Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Logical Inconsistency of Open Borders...

…for libertarians…

Jacob Hornberger has written a new post on open borders.  Several months ago I went on a back-and-forth exchange with him on this topic.  I found it a most frustrating experience, as he would either ignore or misrepresent my positions (for those interested, I offer the running dialogue, in order: here, here, here, here, and here).  Therefore, I will not comment directly on his current post – instead, I will touch on one logical inconsistency inherent in his view.

Anarcho-Libertarian Borders

I have argued before that in an anarcho-libertarian world, there would be no such thing as (state) “borders” because there would be no such thing as states.  I welcome anyone to prove this wrong.

In such a world, every “border” would be a private border demarcating private property and that these borders most certainly would be “managed” by the property owner.  I welcome anyone to argue otherwise.

In such a world, everyone has a right to emigrate (assuming the individual has not voluntarily bound himself to stay); no one has a right to immigrate.  Immigration onto a private border without invitation is a trespass.  Again, I welcome contrary opinions.

In conclusion, in an anarcho-libertarian world, there would be no such thing as open borders.

Limited Government Libertarian Borders

I have suggested that in a world of state borders, there is no libertarian answer to the issue of crossing those borders.  There are, of course, libertarians such as Hornberger who disagree.  The closest libertarian-consistent answer I can derive is one where the potential immigrant has an invitation from a citizen, along with guarantees of employment and housing.

There are many libertarians who advocate for limited government; Hornberger is one of these.  What is typically meant by “limited government”?  I offer a definition from Hornberger:

Thus, as limited-government proponents have long pointed out, there are three primary and legitimate functions of government: (1) to punish murderers, rapists, robbers, and the like; (2) to provide a court system in which people can peacefully resolve their disputes; and (3) to defend the nation from foreign invasion.

The Logical Inconsistency

Hornberger advocates for limited government; Hornberger advocates for open borders.  These two positions are logically inconsistent.

The limited government has responsibility “to defend the nation from foreign invasion.”

Does this not require controlling the border?


  1. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing. The contradiction you point out is inescapable.

    If someone is really as interested in peace as Hornberger claims to be, would they not spend some time to consider the possibility of serious ethnic conflict? I mean, its only the history of the world.

    He hides behind platitudes of peace, but he is a bringer of war. A war that will not be won by his kind.

    It didn't have to be this way. This is the future you chose Jacob.

    When a man claims the negro belongs in Europe he does not do it out of love of the negro but hatred of the European.

    This is really simple stuff. If the entire third world is allowed to pour into white countries. There will be no more white countries and eventually no more white people. This is white genocide and Hornberger supports it.

    I contend he does so knowingly and for that there is a special place in hell.

    Sooner or later this joke will end and people like Hornberger are going to be out of work to say the least.

    1. Hornberger in hell LOL... I don’t want anyone to go to hell and I pray for him. But he’s vile, a Gary Ridgeway of the libertarian world. He’s willing to sacrifice Capitalism, Christianity, and the whole white race to the altar of political correctness.

      The State monopolizes areas of necessary regulation over our lives. Arrogating such power, it faces choices. The State reflexively chooses the expansionary route at the expense of civilization.

  2. Open borders always result in more government.

    Either from the immigrants, who will vote themselves a bigger piece of the pie, or:

    From the natives, who will vote themselves more government to protect them from the immigrants.

  3. As Hornberger indicates in your previous interaction, the state is necessary for the purpose of extracting resources from the citizens to give to refugees and immigrants.

    1. Or, the state is responsible for repelling invasions.

      Which function it performs depends upon the quality of the nation, which is separate from the state (otherwise, why refer to "nation-state").

      The qualities of the nation are derived from the peoples within.

      History proves any nation-state what doesn't carefully manage it's immigration ceases.

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    2. Hornberger advocates for monopoly government.

      Hornberger advocates for open borders.

      "Simply turn that beast into a One-World Limited Government."

      Absent the word "limited" (as there will be nothing "limited" about it) in your statement, I find that you have perfectly captured the logical conclusion of his two positions.

