Monday, February 1, 2010

Free Trade, Free Speech and Free Immigration

The government's alleged right to regulate immigration is a statist abomination and is absolutely alien to the spirit of libertarianism. The freedom of movement in Europe was initially restricted by feudal lords, who did not want their serfs to roam free. Subsequently the feudal role was taken over by nation states, which invented the modern system of passports and visas. However, by the peak of classical liberalism in the mid-19th century, the use of passports in Europe and the U.S. had been largely abandoned. America, the freest nation on Earth, became the world's greatest economic powerhouse partially by tapping into the talent and creative energy of people all over the world. But from the early 20th century on, immigration was again restricted in both Europe and the U.S. as government expanded.

The reason why I hate conservatives' anti-immigration rhetoric is that it is vague and incoherent. As many false ideas, it is based on a distortion of a real problem. The problem America faces is 1) that Hispanic immigration may alter the US political system and its culture in the wrong direction 2) that liberals will bestow "free lunches" on immigrants and thus expand the welfare state.

However, the proposed cure - restrictions on immigration - is like curing a headache by cutting off the head.
Since it is a human being's natural right to do anything, except initiating coercion against others, immigration is a natural right. Natural rights, unlike contractual (civil, political) rights, are inalienable and apply to all people on Earth (in so far as they are not criminals). I emphasize that they apply not only to US citizens but to all non-criminals on Earth, including those who wish to enter the United States. Violating immigrants' natural rights for the purpose of defending America's freedom is a logical contradiction. Restrictions on individual liberty can never promote freedom - it is a dangerous and misguided game. 

The root of the "Hispanization" problem is not immigration as such but the system that bestows voting rights (which ARE NOT NATURAL) on all adult citizens. This idiotic perversion of the representative principle is what ushered in socialism in the first place. Clearly, only those who uphold America's constitutional system should be given voting rights. Socialists are excluded by definition. So, the solution is giving voting rights ONLY to those immigrants who're not going to subvert the constitutional system.

As far as the cultural impact is concerned, the fundamental problem is not the influence of Hispanic culture but the weakness and impotence of the American cultural establishment. If America were dominated by a sound and rational elite, foreign influences would be absolutely unable to destroy its cultural vigor. The cultural atmosphere is shaped by the academia, not by the "hoods." If the education system were a healthy institution, it would be likely to influence the hoods (in a positive way), not the other way around.

The root of the welfare problem is, again, not immigration as such but the welfare state itself. It is absurd to argue that US citizens are more entitled to this state-sanctioned plunder than immigrants. No one is entitled to that. I wonder why conservatives do not support deporting US citizens who receive welfare, in addition to restricting immigration. For my taste, there is little difference.

It is indeed arguable which statist abominations should be abolished first - either restrictions on immigration or the welfare state or the voting system allowing everyone to rob everyone else. It may be argued that loopholes allowing immigrants to receive welfare should be abolished first and then restrictions on immigration should be lifted. But it should be absolutely clear than eventually immigration (of non-criminals) should be totally unrestricted. Just as trade and speech must be absolutely free, so should immigration. No compromise is possible. It is a matter of principle.

What I dislike about mainstream conservatives is that, while they partially understand some of the problems discussed here, they always fail to clearly enunciate them and give an uncontradictory logical account of their position. They don't seem to understand the difference between the sound opposition to liberals' attempts to subvert the constitutional system by using immigrants and the opposition to immigration per se. Though American conservatives are indeed different from European ones, they seem to borrow from their brethren across the ocean a primitive distaste for all things foreign just because they are foreign, which is absolutely unlibertarian.


Reasonsjester said...

I don't oppose more (illegal) immigration at this time because I dislike foreigners. I dislike the radicals' attempt to destroy America through (illegal) immigration. The Cloward-Piven strategy of collapsing the welfare state by adding as many to the entitlement rolls as possible, until the economic system implodes and the socialist-statists can build their totalitarian fantasy-state, is very much a key issue. No libertarian would ever endorse restricting immigration if the understood rules of the game were that one live in freedom and never use the state to coerce others out of their rightfully earned property. But we are far from that day when a rule of law respects the natural rights of American citizens.

My opposition to illegal immigration is not based on principle, but on self-preservation. When the welfare state retreats, as well as such entitlement programs as public education, then my opposition to illegal immigration will retreat as well. It is not that I want to restrict immigration, which would be quite hypocritical, but I want to dampen our trajectory towards economic implosion. If the economic system collapses, it is hard to see how the state will refrain itself from usurping even more of our rights in the guise of "helping" us.

To sum up, immigration under normal conditions is fine, and in fact, none of the state's concern The welfare state sucks because it makes the affairs of others everyone's business, which is a tragic state of affairs. If the Democrats manage to pull off a nationalized healthcare system, which would not even have the requirement of a citizenship test for access(!) (not that I really think that is a main objection to the potential freedom-killing debacle), then the situation will deteriorate further for those who value liberty.

Reaganx said...

Basically we agree on this but I just wanted to make it clear that opposition to immigration per se is intolerable. You may understand this but many conservatives don't.
I admit that it may stand to reason that destroying the welfare state is the first priority and eliminating restrictions on immigration is the second one. Though I would also argue that the left doesn't need immigration to destroy America. I would do so without illegal immigrants just as well.
It may also be argued that the Cloward-Piven strategy may result in the opposite - the welfare state will just collapse, and a free society will emerge. It depends on the cultural atmosphere of that period.

Reaganx said...

But we should always remember that it's a very tricky issue. For instance, would you support restrictions on gun ownership if the majority of Americans were leftists who would use their guns to usher in a socialist revolution?

Reaganx said...

But doesn't it make more sense to fight the root of the problem - the welfare state, not its consequences?
By the way, consider where this logic would carry you. Wouldn't it open up tremendous possibilities for violating all sorts of individual rights in order to protect America's freedom? For instance, there are tycoons who finance leftist politicians (Ron Paul doesn't get much funding from big business, eh?). Why don't we put restrictions on these tycoons' businesses? Ah, only for the purpose of protecting American liberty! Why don't we put restrictions on the leftist press?
Do you see the problem? I'm not saying I have the solution but the problem does exist. There is a bit of a contradiction and it should be thoroughly analyzed.

Reasonsjester said...

I agree that I need to think my position out further. Attacking the welfare state first may prove more effective than restricting immigration to mitigate the negative social and economic effects that entitlement programs cause. Incidentally, Mexicans, who are currently the majority of immigrants, are some of the hardest workers out there. But American culture, which is intentionally being destroyed by the statists, does not consistently present the argument to Mexicans that liberty is a key component of the prosperity that they have come to partake in. More Mexicans need to know that freedom is the major reason that we are not Mexico - though our political corruption is fast approaching and in some ways even dwarfs that of the Mexican government. Mexicans may know it instinctively, but they generally need to be more informed on the founding of the country, and the principles behind it.