The Libertarian Case Against Open Borders

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Immigration is one of the most hotly debated topics in libertarian circles, and understandably so.  The heated disagreements concern what immigration policies most closely align with libertarian principles of justice given a Statist paradigm. Of course, no such policies will attain the purity of justice that would result from the absolute privatization of all public goods/services coupled with the elimination of the State. However, the purpose of this essay is to make a case for what the “next best” (a.k.a next most libertarian) solution is.

Keep in mind, recognizing a particular solution to the issue of immigration as next best is no more an endorsement of it than recognizing Trump as a lesser evil than Clinton would be an endorsement of Trump. Tragically, it seems unlikely that a fully privatized or anarcho-capitalist society will emerge in the near future, thus discussing such a next best solution is a worthy endeavor. This essay was largely inspired by the works of Hans-Hermann Hoppe and, to a lesser extent, Stephan Kinsella. However, Walter Block and others have put forth valid critiques of their positions, in light of which I have modified my own stance accordingly.

A Critique of Open State Borders

Ironically, the completely unrestricted “open State border” position is a one size fits all statist solution that would be unjustly imposed upon all domestic tax-paying/property-owning citizens. In contrast, the “invite only” immigration restriction proposed herein is the one most in line with private property rights and libertarian principles. It recognizes that domestic tax-payers/property-owners (and other victims of aggression by the State in question) are the legitimate joint private owners of all developed or improved upon State “public-property” and, as such, any uninvited foreign invader must necessarily be guilty of trespass (i.e. a property violation). Further, it takes the question of whether a particular foreigner should be welcome out of the hands of the State and places it into the hands of its respective individual property owning domestic citizens. This is a far more decentralized solution than the unconditional “open State border” one.

Some additional complications that would arise from unconditionally open state borders include the heavy strain the resulting mass influx of immigrants would have on the welfare system. This would greatly increase the demand for such programs which would inevitably result in their expansion and, by extension, the State’s. The negative effects of such a policy are further compounded so long as anti-discrimination laws are in place which entail private establishments facing State compulsion to employ, serve, cater, and rent to said foreign invaders. Such forced integration would cause social tension to abound between the foreign invaders and domestic citizens. The cumulative effect of all the preceding issues will result in a substantial increase in aggressive conflict between domestic citizens and the State, foreign invaders and domestic citizens, and foreign invaders and the State.


Proponents of the “open State borders” position may desperately claim: “at least our proposal doesn’t involve aggression on part of the State!” Unfortunately, they are mistaken here as well. An open State border policy would entail the State having its agents employ aggression against individuals who attempt to rightfully evict uninvited foreign invaders from their joint private property (a.k.a “public” property). Such eviction attempts would incorrectly be interpreted as assault in the eyes of the State as opposed to a justified defense of one’s own property.

Under a paradigm of restricted borders, foreigners convicted of such invasion should be responsible for more than the mere physical damage they may have caused to “public” property during their trespass.  They should also be held liable for the violation of trespass itself as Rothbard explains:

“…..direct trespass: A rolls his car onto B’s lawn or places a heavy object on B’s grounds. Why is this an invasion and illegal per se? Partly because, in the words of an old English case, ‘the law infers some damage; if nothing more, the treading down of grass or herbage.’  But it is not just treading down; a tangible invasion of B’s property interferes with his exclusive use of the property, if only by taking up tangible square feet (or cubic feet). If A walks on or puts an object on B’s land, then B cannot use the space A or his object has taken up. An invasion by a tangible mass is a per se interference with someone else’s property and therefore illegal.” [1]

Finally, it should be noted that to aggressively displace the private ownership of land and subsequently open it up to indiscriminate access is the epitome of socialism wherein the tragedy of the commons takes full effect.  This is precisely the situation open State border proponents are calling for (whether wittingly or unwittingly).

