Liberty, Academic Philosophy

Why the Freedom to Immigrate is as Important as Other Freedoms

By Chris Freiman and Javier Hidalgo

We think the freedom to immigrate is a basic liberty along with freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, occupational freedom, and so on. A truly liberal state would respect all of these liberties. But not everyone believes that the freedom to immigrate is a basic liberty.

David Miller argues that some freedom of movement is a basic human right because it is needed to protect vital interests. If you’re locked in a cell, you lack the freedom of movement you need to live a decent life. But you can live a pretty good life without unlimited (or close to unlimited) freedom of movement across borders.

But, if people are only entitled to adequate freedom of movement, then why aren’t they only entitled to adequate freedom of speech or religion? (For similar objections, see Oberman, Brezger & Cassee, and Hidalgo). Surely you can still live a pretty good life if the state prevents you from practicing your religion between 2-3AM on the first Tuesday of each month. The same goes for having 2 or 3 children rather than 7. And you don’t really need all those books on gluten-free cooking, do you? Nevertheless, no liberal thinks the state is justified in restricting freedom of religion, reproductive choice, or freedom of the press in the preceding ways, at least not without extraordinary reasons.

Miller has a reply: empowering the state to restrict freedom of religion (for example) is more likely to lead to abuse and oppression than empowering it to restrict freedom of immigration. Suppose he’s right. This distinction still wouldn’t explain why it is wrong for the state to restrict liberal freedoms like freedom of religion. To see why, just imagine that we live in a country with a “Unicorn State” that never abuses its power. So, for instance, if that state passes a law that prevents you from, e.g., practicing Calvinism between 2-3AM on the first Tuesday of each month, there is no danger of this power spilling over into other cases. Still, this is a bad law–people ought to be allowed to practice Calvinism between 2-3AM on the first Tuesday of each month. The takeaway point is that a state that respects only those liberties needed to protect vital interests is insufficiently liberal. So even if an expansive freedom of immigration isn’t needed to protect people’s vital interests, it may still be the case that such an expansive freedom ought to be respected.

Think about it this way. Even if the right to immigrate isn’t as important as other liberties on average, it can be more important on the margin. Consider two scenarios. In scenario 1, the government forbids Chris and Javier from practicing Pastafarianism. In scenario 2, the government prohibits Chris and Javier from moving to California. We each have good lives in Virginia and we don’t have any plans to move to California. But we would be more upset in scenario 2 than in scenario 1. This suggests that freedom of movement is sometimes even more important than other basic liberties.

  • “no liberal thinks the state is justified in restricting freedom of
    religion, reproductive choice, or freedom of the press in the preceding
    ways, at least not without extraordinary reasons”

    Isn’t that last clause the Achilles’ heel of your argument? If the immigrants are largely closed-minded and intolerant with a strong propensity to impose their views by threat or violence, and they are coming in large numbers, isn’t that an extraordinary reason for legitimately limiting immigration?

    • urstoff

      Would that also be an argument for deporting similar people from the country? Or letting people in that supply a “proof of liberalism”?

      • As a reason for limiting immigration, it can be neither of those things.

        • Sorry, that’s not quite right. As a reason for limiting immigration, it is neither of those things. Your question is: could it also serve as a reason for those? That is a separate debate.

          • urstoff

            Yes, hence me asking the question…

          • My apologies, urstoff, for my two too-hasty replies. I was trying to do two things at once.

            If we recognise that the state’s obligations concern primarily its own territory, we can accept that the state has differential obligations towards people within its territory and people without it. So excluding immigrants of some types does not automatically translate into expelling residents of the same types. I have said more about that in my comments on the earlier posts in this series, so I don’t want to repeat it here.

            Your second question does not really arise. If the state is letting in everyone except some illiberal barbarians, then people who supply a “proof of liberalism” (whatever that is) are automatically allowed – so long as they are not illiberal barbarians.

          • King Goat

            Danny, I thought in our previous recent discussion you said that a state has a duty to generally promote the human flourishing of its members (or to follow rules that promote the human flourishing of its members). To you, what promotes flourishing is a factual matter to be discovered or shown by social science. You think it can be shown in that way that some restrictions on immigration are rules that promote flourishing, so they’re OK. But if the practice of some religion by members of a society is shown to not promote the flourishing of the members generally, I thought your philosophy would say the state would have a duty to restrict it. I’m not sure what work any ‘citizenship’ based arguments are even doing in your philosophy, the state should operate by rules that promote human flourishing of its members, what does it matter if any given behavior which is alleged to undercut that flourishing is by members of the society or not? It either does undercut it, whether practiced by members or not, and therefore should be restricted or it doesn’t (or actually promotes it), whether practiced by members or not, and therefore cannot be restricted…

          • In brief. The state is obliged to enforce that set of enforceable rules that provide the best prospects for human fulfilment. It enforces the rules only for its own territory. If each state did what it ought to, there would be no immigration restrictions. In fact, no state does what it ought to; and some states are so bad that they create barbaric societies which form people with barbaric ways. That fact has to be taken account of by states that try, at least to a reasonable extent, to do what they ought. They take account of it by imposing restrictions on immigration from the barbaric societies.

            Freedom to practice a particular religion is the sort of thing that must be protected by a state that enforces rules that provide the best prospects for human fulfilment. Human fulfilment depends upon self-discovery; we discover ourselves by conjecture and refutation, which means experiments in living; and that requires maximum freedom compatible with the equal freedom of all.

            I think your question is this. Among the undesirable immigrants I have in mind in the first paragraph are Islamic fundamentalists. Islam is a religion. If a good state guarantees freedom of religion, it must allow the practice of Islamic fundamentalism in its territory. But then it will condone in its territory the sort of barbaric behaviour that it uses to exclude people currently outside of its territory.

            But that does not follow. The good state will allow people to adopt whatever religion they want (or want to experiment with). But it will not allow them to impose their views on others by intimidation or violence, because it enforces rules securing maxmum freedom, and that means that it prevents people from intimidating or injuring others.

          • King Goat

            “But it will not allow them to impose their views on others by intimidation or violence, because it enforces rules securing maxmum freedom, and that means that it prevents people from intimidating or injuring others.”

            But why not say the same for immigrants? We allow them to immigrate, but then we enforce rules preventing them from intimidating or injuring others if they turn to that behavior.

            “But then it will condone in its territory the sort of barbaric behaviour that it uses to exclude people currently outside of its territory.”

            Not quite. If Islamic fundamentalism leads its adherents to intimidate and commit acts of violence, which is what your restrictions on immigrants from lands with heavy Islamic fundamentalist influence is predicated on, and the good state prevents people from intimidating and committing acts of violence, why wouldn’t the good state have a duty to prohibit it? In allowing it the state is allowing something that, according to your premise, will lead adherents to intimidate and injure others. That doesn’t seem to fit with your theory.

          • The difference is that between a liberal state and one which has a long history of being extremely illiberal. People brought up in Islamic fundamentalist societies have been inured to illiberalism, it is a part of who they are. It is not just that they have illiberal beliefs and attitudes; it is not just that they have had them for a long time; it is not just that they have not questioned them; it is that they are steadfastly averse to questioning them. Indeed, anyone who does question them is liable to be beheaded! People in a liberal state who convert to Islamic fundamentalism do not have that deeply illiberal mindset and cannot acquire it (unless they go insane), because it is illegal for them to treat other people in the way their fundamentalism demands.

          • Sergio Méndez

            I have some questions for this line of reasoning:

            1. Why shouldn’t this criteria be used against illiberal citizens of the state in question? Why couldn´t be used to expel(after depriving of their citizenship), say, christian fundamentalists, armed right wing militias, white supremacists, etc? Are you willing to take it to its last consequences?

            2. How do you automatically assume that the population of illiberal states is illiberal itself? Actually, how do you know that many of this people are actually fleeing from the illiberal regimens where they were born to start?

          • 1. There is a difference between people in the state and those outside. I have explained that point a few times already.

            2. I don’t automatically assume that. I am talking about some specific types of iliberal state. Again, I have made that point a few times already.

          • Sergio Méndez

            1. What is the difference of this people qua persons, qua humans? Why will a liberal political theory give different rights to some people according to the nation they were born?

            2.What is the relevance that you speak of a specific kind of illiberal state (and what will be your criteria to distinguish their populations)? How do you know, as you claimed, that illiberalism is “part of what people are” in longstanding illiberal nations?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-beliefs-about-sharia/ 38,000 face-to-face interviews, 39 countries.

