Immigration and Liberty in the Real World: A Libertarian Case for Restricting Immigration


Immigration and Liberty in the Real World: A Libertarian Case for Restricting Immigration

Gary Stephenson

Political Notes No. 199

ISSN 0267-7059 (print)
ISSN 2042-2776 (online)
ISBN: 9781856376655

An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance,
Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, Mayfair, London W1J 6HL.

© 2014: Libertarian Alliance; Gary Stephenson

Gary Stephenson studied Economic History at the London School of Economics where he became exasperated with leftist student politics but fortunately discovered the antidote in libertarianism. He now works in the City of London as an IT consultant, occasionally finding the time to contribute political writings to various blogs and websites. The views expressed in this publication are those of its author, and not necessarily those of the Libertarian Alliance, its Committee, Advisory Council or subscribers.

FOR LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY

The debate

The immigration debate amongst libertarians is usually split into two factions. The first are those who simply wish to discard all border controls and the second who want these to remain in some form or another. In general terms libertarians who advocate a policy of open borders do so because immigration controls are seen as state interference in the free interaction of people. They therefore see this as an abhorrent institution which has no place in a free society. On the other hand are those who wish to retain border controls (albeit with reforms) either out of concerns of national composition or the negative economic effects on the poor of the host population. Both sides have powerful arguments in their favour but I wish to explore why the most palatable policy option for a developed country to adopt today is the restriction of immigration from developing countries. Although a world without borders is the libertarian ideal, if controls were abolished immediately it is likely the developed world would experience some very negative consequences indeed. The most serious of these are the lowering of wage rates for the unskilled and the entry of people who are unfamiliar with or hostile to liberty.

Against controls

An absence of border controls is almost certainly the policy most consistent with libertarian principles. The individual is a sovereign entity and provided he is not trespassing on another’s property can settle to live or visit anywhere he pleases. Thus the foreigner is subject to the same laws as the native and is not discriminated against at all by the authorities being true to the non-aggression principle. In theory, free immigration can bring wider benefits to both the immigrant’s native country and adopted country as well. Labour will migrate to areas were capital intensity and wages are high while capital flows to areas where labour is cheap. All things being equal this will result in an equalisation of wage rates as capital and labour reach their optimum ratios. This should not result in lower wage rates in the capital concentrated economy over the long term; although wage rates may fall nominally in some sectors this will be offset by rising real wage rates as the economies become more integrated and efficient. Thus free immigration is the corollary of free trade and exchange. The alternative of restricted or closed immigration is in many ways the exact opposite: economic protectionism. All the problems this entails have been thoroughly spelt out by economists before so I am not going to debunk that doctrine any further. All this notwithstanding it would be a disaster for the developed countries if border controls were to disappear immediately. The magnitude of the disaster would be incalculable if one country were to unilaterally adopt a policy of free immigration.

For controls

What would be the effects of open borders on the countries of Europe and North America if it were enacted tomorrow? Certainly this would cause great upheaval in view of the lenient criminal justice systems, welfare and free health services on offer and perversely regulated labour markets. The developed countries would be overrun with the poor of the developing world. The capital stock of developed economies would be plundered, the police and prisons overwhelmed by a mighty crime wave with welfare states collapsing under the strain of the new arrivals. Some might say this would be a good thing; the governments of the western world are degenerate and their demise will pave the way for a free society. However, it is extremely naive to think that newcomers unacquainted with western customs and values will facilitate the establishment of a free society. The end result of such a policy is the end of a civilisation similar to the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century.

To take an egregious example London has become populated in recent decades with a substantial Muslim Arab community. Their treatment of women is thoroughly deplorable. It is very distressing to see women in the twenty-first century covered from head to toe and not allowed to show their faces. It is staggering that this is justified on the spurious grounds that lest a lustful male glimpses her it would compromise her dignity. Even worse are the widespread practices of female circumcision, honour killings and the baffling precedent of blaming rape on the victim rather than the rapist. People with such attitudes are unlikely to support a free society which libertarians wish to see. Indeed libertarianism is virtually non-existent as a political force in Africa and the Middle East. Yet immigration from these countries is encouraged by politicians and activists who seem oblivious to the danger of altering a society’s demographics with people who do not share liberal values. Of course immigrants can be assimilated into a society and adopt its custom and values but this takes a long time because a society can only absorb small numbers of newcomers at a once. For example, the United States experienced a great wave of immigration in the late nineteenth century from Southern and Eastern Europe. It took several generations even for these immigrants to fully assimilate, demonstrated by inter-marriage rates, educational attainment and economic status. This great wave was eventually halted by the Immigration Act of 1924 which capped the number of immigrants at 150,000 per annum thereby facilitating the assimilation process. Constant mass immigration from backward parts of the world is definitely not conducive to the development of a free society. An open border policy would severely inhibit to make impossible the ability of a society to assimilate and integrate the new arrivals.

If, however, the developed countries suddenly denied welfare and immigrants were obliged to cover the costs incurred of their stay this would mitigate some of the problems discussed. Most of the immigrants would simply be people willing to work. So does a policy of free immigration then become viable? This is unlikely because of the huge depressive effect it would have on domestic wage rates, especially for the unskilled. An increase in the supply of labour without a corresponding increase in capital is bound to lower wage rates in the short term for those working in the host country. So severe would the effect be if borders were suddenly opened that the benefits of a more integrated and efficient economy would not be felt for decades given the economic disparity of countries across the world. In the short to medium term, the poor of the developed countries would suffer lower wages, worse housing and a lower overall standard of living. This is not something to be dismissed lightly as it is hardly an attractive advertisement for libertarianism.

To a large extent, the United Kingdom had a relaxed immigration policy in the 2000s when the borders were opened to the new EU member states in 2004 while the number of work permits to non-EEA nationals increased from the tens of thousands per annum in the 1990s to over one hundred thousand. Unsurprisingly the result was an inflow of foreign labour competing with the British people for jobs, especially in the lower end of the labour market. Median wages in the United Kingdom were stagnant from 2003 to 2008 despite GDP growth of 11 per cent in that period.1 Admittedly this could be mitigated by slashing regulations, public spending and taxation to increase capital intensity per worker and thereby real wages. However, it does not alter the fact that labour immigration which imports barely any capital with it depresses real wages. Indeed no libertarian scholars that I know of have made any attempt to deny that a large influx of immigrant workers depresses real wages for some workers in the host country. David Friedman states in his essay ‘Open the Gates’, where he advocates a policy of open borders and mass immigration from developing countries, ‘[T]he new immigrants will drive down the wages of unskilled labor, hurting some of present poor’.2 Similarly Walter Block echoes this in his response to the charge ‘Unrestricted immigration will reduce the real wages of the workers already in residence’; he goes on to state ‘This charge, however, cannot be denied; it is true that under some circumstances, workers in the receiving country… will lose out’.3 It is telling indeed that such enthusiastic proponents of mass immigration candidly admit that it would cause real wages for the unskilled to fall.

It is argued by some libertarians that such predictions are hysterical, that there would not be mass immigration to the relatively over populated countries of the developed world as per the law of migration and location according to Ludwig von Mises. This can be summarised as follows: A country is overpopulated when the optimum population is exceeded. An increase in population results in a decrease in welfare because the large population operates in less than favourable conditions of production. So the same amount of capital and labour applied yields less returns compared to an under populated country. Therefore, if people can migrate freely they will move to under populated areas.4 However what this theory seems to suggest is that when welfare in the receiving country relative to other countries begins to fall immigration to it will also fall. Immigrants from the developing countries are used to very low standards of living compared to the inhabitants of the developed countries. Living standards and welfare will then have to fall considerably to deter these immigrants from coming. To be sure capital would then also flow to the developing countries but these countries are so poor it would take a long time indeed before welfare increases to deter emigration. Until the welfare levels across the world are equalised the population of developed countries would therefore skyrocket if the borders were opened. Some estimates state that nearly forty percent of some developing countries’ populations would migrate to developed countries if permitted.5 The poor in developed countries would therefore suffer much lower living standards while the immigrants themselves would probably not benefit greatly either. The long-term consequence of this would be the altering of the developed world’s demographics and the certain danger this poses of destroying the makeup of a free society.

