A Statement of Purpose

Volume 6, Number 2 (Winter 1995-1996)
Issue theme: "Affirmative action for immigrants?"

Just over two decades ago, concern over rapidly growing human population led to the development of the so-called 'population movement' aimed at reducing the rate of population growth, both at home and abroad. At home, for a variety of reasons, birth rates fell sharply to sub-replacement levels. However, immigration grew steadily due, in significant measure, to the burgeoning population overseas. Today, human numbers world wide expand at about 10,000 per hour, a quarter of a million each day, 90 million a year.

The combined circumstances of low birth rates and high immigration pressures pose for all the developed countries the three most fundamental questions of immigration policy

1. How many people should we admit, and what factors

should be taken into account in setting this limit?

2. Who should be chosen to immigrate, and what criteria

should be used for choosing?

3. How can we humanely enforce the rules we decide upon?

THE SOCIAL CONTRACT seeks to explore and illuminate these questions by publishing new material, and also by pulling together and reprinting existing works from many now-scattered sources. Our goal is to provide a periodical devoted to the interrelated topics of

? Human population questions, including its absolute size, rate of growth, and distribution. In nations with low natural increase and high immigration, the latter is a significant component of population growth. (In an ideal world, policy on immigrant numbers would derive from a national population policy.)

? Immigration policy, especially as it relates to the three basic policy questions mentioned above how many, who, and how?

? Language, assimilation, and national unity considerations, which in large measure derive from and are driven by immigration and assimilation policies.

? The balance of individual rights and civic responsibilities since, as with many issues today, population, immigration and language questions are often framed in terms of 'rights.' What is the proper balance of individual and community rights and interests?

Our method for approaching these connected issues is the time-honored concept of 'The Social Contract.' Most great public issues are basically moral and ethical ones What is the right thing to do? How do we decide what we think is right? When 'rights' collide, which ones take precedence? The discipline of thinking through these issues in terms of a Social Contract allows one to achieve a balance of individual and community interests; of the short and the long term; and of utopian idealism and the realities of the world in which we live.

But most importantly, THE SOCIAL CONTRACT is not a detached forum for discussion in some backwater of life. Our issues are all in the forefront of public policy discussions in the United States, which is our primary focus. Our Editorial Advisors are drawn from many of the main organizations trying to influence the course of policy in the issue areas we have chosen. Our journal is one of the tools they use to raise questions, debate themes, and communicate ideas - to encourage vigorous public debate and subsequent changes in our laws and public policies.

We invite you to take part in this Great Debate by reading and contributing to THE SOCIAL CONTRACT.