The State and Immigration 2

Some months ago I wrote an article for LewRockwell.Com discussing the role of the state with regards to immigration. You can read the full article here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig8/preston7.html

Joshua Holmes offers a rebuttal here: http://noonefreer.blogspot.com/2008/01/another-terrible-argument-against.html

Joshua hasn’t converted me, but he makes some points worth addressing. First, he addresses the class issue:

“1. “Immigration is class warfare!” Basically, mass immigration is a way for the rich to exploit the poor.

The problem is that keeping desperately poor people from working in the world’s largest economy is, itself, the worst economic exploitation around. Forcing people to scratch out a living in a rural Mexican village or in a war-torn hellhole like the Sudan is the worst sort of class warfare in existence. You can’t call yourself a friend of the workers if you’re stopping them from the richest job market in history.”

Well, first of all, I am not a universalist. Naturally, I am more concerned about the working class from which I come and the indigenous American working class to which I am most closely connected than I am with workers anywhere just as I am more concerned about my own circle of family, friends and peers than I am with “humanity” as a whole. Mass immigration is harmful to the indigenous American working class (of any color). That said, I’m all for the self-advancement of workers in the Sudan and Mexico, which is part of the reason why I’ve been a committed anti-imperialist my entire adult life. I want people in these places to be sovereign in their own homelands, communities and cultures and in control of their own economies and natural resources so that they may develop in their own way and at their own pace. Good luck to them.

“Libertarians say that, if the world is set to rights, there’s nothing wrong with the existence of the rich and the poor. And if the poor choose to work for the rich, that’s a private matter and no one else’s business. Preston nowhere mentions or addresses this argument, even though it’s the fundamental libertarian complaint against state interference in labor-management relations.”

This is such a naive view of political economy it’s barely worth discussing. I’ll simply say, “Joshua, read some Kevin Carson and then we can discuss this further.” You can start here: http://mutualist.org/id4.html

“But even as Preston laments the fate of the workers, he betrays them. Why else would he say, “There are going to be a lot of very wealthy people, and a lot of peons who are going to live in the barrios.” Why use the Spanish word? The reason is ugly but simple; Preston is saying, “I don’t want to live in a country full of Mexicans.” Fair enough, but why should his preferences get enacted into law? There’s nothing libertarian about that.”

I’d rather live in country full of Mexicans than in a country full of white yuppies and megachurch Jesus freaks. The bottom line is that if you move the Third World into the West, you will lower the overall quality of life in the West to Third World levels, rather than vice versa. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn made the argument that the effect of “free, universal and compulsory” education has been not to raise the educational standards of the stupid but to dumb down the smart. Immigration has a similar effect.

“(There also considerable market-oriented literature about the barrios as a creation of unjust legal systems, but that’s not a problem with immigration.)”

Indeed they are, and so are black ghettos.

The bulk of Joshua’s arguments concern a passage from my article he finds particularly objectionable:

“I’m in favor of private property, not just for individuals as the Lockeans are, but also for families (as illustrated by the law of inheritance), communities (“the commons”), property rooted in ancestral traditions (for instance, the recognition of the prerogative of indigenous peoples’ to their sacred burial grounds), the property of tribes and ethnic groups (their historical homelands), and of nations (their generations long established domain). However, I’m also in favor of alternative business models like cooperatives and works councils. Whatever the particular approach to property theory one adheres to, or whatever model of business/labor/economic organization one finds to be most optimal or just, it is unlikely that there can ever be a system of ownership, whether individual or collective, that places no barriers to entry whatsoever. Is an anarcho-leftist commune going to accept all comers, irrespective of beliefs, behavior or economic output? Republicans? Religious fundamentalists? Meat-eaters? Skinheads? And is enforcement of rules pertaining to immigration visas or border crossing inherently any more authoritarian than the enforcement of laws against trespassing or the restriction of entry to private facilities such as school campuses, shopping centers or office buildings? Both involve forcible expulsion of those uninvited persons who refuse to exit on their own initiative and not necessarily anything more.”

Says Joshua, in response to this passage:

“That this passage appears on a libertarian site is breathtaking, because Preston is implicitly arguing that the state is the representative of or embodiment of one of those listed groups. Wasn’t Preston just arguing about the awfulness of class warfare a few paragraphs beforehand, and now he’s arguing that the state is the embodiment of some rights-bearing group? He argues that the elites are using the state to create mass immigration, then argues that the state is the father of us all? Well, which is it?”

