In this video, I make my case against open borders. Open border advocates have been doubling down since Hoppe’s talk was released. In it he suggested a halt of mass immigration.
The common argument for open borders is that it is in violation of the NAP to prevent an immigrant from crossing the border. Confused libertines claim that freedom of movement applies here, but, of course, there is no such thing as freedom of movement according to private property norms. In a society based on private property, there is no freedom of movement, only permissibly granted movement by property owners. Of course, you may move freely on your own property.
Open borders libertarians miss the mark. While it may require force to stop someone from immigrating, the original act of aggression or violation of property rights was the act of the state taxing people to fund the development of public property and infrastructure.
Because the state uses stolen resources to fund public property development and infrastructure, the state can’t possibly grant unrestricted access to public property by opening its borders. It isn’t the state’s property to give away. It isn’t unowned property or a general condition of human action, such as air.
Whether we like it or not, public property is a means. Roads and other infrastructure are means to attaining ends. Because public property is in fact means, not a general condition, it is a scarce resource that is subject to private property norms. Because it is scarce, it can be exclusively possessed and accessed. It should be clearer now that public property is not the property of the state, or unowned property, but the property of tax victims.
Austrian economics offers this great insight: To quote Rothbard in Man, Economy, and State, “action does not necessarily mean that the individual is ‘active’ as opposed to ‘passive,’ in the colloquial sense.” For the state to not enforce the borders is in fact action by the state. Refusing to enforce borders is just as much an action as halting immigration. Therefore, if the state were to have open borders, this would be an action constituting an unjust transfer of resources, namely public property, from victims of taxation to an unlimited number of immigrants.
Such a proposal should be laughed at by any libertarians who understand private property rights to be the foundation of libertarianism.
To be clear, this isn’t a consequential argument that it’s better to have closed than open borders for the sake of citizens. My argument is that open borders is logically inconsistent with libertarian ethics.
If you still don’t agree, follow the chain of the transfer of property. Tax dollars are taken from citizens without permission, making it an illegitimate transfer. Tax dollars are invested in public infrastructure by the state. By granting unrestricted access to public infrastructure with an open border policy, the state would be unjustly inviting newcomers onto property that they do not have a claim to.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe outlines specific steps in a populist strategy for libertarian change in his highly-anticipated 2017 talk for the Property and Freedom Society. He does not disappoint. Watch the video below and/or read my transcription in the video notes.
“Now, taking our cues from the Buchannan, the Ron Paul, and the Trump movement, on to the specifics of a populist strategy for libertarian change. In no particular order except for the very first one, which has currently assumed the greatest urgency in the public mind:
Stop mass immigration. The waves of immigrants currently flooding the Western world have burdened it with thwarts of welfare parasites, brought in terrorists, increased crime, led to the proliferation of no-go areas, and resulted in countless ‘bad neighbors’; who, based on their alien upbringing, culture, and tradition, lack any understanding and appreciation of liberty and are bound to become mindless future supporters of welfare statism. No one is against immigration and immigrants per se, but immigration must be by invitation only. All immigrants must be productive people and hence, be barred from all domestic welfare payments. To ensure this, they or their inviting party must place a bond with the community in which they are to settle and which is to be forfeited and lead to the immigrant’s deportation, should he ever become a public burden. As well, every immigrant-inviting party or employer should not only pay for the immigrant’s upkeep or salary, but must also pay the residential community for the additional wear and tear of its public facilities that is associated with the immigrant’s presence, so as to avoid the socialization of any and all costs incurred with his settlement. Moreover, even before the admission, every potential immigrant invitee must be carefully screened and tested not only for his productivity, but also for cultural affinity or ‘good neighborliness,’ with the empirically predictable result of mostly, but by no means exclusively, Western-wide immigrant candidates. And, any known communist or socialist of any color, denomination, or country of origin must be barred from permanent settlement. Unless, that is, the community where the potential immigrant wants to settle officially sanctions the looting of its residents’ property by new foreign arrivals, which is not very likely to say the least, even with already existing ‘commie’ communities. Now, a brief message to all open border and ‘liberlalala’ libertarians who will surely label this – you guessed it – as fascist. Now, in a fully privatized libertarian social order, there exists no such thing as a right to free immigration. Private property implies borders and the owner’s right to exclude at-will. And, public property has borders as well. It is not unowned property, it is the property of domestic taxpayers and most definitely not the property of foreigners. While it is true that the state is a criminal organization and that to entrust it with the task of border control will inevitably result in numerous injustices to both domestic residents and foreigners, it is also true that the state does something when it decides not to do anything about border control. And that, under the present circumstances, if the state won’t do anything about border control, that this will lead to more and much graver injustices in particular to the domestic citizenry than any other policy.
