Natural Order, the State, and the Immigration Problem


Rather than leave the impression that no free-market thinker of any note stands opposed to this “open borders” stuff – (“Please! Send us millions more Spanish-speaking peasants who scorn our laws and want to stick us with their medical bills, and now please add a couple million unreconstructed members of an alien religion, whose holy book instructs them to murder homosexuals and harass and stab women wearing standard Western clothing as they seek to impose their 8th Century legal code on America!”) — perhaps the time has come to review our friend Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s essay “Natural Order, the State, and the Immigration Problem,” first published in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 16 Number 1, Winter 2002.

The whole 23-page essay, with notes and bibliography, is available as a free download at . I offer here only what I consider the currently most relevant excerpt.

We pick up Professor Hoppe’s argument after his first 10 pages, in which he establishes the concepts of private property rights and the advantages of the division of labor. All the words that follow (except my brief, bold-face, summary “breaker heds”) are Professor Hoppe’s:

Purposely breaking down social coherence

. . . Out of sheer self-interest States will not adopt an “open border” policy. If they did, the influx of immigrants would quickly assume such proportions that the domestic state-welfare system would collapse. On the other hand, the Western welfare states do not prevent tens or even hundreds of thousands (and in the case of the United States well in excess of a million) of uninvited foreigners per year from entering and settling their territories.

Moreover, as far as legal (rather than tolerated illegal) immigration is concerned, the Western welfare states have adopted a non-discriminatory “affirmative action” admission policy. That is, they set a maximum immigration target and then allot quotas to various emigration countries or regions, irrespective of how ethno-culturally similar or dissimilar such places and regions of origin are, thus further aggravating the problem of forced integration. As well, they typically allow an “open” (unspecified) number of “political asylum” seekers to enter — of government approved “victim” groups (and at the exclusion of other, “politically incorrect” victims).

In light of the unpopularity of this policy, one might wonder about the motive for engaging in it. However, given the nature of the state it is not difficult to discover a rationale. States, as will be recalled, are also promoters of forced domestic integration. Forced integration is a means of breaking up all intermediate social institutions and hierarchies (in between the state and the individual) such as family, clan, tribe, community, and church and their internal layers and ranks of authority. Through forced integration individuals are isolated (atomized) and their power of resistance vis-à-vis the State is weakened.

In the “logic” of the state, a hefty dose of foreign invasion, especially if it comes from strange and far-away places, is reckoned to further strengthen this tendency. And the present situation offers a particularly opportune time to do so, for in accordance with the inherently centralizing tendency of States and statism generally and promoted here and now in particular by the U.S. as the world’s only remaining superpower, the Western world — or more precisely the neoconservative-social democratic elites controlling the state governments in the U.S. and Western Europe — is committed to the establishment of supra-national states (such as the European Union) and ultimately one world state.

National, regional or communal attachments are the main stumbling blocks on the way to this goal. A good measure of uninvited foreigners and government imposed multiculturalism is calculated to further weaken and ultimately destroy national, regional, and communal identities and thus promote the goal of a One World Order, led by the U.S., and a new “universal man.”


What if anything can be done to spoil these statist designs and regain security and protection from invasion, whether domestic or foreign? Let us begin with a proposal made by the editors of the Wall Street Journal, the Cato Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education, and various left-libertarian writers of an “open” or “no” border policy — not because this proposal has any merit, but because it helps to elucidate what the problem is and what needs to be done to solve it.

It is not difficult to predict the consequences of an open border policy in the present world. If Switzerland, Austria, Germany or Italy, for instance, freely admitted everyone who made it to their borders and demanded entry, these countries would quickly be overrun by millions of third-world immigrants from Albania, Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria, for example.

As the more perceptive open-border advocates realize, the domestic state-welfare programs and provisions would collapse as a consequence. This would not be a reason for concern, for surely, in order to regain effective protection of person and property the welfare state must be abolished. But then there is the great leap — or the gaping hole — in the open border argument: out of the ruins of the democratic welfare states, we are led to believe, a new natural order will somehow emerge.

