In a Twitter battle between myself and several other Anarcho-Capitalists, several arguments have been exchanged that serve either to justify concepts such as “open borders”, “freedom of movement” or “mass immigration, or to reject them from a libertarian point of view.
I will present some of these here, and may present more in the future. Suffice it to say that i was very unimpressed by the arguments in favor of “freedom of movement.”
What stood out for me especially, is the denial of current day reality, as if it plays no part in the consequences of an “open border” situation. But it is not merely current day reality that provides my arguments, but also taking into account what the reality would be if a society was completely anarchistic. The two scenarios are simply incompatible as far as “open borders” or “freedom of movement” is concerned. The “freedom” that open-border-libertarians want to provide current day immigrants, would by its very nature lead to massive violations of libertarian principles and rights, now and possibly forever, because current day reality exists.
There can only be a proper order for change toward a more libertarian society in order for it ever to – potentially – become a reality.
Some of the arguments by the pro-camp, with my own con-camp in response.
“The Freedom of movement is a right, that is only limited by the rights of others.”
This is actually true, but it proves too much. In the real-life, current situation, the large majority of immigrants are statists. While their violation of other people’s rights are certainly facilitated by the state, immigrants are still making the conscious choice to do that which has been facilitated by the state. Nobody forces immigrants to enter other countries (or other geographical areas, if you choose), make use of resources that have been stolen by the state from their rightful owners, or engage in any other behavior that would not be tolerated in a libertarian society. Therefore, we can clearly conclude that where the large majority of immigrants is concerned, violating the rights of others is precisely what they are doing. That the state allows them to do this, or even stimulates them to do this, still does not put the blame solely on the state, but also on the people who choose to do that which violates property rights and the NAP, that the state lets them get away with.
Open border libertarians that refuse to put things in the correct order, and claim that immigrants have a right to freedom of movement regardless of whether the state still exists and allows them to violate other people’s rights, ignore the very fact described in the previous paragraph. I continue to suspect that this is because rather than being pure libertarians they are in fact – at least in this matter – compelled by a progressive egalitarian instinct. There is simply NO denying that the massive majority of immigrants are violating property rights and the NAP by choice, and are therefore complicit along with the state that facilitates them. We are simply not currently living in a reality where immigrants are invited by property owners to come and stay, where these immigrants take care not to violate the rights of other property owners, and where they only stay for as long as they are, in fact, invited. This is an “idealized” libertarian situation that is as far removed from the current reality as is possible. To deny this, is to deny reality for the sake of Utopia.
Let’s not even mention the obvious fact that when all of society consists of private property, the concept of “freedom of movement” is so meaningless as to be a vapid term. When almost anywhere you go, you need permission to be, there is no such thing as “freedom”.
“You do not have a right to use government-created means to your own advantage, even if you have been forced to pay for them, because the government is illegitimate.”
This is a truly ridiculous statement. Regardless of whether the government is illegitimate of not, nothing changes the fact that it exists, just as the mafia and other assorted criminals exist. Nothing changes the fact that they proceed to rob you of your resources and use those resources to build certain means, services or products. The notion that one cannot use these to one’s own advantage because the government is illegitimate, is like saying that once someone robs you, you no longer have a right to use that which is stolen from you, because the robbery is “illegitimate.” The simple fact is: when someone robs you and uses the spoils to buy a car, the car then legitimately belongs to you.
Therefore, that which the government has built from the spoils it has robbed people of, consequently belongs to the people that have been forced to pay for it. Long story short, taxpayers own everything government has built or created. Whether they are buildings or roads, services or anything that government has used its stolen spoils for. Taxpayers therefore collectively own the means that government has built to stop immigrants from entering. While it may be undesirable that these means are owned collectively, there is unfortunately no other way to put it, because the resources of all taxpayers combined are in their production and maintenance. Those that have NOT in any way paid for them, voluntarily or otherwise, cannot possibly have any claim to the usage of these means. They have not “homesteaded” the ground upon which they are built, nor have they subsidized this homesteading through forced taxation. Just as any third person cannot claim a right to the usage of a car that has been paid for with stolen money, immigrants cannot claim a right to the usage of means, infrastructure, or services that have been paid for with stolen money.