            For example, 84% of Pakistanis believe that sharia should be the law of the land, and of those, 89% believe that stoning to death is the appropriate penalty for adultery, and 76% believe apostates should suffer the same fate. Plenty more data where that came from. The problem is not that these persons happen to be Pakistani, the problem is that they have these beliefs. The fact that they are Pakistani gives us a relatively easy way to exclude people with such views.

          • Sergio Méndez

            Which points again to my other question…what is the difference with American fundamentalists or white supremacists who believe similar stuff? If Pakistanis can´t be excluded from the United States by virtue of such beliefs, why not other american citizens?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Now, for the 10th time, because the state is obligated to protect the rights of its CITIZENS, including full due process, before taking away life, liberty, or property. See my argument above. See my earlier example of the federal government’s obligation to protect blacks in Jim Crow South, but not the Shia in Saudi Arabia.

          • Sergio Méndez

            For the 10th time, why will a LIBERAL state only protect the rights of citizens, when liberal theory recognize that rights are UNIVERSAL and not restricted by nationality or the place you were born?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Good, then not only should our state protect US citizens from foreign aggression, it should protect everyone, everywhere, because rights are UNIVERSAL. Is the light beginning to go on?

          • Sergio Méndez

            No. The US should not protect everyone EVERYWHERE. It must protect EVERYONE WITHIN ITS OWN BORDERS if they happen to come to them.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Right, and the Pakistanis are NOT WITHIN OUR BORDERS, so we need not protect them or vindicate their rights. See my comment at the very beginning of this thread. I’m now moving on to people who can actually respond to arguments, but have a nice day.

          • Sergio Méndez

            Pakistanis (and any other non US nationals) are not within US borders…well, until they come. That is the whole point of inmigration, isn’t it? Is not that hard, isn’t it?

          • 1. The might be people on other planets; but they would not be humans. A liberal political theory may (should) give rights to the state; and because, as a matter of fact, there cannot be a world state, that results in differential treatment of people by states according to whether they are within or without.

            2. I don’t have any criteria: in some cases it will be difficult to say. I have studied psychology and a little anthropology.

          • Sergio Méndez

            1 A liberal political theory may (should) give rights to the State? What?

            2. You don´t have any criteria then? Then why are you making broad generalizations of people you barely know just for the political milieu they were born in?

          • 1. It is part of the relational conception of persons. Persons exist in interrelation; if they are to thrive, or even just live tolerably, there must be a state with the right to rule; the state consists of interpersonal relations, so the existence of a state with a right to rule does not assume that a right to rule belongs inherently to any individual(s).

            2. See my response to urstoff below.

          • Sergio Méndez

            1. Seems to me you are confusing the fact that persons are inexorably related to other persons, with the idea that the State somehow can only represent that relation. While I accept the former, I utterly reject the later.

            2. I do not see your answer to urstoff satisfying. You talk about “closed” societies as being the only problematic ones, but then that still sounds like a broad generalization of their members (especially of people who want to leave the closed societies, and may have reasons against the fact that they are closed to start with).

          • King Goat

            Danny, that last statement strikes me as quite flimsy indeed considering well publicized stories of home grown terrorists committing ‘intimidating and violent’ acts, or, further, when one considers how illiberal movements like anarchism, fascism, and communism have historically sprung up in European nations.

          • It’s a matter of degree. All of this is. Letting in a few fundamentalists from Pakistan or Araby would not be a problem.

          • King Goat

            Danny, we’re talking about the potential dangers of letting certain illiberal religions or political ideas exist in liberal countries. Your position is immigrants from places where certain illiberal religions or political ideas flourish can be prohibited because they present a high risk of doing things that undermine liberal societies. I responded by noting that the same can be said about illiberal religions and political ideas themselves, and your answer was, and is, well, that wouldn’t be dangerous in an already liberal society. But history shows that illiberal ideas can indeed do quite well in relatively liberal societies, leading to overall illiberal results.

          • urstoff

            “If we recognise that the state’s obligations concern primarily its own territory, we can accept that the state has differential obligations towards people within its territory and people without it.”

            Yes, I suppose I should have expected some sort of citizenist argument. I guess my question is why we should accept that at all. I don’t see any prima facie reason to accept that over, say, “the state is obliged to maximize the wellbeing of all humas” or “the state is obliged to satisfy the preferences of all participants” or “the state is obliged to maximize the welfare of all and only the spotted grey owls in neighboring territories”.

          • As I said before, I have set out my reasons in comments on earlier posts in this thread, and I don’t want to keep repeating myself.

          • “Your position is immigrants from places where certain illiberal religions or political ideas flourish can be prohibited because they present a high risk of doing things that undermine liberal societies.”

            Not quite. America is awash with illiberal religions and illiberal political theories; but I would not argue in favour of restricting immigraton to the UK from the US. The problem is ‘closed societies’ where a more or less uniform set of ideas is imposed, not just, or not even primarily, by the state, but by the people generally, and where the ideas in question encourage, or even demand, people to act in ways that conflict with liberalism and that would tend to destroy a liberal society if they are practised by large numbers of people in that society, especially where those people form, within the society, large communities virtually impervious to outside influence. As my statement indicates, the phenomenon is easier to recognise that to describe, which is why I offer no strict criteria.

        • Jason Fireston

          Ideally we would have very liberal immigration laws with large numbers of immigrants but be careful who is allowed to vote. On the other hand, immigrants already don’t vote much. It’s their children who in theory could be a problem but they’ve had 18 years to get accustomed to the US and our way of life. I’m not sure there is a problem, but in larger immigration numbers maybe there could be.

      • Jeff R.

        Undesirable immigrants, mainly criminals, are deported frequently. I find that a perfectly acceptable practice, and if we could dump rotten natives somewhere like Australia, the way the British used to, I’d be all for that, as well.

        • King Goat

          I think this is at least consistent and honestly put.

      • Theresa Klein

        Hmmm. At least in theory, deportation might be a better more just form of punishment than imprisonment.
        In other words, banishment.

        • Lacunaria

          More just to the exiled, though perhaps less just to the community he immigrates to.

    • Theresa Klein

      The thing people keep glossing over is that “limiting immigration” usually isn’t restricted to the closed minded and intolerant. If you could pass a law that ONLY restricted immigration from specific narrowly defined groups, that would be a lot easier to justify in libertarian terms than the kind of blanket limitations on immigration currently in place in the US. Mainly aimed at harmless Latin American laborers.

      Can we at least agree that current immigration law in the US is far, far, too restrictive?

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Yes.

  • Jason Brennan

    I think this is right, but pace Miller, the freedom to immigrate is for many people are a much more important freedom than the freedom to practice religion. For many people, it means life or death, prosperity or poverty.

    • M Lister

      Miller makes allowances for refugees and other forms of temporary protection, so the “life or death” stuff is at least largely accounted for in his account. Prosperity or poverty is a tougher issue, but it turns on what you think is owed to different people. Freiman and Hidalgo are assuming a particular and controversial answer to that question, of course. That doesn’t make the account not worth-while, but it does mean that it can’t, on its own, come close to settling the issue with people like Miller, Macedo, Blake, etc.

    • Chris Freiman

      Yep, I totally agree.

    • AodhanOMuircheartaigh

      Let’s empty out the third world and move everyone to the rich countries where prosperity magically falls from the skies.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Let me state my own form of Danny’s argument for you to consider in your next post. Country A declares a monopoly of force within its jurisdiction (borders) and taxes those who reside there on a non-consensual basis. Country B does the same. The monopoly of force and taxation imposed by A infringes the rights of its citizens, but not those of B. B’s identical actions infringes the rights of its citizens, but not A’s. The only manner in which these infringements do not result in outright violations of rights is if, in exchange, these states deliver certain goods to their citizens. Most minimal state libertarians think this means protection against foreign aggression,ensuring the rule of law domestically, and little else. If the elected leaders of A conclude, on an objectively reasonable basis, that open borders with B will degrade the rule of law at home they are obliged to limit it.

    • Simon

      I see what you’re saying, Mark, but in common law countries, people are normally considered innocent until proven guilty. If we accept that, there is a reasonable argument to the effect that they should be allowed to enter, since, at the time of entry, they have not been found guilty of anything. If they are found guilty of something after they’ve migrated, then the punishment might well be e expulsion. But that wouldn’t be an argument for stopping them entering in the first place. Just because a second state has aggressive intent towards us, doesn’t suggest that all its citizens are similarly inclined. It seems to me that the argument you seem to propose somehow associates a state with its citizens, in a manner which would be difficult to justify.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Migrants from certain areas may present an undue risk of seriously degrading the rule of law, and I deny that the state is required to wait until the risk eventualizes in harm. We arrest drunk drivers before they kill. My point remains, because it imposes a monopoly of force and non-consensual taxation, the state owes its citizens a duty to preserve their rights. This includes procedural due process. But, in light of the state’s overarching obligations, you cannot simply help yourself to the assumption that non-members are entitled to the same due process before a denial of entry, for that is the very point at issue. The federal government was obligated to vindicate the rights of blacks in the Jim Crow South, but not the Copts’ in Egypt. Why not?

