Sunday, November 11, 2018

Harry Binswanger Opines Again on Immigration

Harry Binswanger is one of Obleftivism's leading gurus. He has many NPC followers who parrot his every word and thought. He is also an extreme rationalist as are most of ARI's principle thought leaders. Binswanger is most notorious in patriotic Objectivist circles for his extremely bizarre views on immigration such as this classic from 2014: "After a phase-in period, entry into the U.S. would be unrestricted, unregulated, and unscreened, exactly as is entry into Connecticut from New York." 

Binswanger's a smart guy and understands that the concept of national sovereignty and the fundamental nature of the nation-state stand in the way of his borderless utopian fantasy world. Therefore, he seeks to corrupt the concept of "sovereignty" and turn it into an anti-conceptual package-deal

A few days ago, Binswanger posted an essay in which he attempts to narrow the definition of "sovereignty" in order to empty it of most of its content. He did so to justify the population replacement of the American people with those who support statism and are consequently easily ruled. Here's his argument, in part:

“Sovereignty” refers to the government’s monopoly on force. The border defines the area within which the government has that monopoly–the monopoly on the use of force. The border indicates where a particular government has jurisdiction, the area within which its police will enforce its law.
The border is not the property line between the government’s ownership of “its territory” and the next government’s ownership of theirs. The government does not own the country. Nor does any collective. Sovereignty is not ownership.
 What then does “enforcing our border” mean, in a non-collectivist sense? It means not letting neighboring governments start to use their force within our borders. Enforcing the border is enforcing the government’s monopoly over force–it is not the initiation of force to obstruct or stop the free movement of individuals across that border. [Emphasis in original]

As with his previous article that is linked to above, Binswanger crudely reduces the entire question of national sovereignty to a matter of local police jurisdiction like as between Connecticut and New York. In reality, the concept of sovereignty addresses the nature of and justification for any government's source of legitimacy. In the case of the United States, the source of sovereignty is the American people. They have created and support their various governments and task them with acting in our interests and protection of our rights. The American people possess a distinct national identity. Their sovereignty rests on their right to form a polity and to protect its continued existence. Mass immigration from hostile or incongruent cultures is clearly a threat to the American polity's continuance. 

Since the early modern period when European nation-states were being formed, it's been understood that those new states have a sovereign right to control who and what crosses their borders. One purpose of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) was to codify this principle of national sovereignty into international law. The goal of this principle was to prevent nations from meddling in the affairs of other countries. It was also an attempt to prevent the oppression that always results from polyglot empires of a "multicultural" nature - as something called the "Spanish Netherlands" had experienced. Needless to say, the nation-state stands in the way of both empire builders and globalist one-world utopians

Foreign nationals attempting to illegally cross into the United States are initiating force against the American people. For literalists who can't think conceptually, this principle is a paradox they will never solve. For example, many open borders libertarians declare that they would not allow in "migrants" with communicable diseases. Why not; don't sick people have rights? Or they state that terrorists would be stopped under their open borders scheme. Unless a prospective "migrant" has been convicted of a crime, is this not the "ideological screening" that has them in high dudgeon? And, don't those convicted of crimes who have served their time have rights?

Of course, none of these "tough" questions arise with a proper understanding of national sovereignty. I'll give Binswanger credit. He doesn't hedge his position. He drops all context and declares that the American people have a Kantian moral imperative to fling open their borders in order to erase their national existence.

The issue is either/or. Either American immigration policy is based on the national self-interest of the American people as they determine it or it is based on the alleged "right" of every and any foreigner to enter the United States regardless of the wishes of actual Americans. As Ayn Rand observed in the 1963 in a different context: 

A nation, like any other group, is only a number of individuals and can have no rights other than the rights of its individual citizens. A free nation - a nation that recognizes, respects and protects the individual rights of its citizens - has a right to its territorial integrity, its social system and its form of government. The government of such a nation is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of its citizens and has no rights other than the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific, delimited task (the task of protecting them from physical force, derived from their right of self-defense). [Emphasis added] Ayn Rand, "Collectivized Rights," in The Virtue of Selfishness, pg. 120.

Needless to say, the US government has no right to surrender the country's national sovereignty that belongs to the American people. Ayn Rand makes it perfectly clear in the above statement that the purpose of the US government is to protect the rights of American citizens. The rights of foreign nationals, either real or imagined, are not my government's problem or concern. Although Ayn Rand never directly addressed the issue of the current mass invasion of the civilized West, it's clear that she would never have supported the West's destruction based on pathological altruism. Even Leonard Peikoff understood that individual rights, however distorted and misinterpreted, are not a suicide pact. 

I'll close by noting that even open immigration (for America) proponents usually draw the line when it comes to a certain ethno-religious state. I have no problem with Israel defining itself as the "Jewish State." It's just interesting how some people will twist themselves into semantic pretzels when it comes to rationalizing the one, while also declaring that American culture has no real identity and that mass immigration won't adversely affect, if not destroy, the American sense of life. 


