Immigration: An Ancap Red Herring

The family has the right to choose to admit outsiders, or not.

The sports team has the right to choose to admit outsiders, or not.

The chess club has the right to choose to admit outsiders, or not.

The university has the right to choose to admit outsiders, or not.

The firm has the right to choose to admit outsiders, or not.

The ancap-defense agency has the right to choose to admit outsiders, or not.

The nation-state has the...


Ancap head explosion. Accusations of immorality, "exiling the poor," xenophobia, racism, etc. all spew forth. (Of course, some of those things could be the reason someone wants immigration controlled. But the same is true of any other organization: I may want to keep certain people out of my chess club because I hate Sri Lankans.)

Ancaps are fine with people being excluded from all sorts of organizations. Just not the nation-state. Why is that? Clearly, the issue cannot be exclusion. The actual issue is that ancaps do not think the nation-state is a legitimate institution.

So, never bother arguing with an anarcho-capitalist about immigration: they will actually be arguing about something else. Of course, if someone thinks the nation-state is illegitimate, then will also think its attempts to maintain its identity are illegitimate. But there really is no separate ancap immigration case.


  1. It should be noted, however, that a given entity X does not necessarily have the right to refuse people entrance. I, for one, am not someone who looks upon immigration quotas favorably.

    1. I suggest that any social entity that wishes to survive MUST have the ability to control entry.

    2. I don't disagree. I'm perfectly fine with security-based restrictions (i.e. keeping out terrorists). Nor do I want a freely open border, by which I mean being able to just walk across the border.

  2. Gene, I'm a libertarian opposed to open borders. I have often wondered what limiting principle pro-open borders folks apply to immigration, because most of them seem to have one. When I ask people "How would you feel if 1 million Chinese people moved to Ireland next week?" they don't look happy. (Yes, I'm Irish). When I mischievously say "Isn't that quite racist - what have you got against the Chinese?" they are perplexed!

    I have been reading through your "conversion" posts as you move away from libertarianism. It seems from this distance that you initially accepted a particularly formulaic and doctrinaire style of libertarianism and are now throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Hence your rejection of "ideology" per se.

    Let me explain. Take a random example from the newspapers: a tax on sugar because too many people are fat. I for one oppose such a thing - instinctively, naturally, reflexively, but from an intellectual point of view one might say I reject it "ideologically". I suspect you would reject such a thing, too, and probably for the same reasons a self-styled libertarian would. In fact, all of all the non-libertarians in the world you probably resemble a libertarian the most! To me the word "libertarian" is a convenient word to describe a coalescence of many people who wish to be left alone, who wish to leave others alone and want others to be left alone as well. To me your de-programming is just a matter of labels. You seem now to think the word "libertarian" does not fully convey the subtlety of your own disposition. For me, it's quite apt and does not require theological commitment to abstract principles or ultimate philosophical justifications. I always thought that was just Americans being Americans and take it with a pinch of salt.

    From reading your posts it seems you'd be happiest in a rather laissez-faire style nation in which people pay by and large for the costs of their actions. Not sure what it is you think you're "conserving" if not the libertarian aspects of your country.