Ours is an age of narrow specialisation and broad audiences.
Bringing those two together creates a lamentable situation: broad audiences are eager to listen to a narrow specialist pontificating on areas outside his expertise.
Glittering with the gold dust of celebrity, he’s accepted as the light of universal wisdom able to elucidate any problem under the sun.
However, nowadays such men are so rare that one is tempted to say they are nonexistent. For it’s precisely the modern obsession with narrow specialisation that precludes multifaceted sagacity. The jigsaw of life is now too fragmented for anyone other than a great philosopher to put the picture back together, and one doesn’t see many of them around.
Anyway, if one were to search for such an overachiever, football players and managers wouldn’t be the first group to investigate. Jürgen Klopp is a case in point.
An excellent coach, he’s also a likeable man, ever ready to flash his pearly dentures at an interviewer, laugh raucously and reassure his audience with his stock phrase “it’s all good”.
What’s not good is his constant pontificating on the delights of unlimited immigration and, consequently, the evils of Brexit.
Now Herr Klopp’s Weltanschauung is wholly informed by the game he loves. He’s a narrow, and highly accomplished, specialist. However, when his mind wanders off from the football pitch, it’s swept away by the hurricane of ideas that go beyond the lapidary phrase “I hit it first time and there it was in the back of net”.
As a football manager he swears by meritocracy. That’s the beauty of football and sports in general: there exist simple numerical criteria of truth.
No nuances need apply, there’s no antithesis to any thesis: England beat Bulgaria 6:0 yesterday and there’s really nothing to argue about. England is the better team. End of discussion.
Few things outside sports arenas are as simple as that. Predictably, however, Herr Klopp fails to realise that. Football to him is the distillation of life, an unfailing matrix to apply to every little problem. Such, for example, as Brexit.
Herr Klopp hates it because he knows that his Liverpool team benefits from unlimited immigration. His celebrated front line consists of an Egyptian, a Senegalese and a Brazilian; his best line-up includes only three British players. And if it works for Liverpool FC, surely it must work for the UK.
Hence he writes: “In football it’s clear: the best player plays. It’s the same outside football. If you didn’t bother listening at school and you don’t have any education or skills, you can’t expect to get a good job. And when somebody turns up from another country who has worked hard and studied economics or whatever, they don’t get the job because they are black or foreign. They get the job because they are the better candidate.”
Heresies, religious or intellectual, attract because their claim is always partly true. The problem is that they try to pass that part for the whole, making the overall idea fall flat on its face.
In this case it’s true that, if a qualified immigrant can do a better job than a locally sourced recruit, he should be welcomed. One exception I’d make is specifically the profession Klopp singled out: economists.
The fewer we have of them, the better because economists, armed with their computer models, do more harm than good. They should get out of our hair and let people get on with making a living the best they know how. So a Jean-Pierre Whatever can take his degree in economics from l’Ecole de Thingamajig to some place where the sun shines all year round.
But yes, if we can’t produce enough good doctors or engineers, qualified foreigners should get their work visas. Given the pitiful state of our education, I can see accommodating a couple of thousand of those every year.
However, the UK immigrant population currently stands at about 10 million, and it’s increasing at 400,000 a year. Something tells me that not all of them are high-calibre professionals who can show our Tom, Dick and Harrys what’s what.
Something else tells me that most of them place a high demand on our social services without providing a supply of much-needed knowhow. For example, I wonder how many of the 100,000 Somalis who’ve graced our Isles with their presence recently are structural designers or endocrinologists.
Then again, even assuming that our economy has gaping holes that only migrants can plug, it’s not immediately clear why Britain can’t accept them without abandoning her national sovereignty.
After all, foreigners have been able to come to England throughout history without England having to become a province of Germany or some other continental power. Holbein, Rubens, Handel, Haydn, Wittgenstein, Hayak, Eliot and countless others plied their wares in Britain without Britain becoming a Gau in some kind of Reich.
Another consideration is purely numerical. Supposing for the sake of argument that 20 million Germans, all as supremely qualified in their fields as Herr Klopp is in his, wanted to settle in Britain.
There’s no doubt the British economy would benefit, but a country doesn’t live by economy alone (I know how anachronistic this thought sounds). It has to preserve its own idiosyncratic culture, which presupposes a certain ethnic equilibrium heavily favouring the indigenous population.
Hence, even if all those Germans were Klopps in disguise, some limit would have to be put on their number. We’d have to say, sorry, Freunde, we may consider 2,000 but 20 million is ausgeschlossen.
To be able to be so picky, we’d have to have control over our borders. And to have that, we must have… well, you know the litany. Trouble is, Klopp doesn’t. All he knows is football, and more power to him.
Sei nicht dumm, Jürgen. Der Fußball über alles. Du wirst niemals alleine gehen! (I assume that’s how the Liverpool FC theme song, You’ll Never Walk Alone, sounds in German.)