The complex question that arises is this: since all taxpayers have contributed to the building and maintenance of these means, but their intentions on how they are to be used vary, who gets to have ultimate decision making on how they are to be used? Again, this is an entirely undesirable situation, because it creates conflict over collectively owned resources. But for the time being, there seems to be no other way than to determine the answer, than by democratic vote. It is a situation where no matter who gets the ultimate decision making, someone’s rights to his part of the resources that have been put into the means, will be violated if an undesired decision is made about them. The question thus is, what would be more just? That the rights of the many are violated, or the rights of the few? Libertarians should look for any solution that can evade this problem, but they cannot justify that the negative rights of the many will be violated for the benefit of the negative rights of the few.
Also, when the open borders argument is made on the basis of the government being illegitimate, and therefore no tax payer has a rightful claim to use them, how does any libertarian argue that he gets to use the roads and various services (such as the police) that the government provides from its stolen loot? If borders are illegitimate because the government has created them with stolen money, then why are libertarians using the roads, the police, hospitals and any other government-created services?
It is because the government has left them no choice, by virtue of its monopoly on these services. It has not allowed, nor does it continue to allow, the people of a geographical area to provide its own services in competition. Government forces people to use their means and their services. Without government, people could have homesteaded land that in any practical sense of the word could have functioned as de facto borders to the geographical area, in order to shut out immigrants. It could have homesteaded an actual “border” to function in the same way. They have now not been enabled to do so, because government has a monopoly and taken the decision making into its own hands. Precisely for this reason libertarians argue that they have a right to use roads, police services, fire fighting services and all other means and services which the government will not allow them to provide in society and compete with. By the same token, then, people get to use the services of government over what are essentially border-areas, because government will not allow competition. The fact that these monopolized means and services have been funded with their stolen resources in taxes GIVES them this right.
Again, long story short, libertarians have a legitimate right to “use” government for services that government otherwise will not allow to be provided by others. This means that immigrants, who have never paid taxes under coercion in this particular geographical area, and which never before had any claim that competing with government has not been allowed for them, cannot have a “right” to enter this area.
“Property owners have a right to invite immigrants onto their own property, have them stay there, take jobs with their firms, and in any other way use means and services which these private property owners have paid for.”
This is true. But are private property owners really inviting specific immigrants to do so? Or are they only expressing this, and only this desire, after the fact of mass immigration already violating other people’s rights? Are they providing all the means themselves, to have immigrants stay under these conditions? Do they “helicopter” immigrants in onto their own private property, so as to evade them using other people’s private property in an “idealized” libertarian society where roads too are privately owned?
No, obviously pro-immigration libertarians are doing nothing of the sort. They are welcoming immigrants in the full knowledge that violating other peoples’ property rights and NAP rights is precisely what immigrants end up doing. And immigrants are doing this by choice. Not because government forces them to. Immigrants stay on, and make use of property not their own by choice. Immigrants use infrastructure not their own by choice. Immigrants use housing freely provided by government, by choice. Immigrants use welfare and healthcare services for free, by choice. Immigrants take advantage of the government’s “anti-discrimination” laws by choice. In many cases, immigrants make demands for special privileges (we want better food; respect our culture etc.) that they are aware will violate property rights and NAP rights. And so on, and so forth. This, and not the open borders libertarian’s Utopia, is the reality.
I am unaware of ANY immigrant, and if they exist they will be absolute minority, that completely adheres to libertarian principles, by choice.
In the absolute large majority of cases, immigrants that come in are statists, not libertarians. But open borders libertarians make no such distinctions whatsoever, and lay the blame solely on the state as an excuse to allow in all the statist immigrants anyway. But the “choice” factor of the behavior of immigrants makes clear that the blame does not solely lie with the state.
“Libertarians that are against open borders are really just racists.”
In the case of this argument being made, which in reality is just an ad hominem, it becomes abundantly clear what kind of individuals we are really dealing with. Here are a few remarks:
- In libertarianism, libertarians have every right to have racist attitudes, so long as they do not violate property rights and the Non-Aggression principle. Therefore calling any libertarian a racist, as an argument, is completely irrelevant. It is no different from calling a libertarian a hater of redheads or of short people. As long as libertarian principles are respected, none of this matters.
- Libertarians have absolutely no problem whatsoever with any immigrant that would adhere to private property rights and the non-aggression principle, by choice. Show a libertarian any such immigrant, and he will be welcomed with open arms by virtually all libertarians (maybe not by the Hoppeans, though). But it happens to be the case in reality that most immigrants simply do not fit into this category.