Stop attacking, killing, and bombing people in foreign countries. A main cause, even if by no means the only one, of the current invasion of Western countries by hordes of alien immigrants are the wars initiated and conducted in the middle east and elsewhere by the United States ruling elites and their subordinate Western puppet elites. As well, the by now seemingly normal and ubiquitous terrorist attacks in the name of Islam across the Western world are in large measure a blow-back of these wars and the ensuing chaos throughout the middle east and northern Africa. There should be no hesitation on our part to call these Western rulers responsible for this for what they really are: murderers or accessories to mass murder. We must demand and cry out loud instead for a foreign policy of strict non-interventionism, withdraw from all international and supranational organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, and the European Union that intricate one country into the domestic affairs of another. Stop all government-to-government aid and prohibit all weapons sales to foreign states. Let it be America first, England first, Germany first, Italy first, Turkey first, and smaller Bavaria first, and Venito first, and so forth. Each country trading with one another and no one interfering in anyone else’s domestic affairs.
Defund the ruling elites and its intellectual bodyguards. Expose and widely publicize the lavish salaries, perks, pensions, side deals, bribes, and hush monies received by the ruling elites, by the higher-ups in government and governmental bureaucracies of supreme courts, central banks, secret services, and spy agencies, by politicians, parliamentarians, party leaders, political advisors and consultants, by crony capitalist public educrats, university presidents, provosts, and academic stars. Drive home the point that all of their shining glory and luxury is funded by money extorted from taxpayers and consequently urge that any and all taxes be slashed; income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, inheritance taxes, and on and on.
End the Fed and all central banks. The second source of funding for the ruling elites, besides money extorted from the public in the form of taxes, comes from the central banks. Central banks are allowed to create paper money out of thin air. This reduces the purchasing power of money and destroys the savings of average people. It does not and cannot make society, as a whole, richer. But, it redistributes income and wealth within society. The earliest receiver of the newly-created money, that is usually the ruling elites, are thereby made richer and the later and latest receiver, that is the average citizen, are made poorer. The central bank’s manipulation of interest rates is the cause of boom-bust cycles. The central bank permits the accumulation of ever-greater public debt that is shifted as a burden onto unknown future taxpayers or is simply inflated away. And as a facilitator of public debt, the central banks are also the facilitators of wars. This monstrosity must end and be replaced by a system of free, competitive, banking built on the foundation of a genuine commodity money such as gold and silver.
Abolish all affirmative-action and non-discrimination laws and regulations. All such edicts are blatant violations of the principle of the equality before the law that, at least in the West, is intuitively sensed and recognized as a fundamental principle of justice. As private property owners, people must be free to associate or disassociate with others; to include or to exclude; to integrate or to segregate; to join or to separate; to unify and incorporate or to disunite, exit, and secede. Close all university departments for black, Latino, women, gender, queer, studies and so forth, as incompatible with science and dismiss its faculties as intellectual imposters and scoundrels. As well, demand that all affirmative-action commissars, diversity and human resource officers from universities down to schools and kindergartens, be thrown out onto the street and be forced to learn some useful trade.
