Monday, July 18, 2011

NO BORDERS, NO BOUNDARIES: Lou Dobbs vs. Grant Morrison

I’m pleased to see that a gender-bending, bald, Scottish anarchist, Grant Morrison, will be writing the adventures of Superman come September, and it reminds me that I am not just in favor of “open borders” but rather of the complete abolition of borders.  I’m a “no borders” guy, if you will. 

In fact, it’s not borders but Barnes & Noble (ha!) that I’ll head to to see Grant Morrison in person – and tweet about it, starting circa 6pm Tuesday night, followed by an 8pm visit to the Bitter End to hear my neighbor Carey Yaruss sing.  (But tonight, Monday, we’ll gather and chat about politics at Langan’s at 7:30, for the penultimate time prior to the Great Transformation, about which, more in the months ahead.) 

I’m not denying an influx of immigrants can be a disruptive thing (with costs as well as benefits), or that some will be better behaved than others, but in a world of ever-easier mixing and matching – and ever easier communication and transportation – is it not swimming against the tide to try and prevent people crossing the arbitrary divides that governments (mere governments) have proclaimed proscribe our movements?

Surely, for an anarcho-capitalist in the style of the young Murray Rothbard, the border-protecting mania of the older Rothbard must still be regarded as something of an embarrassment, even if Ron Paul has helped make it a more common position among libertarians than it ever used to be.  I understand the fear (shared even by arch-free-marketeer Milton Friedman) that the welfare state could be overwhelmed by an influx of the world’s poor.  But doesn’t that mean that Gov. Pete Wilson of California (basically) had the right idea back in the 1990s: let them in but don’t offer any government benefits? 

I worried at the time it might be an inflammatory move on his part, but (taken in its idealized form) it seems an elegant and proper solution, eliminating in one stroke the left’s concerns about people being excluded from this land (families divided, etc.) and the right’s concerns about welfare-seeking parasitism.  Don’t offer them welfare and they won’t come here looking for it.  Those who do come you’ll then be pretty confident intend to work – indeed, will be even more likely to do so than the natives. 

If you’re an anti-illegal-immigration person who’s sincere about thinking the welfare state is the problem, then please, please devote as much energy to its elimination (or at least radical downsizing) as you have to keeping out the Mexicans.  Imagine what that energy and anger could accomplish if deployed to fight the real battle, not least the financial salvation of the country. 

But, as much as people such as Lou Dobbs (broadcasting right across the street from Langan’s at the HQ of the currently phone-tapping-scandal-plagued News Corp, where I worked last year) like to focus on the economic and criminological implications of porous or open
borders, I think there’s a much deeper issue to be considered.  Shouldn’t people with some strong pro-freedom streak in their ideological DNA – whether libertarian, anarchist, non-socialist liberal, or anti-regulatory conservative – think that one of the biggest and most grotesque displays of government force imaginable is telling people on which part of the planet they’re allowed to reside?

Setting aside the complicated historical issues (whether the Irish started out as lowlifes in the U.S. but learned to integrate, whether what is now Texas and California once belonged to the ancestors of today’s Mexicans anyway), shouldn’t we be suspicious of the idea that government bureaucrats, so notoriously inept at molding economies and virtues, can mold demographics and geography and migration patterns to the benefit of all?

Do individuals ostensibly have a right to speech or gun possession (or what have you) but not the freedom to roam?  If they trespass on someone’s property, the cops can be called (or private security guards).  Until they do, let them go wherever they want to.  Watch how quickly tyrannical (and inevitably geographically-tied) authoritarian governments dissolve in the boiling water of free movement (as the Soviet Bloc did within months once emigration was made easier).

The alternative, though we have all been cowed into accepting it our entire lives, is essentially a planet divided into giant concentration camps.  After all, what else do you call tracts of land one is forbidden to exit or enter without permission from government goons?

Today’s governments may be better behaved than the Nazis (or the East Germans with their Wall), but they have not thereby earned the right to tell people where to live.  Free human beings will go wherever other free, property-owning humans individually allow them.  End of story. 

Or if we can’t live in a world like that, for now, I will find some consolation in the thought of a very strange Scotsman guiding the destiny of America’s most beloved superhero.  Morrison’s imagination continually strives to route around limitations and taboos.  I say let his feet wander as freely. 


Some more-narrowly Morrison-related thoughts, though, in anticipation of tomorrow’s tweeting:

One of my favorite crazy Morrison story conceits was the revelation, in the kooky comic book Seaguy, that the Moon is actually a giant Egyptian artifact made of bricks and ruled by a mummy, launched into orbit from Earth thousands of years ago.  That’s completely ridiculous on many levels, of course, which is exactly why it made for good comics. 

And I was reminded of that plotline when I saw that NASA’s recent testing of the lunar surface using a bomb resulted in some online conspiracy theorists fretting that we may now actually (secretly) be at war with the moon people.  One online essay about it (which urges us to remember that “Our galactic family is out there monitoring and protecting us”) even linked to this (seemingly serious) rap video inspired by that strange fear

And if that video leaves you feeling as though you just lost a few IQ points or have been rendered mildly insane, this excellent performance by David Bowie of his early-00s song “Fall Dog Bombs the Moon” might be a fitting antidote.  (Another crazy foreigner who spends a lot of his time in California, by the way.)

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