Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What I Learned at Murray’s Knee…

…or Principled Libertarianism from a truly Principled Libertarian.

Any resemblance between the characters in this picture and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle
-        The Three Stooges

Nations by Consent, by Murray Rothbard

I preface this essay: almost every time I read Rothbard I am struck by how he has resolved countless issues of libertarian theory and application decades ago, issues that I have only recently worked through.  The man developed many concepts and applications associated with the non-aggression principle out of whole cloth; it is amazing how well his work stands up to time.

In this essay, Rothbard examines the idea of nation, collective security, secession, anarcho-capitalist open borders and a few other topics.  I will focus on the topics of the nation and open borders.  I have previously offered a minor examination of this paper.  Today, for some reason, it seems like a good day to go into some detail.


Libertarians tend to focus on two important units of analysis: the individual and the state. And yet, one of the most dramatic and significant events of our time has been the reemergence-with a bang-in the last five years of a third and much neglected aspect of the real world, the "nation."

Atomistic-individual-libertarians (i.e. left-libertarians) need such a lesson from Rothbard.  For the rest of us…mmm, we get it already. 

Rothbard is writing at the time of the decentralization of the Soviet Union; if ever a case study involving actual human beings might offer the value that actual human beings put on “nation,” this was the case study (for example).

But let’s not be confused by the term “nation”:

When the "nation" has been thought of at all, it usually comes attached to the state, as in the common word, "the nation-state," but this concept takes a particular development of recent centuries and elaborates it into a universal maxim.

If one defines “state” as an entity with a monopoly of legislating, interpreting and enforcing law, it is a concept developed in the west primarily after the Reformation and Renaissance.

Contemporary libertarians often assume, mistakenly, that individuals are bound to each other only by the nexus of market exchange. They forget that everyone is necessarily born into a family, a language, and a culture.

Economic efficiency and exchange has never been and will never be the primary glue that holds society together.  “Family, language, and a culture,” or – because I like triggering my leftist enemies – blood and soil.

Open Borders

Can one conclude “open borders” purely from the non-aggression principle?  I say no, but don’t take my word for it:

I raise the pure anarcho-capitalist model in this paper, not so much to advocate the model per se as to propose it as a guide for settling vexed current disputes about nationality. The pure model, simply, is that no land areas, no square footage in the world, shall remain "public"; every square foot of land area, be they streets, squares, or neighborhoods, is privatized.

As Walter Block has offered, full private property rights are one requirement if one is to speak of “open borders” as a principled libertarian policy.  For those who are not sure about our present condition, we do not have full private property rights today.

…on rethinking immigration on the basis of the anarcho-capitalist model, it became clear to me that a totally privatized country would not have "open borders" at all.

Wow!  Why didn’t I think of that?  Wait, I did (about 20 years after Rothbard wrote these words; see here and here for two examples).  But I guess I wasn’t sitting on Murray’s knee when I wrote those pieces; maybe it carries more weight when one hears Rothbard say it.

If every piece of land in a country were owned by some person, group, or corporation, this would mean that no immigrant could enter there unless invited to enter and allowed to rent, or purchase, property.

Is your house an “open border”?  That must be an interesting place.

A totally privatized country would be as "closed" as the particular inhabitants and property owners’ desire.

Sounds like a managed border to me, a border managed by the private owners.  You mean to say that the non-aggression principle applied to this question would result in a managed border?  I’m shocked, shocked!  (Not really.)

But wait!  It gets worse (well, better for me but worse for some): Rothbard used the plural?  “Inhabitants”?  “Property owners”?  You mean two or more (or a hundred or a thousand or a million) people could agree to close the borders to their combined lands?  And this would be perfectly compatible with a principled libertarian position?  Rothbard seems to think so.

Look, don’t blame me, all you principled libertarian minarchists (talk about an oxymoron) out there – take it up with Rothbard.  He will pay as much attention to your opinion as I will.

One cannot deduce open borders solely from the non-aggression principle.  The non-aggression principle, strictly applied would result in a) all property privately owned, b) therefore result in all property borders “managed” by the property owner.


I understand the following objections from libertarians on state border control:

·        The state, when enforcing border control, commits numerous – and even violent – violations on person and property; these should not be accepted by libertarians.
·        Anything the state does is inherently a violation of the non-aggression principle.
·        Joe invited his friend Mohammed for a visit; why should the state stop this?

On the first item, I unequivocally condemn the state’s violent actions – some people are confused about my views on this; I think people such as these just have a hard time following an argument.  Of course, a minarchist cannot hold to the second and third objection – not on anything approaching minarchist grounds.

All of these are valid objections – and it might surprise some people if I said I personally agree with one or more of these (actually, it shouldn’t surprise anyone who actually reads what I have written on the topic). 

With this said, there is no pure libertarian answer to borders and immigration in a world of state borders: conceptually impossible for principled libertarians; illogical for minarchists, who – once they have given privilege to the state for defense – cannot at the same time take away defense of the state borders by state actors. 

Principled libertarians are left to choose from second best – using criteria other than what the non-aggression principle offers.  For this, I say: to each his own.

Anyway, ask Murray; maybe you will listen to him.


Mark my words: the attacks on this post will come quickly.  Rest assured, it will only come from individuals who have trouble with reading comprehension.

But, if anyone who attacks the comments in this post wants to demonstrate that he is not a coward, deal with this.  The challenge is open to open-borders libertarians, both named in the post and unnamed.


  1. "Nations by Consent" is one of my favorite essays. It dispels more of the maladies of leftist libertarian thought than almost any other work.

    Isn't it odd that leftist libertarians have become atomists? Maybe they spent so much time on the left hearing criticism of libertarians as atomistic, that even after they accepted the ideas of liberty, they still retain this caricature of libertarianism even if only at a subconscious level.

    Immigration is a state created problem. In its absence, private property borders would govern according to the wishes of the owners of such property. Therefore the solution to immigration problems must necessarily be pragmatic as opposed to principled.

