Thursday, December 10, 2015

Borders and Culture

The long awaited Paul Bonneau reply has arrived.  It is not a reply to either of the two questions raised in the post in which he promised a reply; it is a reply to my post “Why Culture Matters.”  In any case, I will address certain points.

Bionic Mosquito has written a thoughtful piece on the border/immigration issue. The money quote? “So what does culture have to do with maintaining a libertarian order? This, to me, is quite simple: the less conflict, the less chance that some self-proclaimed and self-pitying disadvantaged group will look to a savior to deliver them from their perceived suffering.”

I’m not sure I buy this. It does seem true to some extent that a society of like-thinking people will have less conflict…

For me this is certain, and self-evident.  Bonneau at least grants that it is “true to some extent.”  No big disagreement here, but I take exception to what comes next:

…however, a leavening of other culture does add its own form of good to society--for example, the questioning of authority, and reducing mindless conformism.

This is not any different in practical application than what I wrote in the subject post.  From that post:

Culture doesn’t like revolutionary change.  Culture evolves slowly and gradually – this has been true throughout history and such change is a very natural human condition.  It is the unnatural human condition that brings this topic to the fore; the unnatural human condition brings revolutionary change, not evolutionary change.

What do I mean by the “natural human condition” in this context?  Culture evolving via market forces, via introduction of the new via voluntary interactions and voluntary acceptance.  Day-to-day these are imperceptible changes, noticeable only when looking back over a period of years or even decades.  This is how a culture evolves naturally.

What do I mean by the “unnatural human condition”?  Much of the world today.

War, for example, is tremendously culture-destroying.  Of course, the Great War marked a significant turning point in Western culture.  War – certainly on such a scale – is only possible via the presence of the state and state control over much of societal activity. 

In the subject post, when describing cultural change, I used some variant of the term “evolve” four times; eight more times in the comments.  Isn’t this the same “leavening of other culture” that Bonneau chides me for in his very opening paragraphs?

Returning to Bonneau:

Add to this the fact that almost any modern larger society will have large segments of distinctly different cultures…

This is clear.  Yet – and I offer this only as an observation – many of those individuals who make up these “distinctly different cultures” find ways to both assimilate within the majority culture, peacefully influence the majority culture, and maintain aspects of their own culture.  I should know.

…just as Panarchy posits…

What is panarchy?  From a different column by Bonneau:

The crucial advantage of Panarchy is that it converts aggressive violence into defense.

Most people on the Internet tend to “stick with their own kind”; for example, liberals read only sites like Daily Kos. However, when they venture out and run into those of different persuasions, you always see a battle of competing arguments, and the participants are quite earnest about it. There is a reason for this.

Isn’t this what I said about commonality of culture reducing conflict?  Come on, Paul.

The advantage of Panarchy, again, is that it converts aggressive violence into defense. That is, anyone who argues from a position of Panarchy cannot be taken as someone trying to grab that cudgel of power. There is no latent threat behind the argument, especially when an advocate of Panarchy states (and should state if he has any sense) that liberals should get what liberals want, conservative should get what they want, and so forth. How can anyone be threatened by the statement, that they should get what they want?

“…liberals should get what liberals want, conservative should get what they want, and so forth.”  Thanks, Paul.  This very sensible statement will come in handy in a short time.

Returning to Bonneau’s subject post:

A “Panarchic” society will contain both smaller monocultural towns, and larger multicultural cities. There’s no getting around the fact that real tolerance will be a primary element of the larger society. It will be aided by the lack of imposition inherent in Panarchy.

I agree, but keep in mind – humans will always be human, no matter the inherent characteristics of panarchy.  Evolutionary cultural change is accepted by many; my post clearly distinguished this from “revolutionary” cultural change.

I wonder what the panarchic response would be for the “smaller monocultural towns” whose inhabitants choose to remain monocultural?  I know the answer, and so does Bonneau (although he tries hard to ignore it).  I will come back to this later.

There’s another problem with Bionic’s view, here. He worries that a “disadvantaged group” will look to a savior--that the state will be brought in to “help” these people in its usual fashion. But we have to look at two scenarios to parse this out.

Yes, let’s look:

In the first scenario, we are in the present. The state is ubiquitous. It needs little excuse to stick its nose into various things anyway…

This is true enough, yet it isn’t so simple.  If it was this easy, why was 911 beneficial?  Why was Pearl Harbor beneficial?  Why was “Remember the Maine” so effective?  Why are calls for more state intervention always increased after some perceived conflict?  I could list dozens of similar examples (and I suspect so could Paul).

