Mass Immigration and National Survival

By Garrett Hardin
Volume 29, Number 3 (Spring 2019)
Issue theme: "Living Within Limits - The Enduring Relevance of Garrett Hardin"

The interests of the whole community, though great, are diffuse…. At the present time no constituency in the United States is sufficiently informed and powerful to secure the end desired by the vast majority, namely a sharp curtailment of immigration. We suspect that democracy may be in jeopardy because of its apparent inability to meet the first test of any system—survival.

As the proportion of recent immigrants increases, their political power will increase proportionately. We already see signs of this in the growing intransigence of “Chicano” leaders, the younger generation of Mexican-Americans. At some level of population—five percent of the total population? Ten percent?—the recent immigrants may well reach a “critical mass” (to borrow a concept from nuclear physics) whose power the more comfortable and passive multitude of longtime residents will find irresistible. As militant immigrants fight to keep the borders open, they will be aided by native political activists, left over from the 1960s, who seek new worlds to conquer. When the political power of this coalition becomes irresistible, the United States will have lost control of its destiny. Hoping to diminish world poverty by neglecting to control movements across our borders, the nation will merely have become sucked into a global commons that universalizes poverty.


[From Naked Emperors: Essays of a Taboo-Stalker. Los Altos, CA: William Kaufmann, Inc, pp. 27-28, 1982]

About the author

Garrett Hardin (1915-2003), a professor of human ecology at the University of California, was the author of 27 books and over 350 articles. He received numerous awards over the course of a distinguished career.