    Walter Block himself advocates voting, at least while we live under a democratic state, and this would be another example of a state created problem for which there is no principled solution, only a pragmatic one: vote for the 'least bad' option if you are reasonably confident in your choice.

    The 'least bad' option (at least to the libertarian) in regards to American immigration is managed borders, since the vast majority of those entering the country can be counted on as allies of the left and its march towards state socialism and the eradication of private property norms.

    I've never heard an 'open border libertarian' advocate for the state (as it exists now) to release rapists and murderers from prison, or for the police to stop arresting those who commit such crimes. If they carried their reasoning on immigration forward, they would have to, since police and prisons are aggressive property rights violating entities themselves.

    1. I know the following are generalizations, but I find them generally true:

      1) Left-libertarians believe the NAP to be universal, and should / must applied the same way universally

      2) Left-libertarians do not accept the idea of covenant communities - or, at minimum they do not accept covenant communities that include as part of their covenant characteristics of a traditional, conservative Christian culture.

      3) Left-libertarians are not able to grasp that there are some values more important to some libertarians than maximizing economic efficiency, or even achieving perfect libertarianism.

      4) Left-libertarians do not accept that discrimination is inherent if one is to respect private property.

      5) Left-libertarians believe that what is acceptable for a single libertarian to do alone becomes an NAP violation if two or more libertarians combine / join to do the same thing

      6) Non-left-libertarians believe pretty much the opposite on all of the above.

      7) Non-left libertarians are happy to leave left-libertarians to their own lalaland in their own communities; left-libertarians find it a violation of the NAP to allow non-left-libertarians the same courtesy.

      This is off of the top of my head.

    2. You pretty much nailed it right off the cuff, but let me add a few more:

      8) left libertarians praise and defend 'black' and 'latino' communities and culture, but 'white' communities and culture are inherently fascist and racist.

      9) left libertarians reject any authority above themselves, even though voluntary hierarchy is perfectly consistent with the NAP and realistically necessary for dispute resolution in a free society.

      10) left libertarians condone all lifestyle choices even when such choices en masse lead to low impulse control or high time preference societies whose chaotic and irresponsible nature lends credence to the necessity of a state.

      11) the foundational principle of left libertarians is not the NAP; it is egalitarianism. As Hoppe points out, this unrealistic belief is incompatible with the naturally occurring differences between the status, wealth, and ideas of individuals under a condition of freedom.

    3. Yes, you have added some appropriate points. To your last point, this is why I am concluding (maybe have concluded) that left-libertarians are really left, and not at all libertarian.

      As I was writing my list, I began to consider turning this idea into a full blog post. I might do it - and use some of your items as well (fully acknowledged, of course).

    4. Thanks and that sounds like a great idea. Maybe you could add a disclaimer that the degree to which leftism has infected libertarians differs and so not all left libertarians hold all of these tenets of idiocy (or whatever you choose to call them).

      They are leftists I believe but they want to build their cosmopolitan and non-discriminatory egalitarian society in a non- or less aggressive way, and that is commendable. I tend to be a bit overly antagonistic with these fellows even though they are great on a vast number of issues.

      It may be important to name names at some point. Who are these left libertarians we are referring to? Steve Horwitz is certainly one. Sheldon Richman perhaps? Kevin Carson? Gary Chartier for sure. Roderick Long? Brink Lindsey of Cato? Nearly everyone associated with the Libertarian Party. Certainly anyone who's simultaneously called Jeff Deist a fascist and from a position of 'liberty.'

      I would not consider Jeffrey Tucker a left libertarian although he is a 'cosmo' and has egalitarian leanings. I understand if you do. Maybe I do not know the extent of what Tucker has said, though I do follow his posts on FEE.

      Walter Block is neither left nor right. I truly believe that, even though he came from the left, he is an enigma purely guided by reason. I disagree with his reasoning on occasion (such as his open borders advocacy), but over all I really admire him, his character, and his work. I truly believe that he can be convinced to abandon his open border advocacy if presented with a good enough argument. The same cannot be said of the others.

    5. I have named the names in the past, and have written many posts on these. Start here:


      If that isn't enough for you, continue with the tab at the top of the page "Libertarians and Culture." The descriptions will give you some idea of the names.

      As to Block, he has written often enough about his conservative / cultural / traditional views. But he might be the best writer the left libertarians have ever had.

      Not just on open borders. His "Defending the Undefendable," while quite correct on libertarian theory is a defense of the lifestyle of the libertine.

      I saw Walter recently describe the NAP as the one true faith. God, I hope not.

    6. "I truly believe that he can be convinced to abandon his open border advocacy if presented with a good enough argument."

      ATL, I agree with this assessment.

      I think that one possible strategy would to be to argue that it is simply a debate in the order of operations in transitioning to a stateless society. And, that since multiculturalism increases the demand for governance, opening (state) borders should be the final act in that transition.

      I'm sure this line of reasoning can be expounded upon, and hope that others here might add some nuance to it (assuming this hasn't already been done.)

    7. "I think that one possible strategy would to be to argue that it is simply a debate in the order of operations in transitioning to a stateless society. And, that since multiculturalism increases the demand for governance, opening (state) borders should be the final act in that transition."

      This has been done and Walter has seen it and responded to it.

      Walter recognizes that it takes two things to move to a libertarian open borders world - full private property rights and no state intervention at the borders.

      I suggest that as it takes both, why not focus on the first instead of the second? It has the benefit of being the foundation of a libertarian society in any case, with none of the drawbacks of being overrun by immigrants (and, therefore, increasing demands for government action).

      Walter says no; he will take open borders even without full private property rights.

      Have you read my recent exchanges with him?

    8. "Have you read my recent exchanges with him?"

      Yes. I think I need to read them again. If it's not too much trouble could you gather the links?

    9. >Walter says no; he will take open borders even without full private property rights.

      Weird how he doesn’t advocate for shooting tax collectors but argues on behalf of the oligarchs project of racial engineering and culture distortion. It’s almost like he doesn’t identify with the culture and people of traditional America....

