Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hoppe and Immigration

I was sent another Hoppe immigration article by email, from someone who disagrees with Hoppe’s views on the matter.  This one is entitled On Free Immigration and Forced Integration.

Hoppe walks through the issue of who owns the property.  In an ancap environment, it is clear: all property is owned by individuals or private entities.  In such an environment, it seems difficult to disagree with Hoppe’s conclusions on immigration.

He then moves on to some version of monarchy and ends with a look at today’s western democracies.  Here is where the issue gets cloudy for some.  They are unwilling, or unable, to extend the principle that is perfectly sound in a completely private-property society and apply it to today’s world.

I have two thoughts on this matter:

First of all, the discussion gets so cloudy because the state is right in the middle of this.  Given we have a state, I suggest the only legitimate functions of a state are to secure the property and life of those under its jurisdiction - call it a mutual aid society for enactment and enforcement of the NAP. 

The state has no legitimate function to allow others to come to my property without my permission.  You might say, “bionic, you can keep them off of your lawn; the state isn’t forcing you to let them in your shower.”  You would be quite correct (I think.  I won’t take any bets on this). 

My property is more than my home or business.  I think I need not get into a discussion of the spending of tax dollars and where those tax dollars come from in the first place.

So, to ignore this is to say that the state should not perform the legitimate function of securing my property and instead perform an illegitimate function of giving away my property.

And somehow this is deemed by some to be libertarian.

Second: property rights vs. positive rights.  I have written extensively on this in the previous post.  I will only summarize: my right to discriminate regarding my property supersedes anyone else’s right to come on to my property.  Which comes back to the first point.

And it is on this point where Hoppe concludes:

The current situation in the United States and in Western Europe has nothing whatsoever to do with "free" immigration. It is forced integration, plain and simple…

You see, it all depends on whose viewpoint you consider: the property rights of those already occupying the property or the positive right of someone who wants to move in.  When these are in conflict, which one supersedes in a libertarian society – or even in libertarian theory?  Does this need to be explained?

Hoppe adds a very enlightening observation, after describing why decentralization of state authority and localization of decisions regarding immigration is the proper path to help take the confusion out of this issue of immigration:

…to solve the "naturalization" question somewhat along the Swiss model, where local assemblies, not the central government, determine who can and who cannot become a Swiss citizen.

In today’s statist world, the closest model in an advanced-economy of localization and decentralization is Switzerland.  The Swiss do not consider that any and all comers will be residents or citizens.  It is not a national question but a local question.  And it can take years or decades before your neighbors decide you are qualified. 

Who has the right to decide who lives there – the ones who already live there or the ones who would like to?  Is it a property right or a positive right?  The Swiss have answered this question properly – likely just as it would be answered in many places.  No one has the right to move in; they must be invited.

I will add other examples: homeowners associations, apartments, condominiums, hotels, amusement parks, multi-tenant office buildings, companies of all sorts.  Each of these – in areas where the government has not established “forced integration,” to use Hoppe’s perfectly formed term – has rules and guidelines for those who would like to enter. 

They do not allow any and all comers with any and all behavior.  They do not allow uninvited visitors free use of the cafeteria, bathrooms, telephone and internet.  They do not allow trespass-occupation of temporarily unused conference rooms or hotel rooms.  They do not allow tents in common areas known as hallways or lobbies.

In each of these examples, the owners control access to their property.  This is what a libertarian, free-market immigration policy would look like.  And in a state-controlled world, even here it exists.

I know what the left-libertarians would say: “there should not be such discrimination.”  I say you are certainly free to open your home to all comers.  In any case, an inherent aspect of property is discrimination – as Hoppe so well explains.

And this brings us back to the fundamental issue – the difference of right and left.  Discrimination or no discrimination?  Property rights or positive rights?  This conflict cannot be avoided.

I have a right to my house.  No one else has a right to my house.  This simple concept can be extended to a community and country.  That the state performs many illegitimate functions should not distract one from one of the few legitimate functions of a state (if we are to have one) – to protect my property in a manner consistent with the NAP.


  1. I have a right to my house. I want to welcome you in my house. State say "no, sorry I follow Hoppe libertarianism, so borders are closed and your agreement is toilet paper". If libertarianism is proprietarianism as Hoppe seems to think in a libertarian world there would be integration or exclusion accordingly with owners decisions. So no one will enter without permission (clos the border!), but everyone with a permission will enter, and parameters will be freely decide by owners (open the border!). So today we have to favor the state politic that is more similar to the libertarian outcome. It would be to exclude everyone that have no invitation, but to let in everyone that have invitation from every one of the residing people, for any type of reason (owner must decide not state). So family could invite relatives, ethnic community could invite compatriots, religious community could invite coreligionist, friends coul invite friends, philanthropic associations could invite their targets, tenants cpould invite renters, and so on.. every one that sign an invite and take some sort of responsability coul invite everyone he wants. Otherwise a misty parameter decided by state would prevale on clear owner decision and agreement. So the politic proposed by Hoppe must be corrected this way: illegal immigration not accepted, but legal permitted immigration freely accepted.. and this would make open border and closed border much more similar.

