Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Against Stockholm libertarianism

We should repeal all of America's 20,000-odd "gun control" laws. But of course, we can't do that ... until we've eliminated homicide.

We should close down the war on drugs. But of course, we can't do that ... until we've scourged away every last vestige of the human desire for intoxication.

We should eliminate Social Security. But of course, we can't do that ... until all its current and future payees lie a-mouldering the grave, having never missed a monthly check.

If I put any of these propositions up for debate, my fellow libertarians would make short work of me. They'd have my head on a platter. It would be easy, because all three of the propositions are ridiculous on their faces.

Under the present welfare system, a vote for open borders is a vote for higher taxes for all. Someday, the Libertarian message of peace, liberty, and prosperity reach [sic] the entire world. All people will then enjoy the freedom and high standard of living we take for granted. In that day, immigration and open borders will be non-issues.

Sound familiar? That's George Phillies, candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

We must secure our borders before we can deal with the issue of how to deal with illegal immigrants already in our country.

Heard something like that somewhere before? That's Wayne Allyn Root, candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

Physically secure our borders and coastlines. We must do whatever it takes to control entry into our country before we undertake complicated immigration reform proposals. ... taxpayers should not pay for illegal immigrants who use hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, and social services.

Ring a bell? Hey, it's Ron Paul, Republican presidential nomination candidate. I'm including him because despite his recent born again hard claims to represent conservativism, most libertarians regard him as one of our own.

It's not just presidential candidates, of course.

The problem with so many libertarian formulations is that they do not respect reality. Rather, they hold up the libertarian ideal, lament its unattainablility, and refuse to debate the issue until the ideal is achieved. That's intellectually lazy. It's also an affront to reality, the rational man's anchor.

And the reality is that the American welfare state is accreting, not shrinking. The reality is that the more libertarians support the importation of impoverished minorities, with a tradition of aggressively manipulating the political apparatus to obtain property not theirs --the more intractable the welfare state will become.

-- Ilana Mercer, "The work open-border libertarians won't do," at Free Market News Network

This is what is evident in the current debate about illegal immigration: The welfare state is the underlying fundamental problem. Until that system is abolished, until a revolutionary change occurs and no Peter is looted for the sake of any Paul -- whether poor, rich, legal or illegal -- there will be no solution to the illegal immigration problem.

-- Tibor R. Machan, "Welfare state and illegal immigration," in the Orange County Register

In a world with radically different levels of economic freedom (and thus of economic prosperity), relatively free and prosperous nations cannot allow completely unrestricted immigration without risking serious socioeconomic disruption.

-- Brian Holtz, "Iraq Exit, Social Security, and Immigration," Knowing Humans

Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a hostage situation.

It's a neat scam, this holding of one positive reform hostage, while around the corner your political enemies hold its counterpart hostage as well. You won't let your hostage go until they let their hostage go. And they won't let their hostage go until you let yours go (and they'd really rather you didn't).

No muss, no fuss -- you've both successfully avoided responsibility. They've avoided doing something they don't want to do anyway, you've avoided doing something you claim you want to do but are looking for an excuse not to advocate. It's the pleading prayer of St. Augustine -- Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo! -- cleverly disguised as practical political necessity.

There are probably as many extant definitions of libertarianism as there are libertarians (even "Zero Aggression Principle" libertarians often disagree on what course that principle dictates in various circumstances). Among the strangest of those definitions is this "I stand for freedom -- just as soon as those other guys do, and not a moment before" nonsense.

As popular as Know-Nothing bullshit -- festooned with "I'd love to advocate immigration freedom, but first you have to convince that guy over there to give up his food stamps" hostage-taking camouflage -- seems to have become in what passes for a libertarian movement these days, I'm surprised we're not all running into each other at Stockholm Syndrome Survivor conventions. Fortunately, there's a cure.

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