A review by John Richards
Paul Collier begins this book with a précis of his family history. Prior to the First World War, his grandfather, Karl Hellenschmidt, migrated from an impoverished German village to Bradford, at the time a prosperous city in northern England. Come the war, a “gutter rag” newspaper labelled Hellenschmidt a traitor and a mob ransacked his shop. Hellenschmidt was interned; Paul’s grandmother sank into terminal depression. His father, age 12, left school to run the shop. A quarter century later, the threat of European war reemerged and Paul’s father decided to change his name and his identity and become English.
Given this prologue, you might expect Collier to have written a book denouncing “host country” nationalism and accompanying xenophobia towards immigrants. You would be wrong: the prologue is there to disarm critics tempted to dismiss Collier as a bigoted “little Englander.”
Collier’s opening gambit is a critique of conventional wisdom among Western elites. Too many favour open immigration and multicultural policies, and refuse to admit the potential costs of immigration and its distributional consequences among citizens of the host country. This political correctness has,