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

The sort of dependence that results from exchange, i.e., from commercial transactions, is a reciprocal dependence. We cannot be dependent upon a foreigner without his being dependent on us. Now, this is what constitutes the very essence of society. To sever natural interrelations is not to make oneself independent, but to isolate oneself completely.

– Frederic Bastiat

18 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Yes! Exactly. Thank you for posting this.

    I want to share this quote with every so-called champion of free markets here in America who opposes immigration on the basis of his narrow jingoism, or off-shoring jobs that he claims are somehow intrinsically meant for him.

  • Roue le Jour

    Presumably about American Isolationism?

    Far more relevant to welfare, I would have thought.

  • Eric

    Wes, you can’t have both a welfare state and unrestricted immigration. I would like to see the end of the welfare state, but that doesn’t look politically possible.

  • cjf

    All states are welfare states. The distinction is in whose welfare is favored. States act as facilitators and highwaymen, often at the same time.

    Always been a global economy, whenever the population is large enough.

    When a business sells stock on the exchanges, it is called “going public” When government outsources to it they call it “privatization”.

  • Laird

    Fair enough, cjf, but that addresses neither Wes Messamore’s observation nor Eric’s rebuttal. And Eric is correct: if you have a pervasive welfare state (which is undeniably what the United States has become) you can’t afford to permit unfettered immigration. Eliminate the welfare state and unlimited immigration would be a boon to the economy and welcome (absent blatant racism, as with the exclusion of asians in the 19th century). Unfortunately, a welfare state attracts too many of precisely the wrong type of immigrants (parasites, rather than productive workers). Our welfare system isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future, so the only possible way of preventing total economic collapse is to limit immigration*. This isn’t “narrow jingoism”, it’s economic survival.

    * Which isn’t, of course, to argue that our current system of “limiting” immigration (to the extent it does so at all) is rational, only that the concept is.

  • RRS

    It does seem folks are putting something of an odd twist on Bastiat’s notes on interdependence elements necessary to sustain “Free Trade.”

  • cjf

    Bastiat’s quote lends itself to twist by oversimplification
    Human nature precludes free anything, including trade.
    Even the well-oiled machine is operated by sufficiently
    greased palms. People play the cards they hold.
    Usually that card is obstruction.

    Trade is what happens, while many (often not directly
    involved) people are making other plans.

    The problem is illegal government; not illegal immigrants (a contradiction in terms).

  • Laird

    “The problem is illegal government”

    No argument there, but until that changes (as in, never) we’re still going to have to deal with the economic consequences of immigration for parasitic purposes.

    not illegal immigrants (a contradiction in terms).

    Not so. If the concept of a “country” is to have any real meaning, it necessarily includes the ability to exclude “undesirables”, however that term is defined. If you’re advocating completely open borders you are advocating the abandonment of any meaningful concept of “statehood” (and you are deluded). On the other hand, if you accept the right of a country to exclude from its borders any single individual, for any reason whatsoever, then anyone who violates that rule and enters the country anyway is, by definition, acting illegally and is therefore an “illegal.” Whether he is an illegal “immigrant” or merely an illegal “alien” depends upon his purposes for entering the country, but both are perfectly valid terms.

    We can argue about the basis for excluding any particular person, and even conclude that such basis is irrational or inappropriate, but flaws in application do not diminish the validity of the fundamental concept.

  • If you’re advocating completely open borders you are advocating the abandonment of any meaningful concept of “statehood” (and you are deluded).

    OK, I’ll bite. Why am I deluded? I have always held that countries are a pain in the butt and the sooner we can get rid of them, the better. This view is unpopular now, but I calculate it might become popular enough to implement in, say, about two or three hundred years’ time. Do you have any argument as to why this should not be so?

  • If you’re advocating completely open borders you are advocating the abandonment of any meaningful concept of “statehood”

    Works for me.

  • Rob

    Great quote. Must read more Bastiat.

    I know whht your saying about there being no statehood and I empathise. However, the worry is that in practice you actually just get one fuck off big worldwide state. This offers no competition between states in terms of freedom, taxation, monetary value or rule of law.

    One of the greatest checks on the power of states is that a free state will attract people, businesses and therefore wealth from less free states. Even the indigenous businesses will be more competitive and demonstrate the errors of the statist states.

    This is the main reason why the socialists are almost all internationalist now.

    Better to have many states to choose from and to be individually free from the burden of nationalism and therefore free to choose the free-est state.

  • M

    So, how long would Israel last if it opened its borders to all of its Arab neighbours?

  • Laird

    Rob beat me to it.

    And in any event, the pie-in-the-sky dream of “no countries” is irrelevant to the question of how to deal in the real world with the problem of an unresticted flow of immigrants into a welfare state.

  • All the easier to shoot them all at once.

  • Um, that was in response to M.

  • Laird

    Glad you clarified that, Alisa!

  • Paul Marks

    The quotation from Bastiat shows how utterly false it is to claim that libertarians believe in “atomistic individualism”.

    On the contrary libertarians greatly support voluntary cooperation and the building up of the institutions of civil society.

    But there is the rub, VOLUNTARY cooperation, CIVIL society.

    Not the “cooperation” based on force and the fear of fores that is the real defintion of the statist project.