The social contract, in essence, is the idea that individuals within a area/territory collectively agree to the establishment of a sovereign via a contract of sorts. This concept, if truly worked out via law and direct democracy, could be a solution to the ever growing immigration problems being seen in Western nations, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom. As a libertarian, I have many criticisms of the social contractarian position in political philosophy, particularly its reliance on tacit consent as seen in the Hobbesian and Lockean traditions. Instead, I believe moving to a position where these social contracts are truly voluntary and individuals and the property they own are considered sovereign is the ideal of how to disseminate political power. By doing this, we produce voluntary relations and allow for property to be owned in a collective manner, with policy being set by such authorities through systems of direct democracy. For this system to truly work, I believe power needs to be local, as it is easier for such voluntary, contractarian relations to develop than at a national or international level. In the case of the UK, such political structures would be at a city or county level, and the US at the state or even county level. Thus all property is private or voluntarily collectivised. As a result, the immigration issue is up to people who live within a contracted political authority, with issues such as quotas, residency, refugee policy and illegal immigration being left to be dealt with by such political authorities.
The main issue that can be seen with immigration, particularly in the UK and US, has been a downward pressure on wages and forced cultural changes in a quick period of time. This has been without any real mandate from the people most effected by such changes. This has mainly been down to the fact that the state has a monopoly on land and property arrangements, as well as public services, thus meaning that allowing open immigration and not effectively tackling illegal immigration has no real effect on their power or position. To solve this, land and property need to be put back into the hands of those who will productively use it, thus meaning a transition towards true private property. Further, where property is collectively used, such as with large, unowned agricultural land or forests, it should be collectively owned via community forums and voluntary political authority organised at a county or state level. The same should be done with public services, either privatising them or putting into the hands of local people through democratic councils or forums. This way, it becomes the choice of those communities on how the land and services are used and who can access them. Further, it puts the issue of immigration firmly into the hands of the members of a socially contracted authority, where issues such as quotas and refugee policy would be decided.
By allowing for the political collectivisation of land and property through a social contract, it creates a system of protection and denomination of the rule of law and culture within a given area. However, with a voluntary characteristic, it means that the development of tyrannical laws can be prevented, as one can voluntarily leave. Now I may be called naive, as some may say that the development of political power can lead to a monopoly on violence. However, through the social contract, one does not give up their right to self-defence (this is something Hobbes has made clear on his theory of the social contract) thus meaning that a monopoly on violence would be difficult to develop. Further, one would have to actually sign a social contract, and if there were provisions for forms of tyranny, I doubt many people would really sign it. As a result of this, immigration as policy position would be dealt with via such political authorities via the social contract. Not only would policies such as borders, migration numbers and the allowance of refugees, the social contract also allows individuals to codify their values and identity, thus giving clear credence to what they expect when one integrates into a community. This can counter the social tension and forced integration being seen in communities in the Western world today, meaning that communities actually reflect the identities of those who have lived and worked there and cultural transformation isn’t done at break neck speed. An example of this tension when taken to extremes is Iraq. Iraq was built out of the Sykes-Picot Agreement where national borders were drawn up with no real relevance to local culture. This creation has led to some extent to the problems that Iraq has been dealing with for the past 60 years, where there has either been power vacuums or brutal dictatorships to hold such an entity together. This has been due to the fact that Sunnis, Shia and Kurds have been forced to integrate political and economic power in badly done deals, inevitably leading to conflict. If these social groups, with their own senses of identity and culture were able to develop their own communities, I believe much of the conflict would be defused. Of course, there still may be conflict, but not on the same scale that we see today. The social contract allows for the development and expression of collective identity, whether this be nationalistic, ethnic or religious, meaning communities are created in the image of those who live there and develop social cohesion, limiting cultural usurpation and rapid change.
On economic migration, a social contract may place limits on the number of economic migrants coming into an area, as well as punishing businesses that hire illegal immigrants that have signed a social contract. However, what the system of private property means is that anyone who wishes to hire immigrants must do so at their own costs, potentially having to house them if they aren’t accepted by a political collective. These costs would be internalised by such businesses, as they couldn’t rely on a corrupt welfare state and lax social housing policies to cover the costs of illegal immigrants’ living and working.
By delineating political authority locally and voluntarily through a social contract, issues of social cohesion, cultural integration and immigration can be decided by those who actually live in such communities. The biggest problem with mass migration and open borders has been that communities and individuals have had no say on such massive cultural changes, with the modern political class seemingly ignoring the developing issues of rising crime, wage depression and cultural tensions, with high streets and neighbourhoods being changed beyond all recognition and no encouragement of integration with Western values. This creates ghettoisation and sense of disillusionment. Until we move towards the development of voluntary governance and the social contract, these problems will continue to grow.