Why does the state spend countless trillions in propagandizing and brainwashing the masses?  The answer is simple: the state needs the support of the people to do what it does. 

In the second scenario, we have transitioned to Panarchy.

What do I care?  Why is this “a problem with Bionic’s view”?  My posts have been about the situation in this world.  I didn’t write about some future world: I know the answer in a libertarian world, and given what I read from Bonneau about panarchy he and I would come to the same conclusions (although he doesn’t seem to recognize this).

Yet another problem with his argument is that it depends on government coercion. Libertarians do now have to make such compromises, (e.g. the use of roads), but they should be avoided where possible.

I agree that we all make compromises in this world, but the forced immigration that was the subject of my post also depends on government coercion.  It must be acceptable for Bonneau to compromise with this coercion, but that doesn’t make his compromise any better than mine.

I don’t find his rationale for closed borders very convincing.

This is where I would start my profanities, except then I would have to delete my own post.

Paul Bonneau – find one single instance where I have argued for closed borders.  One, anywhere.

Framing the question as “open” vs. “closed” or “managed” does not really help, either.

Nonsense.  Bonneau’s “panarchy” inherently implies the possibility of “open” and “closed” and “managed” borders.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Paul:

In a Panarchic world, some polities will accept immigrants (who sign onto those polities) and others won’t.

And, as a reminder of Bonneau’s earlier statement: “…liberals should get what liberals want, conservative should get what they want, and so forth.” 

That is about as good a definition of managed borders that one could write.  This is completely consistent with what I have written, and completely inconsistent with what Bonneau has written.

No one is advocating that immigrants can run willy-nilly over the landscape.

No one?  Again, nonsense – Paul apparently doesn’t get around much on the internet and to various left-libertarian (and other libertarian) sites.

I’m not much of a fan of “managed” borders.

Paul, that may be your position – but you aren’t arguing it from either libertarian or panarchic theory; it is your own value scale coming into play – a purely subjective statement.  This statement is wholly inconsistent with panarchy.  Who are you to say what another society should decide?  Do you want to start a war with them?

The problems that arise from immigration (and there can be some) are largely state-created. Get rid of the state, or at least confine it in polities, and the problems will go away, and the immigration will be self-regulating (just as it was in the 19th Century).

Really, Paul.  Do you want to discuss theory, or do you want to discuss application in this world?  No matter the differing positions on application in this world that different libertarians take, I suspect there is close to 100% agreement with your statement in theory.

Bonneau’s post is wholly confusing – where we agree, he finds reason to say we disagree.  He offers that panarchic communities can manage (or even close) their borders, yet he disagrees about allowing for managed (or closed) borders.

Worse, he regularly misstates my positions or otherwise attacks positions which I have not taken.  There is a word for that.


  1. Being panarchies non-territorial communities the problem of open or closed borders does not exist on a macro scale. There are only personal or micro borders (e.g. your house, your garden, your factory). However you can have open or closed communities. A club admitting only men is a closed community.

    1. Mine was just a clarification about my view of panarchy. No critical remark concerning you or Paul.

  2. Well ain't this a shame.

    As I've commented elsewhere on this blog, I wouldn't mind being proven wrong. I was looking forward to Paul's response, -on this situation, in this reality-

    I hope Paul gives it another shot.

  3. A tangential observation about this from Paul:

    ...liberals should get what liberals want, conservative should get what they want, and so forth. How can anyone be threatened by the statement, that they should get what they want?

    This is so silly as to be other-worldly, noting that there exist in our world cultures and ideologies that want to forcibly convert non-members or non-believers, or enslave or kill them if such conversion fails or is even resisted. Generally, if what Collective A wants is to coerce Individuals B, C, and D, then I must come to the rational conclusion that I am threatened.

    1. Hamilton's Rule. I empathize and cooperate with those who look and act like me. We have been hardwired to this paradigm out of necessity [those living in hostile climates even more so]

      Migrating populations and multi cultural stew was a marginal influence on this hard wiring until about 500 years ago. [let's not quibble]

      A century of forced multi culturalism isn't enough time for a change in hard wiring. It's happening, but very slowly. And those cultures which have remained isolated, are not going to be assimilated any time soon.

      Hard wiring together with the first law of Economics.. The more you have of anything, the less value is attached to same. [again don't quibble]

      These two constants are a recipe for another century of war between races and cultures. And per Econ 101 - the value of white and blue eyed will rise exponentially.

      OMG - vapors all around. Did she actually say such a thing.... yes she did.

      Those races and cultures who are breeding beyond ability of their environmental or cultural and political systems - are doomed to diminishing value - in favor of such things as whales, coral reefs, forests, rhinos, -- hell, open space.