A pragmatic response

The arguments detailed above serve to rebut those who maintain that retaining border controls in the immediate future is a deviation from the libertarian ideal; a betrayal rather than a compromise that should not even be entertained. I believe it is vital that on pragmatic grounds we must restrict immigration while the world remains so unequal. The future which we should strive towards is one without borders but today a free immigration policy would be suicide for the west. A compromise could be that developed countries open up borders between themselves. This no doubt would produce some arbitrary developments but it is already happening in Europe. Perhaps the Schengen Area or a variant of it could be expanded to include the United States, Australia, Japan and so on? When a formerly developing country reaches a similar level of development, they can join and eventually all will have abolished passport and immigration controls at their borders. However, I think the people in the No Border Network cannot countenance such a reasonable policy because it affirms the existence of a state (at least in their lifetimes). Stuck in the anarchist paradigm they can see no way out of the disastrous consequences of the sudden removal of border controls so they simply shut their eyes to the problem.

Therefore, we can conclude that the results of a free immigration policy, if enacted immediately, would have some extremely negative consequences for the developed countries of the world. While global economic convergence would eventually occur great pain would be felt by the poor in developed countries with limited immediate benefit for the immigrants themselves. The open borders policy would very probably alter the makeup of liberal societies transforming them into illiberal ones. A much more realistic policy would be for the gradual dismantling of immigration barriers in conjunction with policies of free trade and free markets; thus when the world is not as economically disparate border controls will disappear allowing for optimum division of labour so finally worldwide peace and prosperity can occur.

Notes

(1)Commission on Living Standards, Gaining from Growth: The Final Report of the Commission on Living Standards, 2012, retrieved 2nd December 2013, http://livingstandards.org/final-report/gaining-from-growth-a4.pdf, p. 9.

(2) David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism (2nd ed.), Chicago, LaSalle, 1989, p. 70.

(3) Walter Block, ‘A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration’, Journal of Libertarian Studies, 13, no. 2, 1998, pp. 167-186 (p. 176).

(4) Ludwig von Mises, Nation, State, and Economy, New York, New York University Press, 1983, p. 58.

(5)Neli Esipova & Julie Ray, ‘700 Million Worldwide Desire to Migrate Permanently’, Gallup, 2nd November 2009, retrieved 2nd December 2013, http://tinyurl.com/2b6phe7.

About these ads

47 responses to “Immigration and Liberty in the Real World: A Libertarian Case for Restricting Immigration

  1. Well I think we can all agree that “free migration” (anyone who wants to come in can come in) is not compatible with “public services” – “rights” to education, health, housing (and so on). But this is not the only consideration.

    Is the man or women who wants to come in (to live their lives) loyal to the new country they wish to join – or do they come with hostile intent (intent that violates the nonaggression principle) ?

    For example, someone is either a follower of Mohammed or they are not. If they are not they should not say they are (because someone should not describe themselves as being a member of a religion if they do not really believe in it) – and if they are a follower of the life and teachings of Mohammed how can they not have hostile intent? After all Mohamed claimed the whole world for his new religion not just one bit of the world – and the domination of the religion was to spread by force (if peaceful means failed), with such things as surprise attacks on people he (Mohammed) had promised peace to, being acceptable (for the greater good).

    If the answer is “a libertarian may not keep out anyone regardless of whether they are loyal to the new country they are seeking to enter or not” then we are are not talking about a political philosophy – we are dealing with a suicide pact.

    It need not be religion.

    For example, if someone was a loyal servant of the King of France (in the days that there was one) and was entering this Realm to “spy out the land” for an invasion (and to engage in sabotage when the time came), it would again be loopy to let him or her in.

    This is why there are such things as Oaths of Loyalty and (historically) the death penalty for those who break these oaths.

  2. “The capital stock of developed economies would be plundered,”

    The capital stock is plundered anyway. Contrary to the myth, the locals are not very libertarian either. Especially Britain does not have much capital stock left. This is a welfare state problem and needs to be solved with or without immigration. But with immigration we could solve this quicker. People stop supporting the welfare state if the society is not homogenous. They then start fearing that their money is going to strangers.

    “Their treatment of women is thoroughly deplorable. It is very distressing to see women in the twenty-first century covered from head to toe and not allowed to show their faces.”

    It is heartwarming that you care about these women. However, I don’t think you help them by sending them back to their home countries. They have better chances of improving their lives here.

    “People with such attitudes are unlikely to support a free society which libertarians wish to see.”

    You forget that a lot of immigrants are people who flee their country because they do not approve of these practices. Making the move to a foreign country is an act of liberation. They take actions into their own hands. That is exactly what you need for a free society. Sure there are exceptions. But they are exceptions.

    “An open border policy would severely inhibit to make impossible the ability of a society to assimilate and integrate the new arrivals.”

    It is true that a society with open borders would change quite a bit. But that is the beauty of freedom. It is a vibrant society that can adept quickly to a changing world. I feel very unease with the argument that we need the state to prevent change. That is the basis behind argument of every totalitarian ideology.

    “This is unlikely because of the huge depressive effect it would have on domestic wage rates, especially for the unskilled.”

    First of all, almost exclusively for some unskilled workers. But even immigration sceptical economist usually admit that this would not be a huge effect. Over all, I don’t know of many economists that would argue that immigrations has a negative effect on the economy. On the whole, there can be little doubt that the economy would benefit.

    “An increase in the supply of labour without a corresponding increase in capital is bound to lower wage rates in the short term for those working in the host country.”

    You also get an increase of entrepreneurs and innovation. With more people you have a bigger economy. This happens over night. Also the fall of government borders does not mean there is no regulation. The market is regulating in and of itself. This argument is the typical fallacy that the economy would stay exactly the same, just more people are now competing for the same jobs. But of course, a lot of wages would go up. So why make the interests of some low skilled workers the most important thing? This is just the typical ‘what you see and what you don’t see’ nonsense that comes with all regulations. Speaking of side effects, it of course has a lot of negative effects, to let the state control borders. Not only do you need quite a few people and money for that, but once this apparatus is in place it will do a lot more than enforcing immigration controls. It will also control which goods you bring into the country. And soon it will likely control who leaves the country with how much capital.

    “I believe it is vital that on pragmatic grounds we must restrict immigration while the world remains so unequal.”

    So in other words, freedom is great, it is just not practical. That is why we need the state to regulate it. But some time in the future, when we have a perfect planet we can try freedom. I actually happen to believe that freedom does work, Gary. I cannot help but feeling that the real reason for people to oppose immigration is xenophobia. They just don’t want all these strangers in their neighbourhood.

    • Gary Stephenson

      Nico,

      Our capital stock is being diminished but we might still be able to turn this around. Why make it a near certainty by opening the borders? I think you are correct that open borders would necessitate the collapse of the welfare state. However we would not simply lose the welfare state and then become a free society. I do not see how we could achieve this if we are suddenly overrun with the poor of the developing world.

      I do not argue at all for sending people back to where they came from. I favour restricting immigration from developing countries to facilitate the assimilation process.