The first error in this line of reasoning can be readily identified. Once the welfare states have collapsed under their own weight, the masses of immigrants who have brought this about are still there. They have not been miraculously transformed into Swiss, Austrians, Bavarians or Lombards, but remain what they are: Zulus, Hindus, Ibos, Albanians, or Bangladeshis. Assimilation can work when the number of immigrants is small. It is entirely impossible, however, if immigration occurs on a mass scale. In that case, immigrants will simply transport their own ethno-culture on to the new territory.

Accordingly, when the welfare state has imploded there will be a multitude of “little” (or not so little) Calcuttas, Daccas, Lagoses, and Tiranas strewn all over Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. It betrays a breathtaking sociological naiveté to believe that a natural order will emerge out of this admixture. Based on all historical experience with such forms of multiculturalism, it can safely be predicted that in fact the result will be civil war. There will be widespread plundering and squatterism leading to massive capital consumption, and civilization as we know it will disappear from Switzerland, Austria and Italy. Furthermore, the host population will quickly be outbred and, ultimately, physically displaced by their “guests.” There will still be Alps in Switzerland and Austria, but no Swiss or Austrians.

(Original Footnote: Peter Brimelow, “Alien Nation,” pp. 124–27, has provided some recent evidence for the thesis that no multicultural state, and especially no democratic one, has ever worked peacefully for very long. Working back from the present, here is the evidence: Eritrea, ruled by Ethiopia since 1952, splits off in 1993; Czechoslovakia, founded in 1918, splits into Czech and Slovak ethnic components in 1993; the Soviet Union of 1917 splits into multiple ethnic components in 1991, and many of these components are threatened with further ethnic fragmentation; Yugoslavia, founded in 1918, splits into several ethnic components in 1991, and further breakup is still under way; Lebanon, founded in 1920, has effectively partitioned Christians and Muslims (under Syrian domination) since 1975; Cyprus, independent since 1960, effectively partitions Greek and Turkish territories in 1974; Pakistan, independent since 1947, ethnically distinct Bangladesh splits off in 1971; Malaysia, independent since 1963, Chinese-dominated Singapore is expelled in 1965.

The list goes on with still unresolved cases: India and the Sikhs and Kashmiris; Sri Lanka and the Tamils; Turkey, Iraq and Iran and the Kurds; Sudan and Chad and the Arabs versus Blacks; Nigeria and the Ibos; Ulster and the Protestants versus the Catholics; Belgium and the Flemish versus the Walloons; Italy and the German-speaking South Tyrolians; Canada and the French versus the English; Zimbabwe and South Africa and Blacks versus Whites.

Yet, is not Switzerland, with an assemblage of Germans, French, Italians, and Romansh an exception? Hardly. All essential powers in Switzerland, in particular those determining educational and cultural matters (schools), are concentrated in the hands of the cantons rather than in those of the central government. And almost all of the twenty-six cantons and half-cantons are ethno-culturally homogeneous. Seventeen cantons are almost exclusive German; four cantons are almost exclusively French; and one canton is predominantly Italian. Only three cantons are bilingual, the Swiss ethno-cultural balance has been essentially stable, and there is only a limited amount of intercultural-cantonal migration.

Even given these favorable circumstances, Switzerland did experience an unsuccessful, violently suppressed war of secession, the Sonderbundskrieg of 1847. Furthermore, the creation of the new, breakaway French-speaking canton of Jura from the predominantly German canton of Berne in 1979 was preceded by years of terrorist activity. (end footnote.)

‘Public Property’ is not open to all

However, the error in the open border proposal goes further than its dire consequences. The fundamental error of the proposal is moral or ethical in nature and lies in its assumption. It is the underlying assumption that foreigners are “entitled,” or have a “right,” to immigrate.

