Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Principles of the Anti-Immigrant Crowd, Reductio ad Absurdum

The Anti-Immigrant crowd seems to have a hard time grasping the concept of natural rights. Natural rights are inherent in our natures as free-standing, self-owning, sovereign individuals. They do not come from the State. We do not need to ask permission to exercise them.

Liberty of movement is a basic, fundamental natural right. Freedom of association is also a basic, fundamental natural right. We do not need to ask anyone’s permission to exercise these rights. Free individuals are able to associate (and not associate) with anyone of their own choosing, for any reason. Free individuals are able to move about freely, for any reason (barring, of course, trespassing onto another free individual’s privately owned property, which is the subject for another discussion altogether).

Yet, the Anti-Immigrant crowd persists in the belief that in order for a foreigner to come to the U.S. to find work, he or she must first ask permission from the Federal Government. Conversely, an American who wishes to hire someone from another country, must likewise ask for permission from the same Federal Government.

So, in other words, two otherwise free individuals, in possession of certain natural rights by virtue of their very humanity, are obstructed in the exercise of their rights by the State. The State creates an arbitrary line on a map, and then arrogantly presumes to tell people, "Your rights end here." The State acts like an invisible fence, and through these actions, demolishes the individual rights to free association and liberty of movement. At this point, these rights become priveleges, which are doled out as a direct function of how and where the state decides to erect its fences.

So, let’s follow this principle down to its logical conclusion. If the State is justified in erecting a barrier called a "border", thus preventing people on opposite sides from interacting, where does it end? Let’s say, instead of the U.S – Mexico border, we looked at the Ohio-Indiana border? Would the State be justified, if it so chose, to decree that the free movement across this political boundary may only happen by express permission of some State authority? Or, to come closer to home, what about a restriction on movement between Montgomery and Greene counties? Or what about the border between the cities of Dayton and Huber Heights? Or what about the border of the neighborhoods of Walnut Hills and Belmont? Or what about the border of the opposite sides of Wayne Avenue? Or your front lawn and your neighbors lawn? Or what about the border between your living room and kitchen? What about moving from one side of your bed to the other?

The Anti-Immigrant crowd is compelled to answer "yes" to all of these, because they have already conceded that the State does have the legitimate and prior authority to erect such barriers. The natural right to free movement is simply a privelege that is derived from whatever arbitrary location the State would like to enforce as a border. It doesn’t matter that the State does not currently enforce such absurd restrictions, but in principle, the Anti-Immigrant crowd firmly accepts the authority of the State to box in (and box out) individual rights according to whatever artificial designations that it chooses. In principle, the State's power to set these boundaries pre-exists the natural rights of individuals.

So, do you think that you are a free individual, able to pursue happiness in your own manner, to trade your time and talents to improve the quality of your life? Well, according to the Anti-Immigrant crowd, you most certainly are not. Everything you do is a mere privelege, which can be taken away from you at any time. In the view of the anti-immigrant crowd, the State is like a farmer, and individuals are pigs. As such, the current freedom of movement and range of association you now enjoy is simply a product of the State asking you, "how big of a pen would you like?"

So, when someone tells you that foreigners who want to come here should do it "legally", what they are saying is that individuals do not have a right to live and work where they choose. They are telling you that YOU do not have a right to live and work where you choose.

And if I were someone who took pride in my freedom, I’d be offended by that.


Blogger Speedothebrief said...

What, then, Jayman is the function of government? Preserving the rights that you believe are your humanly-inherited rights?

You just aren't sitting in reality. There is no such thing as free the way you describe it. You're utopian society works just as well as the Communist Utopian society... it doesn't work at all. It never will, and it never ever in the history of humanity has worked. Borders are what we get when two groups of people fight for private ownership of land. Governments make decisions to either stand up for the ownership or not, and the government who breaks the back of the other gets to allow it's citizens to reap the benefits of the land.

Let's carry out your logic to full conclusion: the government doesn't have the right to create borders. When someone believes that he has the inherit right to your property, the government must allow that person to reap the benfits of "your" property freely. There is no such thing as a "border" to you, so why should anyone stay off of your property?

What are you really getting at? Should your utopian government protect your utopian rights on the far corner of the globe? Are you saying that there should be only one government, in which all people's rights are protected fully? You're mad if you think it's feasible in any way!

Start offering real solutions to the problems here. Or do you not think that there is a problem?

9:28 PM  
Blogger doinkicarus said...

Speedothebrief said "it doesn't work at all. It never will, and it never ever in the history of humanity has worked."

I'd like to put it out there, that you are unconditionally incorrect in this assertion. In fact, pretty much up until World War 1, or thereabouts, movement of people from pretty much any country in the world, to pretty much any other country in the world, was free in the sense that you claim it never has been. The only barriers to entry were the price of admission on an ocean-liner.

