Libertarians and Open Borders

It is often said, “libertarians favour open borders.”  The reality is more complex.  Few people are more libertarian than Lew Rockwell, who today posted on his blog an article based on a 2015 speech which explains why open borders are incompatible with property rights and hence should be opposed by libertarians.

Open Borders Are an Assault on Private Property

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Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

10 thoughts on “Libertarians and Open Borders”

  1. An assault on private property is exactly what the Left wants to mount.

    Our country was founded on the idea that citizens would be secure in their property, and could not be deprived of it without due process of law, and just compensation.  Not even by the sovereign.

    See, that implies that an invasion of property interests  is something we have a “right” to prevent.

    So I guess in connection with this topic, the Left, which openly despises private ownership, is not the same as Libertarians?  Libs believe  the gov’t  should do ONE thing: protect their property rights.  Correct?

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  2. John Walker:
    Few people are more libertarian than Lew Rockwell,…

    It is in the nature of libertarianism that there is no orthodox position. Lew Rockwell is but one of many voices in the libertarian movement. Dismissing these other voices is flirting with the No True Scotsman fallacy: no true libertarian is for open borders. Libertarianism seems to have been hijacked by the drugs & orifices* bunch. As a fan of the Austrian School, I’m saddened by this development but also recognize its reality. Aside from that, there are some fairly loony things published in Reason, though much of it is quite sound.

    *h/t DocJay

    Edit: The fact that Rockwell has to defend libertarianism from the open borders charge is evidence of the problem.

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  3. drlorentz:

    John Walker:
    Few people are more libertarian than Lew Rockwell,…

    It is in the nature of libertarianism that there is no orthodox position. Lew Rockwell is but one of many voices in the libertarian movement. Dismissing these other voices is flirting with the No True Scotsman fallacy: no true libertarian is for open borders. Libertarianism seems to have been hijacked by the drugs & orifices* bunch. As a fan of the Austrian School, I’m saddened by this development but also recognize its reality. Aside from that, there are some fairly loony things published in Reason, though much of it is quite sound.

    *h/t DocJay

    Edit: The fact that Rockwell has to defend libertarianism from the open borders charge is evidence of the problem.

    You might be interested in the Mises Caucus of the Libertarian Party then. I too share your disappointment about how Libertarianism is constantly equated with pot smoking sodomites. But if it has the stamp of approval of Tom Woods, you can count on it being good.

    http://lpmisescaucus.com/

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  4. 10 Cents:
    Can one be kicked out of the libertarian group? It seems that group has no border control.

    Actually that isn’t true. If you look at the actual Libertarian Party, they have tried to kick out Tom Woods for not signing some stupid paper saying he wasn’t a Nazi. Of all people to be equated with being a Nazi!! This was after the cooked up controversy within the LP in reaction to the Jeff Diest “blood and soil” speech. The LP wanted to make that into an episode where Diest was using “Nazi” terminology, but anyone who knows anything about the people associated with the Mises Institute knows that trying to equate them to Nazis is just plain stupid.

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  5. Robert A. McReynolds:

    10 Cents:
    Can one be kicked out of the libertarian group? It seems that group has no border control.

    Actually that isn’t true. If you look at the actual Libertarian Party, they have tried to kick out Tom Woods for not signing some stupid paper saying he wasn’t a Nazi. Of all people to be equated with being a Nazi!! This was after the cooked up controversy within the LP in reaction to the Jeff Diest “blood and soil” speech. The LP wanted to make that into an episode where Diest was using “Nazi” terminology, but anyone who knows anything about the people associated with the Mises Institute knows that trying to equate them to Nazis is just plain stupid.

    Who have they kicked out? (I don’t know.)

    I wish there was any easier way to divide different wings of the libertarians. Conservatives have many ways to describe their beliefs.

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  6. 10 Cents:
    I wish there was any easier way to divide different wings of the libertarians. Conservatives have many ways to describe their beliefs.

    The most common source of confusion by those looking in from the outside is to equate libertarianism with the Libertarian Party (LP).  Many libertarians have become completely disgusted with the LP, either due to direct experience or from its record of complete irrelevance over its 46 years of existence.  It consistently raises millions from its members, which it blows on hopeless presidential campaigns and overhead.  Libertarian candidates for offices such as sheriff, county commissioner, and state legislator are consistently ignored by the national party.  Many libertarians (at least those who believe in politics at all) argue that any party must start with offices closer to the people where big money and big media have less of an impact than shoe leather and door knocking campaigning.

    Apart from the LP, there is no “libertarian group” from which one can be kicked out.  There are many kinds of people who loosely describe themselves as libertarians, and factions such as hard money advocates and radical foreign policy non-interventionists have little in common with one another.

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  7. John Walker:

    10 Cents:
    I wish there was any easier way to divide different wings of the libertarians. Conservatives have many ways to describe their beliefs.

    The most common source of confusion by those looking in from the outside is to equate libertarianism with the Libertarian Party (LP).  Many libertarians have become completely disgusted with the LP, either due to direct experience or from its record of complete irrelevance over its 46 years of existence.  It consistently raises millions from its members, which it blows on hopeless presidential campaigns and overhead.  Libertarian candidates for offices such as sheriff, county commissioner, and state legislator are consistently ignored by the national party.  Many libertarians (at least those who believe in politics at all) argue that any party must start with offices closer to the people where big money and big media have less of an impact that shoe leather and door knocking campaigning.

    Apart from the LP, there is no “libertarian group” from which one can be kicked out.  There are many kinds of people who loosely describe themselves as libertarians, and factions such as hard money advocates and radical foreign policy non-interventionists have little in common with one another.

    This is exactly correct. Frankly speaking, there is nothing libertarian about the LP. They are basically trying to be all things to both sides. They want to provide the Left with every social destroying policy that the Left wants without taxing and spending on that destruction to placate the Fisc-Cons. Well you can’t do that because it is impossible to destroy societal norms without spending on catching the people who fall–see the Great Society and the black community in the United States. The LP is the Sybil of political parties because they don’t know what they want to be other than not Democrats or Republicans.

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  8. Given that the Libertarian Party is a joke and that no one else in the libertarian movement is involved in fielding candidates for office, it’s hard to think of the movement as much more than a debating society.

    I’m struggling to think of any libertarian policy that has been adopted because of the efforts of self-avowed libertarians. The most generous thing one can say is that libertarian thinking may have influenced some mainstream politicians. Maybe a few of them even read Human Action.

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  9. drlorentz:
    I’m struggling to think of any libertarian policy that has been adopted because of the efforts of self-avowed libertarians. The most generous thing one can say is that libertarian thinking may have influenced some mainstream politicians. Maybe a few of them even read Human Action.

    Yes. To some degree, this is a good thing. I welcome the philosophy of trying to make government as small as possible while recognizing it is necessary.

    However, I think the influence of libertarian thought has been overwhelmingly economic where it exists at all, and considering a country, government, and constituents in purely economic terms seems wholely one-dimensional.

    I’ve appreciated the forays into libertarian thought that are more holistic than that. The Dr Salerno interview at Mises on nationalism and this on Open Borders are some examples.

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