Open the Borders Now and Forever

Market anarchism is grounded in the sovereignty of each individual and the simple idea that all relationships between adults ought to be voluntary and consensual, permitting everyone the freedom to do anything she wishes, as long as she respects the identical right of all others. The “market” in market anarchism refers to the fact that under such a system of equal freedom, individuals could cooperate and exchange in any and all ways nonviolent and non-fraudulent.

The “anarchism” comes from the insight that a society of strict nonaggression is ipso facto incompatible with the existence of the state. Since the state, both in theory and practice, is defined in terms of aggression against innocents, a truly free society cannot endure such an institution. Where, though, does immigration fit into all this theoretical ideation?

Free and open movement is the natural, unconditional right of every single individual, a prerogative that precedes governments and their arbitrary borders and policies. Confronted with this fact, even some self-styled libertarians will cavil and complain, puling that open borders actually amount to “forced integration,” that a free society is in fact one of exclusion and static populations disallowed from free movement simply by facts of “private property.”

And of course these facts and the relationships they implicate are never to be called into question. Never are we to ask what kinds of results and patterns legitimate property rights, properly based on some notion of homesteading, would create if actually developed and held to. Given the limits on the circumstances under which such forms of private property would be regarded as legitimate in a hypothetical freed market, it strains credulity to think that the fear-mongering of anti-immigration “libertarians” is well-founded.

Furthermore, arguments that see open borders as “forced integration” are especially spurious and unconvincing within the context we’re presented today, where governments themselves own and administer most of the land and the rest has been doled out to political favorites under a process in which proper homesteading has never been a real or important consideration. In their essence, anti-immigration arguments come to the laughable contention that merely due to accidents of birth which place some lucky group in one favored locale and others somewhere else, the fortunate group ought to be able to control and impede the movement of others.

We must therefore ask how and on what basis? Stripped of intricate apologies for the status quo, the answers presented are simply, “using force, deadly if necessary” and “because sovereign states have the right to protect their borders.” But even if we grant the premise that the United States ought to be able to protect its borders — itself an enormously controversial one which, as anarchist, I challenge — we must then wonder: Protect them from what? As economist Bryan Caplan observes, leaving out the moral questions implicated by the immigration debate, “even a random illiterate peasant” represents an economic benefit to his new country.

“Immigration laws,” Caplan shows, “trap people in countries where workers produce far below their potential.” When allowed the opportunity to work and produce to their potential, immigrants fill important economic needs and increase the overall wealth in society.

In terms of both basic economic and humanitarian considerations, completely free immigration and open borders are the soundest way forward for the United States and the whole world. Arbitrary, aggressive restrictions on people’s movement trample individual rights, divide families, and hurt the economy. It’s time to end the global apartheid of invented national boundaries and embrace the market anarchist solution of free movement, free exchange and free people.

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