Bryan Caplan  

Obvious Stuff I Agree With

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Preview of Book 2... I Agree with Scott Sumner...
1. Nationalism is evil:

One big problem with nationalism is that it is a leading cause of mass murder. Fascism and Nazism were, of course, extreme forms of nationalism and the mass murders Nazi and fascist regimes committed were justified on the grounds that they were necessary to advance the interests of racially or ethnically defined peoples. Obviously, most nationalist governments do not commit mass murder on that scale. This is one reason why nationalism is not quite as pernicious as socialism.  Nearly all full-blown socialist regimes that have lasted for any length of time have engaged in mass murder; "only" a substantial minority of nationalist regimes have done the same.

But many non-mass murdering nationalist regimes still use nationalism as a justification for protectionism, discrimination against minority groups, suppression of dissent, and the like. Nor are these abuses simply the result of misinterpretations of nationalism by unscrupulous rulers. To the contrary, if you genuinely believe that we have special obligations to members of your ethnic or national group that sometimes trump universal principles, consistency requires that you be willing to sacrifice the rights of other groups to benefit your own, at least sometimes.


2. Immigration restrictions are not libertarian:
Hoppe's position that keeping illegals off public property because of their supposed "invasiveness" could easily be extended to other matters, aside from free trade. Gun laws, drug laws, prostitution laws, drinking laws, smoking laws, laws against prayer--all of these things could be defended on the basis that many tax-paying property owners would not want such behavior on their own private property. Such examples are hardly without a real-world basis. Large numbers of Americans would not allow guests in their homes if those guests had machineguns or crack cocaine in their possession.  The principle of the freedom to exclude and set conditions for entry onto private property simply cannot be extended to the socialized public sphere, or else all sorts of unlibertarian, illiberal policies could be as easily justified as border controls. In other words, just because an individual--or many individuals--would not want act X to occur on their property does not mean that, according to libertarian law, it can be prohibited as a general principle, even on so-called "public property."


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TRACKBACKS (1 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/2666
The author at CORRUPT.org: Remaking Modern Society in a related article titled A Fun Argument writes:
    Baiting people into arguing about whether Stalin or Hitler was more evil is always fun, and here is an interesting way to argue that I haven't thought about before: Fascism and Nazism were, of course, extreme forms of nationalism and the mass murders Naz [Tracked on December 4, 2009 2:41 AM]
COMMENTS (10 to date)
Doc Merlin writes:

How is a a club-like identity with a nation state somehow evil? I don't see you as an internationalist, Bryan. Are you an anarchocapitalist?

John Thacker writes:
One big problem with nationalism is that it is a leading cause of mass murder. Fascism and Nazism were, of course, extreme forms of nationalism and the mass murders Nazi and fascist regimes committed were justified on the grounds that they were necessary to advance the interests of racially or ethnically defined peoples. Obviously, most nationalist governments do not commit mass murder on that scale. This is one reason why nationalism is not quite as pernicious as socialism. Nearly all full-blown socialist regimes that have lasted for any length of time have engaged in mass murder; "only" a substantial minority of nationalist regimes have done the same.

Boy could you make an extremely similar argument about officially atheistic governments.

But many non-mass murdering nationalist regimes still use nationalism as a justification for protectionism, discrimination against minority groups, suppression of dissent, and the like. Nor are these abuses simply the result of misinterpretations of nationalism by unscrupulous rulers. To the contrary, if you genuinely believe that we have special obligations to members of your ethnic or national group that sometimes trump universal principles, consistency requires that you be willing to sacrifice the rights of other groups to benefit your own, at least sometimes.

And boy could you make a similar bad argument about Darwinism. Many used it "as a justification for protectionism, discrimination against minority groups, suppression of dissent, and the like." And someone could just as easily blithely say that "if you genuinely believe that those best adapted survive, consistency requires that you be willing to sacrifice the rights of the less adapted to benefit others; if the other people can't resist your attempts, that proves that they're less adapted."

