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mardi, 19 janvier 2010

Does Immigration Limitation Require a Police State?


Does Immigration Limitation Require a Police State?

Says one of my critics:

“…my problem with Keith Preston’s approach is not that he suggests identifying and allying with criminalized, marginalized, or lumpen people. My problem is, first, that he has what I consider a disastrously selective view of whose criminalization and marginalization counts as legitimate libertarian concern (=). And, secondly, that he has the wrong idea about what the process of building such an alliance, and the terms on which allies might ally themselves with each other, looks like.

(=) Hence, for example, his bizarre efforts coddle pseudo-populist Right-wingers who support the immigration police state and the mass criminalization of people without papers. Whereas on my view, if you’re concerned about identifying with the most criminalized, marginalized, exploited and oppressed, it would be harder to find a better place to start than with standing up for the rights of “illegal alien” workers confronting the border Stasi without government papers.”

The first problem here is the fact that the Stasi were oriented towards keeping people inside the German Democratic Republic, rather than keeping immigrants out, and repressing political dissent among East Germany’s captive native population. Beyond that, however, is the wider question of whether immigration limitation by itself requires a police state. No doubt there are plenty of anti-immigration enthusiasts who would like nothing better than a police state hunt-down of suspected illegal immigrants. No doubt the militarization of U.S. law enforcement generated by the various “Wars on…” (pick one) drugs, crime, guns, gangs, terrorism, vice, cults, racism, sexism, poverty, urban blight, child abuse, animal abuse, et. al. ad nauseum has at times included police state tactics in immigration enforcement as well (see the shenanigans of Uber-PIG Joe Arpaio).

But is a fascist police state essential to the restriction or limitation of immigration? Iceland  and Switzerland are among the most restrictive of the European nations concerning their immigration policies. Yet both of these are widely considered to be among the most progressive and libertarian of all nations anywhere. Iceland has no standing army, and bars nuclear weapons from its territory. Neither of them maintains the death penalty, and neither will extradite fugitives to the U.S. who may face capital punishment. Some years ago, an Icelandic court refused to extradite a fugitive to the U.S. because of the conditions found in U.S prisons. Switzerland is one of the world’s most non-belligerent nations. There are certainly no signs of fascism here.

Does immigration restriction even require a state of any kind? If the Spanish anarchist militias had been triumphant in the civil war, could they not have proceeded to safeguard the borders of the Spanish territory following victory? The Hezbollah militia of Lebanon is a non-state entity, yet it is an effective fighting force. Hezbollah is not only capable of guarding the Lebanese border, but of repelling an actual Israeli occupation. Likewise, the Armed Forces of the Colombian Revolution are a non-state entity, yet they have at times successfully held substantial portions of Colombian territory. Could not the FARC also safeguard its territorial boundaries?

What about all of the different kinds of territories within the United States itself where entry is restricted? These include industrial parks, office complexes, shopping centers, schools and universities, recreational facilities, country clubs, gated communities, stadiums, private neighborhoods, airports, bars and nightclubs, and private homes. All of these territories impose at least some degree of limitations on who may or may not enter. Those who do not buy a ticket are forbidden from entering theaters and stadiums. Those who do not pay a cover charge or have an ID are refused admission to bars. Those without a membership are denied entry to private clubs. Entry into schools is typically restricted to students, parents, employees, and others with authorized business. Even ordinary commercial facilities impose some minimal requirements for entry: “Shirts and Shoes Required”; “No Smoking”; “No Playing Loud Music”; “No Pets or Animals”; “No Rude or Aggressive Behavior.”

Of course, it might be argued that all of the aforementioned are private or semi-private institutions and organizations, as opposed to public streets, sidewalks, thoroughfares, lands, waterways, and airways. Yet most of these things are currently owned not by “the public” but by the state, which anarchists and the most radical libertarians ostensibly consider to be illegitimate. If the state were to disappear, into whose hands would such “public” areas fall? The anarcho-capitalist solution is to place these in the hands of private landowners, whether individual or collective in nature. The geo-anarchists prefer land trusts. Left-anarchists and libertarian-municipalists would prefer community control on the basis of some kind of Athenian model “direct democracy.” Syndicalists might prefer that all public services be put under “workers’ control,” meaning that, for instance, public streets and highways would be under the management of the highway workers’ and street maintenance workers’ unions. Mutualists might prefer “consumer control,” meaning, for instance, airports might be managed by, say, associations of frequent flyers or consumers of airline services. Whatever model or combination of models one prefers, it is quite possible that at least some of these kinds of entities would enact entry requirements at least as restrictive as those currently in existence.

There are other possibilities. Upon the demise of the state, perhaps all public properties and areas could be ceded to “squatters’ rights.” The first person to show up and pitch a tent on a piece of land in Yellowstone Park gets to keep the lot. Perhaps all public areas could simply be declared “No Man’s Lands” akin to present day Antarctica or remote desert or mountainous regions. Perhaps these might be areas where everything is a free-for-all, and where even ordinary criminal laws do not apply. I confess that if such a proposal came up for vote in a national referendum, the nihilist in me might well take over and I might not be able to resist the impulse to vote in favor of it. But how many people really think this would be a desirable state of affairs?

Either way, from where can the principle be deduced that a stateless or near-stateless society, nation, or territory would necessarily maintain unrestricted entry? Even if public areas were “No Man’s Lands” could not a xenophobic militia simply organize and drive away unwanted migrants? In contemporary Western-model societies, much of the mass immigration we presently observe is not simply occurring according to natural patterns of population movement, but is actively encouraged, promoted, and subsidized by the state. See here and here for some examples of how this works. I suspect this trend could be reversed if the support given to mass immigration by state and corporate policies was simply ended. Much of this immigration is economic in nature. Take away the economic incentives, and the overall amount of immigration should diminish. Indeed, there are some signs that the present economic situation is having such an effect.

I’m not going to go into the problems with allowing mass immigration from the Third World into the West. I’ve already written about that in the past and have really said all I have to say about the matter. See here and here. Critics already understand the potentially rather severe consequences of this. Proponents of mass immigration generally make it clear that they don’t care about the consequences. But when Islamic revolutionary parties start becoming competitive in European elections, and there’s a replay of the Mexican War complete with good old fashioned ethnic cleansing in the U.S. Southwest, don’t say us dirty, rotten, fascist, racist, nationalist, right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic bigots didn’t warn you. 

Some interesting articles on immigration:

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