      Selective application of principle gives up the game every time. Walter, just like all other NAP witch doctors, isn’t conforming his preferences to a principle but a principle to his preferences- whether conscious or not.

    10. Jeff

      The two most recent:

      This first one reflects a discussion on government controlled land and homesteading. It isn't the primary issue to me, but it is an important issue for Block's construct:


      In this second one, more important, Walter is stuck (in my opinion):


      He has written a reply to this which he has sent to me, but I have not read it (I have quickly skimmed a few sentences) as he has asked me not to reply until it is formally published. So I don't read it yet, thereby avoiding the temptation to reply! (But my quick skim tells me I will enjoy replying)

    11. Thanks for the links. I think your questions about recent immigration policies in Europe, and their effects, were great. I am looking forward to his reply being published so that you can respond.

      In regards to open borders you offer to Block, "...it might be a transitional position ultimately leading to a libertarian condition, but it is not – by itself – a libertarian position."

      I think you should assert that it will not lead to a libertarian condition. And that full private property rights mean the end of the state, making open (state) borders an automatic consequence.

      Block says he's an immeadiacist, rather than a gradualist. He's choosing to stay in Theoryland. I don't know if you'll be able to draw him into the real world. If you can, I think you'll be able to turn him.

    12. BM

      Wow that is a really great and comprehensive list. I feel a bit like I would have had I suggested to Rothbard that he should write something on the American colonies, only later to have discovered his "Conceived in Liberty."

      Thanks for the link. I'll enjoy this one for days. Lol

      Love the name by the way:

      "Bleeding Heart-Thick-Milquetoast-Left-Wine Spritzer Libertarians"

  2. Howdy! BM.

    I've reading just not posting.

    The only powers/authorities I can delegate (to an agent) are those that are inherent to me. And that delegation can always be revoked by me. Given human history, though, better spell it out.

    In the Constitution Of These uSA, for example prior to the Bill Of Rights, granted no power to the FedGov to stop a member State from leaving the union or to confiscate weapons. Since the power was not granted it is implied that the State(s) can enjoin the FedGov from acting but nowhere in the text it is spelled out. The Framers went for prose rather than technical accuracy. Did the Bill Of Rights give any more powers to the FedGov (except for the 3rd Amendment)? Now, we find ourselves justifying rights based on the Bill Of Rights (and prior cases) instead of relying on the Constitution's Articles and its framework.

    Want to enter a contract creating an agency, make sure that the ability to exit is clear and not subject, especially, to an agent's department.

    Border protection, whether we like how we got it, is at least an individual's power that can be delegated. Abuses by the created agency does not invalidate the ability to do such delegation. Abuse is not an excuse for no use.

    I disagree with Block that I can sell myself into perpetual slavery without being able to get out of it, accounting for what was given, received and performance.

    1. One cannot sell himself because one cannot transfer direct control of one's own body to another. The right of self-ownership is therefore inalienable.

      Something looking like slavery may occur as long as both parties consent to the arrangement, but since one cannot transfer ownership of one's body, the consent must be continuous. At the beginning of the slavery agreement, a bond may be set which must be paid in the event the slave changes his mind before the end of the agreement.

    2. Jaime

      I agree regarding border protection being a power that can be delegated. That I have no choice about the provider (or even how he provides the service) does not then mean I no longer hold the right.

    3. STL: agreed

      BM: We'll just keep working at getting back more of what properly belong to us. You are doing your part. Which reminds me, congratulations on the obvious increase in your presence in LewRockwell's.

    4. "At the beginning of the slavery agreement, a bond may be set which must be paid in the event the slave changes his mind before the end of the agreement".

      This is easily manipulated by interest and by causing the slave to incur expenses. This means effectively permanent slavery, and slavery such as it exists today is exactly this kind of "libertarian slavery". Its still slavery.

  3. What holds society together? It can be language, it can be blood, it can be culture, it can be religion, it can be tradition, it can be interest, it can be a goal (freedom? Emancipation? Libertarianism? Independence? Justice? Solidarity? Ambition?), it can be many many things, and most probably it will often be a mix of many things. Is out there an answer good for everyone? An answer for every time and every place? No. Different people have different answer. A definitive answer doesn’t exists. Whoever claim to have THE answer, is a fool, or a con man. So can the market be The answer? No. The market, aka freedom, is the habitat everyone need to search, try, build, discover, test, experiments, take and abandon, (use the vero you prefer ) answers. Their answers, will be good for some people, not for everyone. The market is the condition for the formation of true nations, families, cultures, traditions, religions etc... it is not a merely economic thing, it is not only about efficiency, wealth maximization, richness and so on. The market is a paradigma for human relations. It is not only nations by consent, it is everything by consent, it is lifes by consent. When a libertarian say market, he is speaking of all those things: family, culture, tradition, religion and so on. We are the first, that must reject a stupid economistic use of the word Market.


    1. Evolution and biology put society first. Before Man had language or culture or even his own species, he had society.

      Evolution being what it is, society will evolve in itself and as a consequence of the evolution of human individuals.

      As life originated out of equal, competing, and cooperating blobs of chemicals as God, AKA the ultimate reality, ordained; so a cycle repeats in that each human competes with all others and also cooperates with all others as his nervous system directs. The difference being the creation of life in the first case and the creation of sentience in the second.

      Reason, or at least ratiocination, has proven fruitful in the past so it should be a guide for organization. Of all the social sciences economics, or at least market activity, has provided a fortune of material wealth and so should be another guide for societal organization.

      Reason and free markets have proven their worth. With possible exception of big religion ( sans politics) no other type of social theory has improved the human condition.

    2. Libertarianism in theory, is decentralization in practice. So while we procede to fragment the world, secession by secession, the number of communuties will grow and their size will decrease. If you have one hundred thousand nations by consent everyone with its reason to be you will see many many differents ways and reasons to stay together.