  2. Todd, we walk down a path from where we are today to the libertarian utopia. Along this path will be interim steps. Are the interim steps illegitimate if they are taken with a view of the ultimate objective? Is this not a libertarian path?

    We don’t get to start as virgins. We are all soiled, swimming in mud. We debate things like “can a libertarian use a sidewalk?”

    Libertarian theory is one thing; reaching something close to a libertarian ideal is quite another; maintaining a libertarian tradition once achieved is even another.

    What is the ultimate objective? For the one community where I would choose to live out of the ten thousand different communities that I hope are to come, my ultimate objective is to achieve a condition where all functions are funded voluntarily; where private property is respected absolutely; where the non-aggression principle is respected.

    There is a rub – culturally I would add other conditions to my community. With my neighbors, we agree in a very libertarian manner to these not-libertarian-based conditions. Is this libertarian? I say yes.

    In any case, we don’t get to start where we would like; we only get to start where we are. The subject of immigration doesn’t even exist in a world without a state; libertarian theory and practice need not butt heads.

    To your critique: it is undeniable that some of the functions currently done by the state will also be desired by voluntarily-paying customers in numbers sufficient to create a market. Many of these are quite consistent with libertarian theory and the NAP – private arbitration instead of state courts, private security services instead of city police, etc.

    It is in reference to these functions that I use the label "legitimate."

  3. "The subject of immigration doesn't even exist in a world without a state."


  4. Todd, you are touching on one of the most fraught issues facing human civilization. That is the issue of tribal membership.

    Before the state there were kinship tribes. All nations that exist today are essentially related people, with blood ties. In modern times the state has formalized tribal membership with citizenship.

    A great many citizens/tribesmen do not like the way in which the state has been conferring citizenship/tribal membership on outsiders. The fact that there is relatively little mixing with the newcomers, self segregation, and so on shows that this fiat grant of citizenship by the state is rejected by the majority of people.

    This process is laying the seeds for violence in the future. In fact there is already much tension. The state is managing it by assembling a system of multiculturalism (or diversity), which is a racial spoils system in which restive immigrant descended populations are paid off to not cause trouble. In this sense diversity is the viagra of the state. In places where the state is not strong enough to clamp down on these ethnic tensions you have the anarchy and violence of many competing nascent or proto-states attempting to form.

    Libertarianism cannot and should not attempt to wipe away human nature. Communism failed to do so. Any cosmopolitan libertarian attempt to do the same will end in disaster.

  5. Under our current state of affairs, does any ancap argue that police should not arrest real criminals because police are funded by tax dollars? Or that prosecutors should prosecute criminal defendants because the courts are staffed by people who earned their pay from taxes? Should I be able to walk into a prison and stroll around? As a taxpayer, I own my proportion of the prison? Should the smelly bum who camped out in that NJ library many years ago not be kicked out because it is a public place? Should a community pool funded by the taxes of the residents of the community not be able to restrict out of towners? Or be able to charge them different rates?

    The real world is sticky We just can't say the following: The State is illegitimate, therefore the default position on immigration is open borders. The State should mimic what is the most probable outcome that would occur if there were no State. A highly decentralized system would be a decent approximation.
    Incidentally, with the exception of the original 13 colonies, immigration is a State matter, not a federal one.

    1. Todd, you have it backwards - the state usurped many functions that were legitimately done by private entities. Before there was a central bank, there was private banking, before there was government funded fire departments, there were volunteer fire departments.

      Etc., etc., etc.

    2. Perhaps I over-interpreted your opening statement.

      We have history to tell us what market-based solutions would be. They existed before the state took them over. Reason and logic tell us that they would be voluntarily paid for today by a sufficient number of individuals if left to a free market.

    3. Todd,

      "At best, it is a weak argument."

      Libertarian arguments on all sides of this discussion are less than pure - call them all, to some varying degree, weak.

  6. What you didn't take into account is that all private landowners are supposed to provide a right of easement for all travellers.

  7. The issue of the "commons" comes up and forced desegregation doesnt seem to be terribly effective with most groups,I know there is a lot of resentment in close knit communities and groups,when brassy strangers move in,who were not invited.Just the presence of cliques and "clubs".proves that,exclusive groups want to exist and the state or "Church" for that matter has any business forcing people to accept,unknown strangers.
    I think the Swiss have it right.

  8. I have debunked the Hoppe article here.

    1. Hi Nico, thanks for writing that article. Hoppe has really mucked up libertarian theory with his ideas. At first I thought what he had in mind was all the property owners at the U.S.-Mexico border banding together to prevent immigrants from passing across their property. That sounds preposterous, as all it would take is one property owner to break away and make money by charging a toll for immigrants passing his land. It's a similar to why all cartels eventually fail on the free market. But I don't think this is what he is talking about. I think Hoppe is envisioning a libertarian society made of of tiny city-states with the residents of each keeping out immigrants. However, that is equally preposterous. Hoppe seems to have a hard-on for pre-Bismarck Germany and in his eyes, a libertarian society would follow his model. How does he know how people would organize themselves? That is one possibility, but I bet many people would prefer a large jurisdiction with freedom of movement. There would probably exist some isolationist cultist hamlets that shut out the world, but I am guessing that they would be in the minority. Also, how does Hoppe know that all property would be private? What if people agree to recognize a public or common form of property? I think that is highly likely. Control of such property would be administered by some kind of vote, and a anti-immigration majority seems unlikely. In conclusion, Hoppe's speculations are just that, speculation based on his personal preferences.

