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.



  1. This topic is one that I'm still struggling with, which is why I haven't commented. I am newer to the libertarian movement and so I'm still forming my opinion on many of these subjects (I have found your blog a great help in this effort). As to "managed borders" I understand the need if we are truly planning to respect private property, but I still struggle with one thing... it's probably easiest to illustrate with a question.
    Let's say that tomorrow the government disappeared and we are living in a libertarian society. All of a sudden the land that had until recently been claimed by the federal government becomes available to anyone willing to homestead it. I can see the argument that the land should be open to *anyone*, even the current refugees, but in order to get to it they would have to cross what we currently consider the border. Now, if the government is no longer there, would the roads that everyone has had a claim to up to that point just become a non-ownable part of the land? If that is the case, then there shouldn't be a problem with refugees, or anyone for that matter, moving along those roads to gain access to the newly available land.
    Am I thinking of this wrong? Would we need to reconsider what is and isn't a "border" because the roads up to that point haven't been "private" property. Again, I'm new to this so if there are things I could read to better understand this, including any previous posts of yours where you may have already covered this, I would be grateful.

    1. matman, those for whom this post is intended are those who have spoken out strongly on this topic either at my blog or elsewhere. It is their silence that I question.

      As to your question, I do not want to divert this thread with other, hypothetical, issues; I am addressing the application of this scheme of open borders to today's real world - just as proponents of this scheme are doing.

    2. Matman,

      The former government land belongs to the people that it was taken from (meaning the hapless citizens of the now stateless nation) not the "refugees". Refugees are free to homestead empty spaces like Mars.

    3. says who? you get there first and you claim it , its yours unless someone can show some sort of prior ownership.

  2. BM,
    I have read the articles you referenced. Even though I believe this article is directed more at 'left' libertarians I think it worth my short comment.
    I have always admired Richman, even when disagreeing with him, because his is well thought out and open to accepting those that differ with him without resorting to flame wars. This I admire in him as well as his obvious relentless dedication to liberty....even if he sees the path different than me.
    Perhaps those lefts that might disagree with the 'Hoppean' approach do not frequent this site or perhaps Richman's reasoning is not something from which they can overcome. I cannot say.
    For myself, I have been a long time lurker here. I rarely make comment because I rarely disagree with you of any major substance. I can think of only one area where I have disagreed with you in the past but even this has its work around,

    1. freihals, thank you for the comment.

      Those to whom this post is directed have had no problem finding this blog and contributing more than their fare share to the 250 aforementioned comments.

    2. I like Richman for much the same reason as freihals -- when I disagree with him he gives me things to think about rather than just invective and accusations of being a bad person for the act of disagreeing with him.

      I came out of the side of the conservative movement where the dislike for immigrants gets pretty -- strong, personal and irrational in the sense that the immigrants are blamed for all sorts of things for which they have no rational responsibility.

      Finding the reasoned position is -- not trivially easy.

      I think the blame falls so harshly on immigrants (among my former cohorts) for the same reason that it falls on conspiracies -- not that there aren't problems with immigration or conspiracies, but there has to be a Goldstein to blame for Big Brother's failures. It wasn't the Constitution's fault, it was those Bilderbergers or Mexicans. It can't be that the whole concept of monopoly provider of "justice" is incompatible with reality, that would leave one with some truly disquieting thinking to do... So that cognitive dissonance causes anger at people who aren't the primary cause.

      So, I want to not fall into lazy old ways, or lazy new ways.

      I'm not angry at refugees from D.C.'s wars in the ME or its war on drugs any longer. I have compassion for them. That doesn't mean I want them voting, but then I don't want many of my extended family members voting, either, as they'd not vote any better.

    3. freihals

      I rarely, if ever, note when one of my posts is picked up at LRC (or anywhere else); however, this is germane to your comment:

      Being a weekend, it will be up for two days.

      This post is rather visible.

    4. Thanks BM. I noted the presence of your article at LRC already and shared it.

    5. freihals

      I guess partly I noted this in order to document for myself (and the readers) that "obscurity" was not the reason for the silence.

