Blogs > Liberty and Power > On Immigration: A Reply to Hoppe

Jan 26, 2008 5:19 pm

On Immigration: A Reply to Hoppe

Walter Block and I have this article[pdf] in the Mises Institute's newest edition of the Journal of Libertarian Studies, edited by Roderick Long, in which we address some of Hans-Hermann Hoppe's arguments against having open borders in a highly politicized, state-run society.
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Tim Sydney - 1/30/2008

The Hoppe Rothbard argument would seem to me to make more sense, and indeed may be at least quasi-libertarian, when applied for a small community (for example Norfolk Island) but oppressive when applied over a larger region (for example the USA or EU)

Norfolk Island is a small self governing autonomous territory in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. Under Australian administration for foreign policy and defence matters it is mostly independent on domestic matters. It's 1500 or so residents have their own parliament and regulate immigration into their island. Much to the consternation of the Australian federal bureaucracy which wants to 'standardise' N.I. versus the Australian mainland. The Norfolkers regard attempts to eliminate their local control over immigration as "bloodless genocide". (see here.

Norfolk Island is something of a test case for Hoppean immigration policy.

However a policy that makes sense (even libertarian sense) at the scale of N.I. does not necessarily apply to continental political entities like the USA, EU etc.

It would seem to me that "Local Hoppeanism" is at least quasi-libertarian, yet "National" or "Supra-National Hoppeanism" isn't.

Anthony Gregory - 1/27/2008

Good picks. Walter and I mostly wrote this article some time ago. It does indeed have flaws. I need to get the hang of this journal article thing.

Sudha Shenoy - 1/27/2008

1. Rothbard refers to the ethnic Russians settled in the Baltic states under the Soviet regime, which aimed to destroy Baltic languages & culture.

But the old Soviet Union was the exact _opposite_ of 'free' migration. Everyone had to have internal passports & permission to move -- people were state serfs. The regime ruthlessly deported/moved people according to changing policies. Eg, large numbers were deported for fear they would collaborate with the invading Germans, or because they had done so. There are many other instances.

Those Russians who were permitted to settle in the Baltic areas were hardly voluntary migrants, choosing freely to move to one of many possible destinations. Rather the Soviet authorities chose to grant permission more readily, to settle in the Baltic regions. Permission to move to other areas remained as difficult as always. These particular Russians were being used for a particular policy.

2. In medieval England, people were divided into 'freemen' & 'serfs'. A freeman's lord was the king, so a freeman could move freely to any part of the realm. A serf belonged to some other lord. A serf was 'tied' to a manor & reqd his lord's permission to move. Serfs could only move legally between their lord's manors. They paid their lord annually for the privilege of living in towns & cities -- where the king was the lord, & so anyone could settle.

'Aliens' belonged to some foreign lord (prince, bishop, whatever) & reqd permission from the king of England to enter his realm, & then to move around in it.

?? Are we arguing about whether this last principle is an (American) libertarian one? Or whether there is an (American) libertarian case for it?

When worlwide freedom of movement -- _without_ passports -- was finally achieved in the mid-19th century, (true) liberals hailed it as a great victory. They mourned its loss, with the retrogressive (as they saw it)return of the control of 'aliens' in WWI.

Less Antman - 1/27/2008

I thought it a very good critique overall and, of course, agree with the substance. Notes:

Page 6 - I doubt that "Hoppe's position is that keeping illegals off public property because of their supposed 'invasiveness' could easily be extended to other matters." I believe, instead, that is the position you and Block are taking about the implications of Hoppe's position. Amazing what a little word like "is" can do to reverse the meaning of a sentence.

Page 14 - Saying that you don't believe in guilt by association doesn't justify engaging in the practice within the same sentence. I'm sure we can find unsavory characters who agree with your position (me, for instance). Especially in the light of the newsletter controversy, I think we ought to start being extra careful about this particular violation of argumentation ethics. Let the arguments stand or fall on their merits rather than their advocates.

Mark Brady - 1/27/2008

I think you and Walter make some valid and substantial arguments against Hoppe and Kinsella.

I also suggest there is a further argument against Hoppe that you don't make. Hoppe seems to assume that the full burden of taxation falls on the residents of the nation-state whose government levies the taxes. Yet that is surely not the case. Thus, even by his own lights, foreigners who bear part of the tax burden of, say, tariffs would be entitled to have a say in the government's immigration policy. (I say "seems to assume" because perhaps he does make this point somewhere in his original argument.)

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