Does Immigration Limitation Require a Police State?

Says one of my critics:

“…my problem with Keith Preston’s approach is not that he suggests identifying and allying with criminalized, marginalized, or lumpen people. My problem is, first, that he has what I consider a disastrously selective view of whose criminalization and marginalization counts as legitimate libertarian concern (=). And, secondly, that he has the wrong idea about what the process of building such an alliance, and the terms on which allies might ally themselves with each other, looks like.

(=) Hence, for example, his bizarre efforts coddle pseudo-populist Right-wingers who support the immigration police state and the mass criminalization of people without papers. Whereas on my view, if you’re concerned about identifying with the most criminalized, marginalized, exploited and oppressed, it would be harder to find a better place to start than with standing up for the rights of “illegal alien” workers confronting the border Stasi without government papers.”

The first problem here is the fact that the Stasi were oriented towards keeping people inside the German Democratic Republic, rather than keeping immigrants out, and repressing political dissent among East Germany’s captive native population. Beyond that, however, is the wider question of whether immigration limitation by itself requires a police state. No doubt there are plenty of anti-immigration enthusiasts who would like nothing better than a police state hunt-down of suspected illegal immigrants. No doubt the militarization of U.S. law enforcement generated by the various “Wars on…” (pick one) drugs, crime, guns, gangs, terrorism, vice, cults, racism, sexism, poverty, urban blight, child abuse, animal abuse, et. al. ad nauseum has at times included police state tactics in immigration enforcement as well (see the shenanigans of Uber-PIG Joe Arpaio).

But is a fascist police state essential to the restriction or limitation of immigration? Iceland  and Switzerland are among the most restrictive of the European nations concerning their immigration policies. Yet both of these are widely considered to be among the most progressive and libertarian of all nations anywhere. Iceland has no standing army, and bars nuclear weapons from its territory. Neither of them maintains the death penalty, and neither will extradite fugitives to the U.S. who may face capital punishment. Some years ago, an Icelandic court refused to extradite a fugitive to the U.S. because of the conditions found in U.S prisons. Switzerland is one of the world’s most non-belligerent nations. There are certainly no signs of fascism here.

Does immigration restriction even require a state of any kind? If the Spanish anarchist militias had been triumphant in the civil war, could they not have proceeded to safeguard the borders of the Spanish territory following victory? The Hezbollah militia of Lebanon is a non-state entity, yet it is an effective fighting force. Hezbollah is not only capable of guarding the Lebanese border, but of repelling an actual Israeli occupation. Likewise, the Armed Forces of the Colombian Revolution are a non-state entity, yet they have at times successfully held substantial portions of Colombian territory. Could not the FARC also safeguard its territorial boundaries?

What about all of the different kinds of territories within the United States itself where entry is restricted? These include industrial parks, office complexes, shopping centers, schools and universities, recreational facilities, country clubs, gated communities, stadiums, private neighborhoods, airports, bars and nightclubs, and private homes. All of these territories impose at least some degree of limitations on who may or may not enter. Those who do not buy a ticket are forbidden from entering theaters and stadiums. Those who do not pay a cover charge or have an ID are refused admission to bars. Those without a membership are denied entry to private clubs. Entry into schools is typically restricted to students, parents, employees, and others with authorized business. Even ordinary commercial facilities impose some minimal requirements for entry: “Shirts and Shoes Required”; “No Smoking”; “No Playing Loud Music”; “No Pets or Animals”; “No Rude or Aggressive Behavior.”

Of course, it might be argued that all of the aforementioned are private or semi-private institutions and organizations, as opposed to public streets, sidewalks, thoroughfares, lands, waterways, and airways. Yet most of these things are currently owned not by “the public” but by the state, which anarchists and the most radical libertarians ostensibly consider to be illegitimate. If the state were to disappear, into whose hands would such “public” areas fall? The anarcho-capitalist solution is to place these in the hands of private landowners, whether individual or collective in nature. The geo-anarchists prefer land trusts. Left-anarchists and libertarian-municipalists would prefer community control on the basis of some kind of Athenian model “direct democracy.” Syndicalists might prefer that all public services be put under “workers’ control,” meaning that, for instance, public streets and highways would be under the management of the highway workers’ and street maintenance workers’ unions. Mutualists might prefer “consumer control,” meaning, for instance, airports might be managed by, say, associations of frequent flyers or consumers of airline services. Whatever model or combination of models one prefers, it is quite possible that at least some of these kinds of entities would enact entry requirements at least as restrictive as those currently in existence.