      It is a fact that most immigrants vote for left wing parties. I believe Nigel Meek researched this in depth. I do not have the figures to hand but the evidence he cited is overwhelming that where immigrants in Britain vote at all the majority vote for the Labour party. They are unlikely to be libertarians. Some are for sure but on the whole this would not be good if we are to advance towards a free society.

      I do not endorse the power of the state to prevent change (or promote change for that matter). I come from the minarchist angle where the state is there to protect people and act as the guardian of society. Of course society changes but it does not change for the better if greater numbers of the populace are hostile to liberty. At least libertarianism exists here and is gaining some traction. It is unknown in many parts of the world so why risk ruining this by allowing mass immigration?

      It should be obvious that there would be major depressive effects on wages for the unskilled under a free immigration policy. I citied examples of libertarians in favour of mass immigration who admit wages for the unskilled would fall. Actually it is happening in Britain already. I imagine it is an inconvenient fact that you would prefer to ignore.

      Dilution of capital per worker is not going to be made up for by more people; it is the increase in labour which causes capital intensity to fall. We might well get more entrepreneurs and innovation but this is not an overnight phenomenon as you claim. Capital takes time to accumulate and if you increase labour without a corresponding increase in capital real wages are bound to fall in the short term at least. It would take a long time before the unskilled would be better off than when the borders opened. Immigration of more highly skilled workers who can increase capital intensity and real wages is more likely to come from other developed countries which I am in favour of abolishing immigration controls with.

      I fail to see how having some immigration controls leads to restrictions on the movement of goods and capital and to controls against emigration. I realise that as an anarchist you will not tolerate any state action but I think this is rather farfetched.

      You do not seem to acknowledge the population explosion that would result of opening the borders. It is difficult to quantify with accuracy how many people would migrate to the west if border controls were lifted but judging by the low standards of living many immigrants are used to it is likely to be a very high number. This is bound to cause problems with overcrowding and stretching infrastructure to the limit. Yes in time we could deal with this, but we would see short term pain and I see no obvious long run benefit either. Why would you want to potentially double the population of an already crowded area causing lower living standards for many of its inhabitants? Perhaps it satisfies an anarcho-capitalist fantasy but nothing else.

      I do regard some relaxing of border controls as practical. I stated that I would be in favour of expanding something like the Schengen Area to include other developed countries. I do not deny the benefits of immigration, just not while the world is as economically disparate. I really think patience is required. We are not going to see a society based on private property and the non-aggression overnight. It is something we must work towards. I fear that advocating dangerously unworkable proposals damages our credibility and so makes actually realising a free society less likely.

      I would also urge you to retract your baseless allegation of xenophobia. I think I made it quite clear I have no problem with immigration per se but only with mass immigration from the poorer countries of the world. I suspect your opposition to immigration controls is simply hostility to any state action regardless of the consequences.

    • “But that is the beauty of freedom”

      You forgot what Aristotle noticed thousands of years ago: some people are natural slaves. And not just a few. A lot. If there weren’t, people wouldn’t be religious fanatics slaughtering each other in the names of their respective gods.

      Reality trumps theory every time, especially really bad theory, such as open borders.

  3. “Our capital stock is being diminished but we might still be able to turn this around. Why make it a near certainty by opening the borders?”

    It will be easier to turn it around by opening the borders. It is no coincidence that the biggest welfare states are in homogenous places like Denmark. The current debate about Romanians coming here shows that even a lot of welfare supporters distaste the fact that foreigners get this money.

    “However we would not simply lose the welfare state and then become a free society.”

    Well if the welfare state goes and we have open borders how is that not making us more free? We will only get to a libertarian society gradually. And this sure looks like a step in the right direction.

    “I do not argue at all for sending people back to where they came from. I favour restricting immigration from developing countries to facilitate the assimilation process.”

    So if they knock on the gates you will send them back, right? If not than you are in favour of open borders.

    “It is a fact that most immigrants vote for left wing parties.”

    I am not advocating voting rights for people. Whatever keeps people from voting is fine with me.

    “They are unlikely to be libertarians.”

    They are not less libertarian than locals.

    “I do not endorse the power of the state to prevent change”

    well you said that you want the state to make sure that immigrants assimilate. So you want the state to prevent a change in local culture or am I getting this wrong?

    “I come from the minarchist angle where the state is there to protect people and act as the guardian of society.”

    Yes protect people’s rights, but not making sure that everyone thinks the right ideas.

    “Of course society changes but it does not change for the better if greater numbers of the populace are hostile to liberty.”

    Where do you get this idea that immigrants are more hostile to liberty than the locals? That is not my experience at all. At least if you don’t take welfare tourists.

    “At least libertarianism exists here and is gaining some traction. It is unknown in many parts of the world so why risk ruining this by allowing mass immigration?”

    Because opening the borders massively weakens the state. It is an act of liberation. I am far more concerned with the state than with some poor immigrants. You will not get a libertarian society by un-libertarian means.

    “I imagine it is an inconvenient fact that you would prefer to ignore.”

    I think I clearly acknowledged it. It is unskilled workers in local service jobs of which speaking english is not a qualification that would see some pressor on their wages. But there are two sides to this, those who receive wages and those who pay them. The other side would obviously benefit from this. And that would make the economy as a whole stronger. The overall effect of immigration on the economy, even mass immigration is positive.

    ‘Dilution of capital per worker is not going to be made up for by more people; it is the increase in labour which causes capital intensity to fall.”

    No there is a regulation in the markets. People would not come here if they could not work. If they can work, well then there is obviously a need for them.

    “We might well get more entrepreneurs and innovation but this is not an overnight phenomenon as you claim.”

    Of course it is. In every voluntary transaction, both side win right there. Who is loosing something in this?

    “Capital takes time to accumulate”

    Yes, but therefore you need to start the process. If you don’t start, nothing gets accumulated.

    “if you increase labour without a corresponding increase in capital real wages are bound to fall in the short term at least.”

    That assumes that more people are coming than are needed. But people will only come if they are needed.

    “I fail to see how having some immigration controls leads to restrictions on the movement of goods and capital and to controls against emigration. I realise that as an anarchist you will not tolerate any state action but I think this is rather farfetched.”

    It is happening. Once you have the border control network in place they will use this for more than just keeping immigrants out. Try to take a large amount of cash with you when you get out and you will see. I drive to England once in a while and these border guards do search cars quite a bit for illegal goods.

    “it is likely to be a very high number. “

    agreed.

    “This is bound to cause problems with overcrowding and stretching infrastructure to the limit.”

    No, the market regulates these things quite nicely. That is the beauty of having more people, infrastructure gets more affordable. That is the only reason why I life in London. There are so many people here and that makes many things economical that otherwise would not be.

    “Why would you want to potentially double the population of an already crowded area causing lower living standards for many of its inhabitants?”

    Why do you assume that freeing up markets leads to lower standards of living? That is against any economic logic. You are making the same arguments that every socialist makes when it comes to freeing up markets in any other area.

    “We are not going to see a society based on private property and the non-aggression overnight. It is something we must work towards.”

    Exactly. That is why we should endorse open borders. It is making us more free.

    “I fear that advocating dangerously unworkable proposals damages our credibility and so makes actually realising a free society less likely.”

    I disagree. If we ever want to get closer to a libertarian society we need to be radical. We see this in the US with the Mises institute that the most radical libertarians are the most successful.

    “I would also urge you to retract your baseless allegation of xenophobia.”

    I am sorry if I got that wrong. But if you are talking about immigrants having to assimilate that comes across as a bit xenophobic. It is no one’s business what people do with their life.