        • King Goat

          “We arrest drunk drivers before they kill.”

          We don’t arrest them until they act though, and you’re talking about restricting people from certain areas regardless of their actions.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            ^ [This is my personal troll. I think he has a little too much time on his hands, as he follows me around BHL like a lost puppy dog, commenting on my comments. I am trying to discourage this, as I don’t have the patience to train him not to soil the carpet. Thus, I am now activating troll counter-measures…]

            Hey, Barnyard Animal, did I happen to mention that my Libertarian Philosophy in the Real World: The Politics of Natural Rights (Bloomsbury, 2015) received a really positive review in Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, http://interpretationjournal.com/backissues/Vol_42_3.pdf. My favorite part is this (p.489):

            It would be misleading, however, to suggest that Friedman simply speaks to shared beliefs. He often offers arguments that are remarkably lucid, succinct, and thorough, and he is honest when he does not know how to solve a problem.

            Was that also your favorite? If you ask your Mommy really nice, perhaps she’ll loan you the money to buy a copy.
            BTW, I’m still looking for great stuff written by “King Goat,” but haven’t found it. Don’t fret, I’ll keep trying.

        • Ron H.

          Mark, I’m struggling with your comment.

          I don’t like your drunk driving analogy because it doesn’t really fit. Drunk drivers are arrested because they may pose a credible and imminent threat to the safety of others.

          The reasonable suspicion required to stop and investigate a potential drunk driver usually comes from an observation of erratic driving, or other behavior that would reasonably indicate the driver is having difficulty operating their vehicle safely. We don’t arrest people who drink alcohol because they might drink too much and then drive and endanger the safety of others, although people who drink alcohol are far more likely to become drunk drivers than people who don’t.

          We arrest people who walk down the street waving a gun and firing randomly into the air because they may pose a credible and imminent threat to others. We don’t arrest gun owners because they might walk down the street some day waving a gun and firing randomly into the air, even though people with guns are more likely to walk down the street randomly firing them than people without guns.

          While it’s not necessary that actual harm be done before taking action, I do think it’s insufficient reason to deny people entry because they come from “that country” or from “that culture”, where some people are more likely to
          become violent than people from some other culture.

          Based on that suspicion of groups, it would make much more sense to deny entry to men, who are, as a group, far more prone to violent acts than women.

          In addition, the following: “because it imposes on them a monopoly of force and non-consensual taxation, the state owes its citizens a duty to preserve their rights.”

          – sounds like you’re saying that the state must protect people’s rights by violating them. Am I reading that correctly?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Ron: It is strictly an empirical question whether the threat posed by an apparent drunk driver is greater than that posed by certain immigrant groups. You’re welcome to your opinion on that, but it doesn’t refute the principle I am defending; it just means we disagree on the facts. Let’s push your theory a little. All we know about “Achmed,” a French national, is that a year ago he traveled to Syria and joined Islamic State, and before he left France he expressed his admiration and support for the movement. Now he wants to come to the US. Even if we had jurisdiction, we couldn’t convict him of jaywalking. For all we know, he went there as a medical technician or bookkeeper.

            On your theory, we let him in. If that’s a bullet you wish to bite than bon appetite, but I’m sending that dish back. Your rights end where mine begin, so I’m not saying what you have attributed to me. I’m saying Achmed doesn’t have the right to come here. Or, if you prefer, his “right” is overridden by the rights of US citizens.

          • Ron H.

            Mark: I was going to ask how it is that we know so much about Achmed, a French National, but I forgot – the NSA knows everything about everybody, and I suppose Achmed also put all this incriminating stuff on his visa application in the interest of making a clean breast of it.

            It is strictly an empirical question whether the threat posed by an
            apparent drunk driver is greater than that posed by certain immigrant
            groups.

            It was your analogy, I merely pointed out that one is an imminent and believable threat, the other is unknown.

            I’m not so much concerned about denying entry to Achmed as I am about denying entry to people we don’t know anything about, except that they came from the wrong side of the tracks, or are the wrong color, or whatever the problem is, and we have no other reason to suspect them of any naughty thoughts or intentions. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that most people want to come to the US to make their lives better.

            By the way, Some Syrians rebels now known as ISIS might believe the US is their friend and ally as they keep getting arms, money, and other support from the US in their efforts to overthrow Assad. Libyan rebels, also known as al Qaeda got lots of help from the US state dept. in their efforts to overthrow Gaddafi, all the while their cousins in Iraq were and are being targeted by US drones. Very confusing keeping track of who is who these days.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Why would “naughty thoughts or intentions” be a reason to exclude? We don’t lock up US citizens for intentions. But, immigrants aren’t citizens, and unlike drunk drivers, I’m not trying to convict them of a crime, just exclude them if they pose an undue risk. This brings me back to the key point: if the purported rights of citizens conflict with the purported rights of immigrants, the state (US or other) is obligated to protect its citizens. All the rest is empirical judgment.

          • Ron H.

            Without excluding people for posing some unacceptable level of risk of having bad intentions toward US citizens, it’s not clear what reason there is for excluding anyone from entry. What constitutes undue risk if not the observation that people with certain characteristics such as country of origin, religion, or cultural heritage are more prone to intentional violence?

            It seems to me that in your story about Achmed you are assuming he either has bad intentions or that there is an “undue risk” of his having bad intentions because of his travel to Syria and his expression of admiration and support for ISIS, even though you suggested there’s no evidence he has done anything wrong, or anything illegal under US law.

            If that included his expressing a desire to kill as many Americans as possible, and a request to please expedite his visa so he can get on with that business as soon as possible, then I would favor excluding him, just as I would favor barring any other person, whether citizen or non-citizen, who threatened me with violence, from approaching me closely.

            Apparently I place a lot less emphasis on the distinction between citizen and non- citizen than you do.

          • Lacunaria

            A member is someone whose rights we’ve all agreed to defend. This is a positive obligation that we’ve agreed to, presumably based upon a cost/benefit risk analysis in our own interests.

            We owe no such obligation to non-members and we cannot be forced to accept such an obligation which accompanies immigration.

          • King Goat

            “A member is someone whose rights we’ve all agreed to defend. ”

            When did we do that? I don’t remember it.

          • Lacunaria

            When you or your ancestors immigrated and you continue by staying.

          • King Goat

            This really betrays the problems with thinking too realistically of the social contract, which is a theoretical, ad hoc justification at best.

          • Lacunaria

            It’s not ad hoc and it’s no more theoretical than yours is.

            I do model the ideal state as an agreement, but that doesn’t mean that we have achieved that ideal state any more than we have achieved your ideal state of a God-like scapegoat that unilaterally violates as many rights as necessary to relieve you of the burdens of defense and the moral burdens of its violations or inaction.

            It’s a bizarre fiction that there is no consent when you make a choice knowing full well the consequences.

          • King Goat

            If we’re talking about the *ideal* state then of course we should imagine one that doesn’t compromise that which we think is ideal. Why start with less as the ideal?

            And let’s not confuse an ideal concept of a state as mutually entered into social contract and a premise that something like that has actually happened re: our currently existing states. A great many people came under the jurisdiction of the United States via circumstances that had nothing to do with their consent (slaves, Native Americans, Europeans from nations that lost conflicts with the US or whose governments didn’t consult them at all about land deals). To say ‘well, they consent when they or their ancestors don’t leave’ is kind of like saying that if a kidnapper takes someone to an island they fully consented to be there as long as they don’t swim away.

          • Lacunaria

            Yes, we both agree that the state is deeply flawed, and we are both arguing from our distinct ideal states (which is not the same as our ideal world where all people are peaceable and there are no costs to justice and defense).

            Notably, my ideal state converges to wholly consensual agreements, whereas there seems to be a discontinuity between your ideal state and a wholly consensual society.

            The US founders did their best to achieve consent while also striving for an effective system of justice and defense. Even though injustices were done against those who did not consent, that should not invalidate those who did agree, which would expand with immigration and the migration of citizens.

