Tuesday, June 24, 2014

LIbertarian Apologetics

One of the problems with "choosing a side," or deciding to classify yourself as something — Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, and yes, libertarian — is that you almost immediately launch yourself into defending all that the label implies, exaggerating its good points, pooh-poohing any evidence of its weaknesses, and generally becoming a boring true believer. That's one reason I call myself a "libertarian nationalist" and do my own defining, though in some contexts I call myself a "sort of libertarian."

Anyhow, above all, I try to be a realist, and form any resultant ideology I have from whatever I deem most closely relates to reality. I consider a great deal of what is called "libertarianism" to be very realistic, so I work from that. But one thing about an ideology is that it can't cover everything. There are limits to its applicability. As I understand it, quantum theory and relativity have been found to be fundamentally contradictory, so both can't be entirely correct. However, both theories are extremely useful in explaining physical reality as we perceive it. Again, I'm a layman, so I may not understand this exactly, but my impression is that relativity breaks down when you get to atomic nuclei and black holes, and quantum theory doesn't work when you're talking about extreme distances and velocities. I may have that wrong, but the principle applies.

Libertarianism works pretty well for the most part a nation full of fairly enlightened Western people from the Christian tradition with the shared values that their heritage gives them. It doesn't work worth a damn in Uganda or New Guinea, or in nations composed of large numbers of people from differing traditions. A libertarian Muslim nation seems like a total impossibility.  So this implies that one libertarian obsession — open borders — is the straw that breaks the camel's back. That's not to say libertarianism is wrong. It's to say that its applicability and feasibility are limited.  Mangan explains why:

Those funny libertarians

Over at EconLog, we read another episode in the horrendous injustice of national borders.

One has to admit that, taken on its own terms, it's difficult (for me anyway) to mount an effective counter-argument. Economic man sees nothing but money, and if some arrangement will increase the amount of money some people earn - in this case a Cuban baseball player and his new employer - then for Economan, all is just fine. Who are you to interfere in the free trade of other people?

But, those libertarians seem to think we don't even need nations. If borders are arbitrary lines, then that means nations are arbitrary. So we might as well do away with nations, at least our own, altogether. It might be argued that a border delimits the reach of a government, but if a government can't even enforce the border, that would seem nonsensical.

Libertarians might argue, and for all I know some do, that nations are relics of a time when communications were slow and difficult, when people lived and died in the same places where they were born, and when we didn't know of the wonderful benefits of open borders.

The sense of belonging and connection that marks a nation are deeply built into our psyches, and are not going away. In that sense, longing for open borders is like longing for communism: they're both utopian attacks on human nature, which have not a chance in hell of producing viable societies. Humans are territorial, and in most of history, masses of people coming into your territory would be considered an invasion, an act of war.

In any case, free trade does not even in the slightest imply open borders. The nation was founded in order to provide for the common defense and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, not to become a faceless entrepôt where we are to live in perpetual economic insecurity.
Quibcag: Though Japanese, the girls of Joshiraku (じょしらく) respect the nationhood and borders of the United States, which is more than you can say for Barack Obama.

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