- A libertarian resorting to this shaming tactic, especially considering the above two remarks, clearly exposes his own progressive, leftist, egalitarian views at the expense of what we are supposed to believe are his libertarian credentials. This is why the likes of Cathy Reisenwitz, for example, have been utterly exposed as frauds infiltrating the movement.
- While some open borders libertarians may not resort to pulling the racism-card, their arguments do boil down to notions of “empathy”, “kindness”, “tolerance”, “inclusiveness”, and other assorted feel good progressive terminology. None of this has anything to do with libertarianism whatsoever, and can therefore not be used as proper libertarian arguments for open borders.
“By being in favor of “closed” borders, you are in favor of the state.”
Again, utter nonsense. I am no more in favor of the state if I believe that there is no right to free movement and government should protect borders, as I am in favor of the state if I believe the state ought to protect us from crime, from fire, from general calamity, and should provide us with roads, so long as it has criminalized competition for these services. Should I, as some kind of braindead libertarian, demand that roads, police services, fire fighting services and other assorted services not be provided by the state even as they continue outlawing others from providing these services through the market?
The free market as provided by an genuinely free society, where private property and the non-aggression principle are the de facto “laws” of the land, would provide these kinds of services as well as protect everyone from any kind of violation of property rights and the NAP by any incoming immigrant. But we do not have such a free society. The provision of these types of protections have been taken completely into their own hands by the state. So long as this is the case, and competition is outlawed, a libertarian may very well demand that the state do the job it will not allow others to do, and to do whatever it can to not allow violations of property rights and the NAP.
That includes not allowing statist, rights-violating immigrants to wash over a society.
“You are being a hypocrite. You want to deny access to immigrants, because they may end up doing what natives are mostly already doing anyway. What’s with the double standard?”
This reasoning is tantamount to saying: “Hey woman, you just “allowed” a man to rape you, yet you want to do whatever you can not to be raped by yet more men. What’s with the double standard? Why do these guys over here get to rape you, yet you have a problem with even more men coming in to violate you? How hypocritical of you.”
The notion that someone ought not to try to limit the amount of violation, or the amount of violators, is frankly so absurd as to not even really warrant getting a serious response. Yet I have provided one anyway.
“Enforcing the borders costs a lot of taxpayer money and creates more bureaucracy.”
Yes, i’m sure allowing in millions of new statists and big government supporters will not cost the tax payer anything now and in the long run, and will work wonders on the amount of government bureaucracy.
For those who are unaware, i am being very sarcastic.
“Only borders i am interested in right now is my own property borders, which are not respected by the police.”
Guess what police is? It is government employees. Guess who are pro-government? Statists. Guess who are let into the country by open border policies? Millions of immigrants that are an added number of statists. Guess what they really like? A government that does not respect your private property.
Oh, how wonderful it is to be a completely theoretical libertarian who denies reality in order to play ‘parlor games’ and be drunk on the ideal, which does not exist and as a consequence of his theoretical parlor games being put into practice without any conditions, will never exist.
As mentioned before, the various arguments provided by the pro-open borders camp of Anarcho-capitalists, have left me unimpressed. You can not impress me by trying to project an “idealized” situation over one in current reality, and trying to ignore what kind of calamities this may have as a result. That is why there must be a proper order for things to achieve, in order to get to a more libertarian society. You cannot expect things to work out if you ignore reality and just apply puzzle pieces where they won’t fit.***
Open border enthusiasts would, out of sheer empty-headed and uncategorized principle, sooner turn a predatory society into an even more predatory one with even more disastrous results, than to realize that reality will not conform to your wishes. You have to take reality into account as you traverse it to reach your goal.
If you have a bee in your house that you don’t want to sting you, and you know you have a bees nest right outside your back door, you do not keep that back door open just because of the principle of the thing.
*** As an added example of using the correct order of things for proper change, in order to prevent absolute calamity: let us assume government will stop providing protection services (as us anarchists would really prefer they do, ultimately), yet at the same time it will continue to outlaw that these services are provided by the market. What will happen if not outright chaos, destruction and bloodshed? Obviously, one must come before the other. The mere principle of government not providing any particular service can not be separated from the reality of consequences. In much the same way, “opening” the borders, while still maintaining the welfare state and the myriad ways in which immigrants then get to violate private property rights and the NAP, is just as ridiculous as demanding that the state stop providing protection services even as it still forbids provision of protection services by other parties.