Fundamental Disagreement

If one had to identify the root of discord between libertarians on this topic, it would be their differing views on whether “public” property should be seen as unowned, or the private, albeit diffused, property of domestic net tax payers (and other net victims of the given State’s aggression). Those who hold the former position will draw vastly different conclusions than those who hold the latter.  However, the latter position appears to be more sound once one considers what fundamentally determines another’s property right to a particular good: his/her superior objectively verifiable link to it. For external goods, libertarians recognize that such a link can only be established via original appropriation/homesteading/first use (physical transformation, emborderment, first possession) or voluntary exchange. The State has completed this homesteading for much of the land it claims (though not all, of course, as there exists plenty of “virgin” land which may be properly identified as unowned), but was only able to do so by first generating the requisite funds via taxes. Thus, such “improved upon public property” belongs to the net tax payers who funded its development. It is they who can demonstrate a superior objective link between themselves and the goods in question with respect to foreigners whom the State in question has had no aggressive interaction. Hoppe elaborates:

“The fundamental error in this argument, according to which everyone, foreign immigrants no less domestic bums, has an equal right to domestic public property, is Block’s claim that public property ‘is akin to an unowned good.’ In fact, there exists a fundamental difference between unowned goods and public property. The latter is de facto owned by the taxpaying members of the domestic public. They have financed this property; hence, they, in accordance with the amount of taxes paid by individual members, must be regarded as its legitimate owners. Neither the bum, who has presumably paid no taxes, nor any foreigner, who has most definitely not paid any domestic taxes, can thus be assumed to have any rights regarding public property whatsoever.” [2]

I would only amend Hoppe’s stance slightly by saying a foreigner who has been subject to aggression by the State in question has a valid claim to its illegitimate property as a form of (albeit imperfect) restitution.  He then proceeds to refute the claim that free trade and free immigration are analogous:

“Free trade and markets mean that private property owners may receive or send goods from and to other owners without government interference. The government stays inactive vis-à-vis the process of foreign and domestic trade, because a willing (paying) recipient exists for every good or service sent, and hence all locational changes, as the outcome of agreements between sender and receiver, must be deemed mutually beneficial…. people, unlike products, possess a will and can migrate. Accordingly, population movements, unlike product shipments, are not per se mutually beneficial events because they are not always—necessarily and invariably—the result of an agreement between a specific receiver and sender. There can be shipments (immigrants) without willing domestic recipients. In this case, immigrants are foreign invaders, and immigration represents an act of invasion.” [3]

Anarcho-capitalist Hypothetical

Prior to delving into the case for a “next best” solution, it would behoove one to consider some relevant aspects of an anarcho-capitalist (An-Cap) society. First, in such a society there would be no “free immigration.” People would only be able to travel through/on property by first attaining the respective owner’s permission to do so. As Hoppe has correctly recognized, the result will be some residential or commercial areas being more inclusive and others more exclusive. Moreover, all property owners would have the right to evict trespassers from their land regardless of whether the trespasser used any force against the owner himself or any other residents. Keep this point in mind for when the “next best” solution is discussed in the following section.

It is also important to ask by what method could formerly “public/state property” be privatized in a manner that most closely aligns with libertarian justice in this hypothetical An-Cap society? Hoppe has this to say on the matter:

“The former taxpayers, in accordance with their amount of local, state, and federal taxes paid, should be awarded tradable property titles in local, state, and federal streets. They then can either keep these titles as an investment, or they can divest themselves of their street property and sell it, all the while retaining their unrestricted right-of-way.

The same essentially applies to the privatization of all other public goods, such as schools, hospitals, etc. As a result, all tax payments for the upkeep and operation of such goods stop. The funding and development of schools and hospitals, etc., is henceforth solely up to their new, private owners. Likewise, the new owners of such formerly ‘public’ goods are those residents who actually financed them. They, in accordance with their amount of taxes paid, should be awarded saleable property shares in the schools, hospitals, etc. Other than in the case of streets, however, the new owners of schools and hospitals are unrestricted by any easements or rights-of-way in the future uses of their property. Schools and hospitals, unlike streets, were not first common goods before being turned into ‘public’ goods. Schools and hospitals simply did not exist at all as goods before, i.e., until they had been first produced; and hence no one (except the producers) can have acquired a prior easement or right-of-way concerning their use. Accordingly, the new private owners of schools, hospitals, etc., are at liberty to set the entrance requirements for their properties and determine if they want to continue operating these properties as schools and hospitals or prefer to employ them for a different purpose.” [4]

To amend Hoppe’s position once more (and he may have implicitly intended this), it should be net taxpayers who,  in this hypothetical An-Cap society, would receive saleable shares in accordance with how much taxes they paid on the net (tax contributions minus received subsidies, grants, welfare..etc.).  One who agrees this method is the optimum way to privatize “public goods” in so doing implicitly recognizes that such domestic net taxpayers have a superior claim to domestic “public property” with respect to foreigners whom the given State has had no aggressive interaction. Otherwise, he would prefer all public property be “up for grabs” upon the State’s elimination.

