We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck”.

– Robert A. Heinlein

(As brought to my attention in a comment by “Plamus”.)

128 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Correct – poverty (terrible poverty) is the normal condition of humanity.

    The people who (sometimes) prevent this condition are now called “capitalists” (people such as Wedgewood or Arkwright centuries ago – or Jon Huntsman, senior, in modern times) the left (including the “libertarian” left) spend their time attacking this small creative minority.

  • Au contraire! Successful innovators, businessmen, and inventors (strong though perhaps imperfect overlap/correlation with wealth creators) are, in fact, usually celebrated.

    Consider, for instance, the widespread commemorations of Steve Jobs after his passing. So passionate to be aptly characterized as cult-like? Maybe. But certainly passionate! And celebrated! And neither despised nor condemned, surely!

    As a consequence of creating the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk became a venerated popular celebrity – against his will. Is Mark Zuckerberg despised? Condemned? Sergey Brin?

    The list is endless. Frank Whittle, the Wright brothers, Donald Trump (before his recent foray into politics), Jack Welsh, Watson and Crick.

    I enjoyed Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Heinlein has much to offer, but this quote and the adulation of it (and similar ones – think Ayn Rand) among many libertarians, says more about its author and those libertarian-types than it does about reality.

    Wealth creation is imagined to be widely condemned or maligned only in the minds of those unable to comprehend that policy is sooner shaped by perceived interests than values – particularly in democracy. Indeed, broadly speaking, insofar as voters might appear to have “values” this is an inevitable illusion caused by endless propaganda that saturates democratic societies like cancers. Wealth creation is overtaxed primarily because most people perceive it to be in their interests for such policies to be enacted.

  • JohnW

    The exploitation theory of labour is the most widespread – and pernicious – economic premise on the planet, and hardly a day goes by without this site referencing some statist clown utilising it in support of their totalitarian agenda.

    Heinlein was absolutely right, and so was Ayn Rand:

    “When you live in a rational society, where men are free to trade, you receive an incalculable bonus: the material value of your work is determined not only by your effort, but by the effort of the best productive minds who exist in the world around you.

    When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible: for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making, for the work of the scientist who discovered the laws that went into the making of that product, for the work of the philosopher who taught men how to think and whom you spend your time denouncing.

    The machine, the frozen form of a living intelligence, is the power that expands the potential of your life by raising the productivity of your time. If you worked as a blacksmith in the mystics’ Middle Ages, the whole of your earning capacity would consist of an iron bar produced by your hands in days and days of effort. How many tons of rail do you produce per day if you work for Hank Rearden? Would you dare to claim that the size of your pay check was created solely by your physical labor and that those rails were the product of your muscles? The standard of living of that blacksmith is all that your muscles are worth; the rest is a gift from Hank Rearden.”

    - Galt’s speech, Atlas Shrugged [1957].

  • JohnW,

    I notice your post was blissfully free of evidence supporting the claim that wealth creators are condemned or despised frequently – as Heinlein claims

    Obviously nobody doubts that people could not do their jobs without the tools they use which others invented. Which is not to minimize your point, for inventors perhaps receive less credit than they are due in many cases.

    But to suggest that there is widespread condemnation of inventors or wealth creators is just not consistent with reality.

  • Dom

    Actually, in reference to JohnW (and Ayn Rand), the workers’ earnings are not so much due to other’s inventions, as it is to the use that inventors make of their products. A worker makes a tire — ho hum. But someone invents cars, bicycles, etc. Now it is worth much more.

    You see this with natural resources. A country is poor because all it has is greasy junk under the soil (or sand). Other inventors find a use for oil and now the country is swimming in wealth.

    If you accept (as some leftists do) Obama’s “you didn’t build that”, then you should accept the flip side too — “you didn’t earn that”. But, thankfully, no one does.

  • The Spanish word “empresario” (roughly, “business owner”) is routinely altered in all Left discourse to “empresaurio” (the saurian prefix suggesting something baleful and lizardy). I think this corresponds to a widespread belief in some societies – certainly in Latin America – that those who offer employment to others are rich, fat, cruel, cynical monsters who see all human relations in terms of exploitation.

    People celebrate and venerate the entrepreneur who brings something new to the store shelves (Jobs), and to a lesser extent the inventor (Edison). But the person who has inherited a business, keeps it going, builds it up, keeps the wheels of production turning and his employees’ salary checks coming, gets no thanks at all. Or ever will as long as the Labour Theory of Value informs people’s everyday economic thinking.

  • Sorry, suffix. Half asleep.

  • JohnW

    @Dom – she does not credit inventors exclusively – she credits the feature that entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers etc., have in common – productive minds.

  • JohnW

    Schlomo – Zuckerberg, Watson, Jobs, Edison, bankers, financiers, speculators, private investors, landlords…some criticism maybe justified but there is a principle at stake – the inestimable value of the productive mind.

    This is the point that Rand makes over and over.

  • Snorri Godhi

    This was quoted by Instapundit quite a few times i i remember correctly.
    What makes me uncomfortable with this quote is that this “norm” has never been “exceeded” in the history (and pre-history) of humankind, anywhere as much as in the last few centuries.
    We are talking about orders of magnitude here: in some ways i count myself richer than a Roman Emperor. In fact, i count myself richer than any Roman Emperor in everything except zero-sum goods, such as real estate, domestic help, and availability of sexual partners.

  • Jerry

    Despised and condemned come later. They are preceded by envy.
    The envy is used by some ( community organizers ? agitators etc.etc. ) to lead to being despised and condemned by increasing numbers of people, many who do not even realize WHY they feel the way they do !!

    Celebrated ?
    Yes, by some. But usually not for very long. Ask 100 people on the street who T.J. Watson was. I’ll bet not five in a hundred can tell you.
    The adoration and celebration also is somewhat dependent on the what the individual has accomplished. Jonas Salk helped created a vaccine against a devastating disease. Celebrated. Bill Gates as well as many others also created but also became extremely wealthy. Celebrated, not so much ( he too rich ! No one NEEDS that much money etc. etc ). Celebrated ?. Not so much as envied.

    ‘Is Mark Zuckerberg despised? Condemned?’
    He is by at least one person for creating the biggest waste of time in the history of mankind !!

  • Regional

    One of the curses of Capitalism is that the workers can afford to buy houses, cars, have tax funded healthcare and education, old age pension, holidays in places of their choosing, good quality food(when the Wall fell the East Germans were astounded). The things Marxism promises but never delivers.

  • Chip

    Some people worship creators like Jobs and others despise him. But weigh our somewhat hazy support for creators like Page and Brin against the political movement against people like the Kochs and the 1%.

    Who has the impetus? I’m. It aware of a low tax movement that has Jobs on the banner. But the president, much of congress and a seething ideological movement with real traction is hosting juvenile anti-Koch movies in the supposedly apolitical Capitol building in DC.

    They’re winning (Keystone anyone) and the current economic malaise is just bad luck.

  • Dom

    Zuckerman should not be mentioned as a producer or an inventor. He is not In the same class as Jobs or even Gates. He stole an idea from others, kept what he could with a lawyers help, and now he’s involved in a visa scam designed to replace American workers. If you ever hear him in interviews, it’s surprising how dim he is.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Dom writes:

    and now he’s involved in a visa scam designed to replace American workers

    What is a “visa scam”? Is that some way of expressing a belief that firms are obligated to hire only people who were born on one side of imaginary lines drawn on the ground and not allowed to hire those born on the other side unless they get permission from men with guns who purport to be “agents of the state”, but who have no involvement in the contractual arrangement between the parties? Perhaps you believe employers are obligated to hire people, or that they “owe” their employees jobs?

    If your issue is with “immigration”, which is to say, if you desire to interfere with the freedom to travel, the freedom to live wherever someone will rent or sell you a home, and the freedom to work wherever someone freely contracts with you for your labor, I’m afraid I don’t see that there is any legitimate right to interfere with such behavior.

    The claim that states have the right to prevent “immigration”, which is to say, free travel etc., is essentially the claim that you have the right not to use force to keep people off of your property, but rather to keep people off of other people’s property.

    If you do not own my apartment building, you have no right to tell me who I can and cannot invite to live in it — that’s between me and them, and you’re not a party to the contract.

  • chip

    “Is that some way of expressing a belief that firms are obligated to hire only people who were born on one side of imaginary lines drawn on the ground ”

    Is the line between your property and others also an imaginary line on the ground?

    The thing is we do own the apartment building and, as such, we need to ensure our costs don’t exceed our revenue. So if 20 million unskilled illiterates decided to walk across an imaginary line and avail themselves of free education, subsidized health care and other infrastructure, our costs will indeed exceed our revenue and that way lies collapse.

    I’m all for free movement of people – one day after we dismantle the welfare state.

    Free movement of poor people into a welfare state just guarantees a bigger welfare state.

  • Plamus

    Perry, if you ever swing down to Philly, let me know – I’ll show you what Philly has to offer (not the muggings-and-rapings part).

    Cheers,

    PS

  • Plamus

    Re Perry vs Chip: Welcome to my problem as a libertarian. Any policy is path-specific – I have a good answer for what I want, but not a good a god answer for how to get from here to there. Which, given where we are, puts me in the awkward situation of supporting decidedly-statist policies… Freedom of movement is awesome, but it necessitates lack of welfare state. Given welfare state, freedom of movement is death… What do we do?

  • Tedd

    Shlomo:

    Au contraire! Successful innovators, businessmen, and inventors (strong though perhaps imperfect overlap/correlation with wealth creators) are, in fact, usually celebrated.

    The passive voice makes this comment seem more reasonable than may be justified. Not specifying who is doing the celebrating enables you to use the obvious fact that some people celebrate some wealth creators to avoid the equally obvious fact that many people despise wealth creators. Some merely despise them as a generic category. Others despise them in a more personal way.

    It’s nice that you qualify your claim with “usually,” but does that mean “celebrated by most people most of the time” or merely “usually each experience being celebrated at some point in their life?” The latter I can certainly agree with. The former, most definitely not.

  • Rich Rostrom

    The present time is unusual in that there is less genuine class envy around than other eras.

    For all the gas from Occupods and champagne Reds, there are no serious proposals to confiscate private wealth. Back in the bad old days, radicals threw bombs, shot at millionaires, or staged bloody revolutions where the bourgeoisie was massacred.

    Today – see Venezuela, where the chavista government rants about Bolivarian socialism and denounces escualidos, while its business cronies (the “bolibourgeois”) rake in $billions. Or the U.S., where hedge fund tycoons raise money for Obama.

    The masses are prosperous enough that they don’t feel they are being squeezed by the “bosses”.

    Far more people hope to be rich than hate the rich.

    Also, the tech wonders that surround us are highly visible, with minimal visible labor components. The contrast between the harsh conditions of steel workers or coal miners and the luxurious lives of their Gilded Age employers was obvious; but who have the tech wizards exploited?

    How will long this happy condition last? The academy is infested with fossilized radical memes, and it is the function of the academy to spread memes. If there is an extended period of stagnation, the infection will erupt again.

  • Nick (Blame The French) Gray

    As an inventor (self-locking garment button) with a new provisional patent, i naturally support Intellectual property. As i understand it, the South American nations were conquered and then governed by a rentier society, which instilled in people the belief that riches were handed down by governments. So hard work, and creativity, are not as valued as they are in Anglo societies.

  • Roue le Jour

    Perry Metzger

    The flaw in your argument is that civilisations are not natural phenomena, people create and maintain them. If a group of people make such an investment to benefit themselves, are they obliged to allow entry to anyone who wants to come in? And if some members of that civilisation see a profit to themselves in undermining that civilisation, is it OK for them to do so?

  • Dom

    Perry, H1B visas are a scam. By law, a company must first prove that jobs can not be filled and therefore the immigration of people who can fill these jobs must be expedited. But we now know how this is done. Both Facebook and Microsoft are advertising in journals that job seekers do not read, sometimes in journals that are not even sold on book stands.

    H1B visas are not the free flow of immigrants, it is expedited immigration, at tax payers expense, for people from certain countries in certain fields.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Plamus” writes:

    Freedom of movement is awesome, but it necessitates lack of welfare state. Given welfare state, freedom of movement is death… What do we do?

    Let’s say that someone informs you that they decided to watch you and, if you took a walk in your garden one morning, they would kidnap and torture two small children. That morning you decided to take a walk in your garden, and thus they performed the kidnap and torture. Are you then a criminal for walking in your garden, an act that initiated force against no one, or are they the criminals for initiating violence because, it is claimed, you did something entirely innocent in itself?

    Say you decide to open a store. Your state has decided that all new employees of all businesses will now be “given” $1000, that is to say, $1000 will be extracted on the threat of violence from taxpayers and then sent to such people, to “encourage employment”. You hire two shop assistants because you can’t do all the work yourself. Are you a thief for opening the store knowing that your hiring people would result in other actors committing a criminal act, or were those other actors at fault?

    My father, as it happens, was an undocumented immigrant to Switzerland during the Second World War — he crossed the border in the night to avoid being killed by the Nazis.

    Say that, you’re a Mexican, today, living in a half-failed state where your family is hungry because the state has destroyed the economy, and you fear that you may be killed by a drug gang. You choose to do something similar to what my father did, and you cross an imaginary line on the ground, peacefully find employment, pay with legitimately earned money for a place to live. You have initiated violence against no one, done nothing that a libertarian could truly call a crime. Say that the state you illegally crossed into then promises to violently extort money to pay for some “benefit” for you. Did you commit a crime, or did the people who initiate violence to extract “taxes” commit the crime?

    I will not tell people they cannot cross borders on the basis that others will do terrible things if they do. It is not their fault that these others exist and have no morals. The mere act of crossing a “border” does no violence to anyone, regardless of what fancy paperwork self-appointed “state actors” have or have not given those crossing the so-called “border”.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Roue le Jour” writes:

    The flaw in your argument is that civilisations are not natural phenomena, people create and maintain them. If a group of people make such an investment to benefit themselves, are they obliged to allow entry to anyone who wants to come in?

    This is sophistry. There is no “civilization” with interests independent of its individual members. There are individual people who own property, work, engage in trade, etc.

    If someone walks from Manhattan, where he was born, to Brooklyn, and then rents an apartment there and takes a job there, he has done nothing fundamentally different than if he walks from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario (which is supposedly in a different “country”) and does the same thing.

    In both cases, he is not “trespassing upon another civilization”, he is renting an apartment, critically from someone who is not you, and taking a job, again critically from someone who is not you. The person renting the apartment gets to choose whether to engage in that commercial transaction — you get no say under the non-aggression principle in what contracts two other people undertake as you are not a participant in that contract. The person offering the job gets to say if they do or do not hire that person — it is not your place to put a gun to their head and say “you must not hire this man”.