Crush the ‘anti-fascist’ mob. The trans valuation of all values throughout the West, the invention of ever-more victim groups, the spread of affirmative-action programs, and the relentless promotion of political correctness has led to the rise of an ‘anti-fascist’ mob. Tacitly supported and indirectly funded by the ruling elites, this self-described mob of ‘social justice warriors’ has taken upon itself the task of escalating the fight against ‘white privilege’ through deliberate acts of terror directed against anyone and anything deemed ‘racist,’ ‘right-wing,’ ‘fascist,’ ‘reactionary,’ ‘incorrigible,’ or ‘unreconstructed.’ Such enemies of progress are physically assaulted by the ‘anti-fascist’ mob, their cars are burned down, their properties are vandalized, and their employers are threatened to dismiss them and ruin their careers. All the while, the police are ordered by the powers that be to stand down and not to investigate the crimes committed or persecute and punish the criminals. In view of this outrage, public anger must be aroused and there must be clamoring far and wide for the police to be unleashed and this mob beaten into submission. Now, a query again for ‘liberlalala’ libertarians and the ‘stupids for liberty’ who are sure to object to this demand on the ground that the police asked to crush the ‘anti-fascist’ mob are state police. Question to them: do you also object on the same grounds that the police arrest murderers or rapists? Aren’t these legitimate tasks performed also in a libertarian order by private police? And, if the police are not allowed to do anything about this mob, isn’t it ok then that the target of these attacks, namely the so-called ‘racist right,’ should take the task upon itself of giving the social justice warriors a bloody nose?
Crush the street criminals and gangs. In dispensing with the principle of the equality before the law and awarding all sorts of group privileges, except to the one group that I mentioned, the ruling elites have also dispensed with the principle of equal punishment for equal crime. Some state-favorite groups are handed more lenient punishment for the same crime than others and some especially favorite groups are simply let run wild and go practically unpunished at all, thus actually and effectively promoting crime. As well, no-go areas have been permitted to develop where any law enforcement has essentially ceased to exist and where violent thugs and street gangs have taken over. In view of this, public furor must be provoked and it be unmistakable demanded that the police crackdown quick and hard on any robber, mugger, rapist, and murderer, and ruthlessly clear all current no-go areas of violent gang rule. Needless to say that this policy should be colorblind, but if it happens to be as it in fact is, that most street criminals or gang members are young black or Latino males or in Europe, young immigrant males from Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, or Eastern Europe, then so be it in such human specimen then should be the ones that most prominently get their noses bloodied. And, needless to say also that in order to defend against crime, whether ordinary street crime or acts of terrorism, all prohibitions against the ownership of guns by upstanding citizens should be abolished.
Get rid of all welfare parasites and bums. To cement their own position, the ruling class has put the underclass on the dole and thus made it the most reliable source of public support. Allegedly to help people rise and move up from the underclass to become self-supporting actors, the real and actually intended effect of the state’s so-called ‘social policy’ is the exact opposite. It has rendered a person’s underclass status more permanent and made the underclass permanently grow and with this, of course, also the number of tax-funded social workers and therapists assigned to help and assist this group for in accordance with exact economic law, every subsidy awarded on account of some alleged need or deficiency produces more, not less, of the problem that it is supposed to alleviate or eliminate. Thus, the root cause of the person’s underclass status, that is, his low impulse control and high time preference, that is, his uncontrolled desire for immediate gratification and the various attendant manifestations of this cause, such as, permanent unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, divorce, female-headed households, out-of-wedlock births, rotating checkup male companions, child abuse, negligence, and petty crime is and are not alleviated or eliminated, but systematically strengthened and promoted. Instead of continuing and expanding the increasingly unsightly social disaster, it should be abolished and loudly demanded that one takes heed of the biblical exhortation that he who can, but will not work also shall not eat and that he who truly cannot work due to severe mental or physical deficiencies be taken care of by family, community, and voluntary charity.