  3. I don't think any reasonable comments will be forthcoming. The problem is, I believe, a matter of motivation. The open borders proposed by open borders libertarians is for countries of European derived (white) people only. They don't advocate open borders for countries like Nigeria, Iraq, or other places except in the most casual manner.

    What we have here are people that have a motivation that is distinctly not related to libertarianism, but package it in libertarian-ish rhetoric.

    I think that their motivation is to see the destruction of western civilization. Libertarianism is a mere excuse or apologetic for this, and if libertarians rejected this line they would come out with another line of attack. In fact we already see this! Demands for "equality", an end to "racism", appeals to "charity" and so on. When they are making appeals to libertarians they are simply covering all the bases. Different lines of communication to different people.

    A libertarian society cannot survive with "open" borders. Statists would take over immediately and would form a state and force libertarians under its jurisdiction.

    I have seen some ludicrous arguments in favor of open borders on the comments sections of libertarian blogs. For example, one argument is that the welfare dependency of "refugees" will bring down the state because each refugee requires an enormous amount of state resources to take care of. According to this idea the state will collapse under the weight of the refugees and we will end up with a libertarian utopia (as opposed to an Islamic Caliphate).

    These people are insane. I wouldn't risk having a "libertarian" like this in my community. See here -

    Even Sheldon Richman dances around the issue, as many libertarians do. He thinks that a libertarian society would accept refugees. But what if a libertarian society rejects refugees, homosexuals, and all the groups that he likes? What if a libertarian society has "whites only" cafes? Libertarians say a businessman won't do that because they will lose out on money from black customers. Maybe they may lose out - or they may not. Libertarians are not quite honest about what society would look like under libertarianism. Most likely it will be a lot more exclusionary than now (not just against non-whites).

    1. "But what if a libertarian society rejects refugees, homosexuals, and all the groups that he likes?"

      At its most fundamental level, property must be respected, and discrimination is inherent in property. You are correct that many on the left skirt around this or wish that it wasn't true in libertarian theory, but it is there and cannot be minimized, else there is no such thing as "libertarian."

      This then can be expanded to the community. I have written a few times about 10,000 different libertarian communities around the world, each devising their own "culture." Many of these would include what would be considered non-libertarian requirements or expectations - call them CC&Rs or rules for joining a homeowners association or club.

      There would be many such communities that discriminate against WASPs (as a simplifying terms); it is their right to do so as it is their property. Libertarian theory on its own leaves no room to criticize this.

    2. >According to this idea the state will collapse under the weight of the refugees and we will end up with a libertarian utopia

      Of course this is straight from leftist thinking. It reeks of the same logic behind the Clovard-Piven strategy or accelerationism. Or revolutionary defeatism. Or a whole host of other destructive leftist strategies. Whhich strengthens my conviction that we're dealing leftist infiltration of the libertarian movement.

  4. I think we are missing a few realities. There is nothing wrong with open borders. The problem comes when governments want to start giving the immigrants a piece of somebody else's private property.

    Immigrants should be free to go anywhere on the planet and make their way as productive members of any society. However the second they cannot make it or step out of the established line they are infringing in one form or another the Libertarian Private Property concept.

    If a population as a whole, who believe they are in control of their own private property are not individually prepared to dig into their pockets for the sustenance of these "deprived" immigrants then clearly the society is sending a message;- "You are free to come and go as you please but if you take any of my property libertarianisn allows me to commit violence against you to protect what is mine.

    Governments, "by the people for the people" have no rights whatsoever to give away its "citizens" property to immigrants, other than by specific individual consent.

    The mere fact that "Countries" exist, and name themselves and draw lines on a map, implies that borders are not open. The Shengen agreement is not valid because it is a commercial agreement designed for the free flow of commerce etc and certainly not for the free flow of immigrants.

    Hoppe does not have a single good word for Democracy, and the European Parliamentary "democracy" is worse than even Hoppe can describe.