    The claim that I may keep others from walking from Detroit to Windsor is not the claim that I may use force to exclude people from my property, it is the claim that I may use force to exclude people from someone else’s property. This is not fundamentally different from claiming I may use force to prevent you from paying your workers less than some amount of money, or claiming that I may use force to prevent you from smoking cannabis. I certainly may pay my own workers anything they and I agree to, and I certainly may choose to use or not use cannabis, but I am not permitted by libertarian rules to use force to impose these decisions upon you.

  • Chip

    Do you have any argument beyond anecdotes?

    Is California going to balance the budget on an analogy?

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “chip” writes:

    “Is that some way of expressing a belief that firms are obligated to hire only people who were born on one side of imaginary lines drawn on the ground”

    Is the line between your property and others also an imaginary line on the ground?

    No, it is not. Ownership is not an arbitrary state of affairs, and is an entirely legitimate expression of one’s rights under libertarian principles. Borders, however, are not like property lines at all — they are rather the edges of the self-proclaimed “territories” of violent gangs of thugs who claim not only the right to dispose of their own property but also the right to dispose of the property of others, the right not only to do as they will with their own bodies but the right to dictate to others what they may do with their own.

    To claim that “international borders” are similar to property lines is the very claim that the initiation of violence is legitimate, that violent interference in the peaceful behavior of others is legitimate, that the entirety of the apparatus of the state is legitimate.

    It is the same confusion that calls state payments to crony capitalists “investments” when the money was not the state’s to dispose of in the first place and purchases no share of a business, or that calls the violent imposition of a legal code upon unwilling participants a “social contract” even though no mutual agreement took place and no signed instrument exists.

  • H1B visas are not the free flow of immigrants, it is expedited immigration, at tax payers expense, for people from certain countries in certain fields

    Dom, where does taxpayers’ expense come into FB and MS type of jobs? Or any type of jobs, really – but especially those?

  • Delighted to make your acquaintance, Perry.

    Supporting the right of people to go where they please (as long as not trespassing on privately owned land) gets lonely sometimes.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Dom writes:

    Perry, H1B visas are a scam. By law, a company must[...]

    You are operating under the misapprehension that all laws are legitimate and worthy of our respect. There is no moral obligation to behave according to the spirit of an illegitimate law. Before even mentioning “visas” we must first ask if anyone has a moral right to use violence to prevent people from hiring other people who freely agree to work for them. As no such moral right exists, the rest of your claims are of no consequence.

  • Tedd, in my limited experience, it also greatly depends on “geography” – meaning, local political and philosophical culture.

  • Alex

    Though I generally dislike “Like” buttons sometimes I wish Samizdata had one so that one could show support for others without having to leave a rather pointless comment (like this). Bravo Perry M.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Chip” asks:

    Do you have any argument beyond anecdotes?

    Is California going to balance the budget on an analogy?

    This would seem to be a posting with a dual purpose.

    First, it would appear to somehow be an attempt to attack my position with vague innuendo rather than by addressing it directly. I’m afraid you get no points for that. If you feel there is a specific issue with my reasoning, state it, do not simply complain that you don’t like it.

    Second, it would appear to be an attempt to claim the “rights” of the “State of California” are somehow a matter of concern to us, and that we should feel sad about poor “California”‘s difficulty managing its expenses.

    Note that “California” isn’t a person who eats and sleeps and needs shelter, “California” is in fact shorthand for an armed group that has declared itself “the Government of California”, and has done so effectively enough as to eliminate most opposition to its claim. The people living in the territory called “California” largely work and feed themselves, clothe themselves and provide shelter for themselves. We should not conflate them with this armed group, which parasitically depends on stealing a portion of the output of the ordinary and honest population.

    So, “Chip” asks us to have more concern for this armed group and its supposed financial woes than we do for ordinary people who have done no violence to others and have merely taken jobs in “the wrong location”. We are also to pretend the men with guns who call themselves “the Government of California” are not in a position to decide how they use the money they steal through extortion. It appears you actually expect us to feel concern that, were we to actually treat human beings who do no violence decently rather than as criminals, the poor helpless armed thugs might be forced to make choices about what they spend the extorted money on.

    Let us be entirely clear, then. It is the group that extorts money and complains that it does not have even more to extort that are the criminals, not the people who walk peacefully through the desert so that they may commit such “crimes” as taking jobs cleaning toilets and picking grapes. The cleaners and fry cooks and agricultural workers are entirely blameless. The parasitic class that claims to be “the legitimate Government of California” is entirely responsible for its own woes.

    If the armed gang in Sacramento cannot figure out how to manage its money even when it steals it in extravagant quantities rather than earning it through decent, honest work, that is no concern of mine. They should be in jail, not in a fancy building modeled on a pagan temple giving sententious speeches about their money problems.

    As it happens, all the well run studies I’ve seen on the subject say that “illegal” immigrants are, overwhelmingly, net contributors to the tax system. Mexican immigrants, by far the largest group, generally work. “Dom”, your fellow angry person, doesn’t even discuss this — he is upset even about legal immigrants who clearly pay taxes.

    I do not see the fact that immigrants, both formal and informal, are net tax payers, is particularly relevant. These people are not the creators and perpetuators of the immoral system of redistribution in question, and the existence of that system cannot be blamed on them. However, as it happens, I think you should perhaps look elsewhere to see why the kleptomaniacs in suits in Sacramento have difficulty managing their stolen funds.

  • Perry Metzger is killing it! Absolutely killing it!

  • Dom

    Perry: “You are operating under the misapprehension that all laws are legitimate …”

    No, I’m not. But H1B visa is a law, and it is being misused. It’s a scam. We are told that there is a shortage of tech people among American workers, and there isn’t. See here:

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/05/16/Scholars-Debunk-Claims-of-High-Tech-Workers-Shortage-Question-Industry-s-Free-Pass

  • The Wobbly Guy

    For Perry’s example, I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy. Give them several strokes of the cane for breaking the law (entering illegally), and ship them back. The hellhole they came from is none of my country’s business.

    Some on this site seem to have the mistaken impression that the absence of a welfare state will make immigration a definite good. My country’s experience says otherwise.

    There is a very real cost and decline in the standard of living, as evidenced by rising property prices, rising food costs, overcrowding, social tensions, and an increase in unemployment of the least talented percentiles of the citizen population. And worse yet, many foreigners are decidedly less… shall we say, enlightened, and resort of enclave thinking. Instead of hiring the best people for the job, they hire those of their own ethnicity.

    Perhaps it won’t be so bad if our allowing foreigners to come to our country to work and take advantage of our superior infrastructure, security, and higher purchasing power is reciprocated by allowing us to go to their native home countries and buy property/retire cheaply, but that doesn’t seem to be happening soon.

    But we definitely need foreigners, especially the best and most talented who have skills we are short on. The top 1-5%. But right now, we’re just taking them across all deciles, simply because they are cheaper.

    Take a look at Singapore. Hong Kong is in a similar situation. It’s an interesting case study for both sides of the debate.

  • Roue le Jour

    PerryM, a person has a right to the benefits of a civilisation built by someone else. Well done. You making socialist arguments and getting applause on a libertarian site.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Dom writes:

    Perry: “You are operating under the misapprehension that all laws are legitimate …”

    No, I’m not. But H1B visa is a law, and it is being misused. It’s a scam. We are told that there is a shortage of tech people among American workers, and there isn’t.

    You claim to understand that not all laws are legitimate, and yet you then proceed to try to re-explain to us why it is important that people are not properly obeying a law that should not exist in the first place. I think you are contradicting yourself here.

    Before discussing whether there is or isn’t a shortage of workers, shouldn’t we consider the fact that there is no legitimate authority by which anyone may use violence to restrict peaceful people from being allowed travel or work? Before bringing up any other facts on the question, are you not obligated to prove to us why such a law was morally acceptable in the first place?

    Imagine if, for example, we lived in a society where the government purported to have legitimized slavery through a legislative act, but had some sort of fig leaf in place saying that elderly or disabled slaves might be relieved of their work. Imagine if you had then attempted to explain to us in depth why most slaves seeking to claim that they should not be forced to work because of crippling illness were malingering, and proceeded to try to present us with statistics or other facts and figures, whether correct or not, in an effort to this claim.

    Imagine further if, even after we had noted that slavery is an abomination and that no slave has any obligation to obey such a law in the first place, if you had further said “yes, I understand that, but look at how many of these slaves are really malingering — why I have an article from breitbart.com that proves this conclusively.”

    I think our only reasonable conclusion would have to be that you did not, in fact, understand that there is no obligation to obey an immoral law, and that you have failed to first demonstrate whether the law in question was legitimate, as is your obligation.

    I will be perfectly blunt here. There is no right to impose yourself upon an employer. Foreigners are not “taking” jobs from locals — the locals had no right to a job in the first place. No one, in fact, has any right to a job, and certainly there is no superior right of someone to get a particular merely because they happened to be born in one town versus in another town.

    Employment relationships are legitimate only when two actors choose, without external threats of violence, to engage in a voluntary contractual relationship. There is no moral rationale by which third parties may threaten other people with violence for entering in to a peaceful, voluntary employment contract.

    If an employer in France desires to arbitrarily choose to hire only persons from Wales, the locals have no cause to grumble that this is “unfair”. They are entitled, of course, to start their own businesses with their own resources — but they are not entitled to make use of other people’s resources without their permission.

    I will also note, quite bluntly, that advocating that third parties should engage in violence against peaceful people on your behalf is not a morally neutral act. It is of course, quite popular. Getting a third party extorted (that is to say “taxed” using the popular euphemism) to pay for men with guns to carry out some sort of repugnant program of threats and violence is always more pleasant for the person who wants the violence done. After all, why should you pay for it yourself or take the risk yourself of undertaking acts of violence when you can have others do it at no cost or risk to you?

    This is why “states” are so popular — they provide a means by which ethically compromised busybodies who want to impose their arbitrary will upon others may do so in safety and without personal expense — the ultimate in outsourced immorality.

    However, merely because it feels ever so much cheaper, cleaner and more sterile to demand that someone else do one’s dirty work does not make the threats or actual violence in question less dirty or repugnant.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “The Wobbly Guy” writes

    For Perry’s example, I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy. Give them several strokes of the cane for breaking the law (entering illegally), and ship them back

    I’m afraid that you will first need to explain to us what right you have to beat someone for doing nothing bad whatsoever.

    Would you not be somewhat upset if someone decided to savagely beat you with a cane for doing nothing more than walking down a street? Because you are, in effect, advocating that people who have done nothing more than walk down a street, say the roadway between Tijuana and San Diego, should be beaten.

    I have to say that this seems to be entirely the opposite of civilization.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Roue le Jour” writes:

    PerryM, a person has a right to the benefits of a civilisation built by someone else. Well done. You making socialist arguments and getting applause on a libertarian site.

    I’m afraid it does not appear that you know how to define either socialism or libertarianism.

    Socialism consists of forced collective control of the means of production and forced redistribution of wealth. Permitting someone to walk down the street between Tijuana and San Diego unmolested, perhaps so that they may work for the day, is neither.

    Libertarianism consists of the proposition that the initiation of violence (or the threat of such initiation) against persons or their property is unacceptable behavior. Threatening, as “The Wobbly Guy” did earlier, to cane someone for walking between Tijuana and San Diego is a proposal of the initiation of violence — leaving someone alone as they do so is not.

    I find it interesting that you have so fully inverted the notion of what libertarianism does and does not consist of in your mind, and have ascribed the word “socialism” to permitting someone from Tijuana to walk to San Diego to work for the day, while you would claim that permitting someone from Manhattan to freely walk to Brooklyn to work for the day, an entirely identical action, would somehow not be “socialism”.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “The Wobbly Guy” writes:

    Some on this site seem to have the mistaken impression that the absence of a welfare state will make immigration a definite good. My country’s experience says otherwise.

    There is a very real cost and decline in the standard of living, as evidenced by rising property prices, rising food costs, overcrowding, social tensions, and an increase in unemployment of the least talented percentiles of the citizen population

    I understand that if others are permitted to compete against your company, you might be forced to lower our prices and increase the amount of effort you expend in creating your products. I understand that if others are permitted to date women that you find attractive, you might have to compete for their affections on your own merits.

    Perhaps you think you therefore have a right to prevent others from competing with your firm or dating women you happen to like? Perhaps you think there should be a law enshrining these “rights” of yours?

    As it happens, I can see no justification for preventing competition on libertarian grounds.

    Do you actually expect us to accept the argument that because people moving to your town might temporarily drive up the cost of housing until more housing can be built, or might render the restaurants more crowded for a time, that you therefore have a right to use guns to prevent people from moving to your town? Lets ignore the entire “foreigner” question because the argument you make applies just as much to people from Manchester moving to London as it does to people from Beijing moving to London.

  • Jordan

    PerryM, a person has a right to the benefits of a civilisation built by someone else. Well done. You making socialist arguments and getting applause on a libertarian site.

    Says the guy making the “you didn’t build that” argument. This is meaningless tripe. By your logic, we ought to ship all newborn babies to Abu Dhabi, lest they avail themselves of our precious “benefits” (whatever that even means).

  • Roue le Jour

    PerryM

    I have a plot of land, you have a plot of land. I work hard to improve it for me children, you do not. My children work hard to improve it for their children, yours do not. After a time my land occupied by my descendants is thriving, yours is not. Now your descendants would like to come to my land to take advantage of the opportunities to be had there. By what right?

    What you are arguing is that only individuals have rights, not groups. I disagree. Even though the founder is long dead, a family business belongs to the family, not humanity as a whole. To argue otherwise is socialism.

    Jordan,

    I am saying that a member of one group does not have a right to the benefits of an asset that exists because members of another group invested in its construction. A western baby has a right to the benefits of western civilisation because that civilisation was built for that child.

    Furthermore, I am not saying that people should be prevented from moving, I am saying that they do not have a right to move. A civilisation is perfectly entitled to say “You may come here, but if you do you must live according to the principles that make our civilisation successful, not according to the principles that made your civilisation unsuccessful.”

  • “A western baby”. Born, presumably, already kitted out with Stetson and a six shooter.

    What awful racist tripe.

  • Perry Metzger,

    “The Wobbly Guy” writes
    For Perry’s example, I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy. Give them several strokes of the cane for breaking the law (entering illegally), and ship them back

    I’m afraid that you will first need to explain to us what right you have to beat someone for doing nothing bad whatsoever.

    Would you not be somewhat upset if someone decided to savagely beat you with a cane for doing nothing more than walking down a street? Because you are, in effect, advocating that people who have done nothing more than walk down a street, say the roadway between Tijuana and San Diego, should be beaten.

    I have to say that this seems to be entirely the opposite of civilization.

    According to libertarian morality nobody has the right to beat someone for any reason other than the actual (or perhaps imminent) violation of life, liberty, and/or property. Assuming no philosophy sans libertarianism is justifiable to you, there is no right that The Wobbly Guy or anyone can point to that would justify to your mind beating someone for any other reason.

    What should happen and what does happen are almost always different things. Were every man an avowed and practicing libertarian, there would be no murder, theft, democracy, politics, monarchy, taxes, parking tickets, war. Is this civilization? Is this attainable? Is this not paradise? No, no, and no.