    • Gary Stephenson

      Nico,

      If we have no welfare state because of open borders it will mean living with many immigrants who are less libertarian than the hosts (as shown by their voting patterns) so it is unlikely that a libertarian order will emerge from the chaos ensued by an instant abolition of immigration controls. I sincerely doubt we will be more free and prosperous as a society.

      A sudden influx of immigrants is bound to lower living standards for some in the short term. Short term is the important caveat. But why go through the pain? It would be more palatable to wait until developing countries are richer and then open the borders. Yes, those paying the lower wages will benefit but I do not think some people should suffer earning lower wages as a consequence. You are not going to win many converts with this stance.

      I do not want the state to force immigrants to assimilate. I think assimilation will happen on its own so long as the numbers of newcomers are small enough to be absorbed.

      • “However you cannot entertain that idea because it means state activity. Perhaps you regard your ideology more important that the consequences.”

        No, I do entertain the idea. I am just not convinced. I laid down the exact logic behind your argument. It is the standard argument that I get from everyone who tries to justify his favourite government program. It is not about liberty but about using the state to favour one group of people over another. Your economic arguments are the classic candle makers trick of mentioning one side of the consequences and present them as the overall effect. You may not even deliberately use it as a trick, but really believe it. But then again, so do most people arguing in favour of state intervention.

        Now practically, if we had the choice I actually do favour transitions in certain cases. I think it would be preferable to free up markets before we shut down the welfare state, or that we slowly fade out the NHS, so that people who have become dependent on this system don’t suffer. Unfortunately this is an illusion. The state cannot be controlled. If the choice came down to abolishing the NHS tomorrow or not at all, I would be in favour of tomorrow, even though it is not the ideal way of doing it.

        But when it comes to immigration, the case seems overwhelmingly clear. Restrictions could easily be abolished tomorrow. Some people would feel some pressure on their wages, but overall the economy would do better. But ok, you don’t want to see that, so lets leave it there.

        • There’s no evidence that large scale immigration into developed economies improves those economies; there is no GDP/capita boost. There is a case for mass immigration into underpopulated, underdeveloped economies such as the historic USA, to “soak up” available productive resources which are going unexploited. But that is not the issue here.

          This is one way in which Libertarianism needs to shake off its American bias that developed in the last century, which often cleaved to that primitive American model in which the USA benefitted from mass immigration and developed as a result.

          The reality facing us now is not an economic issue, but a matter of culture. When you import a person, you do not simply import their labour, and the confusion between the two things- labour and people- causes a lot of the naive support for immigrationism.

          If we imagine some kind of anarchist utopia, borders would rapidly spring up as people claim territory for whatever their communities are. They would then be free to “voluntarily” police their borders and admit or exclude whoever they wish, from the individual landowner to the landowning community at any scale. Currently we have none of this. The only borders we have are the State ones, and therefore however unlibertarian it may be, those are the only borders we can control.

          There is no significant economic case for open borders. Neither is there a libertarian or anarchist one. There is, i cannot help but feel, nothing but a naive romantic universalism borrowed from the progressive left motivated by the terror of being “racist”. The reality has shifted within the space of a few decades from discussions of welcoming newcomers, to when rather than whether the indigenous peoples of Europe will become minorities in their own lands. The Utopianism has to stop. This is a real situation, it is one of the now, not a discussion of some hypothetical ideal future state. We cannot afford to be naive and close our eyes any longer.

          • “There’s no evidence that large scale immigration into developed economies improves those economies”

            Sure there is. There are plenty of studies and most importantly there is economic reasoning. But that assumes that you are interested in evidence.

            “The reality facing us now is not an economic issue, but a matter of culture.”

            Well that is a conservative speaking. As a libertarian I don’t care about culture, as long as I can live my life as I please.

            “Currently we have none of this.”

            Sure there are plenty of gates communities. I am not arguing in favour of immigrants having a right to stay in your house.

            “The only borders we have are the State ones, and therefore however unlibertarian it may be, those are the only borders we can control.”

            Indeed it is unlibertarian to control these borders.

            “There is no significant economic case for open borders. “

            False.

            “Neither is there a libertarian or anarchist one. There is, i cannot help but feel, nothing but a naive romantic universalism borrowed from the progressive left motivated by the terror of being “racist”.

            Hmm, no argument here, just some ranting to persuade yourself to not listen to the arguments of libertarians.

            “The reality has shifted within the space of a few decades from discussions of welcoming newcomers, to when rather than whether the indigenous peoples of Europe will become minorities in their own lands.”

            That is inevitable, but what is the problem with that? How does that reduce your liberty?

            • As a libertarian I don’t care about culture, as long as I can live my life as I please.

              The problem is Nico, the second one of those things is dependent on the first one of those things, and unless you realise that, you’re not going to grasp why this issue is so important.

              • I would consider this argument if we lived in a free society with lots of libertarians. Problem is when I talk to most people it is scary what kind of huge statists they are. So when people talking about immigrants changing our free culture, I find it hard to consider this a sincere argument. Certainly, immigrants will change the local culture. Culture is always changing. But not necessarily in a bad way. The biggest source of statism is this idea that we are the government. This illusion works much better if you have a reasonable homogenous society. So a multicultural society weakens the state enormously. Because how can the people rule if the people clearly do not exist. That means that calling for restrictions of government in such a system, should be much easier. In particular it should be easier to dismantle the welfare state. Does not mean it happens automatically, it will still be hard, but it should be easier.

  4. “If we have no welfare state because of open borders it will mean living with many immigrants who are less libertarian than the hosts (as shown by their voting patterns)”

    So you are telling me that labour voters are automatically less libertarian than tory voters? Both parties seem to be utterly statist to me. We don’t live in a libertarian society. People believe that the state has the power to cure poverty by introducing a minimal wage. They believe that prosperity comes out of a printing press and that health care should be run by the state. I don’t think immigrants can be more statist than that. They may be statist in other areas. But that means they are probably also more libertarian in some areas that the locals are not. A welcomed alternative perspective.

    Immigrants are people who take their life into their own hands. It takes quite a lot to do that. You see so many people that are unsatisfied with their life, but that are too lazy or to scared to change anything. It takes a lot to leave your familiar environment and go to a strange place without knowing what the outcome will be. People who are smart enough to do that are not scary too me. I am far more scared of people who have never got out of their little village.

    Libertarianism will not come about by persuading masses of people of the ideology. It will come by practical action, creating alternatives to state solutions and leading by example. Getting the state out of the border control is a huge step into the right direction.

    “A sudden influx of immigrants is bound to lower living standards for some in the short term. Short term is the important caveat. But why go through the pain?”

    This is the standard argument of every protectionist action. Whenever someone’s standard of living is endangered by competition, protectionist call for a state intervention to protect the people from the short term pain. But what about the pain of the immigrants that could raise their standard of living quite a bit? Should we not care about them? And if someone is a racist and says ‘screw the immigrants’ than what about the locals that could have a better life if immigrants come in, because they can now free up some resources for other purposes? Why are the few low skilled workers that are effected by wage cuts the most important people in the world, so that everyone else has to sacrifice themselves for them? If you think the logic of this argument really through to the end, it will take you right into a commando economy, definitely no closer to libertarianism.

    • Gary Stephenson

      Nico,

      As a final comment:

      I think you are naive to assume just because people are willing to emigrate it makes them more likely to be libertarian. They tend to veer towards socialism even more than the hosts. The chaos that would result with the sudden opening of the borders such as the collapse of the welfare state is the prefect breeding ground for political extremism. We could quite easily end up seeing the opposite of what you desire. It is possible that a libertarian society would be the end result but it is a huge risk and the odds are not at all favourable.