    3. I certainly hope it so soon. And when folks can be different at will it will be easier to see the common threads.

  4. I wholeheartedly endorse Joe Rogan's arguments against open borders:


  5. Rothbard was at his best as the historian of debamboozeletization to expand on his own term. He saw the historians job as unmasking the hidden collusion between crony capitalism and state power. Where for instance the public is taught that an enlightened political class battled the meat packing industry in order to improve food purity and working conditions in packing plants, in fact the deployment of burdensome regulations was a tactic by the huge meat packing firms to drive the small firms out of business.

    Rothbards analysis seems to me to run into trouble when he leaves economics and history and enters the more aesthetic realm.
    Now the very term 'society' is a problem. The term society is an invention. It first appears in Hobbes and is further developed in Rousseau. Hobbes invents the embryonic conception of society as a tactic to justify the power held by the monarch. Hobbes problem is to prevent civil war. Hobbes argues that the monarch does not seize political power. Rather the people vest the monarch with power to use on their behalf dramatized in the figure of the Leviathan.
    Rousseau expands this into the theory of the social contract where people give power to the state because they want to be controlled by it. One could say the very concept of society is a malign invention by the 'enlightenment' state intelligentsia intended to multiply and intensify state power. The endpoint is socialism itself. Under socialism a state technocracy ceaselessly monitors the object 'society' while ceaselessly exercising over it a disciplinary power. It is just this disciplinary power which is NO LONGER justice but what has rather colonized justice, uses justice's power for the purpose of controlling what are no longer free individuals but rather are now subjects. The political classes drug warfare project is a kind of pure instance of the ongoing surveillance / discipline colonization of justice.

    Is it not a very dangerous thing to 'buy in' to this concept of society and call for its surveillance and discipline under a state technocracy as one does, whether he intends to or not, when he advocates for the state to monitor and control the composition of society by way of controlling national borders, problematic reading comprehension levels notwithstanding :)

  6. In a war, the question of borders becomes paramount. Who is allowed to cross a border?

    Israel and United States are in undeclared war.

    Different rules prevail in wartime than in peacetime.

    it is not about open or closed borders

    The problem here is political: it is a matter of citizenship.

    The crucial boundary was citizenship, not the border. Who became a judge in Israel was of far greater concern than who became a resident.

    The main problem, however, is......, but the doctrine of the civil covenant.

    When the immigrant can soon gain access to citizenship, but without any confession of faith other than his promise to obey the law and the Constitution, he thereby gains the authority to participate in the changing of both the law and the Constitution. He can seek to make the law and the Constitution conform to his confession of faith. This is the heart of the matter; this is the heart of the problem.



  7. While I agree with your position, BM, I can't help noticing you stone walling JH when he puts up his (weak) defense to your challenge, when it seems he honestly doesn't understand.

    I don't believe the left libertarians are knaves. I do believe they're fools. In the case of the Israel challenge, he thinks it goes without saying that his philosophy (which he believes consistently leads to open borders) applies to all times and places. He won't make the case for Israel because he knows the real world effect it will have for his career. He recognizes he's battling norms(read: culture), but doesn't recognize how the existence of norms should affect his philosophy more broadly. It stops being the simple-minded libertarianism he's made his bread with, and he's not up to the challenge. In terms of self-preservation, he CAN'T see this.

    1. Patrick

      I agree his arguments are weak and I agree why so-called principled libertarians won't make the SPECIFIC case regarding Israel.

      As to my stonewalling, go to the "Libertarians and Culture" tab at the top of this page; scroll part way down. You will find the following section:

      "Dialogue (Such as it is) With Jacob Hornberger on Open Borders"

      You will find four linked posts. Read these, read some of the comments (as I recall, Hornberger commented to these as well as wrote responses). Read his posts.

      Then tell me again that I am stonewalling.

    2. Patrick,

      Why should advocating open borders for Israel be bad for Hornberger's career? I think we both know why it would be but then shouldn't that make Hornberger curious about the effects of the open borders that he advocates for the West? If a tiny 2% minority can be the arbiters of what Hornberger says, imagine what larger immigrant groups could do if they were sufficiently motivated.

      The conceit of Jewish power is that you have to know that it exists, and act on that basis if you wish to avoid career destroying pitfalls (and social estrangement), but also assert that such a thing as Jewish power doesn't exist. That's real power. Joe Sobran said it best -

      "Jewish control of the major media in the media age makes the enforced silence both paradoxical and paralyzing. Survival in public life requires that you know all about it, but never refer to it. A hypocritical etiquette forces us to pretend that the Jews are powerless victims; and if you don’t respect their victimhood, they’ll destroy you. It’s a phenomenal display not of wickedness, really, but of fierce ethnocentrism, a sort of furtive racial superpatriotism".

      Tell me how this benefits vanilla Americans at all? Joe Sobran was a brilliant writer that died in poverty after being unpersoned by Jewish power.

    3. Patrick, look down - I mean scroll down. You will see a comment from Hornberger. Now, either he means this to be responsive to my challenge to have some open borders libertarian make the case regarding Israel (he posted the same link on that thread as well), or the link has nothing to do with anything on topic.

      Read what he has linked. You tell me: is it responsive to the challenge? I say no, but maybe you hold a different view. If so, I welcome your interpretation.

      However, if you agree with me, then only the second possibility remains: the link has nothing to do with anything on topic.

      So you write: "...when it seems he honestly doesn't understand."

      I do not believe Hornberger is stupid. He is very good on too many subjects. So I will ask you: does the link he offered have anything to do with defending open borders for Israel or do you want to take back this statement?

    4. Bionic, I said from the beginning that libertarianism (which includes free trade and open immigration) is universal and can be applied everywhere and that it is the solution to the woes that afflict every nation, including not just Israel but also the United States, Venezuela, North Korea, and England. After you issued your Big Challenge, I posted on this site our FFF article entitled "The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Classical-Liberal Alternative" by Richard M. Ebeling. In this FFF article, Richard shows that libertarianism (i.e., classical liberalism) is the key to resolving the woes that afflict Israel. Are you upset that Richard didn't specifically mention open borders or, for that matter, drug legalization, abolition of Social Security, repeal of occupational licensure, and other specific aspects of libertarianism? When one calls for libertarianism (or classical liberalism), he is, by inference, calling for all aspects of libertarianism (or classical liberalism). Your Big Challenge has been met. Just accept it.