Jason's assertion is not that the "arbitrary lines on a map" are wrong, or non-existant, but rather that the presumption that the rights of man end, or change when such imaginary lines are crossed. The lines on a map serve a purpose like the fence in your yard, or the surveyed boundaries of your property - effecting open and notorious possession.

Like it or not, pretty much all the land on the earth has been discovered - and claimed by right of conquest or of discovery, and is now protected by various governmental constructs. If you don't believe me, call a title company, and ask for a search of your property going back to the origin. If your county records go back far enough, (many don't) You will find there, a "Land Grant" which indicates in short that the land is recognized by the United States, has been surveyed as existing within its borders, and that it claims the land and promises to defend it by force if necessary.

Then, Secretary of State deeds the property to a private individual, or in some cases, to the State or Territory, which then deeds it to a private individual, and the chain of title continues to present day. You own the property as a successor to the government which claims the land.

Suggesting that Jason is anti-private property is a fallacious equivocation. Well, my digressive little history lesson aside, I'm not a huge fan of the Reductio Ad Absurdum, except when used expertly, for instance, by a Frederic Bastiat.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous stranger said...

i see another long, involved disagreement with you coming up here.

i should start by saying that i agree with you, in principle. the problem with asserting "natural rights" as a justification for the massive influx of immigrants is that our society is not, unfortunately, the free society that some people like you and i would like it to be. and, again unfortunately, that means that by these people coming here they are placing further burdens on those that are here already, and legally.

this is not to say that freedom of movement shouldn't be a right, or that it doesn't exist as a solid principle. rather, that under the current social and political policy of the united states, such a thing is counterindicated. if we didn't have the other liberty-abridging policies that we do, like welfare, social security, forced income taxation, i would agree with you wholeheartedly. and truthfully, i don't necessarily disagree with allowing immigrants into the country. i just don't see the feasability of your argument.

cheers hon :)

11:33 PM  
Blogger doinkicarus said...

"if we didn't have the other liberty-abridging policies that we do, like welfare, social security, forced income taxation,"

You're not discounting the assertion that such restrictions are wrong - but you believe the solution to liberty-abridging policies" is to increase the scope of such policies? That seems rather counter-intuitive, it certainly is not helpful to anyone who wishes to eliminate or reduce those "liberty abriding policies."

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

Doink -

I've said similar things to Stranger before...only not as lucidly.


11:42 AM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

Speedo –

What, then, Jayman is the function of government?

In a free society…which is what we should all be striving for…the ONLY purpose of the State…ANY State… is to protect the individual’s rights and property. This is true for everything from the village council all the way up to the United Federation of Planets…(oops, sorry…That’s only in Star Trek….)

Having said that, the only purpose for a “border” is to delineate the jurisdiction of the State and its various political subdivisions for the purposes of enabling the State to focus it’s legitimate efforts. It is NOT a fence where the rights on the individual end and begin. The rights of the individual precede the State, and anytime the State presumes to curb the rights of an individual who has not committed any crime…any REAL crime (ie. violence, theft, or fraud)…and without the benefit of a trial by an impartial jury of one’s peers, that State is tyrannical and should be opposed.

I find it odd, but not surprising, that you say my ideas don’t work. Liberty doesn’t work, you say? So, what you are really saying is that individuals left to pursue their own happiness without interference from the State, is inherently flawed, and therefore, we need the State to centrally plan and manage our lives.

Also, I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of private property. If you study any economic history, you will find that property has been a major source for alleviating conflict, not aggravating it. Furthermore, you betray your misunderstanding of natural rights (as was my opening remark in this blog entry) when you say the State allows its citizens use of the land. Property, and property rights, precede the State…not the other way around.

Your assertion about the “logical conclusion” of my argument posseses a contradiction. If I am a property owner…and someone claims a right to my property, the State most certainly would not simply stand by. To assert such a case is to deny that the State has any purpose at all. As I said, the State’s only purpose in a free society is to protect the individual’s rights and property. Absent some sort of peaceful resolution of the conflict of claims (which is also a legitimate function of the State), the State is charged with protecting my property from the predations of such people.

Bringing this back to the immigration issue…when you advocate the State forcibly prevent Americans from associating with “foreigners”, you are advocating the State violate the rights of these Americans who wish to enter into voluntary, peaceful relationships with the foreigners in question. Likewise, when you assert that the State can bar those foreigners (who, last time I checked, were human beings) from entering the country to engage in consensual arrangements with property owners here, you are conceding to the State that it has the authority to trump basic human rights. To assert “we” have a right to determine who comes on to “our” property, means that you are asserting that the U.S. is one large, homogenous piece of property, owned by one individual called, “the People”…which really means, the State…and not a collection of smaller, sovereign, individual property owners. And what kind of economic system views all property as being collectively owned?


