Roma communis nostra patria est
Modestinus, D 50,1.33
Libertarian considerations are utterly necessary to analyze and grip the phenomena of mass migration. In October 2015 Martin van Staden gave us some splendid thoughts on this issue.
This is a burning issue in politics, and remains unresolved and not intellectually grasped. More deliberation and engagement is necessary as confusion still reigns.
Van Staden explains the difference between true libertarians and people called by him “liberal nationalists”, people being against the mostly-Muslim mass migration into Europe.
I may be excused to give a short glimpse on myself first.
I am an immigrant to South Africa from Austria. I lawfully applied for a residence permit, received a temporary one, applied also for a permanent one, paid a deposit, received the permanent residence permit, but retained my Austrian citizenship. I enjoy a lot of fundamental rights here, save the political ones. I may not vote and may not be voted into a public office. That is perfectly fine with me.
Van Staden’s arguments
His arguments, some of which I follow and others not are in essence as follows:
– The state should only be concerned with public safety, maintaining the necessary military and police forces and maintain a judicial system to resolve disputes and violations of law. I do agree.
– Borders have only separating purposes, and stand in the way of individual rights. I disagree. Borders might be arbitrary and their purpose abused as we have seen with the communist “Iron Curtain” in Europe. But borders, fences, walls and limits also have a peace-preservation and -instituting function. The English word ‘town’ has the same linguistic root like the German word ‘Zaun‘ (fence). In German we speak of einhegen, einfrieden and that means ‘fencing in’. They are the physical embodiment of clear legal lines which we as individual persons use to mark the sphere of our rights. Maintaining those clear lines is an act of peace, a sign of pacification as every right has limits, including physical, geographical ones. Otherwise, it would be arbitrary.
– The essence of the challenge seems to be for him citizenship. I agree and defend this concept.
– National identity and cultural heritage is meaningless from an individualistic outlook. I disagree. I don’t mean to start a ‘querelle Allemande’ but certainly every individual has a right to cultivate his national and cultural identity and heritage, alone or together with others.
– A balanced view on Muslims is necessary. I agree and Van Staden rightfully indicates how many awful ideas, concepts and ideologies had been constructed by – mostly bearded (my emphasis) – grumpy old white men. He is especially right when he points out that the source of the problem is with us, and not with the migrants.
– He sees ‘democracy’, or better a very relativistic political system, as the open backdoor which actually creates the problem. I partly agree; the biggest creator of the problems is the welfare and nanny state.
– Van Staden maintains that a true libertarian has to oppose collectivism per se. I agree, but then he accuses ‘liberal nationalists’ of being collectivists. I doubt this is true, to advocate and defend a common national and cultural identity and heritage is certainly not collectivism. Also, assimilation is not a collectivist demand on immigrants but a clear and honest offer how to integrate yourself into a given society. The Free Market Foundation (FMF) does not accept socialist as members; that is not market collectivism but a clear message about the own substance and essence.
– Van Staden defines pragmatism as a philosophy without principle. Again I agree but have to emphasize that even with a strong and clear ideology you cannot escape being pragmatic in your day-to-day business. ‘Facilis summus in verbis’ as Otto von Bismarck once said. Dogmatism 24/7 is not helpful.
– Van Staden sees the (aporetic) collision and conflict between the individual and the state. I partly agree, but I cannot consent with him denying the profound meaning of citizenship, nation and cultural heritage. He rightfully points out the hypocrisy of some reactions to terror and suppression. I share his commitment to “freedom for everyone, everywhere and always” but have to emphasize that freedom and a free market system has to be defended. How we can do that without damaging this principle and unintentionally enslave ourselves is one of the most challenging questions of these times.
And now some remarks of my own.
If we speak about terror and terrorist organizations we should be very clear.
The biggest terrorists since 1914 have been states waging totalitarian wars, falling into the hands of totalitarian ideologies, developing more and more threatening military systems of tremendous destructive capacity, and subduing the individual under more and more repressive rules. This all, of course, in the name of freedom, anti-terrorism, safety and so on.
“Nationalism” is defined by the Compact Oxford Dictionary as strong support for and pride in one’s own country – or nation – often to an extreme degree. For me, “fatherland’ and “mother-tongue”, my cultural and religious heritage, has a meaning and a purpose. I am defending it from being aggressively pushed out. Defending the own can never honestly be called ‘nationalism’, except by intellectually dishonest cultural Marxists. Individualism, fundamental rights, free markets and liberty rest on them, and are therefore under constant attack from nihilism, the result of the Critical Theory that Van Staden rightfully mentions. Those have not the individual in mind but the empty creature, the empty sheet of paper, not a person in the proper philosophical sense but something with which the totalitarian helmsmen and his academic underlings can treat arbitrarily.
Does a right to immigrate exist either de lege lata (existing law) or de lege ferenda (the law as it should be in the future).
It is interesting that one of the first fundamental rights recognized was the ius emigrandi. It was formulated in the religious wars of the 16th century. As then, most people had been legally restricted to a certain territory (glebes adscripta since the late Roman Empire). It was a very important right given to people dissenting religiously from their rulers. It was also a liberal demand in the 19th century that taxes on emigration be abolished.
