking for free room and board and three free meals a day.

Does anything remain of the older Leftist sensibility, the one that says that bringing in foreign workers is just a transfer of wealth from labor to capital? The view expressed by Bernie Sanders just eight years ago?

[Clip   Ezra Klein:  Something that is in what you said about being a Democratic Socialist is a more international view. But I think if you take global poverty that seriously it leads you to conclusions that in the U.S. are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to the … up to a level of open borders; about sharply increasing …

Bernie Sanders:  Open borders? That’s a Koch brothers proposal.

EK:  Really?

BS:  Of course. I mean that’s a right-wing proposal which says essentially there is no United States.

EK:  But it would …

BS:  Excuse me …

EK:  But it would make a lot of the global poor richer, wouldn’t it?

BS:  And it would make everybody in America poorer. Then you’re doing away with the concept of a nation-state. And I don’t think there’s any country in the world which believes in that.

If you believe in a nation-state, or in a country called the United States or U.K. or Denmark or any other country, you have an obligation, in my view, to do everything we can to help poor people.

What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy—bring in all kinds of people, work for two or three dollars an hour, that would be great for them.

I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country. I think we have to do everything we can to create the millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment in the United States of America [is] today? If you’re white, a white kid high-school graduate, 33 percent; a Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers? Or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?

So I think from a moral responsibility we’ve got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to, er, to address the problems of international poverty, but you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.

[Bernie Sanders The Vox conversation, by Ezra Klein, Vox, July 28, 2015]

That was, I repeat, just eight years ago, before the total capture of the Left by Cat Ladies and tech billionaires.

As I’m sure Bernie was heard to say before they captured him, too: ”What about the workers?”

But on the other side of the Atlantic, there are signs that the immigration-patriot Left is stirring.

A few weeks ago in Britain’s House of Commons, the leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, accused the government of having “lost control of immigration.” A Labour government, he said, would tighten up the rules. He asked rhetorically, quote, ”How many work visas were issued to foreign nationals last year?” [Keir Starmer attacks PM on immigration as Labour launches its own plan, by Peter Walker, Guardian, May 24, 2023].

It’ll be a year and a half before the Labour Party has a chance at power; and personally I wouldn’t trust them to boil an egg, well infiltrated as they are with college-educated spinsters and resentful blacks. That the Labor leader is saying such things, though, tells us that the spirit of Bernie Sanders in his 2015 manifestation may be stirring back to life on the left.

Here’s further reinforcement from Germany, the country that Angela Merkel was throwing open to millions of Middle Eastern and African invaders even as Bernie was speaking. This is from Germany: momentum builds for left-wing anti-immigration party [Thomas O’Reilly, August 9, 2023].

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Much of O’Reilly’s article concerns a German political party named Die Linke, which means ”the Left.” It describes Die Linke thus:

An avowed Marxist-Leninist party formed after the collapse of communism, Die Linke has struggled in recent years, placing sixth in opinion polls, as right-wing populists in the AfD corral populist momentum.

Wow. ”An avowed Marxist-Leninist party” doesn’t have much ”populist momentum.” Go figure.

Anyway, the key paragraph:

Five to ten MPs from the German Die Linke party have quietly pledged support for a left-wing, anti-mass immigration party rumoured to be formed by disgruntled former party leader Sahra Wagenknecht in a move that could split the German Left down the middle. [Link in original]

So maybe the political Left, all the way out to ”avowed Marxist-Leninists,” may be turning against Open Borders.

Hey, maybe we can get Angela Davis writing for!

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

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