A common error in political thought:
The fact that one does not like politics, the fact that one is appalled by this or that political measure, the fact that politics seems to leave a trace of jiggery-pokery and rotten compromises does not by itself justify the demand for a world without politics. Which is an irresponsible demand. For a large part of politics consists in dealing with human beings who cannot find a mutually acceptable solution.
Thus, modern politics aspires to deal with such impasses in ways that are better than forms of violent or systematically oppressive resolution. That is a welcome, honourable and most needful aspiration.
As for the recent immigration debate, Arnold Kling maintains,
The oppressor-oppressed axis [characterising the mindset of the progressives, G.T.] says that people fleeing Syria are oppressed, and anyone who would keep them out is evil.
He then advises,
Libertarians should not be so quick to align with progressives on this issue. Be as suspicious about government involvement in “solving” the crisis as you are about government’s role in enforcing borders.
Imagine the decisions about taking in Middle Easterners being made by individuals, rather than by government. That is, imagine that it were up to individual households to take them in.
Or imagine that refugee resettlement had to be funded entirely through private donations. What if the political leaders doing their moral posturing on behalf of refugees had no access to taxpayer money. Instead, suppose that they had to contribute their own money or money that they raised through private charity.
My below comment to Kling's post is concerned not with specific policy responses but with the fundamental error of libertarians who believe in solutions and policies that transcend the world of politics. It is a fundamental error to think that one can comport oneself vis-à-vis issues such as immigration in ways that preclude politics. The fact that to some all types of political outcome may appear less than satisfactory should not make us blind to the fact that a reasonably free and peaceful world depends on the solutions of an open-access political order.
Thus, I write,
The same old libertarian trick, Arnold: pretend that politics can be conjured away from our life (politics – that evil thing that may empower people who think differently from us libertarians),
and then, from the politics-free world of our imagination we can cut out a specific piece of the illusion (immigration without politics) and contrast its supposed merits with that terrible political world in which we live.
In reality: in a free society, free people will naturally and justly participate in politics and this will cause politicians to represent or pander to very different ideas concerning immigration, and these will eventually show up in government conduct.
Many of us free citizens will demand that government resources are being utilised in connection with immigration issues, as they are (or appear to be) more effective in achieving certain goals.
The demand for political solutions, whether one likes or dislikes this or that specific measure, is endogenous and natural to a free society – it is not primarily ascribable to those putatively bad types that become politicians.
The libertarian utopia of a world without politics is a red herring. In a society with millions of free (politically emancipated) people, any set of policies concerned with immigration will be highly politicised, in no small measure because the (morally/economically/philosophically) perfect solutions of those wishing for a world without politics do not exist – instead, we are forced to compete politically.
And of course, in the above post, there is no thought wasted that might look for and understand the constructive role of government in migration issues.
Even Hoppe, who opposes open borders, reverts to the help of the state (if I remember his characteristically muddled argument correctly) to keep out the intruders. He seems to sense – rightly – that if the issue were left to individual agents alone we would get highly contradictory policies and [in a anarchist world of self-justice and self-defence] still more reasons for civil strife/war (leading to the bloody rebuilding of the state).
Caplan who favours open borders prima facie, eventually goes on to qualify his initial demand for open borders with any number of ad hoc provisos which create a multi-class society that can only be enforced by the state.
Dreaming of a world without politics cannot do the intricate issue any justice.
Incidentally, however meritorious as some system of apparently consistent taxonomy, Kling's three-axes model has its problems. Beyond a certain point, it simply smacks of intellectual self-gratification.
I find it more interesting to learn from those who think differently than to congratulate myself over and over again on how neatly the world fits into the boxes I have made for it.