That said, anyone who can demonstrate a particular public good was taken from him or his ancestor in title via aggression (as is the case with eminent domain) would first be re-awarded title to said good prior to the enactment of the privatization model depicted above. Murray Rothbard elaborates:

“It might be charged that our theory of justice in property titles is deficient because in the real world most landed (and even other) property has a past history so tangled that it becomes impossible to identify who or what has committed coercion and therefore who the current just owner may be. But the point of the “homestead principle” is that if we don’t know what crimes have been committed in acquiring the property in the past, or if we don’t know the victims or their heirs, then the current owner becomes the legitimate and just owner on homestead grounds. In short, if Jones owns a piece of land at the present time, and we don’t know what crimes were committed to arrive at the current title, then Jones, as the current owner, becomes as fully legitimate a property owner of this land as he does over his own person. Overthrow of existing property title only becomes legitimate if the victims or their heirs can present an authenticated, demonstrable, and specific claim to the property. Failing such conditions, existing landowners possess a fully moral right to their property.” [5]

It is at this point that one may object that, in this hypothetical An-Cap society, a more appropriate form of restitution to tax payers than shares of formerly “public” property would be the money stolen from them along with added interest for the inconvenience and violations suffered from its deprival.  However, this presents a couple of issues. First, the State will most likely not have enough money to repay all of its tax victims what they are owed in full.  Second, even if in some bizarre twist it did have all their money, it would be impossible for the State to pay everyone back with interest as this would necessarily deplete its funds before all its victims could be made whole, so to speak.  That is to say, all of the State’s money and assets originate in theft, so the best it could possibly do, even theoretically, is return exactly what it stole.

When delving into the details of how such a privatization would be executed, one must remember this is strictly a technical matter (and one whose market solution cannot be predicted in advance) not a legal one. The libertarian legal solution simply requires the State to accord its victims a proportion of its assets corresponding with their degree of violation suffered, yet limited enough to where others equally or more greatly victimized may be afforded the same or greater levels of restitution.  Put more simply, restitution should be distributed such that those more greatly victimized receive more than those victimized less.  The result may fall short of perfect restoration, but it would be the closest approximation of justice with respect to the existing stock of State assets to be dispersed.

Perhaps the victims would be given a choice to either accept shares in the formerly “public” goods to hold onto as investments or to have said shares auctioned off so as to receive a monetary sum in their stead.

Next Best Solution

The following proposal and its format closely resemble that of Hoppe’s. It is a two-pronged approach composed of corrective and preventative measures to address the issue of immigration.


The corrective measures are intended to address the effects of forced integration that have already occurred. Such measures are hardly controversial within libertarian circles but are nevertheless worth mentioning. First and foremost, would be the privatization of as many public goods as possible. This would effectively mitigate the issues of immigration as there would be less public areas to immigrate to. Of near equal importance would be the repeal of anti-discrimination, affirmative action, and other such legislation which inhibits an individual’s ability to discriminate with his private property.

This would greatly reduce the negative effects of any forced integration brought on by the invasion of uninvited foreigners. A less obvious measure would be to pursue a truly free trade policy. If foreigners are able to trade with domestic citizens without being penalized by tariffs and/or other State measures designed to artificially disadvantage them, then the demand to immigrate will decrease ceteris paribus. Next would be political decentralization. For instance, it would be better for Texas and its taxpaying residents to determine immigration policies that affect their territory than the federal government, and better still for the county and its tax paying citizens to determine such policies for their territory and so on until all such questions are handled by the individual with respect to his own (personal) property. Finally, foreigners, whether invited or uninvited, should be barred from voting and having access to tax-funded welfare programs or subsidies of any kind. This too will decrease the demand to immigrate.




When considering measures designed to prevent forced integration, it is important to consider which of them would most closely correspond with the desires of taxpayers who have a diffuse, yet valid, private claim to the public property “stewarded” by the State. Stephan Kinsella offers us his insight in the following:

“Private property is the only way to objectively and efficiently allocate capital. But some rules are better than others; and one reasonable rule of thumb used to judge the validity of a given usage rule for a publicly owned resource is to ask whether a private owner of a similar resource might adopt a similar rule