    It’s not that libertarianism is wrong – it’s that, as an ideology, it’s too well defined by nature to be attainable. It’s perhaps a guidepost on the path to virtue – and a worthy one at that – but it’s not the destination.

    Should I beat someone for walking from Tijuana to San Diego? No, but just as an American walking to San Diego is a very different action than a Canadian/Mexican doing so, it’s very different for me to do such a thing than it is for Border Control Police to do such a thing. Because the meaning of an action is determined by far more than its mere physical manifestations including, for example, the identity of the actor. And borders exist – for (at least) as many reasons as man can conjure interests that those borders protect. You may consider these reasons bad, immoral, even harmful, but rest assured that all of human history admits no exception to this universal law: interests are swayed by incentives not arguments. That law, by the way, is plainly true through all of human history, hence properly termed universal. The so-called natural right to property is I’m afraid not able to last more than a minute or two in any nation on earth.

    So to summarize: libertarianism may be something to reach for, but it does not explain all of reality.

  • I should add that basing one’s opinions on what SHOULD happen on an ideology that does not sufficiently explain what DOES happen is a recipe for disaster. And, I dare say, it’s rather juvenile.

  • Perry Metzger – terribly sorry, it appears that I forgot to mention the TWO (2!) ways in which it is EXACTLY civilization.

    1. The rule of law. Letting written laws go unenforced deteriorates the integrity of that law dramatically and all written laws emanating from its source considerably.

    2. The providential nature of sovereignty. Obedience to unjust authority is the very basis of civilization. Submission to political authority (by definition unjust to at least some – hence political) is the mark of a civilized society.

  • Roue le Jour

    Endivio Roquefort I

    I’m English actually, so a bowler hat and a pickaxe handle, the weapon of choice for us Lhunduners.

    Did you have anything else besides the ad hominem?

  • RLJ

    You seem to have a number of problems with terminology, as has already been pointed out. An ad hominem is an attack on a person. The term “racist tripe” clearly does not reference any person, but rather, something written by a person. The palindrome of Bolton would be Notlob. – It don’t work.

    This: “A western baby has a right to the benefits of western civilisation because that civilisation was built for that child.” Strictly speaking, this means nothing whatsoever, since there is no such thing as “western civilization”, any more than there is a “western sense of humour” or a “western gait”, and even if there was, there’s no indication of what “benefits” you might be referring to – but even without achieving a precise meaning the sentence manages to set up a smooth, sinuous us/them groove that would do any KKKer credit, so well done for that.

    So OK, babies are born with rights, or not, depending which side of the Rio Grande they happen to have popped out. Right side: welcome to Western Civ, darling, one day All This will be yours. Wrong side: if you grovel enough and look suitably ashamed of your family tree we might let you swab out the john three times a week. Would you like to add anything else? Does it depend on whether Mommy has the right papers, too? Or can you make some allowances there?

    Just for the record: I don’t think I was born with any rights at all, other than the essentials: life, liberty, pursuit of. The last two brought me to Ecuador. And yeah, scarcely a day goes by without me being reminded that no, this particular Civilization wasn’t built for me, which is why I’m naturally not allowed to own a business or criticize the gobierno. Only properly civilized people can do those things. I get it. But I did think I was in different company here. That’s all.

  • Mr Ed

    What a load of infantile Rothbardism I see on this thread.

  • Endivio Roquefort I,

    This: “A western baby has a right to the benefits of western civilisation because that civilisation was built for that child.” Strictly speaking, this means nothing whatsoever, since there is no such thing as “western civilization”, any more than there is a “western sense of humour” or a “western gait”, and even if there was, there’s no indication of what “benefits” you might be referring to – but even without achieving a precise meaning the sentence manages to set up a smooth, sinuous us/them groove that would do any KKKer credit, so well done for that.

    So, let me get this straight. The KKK is immoral only because it dictates an us/them dichotomy that people are born into? Can you think of anything that distinguishes the KKK from, say, a neighborhood baby group – both featuring evil us/them dichotomies stemming from whom people are born as? Think really hard – I bet you can figure this one out.

    So OK, babies are born with rights, or not, depending which side of the Rio Grande they happen to have popped out. Right side: welcome to Western Civ, darling, one day All This will be yours. Wrong side: if you grovel enough and look suitably ashamed of your family tree we might let you swab out the john three times a week. Would you like to add anything else? Does it depend on whether Mommy has the right papers, too? Or can you make some allowances there?

    You appear to be rather confused. Nobody has rights to anything. You can, of course, CLAIM that you have rights to your life, liberty, and property. Good for you, but just as an FYI: not everyone appears to agree with you. If you wish for everyone to enjoy equal benefits – such as those which come with access (free of coercion) to American soil, again I congratulate you. Again, though, not everyone values everyone as equally as you do. Some, for instance, value their family above friends, and their friends above countrymen, and their countrymen above foreigners. Strange, I know, but you may encounter them at some point.

    At least nobody can say that you don’t WANT things to be better for EVERYONE. Whether, of course, you are making things better for everyone (and equally so!) – let alone anyone – is far from clear, but I do find your commentary rather amusing if that’s any consolation.

    Just for the record: I don’t think I was born with any rights at all, other than the essentials: life, liberty, pursuit of. The last two brought me to Ecuador. And yeah, scarcely a day goes by without me being reminded that no, this particular Civilization wasn’t built for me, which is why I’m naturally not allowed to own a business or criticize the gobierno. Only properly civilized people can do those things. I get it. But I did think I was in different company here. That’s all.

    You were born with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of! Oh, how I yearn for the spirit of youth! To believe such tripe must be eminently gratifying. So every baby – coddled and fed, clothed and nurtured, protected and taught, tutored and punished, lectured and raised, praised and coddled – is born with the natural, absolute, inalienable right to liberty, but there’s no such thing as Western civilization? Be not ashamed – you have a bright career in comedy ahead of you.

  • Roue le Jour

    Endivio Roquefort I

    You are calling my remarks racist but you’re not calling me racist? OK, whatever.

    “A western baby has a right to the benefits of western civilisation because that civilisation was built for that child.” Strictly speaking, this means nothing whatsoever, …

    You’ve never come across the concept of building a better world for your children? Really?

    There’s no such thing as western civilisation”

    Might I suggest you Google it? Lots of people seem to disagree. And if this imaginary thing has no “benefits” then why do people want to move there? For the climate?

    How many ways do you want me to say this – the sanctity of private property is a cornerstone of libertarianism. The property I leave to my child is his birthright because he is my child, it has nothing to do with where he is born.

    BTW, I live in Thailand, and everything you say there about Ecuador applies to me here, too.

  • Shlomo:

    I’ll number these for the sake of clarity if you want to come back on any of them.

    1. While I’m finding out on wiki what a “neighbourhood baby group” is (I don’t think I was ever allowed to join one: perhaps I’m deprived), you might want to brush up on reading skills. Analogy is not identity. Whatever a neighbourhood baby group turns out to be, I’ll hazard it will not be anything like the KKK, but I’m also fairly sure that however unlike the KKK RLJ’s brand of racism is, it has one point in common (which is all you need for an analogy, believe it or not), viz. that in both views, “rights” are determined and differentiated by what nation or ethnic group you were born into. Now, it is actually possible not to grok this. Rothbardian maybe, but possible. Those of us who don’t grok it naturally wonder what the demonstration of such a proposition might consist of. I doubt if you can help out there, since you don’t believe in “rights” at all (and I can see why you might not) so I’ll just have to hope that RLJ can come up with something. I’m not holding my breath.

    2. “Nobody has rights to anything. You can, of course, CLAIM that you have rights to your life, liberty, and property. Good for you, but just as an FYI: not everyone appears to agree with you.”

    Quite so. I do, of course, CLAIM that I have rights. This is because, as you correctly point out, no one else has any earthly reason to CLAIM them for me on my behalf, and as you later hint, if I didn’t go about CLAIMing them in this way, they wouldn’t even exist (see below). So yeah: I guess it’s down to me to do all the darn CLAIMING myself. It’s a hard life.

    3. ” If you wish for everyone to enjoy equal benefits – such as those which come with access (free of coercion) to American soil, again I congratulate you. Again, though, not everyone values everyone as equally as you do. Some, for instance, value their family above friends, and their friends above countrymen, and their countrymen above foreigners. ”

    Let’s get this straight. The proposition that everyone in a community might be deemed to have equal rights fails not only because (a) there are no such “things” as rights (logical so far, although I’m mystified how you can trumpet the rule of law as “EXACTLY civilization”, while simultaneously arguing that far from everyone having the right to be treated equally under the law, no one has a right to any such thing, or to any darn thing at all) but also because (b) folks tend to like some folks more than other folks. This part of the argument falls down a little. Even the poor simpletons who dream up Bills of Rights and the like would, I suspect, see the flaw here. Quite simply, you don’t have to “value” people equally (who does?) to afford them equal rights. It’s apples and oranges.

    4. “At least nobody can say that you don’t WANT things to be better for EVERYONE. Whether, of course, you are making things better for everyone (and equally so!) – let alone anyone – is far from clear, but I do find your commentary rather amusing if that’s any consolation.”

    Actually, I’m not really a making things better for everyone sort of person. In fact I tend to be very suspicious of and steer clear of such people. Again, reading skills may need to be honed here.

    5. “You were born with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of! Oh, how I yearn for the spirit of youth! To believe such tripe must be eminently gratifying. So every baby – coddled and fed, clothed and nurtured, protected and taught, tutored and punished, lectured and raised, praised and coddled – is born with the natural, absolute, inalienable right to liberty, but there’s no such thing as Western civilization? Be not ashamed – you have a bright career in comedy ahead of you.”

    I’ll leave the question of who’s the better comedian to the gallery. As for “born with”, well, perhaps that’s overstating the case, or a bit of retrospective sleight of hand, granted. Rights exist by virtue of willed recognition, not something babies are all that good at. Those rights I mentioned exist only because I CLAIM them (inc. retrospectively, if that’s possible: feel free to argue, or alternatively, have paroxysms), as you managed to figure out earlier. They are contained in that CLAIM, and have no objective existence outside it. I do, however, have certain ways of backing up that claim, enough to make it stick, on the whole.

    Returning to the subject at hand: it seems to me to be just common decency, as well as not too difficult, to grant that others may wish to CLAIM the same innocuous rights I do. I’m happy with that. RLJ is not. It appears to annoy him intensely that anyone born in the Wrong Place might wish to make such a claim. This does not strike me as very civilized. Once again, I don’t expect you to be able to help out there, for obvious reasons.

    Civilizations. There are some, as there are gaits and senses of humour. I live, currently, in quite an odd one. It’s west of Nova Scotia, but you wouldn’t recognize it at all.

  • RLJ:

    Oh, good.

    “the sanctity of private property is a cornerstone of libertarianism.”

    Absolutely. So… is any part of Thailand, or the UK, other than the home you’ve bought and paid for, “your private property” because you were born there?

    It’s not a sarcastic question. I just want to see where you’re coming from. For the record, I was born in the UK, but don’t consider that I have any property rights over Folkestone harbor because of this accident of birth. Do you think that I do? Can I boot people I don’t like back into the English Channel? And if I can’t, is it OK if I bribe a bunch of people with guns to do it for me? Will my cowardice on the matter and hiding behind proxies make it all OK?

  • Roue le Jour

    I’m not talking about real estate.

  • Perry Metzger is still killing it! He’s like a machine!

  • It’s even worse, Ed – it’s infantile Rothbardism meeting primitive racism, both packaged in dogmatic self-assurance. Not sure which is worse, but I’m giving it a pass.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Should there be any special rights and privileges for those born in a particular civilization?

    No one, in fact, has any right to a job, and certainly there is no superior right of someone to get a particular merely because they happened to be born in one town versus in another town.

    If I may be allowed to paraphrase Perry and put some words in his mouth (awfully bad of me, I know) – My children do not have any right to a job, and certainly there is no superior right of someone to get a particular job merely because they happened to be born in one town versus in another town.

    I wonder what his children will think of him. I an ideal world, children all over the world would understand this point, but I doubt that actually happens.

    The problem with libertarianism is the same as that with socialism – it doesn’t match up to reality. At some point, certain assumptions and expectations come into play which simply aren’t true.

  • Chip

    So many words, so little explanation. Let’s keep it simple.

    Do open borders for a welfare state lead to insolvency? Or not?

    I have plenty of examples that they do.

    Do you have any that it doesn’t?

    Math vs ideology.

  • ragingnick

    The trouble with the libertarian case for open borders is that it completely ignores Human Biological Diversity. Western capitalism, private property and democratic accountability are not universal or intevitable – in fact to some peoples they are incomprehensible and alien.

    putting controls on third world immigration is not anti-libertarian, in fact the very survival or libertarianism depends on it.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “ragingnick” writes

    The trouble with the libertarian case for open borders is that it completely ignores Human Biological Diversity. Western capitalism, private property and democratic accountability are not universal or intevitable – in fact to some peoples they are incomprehensible and alien.

    putting controls on third world immigration is not anti-libertarian, in fact the very survival or libertarianism depends on it.

    There can be no libertarian justification for person A to use a gun to prevent persons B and C from freely contracting with each other. The essence of libertarianism is that any activity that does not involve the initiation of violence against another is permissible.

    Thus, it is always permissible for one person to hire another or to rent them an apartment, provided of course that they legitimately have a job to offer or legitimately own the apartment they’re leasing out.

    Thus, it is impermissible for someone to use force to prevent someone from taking a job or renting an apartment.

    Your claims, “ragingnick”, are entire incompatible with what libertarianism means. A libertarian may no more use violence to prevent someone from accepting a job than they may use it to prevent someone from smoking marijuana or from having sex with a consenting adult of the same gender.

    There is therefore no libertarian means to prevent immigration, since immigration merely means moving somewhere, renting a flat and taking a job. There is no distinction available in libertarian ideology that allows us to distinguish the case where someone moves from Tijuana to San Diego over the case where someone moves from Minneapolis to St. Paul.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Chip” writes:

    So many words, so little explanation.

    Is that another way of saying you have no refutation whatsoever for my extensive and thorough argument, but wish to pretend that its thoroughness was in some way a defect, whilst the lack of arguments on your side, rather than being a flaw, is actually a virtue? Truly?

    Let’s keep it simple.

    Do open borders for a welfare state lead to insolvency? Or not?

    It is up to the thugs controlling the state to decide how they spend their ill-gotten gains. I have no control over them or their behavior.

    Evidence from the field indicates that immigrants are generally net contributors to the pool of stolen money, known as “taxes”, that the thugs control. However, the evidence from the field also indicates that the thugs will outspend any sum they steal regardless of how much it is. If they steal a billion, they will find they “need” two. If they steal two, they discover they “need” six.

    I care little about the games they play.