  1. You talk of the identity of the American people, but you totally forget that America is comprised of individuals and descendants of individuals who immigrated to this country from all over the world. America is the sum of the individuals living within its border, no matter where they come from. A few more individuals moving into the country will not change one iota what it means for each of those individuals to be an American. Check your premises, there is a short circuit somewhere.

    1. You should read a few books on this topic before checking your utterly fallacious premises.

      I have to wonder at the extreme presumptuousness Of foreigners lecturing actual Americans on what it means to be an American. When was the last time I lectured you on what it means to be a Peruvian? Now begone. It's not my function to be a flyswatter.

    2. My family has lived in America since Colonial Times, and we Old Stock Americans view the United States as an inheritance and an asset which needs careful management to maintain and increase its value for future generations. The Scots and the Germans (President Trump's ancestors, in other words) also have a tradition of valuing this country as a second home and a refuge from the Old World. In other words, the Americans who deserve the title and belong here treat the country with a low time preference.

      By contrast, the kinds of immigrants we have gotten over the last 50 years treat the United States as a pile of assets to loot and a throwaway. Their high time preference conflicts with our low time preference, and that explains in part why the two factions aren't getting along.

    3. Binswangers entire premise seems to put the rights of non-citizens (or at least creates a non-existent purpose or function of US government to uphold the rights of non-citizens) in front of the actual duty of the government to protect the citizens from harm.
      He fills his essay with a bunch of irrelevant statistics about immigrant populations [allegedly] carrying less crime and disease than domestic populations. (obviously I would argue some of the statistics he puts forth, but they are, as I say irrelevant). His very argument, even if valid based on statistics, says that it's ok to 'add to' our existing problems by ignoring the source(s) that so add to them. i.e. it's akin to saying it's entirely ok to throw gasoline on an alcohol fire because, afterall, gasoline is less volatile than alcohol.
      Such arguments are pragmatism - saying that we should support open immigration (or at least not seek to vet immigrants) because they are a lesser evil. And pragmatism is antithetical to objectivism. Pragmatism is a form of subjectivism.

      Of course, he's gotten really good at dressing his argument up with a lot of convoluted rhetoric about it being 'collectivist' to use 'force'. Personally, I consider an act of trespass as initiation of force. I consider a foreign invasion as an act of force. I consider people exploiting lax policies for un-earned gain an act of force. I consider barring entry based on known-objective evidence as merely telling someone they aren't welcome. (and absent any known objective evidence, I do not think anyone should be barred entry)

      Binswanger is just the latest in a chain of obleftivist types trying to whitewash their own collectivist, looter mentality to put a pretty dressing on their assertion that other people should suffer the costs and take the risks so they can get their 'wish' based on their 'feelings' of what constitutes an 'ideal' state.
      The problem is, we aren't in an ideal world and threats from both within and without do exist. And even if the individuals that constitute the source of those risks are outliers in any perspective immigrant population, you sure as hell aren't going to mitigate those risks by ignoring their source.

      I think most people are like me. They don't want responsible, law-abiding, hard-working people to be turned away. They would prefer that our country fix it's broken 'quota' policy and instead use a merit-based approach or at least apply some level of scrutiny to limit the number of prior law breakers and outright militant types from entering the country. They would like some kind of grace period to make sure such a person does not become a mooch on the over-blown public-teet before letting them become a full citizen. Sure, we have criminals and mooches here already - all the more reason not to ADD TO THEM!!!

      But first and foremost, our government should be concerned primarily with the rights of OUR CITIZENS first.

    4. and btw-re: "you totally forget that America is comprised of individuals and descendants of individuals who immigrated to this country from all over the world. "

      I don't forget this for a moment, nor did my ancestors when they did so immigrate from all over the world. When my ancestors on my father's side came from England to Canada then Canada to the US in 1789, they considered themselves Americans and started working for and with American culture to build American society. They left all other allegiances behind and assumed the local culture.
      When my mother's ancestors came from eastern europe in the 1910s and 1920s they did the same, going so far as to tell their children "you are American now, learn to speak English". My grandmother could only speak a few words of Russian and Polish. She was forbidden to use it for common conversation growing up.
      And ALL of the above immigrated legally according to whatever laws existed at the time. I found the registries in the Massachusetts archives where my ancestors in New Hampshire declared their former citizenship as Canadian. I have found the records at Ellis Island where my ancestors from Poland got their American citizenship.
      But nice attempt to imply a xenophobic racism against people who do NOT oppose immigration but DO oppose invasion. I have no problem with people immigrating legally and respecting our laws, adopting our culture and respecting our sovereignty while only recognizing our flag. But if they want to continue to follow the old practices, laws and allegiances of their country of origin, they should go back there!