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July 4, 2004 by AK

Two words on immigration, word 1

At least one libertarian argument agaist immigration has been put together convincingly (by Hans-Hermann Hoppe) and is well known in relevant circles. It rests upon the recognition that “public” property is truly property–actually owned by a group of individuals, such as residents of a town or community who have an exclusive right to grant use rights to non-owners. Alas, this case has weak sides–their are too many implicit use permits, or how about tourists?–but it is consistent with the emphasis on property rights that permeates much of libertarian thought. Robert Nozick spent years formulating a philosophic apologia of property. (It is dumbly tempting to remark and Nozick died in the same year as John Rawls.)

A similar argument can be made in economic language: immigration almost inevitably creates negative externalities. Most are short-term–people eventually get used to unfamiliar vernaculars and races–but in the long term, immigration might as well change the cultural framework of a community. That’s what Huntington’s new book is about, judging by reviews.

Russia, though, shouldn’t bother: its traditional cultures were destroyed not by immigration but by Bolshevik social experimentation and wars. What Russia now has is a mix of newer, unrooted cultures with rudiments of ancient ones. Not that it has nothing to lose, but it has lost so much that it’s hard not to stop caring.


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