    Doubtless, using your “ingenious” argument, we could say “well, yes, as a libertarian, I feel everyone should have the right to choose whether or not to exercise and what they eat, but as we have state funded health care, I have to support this law that mandates exercise for all and a mandatory vegetarian diet, for otherwise the ‘state’ might be bankrupted”.

    Doubtless, using your “ingenious” argument, we could say “well, yes, as a libertarian, I feel motorcycle helmet laws are a bad idea, but as we have state funded disability pensions and people who ride motorcycles without helmets might end up on the dole, I must support them”.

    Doubtless, using your “ingenious” argument, we could say “yes, as a libertarian, I feel people should have the right to have as many children as they like, but as we have a welfare state I’m afraid for now it’s forced sterilizations for all.”

    I’m afraid I say “no” to this entire line reasoning.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:

    Should I beat someone for walking from Tijuana to San Diego? No, but just as an American walking to San Diego is a very different action than a Canadian/Mexican doing so, it’s very different for me to do such a thing than it is for Border Control Police to do such a thing.

    No, I’m afraid it isn’t. You can’t duck moral responsibility for a murder or beating by hiring someone else to do it for you. You are still responsible for your actions regardless of how many layers of hired goons you place between yourself and the crime.

  • ragingnick

    There can be no libertarian justification for person A to use a gun to prevent persons B and C from freely contracting with each other. The essence of libertarianism is that any activity that does not involve the initiation of violence against another is permissible.

    the ‘initiation of violence’ here is not always clear cut or direct; if person A decides to rent property to or hire somebody from a culture whose values are antithetical to liberty, and in doing so contributes to the importation of a population who will eventually impose, through voting or some other means, a totalitarian government that will initiate force against me, then is not person A initiating force against me indirectly by importing person B?

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:

    Perry Metzger – terribly sorry, it appears that I forgot to mention the TWO (2!) ways in which it is EXACTLY civilization.

    1. The rule of law. Letting written laws go unenforced deteriorates the integrity of that law dramatically and all written laws emanating from its source considerably.

    2. The providential nature of sovereignty. Obedience to unjust authority is the very basis of civilization. Submission to political authority (by definition unjust to at least some – hence political) is the mark of a civilized society.

    Under these claims, then, you support the Holocaust. After all, nothing that Nazi Germany did — literally nothing — violated the German Constitution. Hitler was given his powers by means that followed the letter of the German Constitution, after all. After his entirely legal election, laws were passed granting him dictatorial authority, and were duly renewed as they expired.

    Under these claims, you support slavery if a legal system permits it. Under these claims, if the legal system says a man may buy and rape children, we are obligated to permit it, allowing it to go on without interference.

    Under these claims, you believe that if the legal system says that you are to be imprisoned and then executed for apostasy, you must meekly present yourself for neck chopping.

    After all, you claim, might I quote: “Obedience to unjust authority is the very basis of civilization”.

    Your position is morally obscene, and should be ignored by any right thinking individual. No one is obligated to obey a morally unjust law, and merely because a group of people have proclaimed themselves “the government” and written a set of rules on a piece of paper saying something clearly and horribly wrong and repugnant is no reason that third parties are obligated to obey them.

    We are not, in fact, obliged to obey when people demand that we turn over our innocent children for execution, or when we are told that we may not take a life-saving drug because it “has not yet been approved”, or when we are informed that we may not cross a “border” even though we will die if we do not, because “it is the law”.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Roue le Jour” writes:

    I have a plot of land, you have a plot of land. I work hard to improve it for me children, you do not. My children work hard to improve it for their children, yours do not. After a time my land occupied by my descendants is thriving, yours is not. Now your descendants would like to come to my land to take advantage of the opportunities to be had there. By what right?

    I believe what we have here is a case of a mistaken understanding of property law. It seems that you believe that the fact that you happen to reside in the same general viscinity as a few million other people means that you have somehow developed ownership over their property as well as yours. However, you do not in fact own their property.

    Presuming you have a house and some land around it, you are indeed, as you claim, entitled to exclude others from that land as you wish. The problem is that you believe you are also entitled to exclude people from other people’s land, land that you do not, in fact, own.

    Perhaps, however, you do indeed own the entirety of the United States, or the entirety of the United Kingdom, or somehow have become the rightful owner of some other entire region.

    If so, congratulations. Please present me with the evidence that you own the entire country that you live in. When you do, I will believe you do indeed have the right to exclude whomever you like from it.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “ragingnick” writes:

    the ‘initiation of violence’ here is not always clear cut or direct; if person A decides to rent property to or hire somebody from a culture whose values are antithetical to liberty, and in doing so contributes to the importation of a population who will eventually impose, through voting or some other means, a totalitarian government that will initiate force against me, then is not person A initiating force against me indirectly by importing person B?

    The answer is clearly “no”.

    Moreover, if we claimed the answer was “yes”, then could we not impose mandatory sterilization? After all, all children could potentially grow up to vote for statism.

    Could we not impose gun control? After all, some statist might, in the future, use a gun to commit an act of violence.

    Could we not consider the creation of the internet to be an act of violence? After all, someone might get a statist idea by reading a socialist blog, and decide to impose that idea which they otherwise might not have learned about.

    Could I not be charged with a crime for once having fed a man who later turned out to be a murderer? After all, had no one fed him, he would have been unable to commit his crimes.

    Most rational legal systems, quite correctly I think, that you are not, in fact, liable for murder because you sold food to a person who later committed murder. Most rational legal systems would not consider the provision of printing services to a socialist to be the equivalent of attempting a socialist overthrow of the legal system. Most rational legal systems would not consider hiring a person as a store clerk to be an act of violence merely because the clerk later committed an act of violence, and had he starved to death he would not have.

    And indeed, luckily for many people in this thread, most legal systems would not consider someone to be a violent criminal merely because they do things like publicly stating that they think people who cross borders without “papers” should be beaten with canes — even though, I might note, this is direct advocacy for a violent crime.

  • Mr Ed

    I can’t be bothered to read all of this, even with a beer. May I just suggest that the ‘immigration debate’ be considered in the light of an approach of ‘methodological individualism’, i.e. that the question of whether an immigrant is ‘beneficial’ to the receiving country can only be considered on an individual basis by considering the impact of the individual concerned in the round.

    E.g. a brain surgeon/entrepreneur who is a secret murderer cannibal might not reasonably be considered desirable. Race/religion/welfare claims don’t really come into that equation, they are the wrong side of a rounding approximation.

  • Mr Ed, you don’t want to read it all? Fair enough. Allow me to summarise. Perry Metzger is killing it. He is smashing it. He is knocking it out the park.

  • Perry Metzger,

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:
    Should I beat someone for walking from Tijuana to San Diego? No, but just as an American walking to San Diego is a very different action than a Canadian/Mexican doing so, it’s very different for me to do such a thing than it is for Border Control Police to do such a thing.

    No, I’m afraid it isn’t. You can’t duck moral responsibility for a murder or beating by hiring someone else to do it for you. You are still responsible for your actions regardless of how many layers of hired goons you place between yourself and the crime.

    Oh, so I hired the border police, Perry? Is every taxpaying American morally responsible for how their tax dollars are spent?

    I recognize your view that national borders are imaginary lines. It’s true that national boundaries have been eradicated, established and modified for good, bad and no reasons countless times in history. But there’s far more evidence that nations exist than there is evidence that you or I have an absolute right to our liberty or property. I could give several reasons – large and small, worthwhile and silly – as to why nations might exist, but I somehow doubt you are here to learn and nobody was reasoned out of a position they were not reasoned into.

    Libertarianism is beautiful. Any set of beliefs about what should happen on a universal basis without reference to what does happen (or would happen otherwise/regardless) is perhaps a reasonable definition of religion. Religion, Perry, is often beautiful.

  • Perry Metzger,

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:
    Perry Metzger – terribly sorry, it appears that I forgot to mention the TWO (2!) ways in which it is EXACTLY civilization.
    1. The rule of law. Letting written laws go unenforced deteriorates the integrity of that law dramatically and all written laws emanating from its source considerably.

    2. The providential nature of sovereignty. Obedience to unjust authority is the very basis of civilization. Submission to political authority (by definition unjust to at least some – hence political) is the mark of a civilized society.

    Under these claims, then, you support the Holocaust. After all, nothing that Nazi Germany did — literally nothing — violated the German Constitution. Hitler was given his powers by means that followed the letter of the German Constitution, after all. After his entirely legal election, laws were passed granting him dictatorial authority, and were duly renewed as they expired.

    Yes it would appear to you that I support the Holocaust. Seriously. That’s because you appear to be incapable or in any case unwilling to consider any perspective for justifying actions besides those derived from libertarian philosophy. Perry, always remember that the passion of your belief in libertarianism can compensate for any aspect of reality that libertarianism fails to explain! Always!!

    As far as the Constitutions go… please note that constitutions are those collections of social institutions, religious dogmas, personal prejudices, corporate privileges, spiritual beliefs, and cultural traditions that limit, extend, direct, and impact in myriad unseen manners the exercise of power in society. Assuming you’re an American, your Constitution was worthless long before your grandfather was born, but your constitution prospers.

    And for the record, many/most of ancestors were wiped out in the Holocaust but I’d have opposed Hitler before that silliness went down for a number of reasons and in keeping with my style I’ll name the least fashionable one: I’m opposed to democracy and Hitler was elected.

    Under these claims, you support slavery if a legal system permits it. Under these claims, if the legal system says a man may buy and rape children, we are obligated to permit it, allowing it to go on without interference.

    Under these claims, you believe that if the legal system says that you are to be imprisoned and then executed for apostasy, you must meekly present yourself for neck chopping.

    Civilizations do immoral things all the time, but somehow I doubt your panties got in such a bunch over the half million Iraqi children America starved to death in the 1990s.

    Obedience to unjust law is the basis of civilization. For the record, just because obedience to law is the mark of civilization does not mean I think all laws are “good” (assuming I think ANY law is good – a claim I’m not sure I can support) or equally necessary/worthwhile.

    We are not, in fact, obliged to obey when people demand that we turn over our innocent children for execution, or when we are told that we may not take a life-saving drug because it “has not yet been approved”, or when we are informed that we may not cross a “border” even though we will die if we do not, because “it is the law”.

    I never made any claim to the contrary.

  • That should read:

    And for the record, many/most of MY ancestors were wiped out in the Holocaust but…

  • Endivio Roquefort I,

    2. “Nobody has rights to anything. You can, of course, CLAIM that you have rights to your life, liberty, and property. Good for you, but just as an FYI: not everyone appears to agree with you.”

    Quite so. I do, of course, CLAIM that I have rights. This is because, as you correctly point out, no one else has any earthly reason to CLAIM them for me on my behalf, and as you later hint, if I didn’t go about CLAIMing them in this way, they wouldn’t even exist (see below). So yeah: I guess it’s down to me to do all the darn CLAIMING myself. It’s a hard life.

    To claim you have rights is not to have those rights.

    3. ” If you wish for everyone to enjoy equal benefits – such as those which come with access (free of coercion) to American soil, again I congratulate you. Again, though, not everyone values everyone as equally as you do. Some, for instance, value their family above friends, and their friends above countrymen, and their countrymen above foreigners. ”

    Let’s get this straight. The proposition that everyone in a community might be deemed to have equal rights fails not only because (a) there are no such “things” as rights (logical so far, although I’m mystified how you can trumpet the rule of law as “EXACTLY civilization”, while simultaneously arguing that far from everyone having the right to be treated equally under the law, no one has a right to any such thing, or to any darn thing at all) but also because (b) folks tend to like some folks more than other folks. This part of the argument falls down a little. Even the poor simpletons who dream up Bills of Rights and the like would, I suspect, see the flaw here. Quite simply, you don’t have to “value” people equally (who does?) to afford them equal rights. It’s apples and oranges.

    First of all, equality of treatment under the law and the rule of law are not NECESSARILY the same thing and, in fact, until the modern era were generally very different. Perhaps this clears up any mystification you’re experiencing.

    Second of all, to claim equal rights for everyone is not to get equal rights for everyone. Talk it cheap. The Declaration of Independence proudly declared that all men possess inalienable and equal rights by right of birth, but after the American Revolution was over did these men continue fighting for other peoples? They did not. Yes, one can claim that everyone has equal rights, as libertarians do. One can also point out that talk is cheap, as I’m doing now.

    Returning to the subject at hand: it seems to me to be just common decency, as well as not too difficult, to grant that others may wish to CLAIM the same innocuous rights I do

    Oh, I grant the fact that others wish to claim the same rights as you do.

    I’m happy with that. RLJ is not. It appears to annoy him intensely that anyone born in the Wrong Place might wish to make such a claim. This does not strike me as very civilized. Once again, I don’t expect you to be able to help out there, for obvious reasons.

    I’m not going to speak for RLJ, but I’ll make two points.
    1. Even IF everyone has natural rights to life, liberty and property does not mean everyone has the rights to enjoy the fruits thereof. And the means by which people are deprived of the fruits thereof are, in reality, sometimes coercive. I could offer reasons (good and bad, worthwhile and superfluous) why this might be so but I’m not sure you are here to learn – least of all about ugly reality.

    2. Nations exist. You may believe they should not or in any case not keep folks from coming and going as they please. What drives human action is generally percieved interests, not morals. Should anyone be able to do anything they want so long as they harm not another? Arguably yes, but even those who might concur with such a claim may be unwilling to sacrifice a degree of prosperity (even if only for a time) to more perfectly achieve this ideal. C’est la vie.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:

    Oh, so I hired the border police, Perry? Is every taxpaying American morally responsible for how their tax dollars are spent?

    No, only the people who advocate loudly for border police are responsible. As you are one of them, yes, it is partially your responsibility.

    Libertarianism is beautiful. Any set of beliefs about what should happen on a universal basis without reference to what does happen (or would happen otherwise/regardless) is perhaps a reasonable definition of religion. Religion, Perry, is often beautiful.

    All political positions imply a position on morality. Many people attempt to pretend the two are segregable — that they can propose any possible imposition on other people, from mandatory shoe colors to gulags — without it implying that they have suffered from any sort of moral taint.

    Such people feel proposing violence against others is entirely neutral provided it is done under the color of a law. “I am irritated that my neighbors are from another country. I am irritated that my other neighbors have sex on days of the week my religion opposes. There ought to be a law!” they say, and they then propose that someone else be taxed to pay for goons with guns to enforce this law they oh-so-neutrally desire.

    I do indeed suffer from the belief that ideas have consequences, that there are effects to laws, and that it is indeed not significantly better to propose that someone else beat up a person for merely walking down the street than it would be to beat someone up personally.

    There is, of course, no particular reason to favor peace over bloody conflict, life over death, joy in one’s fellow men over pain and suffering. There is no god, and the decisions we make on these subjects are purely matters of taste. My taste is indeed to see a world freed of such things, but if your taste is otherwise, so be it.

    If you wish to call my desire for a world where people live in peace and prosperity a “religion”, fine, that is my religion, and I admit there is no objective reason that people like you might not prefer a world where people can, in fact, be thrown into cages merely for renting an apartment with their own money or other things that would seem to be perfectly innocent.