… I would prefer the public property be returned as restitution to the victims and the mafia called the state disbanded. Barring that, so long as they hold property rightfully ‘owned’ by me and others to whom the state owes damages/restitution, I would prefer property they own to be used only for peaceful purposes of the type that would exist in the free market (can any libertarian seriously deny that it’s objectively better for the state to build a library or park on public property than an IRS office or chemical weapons factory?). I would prefer rules to be set regarding the usage of these resources so that they are not wasted, and so as to act in a reasonable manner like private owners would…

….But what actual rules should we prefer? Here I think we start to veer from libertarianism into the realm of personal preference. I would not want the feds to allow any and all comers onto federal property, for the reasons mentioned above — I believe it would reduce the utility of public property, and impose costs (such as forced integration).;” [6]

Just as an open State border policy would entail forced integration/inclusion it is also important to prevent the State from enacting a policy of forced exclusion. That is, preventing foreigners from visiting who have been invited by a domestic property-owning/tax-paying citizen. Hoppe elaborates:

“Now, if the government excludes a person while there exists a domestic resident who wants to admit this very person onto his property, the result is forced exclusion; and if the government admits a person while there exists no domestic resident who wants to have this person on his property, the result is forced integration. Moreover, hand in hand with the institution of a government comes the institution of public property and goods, that is, of property and goods owned collectively by all domestic residents and controlled and administered by the government. The larger or smaller the amount of public-government ownership, the greater or lesser will be the potential problem of forced integration.…..by proceeding on public roads, or with public means of transportation, and in staying on public land and in public parks and buildings, an immigrant can potentially cross every domestic resident’s path” [7]

The solution, then, is to make any foreigner’s entry contingent upon a domestic property-owning citizen’s invitation. The inviter would need to provide the visiting foreigner with some proof of the invitation so that a third party may determine whether he is an invited guest or an uninvited trespasser. A public record of such invitations may be kept so as to impose additional social/economic pressures on domestic citizens to not haphazardly invite those who may be dangerous, aggressive, or otherwise undesirable.  Hoppe expands on the nature of such invitations in the following:

“Valid invitations are contracts between one or more private domestic recipients, residential or commercial, and the arriving person. Qua contractual admission, the inviting party can dispose only of his own private property. Hence, the admission implies negatively—similarly to the scenario of conditional free immigration—that the immigrant is excluded from all publicly funded welfare. Positively, it implies that the receiving party assumes legal responsibility for the actions of his invitee for the duration of his stay. The invitor is held liable to the full extent of his property for any crimes the invitee commits against the person or property of any third party (as parents are held accountable for the crimes of their offspring as long as they are members of the parental household). This obligation, which implies practically speaking that invitors will have to carry liability insurance for all of their guests, ends once the invitee has left the country, or once another domestic property owner has assumed liability for the person in question (by admitting him onto his property).

The invitation may be private (personal) or commercial, temporally limited or unlimited, concerning only housing (accommodation, residency) or housing and employment (but there cannot be a valid contract involving only employment and no housing). In any case, however, as a contractual relationship, every invitation may be revoked or terminated by the invitor; and upon termination, the invitee—whether tourist, visiting businessman, or resident alien—will be required to leave the country (unless another resident citizen enters an invitation contract with him).”[7]

Until now, the “property (real estate) owning” aspect of invitors has not been remarked upon. Such invitors would be in a unique position to invite a prospective foreign visitor with respect to non-property owning domestic citizens as the former can rightfully offer the foreigner a place with which to reside during his stay. Even renters may only be able to do this with the consent of their landlords. Similarly, a foreigner may only acquire citizenship by first purchasing real estate in the host country. Hoppe explains:

“The invitee may lose his legal status as a non-resident or resident alien, who is at all times subject to the potential risk of immediate expulsion, only upon acquiring citizenship. In accordance with the objective of making all immigration (as trade) invited contractual, the fundamental requirement for citizenship is the acquisition of property ownership, or more precisely the ownership of real estate and residential property.

… Rather, becoming a citizen means acquiring the right to stay in a country permanently, and a permanent invitation cannot be secured other than by purchasing residential property from a citizen resident. Only by selling real estate to a foreigner does a citizen indicate that he agrees to a guest’s permanent stay (and only if the immigrant has purchased and paid for real estate and residential housing in the host country will he assume a permanent interest in his new country’s well-being and prosperity).”[7]

Some critics of this solution may object by claiming other liberty violating policies, such as drug prohibition, could be justified on similar grounds. This is a seemingly plausible yet erroneous conclusion. Unlike the aforementioned immigration restrictions, a policy of universal drug prohibition may very well violate the property rights of domestic citizens who have a valid private claim to “public” property, due to their status as tax paying and/or property owning citizens. Admittedly, this does imply that those who, in combination, have a majority stake in “public” property (owing to their higher net tax expenditures) can justly regulate its use in such a way that impacts their fellow domestic citizens/property owners or valid foreign claimants. ( However, one would still have to consider what easements or other access any minority owner of “public” property would be entitled due to his status as a partial owner).

