The Irony Of (Self)Defeat

Lewrockwell.com’s Stephan Kinsella recommends John Derbyshire on immigration. Derbyshire lectures libertarians thusly:

As to why I think libertarians are nuts to favor mass uncontrolled immigration from the third world: I think they are nuts because their enthusiasm on this matter is suicidal to their cause. Their ideological passion is blinding them to a rather obvious fact: that libertarianism is a peculiarly American doctrine, with very little appeal to the huddled masses of the third world.

Kinsella echoes Derbyshire at the LRC blog that

… libertarians are nuts to want a more open immigration policy, since it’s self-defeating.

What Derbyshire and Kinsella both miss is that libertarianism has very little appeal to Americans in the first place. Forget about immigrants for a second: how well has the American public been swayed by this “peculiarly American doctrine”?

Answer is not at all, collectivism has won on all fronts and continues to be a landslide winner every election. Even counting every Libertarian Party candidate, even the ones clamoring for more taxes, as a “libertarian”, it’s clear that libertarian ideas have been handed decades of resounding defeats. The open borders issue isn’t self-defeating for libertarians because libertarians have already lost.

For clues as to why, we don’t need to look further than the fact that Kinsella and Derbyshire themselves are arguing for nothing more than a particular collectivist public policy on the grounds that this policy will advance the libertarian cause. Our self-appointed libertarian strategists are proceeding on the assumption that more collectivism now will manufacture more libertarianism later, and they can still talk about “self-defeat” with a straight face.

30 thoughts on “The Irony Of (Self)Defeat”

  1. I always try to explain to some of my libertarian friends why taking compromise positions on issues “libertarians will never win on” doesn’t help the cause, but it’s the ol’ in one ear an’ out the other trick when I do.

  2. …libertarianism is a peculiarly American doctrine…

    I thought that pseudo-libertarians of the Kinsella clan refer to themselves as Austrian economists…

  3. When did I bash Austrian economics at all? I bashed Kinsella, but he makes it so easy that it’s not even fun anymore.

    The Rockwell/Hoppe/Kinsella/LvMI crowd are nothing more than a bunch of white supremacists who are trying to use pseudo-libertarian arguments to justify their white-only utopia. They rarely if ever publish outside of their own websites and journals (and, of course ” Mises University, their own version of brainwash camp), and they rarely allow opposing views on their channels of communications. It is therefore amusing to look at them from the outside, as you look into an aquarium or a cage at the zoo, and see how play with each other. Who else can bring together Hoppe, DiLorenzo, Bill Sardi, Gary North, Kinsella, and other such creatures under one virtual roof? Admit it – we are indebted to Rockwell for arranging this walk in the zoo for us.

  4. Please allow me to disagree with your claim that the Mises Institutes “rarely allow(s) opposing views on their channels of communications.”

    Below, see criticisms of other members of the MI community I have published on their and other “channels of communication” and I am still a member in good standing of this community.

    Publications critical of Mises, Rothbard, Hoppe, three of my favorite economists-philosophers

    Block, Walter. Forthcoming. “Hoppe, Kinsella and Rothbard II on Immigration: A Critique.” Journal of Libertarian Studies

    Barnett, William II, and Walter Block. Forthcoming. “Rothbard on V shaped average and total cost curves.” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics

    Block, Walter, William Barnett II and Joseph Salerno. 2006. “Relationship between wealth or income and time preference is empirical, not apodictic: critique of Rothbard and Hoppe,” Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 69-80; http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11138-006-6094-8

    Barnett, William II, and Walter Block. 2005-2006. “Mises, Rothbard and Salerno on Costs.” Corporate Ownership & Control, Winter, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 203-205

    Block, Walter. Forthcoming. “Plumb Line Libertarianism: A Critique of Hoppe.” Reason Papers, Vol. 29

    Block Walter, Peter Klein and Per Henrik Hansen. Forthcoming. “The Division of Labor under Homogeneity: A Critique of Mises and Rothbard” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology

    Barnett, William II, and Walter Block. 2005. “Money: Capital Good, Consumers’ Good, or (Media of) Exchange Good?” Review of Austrian Economics. 18 (2): 179-194; http://www.gmu.edu/rae/archives/VOL18_2_2005/4_Barnett.pdf

    Block, Walter & Gene Callahan, “Is There A Right to Immigration? A Libertarian Perspective,” Human Rights Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, October-December 2003, pp. 46-71;
    http://www.walterblock.com/publications/block-callahan_right-immigrate-2003.pdf

    Block, Walter. 2003. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Inalienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Gordon, Smith, Kinsella and Epstein,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol.17, No. 2, Spring, pp. 39-85; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_3.pdf

    Block, Walter. 1998. “A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration,” Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. 13, No. 2, summer, pp. 167-186; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/13_2/13_2_4.pdf

    Block, Walter. 1977. “Austrian Monopoly Theory — a Critique,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. I, No. 4, fall, pp. 271-279; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/1_4/1_4_1.pdf

  5. Let me begin by saying that it’s great to have you join us here. You are the only prominent Mises member whom I respect. Now, a few quick points to address your comments, and then I’ll get to the real issue here:

    1. I am well aware of your disagreements with Hoppe, Rockwell, and others regarding immigration and other issues. I have read almost all of the papers above long ago. However –

    2. Criticisms you published in other channels of communication are irrelevant here. I mentioned that the Mises crowd rarely publishes opposing views on their channels of communication. The number of publications you provided from JLS and other MI journals and sites is small enough (relative to the number of publications MI and Rockwell publish annually) to qualify for the statement rarely allow(s) opposing views….

