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March 07, 2014


Neil Wilson

"We know that immigration has economic benefits"

We know that *some* immigration has economic benefits - immigration that is easily managed by a rational immigration system similar to the ones in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. We also know that *unlimited* immigration has disastrous consequences - both for source and destination countries.

It's not just libertarians that are asymmetric. And its not just libertarians that engage in begging-the-question rhetoric.


But I'm confused libertarians also say everyone gay or straight should have the right to buy a pet from whichever pet shop they choose? don't they?


Neil ,
" We also know that *unlimited* immigration has disastrous consequences - both for source and destination countries."

Do we know that? AFAIK, there has been unlimited immigration from Ireland to UK since independence without obviously disastrous consequences for either. Has Poland or France been damaged by the right of their citizens to emigrate here in unlimited numbers? Germany? (I'm not conceding the UK has been damaged, just leaving it out for now.)

And apart from intra EU, there just aren't many (any?) modern examples of unlimited immigration, as opposed to invasion. I'm puzzled *know* these effects.

Peter Briffa

Given that all the major parties want tough immigration controls then, for a libertarian, you may as well go for the one which is more libertarian in other matters.


Firstly UKIP nationally have so far condemned Donna's entirely reasonably comments - a very mild libertarianism, despite what you might say. I wasn't aware that supporting freedom of association and freedom of contract had become extremists positions. Every UKIP member I've spoken too, however, has supported her line that a business should be free to trade with whoever it wishes.

Anyway, to your second point - should we then endorse unregulated immigration? Yes, we should, if we had a level playing field, but we do not. Let's stay just within the EU for now - are employment costs, benefit costs, social costs, manufacturing costs etc identical in the UK, and Romania? Nope. Open borders are only going to see labour coming here, and eventually jobs going there.

You'd be right to accuse of of betraying libertarian principles if we did indeed have this level playing field. There's also a second point though; we're currently in an economic emergency - there's no economic recovery, it's all based on debt and free money. Our economy and our jobs are still very flakey, and we have a million kids out of work. As a temporary measure, I'd support almost any action to see our kids in jobs first - to get them onto the jobs ladder. Yes, this is protectionism and against the libertarian creed. Am I bovvered? Nope. I don't see bending rules as the worst of political crimes.




" Open borders are only going to see labour coming here, and eventually jobs going there."
At the same time?

(I have some sympathy with your comment on short term need to get young onto the job ladder in the current economy.)

An Alien Visitor (Who can hardly believe their eyes)

Any business that opts out of selling to certain groups should pay much higher business rates.

But the question I want to know is this: How would a shopkeeper be able to tell who is gay or who isn't?

So isn't this really a case of a business refusing to sell to whoever it so wishes? Unless gays will be forced to wear yellow stars?


It should be called the right wing prejudice party. That is really all it is. The UKIP type party is just a group appealing to the reactionary views of certain groups of people and occasionally it will exploit a reasonable argument from a intellectual position that could be called Libertarian.

The president of Russia for example is a Fascist but finds it advantageous to accuse Ukrainians who dislike corruption of being Fascist. Pot calls kettle black.

Words mean what ever I want them to mean. My supporters, either of Farage or Putin, do not care about ideas. Ideas hurt your head. Lets just oppress the Gays it is you know common sense!


PS I should explain that I have not studied Philosophy. So I am an amateur; but I think despite some Libertarian ideas sounding nice Libertarianism is bunk as a theory. It is based on the idea of negative liberty. But negative Liberty is a mistake. In a civilised society or any society probably we have positive duties towards our fellow human beings. Unless we recognise and discharge our positive duty we cannot have any society and certainly not a humane one. A great deal of the negative liberty idea is just an attempt to make selfishness and narrow mindedness seem respectable as it is based on a "theory"; like there are books by dead and living academics on it so it is ok to refuse to pay income tax or neglect the disadvantaged in society.

Donald A. Coffin

"If you think people should be free to choose whom they sell to..."

There is, for libertarians (not for you, Chris), an odd inconsistency here. I could as easily write: "If you think people should be free to choose whom they buy from..." Why should the rights of *sellers* be favored above the rights of *buyers*? It seems to me that if a libertarian wants to defend the right of a seller to refuse service to a willing customer, this inconsistency should be addressed.

The glib--and, I think, incorrect--answer is that buyers have the right *not* to buy from whomever they choose *not* to buy from. I think this answer is incorrect, because a buyer cannot buy from all available sellers, while a seller (in the absence of shortages) can sell to all willing buyers. When buyers "discriminate," the result need not be a cost imposed on any seller. When sellers "discriminate, there is a cost imposed on specific willing buyers.

Maybe some libertarian can provide an enlightening answer?


