Friday, November 27, 2015

The Silence is Deafening

Regular readers are aware that I have written a good amount on the topic of open borders and culture recently.  I began down this road because I was challenged to tackle Hoppe in the same way I have gone at several left-libertarian positions.  These posts have been among the most commented-on in the history of this blog, for example:

Hoppe’s Realistic Libertarianism, 41 comments (as of this moment)
Hoppe and Immigration, 28 comments
Dances With Elephants, 64 comments
Why Culture Matters, 43 comments

Two-hundred-fifty (more or less) comments and counting.  This does not include the many emails I have received on this topic.  Some of the comments are supportive of the post, some of the comments are my own – a response or clarification.  Many of the comments are critical of the positions I take in the post.

What is my point?  I have recently written two additional posts on the topic of open borders.  The first, Libertarian Open Borders, was a challenge to libertarian open-borders advocates to defend their position via the complete “open borders” situation of Germany.

The second, Borders Neither Open or Closed: Richman Gets it Right, is a review of a post by Sheldon Richman on this topic.  Richman, a leading left-libertarian, does not advocate for open borders; he advocates for managed borders.  Though he doesn’t put it in these terms, his is a position grounded in the recognition of property rights.  As a reminder, Richman’s key sentence:

We can be confident that a free society would devise methods of joint suretyship by which strangers could be vouched for, giving others confidence in dealing with them safely.

This is most certainly not an “open border,” with anyone free to come as he please; it is a managed border, no different in concept than what a private property owner might do before allowing a stranger into his home and perfectly consistent with libertarian theory and private property.

Comments on these two posts?  Crickets.  No critic took up the challenge of using the situation in Germany as a case study in support of the open borders position – the perfect experiment to test their theory.

No acknowledgment that a thoughtful left-libertarian, Richman, falls in the same place as many so-called right-libertarians fall on this issue of borders in this world.  No vulgar commentaries by illiterate left-libertarians attacking Richman on this position. 

Advocates of open borders had no problem at all blasting away on earlier posts on this topic; those who pooh-poohed the value of culture toward governance had no problem spewing vulgarities at those who dare suggest that culture matters if one is to hope for a libertarian society.

Now, when challenged by the experiment in Merkel’s Germany, nothing.  When confronted by one of their own, silence.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Odds and Ends AP*

*After Paris

A couple of thoughts on the aftermath of the attacks in Paris on Friday, November 13.

What’s With This “We”?

Patrick Smith at Salon has written much on this topic since then.  In one column, he rightly takes to task those who come to the issue of terrorist extremism without context; in the case of current events, without the context of Western (not the least of which, French) meddling in the Middle East and North Africa.  I will not cite anything directly on this subject, but he offered an interesting point – one that some have passed through more easily than others, and more easily than Smith, apparently:

I wrote above that I fail to understand why the question of responsibility is controversial. I take it back: This is why. Facing one’s part in others’ deprivation, repression, violence and all the rest is an errand requiring humility, resolve, commitment, and an enlarged vision. We Americans score poorly on all counts these days. But summoning all four—if it helps to think of it this way—is a matter of self-interest now.

There is no “one’s part in others’ deprivation…we Americans” responsible.  There are individuals, individuals who act.  The point – ignored or easily missed by too many: why do so many self-identify with the state?  Why are the actions of those employed by the state deemed to be “our” actions?

There are dozens of murders committed daily by every-day, ordinary criminals.  Does any reasonable person attach a “we” to these?  

So Much For a United Front

Again from the aforementioned Smith column, posted November 17:

First and most important, Washington seems to be opening itself at last to the idea of a united front against the Islamic State that the Russians have proposed since it emerged as a force capable of taking territory—and many lives—last year. The press picture of Obama meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 session Monday tells you all you need to know about the changing political and diplomatic environment.

To further the point, Simon Tisdall offers “Vladimir Putin: from pariah to powerbroker in one year”:

The reason is not a mystery. Under merciless attack from Islamic State, flailing on the refugee crisis, and consequently desperate to end the war in Syria, European leaders, backed by Obama, have come to an uncomfortable but, in historical terms, not wholly novel conclusion: they need Russia.

From Smith:

When we say “Paris changed everything,” we seem to mean more than what some of us understood 10 days ago. The complexities will be obvious, but there is a straight line now between a violence-adulating resistance movement in the Middle East, its attack on a European capital, a new resolve to defeat terrorism in Syria, the prospect of an orderly settlement and—dotted line here—a kind of latter-day Concert of Europe, which coalesced after the Congress of Vienna, included Russia and lasted a century.

All of this was before Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet.