There are other possibilities. Upon the demise of the state, perhaps all public properties and areas could be ceded to “squatters’ rights.” The first person to show up and pitch a tent on a piece of land in Yellowstone Park gets to keep the lot. Perhaps all public areas could simply be declared “No Man’s Lands” akin to present day Antarctica or remote desert or mountainous regions. Perhaps these might be areas where everything is a free-for-all, and where even ordinary criminal laws do not apply. I confess that if such a proposal came up for vote in a national referendum, the nihilist in me might well take over and I might not be able to resist the impulse to vote in favor of it. But how many people really think this would be a desirable state of affairs?

Either way, from where can the principle be deduced that a stateless or near-stateless society, nation, or territory would necessarily maintain unrestricted entry? Even if public areas were “No Man’s Lands” could not a xenophobic militia simply organize and drive away unwanted migrants? In contemporary Western-model societies, much of the mass immigration we presently observe is not simply occurring according to natural patterns of population movement, but is actively encouraged, promoted, and subsidized by the state. See here and here for some examples of how this works. I suspect this trend could be reversed if the support given to mass immigration by state and corporate policies was simply ended. Much of this immigration is economic in nature. Take away the economic incentives, and the overall amount of immigration should diminish. Indeed, there are some signs that the present economic situation is having such an effect.

I’m not going to go into the problems with allowing mass immigration from the Third World into the West. I’ve already written about that in the past and have really said all I have to say about the matter. See here and here. Critics already understand the potentially rather severe consequences of this. Proponents of mass immigration generally make it clear that they don’t care about the consequences. But when Islamic revolutionary parties start becoming competitive in European elections, and there’s a replay of the Mexican War complete with good old fashioned ethnic cleansing in the U.S. Southwest, don’t say us dirty, rotten, fascist, racist, nationalist, right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic bigots didn’t warn you. 

Some interesting articles on immigration:

How Can An Armenian-American Oppose Immigration? It’s Easy! by John Attarian

Liberalism and America’s Immigration Policy by John Attarian

Beyond Open or Closed Borders by Laurence Vance

Immigration Symposium by David Gordon

Nader on Immigration by Matt Welch

An American Indian View of Immigration by David Yeagley

From the Great Society to the Great Betrayal by Rob Freeman

Switzerland: A Model for America on Immigration by Srdja Trifkovic

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13 replies »

  1. I’ve always found amusing the inconsistency of both sides of this issue. The “progressives” are as zealously pro-immigration as they are anti-globalization; for conservatives, the same is true, albeit these two are inverted. And yet, neither of them realize that the latter is the chief cause of the former.

  2. One of the core arguments that Carson makes is that minus the state/corporate alliance, the economic order would be one where there is a much greater orientation towards local production for local markets. Therefore, both labor and capital would be more decentralized and less transient. So the amount of immigration should be radically reduced as well.

    The main point I try to make on the immigration issues is that I simply want anti-state radicals to take seriously the question of whether or not mass immigration from the 3rd World constitutes an existential threat to Western civilization. If the indigenous population-ethnically, racially, cultural, religiously-is overrun by populations with alien customs and ideologies, and deep seated grudges, does this not amount to the overthrow of the West altogether? Can the historic achievements of the West be preserved if its indigenous population and culture is eradicated? These are questions that should be able to be heard without the usual hysteria over isms and phobias.

  3. Sad to say, but most of the folks boo-hooing over all those isms and phobias could care less about the historic achievements of the west, or its indigenous population and culture. For them all that matters is the mindless cult of feel-good “diversity.”

  4. I don’t really think “diversity” is an appropriate term for what the PC ideology promotes. It’s unfortunate that they have usurped that term. Diversity would be, for instance, when you have a debate on a substantive issue and the participants range from Marxists to Republicans to gays to Christian fundamentalists. A diverse society means, for instance, that some people belong to country clubs and some people belong to motorcycle clubs, or some people go to church and others go to brothels. PC “diversity” is more like the Moonies, which has a mixture of ethnicities and genders, but completely uniformity of thought and conformity to authority.