    Just remember, however, when others choose to impose a sound, brutal and prolonged caning on you for violating some trivial and unjust edict that you have no real cause to complain. Indeed, I would claim that, as you have claimed that one is obliged to obey all laws, including unjust ones, that you should cheer at your own brutalization, provided, of course, that it is in accord with an unjust law.

    Yes it would appear to you that I support the Holocaust

    And yes, it does. Unfortunately, you find yourself in a bit of a bind here which you have tried unsuccessfully to escape. You have claimed, after all:

    Obedience to unjust law is the basis of civilization

    and later you stated:

    for the record, many/most of MY ancestors were wiped out in the Holocaust

    Well, then, you should feel glad. After all, they died supporting civilization, right? Their deaths were clearly necessary, yes? They should have marched themselves up to the gas chambers, cheering all the way for civilization, yes?

    I don’t feel this way, of course, but you must, or you must otherwise accept that your position is both repugnant and internally contradictory. I recognize that you will not accept this, but I am writing not for your benefit but for the benefit of others reading this.

    Civilizations do immoral things all the time, but somehow I doubt your panties got in such a bunch over the half million Iraqi children America starved to death

    You presume incorrectly. You see, I have this “religion” you despise, the one that you find too idealistic.

    We are not, in fact, obliged to obey when people demand that we turn over our innocent children for execution, or when we are told that we may not take a life-saving drug because it “has not yet been approved”, or when we are informed that we may not cross a “border” even though we will die if we do not, because “it is the law”.

    I never made any claim to the contrary.

    I’m afraid that in claiming that to be civilized is to obey unjust laws, you have estopped any other possible interpretation — unless you wish to further claim that you equate civilization with evil, of course. It is also possible, indeed likely, that you are simply contradicting yourself, and repeatedly.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    In the absence of nations and borders, free movement of peoples is exactly that, free. If there was no Philippines government imposing legislation on foreigners, for example, I would be able to buy their land and property and retire on my salary, and I would have less qualms about cheap labor from the Philippines coming here to compete successfully with me simply because they can afford a lower salary to retire on.

    However… in reality, people have a strange urge to form larger conglomerates, communities, and whatnot. These institutions, by default, require rules and laws to govern the behavior of those within them. I know it’s another tired old rehash of the Leviathan argument, but the end result is simply that because nations exist, governments exist to govern them, and people often demand their governments act in certain ways, often based on the very quaint notion that their children matter more than their cousins, their cousins matter more than somebody from the same race, and so on.

    For Perry’s ideal libertarian world to exist, everybody must adhere and fully understand the implications of that philosophy. Of course, children would need to understand that past a certain point, they are no more entitled to the rights and privileges of being born in a particular family – why, more worthy children could take their place at any time.

    I don’t think such a society would be possible as long as there exists other systems out there. There’s a reason why no such libertarian society has never been recorded in history – they were all wiped out by other competing institutions early on. If we would think about it in evolutionary terms, of the survival of the fittest, to breed/propagate, then libertarianism’s sheer absence says a lot about how robust it actually is.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “The Wobbly Guy” writes:

    For Perry’s ideal libertarian world to exist, everybody must adhere and fully understand the implications of that philosophy

    I doubt it. Is everyone in our society fully aware of how our legal system works? Is everyone fully aware even of how their own refrigerator works?

    The question is not whether everyone is fully aware of all the details of how the system they live under works, but rather whether the institutions that maintain the legal system are stable. Provided the feedback in the system supports rather than undermining their operation, it matters little if the average person is aware of how everything works, any more than it matters if the average person is aware of the details of how their car works and how the fuel for it is chemically prepared.

    Of course, children would need to understand that past a certain point, they are no more entitled to the rights and privileges of being born in a particular family – why, more worthy children could take their place at any time

    You and other participants in this discussion seem enamored with false and indeed preposterous analogies — first claiming that a country is somehow like an individual’s property, then claiming it is somehow a family.

    We have already disposed of the former, so let us be clear about the latter: a state is not family. A Prime Minister is not your father, he’s a thug who would happily sacrifice your life, liberty and property to the cause of his own political survival — he is not your protector, trying to assure the survival of his family line through your success, rather you are his victim, to be used to protect his success. The inhabitants of a region are not brothers and sisters under the watchful eye of their bureaucratic fathers and mothers, they’re just people who happen to live in a particular spot.

    Of course, were it a family, this would in no way guarantee any sort of privileged treatment. People are indeed free to cease to talk to their children, their parents or their siblings if they wish to. Parents may indeed leave their property to persons other than their children. If they decide that some charity or even a hobo they once met is more worthy, they may choose to give their worldly goods to that charity or hobo, and indeed, this has happened on many occasions.

    So, even if your analogy had any validity at all, it would still fail, as no one does, in fact, get guaranteed rights to an inheritance merely for being a member of a family. One wonders at how you could have been unaware of this.

    However, regardless, even though the analogy fails utterly to support your point, it is also not a valid analogy, so it is utterly unclear what benefit it provides to your argument.

  • Endivio Roquefort I

    “To claim you have rights is not to have those rights.”

    That would be correct with regard to legal claims. Moral claims fall into a different category. I decide my own morality, not the Law or the State. In that arena, I decide what rights I choose to defend for myself and others. Since there is no objective or empirical basis to any morality, that’s the best, or the worst, that any of us can do.

    3. “Yes, one can claim that everyone has equal rights, as libertarians do. One can also point out that talk is cheap, as I’m doing now.”

    It certainly is. I often wonder how far I would go to uphold a principle. I think I’m pretty consistent, though obviously can’t prove that. I don’t expect others to be so.

    ” 1. Even IF everyone has natural rights to life, liberty and property does not mean everyone has the rights to enjoy the fruits thereof. And the means by which people are deprived of the fruits thereof are, in reality, sometimes coercive. I could offer reasons (good and bad, worthwhile and superfluous) why this might be so but I’m not sure you are here to learn – least of all about ugly reality.”

    You’ll have to explain “the fruits thereof”. Are we talking welfare state or something else?

    The whole question of natural rights feels like a red herring. I got sucked into this because of RLJ claiming that Those People don’t have the “rights” that a “western baby” is somehow born with. Maybe it would have been easier to adopt your approach, that Babies and Rights don’t belong in the same sentence (and the latter, in any sentence). As far as I can tell, the Those People argument is now over, since RLJ seems to have given up the point. But please, feel free to inform me about ugly reality. Given my present charmed existence, I’m sure I have a lot to learn on the subject.

    “2. Nations exist. You may believe they should not or in any case not keep folks from coming and going as they please. What drives human action is generally percieved interests, not morals. Should anyone be able to do anything they want so long as they harm not another? Arguably yes, but even those who might concur with such a claim may be unwilling to sacrifice a degree of prosperity (even if only for a time) to more perfectly achieve this ideal. C’est la vie.”

    As I said, I do not seriously expect anyone to agree with me regarding any of my moral views – *except here* (clearly, that last proviso was naïve in the extreme). Still less do I expect anyone to act in accordance with them. Why should they? The non aggression principle is an intellectual curiosity subscribed to by a miniscule number of eccentrics in a very few countries, and clearly, it will never win any votes or change any constitutions, still less be widely practised. I don’t think there’s any disagreement there, or ever was. Did you have any other point beyond this?

  • Rich Rostrom

    Two comments:

    1) I had thought discussions here were relatively immune to Godwin’s Law.

    2) “Smash all racist borders now!” is a slogan of that well-known libertarian group, the Progressive Labor Party.

  • I submitted a rather lengthy response to Perry Metzger but it seems to have been smitten/smote. Too bad. I wonder if this comment will even appear.

  • Perry de Havilland/powers that be – it this a case of my comment awaiting approval? Just curious as I hope I did not lose the thoughts contained…

    FWIW it contained no curses, only characteristically charming prose :P

    (Editor’s note: Hmmm, you do not seem to have any comments pending so looks like the internet gremlins ate it. Very odd!)

  • Jordan

    1) I had thought discussions here were relatively immune to Godwin’s Law.

    Invoking “Godwin’s Law” is just a rhetorical ploy to shut down debate. Sometimes analogies to Nazism have their place.

    2) “Smash all racist borders now!” is a slogan of that well-known libertarian group, the Progressive Labor Party.

    Speaking of rhetorical ploys to shut down debate, I hear Hitler liked dogs.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Jordan @May 25, 2014 at 12:51 am: Invoking “Godwin’s Law” is just a rhetorical ploy to shut down debate.

    Or to rebuke over-the-top rhetoric and re-establish civility.

    Sometimes analogies to Nazism have their place.

    Very, very, very rarely.

    >2) “Smash all racist borders now!” is a slogan of that
    >well-known libertarian group, the Progressive Labor Party.

    Speaking of rhetorical ploys to shut down debate, I hear Hitler liked dogs.

    Liking dogs is not a policy issue. Hitler’s liking for dogs was unrelated to his noxious policies.

    Open borders is a policy issue. The PLP (and a vast array of other leftist anti-libertarian forces) support open immigration because they see it as consistent with their other noxious policies.

    On this issue, libertarians and libertarian-minded conservatives have provided their enemies with valuable cover. I don’t think it’s improper to remind them who they’re getting in bed with.

  • Jordan

    Or to rebuke over-the-top rhetoric and re-establish civility.

    There’s nothing over the top or uncivil in informing someone whose political philosophy is essentially “legality = morality” that that sort of morality can justify any state sanctioned atrocity.

    I don’t think it’s improper to remind them who they’re getting in bed with.

    No, it is a logical fallacy. Either freedom of movement is justified on its own merits, or it’s not.

  • No, it is a logical fallacy. Either freedom of movement is justified on its own merits, or it’s not.

    Exactly so.

  • rosenquist

    Open borders is a policy issue. The PLP (and a vast array of other leftist anti-libertarian forces) support open immigration because they see it as consistent with their other noxious policies.

    On this issue, libertarians and libertarian-minded conservatives have provided their enemies with valuable cover. I don’t think it’s improper to remind them who they’re getting in bed with.

    The PLP support decriminalizing cannabis, therefore anyone who supports decriminalizing cannabis is ‘getting into bed with’ the PLP. Do you not see how absurd this argument is?

  • Rich Rostrom

    Britain (like the United States, and France, and the Netherlands, among others) has received large numbers of immigrants in recent years. Has the presence of this immigrant population done anything to advance libertarian principles such as free expression, property rights, or economic liberty?

    My impression (which of course may be wrong) is that these immigrants have, overwhelmingly, provided political and cultural support for attacks on these principles.

    Is it sane, or delusional, for libertarians to advocate a policy which if carried out would permanently defeat everything else they stand for?

    And just one last question, to put this into real-world terms: is it wrong for Israel to restrict immigration to Jews and exclude Arabs?

  • Nick (Blame The French) Gray

    As a minarchist, I can accept border controls. I suppose anarcho-capitalists would be compelled to argue for totally-open borders (if they accepted the idea of borders). But wouldn’t only other anarcho-capitalists move to such a society?

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Congratulations to the UK for their strong support for UKIP in their recent Euro-elections. Now, if the trend would continue for their parliamentary elections…

    As a minarchist, I can accept border controls. I suppose anarcho-capitalists would be compelled to argue for totally-open borders (if they accepted the idea of borders). But wouldn’t only other anarcho-capitalists move to such a society?

    Nope. Such a society would have some pretty obvious advantages, being nimble and capable of very significant levels of economic progress, leading to higher standards of living in short order. Anarcho-capitalists usually comprise of smart people, and having a high level of human capital will propel the nascent state/community forward.

    But with surging prosperity, there are several threats. The first – neighboring states will turn a jealous eye and ask, “Can we take that prosperity for ourselves?” If the community has no defence, they might well find themselves conquered and the fruits of their labour stolen.

    Second threat – Peoples from other states will flock to the anarcho-paradise for jobs and opportunities, regardless of whether they believe in the anarcho-capitalist ideal in the first place. Enough of them, and they might swamp the original anarcho-capitalists… While crime rates rise and tensions increase…

    The anarcho-capitalists flee to another land, while what they have built is gradually torn asunder by peoples who do not have the ability to maintain what the anarcho-capitalists have built.

    Actually, I just realized I may have described Detroit.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “The Wobbly Guy” writes:

    But with surging prosperity, there are several threats. The first – neighboring states will turn a jealous eye and ask, “Can we take that prosperity for ourselves?” If the community has no defence, they might well find themselves conquered and the fruits of their labour stolen.

    You appear to be under the misapprehension that an anarchocapitalist society would lack defense mechanisms. It would not. Indeed, we might presume that, unlike the defense forces provided by States, which often pay thousands of dollars for toilet seats (because, after all, who can stop their procurement officials from so doing), those provided by the market would likely be far more effective and far more efficient.

    Second threat – Peoples from other states will flock to the anarcho-paradise for jobs and opportunities, regardless of whether they believe in the anarcho-capitalist ideal in the first place. Enough of them, and they might swamp the original anarcho-capitalists… While crime rates rise and tensions increase…

    You are presuming that a society in which law enforcement is performed not as a secondary effect of providing tax-funded employment to police officers but as a primary service offering of competitive organizations that there would be “rising crime” and the rest.

    Really, of course, if I might be so bold, your underlying message appears to be this: if you let them into your country, well, we all know who they are, we need not be so vulgar as to mention [insert disfavored ethnic group here] by name, nudge nudge, wink wink, they will go on rampages, undermining the society of good [insert favored ethnic group here] people, raping our women (who we know to be more desirable and who members of [disfavored ethnic group] are incapable of resisting), killing our men (who, in spite of their astonishing superiority to those of [disfavored ethnic group], are incapable of defending themselves against the brutish, near ape-like members of [disfavored ethnic group]), etc. It is therefore vital that we fear the other, as he lacks our superior moral fiber, our greatly honed and evolutionarily superior intelligence, our sense of good behavior.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Nick (Blame The French) Gray writes:

    As a minarchist, I can accept border controls.

    “Minarchists” are those who believe in a “night watchman” state, authorized only to enforce the NAP. (They believe that although markets are possible in all other things, that market failure would result if one attempted to place security, adjudication, etc. in the hands of private enterprise, but otherwise wish to retain as minimal a state as possible.)

    Note that enforcement of the NAP implies the NAP. On what basis do you believe border controls are compatible with the NAP?

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Rich Rostrom writes:

    Britain (like the United States, and France, and the Netherlands, among others) has received large numbers of immigrants in recent years. Has the presence of this immigrant population done anything to advance libertarian principles such as free expression, property rights, or economic liberty?

    Britain (like the United States, and France, and the Netherlands, among others) has permitted large numbers of people to buy intoxicating liquors in recent years. Has the presence of this trade done anything to advance libertarian principles such as free expression, property rights, or economic liberty?

    I say not!

    Clearly, banning alcohol would therefore be entirely in keeping with libertarian principles, since it cannot be shown that permitting its sale does anything to advance free expression or property rights.