    But, let us get to the real issue here. Hoppe, Rockwell, and Kinsella – three of the most prominent members of MI – claim to be anarcho-capitalists, and yet they strongly support using the oppressive, violent arm of government against peaceful immigrants and their peaceful employers. This is not some minor point of disagreement. This is a very big deal. I challenge you to make a serious argument that would show that their views on immigration are even remotely congruent with anarcho-capitalism. Can you honestly tell me that Hoppe’s arguments against immigration and immigrants do not reek of collectivism, statism, and sometimes sheer bigotry?

    You know very well that their views on immigration are anything but libertarian. You have written on the issue yourself, carefully avoiding questioning their libertarian credentials and motives.

    It is time you stood up to the anti-immigration maniacs at LRC and the MI. Why don’t you? Are you afraid of being purged from the club? The faster you’re out of there, the better off you’ll be.

  6. Of the 11 pieces mentioned about, fully 5 are from Mises publications. That hardly implies “rarely.” But those are merely my own pubs. In my experience, JLS and QJAE encourage all sorts of debates within the Austro libertarian community. Of course, if you compare only my 11 publications with everything published by MI, and say that 5 in the numerator and everything they publish in the denominator is a small number, you are correct. But that is a highly biassed way of looking at the matter. You are very much mistaken on Lew Rockwell’s views on immigration. See this, for example: http://www.mises.org/story/2141; and this: http://www.mises.org/story/2366. Or, more generally, this:

  7. continuation: more generally, this: http://www.googlesyndicatedsearch.com/u/Mises?hl=en&submit.x=0&submit.y=0&q=Rockwell%20immigration.
    I regard Hoppe, Kinsella and Rockwell as three of the leading libertarian theorists now writing. As you know, I strongly disagree with the first two on immigration. However, I always acknowledge that they employ (mistakenly in my view) LIBERTARIAN arguements to defend their position. Namely, they see open immigration as a form of trespass, or forced integration, both of which, of course, all libertarians oppose.

  8. Block,

    Namely, they see open immigration as a form of trespass, or forced integration, both of which, of course, all libertarians oppose.

    Except that immigrants aren’t necessarily trespassing against anyone or forcing themselves upon anyone. It’s pretty trivial to prove Hoppe and Kinsella wrong on this, and so I’m frankly at a loss as to why you characterize their arguments as “LIBERTARIAN”.

  9. Living is easy with eyes closed
    misunderstanding all you see

    – The Beatles, Strawberry Fields Forever

    Unlike Lopez, I am not at a loss as to why Block characterizes these inane and insane arguments as (mistakenly) libertarian. Block is not stupid, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that Hoppe’s and kinsella’s arguments are anti-libertarian and stem mainly from the desire to see this country populated with a white, European, strudel-eating populace.

    So what is it? Why is Block blind to reality? How is it that he is making excuses so preposterous for defending the Hoppe and Kinslella scum?

    If I may venture upon some psycho-analyzing, I’ll offer the following conjecture: libertarians are a rare and dying breed. To be an anarchist is to be constantly looked at as an oddball, a weirdo, or simply a lunatic. Any man in such a situation would look for the company of people who share his ideas. That’s why people come to his blog , for example.

    Walter Block is a member of a club, a club here he is respected for what he is (or so he thinks), a club that bestows upon him titles, a place he can call home. Where else can an anarchist professor receive such respect? Where else can he be listened to? Surely the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University is not replete with anarchists. It ‘s very hard to leave a warm, comfy home and go out, alone, to stand in the rain.

    So Block decided to stay, believing that he can change things from within. So he stays, and he says to the world that these guys are really good libertarians, they’re just a bit mistaken on one tiny issue – mainly, that they support using the violent, oppressive arm of government to terrorize, arrest, jail, and harass innocent civilians – both Americans and immigrants – who want to work or are looking for workers. That’s it – just a minor point of disagreement.(*)

    Professor Block, you may choose to insult my intelligence with these lame arguments, but no reasonable human would buy them. You are clearly unwilling to or incapable of becoming your own man without the support of the Mises Institute. It’s your life and your choice, but don’t try to bullshit me into sharing your fantasy world. I’m not that desperate.


    (*) As an aside, I would mention that if Professor Block weren’t so busy trying to bullshit us, he’d note that Hoppe also opposes most forms of “legal” immigration, and that he basically wants a country almost completely closed to any form of immigration.