            Such violations are not quite like kidnapping to an island, it’s more like nannyism. You get to stay where you are but we have rules you have to abide by. I’m not sure how widespread the imposition was initially, but I agree that you probably would have to move eventually if you didn’t like it.

            That is unfair, but bear in mind that you have to defend your own rights, and if a state is going to unjustly take you over, then that is tremendous motivation for you to compromise with your neighbors to establish your own mutual defense first that will more effectively secure your rights than you can do by yourself or than the conquering state will do.

          • Ron H.

            I haven’t agreed to defend anyone, nor have I assumed a positive obligation to do so. I feel a moral obligation to defend myself and others from aggression as a human being and as a matter of justice, but it has nothing to do with their being members of any particular group.

          • Lacunaria

            Well, the state forces you to pay for such defense as it sees fit; some even compel service. How do you justify that?

            I share your yearning for justice, but it’s amazing that you will defend everyone, regardless of what that costs you, or whether they are reaping the consequences of their lifestyle, or what havoc they may be breeding, or whether they will also defend you in the way that you might wish they would if you formed some agreement.

            But your ideal seems unsustainable, unless you assume a state that compels people for you. A state that is God-like in its justice, rather than one that merely reflects the interests of those who run it.

            Indeed, everyone has an interest in their neighbors and whether they are high risk or low risk, because of the burdens it places on them. How can they express that interest in your world? If it’s by forming semi-closed communities, then at what point do those communities become a state?

          • Ron H.

            Well, the state forces you to pay for such defense as it sees fit; some even compel service. How do you justify that?

            Such actions by the state can’t be justified.

            I didn’t say I will defend everyone, nor did I say I would do so at any cost. Please respond only to what I’ve actually written.

            I said I feel a moral obligation to defend others from aggression. That would include family, friends, neighbors, members of my community, and strangers I observe in my vicinity who appear to be be victims of unjust aggression. I can’t possibly defend people I don’t know, and who I am unaware of.

            I feel a moral obligation to save a drowning child I encounter, but I have no obligation to save every child in the world, because it’s not possible to do so.

            … If it’s by forming semi-closed communities, then at what point do those communities become a state?

            That’s a gret question. A community becomes a state when its governing body assumes a monopoly on the use of force, including the power to demand payment for services under threat of force, and lacks the consent of those those for whom it provides services.

            I will argue that the state as we know it lacks legitimate authority because it lacks consent.

          • Lacunaria

            I didn’t say I will defend everyone, nor did I say I would do so at any cost. Please respond only to what I’ve actually written.

            I’m sorry. I was trying to make a point about limits and I projected too far of an extreme onto you out of convenience. I’m just trying to determine the implications of your position.

            I feel a moral obligation to save a drowning child I encounter, but I have no obligation to save every child in the world, because it’s not possible to do so.

            Right, but more specifically, what are the limits of what you would do and for whom?

            For example, can you even defend everyone around you or your family or your entire neighborhood by yourself?

            Does their willingness to defend you affect your obligations or prioritization or the degree of risk you are willing to take?

            If Mexican gang members legitimately immigrated, but subsequently violated rights in your neighborhood which takes time to catch and prove and may materially degrade the rule of law, would you still feel obligated to defend each of them? Might you be inclined to move somewhere safer which excludes members of those gangs?

            That’s a great question. A community becomes a state when its governing body assumes a monopoly on the use of force, including the power to demand payment for services under threat of force, and lacks the consent of those those for whom it provides services.

            So, the most basic mutual defense agreement (where a community agrees to defend each other and compromise on threat determination, handling, etc., in exchange for taxes that every member must pay) would constitute a state (and not an agreement!) even if 99% of the community agreed, is that correct?

            I will argue that the state as we know it lacks legitimate authority because it lacks consent.

            Does immigration to a state indicate any degree of consent to the exchange of taxes for protection?

            Is a state more legitimate the more people consent to it? e.g. 40% vs. 90% consent.

            Sorry to barrage you with questions, but I’m trying to narrow down the crux of our disagreement.

            Here’s where I’m going with all of this:

            (1) Absent a state, you would have a great interest in forming an agreement for mutual defense (probably at multiple geographic levels). Moreover, such agreements would require compromise with your community regarding what threats you are defending against and how, including the immigration of high risk non-criminals. So, even if you personally wanted to include everyone, you might reasonably compromise and exclude them in exchange for mutual defense.

            (2) The state currently fills the role of such an exchange even though you do not consider it any kind of agreement. And, as a bonus, the state conveniently solves the “lack of universal and total consent” problem by committing unjustifiable violations which benefit you without you getting your hands dirty (as I understand it).

            (3) In my view, to the extent that people would agree to exclude high-risk non-criminals in their mutual defense agreements, a state can likewise do so as it seeks to approach that #1 moral state.

          • Ron H.

            Sorry to barrage you with questions, but I’m trying to narrow down the crux of our disagreement.

            No problem. I thought perhaps you had lost interest. I will try to clarify my position.

            For example, can you even defend everyone around you or your family or your entire neighborhood by yourself?”

            Probably not, but I was just stating my willingness to do so, and the instinctive moral obligation I feel to do so for the benefit of those closest to me. As far as I know this is a common trait, shared by most people.

            Does their willingness to defend you affect your obligations or prioritization or the degree of risk you are willing to take?

            Sure. Mutual agreements either explicit or implicit between myself and others in my community – others to whom I’m not related – would have priority over strangers with whom I have no relationships.

            If Mexican gang members legitimately immigrated, but subsequently violated rights in your neighborhood which takes time to catch and prove and may materially degrade the rule of law, would you still feel obligated to defend each of them?

            May I assume I know these people are Mexican gang member because of my prior knowledge of their misdeeds, or am I unaware of their gang affiliation or previous violations of rights? I won’t defend people from the consequences of their own actions, If that’s what you’re asking I’m not sure I understand the question.

            Might you be inclined to move somewhere safer which excludes members of those gangs?

            Yes I might move if I found my neighborhood becoming less safe. My primary interest is my own safety and the safety of my family.

            So, the most basic mutual defense agreement (where a community agrees to defend each other and compromise on threat determination, handling, etc., in exchange for taxes that every member must pay) would constitute a state (and not an agreement!) even if 99% of the community agreed, is that correct?

            That’s correct. Legitimate authority requires unanimous consent. I have previously tried and failed to find any reasonable justification for the use of aggressive force by one group against another otherwise peaceful group or individual.

            Does immigration to a state indicate any degree of consent to the exchange of taxes for protection?

            That would depend, I suppose, on what type of agreement, if any, the immigrant had voluntarily made with those claiming to represent the state. Someone who enters into a valid and binding contract with another party is obligated to honor their commitments.

            Is a state more legitimate the more people consent to it? e.g. 40% vs. 90% consent.

            No.

            <blockquote Here's where I'm going with all of this:

            (1) Absent a state, you would have a great interest in forming an agreement for mutual defense.

            Absolutely. However I can imagine private insurance arrangements providing protection against threats of aggression outside of my community and private security forces – perhaps also through insurance contracts – providing protection within the community.

            (probably at multiple geographic levels).

            I’m not sure what that means.

            Moreover, such agreements would require compromise with your community regarding what threats you are defending against and how, including the immigration of high risk non-criminals.

            Not necessarily. Does my contract or agreement with this community include my acceptance of future changes to the contract without my consent? I would expect a community to have existing bylaws (think CCRs established by a homeowner’s association.) to which I agreed when I moved in. Accepting such an agreement would be a condition of my purchasing property and moving in to the community just as it is now. If I don’t like the conditions and limitations I’m free to buy somewhere else.

            By high risk immigrants do you mean men, blacks, Muslims, Mexicans? Who exactly? Those groups already exist in the US and may pose as much of a threat as immigrants.

            So, even if you personally wanted to include everyone, you might reasonably compromise and exclude them in exchange for mutual defense./i>”

            Are those my only choices? My principals or safety?

            (2) The state currently fills the role of such an exchange even though you do not consider it any kind of agreement. And, as a bonus, the state conveniently solves the “lack of universal and total consent” problem by committing unjustifiable violations which benefit you without you getting your hands dirty (as I understand it).

            Not sure what point you are making here. The fact that an unauthorized (by me) organization forces conditions and limitations on me through threats of violence and robs me at gunpoint as payment for doing so isn’t in any way justify because I may benefit in some way.

            (3) In my view, to the extent that people would agree to exclude high-risk non-criminals in their mutual defense agreements, a state can likewise do so as it seeks to approach that #1 moral state.

            Believe me, the state, which is just some group of people claiming authority they haven’t been given, isn’t attempting to approach any moral state unless that state is “might makes right”.

