Tuesday, November 10, 2015

open borders: lew rockwell vs brian gray

this morning lew rockwell posted this article on his great website, lewrockwell.com.

the article's headline on LRC is "Open Borders Are an Assault on Private Property".

i have great respect for lew rockwell; he's a great libertarian, but this article is superfluous on a couple of points.

1) rockwell states, "Some libertarians have assumed that the correct libertarian position on immigration must be “open borders,” or the completely unrestricted movement of people." when people talk about "open borders", does anyone really mean completely free movement of anyone to anywhere, regardless of whether the place they go is private property, or do they usually mean removing state-imposed restrictions at national borders?

should people be able to move from mexico to the u.s. freely, as long as they aren't infringing on the property of others? absolutely. that's what i, and probably and most other people think when they hear "open borders"; a removal of the state imposed restrictions on the movement of people. rule #1 when you're talking to people about complex ideas: define your terms.

2) he claims that in a regime of open borders, immigrants would flood the welfare state for benefits. "Obviously, in a pure open borders system, the Western welfare states would simply be overrun by foreigners seeking tax dollars." this might be true, but the fact that there are bad people (governments) doing bad things (stealing from some to give to others) doesn't justify further infringement on the rights of innocent people who are trying to cross those imaginary lines called borders. the problem is government, not immigrants. if one is to be restricted, let it be the guilty governments, not the innocent immigrants.

3) rockwell makes claims about the destruction of cultures due to open borders. "If four million Americans showed up in Singapore, that country’s culture and society would be changed forever. And no, it is not true that libertarianism would in that case require the people of Singapore to shrug their shoulders and say it was nice having our society while it lasted but all good things must come to an end. No one in Singapore would want that outcome, and in a free society, they would actively prevent it." "cultures" are, often, artificial constructs of governments, anyway, so who cares if cultures change? they always change, with or without immigration, so why does that even matter? why are the cultures of the u.s. and mexico so different? because the governments of mexico and the u.s. actively keep us from mixing. if we were free, we would mix, and we'd become, over time, difficult to distinguish from one another.

overall, i agree with rockwell's premise that private property should never be infringed. the right to property, defined as the entitlement to one's voluntarily acquired possessions, is the only right that exists and it should be defended at all costs. that said, i have a problems with presenting things in a way that muddies the water when people have a difficult enough time understanding the obvious and simple non-aggression principle.

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