Get the state out of education. Most, if not all, social pathologies plaguing the contemporary West have their common root in the institution of public education. When the first steps were taken well more than 200 years ago in Prussia to supplement and ultimately replace a formerly completely private system of education with a universal system of compulsory public education, the time spent in state-run schools did in most cases not exceed 4 years. Today, throughout the entire Western world, the time spent in institutions of public education is at a minimum around 10 years in many cases and increasingly so, 20 or even 30 years. That is, a large or even the largest part of time during the most formative period in a person’s life is spent in state-funded and state-supervised institutions whose primary purpose from the very beginning, it was not to raise an enlightened public, but to train good soldiers and later on good public servants, not independent and mature [German Phrase], but subordinate and servile [German Phrase]. The result: the indoctrination has worked. The longer the time a person has spent within the system of public education, the more he is committed to leftist egalitarian ideas and has swallowed and wholeheartedly internalized the official doctrine and agenda of political correctness. Indeed, in particular among social science teachers and professors, people not counting themselves as part of the left have practically ceased to exist. Consequently, it must be demanded that the control of schools and universities be arrested away from the central government and in the first step be returned to regional, or better still, local and locally funded authorities and ultimately be completely privatized so as to replace a system of compulsory uniformity and conformity with a system of decentralized education that reflects the natural variation, multiplicity, and diversity of human talents and interest.
Don’t put your trust in politics and political parties. Just as academia and the academic world cannot be expected to play any significant role in a libertarian strategy for social change, so with politics and political parties. After all, it is the ultimate goal of libertarianism to put an end to all politics and to subject all interpersonal relations and conflicts to private law and civil law procedures. To be sure, under present or pervasively politicized conditions and involvement in politics and party politics cannot be entirely avoided. However, in any such involvement, one must guard against the corrupting influence of power and the lure of money and perks that comes with it. And to minimize the risk and temptation that comes from this, it is advisable to concentrate one’s effort on the level of regional and local, rather than national politics and they are to promote a radical agenda of decentralization, of nullification, and peaceful separation, segregation, and secession. Most importantly, however, we must take heed of Ludwig von Mises’s life motto: do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it. That is, we must speak out whenever and wherever, whether in formal or informal, in gatherings against anyone affronting us with a by now only all-too-familiar political correct drivel and left egalitarian balderdash and unmistakably so no, hell no, you must be kidding. And in the meantime, given the almost complete mind control exercised by the ruling elites, academia, and the mainstream media, it already requires a good portion of courage to do that. But, if we are not brave enough to so now, and thus set an example for others to follow, matters will become increasingly worse and more dangerous in the future and we and Western civilization and the Western ideas of freedom and liberty will be wiped out and vanish. Thank you, very much.”
First, I’ll summarize Hoppe’s proof: All truth claims are raised, justified, and decided upon in the course of an argumentation. The truth of this first proposition cannot be disputed without contradiction. One cannot argue that one does not argue. Argumentation is a purposeful action with the goal of attaining agreement regarding the truth value of an argument. Argumentation is a conflict-free, mutually agreed upon, and peaceful form of interaction aimed at resolving the initial disagreement and reaching a mutually agreed on answer to the truth value of an argument. The norms that make argumentation possible cannot be argumentatively disputed without contradiction. Each person engaging in argumentation must be entitled to self-ownership to be able to independently argue and come to conclusions. Each person engaging in argumentation must be entitled to ownership of prior possessions. Any argument to the contrary is a contradiction, if argumentation is to be a peaceful and conflict-free resolution to disagreement. To deny self-ownership and private property is to deny a person’s autonomy while affirming dependency and conflict and is contrary to the purpose of argumentation.
So, what are the libertarian implications of this proof? Hoppe explains in the video from his 2016 PFS talk and I quote some of his main points below.