In fact, they have no such right whatsoever. Foreigners would have a right to enter Switzerland, Austria or Italy only if these places were uninhabited (unowned) territories. However, they are owned, and no one has a right to enter territories that others own unless invited by the owner. Nor is it permissible to argue, as some open border proponents have done, that while foreigners may not enter private property without the owner’s permission they may do so with public property. In their eyes, public property is akin to unowned property and thus “open” to everyone, domestic citizen and foreigners alike.

However, this analogy between public property and unowned resources is wrong. There is a categorical difference between unowned resources (open frontier) and public property. Public property is the result of State-government confiscations — of legislative expropriations and/or taxation — of originally privately owned property. While the State does not recognize anyone as its private owner, all of government controlled public property has in fact been brought about by the tax-paying members of the domestic public. Austrians, Swiss, and Italians, in accordance with the amount of taxes paid by each citizen, have funded the Austrian, Swiss, and Italian public property.

Hence, they must be considered its legitimate owners. Foreigners have not been subject to domestic taxation and expropriation; hence, they cannot claim any rights regarding Austrian, Swiss or Italian public property. The recognition of the moral status of public property as expropriated private property is not just sufficient grounds for rejecting the open border proposal as a moral outrage. It is equally sufficient for combating the present semi-open “affirmative action” immigration policies of the Western welfare States.

Up to now, in the debate on immigration policy too much emphasis has been placed on consequentialist (utilitarian) arguments. Apologists of the status quo have argued that most immigrants work and become productive, so immigration contributes to a rising domestic standard of living. Critics have argued that the existing State-welfare institutions and provisions increasingly invite welfare-immigration, and they have warned that the only advantage of the current policies over the open border alternative is that the former will take decades until it ultimately leads to similarly dire effects, while the latter will produce such effects within years.

As important as the resolution of these issues is, it is not decisive. The opposition against current immigration policies is ultimately independent of whether immigration will make per capita GDP (or similar statistical measures) rise or fall. It is a matter of justice: of right and wrong.

Understandably, the democratic welfare States try to conceal the Source of public property (i.e., acts of expropriation). However, they do acknowledge that public property is “somehow” the property of their citizens and that they are the citizens’ trustees in regard to public property. Indeed, the modern State’s legitimacy is derived from its claim to protect its citizens and their property from domestic and foreign invaders, intruders, and trespassers.

Regarding foreigners, this would require that the state act like the gatekeepers in private gated communities. The State would have to check every newcomer for an invitation and monitor his movement while en route to his final destination. Once it is made clear that the government actually tolerates or even promotes the intrusion and invasion of masses of aliens who by no stretch of the imagination can be deemed welcome or invited by domestic residents, this is or may become a threat to a government’s legitimacy and exert enough pressure on it to adopt a more restrictive and discriminatory admission policy.

Against many left-libertarian open border enthusiasts, it is incorrect to infer from the fact that an immigrant has found someone willing to employ him that his presence on a given territory must henceforth be considered “invited.” Strictly speaking, this conclusion is true only if the employer also assumes the full costs associated with the importation of his immigrant-employee.

This is the case under the much-maligned arrangement of a “factory town” owned and operated by a proprietor. Here, the full cost of employment, the cost of housing, healthcare, and all other amenities associated with the immigrant’s presence, is paid for by the proprietor. No one else’s property is involved in the immigrant-worker settlement.

Less perfectly (and increasingly less so), this full-cost-principle of immigration is realized in Swiss immigration policy. In Switzerland immigration matters are decided on the local rather than federal government level, by the local owner-resident community in which the immigrant wants to reside. These owners are interested that the immigrant’s presence in their community increase rather than decrease their property values. In places as attractive as Switzerland, this typically means that the immigrant (or his employer) is expected to buy his way into a community, which often requires multimillion dollar donations.

‘Discrimination’ not allowed

Unfortunately, welfare states are not operated like factory towns or even Swiss communities. Under welfare-statist condition the immigrant employer must pay only a small fraction of the full costs associated with the immigrant’s presence. He is permitted to socialize (externalize) a substantial part of such costs onto other property owners.