      Misanthrope and xenophobia will unite against mankind... and those with exploding numbers. Because their value will diminish with their numbers.

      Misanthrope - the next challenge - who and how many can play

  4. A good question worth asking is: If you have created a libertarian paradise where only people can come in with permission of the landholder and George Soros sets up a refugee center and floods the area adjacent with thousands of refugees, what can you do? It is the kind of thing Soros would do. Sooner or the "refugees" will have the libertarians under the statist whip.

  5. If you enslave another person without his/her consent, the other person dosn't get what he/she wants. So I don't see the rationality of your objection to the statement: "everybody gets what he/she wants". Clearly in that statement is implicitly (and logically) included: "without forcing anyone to accept what they don't want".

  6. I see that some people don't grasp the non-territorial aspect of panarchy. They keep talking of "permission of the landholder" (what: my house?), "adjacent area" (what: my garden?), "refugee center" (with no borders. no territorial master. what for?). Even talking of libertarian and statist doesn't make much sense. Like in some civilized place a catholic feeling threatened by a buddhist or a protestant by a catholic.
    I know that it is difficult to switch to a new paradigm but only doing that we stop thinking in terms of past centuries problems.

    1. I believe I understand the non-territorial aspect of panarchy – my posts are not addressing the perfect definition of panarchy. With that said:

      1) In the context of my posts on this topic of borders and cultures, even a perfect panarchic society will have a better chance to thrive and succeed if two physical humans living on immediately adjacent territory have compatible cultural views.

      2) In my post, I am responding to Paul's definitions

      3) Humans will always be human and no matter the theory of panarchy, individuals will live in proximity of each other - with all of the risks and rewards that come with that.

      Humans in physical form occupy territory. This isn't a question of "thinking in terms of past centuries problems." It is a question of dealing with the reality of human nature. Panarchy cannot avoid this reality.

      A paradigm might be so new that it takes a new kind of man to bring the paradigm to reality. I would say that is not only "difficult," it is impossible. Ask the communists.

  7. If by "compatible cultural views" you mean to be a "civilized human being" I agree with you. In fact, two uncivilized individuals share common (non)-qualities but conflict between them can be endemic.
    As for the change of paradigm, moving from slavery to the refusal of slavery required a change of culture but not a new kind of human being. Human nature is quite flexible.

  8. Eliminate the genesis for Muslims here in America and deport all practicing Muslims back to their home countries.

    CLUE: There were no practicing Muslims, no Mosques, no Sharia, and no Islamic terrorism in 17th-century America whose governments of, by, and for God were established upon His unchanging moral law, beginning with the First Commandment.

    Biblical immigration and border policy begins with the First Commandment, which, in turn, demands all immigrants leave their gods, their culture, and their laws at the border or suffer the consequences. No Muslim would ever agree to such law.

    QUESTION: So, WHAT was it that changed America from what it was in the 17th-century to what it is now--arguably the most polytheistic nation to exist, including Islam?
    ANSWER: The First Commandment was replaced with the First Amendment's First Commandment-violating Free Exercise Clause.

    It's one thing to allow for individual freedom of conscience and private choice of gods (something impossible to legislate to begin with). It's another matter altogether for government to enable any and all religions to proliferate through the land evangelizing our posterity to their false gods.

    For more, Google online Chapter 11 "Amendment 1: Government-Sanctioned Polytheism" of "Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective."

    1. “The First Commandment was replaced with the First Amendment's First Commandment-violating Free Exercise Clause.”

      And this was done, per your own observation, before there were any practicing Muslims in America.

      The problems in America are not due to Muslim influence. The problems in America are fundamentally due to the actions and beliefs of those who can loosely be labeled WASPs.

      It is from this group that the Constitution came; it is from this group that slavery was upheld; it is from this group that Indians were slaughtered; it is from this group that hundreds of thousands of Filipinos were killed; it is from this group that the Middle East was carved into nonsensical borders; it is from this group that carpet-bombed hundreds of thousands of non-combatants; it is from this group that two Japanese cities were turned to ash; it is from this group that the two main regional enemies of civilized Arabs/Muslims gain their support - Saudi Arabia and Israel; it is from this group that – for at least three decades – overt war has been perpetuated on Arabs and Muslims.

      None of this will be solved by “deport[ing] all practicing Muslims back to their home countries.” It is attitudes such as this that convince many Muslims that they are once again dealing with holy crusaders.

    2. And folks like that have the GALL to shout: "Oh, blame the victim!" i.e. the WASP's.
      To paraphrase THE MAN: "We just marched in, we can just march out".
      Culture clash solved.

