Full text from TLD 14,
October 28, 1996
Only states have borders
By RONALD N. NEFF
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The Last Ditch was pleased to have a display table at the recent  American Renaissance Conference on questions of race and immigration.  When some of the attenders not familiar with TLD asked what kind of publication it was and found out that its genus is "libertarian," the replies we most often heard were along the lines of, "Libertarians don't care about immigration," "Libertarians would just let immigrants pour into America," "Libertarians are interested only in economics and don't care about culture."
Our readers already know that the last is not true of The Last Ditch, but it is time for us to address the first two.
Most succinctly, only states have borders.
Whether one is a minarchist along Objectivist lines or a free-market anarchist, one of the many things he desires to see is an abolition of public property and state power over property. If that were accomplished, I ask, what, pray, would immigrants cross? There would be no borders; there would be only property lines protected by vigilant, jealous owners. Indeed, if there were no government property if all ports, parks, streets, and walkways were justly owned the very category "immigrant" would cease to have meaning. There would be only owners, guests, paying users, customers, renters, property buyers and sellers and, perhaps, trespassers.
Libertarianism's answer to the so-called problems of immigration, then, is neither to permit open immigration nor to restrict immigration. Its vision eliminates immigration.
Libertarians have seen that nearly every problem society faces is made worse by state action. We in The Last Ditch see that whatever problems immigration has brought are no different. If there is an immigration problem, the state's action has caused and exacerbated it. And in the case of immigration just as in that of the rise in crime there is no possibility of blaming the market. The presence of illegal immigrants in the United State and the demands they make on so-called public services are the outcome solely of U.S. immigration policy. If the culture of this great outpost of Western civilization is threatened by the flow of immigrants, legal and illegal, it is white statists of European descent who delivered it into their hands.
Some years ago, a conservative friend of mine concerned with pornography asked me how, in an anarchist society, people would be protected from pornography's being publicly thrust on them. I asked, "You mean, the way it is now?" He saw the point at once: the state provides no real protection against the public display of pornography at all. Its highly selective movements against pornography suggest that its interest is not the modesty or pure-mindedness of its citizens, but the expansion of its power to spy on them and to take action against them on the basis of its spying.
It is folly to trust the state to act on the desires or preferences of the people it rules: they are, in essence, its enemies. If they were not its enemies, it would not have to use force against them when they have committed no crimes. The state and its rulers act in the interests of the ruled only when those interests fortuitously match their own or when they are not strong enough to oppose them.
Similarly, those who believe that there is an immigration problem must face the fact that if ever the state follows your recommendations, it will signal that the interests of the Permanent Regime would be advanced by doing so. It will not signal that anti-immigrationists are in the catbird seat, but rather that the state has found a way to use your proposals against the majority of the population it rules, including anti-immigrationists. Biometric tracking and government data banks from which all hiring must take place are just two proposals discussed this year without shame in both houses of the heroic Republican Congress. Any policy that should emerge from this or any other Congress would be certain to be as unsatisfactory to anti-immigrationists as the supposedly free-market reforms of the Reagan regime were to free-marketeers.
If there is an immigration problem now, it is because the state finds it in its interests that there be one. The immigration laws and policies of the United State are having precisely the effects that any reasonable man not lying to himself or others would foresee; and, as Walter Karp used to say, "Men intend the foreseeable consequences of their actions."
Joe Sobran pointed out that the problem of immigration is the wider one of freedom of association.  As what is called public property is reduced, the possible range of free association becomes extended; when there is no public property, all association is free.
At that point, such problems as were formerly associated with immigration that still exist become problems one has with his neighbors and only with his neighbors. Anti-immigrationists, free-market racists, black separatists, and white separatists all will at last have at their disposal a means of achieving the goals they desire: they can form their own communities large or small, according to their means. At present, even if they attempt to form such communities, the state is sure to step in with all its might and prevent the success of at least some of them even by killing their inhabitants, if it deems that necessary or prudent.
My treatment is not intended to be full, and I will not attempt to answer all the objections to it I can foresee. My purpose is merely to suggest to those of you concerned with immigration that looking to the state to solve the problems you perceive or anticipate is fundamentally misguided. Urging the state to patrol borders, border cities, schools, or welfare lists more energetically is a prescription for increased state power. Those of you who are anti-immigrationists should recognize that such a prescription would be filled by a regime that has already demonstrated to you that it is your implacable and pitiless enemy, the enemy of Western culture, and the enemy of the liberty we wish to win.
We must keep ever before us the principle that the best corrupted is the worst; and if freedom and justice are the best principles of social organization, what must this government be if it continues to parody and corrupt them both? Ω
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To the Ronn Neff contents page.
1. "Vital Questions for Our Time," Louisville, Ky., May 25-27, 1996. [Back to text]
2. "Race, the State and the Constitution." Address at the American Renaissance Conference, Atlanta, Ga., May 27-29, 1994. [Back to text]