Switzerland’s “Green” anti-immigration referendum

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Immigration and urbanisation are two of the great creative forces of humanity, and the creativity engendered by one is always enhanced by the other. They are to be welcomed, encouraged and defended. Therefore I felt a certain amount of revulsion when a group of Swiss Environmentalists managed to bring about a referendum on limiting immigration levels. According to the BBC:

The group insists it is opposed to all forms of xenophobia and racism but says Switzerland must limit immigration to avoid urbanisation and to preserve agricultural land.

Let’s be generous and assume that xenophobia and racism played no role here, which is always a generous assumption. The belief that cities are bad things are shared by many people in two groups: reactionaries and greens. If you are a reactionary, then the city probably is incompatible with your views. In which case we can only try to make the person reconsider being a reactionary.

Greens on the other hand should have no real reason for disliking cities. The environmental case for cities has been well laid out by writers such as David Owen and Stewart Brand. Manhattan ultimately should be our model for how to run a future low carbon world. Environmental concerns however should never be the fundamental driver of how society should function. If we wish to create a liveable world in the centuries to come then urbanisation is probably not simply an option, but a requirement.

(two excellent recent books on cities I would recommend are P.D. Smith‘s City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age, and Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City.)


One thought on “Switzerland’s “Green” anti-immigration referendum

    Switzerland’s nuclear shutdown | Carbon Counter said:
    November 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    […] Switzerland already had plans to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2035. However, a group of environmentalists, including Greenpeace, have succeeded in getting sufficient signatures to force a referendum on bringing the shutdown earlier to 2029. Good sense is clearly now being completely tossed out the window by greens in Switzerland. […]


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