      Everyone else does not have to sacrifice everything for unskilled workers. As I made clear I favour the dismantling of immigration controls between other developed countries. I am not arguing for a siege economy or anything like that. I see this purely as a transitory measure. However you cannot entertain that idea because it means state activity. Perhaps you regard your ideology more important that the consequences.

      Let me be clear what the immediate consequences would be: lower wages and substandard accommodation (right now migrant workers to Britain are sleeping in beds in sheds, in farm buildings etc.) and overcrowding. The economic miracle needed to relieve this with a better infrastructure will not occur overnight because immigrants from poorer countries import barely any capital with them. The market regulates this development by lowering welfare in the short term. The adjustment process will take time because capital cannot be instantly intensified to raise living standards; it can only accumulate over time. A sudden surge in the supply of labour will use the existing capital stock by offering lower wages and the hosts cannot compete unless they lower their expectations. A lower standard of living will be a reality for millions of people for a long time. You might not care about their lives but are the impoverished likely to be welcoming to foreigners and support liberty or are they more likely to listen to and support demagogues?

      In the real world consequences matter.

      • Sorry this belongs here and not under your comment above.

        “However you cannot entertain that idea because it means state activity. Perhaps you regard your ideology more important that the consequences.”

        No, I do entertain the idea. I am just not convinced. I laid down the exact logic behind your argument. It is the standard argument that I get from everyone who tries to justify his favourite government program. It is not about liberty but about using the state to favour one group of people over another. Your economic arguments are the classic candle makers trick of mentioning one side of the consequences and present them as the overall effect. You may not even deliberately use it as a trick, but really believe it. But then again, so do most people arguing in favour of state intervention.

        Now practically, if we had the choice I actually do favour transitions in certain cases. I think it would be preferable to free up markets before we shut down the welfare state, or that we slowly fade out the NHS, so that people who have become dependent on this system don’t suffer. Unfortunately this is an illusion. The state cannot be controlled. If the choice came down to abolishing the NHS tomorrow or not at all, I would be in favour of tomorrow, even though it is not the ideal way of doing it.

        But when it comes to immigration, the case seems overwhelmingly clear. Restrictions could easily be abolished tomorrow. Some people would feel some pressure on their wages, but overall the economy would do better. But ok, you don’t want to see that, so lets leave it there.

        • Nico,

          What you need to understand is that the anti-immigrationists here are Augustinian libertarians — “give me freedom … but not yet! (Not until I figure out a way to keep all the brown people out).”

          They are not amenable to reason, evidence, etc. They are religionists, and like all religionists, their God (“nation”/”culture”) magically becomes whatever they need it to be to justify their own fears and desires.

          • Thomas, this is silly. The best way to describe the Augustinian view is pragmatic, rather than idealistic. Also, the racism slur is just tiresome.

            The basic problem with idealistic approaches like anarchism of various kinds is that they tend to contain unstated assumptions; in particular that some form of (modern) western style culture is an existent substrate. I am sure you will deny this; but it is there. Pragmatists take into account that that substrate will not exist if the western culture is erased.

            If we can successfully reach a stage of having drawn all the peoples of the world out of savagery and into modern western society, and with approximately equal levels of economic productivity, with broadly similar cultural expectations, then it might be fine to open the borders. In a world in which most of the people are still in a state of primitivism, we have an urgent need to maintain a firewall.

            But until they can cast off primitive religiosity, barbarity and a powerful tendency towards both hysteria and the compulsion to impose those things on other, more advanced cultures, we’re going to have to find a way to keep the Americans out.

            • Actually, my anarchism assumes what the anti-immigration paleo view CLAIMS to assume in almost every case, immigration being the main exception:

              That the social substrate exists and develops organically and that state intervention always damages and interrupts that process to the woe of society.

              Any time some wild-eyed state leftist comes up with a plan to make society “better” through state intervention, the libertarian, including the paleo, notes that state intervention doesn’t make things better. But come to immigration, and suddenly the paleo turns into a raving commie, squealing about how his poor fragile culture will die unless the gummint saves it, trying to tell other libertarians that the state absolutely, positively must restrict THIS part of freedom until everything else in the universe is exactly the way it “should” be, and claiming that if the state doesn’t use authoritarian means to prevent people from traveling, it is “importing” those people. Superstition/religion is really the only thing that explains such an irrational worldview.

              I wouldn’t concern myself with it very much if the fools hawking it didn’t keep trying to plaster a “libertarian” label on it. If you’re a nationalist with some libertarian leanings, be a nationalist with some libertarian leanings, and we can be friends and work together on the things we agree on. As long as you keep trying to graft this BS authoritarianism onto libertarianism, libertarians are going to resist you.

              • Thomas, we’ve all had this argument many times, and I suppose we shall have it again.

                You are making exactly the same error that Kevin Carson alleges against the “vulgar libertarians.” You note – correctly – that, in a world not deeply messed up by statism, a particular restraint would be illiberal. You then slide into arguing against that restraint in the world as it is. Yes, if there were no welfare state, if there were no political process open to capture by cohesive and anti-libertarian ethnic interest groups, if there were no ruling class trawling for excuses to make more police state laws, if the free institutions that we have (trial by jury, for example) were not predicated on cultural and ethnic homogeneity, if there were freedom of speech and association, so that individuals and groups could live in micro-societies as monocultural or as diverse as they wanted – it would be illiberal to argue for immigration controls. But we do not live in such a world. Therefore, immigration control is one of those secondary interventions needed to offset a primary intervention.

                You are happy for your stable of writers at C4SS to argue for strong trade unions, and for leaving state welfare in place for the foreseeable future, and for regulation of the banking system – all on the grounds that these are secondary, offsetting interventions. We may not agree with these arguments, but are happy to repost them here, and to give them serious consideration. But mention immigration, and you turn holier-than-thou. You really should examine a few of your premises.

                You can be an absolutist libertarian. You can demand the removal of state restraints wherever they are found. You can also be a pragmatic libertarian, arguing only for those liberties that are consistent with the maximisation of liberty in the world as it is. Both groups will disagree, but it is unhelpful for each to denounce the other as somehow not real libertarians.

                • “In my imagination, you are happy for your stable of writers at C4SS to argue for … leaving state welfare in place for the foreseeable future, and for regulation of the banking system”

                  There, fixed that for ya. Advocates neither of those things (I left out the “strong labor unions” part because C4SS writers do advocate “strong labor unions” — absent any state backing whatsoever).

                  If I’m in error, that’s one thing — feel free to point out where. But if I am in error, I don’t get that error from Carson, I get it from Rothbard. I am a “no particular orderist.” I don’t consider it valid to argue that any particular tyranny (in this case, border authoritarianism) must be maintained until such time as any other particular tyranny (in most paleo arguments, the welfare state) has been dealt with. Maintaining any particular tyranny reinforces all other tyrannies. Damaging any particular tyranny damages tyranny in general.

                  • Thomas, if you insist, I may pull out some of Kevin’s essays on these points. He doesn’t argue that welfare is good, but he does argue that it should not be the first target for repeal. He also argues that pharmacists should be legally compelled to dispense abortifacients against their conscience – on the grounds that they are recipients of state privilege, and so should not be allowed to act as completely independent tradesmen. And he does argue that secondary banking regulations are justified, so long as the primary interventions are allowed to persist. Roderkick Long makes similar arguments.