            The issue is consent.

            Consider a gated private community: People live there because they desire the conditions imposed on all members, and want to exclude outsiders. A private security agency vets all visitors, and allows those who are acceptable to the entire population of the community. Restrictions may be as tight or as loose as the members wish.

            I might choose a community that allows no Muslims, or no Mexicans, or no Blacks, or no men, or no people with red hair. This is perfectly just because his is a private community.

            My community may not make or enforce rules for other communities, nor for people anywhere else outside the community.

            They especially can’t restrict access to areas over which the community has no authority, for example some artificial and arbitrary line called a “national border”.

            There is no legitimate authority at a national level to restrict the movements of people who are peacefully and safely traveling on public, non-privately controlled streets and highways. For instance people and communities in Montana have no legitimate authority to dictate to people in Arizona who they may or may not allow to cross their border with California, New Mexico, or Mexico. People in Phoenix may not tell residents of Tucson who they may allow to cross Tucson city limits.

          • Lacunaria

            No problem. I thought perhaps you had lost interest.

            No, I am just slow right now with slim and sporadic free time, but lots of interest. 🙂 Sorry for the delays.

            Probably not, but I was just stating my willingness to do so, and the instinctive moral obligation I feel to do so for the benefit of those closest to me. As far as I know this is a common trait, shared by most people.

            I agree, and if we could justly defend everyone without any cost (and agree on justice itself), then we would. It’s the cost and disagreement over what justice is that requires us to compromise, and, I would argue, leads us to a state.

            May I assume I know these people are Mexican gang members because of my prior knowledge of their misdeeds, or am I unaware of their gang affiliation or previous violations of rights?

            You are aware of their gang affiliation (from immigration vetting), but not what they have individually done (otherwise we could arrest or exclude them). I think this is most realistic.

            I won’t defend people from the consequences of their own actions, If that’s what you’re asking I’m not sure I understand the question.

            Yes, that’s what I’m asking about — shady behavior, bad temperament, and a lifestyle that invites trouble, causing a greater burden upon neighbors.

            Yes I might move if I found my neighborhood becoming less safe. My primary interest is my own safety and the safety of my family. It’s more likely, though, I would hire a different security agency. One that provided me with the level of security I’m paying for.

            That assumes that you have enough funds to match the threat (and guards willing to take that risk). Most people may not, and richer people tend to already live in communities which have tighter security and innately exclude immigrants by price.

            That’s correct. Legitimate authority requires unanimous consent. I have previously tried and failed to find any reasonable justification for the use of aggressive force by one group against another otherwise peaceful group or individual.

            So, any injustice against people who disagree dissolves the whole agreement? Does that seem realistic to you? At the very least, wouldn’t the agreement remain among the 99%?

            Does immigration to a state indicate any degree of consent to the exchange of taxes for protection?

            That would depend, I suppose, on what type of agreement, if any, the immigrant had voluntarily made with those claiming to represent the state. Someone who enters into a valid and binding contract with another party is obligated to honor their commitments.

            Doesn’t the US require immigrants to explicitly or implicitly pledge to abide by its laws?

            Is a state more legitimate the more people consent to it? e.g. 40% vs. 90% consent.

            No.

            What does legitimacy mean, then? Because surely, a state is more moral the more it’s citizens consent to it, right?

            Absolutely. However I can imagine private insurance arrangements providing protection against threats of aggression outside of my community and private security forces – perhaps also through insurance contracts – providing protection within the community.

            Ok, but then your insurance premiums will be directly affected by whoever moves into your neighborhood, and local and geopolitical tensions, etc., correct? And what happens if you cannot afford the change in premiums?

            (probably at multiple geographic levels).

            I’m not sure what that means.

            I meant that you would form agreements within your local community, and also with larger communities or between communities, and so on outwards for efficiency and for defending against greater and greater threats such as states.

            e.g. the Schengen Agreement compromises on external immigration in exchange for easier internal immigration.

            Moreover, such agreements would require compromise with your community regarding what threats you are defending against and how, including the immigration of high risk non-criminals.

            Not necessarily. Does my contract or agreement with this community include my acceptance of future changes to the contract without my consent?

            If the historical development of states and such community agreements are any indication, yes, but for our purposes regarding compromise on immigration, it’s enough that future changes would be restricted to a framework for continuing compromise on external threats, like voting.

            Ad hoc agreements per threat would be ideal, but it also creates holes in defense which can be fatal.

            I would expect a community to have existing bylaws (think CCRs established by a homeowner’s association.) to which I agreed when I moved in. Accepting such an agreement would be a condition of my purchasing property and moving into the community just as it is now. If I don’t like the conditions and limitations I’m free to buy somewhere else.

            Yes, I’m arguing that the state is like a viral CCR with some fudging in practice, since such agreements have high stakes and we want them to have inertia.

            By high risk immigrants do you mean men, blacks, Muslims, Mexicans? Who exactly?

            Think urban gangs. We have reasons to believe that they would commit violence or cooperate with those who do and even breed violence as their membership expands, but we cannot yet prove criminal behavior individually.

            Those groups already exist in the US and may pose as much of a threat as immigrants.

            Sure, but the state has already committed to those inside and, by your voting for unrestricted immigration of high risk people, the US will be allowing greater injustices in violation of its pledge, and it will be committing greater injustice against existing members in the form of higher taxes and security constraints.

            So, even if you personally wanted to include everyone, you might reasonably compromise and exclude them in exchange for mutual defense.

            Are those my only choices? My principals or safety?

            What other options do you think are realistic? You are already compromising your ideal principles and ideal safety, simply by prioritizing who you will defend based upon family, good neighbors, risk, etc.

            Bear in mind that historical crime, raids, war, and the very fact that states have largely conquered the world, indicates an even greater need to compromise in order to defend against them.

            Indeed, your only alternative is to form consensual agreements against the state, but the rigidity of the agreements that you seem to require and the functional substitutability of the state for those agreements in practice, greatly reduces any motivation people might have to form such agreements with you.

            Not sure what point you are making here. The fact that an unauthorized (by me) organization forces conditions and limitations on me through threats of violence and robs me at gunpoint as payment for doing so isn’t in any way justified because I may benefit in some way.

            But you knew it was coming, you have the right of exit, you can vote, run for office, and the mutual defense agreement bears some striking similarities to what you might reasonably agree to, namely payment and compromise on mutual defense.

            I’m not saying that you approve of the entire present state, but it seems plausible to infer that you consent to some degree to some of it, and, by revealed preference, you think it’s currently your best option. Sometimes, we can only choose between bad alternatives, especially regarding defense.

            Believe me, the state, which is just some group of people claiming authority they haven’t been given, isn’t attempting to approach any moral state unless that state is “might makes right”.

            There are many hallmarks that the US founders tried to maximize and balance both consent and effectiveness of state agreements, specifically in order to make the use of force more moral.

            This is perfectly just because his is a private community. I might also choose a community with few if any restrictions of any kind. choice is good.

            I agree entirely. And when such a loose community faces a crisis or a state takes them over, then shouldn’t they bear some responsibility for not compromising on a stronger agreement that could have saved them?

            There is no legitimate authority at a national level to restrict the movements of people who are peacefully and safely traveling on public, non-privately controlled streets and highways.

            I agree, but absent a state, perhaps everything will be private or the community that builds the road would not declare universal entitlement to it. It seems presumptuous to assume that they must, or that, because of some injustice, they instantly become a state and therefore must allow everyone.

            For instance people and communities in Montana have no legitimate authority to dictate to people in Arizona who they may or may not allow to cross their border with California, New Mexico, or Mexico. People in Phoenix may not tell residents of Tucson who they may allow to cross Tucson city limits.

            I agree, if you want to assume that there is no Schengen-style agreement between US states. So, before the US unrestricts immigration, do you think it should be federally legal for each state to restrict its own immigration?

          • Ron H.

            I agree, and if we could justly defend everyone without any cost (and agree on justice itself), then we would. It’s the cost and disagreement over what justice is that requires us to compromise, and, I would argue, leads us to a state.

            If wishes were horses. I don’ see any compromise in acknowledging that we are limited in our capacity to defend against injustice. Especially injustice we are not aware of except intellectually. We know that many people in Venezuela are being treated unjustly by those in government, but we don’t know any as individuals (I don’t), nor do we have any reasonable or realistic ability to help them.

            [gang member] Yes, that’s what I’m asking about — shady behavior, bad temperament, and a lifestyle that invites trouble, causing a greater burden upon neighbors.