  • Mr Ed

    What a lot of ‘I’m a purer Libertarian than thou urinating higher up the wall/in the snow’ I am seeing here.

    Does anyone wish to debate, accept any limitations of their viewpoints or wish to concede anything? Some clearly, others not.

  • Endivio Roquefort I

    “Does anyone wish to debate, accept any limitations of their viewpoints or wish to concede anything? Some clearly, others not.”

    I think it’s a debate worth having. I’m up for it. But in any such debate the first thing is to find out what consensual first principles can be taken for granted. I don’t know if any can, here. Which surprises me slightly, but then I’m not a regular.

    I’ve seen “law=morality” (a bizarre viewpoint IMO, but perhaps one of those heat of the moment things that one writes quickly and repents of at leisure. Tell me about it).

    I’ve seen “whatever can be assumed to advance the cause of the Future Libertarian State is good.” I don’t believe there will ever be any Future Libertarian State, so I get off here.

    I’ve seen “I wouldn’t want to live next door to Romanians”. Not here, but I have seen it. I wonder what a Critically Rational Individualist Perspective might have to say about that.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Mr. Ed writes:

    What a lot of ‘I’m a purer Libertarian than thou urinating higher up the wall/in the snow’ I am seeing here.

    Does anyone wish to debate, accept any limitations of their viewpoints or wish to concede anything? Some clearly, others not.

    I’m willing to concede many things, but first, someone needs to make an argument that isn’t incredibly weak.

    I have to say that I’m incredibly unimpressed with the quality of argumentation I’ve seen here. We’ve had “group X also favors open immigration and they are bad therefore the policy would be bad” (logical fallacy), “keeping people out of the country is just like keeping them off my property” (not a reasonable argument unless you own the whole of the country), “allowing people in is anti-libertarian” (not an argument, merely an assertion, and a bizarre one unless one can argue from libertarian principles about why this might be so, which was never attempted), “if we let people in, they might get government benefits” (perhaps true, but not an argument against immigration, as the immigrants are not responsible for the coercion that brings them benefits, and also no different from “if we legalize drugs, people might get state benefits for medical treatment of the deleterious effects”), “if we let just anyone in, they might vote for socialism” (why is this not also an argument for mandatory abortion for non-libertarian families, and why isn’t this actually an argument against democracy?), “they are breaking the law, and civilization requires that we obey all laws, including unjust ones” (easily seen to justify some of histories worst democides and other horrors), etc. I may have missed some, feel free to point them out.

    Across all of this, no one has yet addressed, in any effective way, the central point I’ve made, which is: if you are a libertarian, by what libertarian means may you prevent someone from hiring a third party, regardless of their origin, or renting a home to them, regardless of their origin? By what libertarian means may one exclude someone from someone else’s property, rather than your own?

    Generally I find the level of opposition on a topic substantially better quality than this. There is, perhaps, a genuine and difficult to oppose libertarian argument to be made here, but so far, I have not seen a hint of it, and under those circumstances, I don’t see why I would wish to concede anything. One alters one’s beliefs in the light of interesting new evidence, not in the light of mediocre opposition.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Endivio Roquefort I writes:

    I’ve seen “I wouldn’t want to live next door to Romanians”. Not here, but I have seen it.

    I believe references to phrases like “human biodiversity” and explanations to the effect that foreigners don’t share “our” values are, in fact, code for “I wouldn’t want to live next to [insert group]“, and we’ve seen those in this discussion.

  • On what basis do you believe border controls are compatible with the NAP?

    As a minarchist I favour border controls. If people intend to cross the border as members of a Panzer division, for example, I am very much in favour of having some artillery, tanks and aircraft around to discourage that. However that is pretty much the extent to which I support border controls.

  • oh and I do not want to live next to a bunch of thieving Romanian thugs looking to mix a bit of state intermediated tax plunder with a bit of private sector plunder. But then I also do not want to live next to a bunch of thieving English, Welsh or Scottish folks doing the same either, so I am just being consistent ;-)

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Perry de Havilland writes:

    As a minarchist I favour border controls. If people intend to cross the border as members of a Panzer division, for example, I am very much in favour of having some artillery, tanks and aircraft around to discourage that. However that is pretty much the extent to which I support border controls.

    As an anarchist, I support having the precise same set of “border controls”. I would not necessarily use that term for them, and I would prefer to have them privately paid for and operated, but we would otherwise seem to be in perfect agreement on this point.

  • Endivio Roquefort I

    Perry de Havilland:

    Your consistency does you credit.

    Actually, I meant to write “I wouldn’t want to live next door to Rothbardians”. This seems to be a recurring theme in this thread. Not having read Rothbard, I don’t know whether I’m a Rothbardian or not, but just in case, I would welcome some guidance on how not to be a Rothbardian, or how to look less like one, or how to atone for being one if it turned out to be one of those unalterable genetic things you just have to learn to live with, like being born in Bucharest.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Endivio Roquefort I”: as it happens, I’m not a Rothbardian myself, though I’m highly sympathetic to many of his positions. However, I think that simply being a libertarian is, in itself, sufficient to cause a permanent stain upon the soul.

    People are forever telling you to be “practical” when you make a moral argument, and when you turn to a pragmatic argument about consequences they inform you that you are too much of a believer in cold theoretical concerns and insufficiently caring about people. When you show them examples of your ideas in action in the real world, they tell you their own country is too unlike the other one, or that you must be mistaken, or that their own data, from an entirely irrelevant instance, is superior.

    You are told that you always give the same, boring, tired argument when asked about some sort of state intervention, are told that you have no positive suggestions to offer on how we might aid social progress, that you are a naysayer, and narrow-minded.

    There is only one cure, which is to abandon all knowledge of reality and principles, and then “compromise”, which is to say, accept your opponent’s position completely.

  • If that isn’t a ‘quote of the day’, I don’t know what is.

  • Nick (Blame The French) Gray

    My version of minarchism is one I call ‘Co-Autonomy’. If you choose to be a citizen, the price would be that for eleven months of the year, you would be a part-time volunteer in some area of community service, such as fire-fighting, road-patrols, rescue services, etc. For one month of the year, you would be one of the 1/12th of all local citizens directly governing your local council, by majority voting, but your laws would only affect public lands, such as roads, town halls, and borders. A part-time government, and part-time bureaucracy.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    @PerryM

    You appear to be under the misapprehension that an anarchocapitalist society would lack defense mechanisms. It would not. Indeed, we might presume that, unlike the defense forces provided by States, which often pay thousands of dollars for toilet seats (because, after all, who can stop their procurement officials from so doing), those provided by the market would likely be far more effective and far more efficient.

    Is there any empirical evidence whether defense provided by the free market can be more effective than that provided by the state? And how would we define free market defense in such a way that makes it easily distinguishable from state-funded and state-controlled defense?

    At some level of organisation, you need a centralized bureaucracy (there’s that evil word again) to coordinate the various small militias for economies of scale (I’ve found a concept called Lanchester’s Law which tries to explain this).

    If free market defense is, as you say, more effective, why couldn’t we find it in the world today?

    You are presuming that a society in which law enforcement is performed not as a secondary effect of providing tax-funded employment to police officers but as a primary service offering of competitive organizations that there would be “rising crime” and the rest.

    How would competitive organisations offering policing services decrease the crime rate resulting from increased immigration? How does that make it more effective than a single police entity bound by agreements to the free market institutions? I can see how this works: let’s say the immigrants are hired by different companies in different areas of the land. The companies set up a series of agreements with the various free market police organisations to punish various offences by their employees. In serious cases, even deportation.

    All good. But I do note that it’s more reactive than preventive. Hey, they burned down the house and get deported. What happens when the next batch of immigrants burn down another house?

    *shrugs*

    Really, of course, if I might be so bold, your underlying message appears to be this: if you let them into your country, well, we all know who they are, we need not be so vulgar as to mention [insert disfavored ethnic group here] by name, nudge nudge, wink wink, they will go on rampages, undermining the society of good [insert favored ethnic group here] people, raping our women (who we know to be more desirable and who members of [disfavored ethnic group] are incapable of resisting), killing our men (who, in spite of their astonishing superiority to those of [disfavored ethnic group], are incapable of defending themselves against the brutish, near ape-like members of [disfavored ethnic group]), etc.

    You’ll be surprised. Sometimes it can be more than ethnicity. Check out Singapore, its dominant ethnicity, and how it thinks of its co-ethnics from the PRC. And the India-Indians too. And who are both, incidentally, not steeped at all in our highly effective internal propaganda of co-existence and racial tolerance.

    I’d rather trust a fellow Indian or Malay Singaporean who has served his National Service than a co-ethnic from PRC who is liable to abandon our nation at the first sign of trouble.

    Other than that, your point is correct. I fear the other and what they can or cannot bring to us. If they bring tolerance, important skills, knowledge, and a willingness to abide by our social contract, all and good. If they are just out to make a buck from us, and can do so cheaply simply because they don’t have to worry too much about high living costs in retirement in their own countries, we should seek to even the odds.

    It is therefore vital that we fear the other, as he lacks our superior moral fiber, our greatly honed and evolutionarily superior intelligence, our sense of good behavior.

    Not to mention willingness to sacrifice for our nation in the form of two years of National Service. Understanding the differences between our various races, religions and beliefs, and strong belief in our social creed of meritocracy, pragmatism, and tolerance. Specific to my country, but I think people everywhere have their own internal checklists of what they want their newcomers to have, eh?

    UK for the British! And I agree completely with that sentiment.

    We keep telling our government to have a checklist and point system for our immigration and citizenship policy similar to that of Australia and Canada, but they have refused for years, opting for an opaque system that is infinitely worse and often makes no sense, just so they can continue to get people in and new citizens to vote for them. Wasn’t that a labour party tactic?

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “The Wobbly Guy” asks:

    Is there any empirical evidence whether defense provided by the free market can be more effective than that provided by the state?

    Yes. All defense is ultimately a question of degree. Whether one person stealing in the night, or a gang of five robbing a store, or a gang of hundreds, or thousands, in the end, it is a question of scale.

    As it happens, were I to go to the police in my neighborhood and inform them of a break-in to my car, even though the overwhelming majority of people who perform such acts are repeat offenders with fingerprints on file, even though they fail in most cases to wear gloves, they would laugh at me if I suggested that they dust for fingerprints, find the criminal and arrest them, even though doing so would take a repeat offender off the streets and save countless others from similar crimes. They would do so because their job isn’t working for me, it is working for the state, which is to say, for no one. I am not the customer.

    You ask if there is any empirical evidence for a free market defense alternative, and indeed there is. My apartment building complex hires its own security guards, because we cannot rely upon the police. The result is that it has been decades since the last successful burglary at our buildings — a record nearby buildings without private guards cannot match. This is clearly a substantial improvement over the local “public” security apparatus.

    Does this mean the market provides only for small groups of guards who can only handle encounters with individual thugs? No. If your operation faces larger groups, you can hire such firms as Academi (formerly Blackwater), which provide trained military personnel in large groups for handling encounters with hundreds (or more) thugs. Historically, even larger organizations have existed.

    And how would we define free market defense in such a way that makes it easily distinguishable from state-funded and state-controlled defense?

    That seems fairly straightforward again. The same way we define a free market provided telephone service over a state PTT, or a free market privately owned train over a state “owned” train, or a free market provided sandwich.

    At some level of organisation, you need a centralized bureaucracy (there’s that evil word again) to coordinate the various small militias for economies of scale (I’ve found a concept called Lanchester’s Law which tries to explain this).

    I assure you that many private companies exist that provide services in the market even though they need to construct elaborate internal organizations in order to coordinate their activities — everything from international container shipping firms to automobile manufacturers. There is nothing about being a private, competitive agency that requires that you avoid being organized. Indeed, one finds that the organization of private firms that face competition is far more effective and efficient than that of state-“owned” monopolies.

    If free market defense is, as you say, more effective, why couldn’t we find it in the world today?

    We do. As I noted, my own apartment complex uses free market defense, oil installations in third world countries with unstable governments often hire private military detachments, etc. Even though it is difficult to compete with “free”, we still see some use of private guards, just as we see some students sent to private schools even though state “free” schools do not cost the user any additional money to use.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “The Wobbly Guy” asks:

    How would competitive organisations offering policing services decrease the crime rate resulting from increased immigration?

    You’re making quite a presumption there. New York City, my home, is about 40% “foreign” immigrants (that is not a misstatement, look it up) many of them quite poor and from countries you doubtless disfavor, and an overwhelming majority of the remaining population was born far away, though putatively from “inside” the same country. (My wife was not born in New York and neither are most people I encounter — I’m unusual in being a native.)

    However, in spite of this, we have a crime rate that is very low by US standards, by far the lowest of any large city in the country, and I’m much less likely to encounter street crime in New York City than I am in a variety of places that you would doubtless feel have done an admirable job of dealing with the Great Immigrant Menace.

    That said, we presume that since competitive security services have to satisfy their customer, that is, the actual person paying the bills who potentially suffers from crime, and since we have excellent evidence from the field that competitive security services are far better at managing the task than “public” ones (in addition to my anecdotal evidence, see Benson’s “The Enterprise of Law” if you want actual statistical studies on the subject), that they might be up to the entirely theoretical task of dealing with increased crime from the Great Immigrant Menace.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    We do. As I noted, my own apartment complex uses free market defense, oil installations in third world countries with unstable governments often hire private military detachments, etc. Even though it is difficult to compete with “free”, we still see some use of private guards, just as we see some students sent to private schools even though state “free” schools do not cost the user any additional money to use.

    In New York City. Ultimately defended by the US military and the NYPD.

    *shrugs*

    Okay, if you say so.

    New York City, my home, is about 40% “foreign” immigrants (that is not a misstatement, look it up) many of them quite poor and from countries you doubtless disfavor, and an overwhelming majority of the remaining population was born far away, though putatively from “inside” the same country. (My wife was not born in New York and neither are most people I encounter — I’m unusual in being a native.)

    Yawn, 40% ‘foreign’ when there is some significant degree of commonality amongst those foreigners.

    My country has almost 40% REAL foreigners, who sing different anthems and have different ultimate loyalties when push comes to shove. There was a riot by Indians last year, which only served to highlight the rising tensions here. Lots of property damaged, etc. Ho hum… the cost of opening our borders, I guess. No big deal, right?

    I’m much less likely to encounter street crime in New York City than I am in a variety of places that you would doubtless feel have done an admirable job of dealing with the Great Immigrant Menace.

    Compared to Singapore? The Chinese have a saying about toads and wells… Other than the aforementioned riot, our crime and security statistics are amongst the very best in the world. As also evinced by the riot, immigrants and the free movement of labour into our country is a significant threat to those metrics.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “The Wobbly Guy” writes:

    In New York City. Ultimately defended by the US military and the NYPD.

    I think I already explained that the NYPD won’t actually defend your home against particularly much. If they did, we wouldn’t have private security.