    Speaking of the devil, I noticed this latest from my old buddy Aster:


    LOl, I posted a nasty response challenging Aster to a physical fight, but I suspect her crony Rad Geek won’t allow it to go through.

  5. I think if Iceland found itself attached to Mexico, it would have a very different approach to immigration enforcement. And if the US was in the middle of nowhere, an influx of Others would not be a big issue.

  6. Those are good points, but what about Switzerland. Is that not a more comparable situation given that Switzerland is surrounded by nations with PC regimes committed to mass immigration?

  7. “LOl, I posted a nasty response challenging Aster to a physical fight, but I suspect her crony Rad Geek won’t allow it to go through.”

    Aster is truly hilarious; nobody epitomises the sort of neurotics drawn towards marginal politics better than her.

  8. Yeah, the WN-NS crowd has Bill White, Davis Wolfgang Hawke, Frank Collin, and Danny Burros. The anarcho-Randian Leftoid-Libertoids have Aster. She/he’s fun to bait, however, like the obnoxious, bratty, loser kid at school that almost invites others to antagonize him.

  9. I’m surprised to see those nimrods are still talking about you, and I find it intriguing how they continually misinterperet your positions and the reasoning for them. They think you’re only reasoning for opposing mass immigration is to appeal to the populist right. If we analyze the language they use in their writings, it can provide us with a glimpse into their mental machinery. First, they automatically assume that your immigration skepticism is merely a strategic move to appeal to the populist right; this is because it’s never occured to them that there could be a rational basis for immigration opposition. Secondly, they describe this as “bizarre” yet never explain why, and use the term “coddle”, as if conservative immigration opponents are merely immature children without a legitimate worldview. Dismissing them as “pseudo-populist right-wingers” smears them as an eccentric fringe, or joke, movement. It appears to me that whoever wrote that comment (i think it was johnson) suffers from the same problem as most of the left: an immediate and arrogant dismissal of anything that doesn’t align with their PC moralism and emotionalism, which causes them to develop warped misperceptions (of others who don’t share their views) based on those dismisals.

  10. Well, like I said before, I was the guy who walked into their church and burned a Bible, so I imagine their memories of me are vivid enough.

    “they describe this as “bizarre” yet never explain why, and use the term “coddle”, as if conservative immigration opponents are merely immature children without a legitimate worldview. ”

    That’s the most common characteristic I have observed among liberals and leftists. Disagreeing with them is not simply to be in error, but in sin. I came from the Christian fundamentalist subculture of the 1970s, and as I got old enough to think for myself I realized a lot of their theological and other views made no sense whatsoever. I found that whenever I challenged them on any of this, the near-universal response was simply ad hominen arguments and regurgitation of dogma, as if no one could ever possibly disagree with them in good faith. I started experiencing the same thing with PC types at a much later point in my life, which is why I find the arguments of people like De Benoist, Gottfried, Rothbard, David Heleniak, etc. that PC is just secularized Christian evangelical fanaticism to be so compelling.

    I don’t consider my crusade against PC to be some kind of reactionary conservatism, but a continuation of the anarchistic, Bakuninist traditiona of vitriolic attacks against theocracy and Marxism. If Bakunin were here today, he might well be writing “Politcal Correctness and the State” rather than “God and the State.”

  11. Quagmire,

    A follow-up on one of your earlier questions. You asked about the compatibility of the ideas of De Benoist with Anarchism. While De Benoist by no means claims to be an anarchist, are not his conceptions of communitarianism and federal populism relatively similar to the ideas of classical anarchists like Bakunin, Proudhon, Kropotkin to at least some degree, Gustave Landauer, and others? I recall Paul Piccone once making an argument of this kind in TELOS.

  12. Actually, I do agree with that. One aspect of his worldview I do find incompatible with anarchism is the general direction it’s coming from. He seems rooted in anti-Enlightenment thought, rejecting liberal individualism and egalitarianism in favor of ethno-collectivism and predetermined heierarchy. I always perceived anarchism as having evolved out of the classical liberal paradigm that his worldview so steadfastly rejects.

  13. Yes, I agree, though the overall picture can get a bit blurry at times. There are strands of classical anarchist thought that overlap with anti-modernist critiques like those of the romantic medievalists or Luddites.

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