            I’m not sure their coming from Mexico is any more a factor than their coming from Oklahoma. You are assuming a state is in place with borders and immigration control if you say the gang members have been vetted by someone before being allowed into the US. I’m presuming no central government, and public services provided by competing private companies.

            That assumes that you have enough funds to match the threat (and guards willing to take that risk). Most people may not and richer people tend to already live in communities which have tighter security and innately exclude immigrants by price.

            Well yes, If I can’t afford to move I guess I won’t. Rich people can already afford many things I can’t, and I an afford many things lower income people can’t afford. I’m not sure how that relates to a discussion of border control.

            Most people already pay for police protection that essentially amounts to taking a report after a crime has been committed, and trying to locate a suspect. there’s little actual protection provided. If you check, you will find that police are under no obligation to protect any individual, only society at large – whatever that means.
            I expect security people to do what they do – that is protect me from aggressive violence by others. If they are guards, I suspect they are willing to take the risk, otherwise they would be doing something safer for a living.

            There are hundreds of thousands of people in the US right now who volunteer to travel half way around the world to live in unpleasant conditions and shoot at, and be shot at by, heavily armed people they don’t even know, on a daily basis. Why would they balk at a cushy job protecting me from some cranky gang members?

            So, any injustice against people who disagree dissolves the whole agreement? Does that seem realistic to you? At the very least, wouldn’t the agreement remain among the 99%?

            Let me word it this way: people may join together, voluntarily, to form an agreement for any peaceful purpose they wish. Others who don’t agree will not be members of the group, and may not legitimately be forced to participate, nor will they enjoy the benefits. Think of a bowling league. People voluntarily form or join a league. They agree to follow the rules, follow a schedule, pay dues and other expenses, and wear the team shirt. In return they enjoy all the benefits of bowling in a league, and the comradery of being with other like minded individuals. People who don’t want the benefits need not join. Members can quit at any time, and lose only the benefits.

            Doesn’t the US require immigrants to explicitly or implicitly pledge to abide by its laws?

            Those who apply as legal immigrants, yes. Those people are committed to whatever they promised to do. Illegal immigrants, no. It’s also implied that all persons within the political and geographic boundaries of the US are required to obey the law, but I don’t know anybody born in the US who has consented to that.

            What does legitimacy mean, then? Because surely, a state is more moral the more it’s citizens consent to it, right?

            No. I don’t think morality is the issue, it’s legitimacy, which requires consent. “Consent of the governed” as someone once wrote in a long, ranting letter to George III.

            Ok, but then your insurance premiums will be directly affected by whoever moves into your neighborhood, and local and geopolitical tensions, etc., correct? And what happens if you cannot afford the change in premiums?

            Yes, I expect insurance premiums to reflect the risk of expected loss involved. That’s what insurance is – a pooling of risk to prevent catastrophic financial loss to individuals. Insurance companies already rate various areas and neighborhoods based on loss experience.

            What’s not clear how you imagine undesirables moving into my neighborhood. It’s possible my community has Homeowner Association rules forbidding sales to suspected Mexican gang members or other unwelcome riff-raff – an agreement to which I’ve consented and signed on. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I chose this neighborhood.


            The Schengen Agreement compromises on external immigration in exchange for easier internal immigration.

            I’m not a party to a Schengen agreement.

            Yes, I’m arguing that the state is like a viral CCR with some fudging in practice, since such agreements have high stakes and we want them to have inertia.

            I haven’t consented to a viral CCR with some fudging.

            Think urban gangs. We have reasons to believe that they would commit violence or cooperate with those who do and even breed violence as their membership expands, but we cannot yet prove criminal behavior individually.

            Urban gangs are a threat with or without immigration. Those groups already exist in the US and may pose as much of a threat as immigrants.

            Sure, but the state has already committed to those inside and, by your voting for unrestricted immigration of high risk people, the US will be allowing greater injustices in violation of its pledge, and it will be committing greater injustice against existing members in the form of higher taxes and security constraints.

            I’m not exactly “voting” for unrestricted immigration of high risk people, but if there was a vote on that issue, and the majority wanted unrestricted immigration of high risk people, Wouldn’t that be the system working as intended? There are many other mechanisms at work protecting people from aggression, and many others that are possible that don’t include turning entire groups away at the national border.

            So, even if you personally wanted to include everyone, you might reasonably compromise and exclude them in exchange for mutual defense.

            I’m not in favor of including everyone, I’m just not in favor of excluding everyone at the border. I don’t believe it offers much protection, and costs outrageous amounts, not to mention the injustice done to those who want to invite peaceful people to visit or do business with them, as well as the injustice done to those who are unfairly barred from entry.


            What other options do you think are realistic? You are already compromising your ideal principles and ideal safety, simply by prioritizing who you will defend based upon family, good neighbors, risk, etc.

            My ideal principles are not compromised by excluding people I don’t like from associating with me or from moving into my neighborhood. The NAP, freedom of association, “anything peaceful”, and self determination are not “inclusive” principles. I’m not required morally or otherwise to allow everybody or include everybody.

            Bear in mind that historical crime, raids, war, and the very fact that states have largely conquered the world, indicates an even greater need to compromise in order to defend against them.

            I’m totally on board with strong national defense against aggression by foreign states, but I don’t see that immigration restrictions have worked to enhance that.


            Indeed, your only alternative is to form consensual agreements against the state, but the rigidity of the agreements that you seem to require and the functional substitutability of the state for those agreements in practice, greatly reduces any motivation people might have to form such agreements with you.

            Do you mean it’s my only alternative to forcing peaceful people to act against their will and then forcing them to pay for the privilege? I’m not convinced the state with a monopoly on the use of force is an easy substitute for free choice and free markets.

            More later.

          • Lacunaria

            I’m not sure their coming from Mexico is any more a factor than their coming from Oklahoma.

            The issue is not gang immigration from Oklahoma vs. from an equivalent Mexican state, the issue is gang immigration from both vs. just one, and accessibility near vs. far. i.e. can a community be selective to limit its risk?

            I’m arguing that we all have a significant interest in reducing our exposure to risk, which motivates us to compromise at outer borders for mutual defense.

            And, like a state, I would expect any large mutual defense agreement to degrade at some level in terms of total consent and peaceful purposes, whether due to injustices or exigencies. But if it falls apart too easily, then that exposes people to greater risk. And if it cannot be changed or undone at all, such as no right of exit, then it is clearly too oppressive.

            That’s why I think it is good to view the state on a moral continuum toward the granular, consensual agreements which are our ideal, rather than view the state as an inherently illegitimate, paradoxical tyrant that just so happens to conveniently serve as a substitute for some of our necessary voluntary agreements.

            Most of the time, our two conceptions lead us in the same direction, but when it comes to mutual defense and it is argued that the state cannot democratically restrict immigration while wink-and-nudging that the state will still unilaterally benevolently defend us and malevolently tax us, then that actually moves us away from our ideal which would require us to make voluntary compromises for mutual defense.

            Well yes, If I can’t afford to move I guess I won’t. Rich people can already afford many things I can’t, and I an afford many things lower income people can’t afford. I’m not sure how that relates to a discussion of border control.

            It is related because limited resources motivates us to compromise on border control.

            Let me word it this way: people may join together, voluntarily, to form an agreement for any peaceful purpose they wish.

            Ok, so the state retains some legitimacy for those who have agreed to it. Then the question becomes, how do they agree to it? Arguably, immigration, default of birth with the right to exit, purchasing land from a citizen, appealing to the justice system, accepting welfare, etc.

            Surely, any realistically large and effective mutual defense agreement you form would have similar issues, no?

            It’s also implied that all persons within the political and geographic boundaries of the US are required to obey the law, but I don’t know anybody born in the US who has consented to that.

            How do you expect mutual defense agreements to work if it doesn’t include defaults for children?

            What does legitimacy mean, then? Because surely, a state is more moral the more it’s citizens consent to it, right?

            No. I don’t think morality is the issue, it’s legitimacy, which requires consent. “Consent of the governed” as someone once wrote in a long, ranting letter to George III.

            Sure, and then they tried their best to obtain the consent of the governed. You seem to be arguing that that does not confer any greater degree of legitimacy or morality to the state than if they had just established another monarchy.

            Yes, I expect insurance premiums to reflect the risk of expected loss involved. That’s what insurance is – a pooling of risk to prevent catastrophic financial loss to individuals. Insurance companies already rate various areas and neighborhoods based on loss experience.

            Right, so all you’ve done is have your compromises go through an insurance company rather than directly with your neighbors.

