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Freedom Matters

There has been another anti-immigration article on a favored libertarian website, LewRockwell.com, advocating a collectivist view of ownership of a territory, and showing a lack of understanding of private property and private property rights, all in the name of “culture.”

Sadly, like the anti-immigration conservatives and nationalists, some libertarians are hysterical about problems that have been exaggerated by government apparatchiks.

In the article, titled “Culture Matters,” the writer Jim Cox compares the U.S. territory and its public or collective ownership to a condominium made up of several buildings with commonly owned areas, in which the condo owners “own the land between the 27 buildings and the pavement in common and own only our individual units separately.”

And he continues: “This is a very analogous situation to US citizens owning private property as well as public property via government. The condominium association has rules about people coming onto the common property.”

In Cox’s example, each condo owner buys one’s own unit with the rules of the condo association in mind.

Already Cox confuses private and public property. The entire territory of a country is not a commonly owned parcel of private property and can’t be compared to that.

Outside of each individually-owned unit, the property of the condo buildings and real estate is commonly owned by the condo owners. But it is still all private property.

In contrast, “public property” is supposedly publicly owned. Actually, as Jim Davies pointed out, public property is unowned. Either no one has actually legitimately homesteaded or honestly acquired it, or it was owned but the bureaucrats of the State have seized and occupy it.

Many individuals, groups and business owners own individual parcels of private property. But it’s more difficult to define who the actual owners of public property are. An intruder onto the condo property is trespassing onto private property. But if the “public” supposedly owns non-privately-owned public property, just which part of the public can be considered an owner or an “intruder”? “Citizens” or non-citizens? Taxpayers or non-taxpayers?

As I asked in this critique of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, what about non-taxpaying citizens, such as those who work but don’t earn enough to be required to pay income taxes? Are they less owners of the “public” property? Are they “intruders”? What about working, taxpaying non-citizens?

And what exactly is a “citizen”? As Carl Watner notes, a “citizen” is a “member of the State.” Other sources define citizen as someone who is legally recognized by the government. But who is the government to “recognize” or authorize someone as legitimate?

Sadly, statists look to the ruling government bureaucrats for validation. But just who exactly are the ruling bureaucrats, and what exactly is the State?

As Murray Rothbard has pointed out (.pdf) in his Anatomy of the State,

The State provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively “peaceful” the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society. Since production must always precede predation, the free market is anterior to the State. The State has never been created by a “social contract”; it has always been born in conquest and exploitation.

And, in his great treatise The Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard asserts,

Thus, the State is a coercive criminal organization that subsists by a regularized large-scale system of taxation-theft, and which gets away with it by engineering the support of the majority (not, again, of everyone) through securing an alliance with a group of opinion-moulding intellectuals whom it rewards with a share in its power and pelf.

But there is another vital aspect of the State that needs to be considered. There is one critical argument for the State that now comes into view: namely, the implicit argument that the State apparatus really and properly owns the territorial area over which it claims jurisdiction. The State, in short, arrogates to itself a monopoly of force, of ultimate decision-making power, over a given territorial area — larger or smaller depending on historical conditions, and on how much it has been able to wrest from other States.

If the State may be said to properly own its territory, then it is proper for it to make rules for anyone who presumes to live in that area. It can legitimately seize or control private property because there is no private property in its area, because it really owns the entire land surface. So long as the State permits its subjects to leave its territory, then, it can be said to act as does any other owner who sets down rules for people living on his property.

So what we have from Cox is the collectivist notion of a common ownership of a territory. He writes: “Until we can shift to a Private Property Society we are stuck with a government handling immigration.”

Unfortunately, “government handling immigration” is the police state that we have now. Bureaucrats empowering border control agents to violate due process rights, arrest innocent people who have not harmed anyone, arresting employers for not getting government permission to hire a worker, arresting workers who are peacefully making a living, an out-of-control “ICE” working to take citizenship away from naturalized citizens, storm troopers ripping whole families apart. All this because the people have gullibly empowered a centralized government to decide who is and who isn’t on the premises legitimately.

And Cox lists “negative cultural traits” of possible immigrants that people wouldn’t want to invite in. He neglects to mention, however, that it’s the government planners (that we are “stuck with”) who are responsible for bringing in the violent criminals he mentions.

But the collectivist-minded writer is putting ALL immigrants into one big group, the “undesirables,” the riffraff and the actual violent criminals, all lumped together with the peaceful people, the hard-working laborers, the honest folks.

Whatever happened to the individualism and free markets that used to be associated with libertarianism? Whatever happened to presumption of innocence? If you don’t suspect an individual of something, leave him alone.

And why would libertarians want bureaucrats to control markets, labor and employment? “We’re all socialists, now”?

Regarding the crime problem, the rapes and assaults, murders, etc., why are the anti-immigration crowd so bent on being dependent on centralized bureaucrats and government police for their protection from criminals? Why don’t they ever bring up the right of the people to keep and bear arms? They only seem to bring that up when the gun control debate is in the news.

When criminals know ahead of time that their prospective victims are armed there would be far fewer rapes, assaults and murders, and attempted rapes, assaults and murders. That would be the same with violent foreigners entering the territory, no?

Is the “culture” stuff actually more important to these immigration critics than their security? So instead of promoting the right of people to keep and bear arms and use the arms to protect themselves from actual criminals, the anti-immigration crowd are more concerned with promoting government-controlled social engineering.

And to say that someone not violating the person or property of another, who is peacefully exercising one’s freedom of movement to find a better life for himself and one’s family, is a “criminal,” is to not understand the libertarian non-aggression principle.

In my view, being “anti-State” and “pro-market” would mean to oppose central planning intrusions into markets and people’s lives. But sadly, some libertarians have been promoting government controls and social engineering to forcibly prop up a certain “culture” by violating free markets, and the liberty, due process rights, property rights and contract rights of innocent, peaceful people.

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