    5. Libertarianism is universal in the sense that no non-libertarian can coercively impose something else. In a libertarian world any property holders can voluntarily form a tribe/alliance/team/corporation/club/city-state/nation that restricts or makes demands on only its members. Perhaps some folks are happier that way.

      When all land is privately owned, immigration will no longer exist. Only transfer of title or or rental will exist vis-a-vis changing residence.

      Immigration is a statist phenomenon and like so many other problems comes and goes with the state.

    6. Matt hit the nail on the head about Jewish power. Let Hornberger write the article about Israel he is suggesting. He will be out of a job faster than he can say "Bloody Mary" three times. Ask Philip Giraldi about that. He dared to point out the elephant sitting in the room and was thrown out of The American Conservative.

    7. BM,
      I unfortunately have worked the longest week and don't have time to REread all your previous posts for the relevant JH comments you reference. I trust he's contradicted himself somewhere or given you plenty of reason to ignore him as he refuses to answer.

      My interpretation as I skim the article (Ebeling's, I hope), is that JH is taking the position that "libertarianism" qua NAP and PPS will cure all the problems.

      I think my original comment is proven. The man is completely out of his element when you discuss culture. He has no idea what you're talking about. He really believes that ideas are independent of culture/norms and can be discussed as if they're two separate issues. Everyone is an intellectual to him, or perhaps everyone is an automaton. In either case he doesn't understand what makes humans human. I work with 90% engineers, and they're like this too. Everything is puzzle pieces. Like these engineers, he is not stupid. But he may have Asberger's. Autism spectrum at least.

      I think his response above demonstrates this. He reiterates this as if you two haven't had the same exchange ad infinitum. "NAP can't answer everything." "Libertarianism is universal and cures everything." yada yada.

      Your questions took me into the weeds, and with all my Friday night whiskey, I don't understand. I hope my response to BM will suffice.

      Does any of my previous comment make sense? Do you understand that individual psychology, education, indoctrination, motiviation, etc., plays a role in daily life and that societies are a conglomerate reflecting those ideologies? All day long I can wish that each individual learns libertarianism, accepts it, and reflects it. The reality is only a portion of the population will, and the portion that does can only maintain a marginally powerful effect on society if that ideology is the driving force behind the education, indoctrination, motivation, et cetera. This is "culture". This is a requisite for a libertarian society.

      You've proven you don't understand the challenge. Just accept it.

      Perhaps you're just "challenged" as I originally proposed.

    9. Patrick

      I hope you are enjoying your whiskey as much as I am enjoying mine.

      “The man is completely out of his element when you discuss culture. He has no idea what you're talking about. …he doesn't understand what makes humans human.”

      Let’s just agree, for the sake of a mellow Friday evening, that this is correct (and I agree that it may very well be). So then, I look to your statement that began this discussion:

      “I can't help noticing you stone walling JH when he puts up his (weak) defense to your challenge, when it seems he honestly doesn't understand.”

      Is it stonewalling, or is it my acceptance of futility – like, “what’s the point? I give up!”

      Since my response to him many hours ago on his latest query (I tried to put in as simple terms as possible my point), he has gone silent. This means he is either a) thinking about it, or b) in his next daily he is going to write another false and misleading “bionic says…” commentary.

      I would like to think the former, but experience has taught me otherwise.

    10. After my last comment I read as far down as I could take. I suppose I don't blame you for stone-walling him. But you did bait him first, so I guess I thought you wanted the discussion.

      As it plays out below, I can only imagine it is fun to drag a "big player" in a movement around the playground like this. If he was anonymous the conversation wouldn't have left the ground. This has been a rough year for JH at your blog.

    11. Patrick, I don't think Hornberger is autistic in the real sense because we have a lot of history with him here. Notice the slight of hand that Hornberger does with Richard M. Emblings article about a Private Property Society in Israel. Hornberger says that the borders of the West must be opened NOW, but the solution for Israel is total anarchy, leading to automatic opening of the borders (and there is absolutely zero risk of that happening, so Hornberger takes zero risk in advocating for it).

      So per Hornberger, open borders for the West without preconditions, open borders for Israel never.

    12. Matt,
      I like how you dismantle his argument in 1 sentence. Very well done.

  8. FFF article: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Classical-Liberal Alternative by Richard M. Ebeling: https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/israelipalestinian-conflict-classicalliberal-alternative/

    1. "Through thousands of years there have been few motives and causes of war that have been more destructive than religion and ideologies that surround themselves with religious doctrines."

      Total the body count for this one: Anti-religious ideologies.

      Mr. Hornberger, if you want people to read past the second paragraph of any articles you might share, make sure the author has heard of, and is willing to acknowledge Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Pol Pot.

      BTW, I'm not religious.

    2. Jacob Hornberger,

      Write an article about open borders for Israel. In the article kindly use the same gusto that you had for open borders for Europe. Write that because Israel has meddled in Syria and is responsible for creating the refugees, they must accept those refugees and provide state support. And objections to state support for refugees should be described by you as "picayunish", because that is what you wrote in relation to Europe.

      Writing the open borders for Israel article should be a simple thing for you. You have already written dozens of such articles for open borders in Europe and the US. Why not Israel? Do "universal principles" cease to be extant when ethnic affinity is involved?

    3. I am "religious." I believe in transcendence, unalienable rights, beauty, poetry, ethics, universality, and justice. I also subscribe to a Big Daddy & Son reality tunnel. So there's that.

      I managed to get past the second paragraph nonetheless. Ebeling's failure to acknowledge the mind-blowing body counts associated with anti-religious (e.g., French Revolutionary, Bolshevik) ideologies did not dissuade me.

