I haven’t been active on my blog a lot lately, because every now and then i simply need time off from all the madness and infuriating stupidity that washes over me when i familiarize myself with recent developments.
However, regarding the immigration/refugee situation, especially as a result of the war in Syria and the Paris attacks, i felt the need to throw in my own two cents. Probably because stupidity is trotted out by fellow libertarians.
There seem to be this group of libertarians who feel more inclined to liberal progressivism that they are to libertarianism. I can tell this from the well known buzzwords they tend to use which have a typical liberal slant to them.
In the case of the immigration issue, there seem to be two camps: a camp that thinks allowing a flood of refugees is foolish, and a camp which insists that open borders, and freedom of movement, are libertarian ideals and therefore limiting such would be unprincipled.
On the surface of it, it may seem that limiting immigration is anti-libertarian because it requires state action. But is it, for that specific reason, any less libertarian than making a spoiler clean up his own mess, or making a vandal compensate for the stuff he himself broke? The question is: is immigration in its current form a ”natural” phenomenon consistent with ideals of liberty, or is it the direct result of bad government action, and is the immigration itself also no more than government action?
Over at The Art of Not Being Governed, Sterlin Lujan takes what he considers to be the “principled” position by being pro-refugee, pro-open borders, pro-freedom of movement, and states that no government action can be an excuse to break these principles. He also lambastes those libertarians he thinks do so, such as Christopher Cantwell apparently did in this piece.
The short story is: Christopher Cantwell got it right, as he usually does. And Sterlin Lujan gets it wrong. Whether Lujan gets it wrong willfully or because he simply can’t reason consistently, i don’t know.
The long story is this: libertarians are fooling themselves if they promote freedom of movement, open borders, a pro-refugee stance or anything similar. Libertarianism promotes no such things. What libertarianism promotes, are private property rights, and the non-aggression axiom.
When these libertarian principles are applied consistently, it means there can be no public property as it is currently understood. It means that all property that is owned, is privately owned. Thus the principled position would be that all property is private, including homesteaded or bought land, roads, buildings and basically everything that has been either built or homesteaded. The question must then inevitably arrive: how on Earth could there be anything like “freedom of movement” or a “pro refugee stance” in which a society as a whole is forced to accept mass immigration?
The answer is: there can’t. When all property is private, any and all that wish to enter it must have express permission before they do so. Realistically, what does this mean for the majority of refugees or immigrants? It certainly does not mean mass movement. It does not mean any kind of positive rights. It means asking permission to enter the property of EVERY SINGLE property owner, including those who own roads.
However, the alleged “principled” libertarians mysteriously forget about all of this when they proclaim their preference for freedom of movement, open borders and a pro-refugee stance. They wish to forget about real-world phenomena like the attraction of a welfare state on immigrants, of them getting all kinds of benefits paid for by taxpayers. For the principled libertarian, because these are delivered by the government, they are illegitimate, and thus should not be considered as a reason to be against mass immigration anyway. But note how these same libertarians do not apply the same logic to real-world phenomena like public property, public roads, and all other things that are not libertarian at all but which “principled libertarians” have no problem with for immigrants to use, knowing that they never could if libertarians had their ‘principled’ society.
Their principled libertarianism (if it were truly principled) would NEVER allow for mass immigration, but here suddenly the existence of government force is used to explain the opposite, that mass immigration is somehow libertarian, even though it is government action and ONLY government action that enables it.
Long story short: open borders are a fiction, and so is freedom of movement, in both the real AND the ideal libertarian world. It simply does not exist except in the fantasy of liberal progressives. The chances of large numbers of immigrants getting permission to enter private property is virtually non-existent. A very strict selection of who gets to enter would likely be applied. All the rest would be trespassers. One private property owner with a kind enough heart to allow entrance to immigrants would not know if the next would be just as kind-hearted, and would therefore run the risk of having them all stay on his own property. Would his kindheartedness still be as great?
That this supposed “principled” libertarian has liberal progressive fantasies becomes clear once he tries to claim that “anarchism is a philosophy of compassion and peace.”
Except that it’s only half true. Anarchism is the logically consistent result of its two real principles: that of private property rights and the non-aggression axiom. There is no such thing as a “compassion” axiom. Compassion is an individual preference, not a component of the anarchist philosophy. There is nothing anti-anarchist or un-anarchist about being an uncompassionate, cold hearted, hateful son-of-a-bitch, as long as he doesn’t violate anyone’s rights to his private property and respects non-aggression. Lujan is trying to smuggle typical feel-good liberal progressive verbiage into the meaning of anarchism, thereby committing the same faux pas that he claims anti-immigration libertarians are making.
Lujan tries to explain how those who question mass immigration and refugee admittance are not ”principled” libertarians, but exposes himself for not being one at all either. He does this by promoting a concept that would be non-existent in a principled libertarian society, and by pretending anarchism is about something that has nothing to do with it.
The issue of mass immigration is difficult, for how can one oppose it without demanding government action? At the same time, being in favor of it has nothing to do with any libertarian principle, and is ultimately going to be violative of what SHOULD be private property rights in any libertarian society that is principled. For a concept that would not even exist in a libertarian society, these libertarians are willing to overlook the myriad of government transgressions already employed in favor of such immigration.
Libertarians who want government action against it, are employing the wrong means. Libertarians who are in favor of it, are employing the wrong philosophy.
It’s seems easier to me to convince libertarians not to use the state than it is to convince one who is completely wrong about the entire issue to begin with.