            What’s not clear how you imagine undesirables moving into my neighborhood. It’s possible my community has Homeowner Association rules forbidding sales to suspected Mexican gang members or other unwelcome riff-raff – an agreement to which I’ve consented and signed on. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I chose this neighborhood.

            Exactly! I’m arguing that such agreements are not just possible but highly likely if the state wasn’t already filling that role.

            Moreover, rather than narrowly forbidding sales to Mexican gang members, the HA categorical threat determination rules might be subject to a majority vote, which is closer to what the state does.

            I’m not exactly “voting” for unrestricted immigration of high risk people, but if there was a vote on that issue, and the majority wanted unrestricted immigration of high risk people, Wouldn’t that be the system working as intended?

            Yes, and I would argue that the closer that matches the ideal outcome (as would occur under entirely voluntary agreements), the more legitimate it is.

            In other words, if we would reasonably voluntarily agree to compromise by majority vote on external threats at the borders, including immigration, then that lends legitimacy to the state using that same method of determination.

            If, on the other hand, the state were to unilaterally unrestrict immigration while continuing to prevent local restrictions and continuing to defend and tax us, then we are actually moving away from outcomes matching our ideal non-state, voluntary agreements.

            I’m not in favor of including everyone, I’m just not in favor of excluding everyone at the border. I don’t believe it offers much protection, and costs outrageous amounts,

            You think that it costs more in resources and internal violations to keep high risk people outside the border, than to deal with their violations once they are inside?

            not to mention the injustice done to those who want to invite peaceful people to visit or do business with them, as well as the injustice done to those who are unfairly barred from entry.

            Would you expect to retain a right of universal invitation under a mutual defense agreement?

            If you would compromise on who you can invite, then are those excluded unfairly barred from entry?

            My ideal principles are not compromised by excluding people I don’t like from associating with me or from moving into my neighborhood. The NAP, freedom of association, “anything peaceful”, and self determination are not “inclusive” principles. I’m not required morally or otherwise to allow everybody or include everybody.

            I agree, but I think that Freiman and Brennan have been arguing that excluding people from moving into your community violates libertarian principles and specifically “the right of movement”.

            I’m totally on board with strong national defense against aggression by foreign states, but I don’t see that immigration restrictions have worked to enhance that.

            Certainly not all nor perhaps even most immigration restrictions truly enhance defense, but some immigration restrictions enhance internal and external defense and it’s up to the community itself to compromise on what those should be, or separate.

            I’m actually in favor of widely open immigration, I just don’t think that libertarianism entails that rejecting an immigrant is tantamount to convicting a citizen to prison without due process. We are not morally required to use the same criteria for both.

            Do you mean it’s my only alternative to forcing peaceful people to act against their will and then forcing them to pay for the privilege?

            No, I mean that you either have to cooperate with a state or form some agreement with others capable of defending you against individuals, groups, and states.

            I’m not convinced the state with a monopoly on the use of force is an easy substitute for free choice and free markets.

            I agree entirely that it’s not an easy substitute, and for just about every job other than mutual defense, the state should not be involved.

            Ensuring that choices and markets are free is a unique case because any mutual defense agreement will tend toward the problems of a state. Ideally, we would narrowly restrict those problems to mutual defense alone, including compromising at the border.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Actually, philosophers who defend the justice of the minimal state for purposes of national defense hold that non-consensual taxation for that purpose is morally permissible, and I contend that this argument is sound: http://naturalrightslibertarian.com/2012/10/justifying-the-minimal-state-part-ii/

          • Ron H.

            Who gets to decide what level of national defense is adequate? If you believe that free markets won’t provide an adequate supply of that particular service, then who gets to decide what an adequate level is?

            As for fairness, free riders can never be eliminated entirely and forced participation doesn’t seem to fix the problem. If the numbers are correct, half of Americans currently pay no federal income tax, and thus they pay nothing for national defense.

            I hear you saying that you know better than others in this matter and can legitimately force others to pay for your choices.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            In civil litigation, one party desires trial by jury, the other trial by combat. Who decides? When the state is providing an essential public good, someone must decide, and there is no alternative to democracy. The fact that we now allow free riders doesn’t discredit coercive taxation for national defense, it just means it should be more widely applied. I suggest you read the Eric Mack paper I linked to.

          • Ron H.

            Thanks for the reference. The Mack paper is well thought out and well written. However, I found his conclusion unsatisfying. I’m left with the same nagging question: Who, other than individuals themselves, is qualified to decide the relative value of the rights protection they may receive vs the rights violation they suffer by being forced to pay for the protection?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Few libertarians would deny that ordered anarchy is the ideal we should strive for, as it eliminates the coercion that we all abhor. But, I think it is plausible that in a world filled with states even worse than our own, national defense of some sort is required to preserve the highly imperfect liberty we have. I also find it plausible that the free rider problem would cause this good to be dangerously under supplied if contributions were voluntary. If everyone or most everyone were forced to bear this cost on a proportionate basis, there would be a strong incentive not to over or under spend. In answer to your specific question, if I pay my fair share, but others refuse, and we are attacked, then I suffer as a result of their free riding. That’s not just either.

          • Ron H.

            Have you considered that many of the routine interactions we now have with others might be adequate to ensure that the problem of free riding on national defense was minimal? For instance currently, if I borrow money to buy a car or a house, the lender will require that I insure them against financial losses due to damage or destruction of the property on which they have placed a lien.

            If national defense weren’t already provided by taxpayers, I would expect lenders to require insurance against their risk of property loss due to invasion by foreign powers also.

            In an anarchy, I expect insurance would play a larger role than it does now in protecting people against the misdeeds of others. If I were concerned about free riders I could require proof of personal liability insurance
            and national defense insurance before allowing people to shop in my store or attend an event in my
            stadium.

            I have a feeling the problem of free riders would not be as great as you think it would be, because it wouldn’t necessarily be costless.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            In the event of a nuclear war, there would be nobody around to make property claims or, for that matter, to pay them, so the amount charged for insurance would be arbitrary. Also, merchants who require proof of insurance would loose business to those who don’t, which is just free riding by other means. It’s an interesting idea, but highly speculative.

          • Ron H.

            You’re right about the futility of insuring against total nuclear war. The amount charged to insure against it would be $0.00. And only the Japanese have any experience with recovering from limited nuclear war.

          • Ron H.

            In addition, while I wholeheartedly support the right US citizens and everyone else to control access to their own private property, and to control access to private property as a group, it’s not clear who gets to decide what individuals may access public places, which are, as I understand it, available to everyone. If some people but not others may decide who may or may not peaceably use public streets and highways for their intended purpose, where does it stop? Anyone could be forbidden for any reason.

          • Lacunaria

            The question is whether public places are available to everyone in a country or everyone in existence, and most importantly, who gets to decide? Who gets to decide what land is public and what is private?

            As a factual matter, public places are treated as a kind of communal property, not universal property, and it strikes me as naive to simply assume that there is not a good reason for that, such as mutual defense agreements and people expressing their self-interest in limiting their obligations and who has easy access to them.

          • King Goat

            “The question is whether public places are available to everyone in a country or everyone in existence, and most importantly, who gets to decide?”

            Is that the question, or is it what would be morally right for whoever decides to decide?

          • Lacunaria

            Morality is at the center of both of our questions.

            The morality that you refer to depends upon whether we model the ideal state as approaching an agreement, or model it as approaching a God-like, independent, unilateral actor that conveniently absolves us of its violations while protecting most of our rights.

            The morality of my question pertains to practical implementation, which both of our models must admit to, and highlights the meta-moral of localizing authority and consequences.

            i.e. absent agreement on morality between people, separation is a moral option so that each may suffer (or benefit from) the consequences of their decisions.

          • King Goat

            What I’m getting at is, if the state is as you say something ‘approaching an agreement’ then can’t (and shouldn’t) we still judge whether what’s agreed upon is morally right or not? A state could be an agreement of people who’ve agreed to enslave all those they come across, we can’t say ‘well, they agreed so that’s all good!’ We can judge the morality of the result of various agreements.

          • Lacunaria

            Yes, I agree, agreements can be immoral, but the right of movement that we are discussing here is actually dependent upon an invitation and people can compromise regarding who they invite, notably for the security of their community.

            Now, you can push to reinterpret “public” as a universal invitation, but there’s no natural law demanding that when I or my community builds a road, then everyone in the world must be entitled to it.

            So, this is not a case where you and I are getting together to violate the rights of a third person. This is a case where the third person can’t come to our community unless one of us invites him and we can agree not to invite him.

