You write on immigration:
If you believe (as Russell claims to) that in a country like the US, an influx of people hostile to freedom will reduce the freedom of people in that country, one is led inexorably to an uncomfortable conclusion. Namely, that the impact on freedom is the combination of gains from the increased freedom of the immigrants and losses from the decreased freedom of the residents. We can let in the coercers and be coerced, or we can coercively keep them out.I
Now, there is plenty of room for debate about the resulting net impact. But if immigrants truly are anti-freedom, then the real question is how to evaluate this tough tradeoff. Not whether libertarians can have their immigration and a small government too.
Do you really propose to trade the lives and liberty of some people against those of others? Anyone who endorses such a tradeoff as a matter of policy ought in principle to be willing to implement that tradeoff himself. Anyone endorsing a closed border ought in principle be willing to personally employ deadly force to keep people from crossing the border.
Eventually the moment of truth comes: You have a Mexican in your sights and nothing but your bullet can stop him from crossing into the United States. Now you get to make your “tradeoff”. Are you willing to trade his life for the marginal liberty you could retain for America by killing him? Could you conceivably defend such a tradeoff here and now as libertarian?
If you’re not willing in principle to shoot the Mexican then it should be clear that you ought not hire others to do it for you or endorse such as a matter of policy. And if you are not prepared in principle to do such a thing then what precisely are you proposing to trade? Preferring one outcome to another is no tradeoff in and of itself, your preferences don’t cost anyone anything. Only your actions can impose costs and produce benefits.
The life and liberty of others are not yours to trade. I think you would understand this perfectly well if you were face to face with the individuals in question but when you consider them collectively in the abstract you are seduced through a weakness for wonkery into imagining that men have no choice but to trade in such values.