However, such regulations could certainly never be justly applied to any individual’s personal private property. In distinct contrast, it is quite clear that a prospective foreign visitor/invader (that has not been aggressively victimized by the State in question) has no valid claim/link to domestic public property as he does not pay domestic taxes for its maintenance, protection, and upkeep nor does he have residence in the host country. Thus, there exists no principled conflict with subjecting him to immigration restrictions.

Foreigners should also be exempt from having to pay domestic taxes since they are recognized as having no legal claim to “public” resources.  Moreover, even if they do happen to pay some domestic taxes, this would not give them a valid claim to public property because a condition of their visit would be that their status as mere visitor would remain intact unless they purchase domestic real estate (again this condition is adopted because it is very likely in accordance with how the majority of private shares would be voted if such a vote were allowed to take place).  Such taxes that do happen to be paid by the foreigner, then, would effectively amount to a “visitor’s fee” of sorts and may be refunded to him upon his departure.

At this point, the obvious question of “what should the particular immigration restrictions be?” arises.  The first best option would be to have such restrictions determined by net federal taxpayers (or victims of federal aggression) for federal property, net state taxpayers for state property, net county taxpayers for county property…etc.  Though it wouldn’t be “one person one vote” but rather one tax dollar paid on net one vote (or something similar to this).  Thus, different people would carry different voting weight in a manner similar to the governance of a corporation.  The second best option would be for immigration to be by invite only as described above.   Unfortunately, both these first and second best solutions are unlikely to come to fruition.  The third best option, then, is to impose border restrictions that one may predict, with relative certainty, are in accordance with how the vast majority of shares to State “public” property (a.k.a joint private property) would be voted if such a vote were allowed to occur.  This would, at the very least, entail barring violent criminals from entry.  Moreover, because the State’s victims are in fact the private, albeit diffused, property owners of what is mislabeled “public property”, one may conclude that it would be in accordance with their will to bar those openly hostile towards the institution of private property itself (e.g. socialists) from immigrating.

Walter Block was able to detect a valid flaw in the immigration restrictions proposed by Hoppe and Kinsella: that they would entail a positive expenditure of State resources which are ultimately expropriated (stolen via taxes) from its citizens. In essence, that they are irrationally attempting to utilize the State to solve a problem created by itself:

“Being a victim of the state in no way entitles someone to use the state against anyone else. Since socialist policies are such an inefficient drain on the economy, it is inevitable that people’s grievances will far outweigh the capacity of the state to compensate them. Moreover, the state does not have its own resources and it can only ‘compensate’ people by robbing from others.” [8]

However, what Walter Block and perhaps even Hoppe failed to realize is that immigration restrictions need not be enforced by the State. Private citizens may form organizations like the Minuteman Project in order to patrol the borders and other “public” areas for potential uninvited foreign invaders. If any foreigner is unable to produce verifiable evidence that he was invited by a domestic property-owner, then members of such organizations may rightfully evict (or to use Hoppe’s catchphrase: physically remove) these trespassers. In this way, such immigration restrictions may be enforced without requiring extra involvement or expenditures by the State.  Finally, such private organizations would only be permitted to patrol “public” property and personal private property whose respective owner granted express permission.

Addendum: answers to common objections

1.)  Response to general objections

At the very least, one must recognize, in principle, that the billions who have not been victimized by a particular State have zero claim to its illegitimate property, whereas those who have been aggressed upon by said State do have a valid claim.

Having difficulty imagining the technical application of this principle does not make it any less sound. Perhaps one may disagree with the outline of how it might be implemented described above (market activity cannot be predicted with absolute precision in advance), but he should sincerely ask himself whether the underlying principle is in error.

Libertarian justice requires restitution for private property violations. Thus, so long as the State and its illegitimate property are not privatized out of existence (the ideal solution), then the next best approximation of libertarian justice is to manage said property in a manner that is in accordance with the will of its victims (a.k.a the legitimate joint private owners thereof).