  10. Sure, I do too. However, I think we’ve heard it already:

    I regard Hoppe, Kinsella and Rockwell as three of the leading libertarian theorists now writing. As you know, I strongly disagree with the first two on immigration. However, I always acknowledge that they employ (mistakenly in my view) LIBERTARIAN arguements to defend their position. Namely, they see open immigration as a form of trespass, or forced integration, both of which, of course, all libertarians oppose.

    The man is voluntarily blind, so I doubt it will come to much more than that.

  11. “Except that immigrants aren’t necessarily trespassing against anyone or forcing themselves upon anyone. It’s pretty trivial to prove Hoppe and Kinsella wrong on this….”

    Although I’d wager you couldn’t come close to doing it.

    Whether or not the American “nation” is a voluntary association, it is still an association of people who have created social capital, physical capital, etc., and those resources belong to them under the most basic understanding of the concept of property.

  12. Your property belongs to you, mine belongs to me. America is not the collective property of Americans. If it were then any collectivist project could be justified, Americans could make any rules hey wanted on their own collective property without violating rights.

  13. “America is not the collective property of Americans.”

    How do you figure non-Americans have a property interest in America?

  14. “America is not the collective property of Americans.”

    The positive externalities flowing from the monopolization of territory we call America belong exclusively and collectively to those who cooperated to exclude others from that territory and to produce the positive externalities.

  15. Ben,

    Interrupting arguments about whether open immigration is compatible with libertarianism by spouting collectivist arguments about the evils of immigration, is, at best, a very odd way to spend one’s free time.

  16. What I find interesting about the immigration debate is when either side tries to justify their stance by the will/rights of the American people. Anti-immigration folks say that, in a free society, many people would choose not to associate with, do business with, or rent to immigrants, so we should approximate freedom by excluding them. Similarly, pro-immigration folks might say that, in a free society, many people would choose to associate with, do business with, and rent to immigrants, so we should force them to do so.

    The correct answer, of course, is to have a free society and let people sort it out on their own.

  17. Where’s Walter? Has anyone seen him? Can you find Walto?

    Come back, Walter. We didn’t mean to offend you by asking tough, irreverent questions. We should have known better – it is not up to punks like us to question the Holy Trinity of Lew, Hans, and Stephan.

    Come back, and we promise we’ll be good and docile like the “students” in the Mises “University”. From now on, when Hans says that Mexicans picking tomatoes in the fields are jeopardizing our life, liberty, and property, and that true anarcho-capitalism requires we jail them or throw them out, we’ll jot it down in our notebooks and be quiet, because Hans knows best.

    Come back, and we can all sit around the fire, eat marshmallows, and quote Rothbard and Mises to each another. Then, maybe Hans and Stephan can join us and we can all reminisce about the good old days when this country was free of fags, niggers, chinks, spics, towelheads, and the white trash who don’t understand that a true libertarian order requires a clean house first.

    We are sinners and blasphemers, Walter. We are unworthy of your attention. Please forgive us and rejoin our unholy blog. In the name of The Mises, The Hans, and the Ghost of Rothbard – Amen.

  18. “Interrupting arguments about whether open immigration is compatible with libertarianism by spouting collectivist arguments….”

    I’m not sure it will serve you well to be so rude.

    Would you care to identify those collectivist arguments? I have pointed out that immigration is a violation of the law of property. According to Mr. Kennedy, “Collectivism holds that society or the group is sovereign, and may exercise legitimate authority over the individual.”

    Here: http://www.no-treason.com/weblog/2002_11_03_archives.html

    That was more than 4 years ago, so perhaps he has refined his definition. However, we can use your definition, if you prefer. What is collectivism, and how is the concept of property collectivist?

  19. Ben,

    Every few weeks someone dumbass like you jumps in and gives us his pathetic two cents about immigration. You should realize what this blog is about before you begin with your old, boring, chewed-to-death arguments against free immigration. This is not your typical leftist blog, where a bunch of aging hippie liberal douches whine about “amnesty” for “illegals”.

  20. Hellen, what in the world are you talking about?

    Lopez says it’s trivially easy to dismiss libertarian arguments against immigration. Yet you seem unable to do it. Who’s the “dumbass”, Hellen?

  21. Ben,

    You should work on your reading comprehension. Lopez said it’s trivial to dismiss Hoppe’s and Kinsella’s arguments against immigration. He never said that it is easy to dismiss libertarian arguments against immigration. There are no libertarian arguments against immigration, despite what that spineless weasel Block and his comrades at the LvMI are claiming.

    The “dumbass” ball is back in your court.

  22. “There are no libertarian arguments against immigration.”

    None aside from the right to life and property. Hoppe’s arguments can’t be rebutted, nor can mine. It’s such a hopeless undertaking that you won’t even try.

  23. You haven’t made any arguments, so there’s nothing for me to try to rebut. I suggest one of those Verbal SAT study guides for the reading comprehension.

    I’m afraid the “dumbass” ball has hit your side of the court and flown straight into the bleachers. I’ll therefore go to the locker room and then head home. You’re too dumb for me to argue with you. Good night.

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