                    So you take your inspiration from Rothbard. Good luck to you. He was a great man. But I do suggest that the order in which the State is dismantled is critical to its effective dismantling. One of my disagreements with Madsen Pirie is on this point. He and the ASI love the idea of private prisons. I want them to remain owned and operated by the State. My reason is that, in the present order of things, private prisons will simply become another interest group pressing to keep the drug laws – drug dealers making better telebooking clerks than low-IQ housebreakers. Another objection is that coercive power is better concentrated in the State, which we can all understand and possibly make accountable, than devolved into a nebulous mass of formally private organisations.

                    You are welcome to disagree with Ian B and with me, among others. But please stop trying to suggest that we are simply white nationalists who believe in low taxes.

                  • Here is Kevin Carson on banking regulation:

                    http://c4ss.org/content/13223

                    • Yes, I’ve read that Carson piece. And nowhere at all does it suggest, as you put it, that “secondary banking regulations are justified, so long as the primary interventions are allowed to persist.” Quite the opposite in fact: He

                      1) Notes that proponents of the primary interventions oppose the secondary interventions;

                      2) Notes that the people in (1) aren’t being very smart, because the secondary interventions are designed to prop up the system they’re milking; and

                      3) Advocates parallel/counter-economic development of an actual freed market in banking.

                      “He doesn’t argue that welfare is good, but he does argue that it should not be the first target for repeal.”

                      That’s true. It’s something we used to agree on, back when I still thought electoral politics could be a useful approach:

                      http://knappster.blogspot.com/2006/05/both-ends-toward-middle.html

                      I don’t know if he still agrees with that approach. I gave up on it when I decided that electoral politics and government policy couldn’t get us to liberty.

                      “He also argues that pharmacists should be legally compelled to dispense abortifacients against their conscience – on the grounds that they are recipients of state privilege, and so should not be allowed to act as completely independent tradesmen”

                      I was unaware of this, and I’m uncertain as to how accurate your characterization of it is.

                      Back when — once again, when I still concerned myself with policy as something that could be beneficially affected — I argued that if a pharmacy wanted to participate in the state-funded prescription programs (Medicare/Medicaid), there was no reason why it shouldn’t be required to fill all the covered prescriptions (just like a garage that works on government cars might have to work on not just Fords and Chryslers but also Chevrolets if it wanted that contract); and that if a pharmacist didn’t want to fill a particular type of prescription, it should be between him and the pharmacy as to whether they fire him or keep someone on call without such moral reservations so that the pharmacy can keep its end of its evil bargain with the state.

                      And of course if it’s just a regular pharmacy, it should be up to the pharmacy owner whether or not to retain a pharmacist who wants to pick and choose which prescriptions he’s willing to fill. Not choosing to retain such a pharmacist would not be “compelling him to dispense abortifacients against his conscience” any more than me not keeping on a lawn maintenance guy because he will only mow and not trim the hedge would be “compelling him to trim the hedge.”

                      If either of those are what you mean by “compell[ing pharmacists] to dispense abortifacients against their conscience” then I don’t think the characterization is accurate. If, on the other hand, you mean that pharmacists should be required by law to dispense RU-486, etc., then I certainly don’t support that and would want to see evidence that Kevin does.

                    • Here is the passage from Kevin Carson, as quoted and discussed in something I wrote a few years ago:

                      “In _Chapter 13_ of his /Organization Theory/, Kevin Carson gives us the analogy of a pharmacist who refuses on religious grounds to dispense birth control pills. For a “vulgar libertarian,” he says, the reflexive answer is “Yes, of course…. Anyone participating in the market should have the right to buy and sell, or not buy and sell, as he sees fit.” But this answer is based on the implicit assumption that we live in a society that is entirely free. Mr Carson says:

                      But in fact, pharmacists are direct beneficiaries of compulsory occupational licensing, a statist racket whose central purpose is to restrict competition and enable them to charge a monopoly price for their services.

                      “The pharmacist should, therefore, be compelled to dispense whatever is lawfully demanded.” (http://www.seangabb.co.uk/?q=node/542)

                      But let me return to the central point. You and your people may not have originated the idea, but the distinction between primary and secondary interventions is useful. It just happens to cover more situations than you would like it to.

                    • Sean,

                      The “reply” links on our thread seem to have been exhausted or something.

                      I disagree entirely with Kevin as you have presented his position on pharmacists. I’m going to read it at source at my next opportunity to make sure the presentation is accurate, but I assume it is.

                      “But let me return to the central point. You and your people may not have originated the idea, but the distinction between primary and secondary interventions is useful. It just happens to cover more situations than you would like it to.”

                      In my opinion, it doesn’t “cover” any situation in the way that you’re suggesting.

                      It’s one thing to look at secondary interventions and say that their purpose is to prop up, stabilize or minimize the problems caused by the primary interventions (as Kevin points out with respect to banking).

                      It’s another thing entirely to insist that secondary interventions be maintained until the primary interventions are first ended. I do not support that position. If something is bad, I oppose it. If ending makes it harder to maintain some other bad thing, why should I consider that a reason to stop opposing it?

                      With respect to immigration, the argument is usually about the welfare state — immigrants over-burden it, and therefore we can’t have open borders until we get rid of welfare. I don’t find that argument persuasive for two reasons:

                      1) I oppose the welfare state. Why WOULDN’T I want it to collapse? If that collapse is occasioned by some other good thing, like open borders, so much the better.

                      2) In the US, at least, the argument is wrong in any case. Immigrants are net subsidizers of welfare and “social safety net” programs for “native” Americans. They pay more per capita in taxes than the “natives,” they consume less per capita in “social services” than the “natives” and they are less likely to commit either violent or property-related crimes than the “natives” (at least they were in the 1990s when I did the research to argue with Pat Buchanan on the subject). In those first two categories (taxes and social services), this is even MORE true of “illegal” immigrants (“illegal” in scare quotes since there’s no such thing — the US Constitution forbids the federal government to regulate immigration) because they pay income and payroll taxes under false IDs when they work, but can’t file for refunds or benefits.

                      Of course, I support freedom of travel and immigration in spite of, not because, it subsidizes the American welfare state. I don’t hold either one hostage to the other. They both need to go, and I don’t care which one goes first.

                    • Thomas, here is a longer quote from the Carson text to which I referred you last night:

                      “Under state capitalism, some forms of state intervention are primary, directly serving the primary purpose of the ruling class: the exploitative extraction of wealth by the political means. Other forms of state intervention are secondary, aimed at ameliorating the side effects of this primary wealth extraction and stabilizing the system. The latter include labor regulations and welfare state measures that keep destitution, homelessness, and starvation at manageable levels, so as to avoid their politically destabilizing effects. They include Keynesian measures to correct the tendencies toward overproduction and underconsumption that result from maldistribution of income in a system of privilege. A formal reduction in statism that applies only to those state measures limiting or ameliorating the exploitation enabled by the more fundamental forms of state intervention, and without addressing the primary forms of intervention themselves which directly enable exploitation, will amount to an absolute increase in the level of actual exploitation enabled by the state.

                      “The strategic priorities of genuine free market libertarians should be the direct opposite: first to dismantle the fundamental, structural forms of state intervention whose primary effect is to enable exploitation; and only then to dismantle the secondary, ameliorative forms of intervention which serve to make life bearable for the average person living under a system of state-enabled exploitation. Jim Henley described this approach as removing the shackles before removing the crutches (e.g., eliminating corporate welfare before welfare to the poor).” (http://members.tripod.com/kevin_carson/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/Chapter13.pdf)

                      I don’ t think you can accuse me of misrepresenting your most distinguished writer, when he is this explicit about his agenda. Indeed, while I would insist that demand management policies do not achieve their supposed ends, I see nothing wrong with this analysis in its basic principle. An attack on state power requires an agenda, not a random lopping off of interventions.