To say otherwise only adds injury upon injury to the current set of a given State’s identifiable victims. Remember, people also had difficulty imagining the technical solution to how cotton would be picked after the abolition of slavery, but that did not alter the fact that slavery is principally unjust.

2.)  “If one has a valid private claim to the State’s ‘public property’ does that mean he can make an open invitation to all non-claimants thus effectively opening state borders?”

No, because he wouldn’t be able to afford the liability insurance premiums such an open invitation would entail.  To elaborate, because libertarians are in a position of having to come up with a next best solution, they must approximate how the majority of ownership shares would be voted if such a vote were allowed to take place (remember some individuals have more shares/claim than others due to their greater net tax payments or aggressive victimization by the State in question). Admittedly, one cannot predict the exact outcome of such votes, hence why the solution offered herein is next best and not perfect.  (It is important to note that the completely open state border solution is the furthest removed from the principles of libertarian justice.)

However, one can say with near certainty that a policy of “anyone and everyone should have unfettered access and/or use of our joint private property (‘public property’)” would be the most disagreeable solution for the vast majority of shares (and shareholders).

Likewise, a policy of “any individual joint owner, regardless of the size of his claim, may invite however many people he wishes to our joint private property and have zero liability for any violations to property they may perpetrate during their visits” would also be one of the most disagreeable policies to the vast majority of shares (and shareholders). Hence, one may confidently disregard this proposal as well.

However, a policy of “joint owners may invite whoever they want to our joint private property, but must first acquire liability insurance for their invitees in order to assure restitution can be made to those who may have their persons or property violated by this foreign visitor” is likely far more agreeable to the private joint owners of so called “public” property, and is one that is far more decentralized as it gives each joint owner a large measure of individual discretion over its access.

3.)  “Since the U.S. government is in so much debt, does this mean that U.S. residents will get little to no restitution?”

The more important question is “Who owns the debt?” Most of the debt is owned by illegitimate institutions like foreign governments or central banks. Central bank debt (whether foreign or domestic) can be defaulted on without issue because it’s purchased with counterfeit funds. On the other hand, foreign debt involves foreign tax victims. Thus, this may entail that foreign tax victims have some claim to the U.S. government’s illegitimate “public” property in proportion to how much they were extorted from in taxes to purchase said debt.  How much domestic residents or foreign victims of U.S. government aggression are owed in restitution is an empirical question.  As such, it falls outside the scope of the present topic which is strictly concerned with whether some access restrictions to “public” property are more libertarian than none at all under a Statist paradigm.

4.)  “Wouldn’t it be better if the State returned the money it stole from taxpayers as opposed to treating them as the joint private owners of its so-called ‘public property’?”

The first issue with this is that in order for the State to pay person A monetary restitution it would first have to steal from person B via taxes.  Even if the State only dipped into its current reserves, it still would not have nearly enough money to pay all the taxpayers however much it stole (let alone whatever interest is owed due to the inconvenience and violation suffered in the interim).  Also, this does not address victims aggressed by means other than taxation.  Hence, due to the fact that monetary restitution alone would be insufficient in restoring all the victims (and may even be counterproductive if it entails further aggressive redistributions of wealth), it then makes sense to treat these victims as the joint private owners of ‘public property’ as a means of bringing them closer to full restoration.  Moreover, even if the given State’s victims could all be fully restored (highly unlikely) without depleting all its illegitimate property, they would still have a greater claim to whatever remained, because they funded its development via taxes.

5.)  “I don’t like the fact that other joint owners may override my preferences regarding the access restrictions (or lack thereof) to so called ‘public property’ (a.k.a the joint private property of the victims of State aggression)”

Like any other private, yet jointly owned, enterprise, how the majority of shares are tallied determines policy. If the senior partners at a firm want to go direction X, yet some junior partners want to go direction Y then that firm is going to go direction X. Someone will inevitably be unhappy, but that is the very purpose of property norms: to predictably inform one of whose preference takes precedence when two or more people want to use a given scarce good in mutually exclusive ways.

That said, an invite-only policy still grants every joint private owner of this so called “public” property a large degree of discretion over its use and successfully avoids the pitfall of forced exclusion.

6.)  “It would seem the U.S. government’s aggression has affected virtually everyone in the world.  Does that mean everyone has some claim to U.S. ‘public property’?”