But does a right to immigrate into a certain country exist as a natural, fundamental right? Is any private person obliged to enter into any kind of agreement or contract with another one? The private autonomy, the liberty to enter into or not enter into any kind of exchange with others is a most important principle of a free society and economy. It is presently endangered by ‘anti-discrimination’ rules which make it, laughably, nearly criminal to discriminate.
Of course, we all discriminate for whatever purposes and this is an essential part of our freedom. It may be silly not to buy bread from a bakery whose owners have red hair, but it is not the concern of the state and the legal system to judge that. Imagine a life in which you have to justify, weekly, to some government official why you decided to take a particular job or why you have chosen that tailor or satisfied your drinking needs in this pub and not another.
With states as the organized political entity of a politically-organized community, it is the same. It must be the unrestricted political freedom of that community to say ‘yes’ or ’no’ to immigration, to open its doors or to keep them closed or to make certain conditions and regulations for immigration. The fact that I am personally in favour or a generous immigration regime does not consume this political right of a certain political entity. To the contrary, a natural right to immigrate would destroy the substance and essence of this political entity as would the substance and essence of the FMF if it would be obliged to accept everyone as members regardless of whether those would be collectivists or all kind of socialists or communists.
The biggest blunder, is the welfare state. First, in any case and then in this specific historical situation. As the great German scientist Heisenberg discovered in the late twenties of the last century – quite a time ago but still not known by politicians – big masses of people act independently from the free will of its individuals according to the natural laws of science.
One of those laws is the second law of thermodynamics.
Basically, it proposes that nature tends to equalize all differences in potentiality. That means South Africans will not be surprised that poor people stream into wealthy areas, that areas of wealth attract poor people and that differences in population structures like age and low or high birth rates are triggers for migration movements. That does not mean that nothing can be done against unwanted migrations, as the Australian immigration policy shows, but the root of the movements must be clear. And Van Staden rightfully pointed out – with other arguments – that the root of the problems lies with us, with European and North American structures.
A welfare state, a system which offers a basic minimum income and a lot of ‘free’ stuff, subsidies for this and that, attracts poor masses from pre-industrial societies. ‘Industry’ in the Latin sense means diligence, hard work. No pain, no gain. Our wealth is based on hard, organized and productive, economically-meaningful work, not on state interventions or public debt. But who can resist a painless income? If still today Angela Merkel refuses to set a upper limit on so-called ‘refugees’ and on the other hand presides over an extensive welfare state, organized with that specific German thoroughness, it is an offer to the whole world to come and cash in and then rest from travel in the hammock.
But with that the essence and the substance of a modern industrial state is destroyed. If you then add the fact that those people are in most cases cultural and religious aliens, you get a dangerous, poisonous brew.
In my humble opinion, the libertarian counter-example is Hong Kong.
You may freely travel into it, you receive a 3 month visa at the border after perhaps checking databases whether you are undesirable, and there are no further controls or no custom controls. You are then on your own. Absolutely no welfare state. You find work, open up a profitable shop or you perish. Nothing else. Therefore, you may find people Muslims there but – surprise, surprise – they are all eager to work
The question of Muslims building a Mosque is not like a competing barber shop as Van Staden points out and sees no problem as long as no force is initiated by Muslims. But that is the point. It is not about freedom to believe – that is so natural that everyone is always free to believe or not – but about the freedom to exercise a cult. And as long as Christians have in most Muslim states not only no right to exercise their cult, but are actively suppressed, there is no way that we can tolerate Mosques in our states and societies. As Karl Popper clearly pointed out, tolerance has its limits and cannot mean committing political suicide and subduing to totalitarianism.
Therefore, from a libertarian point of view, we have to distinguish between individual rights and aspirations, and behaviour and the political will.
As Karl Kraus remarked, if the Sun of culture is standing low, even dwarfs make long shadows. So it is a flood of stupidity here and stultitia there and in these floods are quite consequentially coming flood of barbarians or as the PC crowd likes to call them “poor suffering asylum seekers”. Stupid decadence invites a flood of barbarians, that is an old story. But the most amusing is to experience how the cognoscenti always explain that nothing can be done. There are always people – I call them ‘experts’ – who excel in explaining how you cannot do anything or something cannot work or why it is just themselves who cannot do anything. Maybe their minds have in childhood not been crippled by a classic education.
A contraire, a lot can be done! Following the Spanish legal scholar Alvaro d’Ors, mass immigration is an invasion, independently of the right to travel, to emigrate and to immigrate which in libertarian view may be given to an individual and that economically makes sense. An individual freedom cannot be transferred to a group without the express consent of the state or the nation concerned. The mass transfer of men from their own territory into an alien one is an invasion, be they armed or not, or if they pretend to behave or not. Resistance against that is a natural right.
The ‘migrant’ being a member of a group of invaders is therefore a public foe. It has no relevance if he is personally peaceful or not. “Being nice” alone does not constitute a legal claim. In my interpretation he is a public foe regardless of being outside the own territory or within, being equipped with in most cases a dubious legal title or not, in the past recognized as this or that or not. In the same way public foes are those who as own citizens or organs of the state prevent defending or repelling such an invasion or in any other way assist it.
If you like to live in Rome, do as the Romans do! And first of all wait for being invited!