Current Events, History/Culture, Politics/Economics

Post Debate Analysis: Kokesh Vs. Molyneux on Immigration

The following is a critique of the recent debate between Adam Kokesh and Stefan Molyneux on the topic of whether immigration restrictions will be more or less conducive towards achieving an Anarcho-Capitalist society.  My personal stance on the subject is exhaustively laid out in “The Libertarian Case Against Open Borders.”

Summary

Overall, Kokesh’s participation was mostly comprised of incoherent remarks, platitudes, motte and bailey tactics, strawman arguments, and the moving of goal posts.  Throughout the debate, he was intent on characterizing many of its surrounding facets as subjective in nature, despite Molyneux’s provision of a myriad of objective facts and figures.  If I were to speculate, I’d say Adam’s intent was to hedge his impending defeat by assuring any spectating or doubtful fence sitters that one’s position on this topic is merely a matter of opinion.  That there is no “right or wrong” answer to the central question of the debate.  I will address a variety of  Kokesh’s specific arguments in the next section.

My criticisms of Molyneux are mostly minor but still worth mentioning.  His biggest mistake, in my opinion, was conceding the ethical high ground to Kokesh by failing to object to his claim that “(uninvited) immigration does not, itself, entail a violation of private property or the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP).” I was also disappointed that he didn’t correct Kokesh’s claim that “freedom of movement” is somehow a legitimate right that is compatible with the libertarian principle of private property.  Finally, Molyneux did occasionally Strawman Kokesh, though I don’t believe this was intentional.

Refuting Kokesh’s Arguments

~11:20–Kokesh makes the claim that immigration in itself never violates the NAP

I was disappointed that Molyneux did not make it clear that what is mislabeled “public property”, is, in fact, the joint private property of that State’s tax victims (or other victims of its direct aggression).  That immigrants (who have not been aggressively victimized by the State in question) who enter such “public property” are indeed guilty of trespass, and trespass is considered an aggression according to libertarian legal theory as it constitutes an uninvited physical invasion of one’s property.

The first major issue is that many lolberts (e.g. Larken Rose) do not recognize trespass as itself being a form of aggression.  The second major issue is they treat “public property” as unowned property, when in fact it is the joint private property of net tax payers.

~17:10– Kokesh claims “the government can and will never be effective at restricting immigration”

Of course, this is patently false.  Stefan Molyneux provides the three great counter-examples of Japan, Poland, and Israel.  Kokesh, of course, deflects and moves on.

~21:00– Kokesh makes the claim that opening State borders will stop war

This is one of Kokesh’s most absurd and fantastical claims.  How bringing in millions of people with cultures hostile to western values, private property, and capitalism will in anyway end warfare is well beyond me.  If anything, it would only exacerbate racial/cultural tension and ultimately lead to lengthy and embittered violent conflict.  This would either result in the implementation of a more oppressive and invasive police State as a means to quell said conflict or the taking over of the existing US (or European) State by foreigners hostile to western civilization.  Either way, the outcome would land us much farther from a libertarian/capitalist society, contrary to Kokesh’s delusional fantasies.

~25:00–  Kokesh claims Molyneux’s defense of immigration restrictions is tantamount to “defending the integrity of the existing USD fiat government-run economy”

Stef identifying the fact that Muslim and Hispanic immigrants utilize a vastly disproportional amount of welfare, commit a vastly disproportional amount of crime, and disproportionally desire bigger government far more than Whites as a whole, and therefore wanting to restrict their entry, is absolutely not defending the institution of government-issued money or a “government-run economy.” How Kokesh arrived at this ludicrous non-sequitur is, once more, well beyond me.

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~27:15–Kokesh claims that opening the borders will bring about a “peaceful and orderly” transition

Kokesh is delusional if he genuinely believes opening the flood gates and bringing in millions of people whose cultures are incompatible with or hostile towards western/European culture will result in a “peaceful and orderly transition” to a free society. What’s more likely is that we would be transitioned from a State whose legal principles are largely based on western values to a State system that has very little if any grounding in western values, legal individualism, private property rights and capitalism. Such a transition would be incredibly dangerous and destructive, the result of which would be a far more oppressive State.  To see what sort of transition is actually taking place in countries opening their borders to the third world Muslim masses see “The Policy of ‘Invade All, Invite All’ Caused The Muslim Migrant Crisis.”