      Ebeling's article is fluff. Making a generic case for classical liberalism does not equate with a demand Israel open her borders. I still don't see "Trespasstarians" holding Israel to the same immigration standards they insist on imposing on the Euro-Christian West.

      Matt reasonably concludes Hornberger's ethnic affinities have something to do with his mealy-mouthedness. This is not the case. The man is a card-carrying Catholic. I blame Vatican II.

  9. Speaking of Block, Rothbard, and Israel, it’s curious how one of Block’s main divergences from his teacher is over the Zionist Entity.

    In the following paper Block finds NAP justification for Israel:

    >Our contention is that, as a state and from a libertarian perspective, Israel is in fact much more closer to the NAP than its Arab neighbors or the pseudo-state that is the Palestinian Authority.


    If you believe this has nothing to do with Block being jewish I have someone else’s bridge to sell you.

    1. I have read this before. It made me gag. A state born in terrorism and rules by terrorism.

      If this is closer to the NAP (and I do not grant this) than its neighbors, the measuring stick must be in micrometers. In other words, irrelevant - but it just makes Walter look bad.

    2. I was surprised that Block could find anything resembling the NAP in Israel. If one was considering the attitude of the Israeli state towards its Jewish population you may be able to find something resembling liberty, but you must then entirely disregard the illiberal experiences of the Palestinian population at the hands of the Israeli state (and the Jewish private citizens).

      I think Block is sincere but he suffers from a blind spot when it comes to people sharing his ethnicity. It just goes to show how ethnic consciousness can shape the world view of an individual, and even make that individual say that black is white.

    3. "If this is closer to the NAP (and I do not grant this) than its neighbors, the measuring stick must be in micrometers"

      When one's claim to state legitimacy is that you have fractionally more liberty than the most illiberal region on planet earth, then you have built a house of cards.

      By the way it isn't clear to me that Israel has more liberty than all of its neighbors. Syria under president Assad guarantees civil rights and social integration to minorities, unlike Israel. Israel also supported extremist jihadis in Syria. Surely that counts against Israel if they are attempting to reduce liberty in neighboring countries.

    4. "Syria under president Assad guarantees civil rights..."

      Minorities (i.e. Christians) in Syria, Iraq, and Iran are / were better treated than the non-Jewish population in Israel (to include Palestine).

      Interesting that these same three countries were / are the ones that the empire wants to crush.

  10. Conservatives: We favor government-controlled borders, immigration central planning, and immigration interventionism.

    Progressives: We too favor government-controlled borders, immigration central planning, and immigration interventionism.


    Bionic et al: As conservative libertarians, we too favor government-controlled borders, immigration central planning, and immigration interventionism. Having come from the conservative movement, we just have never been able to let go of this part of conservatism. We wish to make the conservative-progressive position on immigration the libertarian position too, so that conservatives, progressives, and libertarians will all be on the same page with respect to the issue of immigration.

    Hornberger: Can’t happen. Libertarianism is an internally consistent philosophy, one that favors individual freedom, free markets, private property, freedom of association, freedom of movement, liberty of contract, economic liberty, and the non-aggression principle, all of which are violated by government-controlled borders, immigration central planning, and immigration interventionism and all of which are consistent with open borders, i.e., free trade and open immigration.

    1. Hear hear ! Is not immigration control deployed at politically contrived borders the very essence of nationalist socialism ?

    2. Hornberger,

      Write the article advocating open borders for Israel. It would be timely, too. The Israeli government demonizes immigrants as "infiltrators", holds them in camps, and deports them. Don't you want to offer Israeli Jews the 'benefits' of immigration that you advocate for the West?

    3. This is frankly insulting to the intelligence of BM’s readers and commenters. Do you really expect us to accept your equivocation of the progressive and conservative position on immigration?

      This is just absurd. The progressive position on immigration is the same as your position- open borders. There is no meaningful distinction, other than the fact that they actually have power and will benefit from Mexico turning Texas blue.

      If you are so concerned about central planning and economic interventionism why do you insist on ensuring a permanent democrat majority? You argue from these abstract principles that will have absolutely no future in a white minority America. There are millions of us who don’t want to have our communities turned into barrios and you call us enemies of “liberty” but who is the one seeking to force something on people who don’t want it? That would be you Jacob. Do you want a war? Because you are advocating overturning the will of the majority of white america, you know better what’s good for us and our families.

      You make peaceful revolution impossible you make violent revolution inevitable.

    4. "I suspect that the reason many of them cannot let go of their government border guards is that they fear an influx of brown-skinned people".

      Hey John, do you think the situation for the Palestinians would be better had European Jews not been allowed to settle in Palestine? This is a simple yes or no question.

    5. Of all millions of progressives, there is not one single one of them who favors the repeal of immigration controls (and you can't name me one). It is only us libertarians who favor the repeal of immigration controls (ie., open borders). They might differ with conservatives over how and against whom the controls should be enforced, but the truth, as discomforting as it might be, is that you advocates of immigration controls are on the same page as progressives (and conservatives) with respect to the issue of immigration. That alone should be enough for you to check your premises.

    6. John Harris,

      You are free to answer or not as you wish. But when I speak spoke of entering a country in my previous question, you answered in terms of exiting a country, which have entirely different implications.

      In this case you obviously think you have a "gotcha" moment against on me by bringing up the American Indians in relation to white settlers. We know the state of the American Indian. I asked you about the Palestinians.

      The Palestinian situation is a good example because it happened in modern times. The borders were forced open against the wishes of the local populace (much the same as the West today). According to your theory espoused by Hornberger and presumably yourself, prosperity and peace should have ensured. Instead what happened was the European Jewish settlers gained a toe hold, stared arming themselves, and although the Jewish settlers owned an insignificant amount of land they siezed the the land from the Palestinian owners and declared that the land belonged to Jews.

      Was this good for the Palestinians? It's a simple question.

    7. Jacob,

      >not a single progressive supports open borders


      Is this a real claim? Are you a serious person?


      Support for sanctuary cities = support for open borders. Period.