    2. Nico, if you live in a country and it is going to be invaded by foreigners migrating into your county, don't you have a right ti resist it? They are going to impose their norms and their laws on you.

      It is this line of thinking that makes libertarianism intolerable to normal people. Whenever I hear complaints about libertarianism from regular folk it is always a complaint about left libertarianism, which they believe represents all libertarianism.

    3. Indeed, he is just speculating. So far however, the market does not seem to be good for collectivism. It has always been the source for individualism. Hoppe says he is ok with people moving as long as they have an invitation. But of course an invitation can be bought. That is the business of Hotels, Hostels, Camping places, etc. And these invitations are really cheap, so not much of a barrier for people who want to move. Right now, I don’t see how you can move, without buying some for of an invitation like this. So the suggestion that a lot of people are coming here without invitation seems outright false.

      One thing that conservatives do not understand is that markets are so successful, because they are able to quickly adapt to the ever changing world. They do not produce stand still societies.

      But whatever people end up deciding to do with their liberty is fine with me. The worst thing about Hoppe is that he is arguing that libertarians should support the state in keeping out immigrants, because that state action is just simulating the ‘real’ market result. How is the vote of a community over property rights like in Switzerland libertarian? He is essentially arguing that with less liberty we get closer to libertarian results. This makes libertarianism look very hypocritical, and it is attracting people who don’t really have an interest in liberty.

    4. “Nico, if you live in a country and it is going to be invaded by foreigners migrating into your county, don't you have a right ti resist it? They are going to impose their norms and their laws on you.”

      Immigrants themselves do not impose anything on you. That is why there is nothing to resist. But if they do start to violate your personal liberty, then you can of course resist. But you also can resist against locals who do that. That is what liberty is all about. All libertarians are arguing for is to get the state out of the way.

      But of course, liberty demands some tolerance. You have the right to be left alone on your property, but you absolutely also have to let others alone on theirs. So if your neighbour start wearing along beard and prays to Allah, or worships satan, that is none of your business. If you have a problem with that, you will have to move, not your neighbour. That is freedom. But I agree, currently a lot of people do not seem to like freedom. That is what libertarianism is there for, to change that.

    5. Once they have enough numbers they will insist on forming a state that reflects their values and not mine. Why should I accept that?

    6. "Once they have enough numbers they will insist on forming a state that reflects their values and not mine. Why should I accept that?"

      You should not accept states. But it is you who want to give the state the enormous power to control who is on its territory. If you don't want the state to tell you what to do, you have to fight the state not the immigrants. By closing the borders you are doing the opposite.

      And you don't know what these immigrants are going to do. If you open the borders, welcome them and embrace liberty, maybe they will like that.

    7. Anonymous, they will form a state that puts me under its jurisdiction whether I like it or not. A libertarian arrangement would be overwhelmed by statists migrants and would cease to exist.

  9. Anonymous1

    The more reasonable way is to choose che less evil path: for a libertarian the state is the worst enemy and it's existence is the biggest problem. So if we have to choose a path and no one is the perfect one, we must choose to go wrong against the state. Is better to nullify state's management of immigration and have problems of "forced integration" (as Hoppe call them) that to support the state. You don't ask the mafia to solve hooliganism. Hooliganism is not a pleasure, but to live under mafia is worse, by far. Hoppe instead hates so much immigrants that prefer the state: this is no libertarianism. He is deverting the message.

    Sorry for my insufficient english.. i'm not used to write in this language!

  10. "I have debunked the Hoppe article here."

    You didn't debunk anything. You created pedantic straw men and tore them down. Not surprising on Jeff Tucker's left-goofball

  11. Such utopian nonsense from the libertarian open borders bunch. The fact is that they are allowed their libertarian beliefs only because there are controlled borders and somewhat restricted immigration. The hordes from Mexico will not care less about your misty eyed dreams of non-state state. They will be tribal and they will destroy your precious little system either through the ballot box or by physical force.

    Open borders next to third world countries is absolute lunacy. You all know that so quit pretending you believe this twaddle.

  12. For all of those libertarians who called other libertarians racist for not wanting open borders (the ones who drone on about us not liking "brown people"), you should think more clearly. If, during the height of the Cold War, 1 million Russians were set down in Boston, do you not think that Boston would change. I don't care if the Russians were against big C communism. They were probably mostly socialists. It is not the race of the Mexicans. It is their culture and political beliefs.

    1. Culture seems to be the driving concern. Successful immigration involves adapting and conforming to a new culture. But with the salad bowl philosophy the newcomers cling to the culture that prompted their relocation.