    3. Curious. As I recall, Jeff wrote a comment strongly in support of Hornberger. When I pointed out the logical conclusion of Hornberger's position, Jeff decided to disappear instead of engage.

      Good work, Jeff. With friends like you, Jacob needs no enemies.

  5. Another idea that is misrepresented by the Open Borders Libertarians is of the Commons. That there will be Common roads that people can travel on without being on private property.

    But the Commons in history were very limited. Yes a village might have a Common path or road that everyone in the village could use. They might also have some Common fields or wells or fishing areas. But these Common’s would be for the use of the villagers who created the Commons. It does not mean the people of the next village over would be allowed to use it. Let alone used by someone from halfway around the world.

    And even among the villagers the use of the Commons would be strictly limited so as not to overuse the resource. If that is not done then you end up with the “Tragedy of the Commons” where the resources is worn out and useless for everyone.

    And if people were foolish enough to allow unlimited usage of the Commons then they no longer control it and without control ownership is meaningless.

  6. A fully privatized social order would be characterized by closed borders. That's the default position. So why do so many libertarians believe that open borders is the default position under a mixed, public-private social order?

    1. It is a correct point. I have often asked (with crickets in response): if I have the right to close *my* borders, why don't my neighbors and I have the right to close *our* borders?

    2. I think it is from the fact that many libertarians feel that open borders = police state and it is in some sense true. The reality is however that a country can have one of two conditions: Welfare State or Open Borders. No country can exist very long with both. I think that there is a large number of libertarians who believe that the Welfare State is not all that popular when in actuality parts of it are extremely popular. More over they underestimate and have done so for two generations that mass majorities on both the left and right support the Welfare State.

  7. i was with you through my first round of reading this back and forth between you two. Today I think you're both missing the point. After going through the second time, I see one point of contention is the repeated question of, answer to, and continued use of "invitation". I don't think Jacob's of prices as invite is necessary, although it seemed sufficient. I don't see how invitation is critical at all. When a person crosses an unguarded national border and makes his way to say, San Diego from Tijuana, no one is consulted for an invite. If this immigrant wants a meal and has the means to exchange for it, this is easy to attain, same goes for a place to stay, or even to live. Employment is simply a matter of negotiating a wage. Life can go on indefinitely without a formal invitation. Most invitations are implied by the automatic doors and "open" signs on business establishments.

    In effect, the "right to immigrate" as positive or negative is irrelevant. It's the de facto situation in most areas without totalitarian government. I understand that in a libertarian society gated communities may extent to entire cities, but I'm not sure that would be the most popular situation. I do think the modern city and its "open border" would be the most prevalent.

    The key point where Jacob remains in the wrong is the idea of weighing taxes against leaving refugees to die elsewhere. Why the refugee's rights over mine? It's because he neglects the end of refusal to pay the additional tax, which is within your libertarian-rights.

    The welfare state is the key issue. The warfare state is a key issue. Public education is a key issue. The welfare state makes this, as you noted repeatedly, not something libertarianism can answer. The welfare and warfare state exists in largest part due to public education. I don't see how these these conversations can't simply repeat again and again for no less than 1 generation as long as public education is the prevailing method.

    1. Patrick

      "Invitation" is a relatively minor point on my side. I introduced it only in the context of what an immigration policy might look like in a world of state borders while recognizing the property rights of current citizens.

      Someone to vouch for the character of the individual wishing to immigrate; someone willing to assure that the immigrant will not be a burden on other members of society.

      Given that I find no purely libertarian solution to this question in a world of state borders, I spend little time or mental energy on this point beyond this.

  8. When you say "someone willing to assure that the immigrant will not *be a burden* on other members of society", do you mean exactly that? Or do you mean initiate force, or be the ultimate cause of said force, I.e., taxation to fund the welfare programs? This is a significant difference to me, and one that is not implied by "burden", it's that aggression/harm dichotomy.

    1. Patrick, I was sloppy. My meaning is burden via forced welfare schemes supported by taxes and government action. The sponsor will support the immigrant if the immigrant is unable to support himself.

    2. Yes, that brings me a lot more clarity on your point. Thanks.