  5. I think it would go a long way to solve this argument if the left-libertarians would come out and say what exactly they would do with their own resources (not mine, not yours, and none of these collective abstracts like "ours", as in "our government should") to provide for refugees or illegal immigrants.

    - Are they willing to hand over their living room to a family of five?
    - Are they going to shoulder the burden of feeding, clothing, and medicating said family?
    - Should this family do something against me or my property, will said left-libertarian host bear the responsibility? They are vouching for these strangers, after all.

    All simple questions with simple answers.

    As for BM's inquiry at the end of the article, I can say why they haven't responded:

    They have no answer that won't reveal them for what they really are. Leftists, pure and simple. Not much libertarian about them when push comes to shove.

    1. So... a living room is the same as the state? I believe there is a term for this: false analogy. One of the logical fallacies. But nice try...

      No, I don't want to shoulder the burden of feeding them. That is precisely the so-called "open borders" position - that closed borders maintains the welfare state.

      What is libertarian about using government to "solve" a problem? I suppose the closed borders folks are minarchists.

    2. BTW, "open borders", "closed borders" and "managed borders" are loaded terms. It's like "pro-choice" vs "pro-abortion".

      I have my own loaded terms for it. I call the "closed" or "managed" position "government-regulated immigration". The "open borders" side is called "self-regulated immigration" or maybe "immigration regulated by property".

    3. A living room sure isn't the same as the state nor have I insinuated such, but having your living room redistributed by the state for the sake of bringing in a greater population, when the population you have can't sustain on available resources is a statist action - which only guarantees more statism down the road.

      I'm not advocating protectionism, but one has to ask how the market could sustain a large influx of people when the people who are already here are having enough trouble as it is.

      Refusing a refugee, in a statist society or a libertarian society, is essentially just closing the front door. But we're not even talking about the refusal, we're talking about refugees being brought in by edict.

      Turn the Middle East into a war torn wasteland = Statist Action
      Declaring by edict refugees from the region are to be brought in = Statist action
      Redistributionism for the sake of providing for refugees = Statist action

      Rinse, repeat

      And all for liberty.

      This is what I'd call your logical fallacy, if anything.

  6. Actually, I have responded. I'm just waiting for Rob (over on strike-the-root) to post my response. Patience...

    1. Paul, Saturday night has come and gone, and I am once again left alone at the bar nursing my fifth beer...having been teased by a promise....

      She said she was just going to the ladies room. She made me promise I would wait, that it would be worth my while.

      Of course, I will wait - pathetic, I know.

      Bartender, another Rolling Rock.

    2. Paul

      You won't believe how pathetic my life is. I returned to the bar tonight, hoping that maybe she would return - maybe somehow she just forgot about me when she went to the ladies room last night; then - realizing her terrible mistake today while saying confession - came rushing back to the same bar stool.

      But no, this was not the case. After two or three drinks (no beer tonight; Jack), I returned home for some comfort food.

      You cannot understand how sensitive a guy like me can be - promised the moon, and instead receiving moldy cheese.

      Maybe tomorrow (you see, this is my miserable life for all to see - I will probably return to the bar again tomorrow).

    3. jeez, rolling rock? things are bad.

  7. That there will be a management of borders is not the problem for many that criticize Hoppe. The problem is what Hoppe mean whit it. Hoppe propose a management inspired by his hate for gay, poor, black, alternative life stile, and people who think differently from him, etc.. that seems to many a sort of nazi-like disgusting cultural view.

    1. In a libertarian society you can live and let live. That means you don't have to live in Hoppe's community, so there is no reason for moralising or conflict. Does that make sense?

    2. People with high time preference want to be able to force people with low time preference to subsidize their choices. They consider resisting this as "hating" them.

      The only peaceful way of avoiding this for the low time preference is to separate themselves. But this isn't allowed, either.

    3. I have read roughly a thousand pages from Hoppe and listened to many hours of him speaking, and while I know he is an obvious enemy of political correctness, I don't recall him ever declaring any actual bigotry or hate. Perhaps a few examples could be cited?