                      Let me suggest this analogy. It is 1812-14, and you are an absolutist libertarian. You may deplore the events in London and Washington that have brought about the Anglo-American War. But there is a war, and both governments seem committed to settling what had to be left open in 1783. Do you then argue for cuts in American military spending, and for open immigration into America of uniformed men from Canada?

                      Or try this. You are an absolutist libertarian in the England of 1940. Again, like me, you may have opposed the Polish Guarantee. You may regard the War as a disaster. But do you argue for an immediate cut in military spending, and for free trade with and free migration from Germany? Do you argue for the immediate end of food rationing and the abolition of income tax? Do you insist, under a rain of bombs and artillery shells from occupied France, that Nazi sympathisers should not be interned, and that Communists (Stalin was allied with Hitler in 1940) and Irish Republicans should not be subjects of paranoid state surveillance?

                      Or, in both cases, do you accept the world as it is, and try to see how it can be made better in the long term? This does not mean accepting every state intervention alleged as for the public good. But it does mean asking serious questions about a libertarian agenda, and what parts should be moved to the bottom of the list.

                      This being said, I repeat that immigration control fits into the analysis. I gave you a list of reasons why opening the borders would be unwise. I am not impressed that you ignore all of these except the one about welfare. Yes, open borders would destroy the welfare state. But, in present circumstances, the cure would be worse than the disease. I don’t think state welfare is good in its basic principle. But, cut out the fraud and the subsidy on fecklessness, and you can have both welfare and a semi-libertarian society. Open the borders in the world as it exists, and you will produce another Brazil, but with a more developed police state. This may not happen in America. But it will happen in my country and in its European neighbours.

                    • Sean,

                      OK, so it appears that Kevin is still an “orderist,” while I’ve become a “no particular orderist.” But of course, the whole reason we are discussing Carson is that you claimed I was making the same error he was. Thanks for assisting me in dispelling that perception.

                      Nice try at handing me hypotheticals involving two states and trying to get me to choose one state or another in time of war. But I don’t think I’ll play that game. I can’t certify as to what I’d have done in Situation X if I’d been born an American in 1800 or a Briton in 1920. I can only argue as who I am, from where I’m at.

                    • I didn’t accuse you of copying one of his errors, but of making an error that he often denounces – perhaps rightly. A further point is that if Ian B and I are to be denounced for a pragmatic acceptance of statism, so too is Kevin Carson.

                    • Sean,

                      “if Ian B and I are to be denounced for a pragmatic acceptance of statism, so too is Kevin Carson”

                      I haven’t denounced you for a pragmatic acceptance of statism — I’m well aware that many libertarians continue to believe that the state can be made useful for this or that. I’ve come to think that that’s a mistake, but it’s a question of means, not ends.

                      What I’ve denounced you for is putting your pragmatic acceptance of statism in service to an anti-libertarian end under the label of libertarianism.

                      The “libertarian case for restricting immigration” can be summed up in three words.

                      Those three words are “there isn’t one.”

                    • This is going nowhere. The argument I have so far outlined is as follows:

                      1. Using the left libertarian distinction between primary and secondary interventions, it is possible to see certain deregulations as leading to more rather than less statism.

                      2. So far as open borders with the third world may lead to more rather than less statism, immigration control may be one of these secondary interventions.

                      You have tried, without success, to deny that your own authors make this distinction as I have summarised it. Now I have given you chapter and verse that they do, your response has been first to reduce the factual claims to the usual arid debate over state welfare – thereby letting you retreat into some Catoish comfort zone – and second to insist that there is no deabte.

                      It may be that the libertarian case for immigration control falls to the ground on close examination. You have not examined it. You do your side of the argument, and yourself, little credit by writing in the tone of the men who refused to look into Galileo’s telescope, for fear of what they might see through it.

                    • “It may be that the libertarian case for immigration control falls to the ground on close examination. You have not examined it.”

                      I can’t examine that which, by definition, cannot exist.

                      There may be a case for immigration control, but if so that case is not “libertarian.”

                    • There will be libertarian case for immigration control if

                      1. We allow the legitimacy of making an agenda, in which the removal of secondary interventions comes at the bottom;

                      2. We allow that immigration control is a secondary intervention.

                      Denying the first of these points requires you to admit that C4SS employs non or even anti-libertarian writers. The second requires investigation as to the alleged facts.

                      I suggest you should look over your comments so far in this debate, and ask if they come up to your usual standards of rationality.

                    • Sean,

                      Speaking of standards of rationality, you managed to cram two non-sequiturs into one comments.

                      The first is your claim that a libertarian case for immigration control would follow from insufficient premises (in addition to allowing for an agenda that puts secondary interventions at the bottom, and allowing for immigration control being a secondary intervention, a third necessary premise would be to assume that all things falling into the class “secondary interventions” are otherwise equally moral or immoral.

                      The second is your claim that anyone who makes a non-libertarian argument is not a libertarian.

                    • If immigration control is needed to maximise the amount of liberty possible in any given circumstances, there becomes a libertarian case for immigration control.

                    • Sean,

                      “If immigration control is needed to maximise the amount of liberty possible in any given circumstances, there becomes a libertarian case for immigration control.”

                      I destroyed that little gem of an argument several years ago, but I’m not sure the article is still extant (I can’t find a copy using Google). The article’s title is “Without a Net: Calculation versus Compromise,” and while it approaches the issue from the other direction “minimizing aggression” rather than “maximizing liberty”) the issue is the same:

                      Neither aggression nor coercion can be unitized for quantification purposes, and therefore any “maximizing/minimizing” claims fall victim to the same calculation problem that Mises pointed out in socialism (without unitized/quantified methods of pricing, central planners have no way of knowing what something is worth or how much of it should be produced).

                      In short, there is absolutely no way to figure out whether immigration control would “maximize the amount of liberty possible in any given circumstances.” The only thing we know about immigration control is that it is a form of aggression and therefore violates the fundamental principle of libertarianism.

    • But what about the pain of the immigrants that could raise their standard of living quite a bit? Should we not care about them?

      The short answer to this is “no”.

  5. One only has to consider this following link alone as to why open-borders Libertarians are dreamers, not to mention genocidal (of Europeans) in terms of the ultimate results of their desired actions.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-25-most-failed-states-on-earth-2013-6?op=1

    How can allowing this kind of mass to enter and multiply further in Europe ever be considered to be a good idea?!

    Will we be more free? More free of the state? In better health? Less at risk of violence and death? Will it bring more libertarianism? Will the European races be able to survive as a group on planet Earth when destroyed under the heels of this insanity? No, in all cases.

    Maybe some of you would like to live in such a country and in such a society that will result and which is already developing as it is!.

    I don’t, and I could not care less as to whether that makes me libertarian or not. In fact, I would probably go as far as putting advocates of it into padded cells where they no doubt belong. Utter lunacy.

  6. Splendid piece, and I’ve reblogged and quibcagged it here:

    http://ex-army.blogspot.com/2014/01/libertarianism-and-sane-immigration.html

    Question, though. As you can see in my post, I’m confused by this:
    “An open border policy would severely inhibit to make impossible the ability of a society to assimilate and integrate the new arrivals.”
    It seems grammatically odd, and I’m wondering if it’s a typo or simply a British phrasing that wouldn’t be used by an American writer. Should that “to” be an “or,” perhaps?

  7. Gary Stephenson

    Rex,

    I think it might be construed as a typo. The sentence probably needs a comma before ‘to’ and after ‘impossible’. I didn’t notice until you pointed it out and neither did the editor. Kudos to you.