Equipped with a work permit, the immigrant is allowed to make free use of every public facility: roads, parks, hospitals, schools, and no landlord, businessman, or private associated (association? — V.S.) is permitted to discriminate against him as regards housing, employment, accommodation, and association. That is, the immigrant comes invited with a substantial fringe benefits package paid for not (or only partially) by the immigrant employer (who allegedly has extended the invitation), but by other domestic proprietors as taxpayers who had no say in the invitation whatsoever.

This is not an “invitation,” as commonly understood. This is an imposition. It is like inviting immigrant workers to renovate one’s own house while feeding them from other people’s refrigerators. Consequently, because the cost of importing immigrant workers is lowered, more employer-sponsored immigrants will arrive than otherwise.

Moreover, the character of the immigrant changes, too. While Swiss communities choose well-heeled, highly value-productive immigrants, whose presence enhances communal property values all-around, employers under democratic welfare State conditions are permitted by state law to externalize their employment costs on others and tend to import increasingly cheap, low-skilled and low value-productive immigrants, regardless of their effect on all-around communal property values.

Theoretically bankrupt, the left-libertarian open border stance can be understood only psychologically. One source can be found in the Randian upbringing of many left-libertarians. Big businessmen-entrepreneurs are portrayed as “heroes” and, according to Ayn Rand in one of her more ridiculous statements, are viewed as the welfare state’s “most severely persecuted minority.”

In this view (and untainted by any historical knowledge or experience), what can possibly be wrong with a businessman hiring an immigrant worker? In fact, as every historian knows, big businessmen are among the worst sinners against private property rights and the law of the market. Among other things, in an unholy alliance with the central State they have acquired the privilege of importing immigrant workers at other people’s expense (just as they have acquired the privilege of exporting capital to other countries and being bailed out by taxpayers and the military when such investments turn sour). . . .


Again, all of the text above is by that noted economist of the Austrian school, Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe, previously of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While I of course don’t agree with Professor Hoppe’s opinions on all matters, I think that here he helps clarify many of the problems with much well-meaning but simple-minded “open borders” thinking.

What’s his solution to the problem? In a word: Secession. The good professor goes on to argue that smaller and smaller independent political entities will be far less likely or able to try and promote this “one world state” nonsense, through these attempts to break down the social coherence of natural communities of interest inside their borders, which the state sees as “competitors” with its authority — an effort now desperately underway here and in Europe via the relentlessly propagandized scam of “multiculturalism,” which has already brought to London the “Sharia patrol”: Muslim men venturing out to chastise (and eventually stab and/or rape) British and European women for dressing or behaving in ways not in keeping with what was familiar to them back in Outer Crapistan.

Want to see how this will result in peace and love all ’round? Explaining to them that you’re demonstrating to them the benefits of “multiculturalism,” place one member of the Crips, one member of the Bloods, one member of the Aryan Brotherhood, and one knife in a single jail cell, and walk away.

Or, just review how the mass acceptance of Muslim “refugees” is working out for Scandinavian women, these days:

See also: . . . . . . . . .

or . . . or

Again, Professor Hoppe’s entire essay is available Online as a free download. If the topic interest you, I urge you to go read the whole thing at .

2 Comments to “Natural Order, the State, and the Immigration Problem”

  1. R. Hartman Says:

    “If the topic interest you”… Well, that’s the kicker, isn’t it? The topic should interest anyone who loves their offspring, and wishes them a happy life in liberty rather than captivity. But most people feel this is boring and is not worth their time, especially as it hits their comfort zone by having to admit that not all cultures are equal.

    Note by the way that even mr. Hoppe gets in conflict with the pure principle and thr presence of a state, not only on the open borders (which even when closed will remain open for whomever serves the state’s agenda) but also on the businessman, whose ‘evil ways’ can only succeed through corporatism, which needs the state’s gun in implementing them.

    That Rand, while clearly describing the states nature, still advocated it is neccessary to have one has always baffled me, as there’s no such thing as a benign state. Even if one should start out that way, it is unsustainable.

  2. Bob Ashman Says:

    Brilliant – BA