Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hornberger: Right, but still Wrong

Some time ago, shortly after Bionic Mosquito refuted one of the first articles to try and dismantle his stance on borders, I could only conclude that the problems described in this debate are problems that libertarian theory doesn't address, because they'd likely not be a problem in a libertarian world.

I read Hornberger's article in its entirety - I can't see anything that necessarily flies in the face of Libertarianism. But again, he makes the assumption that being against open borders in a world where the state controls the border means that you favor not just closed, but sealed borders in this same world. I'm going to conveniently ignore, for Hornberger's sake, he did not mention Germany or Europe at all in his defense. I'll also conveniently ignore that he assumes anyone concerned with a flood gate border, being directed by the Federal Government, is in the same camp of “Liberventionists”. I’ll also ignore that nobody is talking about an issue of anyone being invited over for dinner on private property with private resources, surrendered voluntarily in an act of love for your fellow man.

I guess I didn’t ignore it after all.

There's common ground in here somewhere that advances the conversation - to the point that it dead ends, which I can't say that it hasn't already. We seem to continue in circular maneuvers, with the same arguments. Some are sound, some assume stances that never were. Some make exceptions for more State action and pass this as core planks of Libertarianism.
What is seldom addressed, is the common factor in all arguments – State action.

If the libertarian position is that a free market (or even, the lack of a state) operates best, why do elements of the conversation lend an endorsement to one State border policy or the other? Many of us seem to have reached this conclusion already over the past several months.

In any other social or economic arena, when have we applauded State Action A or B? Or C?

Do we endorse Romneycare over Obamacare? Or Hillarycare? Is MediCare the best libertarian alternative to any of these? What about the Canadian model? Should we consider the Sanders plan?

I've yet to hear a compelling argument in favor of any of these from the libertarian view. The proper libertarian position, most commonly advocated and rightfully so, is that Government is grossly incompetent at best, or operates with the interests of the State in mind - at its worst. Which of these two, or somewhere in between these two polarities, is what is happening in Europe right now? I couldn't say with absolute confidence, and neither could Hornberger (How could he? He seems to be looking in the opposite direction.).

This is why, despite the otherwise sound libertarian arguments in Hornberger's piece, I disagree with his overall message, summarized in the title of his article. Open borders aren’t the proper libertarian position at all. Closed borders isn't a proper position either. Removing the State from social and economic activity is the only libertarian position. Our aim should be, and likely is, decentralization.

We cannot give Libertarian traits to the United States Federal Government. At very few points in its history has the United States held a libertarian position. It’s existence and modus operandi are not libertarian. I’m willing to accept the belief that, though a country based on enterprise for quite some time, has never been libertarian in practice.

An encompassing state will have an encompassing policy. As the borders we know today are a creation of the state, there will never be a libertarian solution to state borders - or county borders, or city borders. If things continue down the path we're on today, it's not hard to imagine the debate evolving to a discourse about how government will split our property to make room for additional serfs to fund the evil it perpetrates.

A libertarian would object to this outright, as I’d hope libertarians still believe the State operates in its own interests with illicit funding.

If we could imagine a libertarian application to state borders in our reality, we could just as well assume a justification for implementing libertarian stances on other state interventions. I hear no (serious) libertarian justifications on applying Libertarian ideas to execution of the war in the middle east, domestic surveillance, gun control, or how best to select who gets what corporate subsidy. There is no libertarian stance to any of these - outside of firmly stating there is no justification for the state to make these decisions with resources and labor that have been pillaged from all of us.

I'm no fool – market based decisions on the matter will not be likely as long as the State stands. As long as it stands, it will manage its border policy for its own ends. If the influx of migrants ends up working against a State agenda, the borders will be closed. And of course, in the reverse - as it is in many westernized countries today.

However, like the rest of our woes - only when we remove the state from the equation can we find the libertarian solution. The best we can hope for, today, in the reality we are actively present in, is that there are fewer excuses with which to dismantle our liberty. What libertarian could object to such an ideal?

I object to the State sealing borders in practice – I object to the state itself as it is today. A libertarian would be hard pressed to ignore foreseeable (or even unforeseeable) evils of the state – by the State directing refugees into our fold by decree, complete with quotas on a specific demographic.  Then further, subsidizing their relocation and assimilation.

This all would assume the subjects of objection were even interested in productive participation, at that.

I see no libertarian merit to supporting such an activity. My argument would be much the same if they sought to inhibit market participants from crossing borders to engage in commerce, or even to visit a friend for dinner. It’s outrageous to assume the State could make sincere and educated endorsements or denials on individuals in either scenario.

I challenge the camp that's been dubbed "Open Borders Libertarians" to refute this on libertarian grounds. There is no libertarian application to a mechanism of the state.

I would especially welcome a reply from Jacob Hornberger.

*Editted due to some pretty gross formatting errors.

Addendum 5/23:

I'd like to thank Jacob Hornberger for taking the time to reply to my rebuttal. I'll be posting a response sometime this week.

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