    Yawn, 40% ‘foreign’ when there is some significant degree of commonality amongst those foreigners.

    My country has almost 40% REAL foreigners, who sing different anthems and have different ultimate loyalties when push comes to shove.

    I take it that “commonality” is your codeword for “White Europeans”. No, as it happens, our immigrants aren’t all, or even mostly, White Europeans. Our immigrants come from every corner of the globe, and are mostly from the “third world”. There are over 200 languages spoken in this city. We have huge populations from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. There are huge sections of Queens, like Jackson Heights, where you will find people speaking in a dozen languages on the street, none of them English.

    So, no, your presumption is incorrect.

    I’m much less likely to encounter street crime in New York City than I am in a variety of places that you would doubtless feel have done an admirable job of dealing with the Great Immigrant Menace.

    Compared to Singapore?

    Singapore has low taxation, a far better economic policy, and a different legal system. It would not be an apples-to-apples comparison. The apples-to-apples comparison would be against another US city that has few immigrants, and we beat all of them. Again, New York City has the lowest crime rate among large cities in the US, and beats many small cities as well.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    By the way, I would be curious what country you live in. Only the UAE has a population that is anything above 20% foreign born. So far as I’m aware, New York City is (outside the UAE) the city in the world with the highest foreign born population. You claim you live in a place where 40% are foreign born, however, so I presume you are not in the United Kingdom.

  • Nick (Blame The French) Gray

    I have heard that London has a high percentage of foreign-born citizens, as does my own Sydney, and Darwin, and Perth. My minarchist system, described earlier, would be a good way of integrating different peoples into one, as they would all be training together and voting together, so you could spark a real community spirit around a shared principle of sharing government tasks. Just a thought.

  • Plamus

    Perry Metzger: as I said, I am in an awkward situation of supporting policies I despise, but since you like hypotheticals, here is one (and I am not just trolling you, I swear) – I hope the analogy will be obvious:

    You have a college education, work hard, make sensible saving/investment decisions, don’t have more children than you can provide for, etc. You make $100 a year working alone in a labor camp – no other options, it’s a condition imposed at the barrel of a gun, take it or leave. You are being held hostage by a racketeer whom you cannot fight off who takes $30 of your earnings. Said racketeer also tells you “We can allow other people in the labor camp, but each must make at least $50/year (so they can generate $15 worth of “tax”, and if they don’t, every dollar of shortfall will be taken out of your income, because everyone in the camp must have $15 (fixed amount!) worth of education, healthcare, unemployment insurance, etc. Do you want us to shut the gate, or keep it open?”

    Would you ask to shut the gate – no apriori information? Would you ask to shut the gate if you can reasonably expect the next person through the gate to be able to generate only $20 a year? Would you shut the gate if the next person, in addition to only generating $20 a year, would vote to let their cousin in, who generates $0? Mind, those two can end up indeed being a net contributors in the long run… or they may not, see French banlieues?

    Short version: I sincerely agree with your theoretical premise, but how do you reconcile it with reality, where we have an ugly status quo which is well-nigh unbudgeable, and a decision has to be made now, and not in the long run when our libertarian ideals kick in, and people begin behaving rationally? Not blaming immigrants is fine, being taxed to death to support them – a lot less so. By your logic, my opposition to unrestricted immigration is not my moral failing, but that of my oppressors, since I was coerced into that choice, no?

    Cheers!

  • Endivio Roquefort I

    Plamus:

    I think the term is Morton’s Fork. There’s a nice example in A Matter of Life and Death, where Niven’s character is asked “would you die for her?”

    “Yes, but I’d rather live.”

    Applied to the present case: “Yes, let ‘em in, but I’d rather not play your divide and rule tax shuffling game.”

    “That’s not an option. You have to play it.”

    “So why you askin’ me then?”

    Being realistic, no one is going to force you at gunpoint to work in a labor camp and then offer you genuinely meaningful choices about how it should be run.

    They may, however, use blackmail and threats to try to gain your acquiescence and some semblance of passive, reluctant support.

    If they’re successful, I guess you end up “supporting policies you despise”.

  • Perry Metzger,

    There is, of course, no particular reason to favor peace over bloody conflict, life over death, joy in one’s fellow men over pain and suffering. There is no god, and the decisions we make on these subjects are purely matters of taste. My taste is indeed to see a world freed of such things, but if your taste is otherwise, so be it.

    There is a Creator. Order, the congruence of expectations, incentives, and interests, is the principle towards which society necessarily strives. Man wisely loves peace, for it is the temporal manifestation of order – oh, and that’s why one ought to favor peace over bloody conflict, Perry.

  • Perry Metzger,

    If you wish to call my desire for a world where people live in peace and prosperity a “religion”, fine, that is my religion, and I admit there is no objective reason that people like you might not prefer a world where people can, in fact, be thrown into cages merely for renting an apartment with their own money or other things that would seem to be perfectly innocent.

    My take on these matters was once as simple as proclaiming that a) violation of life, liberty, and property is immoral/harmful and then b) nobody should do it and we should discourage others from doing it. Then I read Mencius Moldbug:

    Now, I love libertarians to death. My CPU practically has a permanent open socket to the Mises Institute. In my opinion, anyone who has intentionally chosen to remain ignorant of libertarian (and, in particular, Misesian-Rothbardian) thought, in an era when a couple of mouse clicks will feed you enough high-test libertarianism to drown a moose, is not an intellectually serious person. [...] On the other hand, it is hard to avoid noticing two basic facts about the universe. One is that libertarianism is an extremely obvious idea. The other is that it has never been successfully implemented. [...] So this is why I decided to build my own ideology – “formalism.” [...] The basic idea of formalism is just that the main problem in human affairs is violence. The goal is to design a way for humans to interact, on a planet of remarkably limited size, without violence. Especially organized violence. Next to organized human-on-human violence, a good formalist believes, all other problems – Poverty, Global Warming, Moral Decay, etc, etc, etc – are basically insignificant.

    Eminently sensible! Favoring mere policies to achieve such an end leaves one either with libertarianism or the lesser of two evils. After much deliberation (actually, about one CNN segment on Obamacare) I recognized that the latter drifts ever-leftward by nature and the former, Perry, loses in democracy not in spite of its axioms but because of them. Then I deliberated on how one might design a government whereby libertarianism might not fail by design – and somewhere along that (exceedingly!) bold quest I realized I’d missed the whole point.

    I found that the U.S. Constitution is written in the precise, exact language an engineer might dictate the dimensions of an engine to be constructed – as if, were a single word misplaced, the whole edifice of governance might collapse. Such an approach to governance betrays a naiveté dwarfed by few rebellions against hierarchy.

    A sage spoke to me:

    God has warned us that he has reserved the formation of sovereignties to himself by never entrusting the choice of their masters to the masses. Never do they get what they want; they always accept, they never choose. If the phrase is excused, it could even be called an affectation of Providence that the very attempts of a nation to attain its objects are the Providential means of frustrating it. Thus the Roman people gave itself masters whilst thinking it was struggling against the aristocracy following Caesar. This is the epitome of all popular insurrections. In the French Revolution, the people have continually been enslaved, insulted, exploited, mutilated by every faction, and these factions in their turn, playthings all of them, have continually drifted with the stream, in spite of all their efforts, to break up finally against the reefs awaiting them.

    Oh, so that’s how governments, you know, happen!

  • Perry Metzger,

    Just remember, however, when others choose to impose a sound, brutal and prolonged caning on you for violating some trivial and unjust edict that you have no real cause to complain. Indeed, I would claim that, as you have claimed that one is obliged to obey all laws, including unjust ones, that you should cheer at your own brutalization, provided, of course, that it is in accord with an unjust law.

    I find it difficult to refute the notion that all law in unjust. Nobody is obliged to do anything, but their believing makes it so. Submission to authority is the mark of civilization. Think on these words, Perry.

    Well, then, you should feel glad. After all, they died supporting civilization, right? Their deaths were clearly necessary, yes? They should have marched themselves up to the gas chambers, cheering all the way for civilization, yes?

    Perry, thine heart is pure, so pure! Please recognize that the world is not black and white. Know that had I been there I’d have relieved quite a few Nazi bodies of their heads, believe me you. Submission to unjust authority is the mark of civilization. That does not mean those who perished in the Holocaust supported civilization or that their deaths were necessary or that they should have cheered for civilization.

    Have you any other juvenile claims about what my observations about what IS suggest regarding what I think OUGHT to be?

    One may favor civilization in the abstract while not one’s particular civilization. One may not favor civilization in the abstract but be rather fond of his own particular civilization.

    One may believe that laws are divine and ought to be obeyed but not obey some of the laws in his own nation. One may not believe that laws are divine and ought to be obeyed but nonetheless obey all the laws of his own nation.

    Out of the crooked timber of humanity nothing straight was ever made.

    The violence you so valiantly (and bravely!) oppose would occur with less frequency and severity in the world my pronouncements lead to as compared to the world yours lead to.

    Consider another perspective.

    Joseph de Maistre:

    It is certainly true, in an inferior and crude sense, that sovereignty is based on human consent. For, if any people decided suddenly not to obey, sovereignty would disappear; and it is impossible to imagine the establishment of a sovereignty without imagining a people which consents to obey. If then the opponents of the divine origin of sovereignty want to claim only this, they are right, and it would be quite useless to dispute it. Since God has not thought it appropriate to use supernatural agents in the establishment of states, it is certain that all developments have come about through human agencies. But saying that sovereignty does not derive from God because he has made use of men to establish it is like saying that he is not the creator of man because we all have a father and a mother.

    Every theist would no doubt agree that whoever breaks the laws sets his face against the divine will and renders himself guilty before God, although he is breaking only human ordinances, for it is God who has made man sociable; and since he has willed society, he has willed also the sovereignty and laws without which there would be no society.

    Thus laws come from God in the sense that he wills that there should be laws and that they should be obeyed. Yet these laws come also from men in that they are made by men.

    In the same way, sovereignty comes from God, since he is the author of all things except evil, and is in particular the author of society, which could not exist without sovereignty.

    However, this same sovereignty comes also from men in a certain sense, that is to say insofar as particular forms of government are established and declared by human consent.

    The partisans of divine authority cannot therefore deny that the human will plays some part in the establishment of governments; and their opponents cannot in their turn deny that God is preeminently the author of these same governments.

    It appears then that the two propositions, Sovereignty comes from God and Sovereignty comes from men, are not absolutely contradictory, any more than the other two, Laws come from God and Laws come from men….

    Magnificent.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    I somehow appear incapable of posting the link to Moldbug’s glorious Formalist Manifesto or even embedding the URL in a word. Probably quite a feat. SO the quote above from moldbug describing his journey from pure, young libertarian to Sith Reactionary can be found by googling “Moldbug Formalist Manifesto” for anyone who cares, which is quite possibly nobody, sadly.

  • Perry Metzger,

    I think I already explained that the NYPD won’t actually defend your home against particularly much. If they did, we wouldn’t have private security.

    The NYPD has played an instrumental role in NYC’s low rate of crime. The NYPD does enormous good and will help people, protect people, and defend people’s property. We do have private security for a variety of reasons. That the NYPD “won’t actually defend your home against particularly much” is.. simply wrong. That there are private security firms does not mean the NYPD does not have quite a significant role in NYC’s low crime rate.

    I take it that “commonality” is your codeword for “White Europeans”. No, as it happens, our immigrants aren’t all, or even mostly, White Europeans. Our immigrants come from every corner of the globe, and are mostly from the “third world”. There are over 200 languages spoken in this city. We have huge populations from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. There are huge sections of Queens, like Jackson Heights, where you will find people speaking in a dozen languages on the street, none of them English.

    So, no, your presumption is incorrect.

    NYC is one of the largest and most segregated cities on earth. There are whole insular communities, even cities of themselves within NYC. Perry, come back once this racial map of NYC looks a bit less like a symptom of voluntary (but no less strict!) racial segregation.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2010/09/color_map_of_new_york_city_by.html

  • Plamus

    Endivio: not so much Morton’s Fork as the Trolley Problem.

    “Being realistic, no one is going to force you at gunpoint to work in a labor camp and then offer you genuinely meaningful choices about how it should be run.” – I suppose I should not have used “labor camp”, from which you are prevented to leave, although I did indicate that leaving is an option. In the modern world, however, leaving one country only places you in another country, where another government goes after your income and wealth – yes, at gunpoint. The welfare state taxpayers are the 5 men in the trolley setup, the immigrant is the one man on the alternate track, and the gov’t is driving the trolley, and refusing to hit the brakes – that is, stop welfare. The only difference is that the 5 men are allowed limited input into (or maybe just an opinion on) the decision. Your options are:
    1) Yelling “Hit the brakes!” while knowing it’s not going to happen
    2) Yelling “Turn to the other track!” – selfish, but some argue justifiable at least on utilitarian grounds.
    3) Yelling “Save that one man!”, while knowing full well you’re taking a hit, and dooming 4 others to the same – noble… or is it?

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Plamus: I suppose my answer is pretty easy. If the country, oh pardon, “labor camp”, is so bad that it enforces a maximum wage, I’d flee anyway, as somewhere else is better, and I doubt that anyone would voluntarily want to enter in the first place, so the problem of open entry isn’t realistic as no one would choose to enter.

    In our real situation — in the United States or United Kingdom — we are not living in zero sum economies. Migrants generally increase the pool of labor, thus increasing the opportunity for specialization, and thus improving everyone’s lives, not making them worse. In any case, although we are taxed, we are, in general, left free to pick our own professions and compete for employment at a fairly (though not ideally) free market rate of pay.

    Regardless, however, when I read your first thought experiment, my immediate reaction was “I would flee, and who would want to come in to the camp in the first place?”

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Shlomo Maistre writes:

    There is a Creator. Order, the congruence of expectations, incentives, and interests, is the principle towards which society necessarily strives. Man wisely loves peace, for it is the temporal manifestation of order – oh, and that’s why one ought to favor peace over bloody conflict, Perry.

    Actually, there is no creator. At the very least, you can present me with no evidence of one, and I am not the sort who believes in things without evidence (and I would strongly contend that no one else should, either).

    Also, there is no “society” that has “interests” no matter what the socialists say. “Society” does not reason, it does not feel pain, it does not make decisions, it does not “strive”.

    There are simply a large number of individuals, each of whom is a thinking and reasoning entity. I am one of those individuals, and I care about my values, not yours. “Order” is perhaps a value to you, but I don’t care one bit about “order”, and I doubt you can conduct some sort of experiment which will “prove” that I should, any more than you can prove that your mythical “Creator” exists.

    Of course, you began by claiming that there is, indeed, a “Creator”. If so, then morality is certainly a real thing, and you are advocating for a manifestly immoral position. If you don’t believe me, read, say, Huemer’s “The Problem of Political Authority”.

    I would worry were I you, as this means you may spend an eternity in hell, being roasted for your concern for “Order” over justice. No moral system that I am aware of is capable of retaining internal consistency while asserting that people are obliged to cooperate with being arbitrarily beaten and thrown in cages for violating manifestly unjust laws (which you contend they are obliged to obey regardless — a manifestly immoral position.)