Nothing to add:

Fuck UKip


Donald, on right to [not] buy/sell. There is a practical difference between refusing to buy and refusing to sell.

A problem for those taking the libertarian view is this. If you say "I may not like her views, but I'm not going to impose mine on her", what happens in practice is that state ends up enforcing her views. Sooner or later a woman/black/gay/left-handed customer will say "I'm not leaving till you serve me." At that point the state is called on to use the police and courts to impose her views (by ejecting the customer).

If an individual won't buy from, say, a Turkish run shop, they just have to walk further. The state and the rest of us don't have to get involved.


It does seem a bit of a strange libertarianism to me. I think you get into kind of contortions trying to answer this buyer/seller issue. You have to stray into consequentialist decisions about such choices, rather than thrashing out the abstract point of liberty, which Ukip seem to do. It's a skeewiff version of "libertarianism" they have, similar to the "individualist anarchist" trend. It doesn't factor in the economic situation, and melds together this weird anti-statist, pro-capitalist, isolationist mess.


As Liberal England said: UKIP is a party for angry white men (mostly of a particular age).

When it comes to libertarians justifying border control, they often make amazing arguments to justify them - this happens a lot in the US where they invoke the right to deny someone access to private property to justify immigration controls...


Libertarianism isn't a real ideology, it's just a label used by conservatives.

Ralph Musgrave

Luke wants an example of migration that harms migrants’ home country but for some strange reason he wants to exclude “intra EU” migration. That’s a very convenient exclusion given the large number of doctors who have quit Romania recently for other EU countries.

By the same token I could prove there aren’t any examples of atomic weapons doing any harm just as long as Hiroshima and Nagasaki are excluded.

Luke also wants examples of disastrous consequences of migration for host countries. How about Muslim migration to Europe? The latter migration includes “culturally enriching” items like killing the cartoonsists and authors one doesn’t like, open homophobia and holocaust denial, treating women like dirt, the need for host countries to spend millions keeping tabs on potential terrorists. The list goes on. But bizarrely, while the latter types of cultural “enrichment” are anathema to the political left when promoted by people with white faces, they suddenly become acceptable when promoted by people with brown faces.

As Chris so wisely points out, “There's a word for this. It begins with R.”


I'm really not sure libertarianism, without qualification, is defined enough a set of ideas to criticise. I don't think there are many self-described libertarians who think it mandates a state to allow uncontrolled immigration, including work and benefit rights.

One problem with the philosophy, if we call it that, is that liberty is fairly meaningless without some description of power. Liberty to do what? Without power, you can't do anything. Even power over others is necessary - whether that be by denying them access to resources by enforcing property rights, or by persuasion and trade (using those same property rights).

It seems to me Chris is also guilty of this woolly analysis, as he often talks about undefined "freedom" is positive terms as if it were a fungible commodity. Conversely he talks about power as if it is a bad thing.

I would prefer to say that freedom is only ever meaningful in terms of power to do something. We can then look at how that power is derived and distributed in society.

Deviation From The Mean

"How about Muslim migration to Europe? The latter migration includes “culturally enriching” items like killing the cartoonsists and authors one doesn’t like, open homophobia and holocaust denial, treating women like dirt, the need for host countries to spend millions keeping tabs on potential terrorists. The list goes on."

The list doesn't really start to be honest. To call Muslim migration to Europe a disaster is taking hyperbole to the fascist extreme. The fascist Musgrave really should be made to answer for Breivik (a real disaster for Europe), who is a fellow Traveller.

I have noticed that certain elements of the 'left' do share Ralph's concerns.


Ralph, I did not make myself clear. I saw intra EU migration as a pretty self-evident example that unlimited immigration is not *always* a disaster for either destination or source country. I just don't see the right of Britons to migrate to Belgium in unlimited numbers as having been a disaster.

If the best EU "disaster" you can come up with is Romanian doctors coming over here and treating people, then I don't think you have demonstrated that immigration is always a disaster for host and source countries.

The other example you come up with is your favourite one of Muslims. Let's ignore any differences of opinion we may have. Migration from predominantly Muslim countries to Europe has been much more controlled than intra EU migration. On your case, that control hasn't helped much.


I have been refused accommodation from B&B's in a fairly standard way and with a clear explanation. Its generally from single women who run B&B's out of their house and don't accept single men as paying guests generally for reasons of safety.

Should I object to this? If single women who run B&B's are forced to accept single men they may be putting themselves at risk, and if they don't accept and are prosecuted then they may have to give up their business and livelihood.


The basic equations of freedom would seem to be:

Freedom + Equality = happiness, peace, personal fulfilment.

Freedom + Inequality = exploitation, violence, abuse, misery.

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