Somebody decided to try to end this budding rapprochement before it started, apparently.  Take a look at the map: even if one accepts Turkey’s version of flight paths, someone would really have to want to tear Russia and NATO apart for this airspace “violation” to result in such catastrophe – no matter how many “warnings” were offered (or not).

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Getting My Money’s Worth

A trillion here, a trillion there….

Countless (and unknowable) trillions of dollars are spent annually by NATO / western countries on (so-called) defense spending and (so-called) intelligence spending and (so-called) homeland security spending.

There are satellites covering virtually every square inch of inhabited earth; every phone call, email, web site, and internet chat page is monitored.  Before boarding an airplane, passengers are strip-searched.  Armed military patrol every major airport and train station.

Every financial transaction monitored, money transfers scrutinized, detailed regulation of every commercial transaction.

The State Department on Monday issued a worldwide alert three days of ahead Thanksgiving cautioning travelers of "increased terroristic threats" from ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other groups.

A “worldwide alert.”  Everywhere I go is at risk of a terrorist action.

Well, hopefully it will be over soon.

The alert expires Feb. 24.

I am afraid to ask…of what year?

Can they at least be specific about the tactics and targets, what I should look for?

"These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests," the alert says.

Got it?  Everywhere you go, for an indefinite period of time, and under every possible means, you are under terrorist threat.

Worth every penny????

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Borders Neither Open or Closed: Richman Gets it Right

When I first read the title, I didn’t think so: TGIF: Let the Refugees In.  Yet Sheldon Richman’s conclusion is doubly tasty as it comes from about as left a left-libertarian as one can find – and certainly one of the more thoughtful (and civil) of the genre.

After highlighting the extensive government scrutiny that potential immigrants undergo before being allowed to enter the United States, Richman offers:

Of course the government's role in scrutinizing refugees makes (most?) libertarians uncomfortable. (For one thing, it's tax-financed, though it need not be.)

Quite true.

But that's the way it's going to be for the foreseeable future.

In fact, for this otherwise-consistent-with-the-NAP function it is the only option available in this world we live in today.

Nevertheless, we can take up the question of how a completely libertarian -- by that I mean stateless -- society would handle this matter.

I have suggested, more than once, how this would likely proceed: for a stranger to be allowed to enter a new community (no need to get hung-up on artificial state lines as a stateless society will have none; further, remember: we have a right to “go” as we please, we do not have a right to “come” without permission), some combination of a letter of adequate employment and / or a letter confirming housing and / or a letter from a sponsor assuring that the newcomer would not place an undue burden on the community would be required.

We can be confident that a free society would devise methods of joint suretyship by which strangers could be vouched for, giving others confidence in dealing with them safely.

That’s what I said.

In fact such mechanisms were devised long ago and would quickly be updated to be fully consistent with individual rights if the state were to leave the field.

Richman offers the example of the Frankpledge – one more of countless examples from the Middle Ages that point to governance solutions in a decentralized world. 

I am aware of other, more recent, similar examples.  This is as libertarian as one might hope to get in this world we currently live in.  It has happened before; it still happens today in some countries and under specific conditions.

The borders to my property are not open, nor are they closed.  The conditions under-which I allow either goods or people onto my property are managed by me.  My position on borders is merely to extend this fundamental property right to the next, logical, step.

Unfortunately, there is only one, very un-libertarian, agency available.  As no one has yet to send me all of their Federal Reserve Notes or their bank account digits, and no one has written to me of their commitment to stop using all streets and sidewalks, I suggest every so-called libertarian puritan has found some way to make peace with this un-libertarian agent.

Hypocrites, one and all.  The lack of bank transfers I have received proves your hypocrisy.  You have made peace with the money and credit of this un-libertarian agent; you have made peace with its streets and sidewalks.

On what issues and on what basis does one choose to make peace with this un-libertarian agent?  Is it random – whatever makes one feel good, righteous, in with the cool crowd?  I make peace when the activity is one that would not be in violation of the NAP had not the financing been coercive.  I advocate for removing the coercive financing, but I deal with it on a daily basis.  I find living better than martyrdom.

Richman is suggesting that libertarians make peace with this agent of border management – a function that would be consistent with libertarian theory absent the coercive financing.  Richman gets it right. 

Libertarian Justice

A plane blows up in mid-air over a desert.  Apparently a bomb.  Over 200 dead.  Representatives of the victims place a $50 million reward for information leading to the capture of the perpetrators.

A horrendous night of murder and mayhem occurs in a major city.  Apparently several individuals coordinated attacks on several locations.  Over 100 dead.  Representatives of the victims drop 20 bombs on people who live 2000 miles distant from the scene of the crime and from any known location of any of the perpetrators.