Immigration and the Nation State

November 12, 2015

Lewrockwell, July 17, 2007 Author: Mises Institute

One of the enduring arguments between me and my anarcho-capitalist friends is the ideal immigration policy in a society where the state-and all of its many interventions-still, unfortunately, exists. While generally well-grounded philosophically, they seem to take an ad hoc, emotionally-laden, irrational approach to what is arguably the most important domestic policy issue of the 21st century. Often relying upon ad hominem attacks, or a misguided interpretation of the non-aggression principle, they insist upon defending the dissolution of borders, even if it means transgressing against the property and lives of people who do want to be enriched by third world migration.

A perfect illustration of this debating strategy occurred several days ago, when I was embroiled in a discussion with an acquaintance who insisted that Middle Eastern and African migrants had the universal human right to migrate, i.e. invade, Europe, and that any attempt to deter them was motivated by fascist, and presumably anti-libertarian, hatred. In other words,  these people were entitled to make a physical-often violent-incursion into a sovereign state-or several, in this case-extract the resources from the citizens of that state without their consent, and permanently settle in that state-again, without their consent-because libertarianism?

I’m not quite sure how exactly the German government and the EU uber-state granting permission to a multicultural army of invaders, without the consent of their citizens, constitutes a voluntary arrangement, but I was assured that I had no business telling these bedraggled refugees what they could do, and that if I didn’t like it, I could go to hell! Not exactly an argument you would expect from a person who purportedly prizes rationality over emotional outbursts, but not entirely unexpected from an open borders dogmatist. One wonders though why he doesn’t apply the same logic to the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, which-initially, at least-had the support of the transitional governments in those states. I suppose if the Belgian government had given the go-ahead to the Imperial German Army during the outbreak of World War I, then the poor Belgians would have to acquiesce to the invasion of their country.

The stupendous idiocy of this chain of reasoning is evident to anyone who prizes logic above dogmatic adherence to unfettered immigration, but it eludes so many within the libertarian movement. That’s why Lew Rockwell’s speech before the Mises Circle comes as such a welcome relief. He meticulously debunks the most common libertarian arguments in favor of unrestricted migration within an unfree planet, where private property is diminished in even ostensibly free societies and universal suffrage encroaches upon fundamental personal freedoms, and demonstrates why the specious appeal of open borders thinking must be resisted by libertarians who truly value liberty, i.e. property and freedom of association.

Governments do not and can never grant rights, nor can they strip rights from individuals. This principle applies in war and peace, and there are no codicils for migrants, no matter how superficially appealing their exigencies might be.


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