  8. Thanks. I only noticed it because I chose that extract for a quibcag quote, which I have now modified, and you can see it here.

    http://ex-army.blogspot.com/2014/01/libertarianism-and-sane-immigration.html

    You are of course invited to use it yourself however you like.

    • Your article shows that we stand in good company.

      Here’s a suggestion. You work your fingers to the bone to get completely open borders in America, and I will cheer you all the way.

      • Sean,

        Fortunately, I don’t have to work at all to get completely open borders in America.

        With 95,500 miles of border and coastline, our borders always have been, and always will be, effectively open. I’d be surprised if as many as 1 in 100 of those who cross them without the ruling gang’s permission are ever apprehended.

        Naturally, I’ll fight to keep the ruling gang from persecuting the few unlucky souls who do get caught by its roving bands of thugs, but I don’t have to worry about “opening the borders.” They’ve never been, and never will be, anything but open.

  9. The roving bands of thugs in the United States are of all colours, but the most popular ones at the moment are actually from Latin America. Murder and rape are not minor matters – as least not for sane people.

    Also the Pew Research Centre (hardly a conservative outfit) reports that two thirds of immigrants from Latin America (and such immigrants are many different colours) believe that the American government should be even bigger than it is now – so that it may give them more services They believe in the full “Social Justice” collectivism of such people as Pope Francis – a man who certainly is NOT “brown”. [Before anyone mentions it I know perfectly well that many Roman Catholics utterly reject the political and economic opinions of this gentleman].

    Sadly when such an ideology comes to power it is very thuggish indeed as we can see in various Latin American nations (as well as big American cities such as Chicago) – of course Pope Francis would condemn (and sincerely condemn) the thuggishness – but the problem is that good “Social Justice” people UNINTENTIALLY pave the way for bad “Social Justice” people. How else can the doctrine be enforced?

    After all if one argues that people have a “right” to the property of others – then the logical step is for them to take the stuff by force. If it really is a matter of a “right” (of “justice”) then how are they wrong to do so? Gentle (sincerely gentle) people writing X, Y, Z may be horrified when people do bad things – but they really should think more carefully when they use terms such as “right” and “justice” as these are claims that have traditionally justified the use of FORCE.

    If one says (for example) a supermarket does not have a right to the stuff in the supermarket, that “the poor” have a right to it – then one should not be shocked if “the poor” (taught second or third hand versions of such doctrines) then proceed to loot the supermarket – whether it is white people looting the supermarket in Argentina, or black people (taught “Liberation Theology” in Protestant churches such as “Holy Trinity” as much as in the Catholic Church of Father P.) in Chicago.

    If one means charity one should say charity – NOT use words such as “right” and “justice”. And to talk of “compulsory charity” (as so many philosophers and theologians have) is so screwed up that it reminds me of Augustine trying to have predestination and free will (at the same time).

    Whether the followers of “Social Justice” are criminal gangs from Latin America, or “Progressive” governments (whether the “brown” President of Bolivia or the “white” Governor of Minnesota) it is not a good thing – and I do not believe that the spreaders of the doctrine (no matter how gentle they are personally) can rightfully escape moral blame for not thinking about the doctrines they are spreading..

    And it should also be remembered that the looters, rapists and murderers can (and historically have done so) call themselves “anarchists” not just “socialists” and can wave black flags, not just red ones.

    For example, “Occupy” (such as “Occupy Oakland”) contains Black Flag types not just Red Flag types – and in their behaviour (and even their speeches) they are hard to tell apart. In the average Chicago Teacher Union event the “anarchists” happily cooperate with the Marxists – so, in practice (whatever is true in theory) it makes no sense to treat them as separate forces – they are all opposed to large scale private property in the means of production, distribution and exchange (this they show by their actions).

    Whether a person calls themselves an “anarchist” or not is not important – what matters is whether or not they respect the property rights of people and private organisations that have a lot more stuff than they do. Or whether they choose to send letter bombs to people to blow off their faces (as was done in 1919 – although the people who actually tended to get their faces blown off tended to be the servants of the intended targets) using the justification that the targets were rich or worked in senior positions in big companies.

    On “race” more generally…..

    Who is the loyal British person.

    A blond haired, blue eyed Islamic suicide bomber (such as the Belgium women who went to Iraq to blow herself up – there is bound to be British example sooner or later)?

    Or the brown skinned immigrant from Pakistan who became Bishop of Rochester?

    I say the latter – not the former.

    In the end what matters is what beliefs someone has (and whether they act on their beliefs), not the colour of their skin.

    • “The roving bands of thugs in the United States are of all colours, but the most popular ones at the moment are actually from Latin America. Murder and rape are not minor matters – as least not for sane people.”

      Actually, the most popular roving bans of thugs in the US at the moment — as has been the case for decades — are from, or at least headquartered in, the District of Columbia.

      “Also the Pew Research Centre (hardly a conservative outfit) reports that two thirds of immigrants from Latin America (and such immigrants are many different colours) believe that the American government should be even bigger than it is now – so that it may give them more services”

      You might want to evaluate your statement there more carefully. A “progressive” institution reports that this or that group of people supports its “progressive” goals? Whodathunkit? Kind of “dog bites man,” if you know what I mean. Every political think tank, etc. tries to portray its goals as popular. Whether the data actually supports their claims or not is a different question.

  10. Some good points here.

    It is hard to deny that the largest gang operating in the United States.

    Nor can I claim that it is a Constitutional government (not that would impress an anarcho capitalist of course) as it uses the Constitution to wipe its collective backside with.

    And the Pew people spinning for the left?

    Perhaps – I just do not know.

  11. I should have typed “the largest gang operating in the United States is the Federal government”.

  12. The history of immigration in the United States is a bit odd.

    The Constitution clearly states that the Congress may not forbid States importing people till the year 1808. Yet there were Federal laws aimed at making sure the only immigrants were “free and white” before this date (really anti slave trade laws) although they would have no legal force (under the Constitution till 1808).

    Checking on who immigrants actually were (that they were not spies or pirates or whatever) was a State matter till about the time of the Civil War – for example New York State and New Jersey had different regulations.

    But then violation of the Constitution has a long history.

    The Federalists passed the “Alien and Sedition” Acts as if the First Amendment did not exist. One man was sent to prison for calling for the “peaceful retirement” of President John Adams and for the repeal of the State land tax (clearly the protestor was a dangerous wild beast). By the way – the Merchant Sailor Insurance Act (cited by defenders of Obamacare in modern times) also dates from the 1790s Federalist period – and is as Constitutional as the Alien and Sedition Acts.

    And George Washington called out (indeed conscripted) the militia to deal with the Whiskey “Rebellion” (a “revolt” that had killed no one, apart from some of its own members who had attacked a house and got shot by the occupants, the occupants later surrendered, but then slipped away….) in 1794.

    The Constitution clearly states (Section Four of Article Four) that the Federal government can only act against “domestic violence” on the “application” (the request) of the State Legislature or (of the State Legislature can not meet) the Governor of the State concerned.

    I am no starry eyed supporter of the Whiskey “rebels” (there was actually some bad people involved – although there were also a lot of bad people opposing them) but no request for aid from the State Legislature or Governor of Pennsylvania was made.

    President Washington just acted without one – his actions were unconstitutional violence.

    The old anarchist question – “how do you enforce limitations on government power” is a good question. Hence their belief that “limited government” is impossible (at least in the long term).

    American history shows that government appointed judges (the Supreme Court) is just about useless.

    A randomly elected constitutional jury might be a less bad alternative.

    Let them read the text for themselves – and make up their own minds.