~28:25–Kokesh is asked to apply his claim that “opening the borders will hasten the collapse of the State” to real-world examples of Germany and Sweden

When Kokesh is asked to apply his claim that “opening the borders will hasten the collapse of the State” to the real world examples of Germany and Sweden, he admits that he doesn’t know if it holds true in those particular examples. He then amends his stance to say “if those countries adopt the NAP and restrict movement via private property as opposed to government borders then such restrictions would bring about greater prosperity” (paraphrasing).

The issue here is that Adam is moving the goal post. Initially he claims that opening the borders will help end the State. But then he backpedals and says that lifting State immigration restrictions are only sure to be effective in the context of a consistently NAP/private property abiding society. In doing this, he completely ignores the context of the debate by assuming a stateless/NAP abiding society when favoring a lifting of government immigration restrictions. However, the entire point of the debate is to decide what immigration policy is more conducive to ultimately achieving a private property based stateless society, so it makes no sense to assume a context where this objective has already been achieved when arguing which immigration policy strategy is best suited to achieving it.

Finally, what happened to Kokesh’s precious “freedom of movement”?  He appears to be flip-flopping on his position for “freedom of movement” in favor of private property.  Oh well, lolberts aren’t known for their consistency (contrary to their self-perceptions).

~39:45– Kokesh claims immigration restrictions necessarily preclude one from inviting foreigners to his property

Kokesh falsely insinuates that immigration restrictions necessarily preclude one from inviting whomever he wants to his property. i.e. that they necessarily, in effect, entail forced exclusion. However, this is simply not the case. In fact, myself, Hoppe, and many others have explicitly stated that immigration restrictions should not preclude one from inviting any foreigner to his property, so long as he does not externalize the costs of said visit onto nonconsenting others…etc.

~52:36– Kokesh says “it’s more important to disempower the whole electoral process” than to be concerned with free-flowing immigration

Adam says “it’s more important to disempower the whole electoral process” than to be concerned with free-flowing immigration and the hostile cultures they may bring with them; Cultures that are hostile to the very western values from which libertarianism is derived.

However, this is a false dichotomy, because politics is downstream from culture. If his genuine wish truly is to disempower the electoral process, then it would behoove him to recognize that bringing in more people with anti-libertarian values and culture will be counter-productive to this end.

~59:55–Kokesh insinuates that bringing in millions of people with cultures hostile to libertarianism and western values as a whole will result in a net reduction of NAP violations

Kokesh insinuates that allowing millions of people with cultures hostile to libertarianism and western values as a whole will result in a net reduction of NAP violations. He also insinuates that the NAP violations which may occur when enforcing immigration restrictions would outweigh the NAP violations avoided by such restrictions.  That is, restrictions which limit incoming populations that place a much lower value on private property/NAP and who by and large vote for bigger government.

It should be clear that importing millions of people who would vote for larger government and who have, as a whole, much less respect for the NAP and Private Property would result in a Net increase in NAP violations i.e. less liberty. Whereas whatever NAP violations may occur with the enforcement of immigration restrictions would undoubtedly be outweighed by the far lesser amount of violent conflict and private property violations that would result from maintaining a cultural homogeneity in the western European tradition.

That said, immigration restrictions need not require NAP or private property violations, nor do they require State enforcement (contrary to the beliefs of lolberts).  For more on this see “The Libertarian Case Against Open Borders.”

Conclusion

It’s unmistakably clear that Molyneux was the victor in this match-up.  However, if I had to give some positive feedback to Kokesh it would be that he did appear to be supportive of Hoppean covenant communities and of secession as a practical means of disempowering and ultimately dissolving the State.  Unfortunately, whatever favor he gained was quickly lost when he made the other classic lolbert error of confusing nationalism with statism (for more on this topic see “In Defense of Libertarian Nationalism“, “There Is Nothing Unlibertarian About White Nationalism” and “Nations By Consent.”)

