Give Me Your Elitist, Aristocratic, White Europeans, Yearning To Breath Free

Joshua Holmes of No Treason rightly takes Hans-Hermann Hoppe to task for his recent anti-immigration article. Hoppe, an anarchist-libertarian émigré from West Germany, believes the full force of the state should be used against those who wish to immigrate to this country, unless these immigrants first find someone willing to employ them who "also assumes the full costs associated with the importation of his immigrant-employee." What do these costs include? "[T]he full cost of employment, the cost of housing, healthcare, and all other amenities associated with the immigrant’s presence."

Full stop. This is libertarianism? Since when did libertarianism obligate employers to provide anything other than the mutually agreed upon contractrual wage to their employees? When Wal-Mart's critics complain that Wal-Mart is "permitted to socialize (externalize) a substantial part of [its] costs onto other property owners" by not paying their employees a living wage with adequate healthcare benefits, do libertarians accept this as a valid criticism of Wal-Mart? It seems to me that Hoppe's argument is nearly identical to the one made by proponents of the minimum wage.

Joshua Holmes, in his critique mentioned above, correctly identifies Hoppe's error:

The public roads, sewers, water, electricity, etc. that the state coercively provides are neither the fault of the business nor the immigrant, nor does their agreement to trade labour for wages in any [way] empower the state (except in its role as contract enforcer). The contract does not create anti-discrimination laws, or public sewers, or any other state intervention. It's a private agreement between employer and employee: you will do x for y. That coming to this country and becoming a legal resident also entitles the immigrant to the protection of the state is not the fault of the business or the immigrant, either. The only argument that could be made is that the contract between employer and immigrants grants the immigrant legal status to live in the country and, therefore, to enjoy its public facilities. But why should that be a concern of the business? The business cares about turning labour into profit (the immigrant, too). What the state does with the agreement is out of the power of the company or the immigrant, and neither one could rightly be blamed for it. If the state passed a law saying it would shoot 10 bunnies every time a parent hugged their child, does the problem belong with the child, the parent, or the state? Should parents refrain from hugging their children because the state will commit bunnycide if they do? Of course not. Then why should the immigrant be restrained for the state's excesses?

Further, employers who hire immigrants are not the only ones who bring new people into the country -- people who potentionally increase welfare costs for the rest of us. Every parent who decides to have a child -- even wealthy parents whose children will probably never need to rely on state welfare -- imposes externalities on the rest us, for these children are "allowed to make free use of every public facility: roads, parks, hospitals, [and] schools." China's tyrannical one-child policy -- better yet, a no-child policy -- could be easily justified, if not necessarily required, if we accept Hoppe's argument.[1]

Hoppe also complains that instead of "well-heeled, highly value-productive immigrants, whose presence enhances communal property values all-around" (read: white Europeans), with a system open immigration, "employers under democratic welfare State conditions are permitted by state import increasingly cheap, low-skilled and low value-productive immigrants, regardless of their effect on all-around communal property values" (read: brown hispanics).

It's interesting that Hoppe of all people makes this argument. At Mises University, in a lecture excoriating Ronald Coase, Richard Posner, and the rest of the neoclassical law and economics movement, Hoppe argued that if we accept wealth maximization instead of natural rights as our standard of judgement when analyzing government policy, we should be willing to expropriate wealth from unproductive ascetics and give this wealth to more productive businessmen. We should be willing to force businessmen to remain employed even when they would prefer early retirement.[2] So how can Hoppe, a fierce advocate of natural rights, use decreases in communal property values as a justification for state intervention?

Hoppe concludes by psychoanalyzing advocates of an open border policy, whom he classifies as left-libertarians:

They were initially drawn to libertarianism as juveniles because of its "antiauthoritarianism" (trust no authority) and seeming "tolerance," in particular toward "alternative" – non-bourgeois lifestyles. They can indulge in their "alternative" lifestyle without having to pay the normal price for such conduct, i.e., discrimination and exclusion. To legitimize this course of action, they insist that one lifestyle is as good and acceptable as another.

And who are these nefarious lefties? Why, Randians of course, who portray "big businessmen-entrepreneurs [as] heroes."

Huh? If the term "left" means anything with regard to politics, it means a distrust of, and opposition to, big business. Of all the libertarians Hoppe could have classified as of the left, why did he choose Rand? Rand is famous for using exactly the same right-wing, socially conservative ad hominem as Hoppe uses here: she criticizes the " 'libertarian' hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism." If Rand is to be classified as a libertarian -- and she should be, despite her own objections -- she would be on the far right end of the spectrum.

