Bryan Caplan asks and answers a question:
I’m a fallible human being, so when people say, “Bryan, what you fail to realize is…” I listen closely. Precisely what do I fail to realize? I’d really like to know.
Most of the time, though, I’m sadly disappointed. The things I allegedly “fail to realize” tend to be smack dab in the middle of my class notes and publications. Latest example: Many critics of my cosmopolitan and open borders stance have faulted me for “failing to realize” that normal human beings value their group identities.
The reality is that I’ve been vocally affirming the political importance of group identity for over a decade. Check out my undergraduate and graduate course notes on voter motivation, this article, my posts on the Respect Motive, or my effusive praise for the expressive voting model. My punchline of American partisanship, for example, is that the data shows:
1. Strong evidence for group-interested voting, with race being the main group of interest.
2. Self-interest plays a marginal role at most.
I even give my graduate Public Choice students this essay assignment:
Consider another country and/or historical era with which you are familiar. Write a case study of its politics that weighs the explanatory power of the SIVH [Self-Interested Voter Hypothesis], group-interest, and ideology.
How can I grasp the massive political effects of group identity, but remain a cosmopolitan and open borders advocate? Simple.
I don’t buy his answer. I have a much more logical one. Bryan Caplan grasps the massive political effects of group identity, but remains a cosmopolitan and open borders advocate because he sees it as being in the interest of the group with which he identifies.