Finally, Kokesh also fell prey to the fatal lolbertarian error of assuming in-group preferences and all forms of collectivism are anti-libertarian.  Contrary to this erroneous assumption, only a strictly legal individualism is implied by libertarianism.  That is, libertarianism is only individualist insofar as it recognizes the individual has final legal say over the use of his own body and private property, regardless of the will of the State or some other such collective.  One may still have in-group preferences with regards to race, religion, ethnicity, language, political disposition, .etc. without coming into conflict with any libertarian principles.  For more on this see “Libertarianism Is NOT Opposed To All Forms of Collectivism.”

2 thoughts on “Post Debate Analysis: Kokesh Vs. Molyneux on Immigration”

  1. Very good write up and thank you for doing so.

    One meta observation: this shows the degradation of a movement whose media is largely activist, friendly and non-confrontational. When Adam Kokesh goes on a podcast, the host usually agrees with him already and the discussion dives into the finer points of libertarian minutiae like driver’s licenses or license plates or things out of a science fiction future. Just take Adam’s talking point about the “big but mostly benign gov vs. small but violent gov” which he claimed would often illuminate his audiences in speaking. It’s almost puerile, it’s certainly inane and typical of libertarian “debates” which are usually pep rallies for a marginal and fringe faction of an already marginal and fringe political movement.

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  2. I still like Adam, but he got his butt kicked by Stefan Molyneux in this debate.

    The real issue with borders is not “open” borders vs “closed” borders, but rather, who controls the land, the government, or private property owners.

    We don’t live in a private property anarcho-capitalist society. We live in what is essentially a democratic welfare state that has forced association laws, and where there is lots of public property/infrastructure, and where even the so called private property is heavily regulated by the state.

    So under this context, whatever migration/immigration policy is in place, including, “Open the borders and let everyone enter, no questions asked.” is a statist policy.

    Given this reality, the only rational thing to do, if dismantling the state and establishing a private property, anarcho-capitalist society is not a realistic possibility, is for the state to have a migration/immigration policy that does not overwhelm, or threaten, the existing population. This means that the government should not invite people who hold socialist, communist or theocratic ideologies, nor should it invite welfare seekers, criminals, or people with communicable diseases. The process for becoming an American citizen should be made more difficult, and people who violate immigration laws should not be offered American citizenship, nor should any offspring they have while here.

    If libertarians want to get the government out of migration/immigration, declaring “open borders” while the democratic welfare state with forced association laws and public property/infrastructure is still in place, is not the way to go about doing it, unless one wants to move the society in which we live even further from libertarianism than it already is.

    Dismantling government is like dismantling a bomb. Pull the wrong wire out at the wrong time and it will blow up in your face. This is what calling for “open borders” into a democratic welfare state with forced association laws and public property is like doing.

    Here are the conditions that would have to be met in order for an “open borders” policy to not be destructive to liberty:

    1) All land and infrastructure would have to be privatized in as fair a manner as possible to the members of the existing population.

    2) All government welfare programs would have to be ended.

    3) All anti-discrimination laws would have to be repealed, as there’d have to be true freedom of association, which includes the right to disassociate.

    4) Democratic elections would have to be ended, with the exception being voluntary associations having elections, but the results of these elections would only apply to the people who voluntarily consented to the election.

    5) All taxes would have to be repealed, as would government control over money.

    So basically, the only way for so called “open borders” to work would be for a private property, anarcho-capitalist society to be established, but of course such a society would not really have “open borders,” as it would have private property borders, which would be regulated by private property owners.

    The only place I could see for “open borders” would be if there were any unclaimed land, but even in a case like this, once that land was homesteaded, it would no longer be open, and migration/immigration to that land would then be under the control of the homesteader, who would now be a private property owner.

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