May 8, 2017 at 3:49 pm #350
[regarding the article “Liberté sans Fraternité?”]
I agree with the libertarian Bionic Mosquito, but not the culture statist Bionic Mosquito. Let’s start with the agreement.
His definition of liberty is good. His description of forced culture change is right on. I totally agree with Bionic’s statement, “immigration driven by voluntary means can bring wonderful benefits to all involved, to include an evolving culture.” I am sure, being a libertarian, that he agrees that the State, nor its agents, should kidnap or otherwise aggress against voluntary migration. I am sure he, like me, would push Rothbard’s magic button and make ICE and all government border nazis disappear, and all their prisoners be instantly freed! If Bionic agrees with this, then he is an open border advocate like me. (Even though he might object to this appellation, since he seems to define “open borders” in a rather bizarre way to mean “government subsidized immigration”.)
There are some things I disagree with Bionic about. First, I’m with Bastiat on the liberty and fraternity issue.
Enforced Fraternity Destroys Liberty – Mr. De Lamartine once wrote to me thusly: “Your doctrine is only the half of my program. You have stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity.” I answered him: “The second half of your program will destroy the first.”
I think, like Bastiat, that you have to decide whether you put liberty first or fraternity first. If you want government enforced restriction on migration, then your program will destroy liberty. The culture statists try to put culture before liberty, claiming that uniformity of culture is a necessary condition for liberty. It is not. On the contrary, most of the successful cultures embraced diversity and engaged in commerce and interaction and intermarriage, etc. with other cultures. The Greek city-states, the Italian mini-States, and the Hanseat are examples of how the most pluralist cultures produced much of the lasting art, science, and human advancement. Not the backward, inbred, insular cultures, which are now mostly forgotten.
I suggest that Bionic succumbed to a bipolar fallacy when answering his “Is liberty possible without fraternity?” question. Bionic breaks that down to two possibilities: 1) Liberty is impossible without fraternity, or 2) “liberty can be had in a land of any culture or no common culture.” His #2 is clearly a straw man. No open border proponent that I have ever heard has asserted that, or anything remotely like that. Maybe there exist some hard-core illiberal lefty equality worshippers who think that, but none of the open border libertarians that I think he is (mainly) addressing. Obviously, *some* cultures are incompatible with libertarianism. But some degree of liberty can occur in pluralist societies with “no common culture.”
In my opinion, there are more than the two extreme answers – total homogeneity of culture or zero common culture – when talking about societies. There can be a whole range of pluralism (diversity, fraternity) from none to a whole lot. My own idea – the Hogeye Inverted U Hypothesis – is that both total conformity and total diversity lead to a low degree of freedom.
Look at Oriental despotisms, Nazi Germany, North Korea, or a religious cult, to see the danger of extremely insular cultures. On the other hand, writers like Bionic have clued me in to the downside of too much diversity too quick. Whatever you think of the attitude, whether you consider it ignorant xenophobia or rational concern for Western cultural values, the fact is there will be social unrest and crime and likely increased curtailment of liberty if immigration rates are too high. One fundamental moral precept is in-group loyalty, and there will always be a subgroup of the population (“conservatives”) that hold this value strongly. It is hard-wired into mankind – an evolutionary biological fact.
- This topic was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Hogeye.
May 25, 2017 at 9:17 pm #390
Love the analysis.
Love BM, but definitely makes me cringe sometimes. Looking closely at his conclusion, he says:
“…libertarians who avoid these questions [or] deny the connection… are destructive toward achieving and maintaining liberty.”
I mean really, after all the bluster, I feel like, ‘Really? That’s your big ‘wrap up’?
I don’t know of any libertarians I would describe as avoiding this question, and when presented with it, I can’t imagine there’s a libertarian alive that would deny there’s at least some connection between the level of fraternity in a society and that society’s chances of being free.
Is that all you want from us, BM? Yeesh, I think it’s safe to say we’re pretty much all on board…
But is BM on board with us? I’m pretty convinced he is.
But… I’m just always suspicious; sort of guilty-until-proven-innocent situation with me: until you convince me otherwise, I assume you’re looking for some kind of way to argue that you/somebody should get to initiate force against people. (Because it’s so hard to find anyone who isn’t.)
Surely/hopefully BM is not saying we should initiate force against anybody, and as such, I’m totally cool with whatever he thinks the ‘correct’ small-L libertarian position is on immigration in the US as it stands today, since I can rest easy knowing he would never force his solution to immigration on me.
To be honest, I haven’t thought too deeply about what the ‘correct’ position on immigration should be as it stands today in the US, although I love the Hogeye U theory and chart. As far as analysis goes, it rings true to me. (Remind me: we’ll have to dive into your 10% conjecture at some point!)
For me, the immigration-as-it-is-today question (like the health care as it is today question) for a libertarian is like: say you have a bull thrashing around in a shop full of delicate glassware, and you desperately want the bull to stop breaking stuff, what’s the libertarian solution to this? Oh, and by the way: you can’t touch the bull, use any sort of tools or devices, no poisons, pills, darts, etc.; and removing the bull from the shop isn’t an option — the bull must remain in the shop. How does a libertarian solve this? Huh? Huh? Got an answer, buddy?
I’m like, well, ya gotta shrug sometimes. I mean, I’m definitely interested in a firm understanding of the answer — I’m not avoiding it — and I totally appreciate BM (and Block, and Hogeye, et al) doing this work on it. But, of all the things to focus on, I happen to have chosen to not focus on immigration-as-it-is-today (even if it is a hot topic for Statists at the moment). I don’t think that makes me ‘destructive’ towards liberty, and I’m not avoiding/denying the issue. (Surely BM would agree!)
. . .
There’s this quote I always liked from a show about the mob in Atlantic City. It’s a young, up and coming gangster talking to his mentor-gangster. The youngster thinks the oldster is going soft — not offing a guy he should be offing because the guy is an old pal. Basically, he’s putting fraternity above gangsterism.
The kid says to him:
“You can’t be half a gangster.”
Not trying to compare libertarianism to gangsterism (ha), just trying to make the point that when it comes to bedrock principle, it can’t be ‘six one way, half dozen another’ — if that’s where you’re at, you have yet to reach bedrock. 99.9% freedom-loving would make you an awesome Libertarian (and I’d probably go vote for a 99.9% libertarian Libertarian). But it wouldn’t make you a libertarian.
I don’t think you can have two political ideals that are BOTH your top priority. Like Hogeye (I assume), I believe that either your #1 political ideal is freedom (and your one of the guys, woo!), or your #1 isn’t freedom (and we need to talk).
BM can put fraternity at #2 if he wants. Can even say we can’t have lasting/meaningful #1 without some kind of #2 — I’m cool with that, too (at least, not having thought much about it, I’m cool with it).
But to say (and surely he isn’t saying??) ‘since we can’t have #1 without #2, let’s say they’re BOTH number one, and start advocating accordingly…’ Well, sorry man, I need further convincing… When I hear ‘freedom PLUS something-else’ I translate it to ‘freedom PLUS just kidding I’m totally going to take away your freedom’.
Like I said, I haven’t thought too much about it, but thanks to BM’s awesome blog and Hogeye’s always incisive critiques, I’m looking forward to thinking more about it now!
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