14 December 2013

It’s All An Innocent Misunderstanding

Nathan at Open Borders makes a clarification:

The communication failure occurs because we mean different thing by “open borders.” I mean simply that immigrants will be allowed to enter the country physically, and allowed to work. Not that they will reside there on equal terms with citizens, subject to the same tax rules for example. Certainly not that they will have access to the vote, which is a separate issue, or to welfare benefits, which I would strongly object to.

Well this isn’t really open borders.  This would probably be better described as free labor.  If you accept that nation-states are their own actual entities with the right to bar or welcome whoever they want, then ultimately the question that’s being asked and answered is:  who, exactly, should be allowed to cross the border and what should be the terms of their crossing?  In this case, with restrictionist principle of collective ownership theory already conceded, advocating or arguing in terms of border openness is highly misleading, to say the least.  Really, the main concern is primarily a matter of labor policy because the only immigrants in consideration are laborers and not, say, political refugees or criminals or terrorists.

What’s interesting to me is that the Open Borders bloggers aren’t really advocates for the dissolution of borders or even absolutists for all forms of migration.  According to them, it’s mostly just a matter of international labor policy.  So why not just call it that instead of misnomering the movement?  Why not say you advocate free labor and clear up a host of confusion?  Why not use an appropriate term instead of lecturing people when they take your term at face value instead of the highly nuanced sense in which you use it?  Is that really so much to ask?