Video Notes (Quoting Hoppe)
“All argumentation has a propositional content. Whenever we argue, we argue about something. This can be argumentation itself, that is, the very subject I have been speaking about so far, or the content can be all sorts of things. They can be matters of fact, or cause and effect, such as whether global warming presently exists and is man-made, or whether or not an increase in the money supply will lead to greater overall prosperity, but they can also be about normative matters. Such as, whether or not the possession; the actual control of something by someone, implies his rightful ownership of the thing in question, or if slavery or taxation are justified or not.”
“In short, argumentation can be either about facts, or it can be about norms. The source of an argumentation about facts is what I shall call, a disagreement, and its purpose is to resolve this disagreement and effect a change to the better in one’s own factual beliefs, so as to make actions motivated by these beliefs more successful in the future. The source of an argumentation about norms, on the other hand, is conflict and its purpose is to resolve this conflict and effect a change in one’s system of values so as to better avoid future conflict.”
“Rather than factual disagreements, then, it is the experience of conflicts that motivates most serious argumentation. And, it is argumentation about conflicts that generates our most intense interests. Now, conflicts arise whenever two actors want and try to use one in the same physical means, the same body, the same standing room, the same external objects, for the attainment of different goals, that is, when their interests regarding such means are not harmonious, but incompatible or antagonistic. Two actors cannot at the same time use the same physical means for alternative purposes. If they try to do so, they must clash. Only one person’s will or that of another person can prevail, but not both. Whenever we argue with one another about matter of conflicts then, we demonstrate that it is our purpose to find a peaceful argumentative solution to some given conflict. We have agreed not to fight, but to argue instead.”
“The task faced by any opponent and proponent engaged in an argumentation about conflict, then, is to find a peaceful resolution not only for the conflict at hand, but also for all potential future conflicts, so as to be able to interact henceforth with one another in a conflict-free and peaceful manner despite and not withstanding each other’s differing interests whether now or in the future.”
“The definitive answer to this problem is provided by a brief analysis of the logic of action, that is, by method of praxeological reasoning. Logically, to avoid all future interpersonal conflict, it is only necessary that every good, every physical thing employed as a means in the pursuit of human ends, be always and at all times owned privately, that is, be controlled exclusively by one specific person or voluntary partnership or association, rather than another. And that it be always recognizable and clear which good is owned by whom and which is not or owned by someone else. Then, the interests, the plans, and the purposes of different actors can be as different as they can be, and yet, no conflict will arise between them as long as their actions involve exclusively the use of their own private property and leave the property of others alone and physically intact.”
“How can physical things become someone’s private property in the first place? And, how can physical conflict in the appropriation of physical things be avoided? Now, praxeological analysis also yields a conclusive answer to these questions. For one, to avoid conflict it is necessary that the appropriation of things as means is affected through actions rather than through mere words, declarations, or decrees. Because, only through a person’s actions taking place at a particular place and time can an objective and intersubjectively ascertainable link between a particular person and a particular thing and its extension and boundary be established, and hence, can rival ownership claims be settled in an objective manner.”
“Not every recognizable taking of things into one’s possession is peaceful and can thus be argumentatively justified. Only the first appropriator of some previously unappropriated thing can acquire this thing peacefully and without conflict, and only his possession, then, can be regarded as his property, for, by definition, as the first appropriator, he cannot have run into conflict with anyone else in appropriating the good in question as everyone else appeared on the scene only later. And any late-comer, then, can take possession of the things in question only with the first-comer’s consent, either because the first-comer had voluntarily transferred his property to him, in which case and from which time on, he then becomes its exclusive owner, or else, because the first-comer had granted him some conditional use rights concerning his property, in which case, he did not become the thing’s owner, but its rightful possessor.”
“Indeed, to argue contrary to this and say that a late-comer, irrespective of the will of the first possessor of some given thing, should be regarded as its owner entails a performative or dialectic contradiction, because this would lead to endless conflict rather than eternal peace and, hence, be contrary to the very purpose of argumentation.”