John Thacker writes:

Someone could easily claim that if you "really" believe in Darwinism and Sociobiology, then it's only natural to discriminate in favor of yourself and your kin group and genes, and that no pity should be spared for those whose rights you violate, since if they were better adapted they'd survive.

This is particular true if you view life as a zero sum game, as do many people of any stripe.

Kurbla writes:

If you believe that X type of regime is evil because all/ many X regimes did [something evil] then you should believe the following as well:

    The capitalism is evil because all capitalist countries were involved in racism and slave trade.
    The capitalism is evil because all capitalist countries practiced mass murders of workers in strike.

Because, very few people murdered in the same event are needed to classify murder as a mass murder.
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Doc Merlin has the point. It is easy to formally identify the state with club. But, even if libertarian accepts that state is the club, and that it has the right to prevent immigration, he can still think it is bad decision, and that all clubs should be managed like - bars. Imagine the following situation:

    South Korea, 1970. Suddenly, 80 millions of young, male Chinese apply for immigration. It appears that all of them were strong supporters of Mao. But, there are no evidences of conspiracy.

What is libertarian decision in such situation?

Doc Merlin writes:

@Kurbla:

A similar plan combined with helping raise a local insurrection was actually the US plan for conquering California from Mexico.

lukas writes:

Texas, too, no?

Isegoria writes:

Your second point raises an interesting issue: The problem with treating public property like private property — with all the restrictions that a reasonable private owner would apply — is that public property isn't private — it doesn't have a clear owner — not that reasonable restrictions are bad.

Majority-rule is not a good way to make shared decisions.

Plenty of "public" places aren't governed by the political system so much as by their corporate owners, and they seem to have little trouble making reasonable decisions. A shopping mall or corporate tower isn't a private residence, but its owners make reasonable decisions — with some exceptions, of course — about what is and is not allowed on their property.

Is it unlibertarian to kick young men in gang attire off of your property? To forbid smoking? Is it unlibertarian to "govern" your mall or corporate tower that way? Your apartment building? Your company town?

Doc Merlin writes:

"Texas, too, no"

Not quite so explicitly. Texas already had a large Angalo and German population and was trying to succeed from Chihuahua and get the Mexican government to recognize the freedoms recognized in their constitution. Eventually folks like Sam Houston convinced Texas to join the Union. At first during the revolution they were trying to stay as part of Mexico, then to become their own country. We were offered union with the US by oresidents of texas who pushed the idea shortly after we became a nation, but we rejected it at first then eventually during a later term Houston convinced us to do it.

Ilya Somin writes:

JT writes: "Boy could you make an extremely similar argument about officially atheistic governments."

-- You could if they had actually killed in the name of atheism (as opposed to communism, of which atheism was just a minor component), and if the logic of atheism required the killing of nonatheists. Of course neither is true.

JT writes: "And boy could you make a similar bad argument about Darwinism. Many used it "as a justification for protectionism, discrimination against minority groups, suppression of dissent, and the like." And someone could just as easily blithely say that "if you genuinely believe that those best adapted survive, consistency requires that you be willing to sacrifice the rights of the less adapted to benefit others; if the other people can't resist your attempts, that proves that they're less adapted."

-Darwinism is a positive theory, not a normative one. If you want to turn it into a normative one, as the Nazis among others did, they the consequences you outline really would apply. But one could accept positive Darwinism without believing that it creates any ethical obligations.

By contrast, nationalism is a normative theory of the supposed obligations we have to our nation or to members of our ethnic or racial group.

Douglass Holmes writes:

I suspect that the Tibetans and Uighurs would consider the government of China a nationalistic one, more than a socialistic one. In the Great Patriotic War (which we call World War Two) the Soviet communists were as likely to encourage the soldiers to fight for Mother Russia as they were to fight for Communism (even though many of the Soviet soldiers were not Russian). And, many of the Germans supported the Nazi party thinking that they were supporting a socialist party (the National Socialist German Workers party).

Nationalism and socialism appeal to the simplistic approach to human affairs; identify the enemy, then marginalize or destroy that enemy to solve our problems.

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