No, it does not.  Being merely affected by aggression is not necessarily the same thing as having been aggressed against.  For instance, if a bully broke a small child’s arm then this may affect his parents, but from this it does not follow that his parents were themselves aggressed against by the bully.  Aggression, in the context of libertarian legal theory, is strictly defined as the uninvited initiation of physical interference with the persons or property of others or threats thereof.  Thus, if a foreigner was merely affected by U.S. foreign policy, yet was not personally aggressed against by agents of the U.S. government, then he has no valid claim to U.S. “public” property.

7.)  “I thought this was supposed to be about national borders, but you’re just talking about developed public property!”

So called “public property”, in fact all property, is demarcated by borders.  So when one speaks about victims of the State only having a restitutive claim to developed “public” property, he is still disputing the notion of “open State borders”.  All the boundaries of “public” property, be it a school, hospital, airport, park, ….etc., are “State borders.”  In fact, taking the principle underlying the “open State borders” position to its logical conclusion implies anyone and everyone may occupy or utilize public schools, hospitals, parks, airports…etc. in whatever manner they see fit. This is undoubtedly a hellish consequence that could only be genuinely endorsed by the most radical of communists.

8.)  “Treating victims of State ownership as private share holders of its illegitimate property is deficient because true shareholders of a corporation in the market are able to divest themselves of their shares through sale.”

This objection is true as far as it goes but it overlooks the fact that it is critiquing an admittedly next best solution.  If these joint owners were actually able to vote with their shares and divest themselves of their ownership, then this would be the very same thing as the perfect solution to “public” property: privatizing everything thus effectively eliminating the State.  However, because the victims of the State have no ability to vote in such a manner (and each individual’s voting power is certainly not weighted in accordance with the amount of taxes he has paid to the State on net) then there is no reason to sell shares to other joint owners.  Having more shares only matters if you can vote with them.   Thus we are left in the less than ideal circumstance of having to approximate what the results of such a vote would be.  The invite-only policy advocated herein is the least presumptive, most decentralized, and certainly more in accordance with how such shares would be voted than the “open State border” policy.

9.)  “It seems your proposal requires a central committee to decide who is here rightfully and who isn’t. It also seems like it requires people to purchase liability insurance from one monopolistic agency in order to cover invited guests. This ‘sounds’ statist.”

This proposal in no way calls for or requires a “central committee” to track who is a valid claimant (joint private owner), invited guest, or uninvited trespasser anymore than a single centralized committee/institution is required to maintain the standard definitions of words and produce dictionaries. This is a manipulative and false comparison made to render this proposal more apparently “statist” than it actually is. This strawman critique, often made by libertarians, is odd as it is the same tired strawman argument that is made against our idea of a stateless private/polycentric legal system. In this context, libertarians recognize there needn’t be a single security organization which enforces all “law”, a single arbitration agency which interprets all “law”, a single legal agency which creates all “law”, a single security insurance agency which insures all people, nor a single criminal records bureau which maintains all criminal records. (To discover how standard criminal records may be maintained despite the existence of multiple independent criminal records agencies, read the “law and order” chapter of A Spontaneous Order.) So too does the immigration proposal herein not call for a single monopolistic insurance agency to cover invited foreign guests and/or a single monopolistic security agency to enforce border restrictions.



[1]  Rothbard, Murray. “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution.” Mises Institute. N.p., 17 Apr. 2006. Web. 14 June 2017.

[2] Hoppe, 2001. Democracy: The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy and Natural Order New Brunswick, N.J. Transaction Publishers.

[3] Hoppe, The Case For Free Trade and Restricted Immigration https://mises.org/library/case-free-trade-and-restricted-immigration-0

[4] Hoppe, Of Private, Common, and Public Property and the Rationale for Total Privatization http://libertarianpapers.org/article/1-hoppe-private-common-and-public-property/

[5] Murray N. Rothbard, “Justice and Property Rights,” in Property in a Humane Economy, Edit. Samuel L. Blumenfeld (Lasalle: Open Court, 1974), 121

[6] A Simple Libertarian Argument Against Unrestricted Immigration and Open Borders http://archive.lewrockwell.com/kinsella/kinsella18.html)

[7] Hoppe, The Case For Free Trade and Restricted Immigration https://mises.org/library/case-free-trade-and-restricted-immigration-0

[8] On Immigration: Reply to Hoppe https://mises.org/library/immigration-reply-hoppe




21 thoughts on “The Libertarian Case Against Open Borders”

  1. Pingback: The Jewish Origins of Communism – Where The Power Lies

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