I’ve made no such argument at all. I’ve merely argued in favor of property rights beyond the merely individual level, not that the state is the embodiment of families, communities, indigenous peoples, ethnic groups or tribes or even nations. In fact, I regard the state as a parasite on all of these entities and institutions, including their property rights.

“But to answer his question, the difference between the state’s borders and the individual’s borders is “rights”. The state has no right to the borders because it is not a rights-bearing group or its representative. Keep as many folks off your property as you like, but you don’t get to tell me who I allow access. Preston’s argument is akin to an assault defendant saying that it’s perfectly okay to punch people in a boxing match.”

I regard rights as conventions rooted in historic tradition and experience, and relative to the particulars of specific cultures, and not as decrees from On High. Beyond that, I don’t trust the state to uphold “rights” of any kind. Down with the INS, all hail the Minutemen!

“Once again, the LRC folks flail about but can’t answer the serious libertarian argument at the heart of our open borders stance: who I allow onto my property, who I hire and fire, is not the business of anyone else, including the state. “

I would agree with this when it comes to individual property owners, small businesses, genuinely private associations, etc. I don’t agree when it comes to mass corporations and crony-capitalist institutions connected to the state. For instance, while I think private neighborhoods, private schools, private clubs, genuinely private businesses, etc. should be allowed to discriminate all they want, even on grounds liberals find taboo like race, gender, et al, I wouldn’t have a problem with a rule that said McDonald’s, Walmart, General Motors or Microsoft cannot simply refuse to hire blacks, or Mormons or gays simply because they are blacks, Mormons or gays. But I would also have no problem with a rule that Big Capital cannot displace indigenous workers out of desire to exploit immigrant labor. Corporate feudalism really isn’t my idea of liberty.

Beyond that, libertarianism is not the end-all of human existence. It’s not a religion or something that can answer all the world’s problems. I consider liberty to be the highest political value (as opposed to equality or throne and altar or the glory of the fatherland), but sectarian versions of libertarianism are hardly important enough to justify political, economic and cultural suicide, which is what will happen if we Westerners allow our societies to be overrun by immigration. That said, I very much favor standing with Third World nations against imperialism and exploitation by international capitalism. I favor practicing class solidarity with domestic workers, including immigrant workers, even illegals. For instance, I’m a big fan of Caesar Chavez. I favor practicing solidarity with all prisoners, even those on death row, and, yes, even those in immigrant detention camps.

I do not favor creating any new laws whatsoever for the purpose of curbing immigration. I’m simply for ending all state subsidies and entitlements that create incentives for immigration, ending birth citizenship (a privilege, not a right),  decentralizing the naturalization process to the community level according to community standards, repealing laws prohibiting private discrimination, deporting immigrants convicted of violent crimes, forming citizen militias to patrol entry points, creating worker-run enterprises to discourage the employment of cheap immigrant labor, organizing boycotts of employers who do engage in such practices, and outright syndicalist seizure of state-connected industries who displace indigenous labor with immigrant labor.

There’s a such thing as a society becoming so “tolerant” that it leads to self-destruction. For instance, the Weimar Republic did not act to save itself even in the face of imminent Nazi or Communist seizure of power. The same thing is going on in Europe today with regards to unqualified Islamic immigration in the name of multiculturalist ideology. And in America, the indigenous working class is being sold out in the name of trendy liberal notions of “diversity”.

2 comments

  1. Great stuff, Keith.

    Expanding on your response to this part:
    “Forcing people to scratch out a living in a rural Mexican village or in a war-torn hellhole like the Sudan is the worst sort of class warfare in existence.”

    I might ask how open borders would help those who *can’t* emigrate to the bloated cities of the Western world. Taking the argument of open-borders-as-compassion to its logical conclusion would end up with the forcible shipment of all third-world peasants to richer countries.

  2. I agree with you on some stuff and disagree on others, and thank you for an interesting article.
    On one thing: ‘repealing laws prohibiting private discrimination’ many people privately discriminate – no law in the world will stop that; it’s when the discrimination becomes public there’s a problem.
    I don’t see how you can protect American values whilst wanting to ignore part of the constitution:
    ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.’
    Or do you think they just meant vote literally?

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