That said, I, for one, fully accept Hoppe's psychoanalysis. The antiauthoritarianism and principle of tolerance are a big part of why I originally found libertarianism so attractive. My support for a policy of open borders is indeed derived from egalitarianism. Perhaps Hoppe should read his fellow Mises faculty member Roderick Long on why equality, properly understood, is the very essence of libertarianism.

fn1. Of course, additional children and immigrants are not actually a net cost for society. As David Friedman and Julian Simon argue, the positive externalities of open immigration and allowing parents the freedom to decide how many children they have far outweigh any negative externalities.

fn2. At the end of the lecture, Hoppe unintentially provided the answer to his own criticism: if we actually implemented such policies, it would result in less social wealth, not more, because people wouldn't work as hard if they knew their wealth could be taken from them when they are no longer putting it to its most productive use. Hoppe seemed to believe this demonstates how neoclassical wealth maximization fails on its own terms. But if such a policy makes us worse off than we would be otherwise, neoclassical economics wouldn't recommend it.

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[...] ted me to this great

[...] ted me to this great piece by Gene Callahan, in which he makes the same point I made in my previous [...]

While HHH seems to have some

While HHH seems to have some bad reasons, I don't think its so unreasonable to be anti-immigration in a huge welfare state. Many incoming immigrants are revenue-negative, hence they increase the tax burden on the rest of the population. If immigration leads to more of our money being stolen, isn't it a reasonable thing for a libertarian to be against?

(Libertopia, of course, should have open borders)

HHH is a fascist fist in a

HHH is a fascist fist in a libertarian glove. Why other libertarians even give the man the time of day is beyond me. To flip his own view around - views like his on immigration destroy the communal intellectual property values of libertarianism by being a good example of a low-value (if not negative!) added viewpoint. He's an external cost on those of us who call ourselves libertarians and actually care about whether non-white/non-American people have opportunities to improve their lives. Rant over.

"If immigration leads to

"If immigration leads to more of our money being stolen, isnâ??t it a reasonable thing for a libertarian to be against?"

Perhaps the libertarian ought to be against stealing, instead.

Patri, The problem with that


The problem with that argument -- especially coming from a hardcore Austrian like HHH, when hardcore Austrians tend to reject any compromises with the state if those compromises entail violation of natural rights -- is that it can be used to justify countless anti-libertarian positions. For example, the current war on fast food could be easily justified on the grounds that since medical care is socialized, obsesity and other unhealthy lifestyles impose a cost on everyone else.

That should be a libertarian argument against socialized medicine, not for government restrictions on unhealthy lifestyles.

judging by the statement, i

judging by the statement, i would question the term 'libertarian' when associated with that person. he sounds like a Republican red neck to me.

John - Yeah, it would be

John - Yeah, it would be more accurate to put it that way. I meant "against immigration as a policy given the current system, due to being against stealing in general".

Micha - In the Austrian context, you are probably right. But in general...yes, the same line of reasoning can be used to make many other arguments. Aren't those the exact sort of "Do the best you can in the current situation" positions that consequentalists take? For example, being pragmatic about making what few changes we can in national politics rather than insisting on the Libertarian platform or nothing.

I agree that, as you and Lopez point out, its important not to obscure the fundamental issue.

I'm not opposed to

I'm not opposed to compromise and baby steps, so long as compromise moves us closer to the goal. I believe things like school vouchers and social security privatization, while potentially risky, do have a good chance of moving us closer to complete privatization. Immigration restrictions and fast food bans, on the other hand, do not. Further, even from a purely short term consequentialist perspective, immigration restrictions ignore the utility of the immigrants, and as you've noted before, even the poorest Americans are wealthier than much of the rest of the world. That is why I said equality is essential to libertarianism of both consequentialist and non-consequentialist varieties. Equality determines whose interests we take into account.

I appreciate the link and

I appreciate the link and the good word.

I'm not against baby steps, but restricting immigration is not one of them.

As a sidenote, it might be time for the liberblogs to take something like school vouchers or social security accounts and really figure out how it works and what's going on.

- Josh

Heâ??s talking about

Heâ??s talking about natural rights Micha.

So is Long. Altough Longs arguments are also essential for consequentialism. Equality lies at the base of both.

Long quotes Mises: "It is

Long quotes Mises: "It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action.

Which of course is precisely my point to Patri and Hoppe and Rockwell that support of immigration control is support of state violence, because immigration control IS state violence.

"Perhaps Hoppe should read

"Perhaps Hoppe should read his fellow Mises faculty member Roderick Long on why equality, properly understood, is the very essence of libertarianism."

He's talking about natural rights Micha.

Be interesting to see if Long can get a pro-immigration piece published at