            Arguably, we even have a (weaker) natural obligation to our neighbors not to expose them to undue risk, which would happen if one of your neighbors became the importation mechanism for a stream of high risk immigrants and they statistically started making trouble in your neighborhood.

          • AodhanOMuircheartaigh

            Bryan Caplan is right – countries like Ireland, for example, are essentially disgusting racist apartheid quasi-genocidal states which deny the benefits of the Irish economy to 7 billion foreigners for racist reasons. The sooner the borders are abolished the sooner the GDP will soar like an eagle, and the freer all “Irish” (whatever the f**k that means!) people will be.

          • Ron H.

            As public places are generally accepted as just that – places available to everyone for peaceful purposes, it would seem to by the obligation of those who would restrict its use to justify doing so. Being a member or non member of a club doesn’t seem like much of a distinction unless all non-member are excluded on that principle alone at all times, which is consistent with the common or joint ownership you suggest.

            Otherwise the question remains: Who gets to decide? Preferences may vary.

            Public places being available to “everyone in a country” would presumably include non-citizens as soon as they cross that artificial and arbitrarily determined magic line known as a “border”.

      • Lacunaria

        Is there a degree of risk over which a state can reject immigrants who are not criminals? If so, what moral principle justifies that difference?

        • Simonjh

          I am not convinced by the arguments Mark has put forward. Therefore my starting point would be that non-criminals would not be subject to immigration restrictions. Certainly, I think it goes way too far to somehow associate the citizens of a state with the policies of the government of that state. I suppose that, if the government of a state were corrupt in some way, we might think that the fact that someone had escaped conviction in that state, might not tell us very much about that person. We might think that some sort of vetting would be appropriate. But to be honest, I haven’t thought enough about it to say something useful about relevant moral principles. I do think that Mark may be on danger of smuggling immigration controls thru the back door. (Incidentally, I would not support uncontrolled immigration into states where welfare benefits are available to all residents. But that is a different issue.)

          • Lacunaria

            I think that welfare benefits is a related issue, because securing justice and mutual defense are also positive obligations. We are only obligated to the people within the US. The question of immigration is whether we can be forced to defend more people’s rights and be forced to protect against them from the inside.

            In other words, if we can restrict immigration due to it extending welfare, then why can’t we restrict immigration due to it extending protection to and from a high risk person?

            In both cases, admission statistically increases our burdens, even though the criteria we are using is not sufficient to banish or imprison existing residents of the US.

          • Simonjh

            I do not think the analogy works as well as it should. If a welfare state is in place (I do not suggest that it should be) then an immigrant may be automatically granted access to it, thereby potentially availing him/herself of benefits provided by others. The same does not apply to immigrants qua immigrants. Then there is a question of restricting the immigration of so-called high risk persons. I do not suggest, in principle, that this is impermissible. But a question is then raised as to how such high risk persons are to be identified. I don’t think think this should be a process whereby citizens of a particular state would be excluded, simply in virtue of their being citizens of that state. I would not be averse to saying that someone would be excluded on the basis of good evidence that they would cause harm to the citizens of the country they wished to enter.

          • Lacunaria

            If a welfare state is in place (I do not suggest that it should be) then an immigrant may be automatically granted access to it, thereby potentially availing him/herself of benefits provided by others. The same does not apply to immigrants qua immigrants.

            What do you mean? The state likewise automatically grants immigrants access to the justice and defense systems, which is provided by others. If he is high risk, then the state might even be obligated to immediately expend resources in monitoring him.

            Similarly, an immigrant might need welfare immediately or he might just statistically correlate with needing welfare. Of course, identifying those who might need welfare is easier compared to identifying immigrants who might make trouble.

            Then there is a question of restricting the immigration of so-called high risk persons. I do not suggest, in principle, that this is impermissible. But a question is then raised as to how such high risk persons are to be identified.

            Good question, and the broad criteria you mention seem reasonable. After all, dissidents also escape from statistically bad states. But I also think it is inevitable that whatever standard we should use, in practice, we will have to compromise with our community on which threats rise to that level.

            But I’m particularly interested in what libertarian principle (that Chris, et alii, would accept) allows high risk immigrants to be treated differently from citizens, since their series of posts seems to be predicated upon the idea that libertarianism necessitates their equivalence.

    • King Goat

      Good lord, this edifice is overturned rather easily: tax migrants (we actually do this to documented ones).

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        ^ [This is my personal troll. I think he has a little too much time on his hands, as he follows me around BHL like a lost puppy dog, commenting on my comments. I am trying to discourage this, as I don’t have the patience to train him not to soil the carpet. Thus, I am now activating troll counter-measures…]

        Hey, Barnyard Animal, did I happen to mention that my Libertarian Philosophy in the Real World: The Politics of Natural Rights (Bloomsbury, 2015) received a really positive review in Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, http://interpretationjournal.com/backissues/Vol_42_3.pdf. My favorite part is this (p.489): “It would be misleading, however, to suggest that Friedman simply speaks to shared beliefs. He often offers arguments that are remarkably lucid, succinct, and thorough, and he is honest when he does not know how to solve a problem.”

        Was that also your favorite? If you ask your Mommy really nice, perhaps she’ll loan you the money to buy a copy.
        BTW, I’m still looking for great stuff written by “King Goat,” but haven’t found it. Don’t fret, I’ll keep trying.

        • King Goat

          Wow, you really are autistic.

      • Lacunaria

        So, you are suggesting that immigrants be taxed as much as necessary (e.g. commensurate to their risk) to prevent any violations and degradation in the rule of law?

        • King Goat

          I’m suggesting they be taxed like everyone else. We don’t assess our citizens higher or lower taxes based on some ‘risk assessment’, and I don’t think we should do that to immigrants (or tourists or other visitors, etc.).

          • Lacunaria

            But then you are not responding to Mark’s argument regarding the material degradation of the rule of law, nor differential responsibility in defense, which are not addressed by taxing the high risk immigrant the same.

          • King Goat

            We don’t tax our own citizens more or less according to some ‘risk assessment’ even though some are surely more of a risk and later burden on the rule of law. Now you’ll say I think ‘but we agreed to do that!,’ but, again, apart from thinking that begs the question, I don’t think we agreed to do that at all (and/or we didn’t agree to do otherwise with immigrants).

  • Pingback: Rational Review News Digest, 06/07/16 - France: Strikes hit third week, Hollande mounts pressure to halt action - Thomas L. Knapp - Liberty.me()

  • Letting the wrong books be brought into the country can be more dangerous than immigrants who have wrong ideas in their heads. Commie books, socialist books, fascist books, or Nazi books come to mind. If people read them, they could become attracted to these bad isms and decide to move America in those directions. Should the U.S. government ban their entry into the country? There is no doubt about it–freedom is dangerous. But the alternative is worse.

    • Chris Freiman

      Yes, I think this is a very important point. You might be interested in this article:
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jopp.12084/abstract

    • Lacunaria

      Sure, and we accept that risk for people inside our country. That doesn’t mean we are obligated to accept that risk for anyone in the world who may come to our country.

    • AodhanOMuircheartaigh

      Yes, “permitting” the sale of Mein Kampf is more dangerous than letting in terrorists. The alternative – keeping terrorists out – is a sickening act of racist apartheid genocidal statism.

  • j_m_h

    I think the missing aspect of your argument is that of what impact to others exists with the exercise of the given freedom. It may not change your conclusion but seems like you’re simply glossing over a critical part of the overal analysis.

  • Lacunaria

    What is the freedom of movement? Is it the freedom to go wherever you like, or to only go to unclaimed land, or is it only the freedom to go where you’ve been invited?

    • AodhanOMuircheartaigh

      Good questions. To the BHL crowd it seems to mean freedom to trespass. After all, the state doesn’t REALLY own all that public land, the people do! And so….. oh wait, I’m stepping into a thousand contradictions here and I haven’t called someone a racist in five minutes so hold up

      • Lacunaria

        Yes, I wish they would address these criticisms in detail. Their arguments seem to hinge on “public” land and invitation, but the community decides what is public as well as what “public” means, and there is no violation of any rights if there is an agreement on invitation, as one would expect with mutual defense.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    For anyone interested, according to the Pew data previously cited, 99% of Afghans believe sharia should be the law of the land, and 61% would apply to to all citizens; 89% favor stoning as the punishment for adultery, and 79% favor death as the punishment for apostasy. Pew didn’t specifically ask about homosexuality, but I suspect the results would be roughly the same as for adultery, http://www.city-journal.org/html/brutal-realities-14573.html.

  • Jason Fireston

    I agree freedom to immigrate is more important than right to own a weapon with a large magazine.