Center for a Stateless Society
For a long time, anarchists and libertarians have mockingly characterized the stereotypical liberal goo-goo response to any vision of a stateless society as “But what about the rooaaads?” But now a couple of libertarians — at least that’s what they call themselves — have made that phrase their own. In response to the seemingly self-evident proposition, from a libertarian standpoint, that people should be able to move freely from place to place regardless of imaginary lines drawn by states on a map, Hans Hermann Hoppe and Lew Rockwell — the gray eminences of the paleo-libertarian world — cry out “But what about the rooaaads?”
In a Mises Circle talk earlier this month (Open Borders Are an Assault on Private Property), appropriately enough in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s stomping grounds, Rockwell restated an argument earlier formulated by Hoppe:
What we believe in are private property rights. No one has “freedom of speech” on my property, since I set the rules, and in the last resort I can expel someone. He can say whatever he likes on his own property, and on the property of anyone who cares to listen to him, but not on mine.
The same principle holds for freedom of movement. Libertarians do not believe in any such principle in the abstract. I do not have the right to wander into your house…. As with “freedom of speech,” private property is the relevant factor here. I can move onto any property I myself own or whose owner wishes to have me. I cannot simply go wherever I like.
From here Rockwell continues to elaborate on an argument whose basic assumptions are — I say without equivocation — mind-numbingly stupid.
Now if all the parcels of land in the whole world were privately owned, the solution to the so-called immigration problem would be evident. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that there would be no immigration problem in the first place. Everyone moving somewhere new would have to have the consent of the owner of that place.
But this starting assumption is nonsense. As both Franz Oppenheimer and Albert Jay Nock argued, the land of the entire world will never be universally privately appropriated by legitimate means. The only way in which every single parcel of land can come under private ownership is through what Oppenheimer called “political appropriation” and Nock called “law-made property.” And it’s no coincidence, as both of them argued, that universal appropriation of the land is a prerequisite for economic exploitation. Only when people are cut off from the possibility of homesteading and subsisting on previously vacant land, and employers are thereby protected against competition from the possibility of self-employment, is it possible to force people to accept employment on whatever disadvantageous terms the property owners see fit to offer.
That says something right there about the kind of people whose wet dream is an entire world without an unowned place to stand on, without some property owner’s permission.