02 September 2013

Why The Open Borders Movement Is Illogical

My sporadic blog spat with Ryan Long—done in good faith, of course—is the fodder for this post.  While I’m basically an anarchist at heart, the reason I don’t generally support the Open Borders movement is because at its heart it is fundamentally a contradiction in terms.

To me, supporting the Open Borders movement is akin to designing a house without doors in the various entry points.  The entire point of putting doors on a house is to regulate who can enter and leave the house, and on what terms, and at what time, so forth and so on.  Likewise with borders, the entire point of their existence is to regulate who can enter and leave, the terms and times of entrance and exit, and so forth.  The Open Borders movement, though, is basically arguing that borders should still exist, but that they shouldn’t be used to regulate anyone’s movement.

A more logically consistent approach would be to advocate an anti-borders movement.  This is a considerably more anarchist approach, and one that would argue for the dissolution of borders, rather than simply making borders meaningless.  But this approach, in order to be logically consistent, must also argue for the complete dissolution of all governments and states, since without borders it would be essentially impossible for any state to function very long.  Thus, anyone who would wish to advocate for the free movement of labor must ultimately, if they wish to remain logically consistent, argue for pure anarchism.

In contrast, it is downright stupid, and quite anti-liberty, to argue that the borders of the state should be meaningless all while accepting the existence and operation of the state as a given.  This government policy would open itself up to lots of abuses—basically people, mostly immigrants, who would accept government benefits without paying the requisite taxes—and ultimately end in destruction once it becomes clear that not everyone is playing by the same rules, thus undermining government authority, and leading to a breakdown in social trust and cooperation.  Altering one variable of governance in the name of increased liberty is not libertarian; it is stupid, irresponsible, shallow, and nonsensical.  Liberty exists on more than one plane and along more than one line; being an absolutist for open borders, or for dissolving the tax code, or altering just one variable in a system of governance is indicative of naïveté and poor thinking.  Either go all in on anarchism, or accept the fact that the cause of liberty within a system of governance is a little more complex than simple sloganeering.

While I’m on the subject, I think it worth mentioning that anarchism is not a system that will lead to rainbow-colored unicorns distributing pots of gold to everyone.  If anarchism were to be tried globally, my bet is that the global society would become more tribalisitic, and that each of the increased number of tribes would each highly homogenous.  In addition, wealth be spread more equitably, but everyone would be poorer since the state would no longer be around to incentivize economies of scale.  My guess is that, in keeping with the supposition of tribalisitic solidarity, people would feel more trapped in their culture, as they would face social ostracism for violating social norms.  Anarchist utopia is as stupid, if not more so, than socialist utopia, and is probably as delusional.  While I am an anarchist at heart, I don’t believe that my life would be easier, or that I would necessarily be wealthier, or that I’d even be exposed to a diverse array of people were the various states around the globe to suddenly cease to exist.

At any rate, my opposition to the Open Borders movement is simply an intellectual pursuit.  I obviously have no influence on American policy, especially since I refuse to vote.  My readership is quite small, and a significant chunk of it is foreign.  My advocacy of or against certain policies, then, is simply an intellectual pursuit, a way of passing time and expending some creative energy.  While I would certainly like to see the elimination of all states and governments (or at least the dissolution of the federal government of the United States), I think that Open Borders advocacy has the potential to harm a lot of people and spread a lot of fascism in the name of liberty, and that’s just the sort of PR that the liberty movement does not need.