“If different persons want to live in peace with one another, conceivably from the beginning of mankind until its end, and in arguing about conflict they obviously demonstrate that they want to do this, then only one solution exists, that I shall call the Principle of Prior Possessions: all just and lawful and argumentatively justifiable possessions, whether in the form of outright property or as lawful possessions, go back directly or indirectly through a chain of conflict-free and hence, mutually beneficial, property title transfers to prior and ultimately original appropriators and acts of original appropriation or production, and vice-versa, all possessions of things by some person that are neither the result of his prior appropriation or production nor the result nor the result of voluntary and conflict-free acquisition from a prior appropriator or producer of these things, are unlawful and, hence, argumentatively unjustifiable possessions.”
“Prima facie, the present possessor of the thing in question appears to be its prior possessor and, hence, its rightful owner, and the burden of proof to the contrary, that is, the demonstration that the evidence provided by the status quo is false and deceptive, is always on the opponent of the present state of affairs. He must make his case, and if he can’t, then not only remains everything as before, but the opponent then actually owes the proponent compensation for the misuse made of his time in having to defend himself against the opponent’s unjustified claims made against him, which reduces the likelihood of frivolous accusations.”
“No one can consistently argue that he is the rightful owner of another person’s body. Now, he can say so, of course, but in doing so and seeking another person’s ascent to this claim, he becomes involved in a contradiction. Hence, it is and can be recognized as an a priori truth that each person is the rightful owner of the physical body that he naturally comes with and has been born with and that he has directly appropriated prior and before any other person could possibly do so indirectly by means of his own body.”
“I am the lawful owner of my nature-given body with everything naturally in it and attached to it, and you are the lawful owner of your entire nature-given body. Any argument to the contrary would land its proponent in a performative contradiction. For me to say, for instance, in an argumentation with you, that you do not rightfully own all of your nature-given body is contradicted by the fact that in so arguing, and not fighting with you, I must recognize and treat you as another person with a separate body and recognizably separate physical borders from me and my body.”
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Mises ended “The Socialist Calculation Debate” in 1920, yet socialism persists as an ideology. Hoppe offers insight as to why this is in a talk (in video: 7:25-12:10) he gave to the Property and Freedom Society in 2016 on his ethics of argumentation theory. The resistance to Mises’s theory is very similar to the resistance to Hoppe’s theory.
“In short, what Mises had argued was that the purpose of all production is the transformation of something, an input, that is less valuable into something, an output, that is more valuable. That is, efficient and economic, instead of wasteful, production. That, in an economy based on the division of labor, recourse must be taken to monetary calculation in order to determine if production was efficient or not. That, input prices must be compared with output prices to determine profit or loss. And yet, that no input prices exist under socialism, and hence, no possibility for economic calculation. Because under socialism, all production factors are by definition owned by a single agency, thus precluding the formation of any and all factor prices.”
“The reaction to Mises’s impossibility proof was also instructive, especially given that Mises’s proof concerned a problem that at the time of his writing in the immediate aftermath of World War One, had taken on enormous importance with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia. But, by and large, there was no reaction at all. Mises was simply ignored and the continued existence of the Soviet Union and, after World War Two, of the entire Soviet Empire, was taken by most of the economics profession, and large parts of the lay-public as well, as empirical proof that Mises was wrong or, in any case, irrelevant.”
“…A few prominent socialists… tried to refute Mises’s argument. But, in my judgement, even Mises’s early fans watered-down, misconstrued, or distorted, and so, in any case, weakened Mises’s original argument. And for the socialist foes, they did not even seem to comprehend the problem. Indeed, even after Mises had systematically restated and further elaborated his arguments, two decades after its original presentation in his Human Action, and even after the implosion of socialism in the late 1980s and early 1990s when some socialists… felt compelled to concede that Mises had been right, they still showed no sign of having grasped the fundamental reason why.”