    3. I keep making this point and it falls on deaf ears. The truly existential threats to the aspects of America I find valuable were all enacted by white people, and supported by a population who lacked the morality to resist the opportunity to loot their neighbors without immediate personal consequence.

    4. As offered by Jesus, and recorded in Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

      Or, said more succinctly in the words of Neil Peart and sung by Geddy Lee:

      "Blame is better to give than receive."

    5. The complaints are coming because the neighbors speak funny and look different.

      This is just human nature, though, as we're going to tend to be more empathetic to those who are closer to us. And this is a necessity. I can't be crippled with sorrow over the hurt of everybody on the planet. I only have that level of investment with my family. As I move out from there the investment varies with closeness biologically, philosophically and geographically.

      What I can do is try to treat everyone, regardless of those factors, justly. Romans 12:18

    6. "...two main regional enemies of civilized Arabs/Muslims gain their support - Saudi Arabia and Israel"
      Are you kidding? The most "civilized" Arabs I have ever met lived in Israel and they were not going to run anywhere from its "enemy".

  9. Demography is the war. Some people, cultures, races are breeding. Some are not. Until and unless we address the economic model that necessitates a growing population to underwrite the needs of our elderly - we are doomed.

    And the planet is doomed. Every bird and butterfly is doomed if our economic models call for 7 billion people to keep having replacement babies.

    And as the present economic models fail because of automation, Capital flight & offshoring + aging populations in the developed world - we are seeing wild cat solutions - such as Merkel importation of a million Muslims to pay for the benefits of aging Germans.

    These economic test trials will not only fail - they will lead to internal warfare that will dwarf 20th century conflicts.

    Read the European press in English.. available all over the internet. Nationalist, populist, nativist parties from Finland to Greece are storming the establishment walls. And even the word "establishment" has become the enemy of these populations - for it has come to mean - the interests of the whole of humanity - in all it's reproductive excess - at the expense of every other living thing.

    I predict a misanthropic, xenophobic coalition of left and right - meeting somewhere on the backside... to drastically reduce human population.

    Read Outside Magazine. Then read Vdare. Then stop by Greenpeace - and then Storm Front - alternate between extreme right and extreme left ... and the enemy is the same. Mankind - not all of it - not ours -- but the "other kind".

    Greenies and Limo Liberals are rooting for Ebola - equal opportunity genocide. Doctors without Borders whisper that they are having second thoughts.

    Read Trudeau's "Dark Star Safari" America's favorite travel writer began his misanthropic meltdown in Samoa I think. Now he's gone Goebbels on Africa.

    This will not end well for us... but maybe the giraffes and forests will survive.

  10. This question of how to handle immigration initiates a profound quandary for libertarians when it comes to recognizing that the libertarian theory of freedom of association (and movement) clashes with the status quo world of states policing borders. The theoretical imaginary lines drawn on maps dividing the tax-cattle of various political jurisdictions become very real when state agents enforce their particular policies upon those that ignore those lines and policies. It is easy to dismiss the need for violence to enforce "border management" by pointing out that the state creates its own problems by offering welfare to one and all. Of course, if you could eliminate the state welfare subsidies to anybody and everybody who can fill out a form, then you would likely end up with mostly people who are either seeking peaceful employment or already have the means to simply seek a better life where there is more liberty than where they came from. But this is not going to happen in the foreseeable future, so we are left with an invasion of parasites to deal with; including many who seek to destroy the existing culture, not out of love for liberty, but to satisfy their nihilism born of envy and desperation and nurtured by their "faith". It's hard to put a happy face on that, IMHO.

    Paul seeks a compromise between the way things ought to be and the way things are, but ends up just blurring the divisions even as he offers his version of the dichotomy (today vs. after panarchy). BM was clearly addressing only the former scenario (the way things are), so adding the latter scenario (the way things could be) is not a valid criticism of how to deal with status quo policies. It can certainly help to consider what the ideal situation should be (no monopoly state), but framing it as a critique of BM's thoughtful post suggesting how to deal with existing reality was, well, off the mark.

    I hope to settle my own thoughts and internal conflicts soon on this quandary of dealing with reality while maintaining the principles of liberty, property rights and the non-aggression principle. This is much more complex than "driving on the roads" and a formidable challenge, which is why I can appreciate those who call for open borders, closed borders and the compromising managed borders, right or wrong. I'll see if I can get off of that fence after the holidays. The focus on "Why Culture Matters" is an inspiration and good starting point that I hope to do justice to.

    1. Mark

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

      "h...a profound quandary..."

      I agree. I look forward to reading your thoughts as you more fully develop these.