    However, as I don’t believe in your mythical “creator”, and as I actually care about morality instead of worshiping “Order” and telling people they must meekly submit regardless of how obscene the “law”, I doubt I have much to worry about.

    I find it ironic that the person who contends that there is a “Creator” is the advocate in this discussion for treating humans as mere instrumentalities (a manifestly immoral position that is implied by your position on “society” and “order”), for advocating order over justice (a manifestly immoral position), etc., while the atheist is advocating for morality and justice. That said, the irony is not an accident — once one permits an irrational idea like a “creator” into one’s philosophical system and has accepted inconsistencies in reasoning at the very core of one’s ideas, one can “prove” almost any idea to be true. Take a false premise as an axiom, and you can prove any proposition…

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:

    The NYPD has played an instrumental role in NYC’s low rate of crime.

    I find no compelling evidence for this. No one has a particularly definitive theory on why crime rates have fallen radically over the last 20 or so years in the US. There are a variety of hypotheses, of course — everything from the legalization of abortion to the ban on leaded gasoline — but no one as yet can really show any of them is correct. Perhaps someday, but not now.

    The NYPD is a stunningly incompetent organization, as most state organs are, and I find it hard to believe a group that refuses an opportunity to catch repeat offenders and put them behind bars because it would be too much work (not a theoretical question) and which routinely hassles ordinary citizens for invented offenses is behind the decline. I cannot prove it isn’t, of course, as no one knows what actually is behind the decline — but you don’t know what’s behind the decline either, and have no more evidence than I do, and until you can prove it one way or another, you cannot confidently state “the NYPD has played an instrumental role in NYC’s low rate of crime” as you have no way to demonstrate it.

    Note that even if your claim were true, that does not mean private organizations could not happily substitute for the NYPD. The true statement “the state-operated telephone company in the UK played an instrumental role in delivering telephone calls for decades” does not mean that a private set of competing telephone companies would not have been superior.

    Either way, then, your comment is irrelevant.

  • Perry Metzger,

    Also, there is no “society” that has “interests” no matter what the socialists say. “Society” does not reason, it does not feel pain, it does not make decisions, it does not “strive”.

    There is society; society has interests. Society does tend towards order (strive was perhaps the wrong word). And leaders of societies make decisions that directly impact the whole of society.

    Of course, you began by claiming that there is, indeed, a “Creator”. If so, then morality is certainly a real thing, and you are advocating for a manifestly immoral position.

    LOL This immoral position I advocate to which you refer – is that my claim that there is a Creator or my confession that I’d have relieved Nazi necks of their heads? Instead of trying to malign me perhaps you should consider being specific, staying on point, and debating the issue instead of products of your imagination?

    I would worry were I you, as this means you may spend an eternity in hell, being roasted for your concern for “Order” over justice. No moral system that I am aware of is capable of retaining internal consistency while asserting that people are obliged to cooperate with being arbitrarily beaten and thrown in cages for violating manifestly unjust laws (which you contend they are obliged to obey regardless — a manifestly immoral position.)

    Adorable. I never once said that people are obliged to cooperate with being arbitrarily beaten and thrown in cages. I thought you’d stop making unfounded claims about my values, but as you have continued I’ll return the favor: were we both alive and kicking in Germany during WWII you’d have been explaining to the Schutzstaffel that their policies violate natural rights/libertarianism, while I’d have been removing Nazi heads from Nazi necks. You’re the one with the manifestly immoral position by your own standards, but don’t let internal contradictions get in the way of maligning someone whose views you don’t understand and are unwilling to deliberate upon.

    However, as I don’t believe in your mythical “creator”, and as I actually care about morality instead of worshiping “Order” and telling people they must meekly submit regardless of how obscene the “law”, I doubt I have much to worry about.

    Where have I said that people must meekly submit regardless of how obscene the law is? Where Perry??

    You have failed to respond to the points raised by Mencius Moldbug in the quote above. He has experienced intellectual journey from pure libertarian to Reactionary in a way that you might learn from.

    You Perry continue to operate under the delusion that merely repeating the libertarian line minimizes actions that violate natural rights – or you are sufficiently sanctimonious to not care. Perhaps BOTH! So sad.

  • Obedience to law is the mark of civilization.

    Were I alive in Germany in 1943 I pray I’d have had the balls to remove Nazi heads from Nazi necks.

    Should I have also done so in 1941? Yes.

    1925? Probably no.

    What about between 1925 and 1941? Perry?

    Is there a MAGICAL line that exists where the PURE AND PERFECT LIBERTARIAN WOULD SWITCH from polemics to head removals? What sets of circumstances would justify this change in behavior? Where is the LINE Perry?

    There is no line.

    Man does not and should not act according to ONLY some ultimate principle like libertarianism. So, while obedience to law is the mark of civilization – one can recognize that reality and also think civilization is good, but still NOT OBEY THE LAW because man usually does act and should act according to factors beyond lofty, universal principles such as for instance self interest and other lofty, universal principles.

    Some people, Perry, snapped in 1933; some in 1938; some in 1941; some (far too many) never snapped – perhaps some segment of those who never snapped tried to live according to lofty, universal principles.

  • Perry Metzger,

    Well, then, you should feel glad. After all, they died supporting civilization, right? Their deaths were clearly necessary, yes? They should have marched themselves up to the gas chambers, cheering all the way for civilization, yes?

    In light of rereading this disgusting and repulsive comment regarding my ancestors who perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, I’ll have you know that YOU have proven yourself again and again in this comment thread to be SUFFICIENTLY SANCTIMONIOUS AND IDEALISTIC that had you been around in 1941 Germany you’d have explaining to Jews the principles of peace, of libertarianism, of non-initiation of force, of natural rights, of dialogue and debate – all the way to the showers of Auschwitz. I’d have been puncturing Nazi aortas.

    One more thing. You have concluded that I think people SHOULD obey unjust law based on my statement that obedience to unjust law is the mark of civilization.

    Needless to say (see puncturing of aortas noted above) I don’t think one should obey unjust laws (or any laws necessarily – but baby steps, Perry – that discussion is beyond the scope of our current discussion which due to your polemics has unfortunately devolved to a rather juvenile level) just because I know that obedience to unjust law is the mark of civilization.

    See, you appear to think that once one (say for instance Shlomo Maistre) utters a universal claim about the world that the observation NECESSARILY is the sole factor in his other views as well because you operate according to such a juvenile and blockheaded approach yourself, but instead of obedience to unjust law as the unifying principle – individual rights/libertarian theory.

    Do not project your method of thinking on others – some of us are rather more nuanced.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:

    In light of rereading this disgusting and repulsive comment regarding my ancestors who perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, I’ll have you know that YOU have proven yourself again and again in this comment thread to be SUFFICIENTLY SANCTIMONIOUS AND IDEALISTIC that had you been around in 1941 Germany you’d have explaining to Jews the principles of peace, of libertarianism, of non-initiation of force, of natural rights, of dialogue and debate – all the way to the showers of Auschwitz. I’d have been puncturing Nazi aortas.

    He also writes:

    Obedience to unjust authority is the very basis of civilization.

    Personally, I can conclude only one thing from this, which is that “Shlomo Maistre” does not believe that having a consistent viewpoint is important, and arbitrarily chooses his position depending on the situation — claiming that “the Rule of Law” is all-important one minute, talking of how he would be “puncturing Nazi aortas” the next.

    I, however, do feel consistency in one’s position is actually valuable, at least, if one wishes to be able to use one’s position to make rapid judgements in novel situations, which is a large fraction of why we have moral codes.

    As it happens, my ancestors did not perish in the Holocaust, because they did not believe “obedience is civilization”. My father did the rational thing when he faced the choice. He first left Germany for France in 1933, and later, after France was invaded, he became an “illegal immigrant” to Switzerland — he literally walked across the border in the night. Violated the rule of law, behaved in an uncivilized manner, and all that. Survived, though, and here I am today thanks to his “illegal” behavior. (I would, of course, have had no moral problem with him employing retaliatory force against Nazis, but he was one man, not an army, and he would not have survived the attempt. His solution to the problem proved correct.)

    My father had a good friend in New York that I met when I was a lad, a gentleman who, in the 1930s, decided that he too was going to be an uncivilized violator of the rule of law, or at least, would be uncivilized by the lights of one “Shlomo Maistre”. The fellow bought a ticket on a ship for New York, knowing he had no visa. As it arrived in the harbor, he literally jumped off of it and swam to shore. He remained in the US without papers, marrying and raising a family, until the Reagan Administration’s “amnesty program”. (I’d name him but, even though I believe he’s dead, it is not my place to do so.)

    A number of people in this thread so far would have sent him back, to his certain death, and would have sent my father back, to his certain death. Myself, I don’t see that anyone is morally required to cooperate with their own death, or to respect or obey anyone who means to see them dead.

    “The Rule of Law” is vital in situations where the law is reasonable and just, of course. It is required for certainty when executing a contract that it will be enforced, for people to have reasonable certainty about torts being redressed. However, when applied to things that should never have been crimes in the first place, be it smoking the leaves of the wrong plant or walking into a town, renting an apartment and taking a job, it is merely an excuse for people who want to use the force of the state to harm others to claim their will must be carried out.

    In short, when applied in this context, “rule of law” is merely an excuse to insist that others (“agents of the state”) should use violence to enforce your personal tastes, and that others (“taxpayers”) should be forced to provide the resources for these whims of yours. It is, in short, an excuse for bigotry, cowardice, and robbery. This is the very opposite of civilization.

    To “Shlomo Maistre”, obedience is civilization. To me, just laws that are worth obeying are civilization.

    You are all of course free to pick which horse to back, but I’ll tell you this right now: should I someday need to cross a border in the night to save my family, I’m ignoring all of you, and if I find that someone I know has crossed a border in the night, I’m not turning them in.

  • Perry Metzger,

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:

    In light of rereading this disgusting and repulsive comment regarding my ancestors who perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, I’ll have you know that YOU have proven yourself again and again in this comment thread to be SUFFICIENTLY SANCTIMONIOUS AND IDEALISTIC that had you been around in 1941 Germany you’d have explaining to Jews the principles of peace, of libertarianism, of non-initiation of force, of natural rights, of dialogue and debate – all the way to the showers of Auschwitz. I’d have been puncturing Nazi aortas.

    He also writes:

    Obedience to unjust authority is the very basis of civilization.

    Personally, I can conclude only one thing from this, which is that “Shlomo Maistre” does not believe that having a consistent viewpoint is important, and arbitrarily chooses his position depending on the situation — claiming that “the Rule of Law” is all-important one minute, talking of how he would be “puncturing Nazi aortas” the next.

    Two things:

    1. Obedience to law is the mark of civilization – a positive statement; about WHAT IS with regards to everyone UNIVERSALLY.
    2. I should have been puncturing Nazi aortas – a normative statement; about WHAT SHOULD be with regards to myself PARTICULARLY.

    You may disagree, but personally aorta puncturing does not seem to me to be terribly civilized. And while running from the Holocaust might be in one’s interest, it also doesn’t really solve the problem.

    I can’t imagine sinking any more seconds into this thread.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:

    1. Obedience to law is the mark of civilization – a positive statement; about WHAT IS with regards to everyone UNIVERSALLY.
    2. I should have been puncturing Nazi aortas – a normative statement; about WHAT SHOULD be with regards to myself PARTICULARLY.

    I have to confess that, again, I’m one of those weird people with ideas about consistency who thinks that if something applies universally, that means it applies to each instance.

    You may disagree, but personally aorta puncturing does not seem to me to be terribly civilized.

    On the contrary, if a man came up to me intent upon doing me violence when I had done him none, using force to prevent him from carrying out his plan would seem perfectly in keeping with civilization. Otherwise, after all, we would have no disincentive to the initiation of violence and we would see more rather than less of it with time.

    The game theory is simple, after all — if you let crime pay, there will be more criminals. The morality seems simple, too — a person cannot consistently argue that the use of force against him is wrong if he himself is in the midst of breaking the peace by initiating violence against the peaceful.

    So, I see nothing uncivilized about enforcing the non-aggression principle.

    That does not mean, of course, that it is always the best idea personally to respond to the initiation of force with force rather than alternatives (such as retreating), but it is always a moral and entirely civilized option that is open to you under such circumstances should you judge that you wish to use it.

  • Perry Metzger,

    “Shlomo Maistre” writes:

    1. Obedience to law is the mark of civilization – a positive statement; about WHAT IS with regards to everyone UNIVERSALLY.
    2. I should have been puncturing Nazi aortas – a normative statement; about WHAT SHOULD be with regards to myself PARTICULARLY.

    I have to confess that, again, I’m one of those weird people with ideas about consistency who thinks that if something applies universally, that means it applies to each instance.

    POSITIVE STATEMENTS:
    A) Obedience to law is the mark of civilization.
    B) Gravity is the mark/symptom of masses separated by distance.

    NORMATIVE STATEMENTS
    A) I should have been relieving Nazi necks of Nazi heads in 1942 Germany.
    B) USA version: I should have thrown the football to Perry Metzger instead of running for a first down as he was wide open in the touchdown zone. UK version: I should have chipped the soccer ball/football over the head of Ronaldo to Perry Metzger instead of taking a shot on goal as he was open by the far post.

    Although normative statements A and B are actions that temporarily violate positive statements (and universal laws) A and B respectively, the positive statements are still true in general – and will be PROVEN TRUE EVENTUALLY. The universal laws by which the mortal realm abides are temporal laws (positive statement A for example) or natural laws (positive statement B). Temporal laws are inherent in the human condition; natural laws are inherent in the physical world. But both are true; both are observable; both will be obeyed willingly or otherwise – EVENTUALLY.

    The football throw is a PARTICULAR THAT IS SUBJECT TO THE UNIVERSAL law of gravity and the football I throw would have returned to the ground at some point.

    The Shlomo Maistre resistance in 1941 Germany is a PARTICULAR THAT IS SUBJECT TO THE UNIVERSAL law of sovereignty and my resistance would have ended at some point.

    TWO OUTCOMES OF GRAVITY LAW EXAMPLE:
    Lets say my throw/pass to you Perry Metzger worked: TOUCHDOWN!!!! GOOOOOAAAALLL!!! We win. Still the football/soccer ball is on the ground. Universal law is obeyed.
    Lets say my throw/pass to you Perry Metzger failed: Ronaldo somehow beat us. Still the football/soccer ball is on the ground. Universal law is obeyed.

    TWO OUTCOMES OF SOVEREIGNTY LAW EXAMPLE:
    Lets say my resistance movement worked: Shlomo Maistre defeated the Nazis – my movement is no longer the resistance but the sovereign power. Universal law is obeyed.
    Lets say my resistance movement failed: the Nazis somehow beat me. The Nazis remain the sovereign power. Universal law is obeyed.

    I just dumped another 15 minutes into this thread. Oy vey.