In any event, my solutions are simply that our government needs to start respecting the natural rights of individuals. I would support any measure that moves public policy in this direction. Hint: militarizing the border, and building a giant fence, ain’t it.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Brian Duffy said...

I think you missed one of the foundational building blocks of natural Law, the understanding right to Private Property. Remember Kelso vs. New London and how mad you were? Well it’s because of natural law and your soul telling you it was wrong. Governments are built on the premise of protecting private property. This is why we have borders, and license plates. We give up a little of our natural rights for the good of the community, which forms a government, all to protect the group. Yes the collective group but it is not collectively owned, it is collectively protected.

Let me ask you one question; how do you define natural law and where did it come from?

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

Governments are built on the premise of protecting private property.


But the Anti-Immigrant crowd doesn't accept the idea of private property. It veiws all property inside the border as COLLECTIVELY owned.

This is why we have borders, and license plates.

Uh... No. How does having a license plate protect private property?

We give up a little of our natural rights for the good of the community, which forms a government, all to protect the group. Yes the collective group but it is not collectively owned, it is collectively protected.

No, Bryan. The principle behind the creation of government isn't that people "give up" certain rights...it's that people delegate authority to their agent.

Ask any lawyer...you can't give authority to someone that you don't initially possess. The same holds true for government. You cannot delegate powers to the State that you never possessed. You have no right to tell me where I can live and work and with whom I associate with... So you are unable to delegate that authority to the State.

To paraphrase Frederic Bastiat, the State's authority to protection life, liberty, and property is merely just an extension of the individual right to self-defense.

Let me ask you one question; how do you define natural law and where did it come from?

It doesn't matter where it came from... What matters here is where it most certainly did NOT come from... ie. The State.

The State has no moral authority to curb individual rights. Insisting that rights end at the border means that the State defines what rights are...in other words...rights are not rights, they are priveleges.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Timerty said...

Help me out here.
With the right of association comes the converse right of disassociation, or exclusion. I can choose who I want to hang around with, only if I can choose not to be with others. Right?
If my neighbors and I want to form a member only association, we are then excluding all non-members. Our individual property ownership gives us the right to exclude all non-members from our collective property. We have the right to create fences (borders) and/or hire a security force to prevent non-members from crossing our property. This works fine for a small group. What happens when this association grows into the size of a city, a state or a country? Do we not still have the right, as an association of private property owners, to prevent non-members to come on to our collective property?
I guess my question is – at what point does the right of association not apply?

8:06 PM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Timerty -

You are exactly right. With the right of association comes the inverse right of non-association (or exclusion, as you put it.) And such associations may be exclusive and private, based on the mutually and voluntarily agreed upon terms of each and every individual that enters into such a compact.

The right of association does not apply when someone you want to associate with doesn't want to associate with you in return. You can't force someone in to a relationship...that would be slavery.

If you and a bunch of people wanted to form such a collective as you speak of, that would be perfectly fine. But you have no right to force someone else to erect such barriers around their property. Free association necessarily means voluntary association.

Also, as the size of this group increases in number, having a consensus of opinion would become less and less likely. Hypothetically speaking, if the group grew to a size of a city, state, or even entire country, that is still fine...but in reality, how likely is that? If it really were a unanimous consensus that a specific group of people should be excluded, then its fairly obvious that you wouldn't need government to enforce such edicts. The fact that the anti-immigration crowd is turning to government is a de facto admission that they do not respect the rights of others.

The issue here is that the anti-immigrant crowd wants to use government to force their views on EVERYONE, regardless of whether they want immigrants here or not. If I am an American businessman, and I _want_ to hire Mexicans, and these Mexicans _want_ to work for me...the anti-immigrant crowd says that we should be punished because such an arrangement offends their sensibilities as to what is politically "correct". What they are doing is taking people who have not given their agreement to such a compact as the one you describe above, and saying, "too bad, we're making this decision for you." They are violating the right of association of the people they disagree with.

Hope it helps.


10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. I'm personally an "anti-immigrant". The Constitution provides for the rights and freedoms of those protected by it. It also vests Congress with the ability to impose certain responsibilities upon the same people (taxes, for example). Anyone who comes here, off the books, in violation of those laws, while not denied their basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, can be denied other things.

Work isn't a right. If it was, we wouldn't have unemployment. Work is a privelege.

Further, on an international level, Countries act much like individuals, complete with zones of authority, and areas of ownership. To enter United States lands without permission is a form of Trespass. Thankfully, these people who commit these CRIMES aren't prosecuted... but instead are merely returned to their rightful place of origin. I doubt breaking the law in other manners would result in such leniency.


12:39 PM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...


That is a thoroughly collectivist argument, and an erroneous reading of the Constitution to boot.

But thanks for your $0.02.


2:26 PM  

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