  8. Views of Syrian immigration echoes the views on Jewish immigration in the mid 1930's. I guess we should have let Mises and Rothbard's families die in refugee camps. When this is mentioned right leaning libertarians go silent.

    1. Of course, your comment has nothing to do with any of my posts on this topic, nor does it represent any position I have taken. Other than trying to change the conversation, you have added absolutely nothing of value to the discourse.

  9. The comment has to do with the hypocrisy of right leaning libertarians who through open borders immigrated to North America and violated Rothbard's theory of homesteading - the tribes had cultivated corn, which is working the land. It has to do with Hoppe claiming his marriage (a government enforced contract) justifies his immigration to study at a state funded college, while decrying the state and screaming for closed borders.

    The comment only pertained to you through the paraphrasing of your line about silence.

    After perusing your blog I struggle to find any value you have added to the discourse on any topic. I am sorry you have difficulty connecting abstract concepts into a macro picture.

    1. I guess you don't use state roads, stare issued ID cards, or attend state schools or participate in any state controlled thing at all. After all if you did you would be a hypocrite like Hope, right?

      BM, can we please get rid of anonymous commenting? People can make up whatever user name they like. It need not compromise actual anonymity.

    2. Matt, I don't know about the "we" part, but I have been thinking just about this - maybe not getting rid of anonymous commenting, but not posting anonymous comments if I find the comment worthless - as the one above certainly is.

      Of course, comments with attribution I will always post (as long as no profanity is used and the comment is nothing more than a personal attack).

      I want to think about this for a few days; if I decide to do so, I will post a clear note on the blog and on the "About" page.

  10. Closed borders require ARMED force 24/7 paid by taxes extorted by government. Open borders do not. 

    Good ideas do NOT require force.

    We KNOW that this culture is doomed BECAUSE it is incompatible with the Non Aggression Principle. All that libertarians need do (or CAN do) is stand aside and avoid getting crushed. Exactly HOW will abandoning Principles, especially the NAP, help libertarians create a new culture on the figurative (and perhaps even literal) ashes of the current statist culture?

    The USA government is going to do whatever it wants to do whether libertarians embrace the NAP or abandon it. What is to be gained by become known as an UN-PRINCIPLED person?

    Perhaps, like me, those who still adhere to the Non Aggression Principle find nothing of interest in the writings of those who abandoned NAP.

    1. Dennis

      In this post, I asked two simple things. You address neither (that I can tell).

      As to taking on someone who favors closed borders, go find another site. You are unable to consider the possibility that when someone argues against open borders that they are arguing for closed borders.

    2. correction: You are unable to consider the possibility that when someone argues against open borders that they are NOT arguing for closed borders.

    3. The refugees are committing a whole lot of NAP violations. That is going to require a lot more 24/7 armed force than simple border control.

    4. Matt,

      Do we have good/reliable evidence of that? Will Grigg ran down some claims, but they ended at a site with questionable (to put it charitably) reliability.

  11. Jim, their welfare dependency is an NAP violation. In countries like Norway and Sweden they commit most of the rapes despite being a small percentage of the population.

  12. I have created an open response to your article. It can be found at

    1. So... you're making a justification for the anti-social behavior from the migrants? I ask this legitimately, not rhetorically. If I don't have a job, it's not permissible for me to throw rocks at people, or rape them. If this is your conclusion, it certainly doesn't sound libertarian. I know what it sounds like, but I'd rather avoid name-calling.

      Regardless of the motivation, an initiation of force is an initiation of force.

      It's perfectly libertarian to object to the presence of an individual or group doing something that would jeopardize your property, or your rights to it. Particularly if there is a track record.

      Not being in favor of the "open flood gate" border doesn't mean you want a closed border.

      If five neighbors, all property owners, object to potential new neighbor renting property six because of what happens when said new neighbor doesn't get his way (in your view, having no job), is this statist? If there are no jobs available, why does the new neighbor just have to move in, and everyone foots the bill?

      Who's really being the statist here?