The beauty of reading some of the Libertarian canon is that, when the unit of analysis is the individual and his freedom, the argument can proceed quite logically without much empirical debate. So it is gloriously neat, and you don't need to be an expert in all the world's ugliness to prescribe the right policies. All one needs is to remember that individual liberty is paramount. Hence this purist article arguing the libertarian case for immigration. But it also highlights the difficulties inherent on reducing debates to this one factor; liberties like rights inevitably conflict with one another. One man's right to range freely over this glorious planet in the search for security and economic success; another's right to keep his culture intact against the threats of multiple other cultures crowding in.*
Me, I come down on the immigrants' side, but not because libertarianism leads inevitably there, but because (a) I don't buy the "my culture is under threat" nonsense you get in the Torygraph and (b) I think some of England's most glorious acts have been when we absorbed some fleeing refugees (Hugenots, Jews under Cromwell, etc). I also like the way outside forces challenge stale thinking or the "distributional coalitions" that encrust a society over time, as discussed by Mancur Olsen.
All freedoms - movement of goods and capital as well as people - upset an existing order and force the challenges that ultimately produce capitalism's endless gains. I like those gains, but can recognise that each produce losers. Which freedom gets most effectively suppressed depends on power, as usual, rather than than the paramountcy of any particular liberty.
*today's generation of anti-immigration thinkers are not noted for condemning the massive emigration of well-armed British people over several centuries into the established orders of other countries.
- The Swing
- Grown up thinking on Conservative Home
- Cameron speaking at the Conservative club
- Fabian Review part II: Shock! as Britain found to ...
- Iain Dale in the Fabian Review: we agree!
- Dammit, they don't even come from here
- Nick Clegg
- Oh s***e I'm becoming biased part II
- This is why barriers to entry are sometimes a good...
- The worst blog I have (tried to) read so far
- What I mean by living in a bubble world
- Beginning to like the Lib Dems
- "Funny, all of my mates are Tory ... ."
- Did we need Thatcher?
- What I like about libertarianism
- Citizen-centred Welfare
- Supply side arguments
- Education: the "core" principles of each party are...
- Why can't government run as easily as this?
- Oh s***e I'm becoming biased
- Once I wrote a poem
- Two angles on Rule by Others
- A more human take on citizenship
- Cultural Conservatism as the Answer to Everything
- Explaining myself
- ▼ September (25)