      So your argument is that the libertarian position is hardcore open borders and white displacement in our countries? And you deny that position is shared by the communists, progressives, and corporations? So George Soros’ Open Society is a libertarian organization? Gotcha.

      I am sure if we listened to you there would be a bright future of economic prosperity and no ethnic conflict....

      Who is libertarianism meant to benefit? Because libertarianism as you would have it will bring nothing but pain for whites. You are anti-white. Please stop trying to genocide us.

    8. The "conservative" political body has been progressive since Buckley's support of the Totalitarian Bureaucracy in the mid 1950's.

      Unlimited immigration is a result of Libertarianism, not sure or required means to it.

      Unlimited immigration now could be like returning to the gold standard following the confiscation of all gold in payment of the national debt to the central banks.

    9. The genuinely conservative position can be found on vdare.com

      I don’t dispute that conservative inc. was created by the CIA and then taken over by zionists/neocohens. Despite my sn I am not actually a conservative in the American use of the term. I am just taking Jacob’s terms at face value since to belabor the point would confuse things further and he has a hard enough time addressing simple concepts like the actual consequences of open borders.

      If libertarianism means open borders then libertarians belong in cattle cars. End of story.

    10. Unhappy Conservative, We have had a system of immigration controls for decades, kept into place by both Democrats and Republicans. President Obama himself was the nation's Deporter in Chief, which made every conservative in America a Happy Conservative because of the large number of illegal immigrants he deported, with the support of both his fellow leftists and conservatives. Leftists and Democrats might favor amnesty or DACA or sanctuary cities but 99 percent of them are on the same page as conservatives with respect to the fundamental issue--should government control the entry of people into the United States or should there instead be open borders? The Daily Caller article you cite makes me concede that I made an error. I should not have said 100 percent of liberals favor immigration conrols. I should have said 99 percent of them do. The main point remains: It is primarily only us libertarians who favor open borders because it is only us who favor individual freedom, free markets, freedom of association, freedom of travel, economic liberty, and liberty of contract. It is also only us who favor humane and moral treatment of our fellow man when it comes to the issue of immigration. That's because with open borders, unlike the immigration-control system that you and Democrats support, foreigner citizens who wish to sustain or improve their lives through labor are not arrested, incarcerated, fined, separated, and deported.

    11. Jacob,

      Your argument here did not age well.

  11. Bionic anarchists: We favor the dismantling of all government, including all governmental laws, programs, and agencies that interfere with the free, consensual movement of people from private property to private property. We also favor government-imposed immigration controls, which interfere with the free, consensual movement of people from private property to private property.

    Ayn Rand: When you're embracing a contradiction, check your premises.

    Hornberger: My advice: Follow Ayn Rand's advice.

    1. Jacob

      You are very good at avoiding the specific statements I have written and instead developing your own constructs.

      I have been courteous until now and have allowed your comments, despite this behavior that demonstrates your avoidance of the points that I have raised.

      The next time you do this, your comment will not be posted and further comments from you will no longer be posted at this site.

      If you want to continue posting comments here, you will cite my specific statements and comment directly on it, demonstrating that you understand the context.

      I have absolutely no problem if you disagree with my views (and, in fact, would welcome this as a refreshing first); however, I will no longer tolerate at this site your misrepresentations and avoiding of issues.

    2. Jacob Hornberger: "Context...I don't need no stinkeen context!"

    3. Hornberger: I am willing to strawman my opponent's position till the cows come home. I am not willing to write an article advocating 'open borders for Israel'.

    4. Bionic, I genuinely thought that you held both of these positions--that you were both an anarchist and a proponent of immigration controls. I was 100 percent certain that you were an anarchist because of the title of your post "I learned at Murray's knee" is about the premier anarchist, Murray Rothbard. I was also 100 percent that you were an advocate of immigration controls, which is what this debate is all about. I am sorry for misstating your position, but, to be honest, I am now befuddled. I appreciate your letting me post on your site and I don't want to make the same mistake twice. Please specify where I got it wrong--on suggesting you are an anarchist or in suggesting that you favor immigration controls (or both).

    5. Jacob, I will not try, in this tiny space of a comment section, to restate something in a few words that I have previously written several thousand words in reply to you in the various essays you and I have exchanged on this topic.

      Even in this reply from you, you cite the title of my recent post, but instead of dealing with what I wrote in the post and the context of it, you went off on wild and non-sensical tangents.

      What was the point of my post? Was it that I favored anal-cavity searches by border guards? The point is so simple that I am embarrassed for anyone who didn’t get it. And I cited Rothbard, in context, to make my point.

      Cite specific lines and comment on these. I will not deal with you nor respond to you on any other terms.

    6. Murray Rothbard didn't advocate for unconditional open borders. He set a number of preconditions BEFORE open borders could be established. You, Jacob Hornberger, on the other hand demand unconditional open borders NOW, and to hell with the costs, both financial, human, and societal. You ignore all the important questions of moral hazard. You brush aside mass immigration as it is actually conducted and repeatedly give your statistically irrelevant example of two brothers across a border - and you never mention whether Jose is collecting welfare payments or otherwise imposing costs on other people across the border either.


      Open Borders for Israel. Apply your universal principle to Israel. Write the article.

    7. I don't get it. In your piece Musings on Anarchy, you wrote: "I will not explore the countless uses of the term anarchy. Instead, I will focus on the concept that anarcho-capitalists accept – generally, the political philosophy best developed and expressed in recent times by Murray Rothbard." That implies to me your approval of the concept of anarcho-capitalism. And you have repeatedly made it clear that you oppose the concept of open borders. I remain befuddled.

    8. Jacob, I will make this very simple. I have deduced from the NAP that you cannot derive open borders. It is a logical impossibility. It is even less logical for a minarchist. I did this all by myself, with no help from any libertarian gods.

      You reply that I therefore favor body cavity searches; you and others suggest I am unprincipled or a newbie to the movement.

