Lab f3: Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees

On OboxPlanet, there are no state borders, no visitors’ visas, residence permits, refugee status or citizenships with rights and duties. There are only property owners who make rules of who may visit or trespass and who may not.

On OboxPlanet, people can move all over the planet as freely as people can move, let’s say, within the United States. They can go to where they are invited, and they can invite whomever they want. As mentioned in the first chapter, communities and societies are more homogeneous on OboxPlanet but this does not mean that there are lots of violent rejections or expulsions. People naturally and voluntarily select communities where they “feel at home” among likeminded neighbors. It rarely happens that some community explicitly rejects some individual or removes him if he doesn’t conform to the agreed upon rules.

The difference to the earth is of course easily analyzed: huge differences in standards of living and state benefits for immigrants. Lots of immigrants are not looking for places they can fit in, be productive and “feel at home”, instead they see the money and often get frustrated once the problems with cultural differences arise. For the native population, this “forced immigration” by the state, as Hoppe calls it, is an increasing and frustrating problem.

Immigration has been a hotly debated topic among freedom-loving thinkers.

The first thought usually is: freedom to move wherever I want is one of the most basic freedoms, right? It is like free trade, or put differently: free trade and free immigration go hand in hand?

To quote Hans Hermann Hoppe: 

“Wrong. Freedom of goods and freedom for people are two different things. 

The phenomena of trade and immigration differ in fundamental ways. Goods and services cannot be transported from place to place unless the sender and receiver agree, while someone can move from one place to another even if nobody else wishes him or her to do so. Free immigration can thus become forced integration for the existing population. 

In a society where land is fully privatized, the problem of unwanted immigration does not arise. While this is not yet the case, the solution is to decentralize immigration policy from the federel government to states, counties, villages, cities and city blocks. 

If the government is going to allow immigration, it should at least ensure that immigrants receive an invitation from a host (“guarantor principle”). This host must then assume full liability during his or her visit. 

Finally, the more free trade existis, the less incentive there is to emigrate”

From the booklet Hoppe Unplugged


What experiences on Earth, past and present, help us understand life on the OboxPlanet?

It is worth remembering that state migration controls is a relatively recent phaenomenon which really took hold in the 20th century. While there have always been some places that placed some restrictions, all throughout the 19th century, people could more or less move wherever they wanted but they were at the same time on their own. There were no state social programs to support them. In practice, people needed to be accepted by the community the moved to and this usually meant that newcomers had to behave, to work and to assimilate and blend in.

There is an intense debate within the freedomloving «libertarian» community of whether to have open borders, after all, isn’t it a basic human right to move wherever you want to?

One problem is a practical question. Hundreds of millions of people in the southern hemispheres say they would move to northern countries if they had the chance to do so, which in total would mean there will be more immigrants than the total population there today. This would completely overwhelm the economic and political structures of the northern countries. This makes the dream of open borders wishful thinking.

In practice, and today, we have the situation that politicians and bureaucrats decide on arbitrary principles who may come in and when they sometimes even decides which community has to host whom. This in practice often means «forced immigration» of people into neighborhoods or even nextdoor neighbors in condominiums.

The basic problem today is the state’s involvement in people’s lives. Milton Friedman famously said, in essence, that «you can either have free immigration or a welfare state. You cannot have both».

This points us back to the solution: The less state involvement, the freer immigration can be.

In the 19th century, with few to no welfare programs, migration was much less of an issue.

Today, we can move toward «privatizing» the issue by one simple idea: people can immigrate, as soon as they find a sponsor who takes full responsibility for the visitor for a period of time, for example until the visitor is fully integrated nd self-supporting in his new home land. The host has to pay for food, lodging, all other expenses and damages the visitor might cause to third parties.

This solution would solve 99% of all immigration problems. It would at the same time eliminate the need for a huge and growing »immigration industry». The chances for that happening are therefore slim to zero.

Now it’s your turn:

Have you had experiences of encounering unwanted immigration consequences or have you tried to invite somebody and faced big hurdles?

Things we could learn and implement from the OboxPlanet:

“Privatize” immigration in the sense that visitors to a country need to have a sponsor that takes responsibility for all the costs and deeds of a visitor until he or she has proven to be of value to the hosting society. The decision, just when this is the case, shall be made by the community affected, in other words: delegate political decisionmaking to the smallest possible unity, the city, county, city block or even to the nextdoor neighbors.

Needless to say, the custodian can be an organization, like for refugees.