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Quora Answer : Why do hard leftists support open immigration yet are also trade protectionists?

Jan 10, 2018

I don't know if I'm an extreme hard-leftist, but I'm fairly left, so I'll give you my opinion.

Firstly I take it as axiomatic that there is a conflict of interest between different groups in society, which are defined in terms of their economic status and behaviour.

While it's over-simplistic to divide this into "labour" and "capital" (ie. people who earn their money by selling their labour, and people who earn their money by trading or charging rent on their assets) that is a rough approximation that's good enough for this explanation.

So, there are workers (ie. people who sell their labour) and capitalists (ie. people who manipulate capital and assets)

Following so far?

Good. Then as a leftist, I'm on the side of labour, because that represents most people. And the disadvantaged people who need more support in the world. Once again it's a rough approximation, some people earn a fortune in salary. And some people who live by trading are relatively poor. But again, this approximation is roughly right, and so my sympathies are with labour.

So ... I believe very much in freedom. And I want to maximize the freedom for labour. Rather than for capital.

Furthermore, I think mobility is freedom. Mobility means, freedom to go where you want, where you are valued.

Because I prefer labour to capital. And because I prefer freedom to imprisonment, I prioritise the freedom of labour to move where it likes, in pursuit of the jobs that are good for it, and to maximize its potential earnings. And, frankly, to live in a place that's more safe, secure, comfortable, with more options etc.

So, faced with the choice between supporting workers' freedom to move their bodies around the world, and supporting the capitalists' freedom to move their money and assets around the world, I think the freedom of workers to move is far more important.

To an extent, I don't dislike trade. I think it's OK to move goods, services, productive machinery, even money around the world too. But I think my number one priority is that people should be free to move.

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