      Lo and behold - I find Rothbard writing the same thing I wrote - YOU CANNOT DERIVE OPEN BORDERS FROM THE NAP!!!!!!!

      You read this and again reply that I am unprincipled and favor body cavity searches - AND THEN YOU THROW ROTHBARD IN MY FACE, AFTER I JUST GOT DONE DEMONSTRATING THAT ROTHBARD SUPPORTS MY CASE.

      What this says about what happens at the border is a different discussion, one that MUST take into account factors that come from outside of the NAP. And to this I say we each have different opinions and different reasons - coming from places other than the NAP.

      Is this simple enough for you?

    9. Matt, Milton Friedman made the same argument--that while he favored open immigration, we would have to wait until the welfare state was abolished before he could support its adoption. Nonsense. Libertarians should never permit statists to manuever us into abandoning our principles and joining them. That's precisely what they want us to do--become one of them. Should we wait for Medicaid to be abolished before endorsing drug legalizations? Perish the thought. We should continue adhering to libertarian principles across the board and let statists deal with it. If that means that we have to pay higher taxes as a result, so be it. That's a small price to pay compared to the price paid for abandoning principle for the sake of expediency. How do we expect people to embrace libertarianism is we are going to abandon it whenever it becomes expedient to do so?

      I already met your Big Challenge with FFF's article The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Classical-Liberal Alternative by Richard M. Ebeling: https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/israelipalestinian-conflict-classicalliberal-alternative.

      Even though Richard doesn't specifically mention open borders (or drug legalization, repeal of Social Security, occupational licensure, or other specific libertarian solutions), classical-liberalism encompasses all the specific aspects of libertarianism, including open borders. As I have repeatedly emphasized, libertarian principles, which include open borders, is the solution to the woes that afflict Israel, the United States, Venezuela, North Korea, England, and every other country. Libertarian principles are universal. They work everywhere.

    10. Jacob, I even demonstrated that open borders cannot be derived from the NAP USING YOUR OWN WORDS:


      And you write that I favor cavity searches.

    11. "I remain befuddled."

      Befuddled (from dictionary.com)

      1. to confuse, as with glib statements or arguments.

      2. to make stupidly drunk.

      Befuddled or the befuddler?

    12. "I already met your Big Challenge with FFF's article The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Classical-Liberal Alternative by Richard M. Ebeling: https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/israelipalestinian-conflict-classicalliberal-alternative.

      Even though Richard doesn't specifically mention open borders..."

      1. Is your name Richard M. Ebling?
      2. It's not advocating open borders for Israel. It is talking about some sort of alternative universe where that scenario described in the article is possible. There is a zero percentage chance this will happen on this planet. Perhaps on an alien world where the sentient beings are unlike human beings.

      Write the article. Open Borders for Israel. Write about how open borders for Israel must happen immediately. That Israel must not permit statists to maneuver Jews into the abandoning principles that they hold so strongly for Europe and America. Explain to the Jews that they should not wait for security concerns to pass before they open their borders and admit immigrants - after all, should they wait to until public hospitals are abolished before endorsing drug legalization? And if that means that Jews should pay higher taxes as a result (and get bombed), so be it. A few dead Jews is a small price to pay compared to the price paid for abandoning principle for the sake of expediency.

      You have a template for the Open Borders for Israel article right there. Write the article.

    13. Matt, I was laughing throughout the paragraph outlining the still-unproduced essay, and then I got to the last sentence: you have the template! This is when I almost spit out my coffee.

      You can lead a horse to water...well, you know the rest.

  12. Bionic writes: “I understand the following objections from libertarians on state border control: The state, when enforcing border control, commits numerous – and even violent – violations on person and property; these should not be accepted by libertarians…. I unequivocally condemn the state’s violent actions.”

    Bionic, welcome to the ranks of the open-borders advocates. I’m sure it hasn’t hit you yet, but, as a practical matter, you have become one of us. Why? Because you have come out and expressed your opposition to immigration-control enforcement measures. I give you credit: You are the first advocate of immigration controls to openly acknowledge what I have been pointing out for years: that immigration-enforcement measures constitute the initiation of force against people and, therefore, violate the libertarian non-aggression principle. T
    Where does that leave you? It leaves you endorsing immigration controls that cannot be enforced, which, as a practical matter, means open borders — i.e., the free movement of people across borders.

    Here is the logical import of your position: At your behest, Congress enacts a law that says: “No foreigners are permitted into the United States without the official permission of the U.S. government.”
    A sign is posted on the U.S. side of the international bridge in Laredo, Texas, that says: “NOTICE: No foreigner is permitted to enter the United States without the official permission of the U.S. government.” (At your behest, the sign is also posted in Spanish.)
    Thousands of Mexican citizens cross the international bridge with the intent to enter the United States to get a job. They read the sign. They notice that there are no inspection stations, immigration officials, Border Patrol, or cops on the American side of the bridge.

    Do they obey the sign and return to Mexico? Or do they ignore the sign and enter the United States?

    At the risk of belaboring the obvious, most, if not all, of them will ignore the sign and enter the United States, especially when they see no inspection stations, immigration officials, Border Patrol, or cops on the American side of the bridge.

    By opposing immigration-enforcement measures, you have, as a practical matter, become an advocate of open borders.

    1. What is your best "guestimate" as to the population percentage that are Libertarian?

    2. What is your expected growth in the number of Libertarian converts, as percent of population?

    3. How many of the immigrants are Libertarians and what is your expected rate of growth of Libertarianism with the mass of immigrants?

  13. See my thoughts here:


  14. BM and commentators,
    I think you'd all get something out a book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Hariri. I picked it up in my local library thinking it was about paleoanthropology which I can't resist.
    However it's about narratives and culture. Great chapter about empire, which seemed to deduce if a regime gets a chance at empire it will take it.
    Also, page 109,(if memory serves), there are no rights.
    First few pages I thought it was shaping up to be a pinko screed but glad I held on and got something out of it.
    I wonder if it has any value in these discussions?
    Merry Christmas all,