Rothbard on Individualism, Nationalism, and Immigration 3

Rothbard’s classic Nations by Consent: Decomposing the Nation-State

I generally agree with Rothbard’s position as outlined here, with the exception that I would take a looser, more open-ended definition of property rights or “private property” than Rothbard’s strict Lockeanism.

The question of open borders, or free immigration, has become an
accelerating problem for classical liberals. This is first, because the welfare
state increasingly subsidizes immigrants to enter and receive permanent
assistance, and second, because cultural boundaries have become increas-
ingly swamped. I began to rethink my views on immigration when, as
the Soviet Union collapsed, it became clear that ethnic Russians had been
encouraged to flood into Estonia and Latvia in order to destroy the
cultures and languages of these peoples. Previously, it had been easy to
dismiss as unrealistic Jean Raspail’s anti-immigration novel The Camp
of the Saints, in which virtually the entire population of India decides to
move, in small boats, into France, and the French, infected by liberal
ideology, cannot summon the will to prevent economic and cultural
national destruction. As cultural and welfare-state problems have inten-
sified, it became impossible to dismiss Raspail’s concerns any longer.
However, 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. 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. A totally privatized country would be as
“closed” as the particular inhabitants and property owners desire. It seems
clear, then, that the regime of open borders that exists de facto in the
U.S. really amounts to a compulsory opening by the central state, the
state in charge of all streets and public land areas, and does not gen-
uinely reflect the wishes of the proprietors.
Under total privatization, many local conflicts and “externality”
problems-not merely the immigration problem-would be neatly set-
tled. With every locale and neighborhood owned by private firms, cor-
porations, or contractual communities, true diversity would reign, in
accordance with the preferences of each community. Some neighborhoods
would be ethnically or economically diverse, while others would be
ethnically or economically homogeneous. Some localities would permit
pornography or prostitution or drugs or abortions, others would pro-
hibit any or all of them. The prohibitions would not be state imposed,
but would simply be requirements for residence or use of some person’s
or community’s land area. While statists who have the itch to impose
their values on everyone else would be disappointed, every group or
interest would at least have the satisfaction of living in neighborhoods
of people who share its values and preferences. While neighborhood
ownership would not provide Utopia or a panacea for all conflicts, it
would at least provide a “second-best” solution that most people might
be willing to live with.

3 comments

  1. Oddly enough, it’s the left-libertarians I’ve been doing verbal battle with that come across as “statists who have the itch to impose their values on everyone else” by Rothbard’s standards. Meanwhile, they demonize us as being the “authoritarians.” Seriously, do either Brainpolice or his buddy’s rebuttals to my arguments actually answer (or even consider) what I’m actually saying or do they just sidestep it with abstractions? It doesn’t seem they’ve ever considered the possibility of post-state cultural arrangements that differ from their own persona; preferences.

  2. “Seriously, do either Brainpolice or his buddy’s rebuttals to my arguments actually answer (or even consider) what I’m actually saying or do they just sidestep it with abstractions?”

    Reading over that entire thread, it seems to me that they share the same set of values as ordinary liberals and social democrats, e.g. the sorts of people who run most of the Western countries as present. Local sovereignty, freedom of association, free speech, private property: these things are no good because some people might use them to promote racism and fascism or discriminate against Groups Favored By Leftists. I agree they don’t really address the points that you’re trying to make, probably because they don’t understand them or because they involve ideas they’ve never considered and have probably been rarely exposed to. They seem to have a very shallow understanding of ideas outside the narrow liberal cultural paradigm we’re all familiar with. For instance, that one guy’s equating all ethnic identitarianism with vigilante murder of the kind associated with groups like the KKK.

    Then there’s Wilbur’s comment that the New Right is just Pat Buchanan in a different suit. As if Buchanan is the most awful thing anyone could possibly be. Buchanan has probably been one of the most effective and influential antiwar commentators of the last 20 years, but who cares about that? He’s against abortion and open borders! The horrors! That’s the kind of thing you would expect from the New York Times editorial page or CNN, not from purported radicals and antiestablishmentarians.

    “It doesn’t seem they’ve ever considered the possibility of post-state cultural arrangements that differ from their own persona; preferences.”

    Well, based on my past experiences with that circle, I think it’s clear what really matters to them is making the world safe for hedonism and narcissism. They don’t seem to me to be fundamentally uncomfortable with the present system, because they seem to have no sense of urgency in opposing it. Their movement will get nowhere because there’s nothing there that sets them apart from the status quo in any serious way. At best, abolition of the state, the empire, challenging the ruling class, etc. are just other items on the laundry list like promoting same-sex marriage.

    Can you imagine characters like that fighting the American Revolution or the Spanish Civil War?

  3. “Can you imagine characters like that fighting the American Revolution or the Spanish Civil War?”

    We’d all have King George (or Gordon Brown’s?) cock up our asses right now, and they might actually enjoy it.

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