From the comments to my post An Adult Enters the Room. The dialogue was started by The NAPster December 20, 2017 at 9:36 AM, but I will pick up the conversation beginning with his comments at The NAPster December 23, 2017 at 5:13 AM:
…is the fact that one is unable to get what one wants fast enough (or even ever) a philosophical justification for violating the NAP?
I begin here because this point raises one of the foundational issues to the entire dialogue. I have written far too many times: the idea of “open borders” cannot be derived from the non-aggression principle. So how can I be making a philosophical justification for violating the NAP when the thing I am arguing against cannot be derived from the NAP?
I would appreciate an answer to this question.
BM, is it fair to say that our different approaches to achieving our objective can be summarized as follows: I am advocating chipping away at the state from the bottom, and you are advocating directing it from the top?
No, it is not fair to say. First of all, are we discussing the entirety of this thing called “the state” or are we discussing this specific issue of open borders? Why would you make such a sweeping generalization based on the discussion of a very narrow topic?
I would appreciate an answer to these questions.
Second, I have written specifically what I am advocating on this specific topic – the steps offered by de Soto along with my step requiring a sponsor. Let’s examine what you are advocating:
Perhaps instead of “open borders,” the better description of what I am advocating is “self-managed borders,” even if it seems to be a less effective policy, contrasted with your proposal of “state-managed borders.”
In a world of state borders, can you come up with an option – any option – in which the state will not manage the borders? Now, I can come up with such options for drug laws, prostitution, medical care, courts, money and credit, etc. – the state just needs to take such laws of off the book and / or the state just needs to eliminate the monopoly protection it affords to itself.
But as to managing state borders in a world of state borders, can you come up with an option in which the state is not the entity managing the borders? It is not acceptable to suggest that “no one will manage the state borders.” First of all, there is nothing libertarian in such a concept – as even you admit, someone will manage the borders (in your case “self”).
Second, and I will greatly simplify an argument I have expanded on several times: borders can only be derived from a minarchist view of the NAP; one plank of the minarchist view is that the state provides for defense; so how will the state provide for defense unless it knows who is crossing the borders and for what purpose?
I would appreciate an answer to these questions. Because if you cannot come up with another option, then it will be the state that manages the borders.
So, referring to the aforementioned de Soto, he offers steps that mimic “self-managed borders” as much as is possible in a world of “state-managed borders.” Because, until you have an answer to managing state borders that does not involved the state managing the state borders, well…the state will manage state borders (do you see the common theme here?). All that is left is the “how.”
Now, you could advocate that the state just do nothing: no border agents, no passport checks, no nothing; in other words, impotence when it comes to managing my property. But, in a way, I guess you are advocating this…First, you cite my earlier comment:
For a principle grounded on respecting full private property rights, impotence kind of seems like a worse alternative than the one I propose.
I would say impotence in terms of timing only; my proposal may get us there eventually, but in a longer time-frame than your proposal.
I have had this same discussion with Walter Block; I offer, in the following, the key passages. As background, Block has identified that the libertarian position on open borders requires two things: full private property rights and open immigration – not just one thing (being open immigration).
Bionic: There are many libertarians who will say that open borders TODAY - without full private property rights - is libertarian, and would therefore open the borders. Would YOU do this TODAY absent full private property rights? I really am trying to get a yes or no answer from you on this specific question.
Block: Now, to fully answer your question: I agree with those libertarians, not you. If I had the power to open the borders, fully, right now, I’d do it.
So, Block would fully open the borders right now, even without full private property rights. It is a position, but not a libertarian position. One can call it a transitional position toward liberty (I do not, as I will explain shortly), but not a libertarian position. After I point this out, Block offers:
Block: On a practical level, I still think I can have my cake and eat it too, here. Namely, I predict that it would take less time for us to privatize everything, if we had full power, than for the hordes to descend upon us en masse.
This is where, frankly, I was stunned (and even beyond the “if we had full power” part):
Bionic: We have seen this transitional position put in place in Germany and Europe recently – open immigration without fully privatized property.
How has this worked out for liberty? Certainly, for the immigrants, it has enhanced their liberty.
What of the Germans, Swedes, and other Europeans? Are they MORE free? Have there been calls for REDUCED government action because of this open-border-induced influx? Has all property been privatized before the masses descended? Has the swamp been drained, with “full power” returning to those who wish to privatize everything?
The answer for each of these is, of course, no. The answer is worse than no. The answer for each of these is exactly the opposite of a move toward liberty.
Yet, this, apparently, is the position of open borders libertarians; one that moves us away from the possibility of liberty.
To achieve the libertarian position on open borders requires two things: full private property rights and open immigration. To take one without the other could be helpful as a transitional position, but transitional positions are only appropriate if they move us toward a libertarian society.
Walter’s transitional position – just have open immigration now without full private property rights – most certainly does not move us toward a libertarian society; the examples are all around us and too numerous to mention.
Your transitional position – if not impotence, something approaching it – gives us the world we have today, a world where advocacy on this topic comes from only people like George Soros; again, we have examples all around us of the direction in which his position moves society.
My transitional position – again, advocating for the steps offered by de Soto, etc. – can move us toward a libertarian society. First of all, the steps being advocated mimic what would likely occur in a full private property society in any case – as opposed to merely opening the borders (or impotence), which mimics the exact opposite of what would happen in a private property society. So…this isn’t a bad start.
Second, libertarians get a big fail when they don’t recognize the value of common culture, tradition, generally accepted norms, etc., in achieving and maintaining a reasonably libertarian society. I have written on this too many times to count. But don’t take it from me; there is this guy named Murray Rothbard that might be worth listening to on occasion.
Please show me why this belief on my part is wrong.
There is a better chance for holding to a common culture and tradition under de Soto’s proposals than for it to occur under fully open borders.
So, if we are stuck with choosing between transitional positions, why choose the one certain to move us away from liberty? Why choose the one that, coincidentally, is supported both by most western states and the likes of George Soros? Is it possible that these entities are truly supporting a libertarian society? Or, alternatively, is it possible that they understand the consequences of such a policy more than the open borders libertarians do – Antonio Gramsci’s communist strategy to destroy the culture thereby leaving us nothing but the state?
I would appreciate answers to these questions.