Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Immigration Revolution, Immigration Blog

Revolutions don’t always start for the reasons you think they should have, and they don’t always work out the way you expect.  A libertarian acquaintance of mine, despite being sympathetic to freer immigration, notes that the conflict over immigration laws in Arizona could end up being the spark that leads to states making greater use of nullification, invoking the Tenth Amendment or de facto seceding from DC.

That thought has to leave someone who wants open borders — or no borders at all, to put it in more anarcho-capitalist, post-nationalist terms — with mixed feelings.  If the fifty states near-simultaneously abandoned DC, like outlying regions of China more or less ignoring Beijing, but did it so they could keep out Mexicans, it would be a strange case of the libertarian movement almost repeating the circa-1980 phase of conservatism, when it was sometimes ambiguous when the concept of “states’ rights” was being unfairly depicted by liberal foes as a veil for racism and when the concept really was just being invoked as a veil for racism.

Not that I’m equating resistance to illegal immigration and Jim Crow.  Rather, I’m saying that in each case, after Arizona, people with motives far removed from property rights can now cloak those motives in anti-centralization talk — even though greater decentralization as an outcome would still be a wonderful thing, much appreciated by many of us who really do have property rights as our main goal (when in doubt, go with diversity — I want the states to be free from DC, and free to experiment, for roughly the same reason I don’t at all mind having a mix of Mexicans, Swedes, Japanese, etc. in the country and don’t even expect them to feel bound by every technicality of our immigration laws any more than the average Tea Partier feels obliged to respect every detail of environmental regulation).

Maybe Spain winning the World Cup will decrease condescending attitudes toward our Spanish-speaking brethren in this hemisphere a bit.  That still leaves countless immigration issues — such as how to handle covertly anti-democratic Islamic radicals who are not actually committing any crime — to be addressed.  And it just so happens that Gerard Perry, who knows his stuff (even when I disagree with him), has started a blog to address those issues, called UnreceivedWidsom.

Having heard him debate immigration and Obamacare at Lolita Bar — and being indebted to him for guiding me to Brooklyn College for the under-attended second iteration of my Ayn Rand declamations this spring — I am confident he’ll have interesting things to say.

But tomorrow something even more revolutionary: Bastille Day!  Regardez-vous!


Christopher said...

“Maybe Spain winning the World Cup will decrease condescending attitudes toward our Spanish-speaking brethren in this hemisphere a bit.”


Gerard said...

Thanks for the plug, Todd. It’s very much appreciated.

I do have a question though. Is The Brain on vacation? I haven’t been able to contact him recently.

Todd Seavey said...

The Brain, our able webmaster, is _always_ on vacation, which makes him less obsessive about checking his e-mail than your average high-powered stock-trading floor type. But best to contact him privately instead of via this forum.

Todd Seavey said...

P.S. And when you see the new Debates at Lolita Bar page on Facebook, you’ll realize the magnitude of his recent duties. Watch for it!

Gerard said...

Interesting. I didn’t even realize there was an old Facebook page for Debates at Lolita Bar.

Gerard said...

Oh, the NEW Facebook page. As in, it didn’t exist before. I get it.

Noah Siegel said...

My Dear Seavey:

Does support for “open borders — or no borders at all” fall outside of libertarianism, if libertarianism’s only proper concern is the protection of property interests?

Perhaps you consider “freedom to sell my labor/buy land/ travel to anywhere I want” to be a property interest. (Though most American courts would call it a “liberty interest.”) But I still don’t see how a post-nationalist worldview fits into what I understand to be the fairly narrow Seavey definition of libertarianism.

Todd Seavey said...

Strict property rights > no government > no nation state > no borders.

Pretty standard anarcho-capitalist libertarian thinking, at least prior to the increased prominence of Ron Paul and immigration-related tensions in the past few years.

Noah Siegel said...

Thank you for the response. I agree that the path you describe from property to rights to the end of government is pretty standard anarcho-capitalist thinking, especially as described by David D. Friedman. I would also agree that it is a desirable outcome.

I have a harder time seeing, though, how it fits into the narrow view if libertarianism you have (if I understand your past writing correctly) advocated. Doesn’t it involve some conjecture about where strict property rights will lead? The same sort of conjecture you would get from someone who says (for a wild example) strict property rights > no government > no reinforcement of patriarchal institutions > no gender roles? I had thought that this sort of conjecture about non-property related outcomes was what you wanted to avoid in libertarianism.

Todd Seavey said...

With strict property rights, there is, by definition and immediately, no government and thus no borders, which is completely unlike the extrapolations about long-term cultural effects you seem to be suggesting. I do not see any analogy between the different things you’re referring to.

Noah Siegel said...

“With strict property rights, there is, by definition and immediately, no government and thus no borders . . .”.

That’s a bit of a stretch. Property owners could conceivably enter into a contractual arrangement with a government, granting that government some limited right of access to private land for the purpose of enforcing laws. I don’t think that’s likely, but since it’s conceivable I don’t think strict property rights “by definition” means no government.

Don’t get me wrong – I think strict property rights will most /likely/ lead to no government and thus no borders. I hope also hope that’s true. But that’s just my preference. By saying that my preferred outcome of no government/no borders is part of libertarianism, aren’t I doing the same thing that Kerry Howley does when she asserts that feminism (her particular preference) is part of libertarianism?

Todd Seavey said...

No. You’re not defining these terms the same way I am, and precisely in the difference lies the confusion and your resultant ability to liken it to mere cultural prefernces. And I don’t think this dialogue is going to get more coherent quickly or easily, so let’s leave it there.