Secession, the State, and the Immigration Problem

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cooperation is the result of three factors. First, the fact of differences
among men and/or the geographical distribution of nature-given factors
of production. Second, the fact of higher productivity achieved
under the division of labor based on the mutual recognition of private
property (the exclusive control of every man over his own body and
his physical appropriations and possessions) as compared to either
self-sufficient isolation or aggression, plunder and domination.
And third, the human ability to recognize this latter fact. But
for the higher productivity of labor performed under divison of
labor and the human ability to recognize this fact, explains Ludwig
von Mises, "men would have forever remained deadly foes of
one another, irreconcilable rivals in their endeavors to secure
a portion of the scarce supply of means of sustenance provided by
nature. Each man would have been forced to view all other men as
his enemies; his craving for the satisfaction of his own appetites
would have brought him into an implacable conflict with all his
neighbors. No sympathy could possibly develop under such a state
of affairs." [Human
, 144]

higher productivity achieved under the division of labor and the
human ability to recognize this fact explains the origin of the
most elementary and fundamental of human institutions: the family
and the family household. Second, it explains the fact of neighborhood
(community) among homogeneous people (families, clans, tribes):
of neighborhood in the form of adjacent properties owned by separate
and equal owners and neighborhood in the unequal form of the relationship
characteristic of a father and his son, a landlord and his tenant,
or a community founder and his follower-residents. Third and most
important for our purposes, it explains the possibility of the peaceful
coexistence of heterogeneous and alien communities. Even if the
members of different communities find each other physically and/or
behaviorally strange, irritating, annoying or worse, and do not
want to associate as neighbors, they may still engage in mutually
beneficial trade if they are spatially separated from each other.

me clarify this picture and assume the existence of different races,
ethnicities, languages, religions, and cultures (henceforth summarily:
ethno-cultures). Based on the just mentioned insight that "likes"
associate with other likes and live spatially separated from "unlikes,"
the following picture emerges: People of one ethno-culture tend
to live in closer proximity to one another and spatially separated
and distant from people of another ethno-culture. Whites live among
Whites and separate from Asians and Blacks. Italian speakers live
among other Italians and separate from English speakers. Christians
live among other Christians and separate from Muslims. Catholics
live among Catholics and separate from Protestants, etc. Naturally,
some "overlap" and "mixing" of different ethno-cultures
in various "border-territories" exists. Moreover, as centers
of interregional trade, cities naturally display a higher degree
of ethno-cultural heterogeneity. This not withstanding, however,
every neighborhood and community is internally homogeneous (uni-cultural).
In fact, even in border territories and cities the spatial association
and separation of likes and unlikes to be found in the macrocosm
finds its microcosmic equivalent. Nothing like a society where members
of different ethno-cultures live as neighbors or in close physical
proximity to each other (as propagated by some American multiculturalists)
will emerge. Rather, the emerging multiculturalism is one in which
many distinctly different ethno-cultures coexist in physical-spatial
separation and distant from one another, and trade with each other
from afar.

us take one more step and assume that all property is owned privately
and the entire globe is settled. Every piece of land, every house
and building, every road, river, and lake, every forest and mountain,
and all of the coastline is owned by private owners or firms. No
such thing as "public" property or "open frontier"
exists. And let us take a look at the problem of migration under
this scenario of a "natural order."

and foremost, there is no such thing as "freedom of migration"
in a natural order. People cannot move about as they please. Wherever
a person moves, he moves on private property; and private ownership
implies the owner's right to include as well as to exclude others
from his property. Essentially, a person can move only if he is
invited by a recipient property owner, and this recipient-owner
can revoke his invitation and expel his invitees whenever he deems
their continued presence on his property undesirable (in violation
of his visitation code).

will be plenty of movement under this scenario, because there are
powerful reasons to include: to open access to one's property; but
there are also reasons to exclude: to restrict or close access.
Those who are the most inclusive are the owners of roads, railway
stations, harbors, and airports, for example. Interregional movement
is their business. Accordingly, their admission standards can be
expected to be low, typically requiring no more than the payment
of a user fee. However, even they would not follow a completely
non-discriminatory admission policy. For instance, they would exclude
intoxicated or unruly people, beggars, and bums from their property,
and they may videotape or otherwise monitor or screen their customers
while on their property.

situation for the owners of retail establishments, hotels, and restaurants
is similar. They are in the business of selling and renting and
thus offer easy access to their property. They have every economic
incentive not to discriminate unfairly against "strangers"
or "foreigners," because this would lead to reduced profits,
or losses. However, they must be significantly more circumspect
and restrictive in their admission policy than the owners of roads
or airports. They must take into account the local-domestic repercussions
that the presence of strangers may have. If local-domestic sales
suffer due to a retailer's or hotel's open admission policy vis-a-vis
foreigners, then discrimination is economically justified.
In order to overcome this possible problem, then, commercial establishments
can be expected to require of their "foreign" visitors
at a minimum adherence to local standards of conduct and appearance.

situation is similar for local employers. They prefer lower to higher
wage rates; hence, they are not predisposed against foreigners.
However, they must be sensitive to the repercussions on the local
labor force that may result from the employment of foreigners; that
is, they must be fearful of the possibility that an ethno-culturally
heterogeneous work force might lead to lower productivity. Moreover,
employment requires housing, and it is in the residential housing
and real estate market where discrimination against and exclusion
of ethno-cultural strangers will tend to be most pronounced. For
it is in the area of residential as contrasted to commercial
property where the human desire to be private, secluded and protected
and undisturbed from external events and intrusions, is most pronounced.
The value of residential property to its owner depends essentially
on its almost total exclusivity. Only family members, and occasionally
friends, are included. And if residential property is located in
a neighborhood, this desire for undisturbed possession – peace and
privacy – is best accomplished by a high degree of ethno-cultural
homogeneity (as this lowers transaction costs while simultaneously
increasing protection from external disturbances and intrusions).
In renting or selling residential property to strangers (and especially
to strangers from ethno-culturally distant quarters) heterogeneity
is introduced into the neighborhood. Transaction costs tend to increase,
and the peculiar peace-and-privacy-security – the freedom from external,
foreign intrusions – sought and expected of residential property
tends to fall, resulting in lower residential property values.

the scenario of a natural order, then, it can be expected that there
will be plenty of interregional trade and travel. But owing to the
natural discrimination against ethno-cultural strangers in the area
of residential housing and real estate there will be little actual
migration, i.e., permanent resettlement. And whatever little migration
there is, it will be by individuals who are more or less completely
assimilated to their newly adopted community and its ethno-culture.


me now introduce the institution of a State.

definition of a State assumed here is rather uncontroversial: A
State is an agency which possesses an exclusive monopoly of ultimate
decision-making and conflict arbitration within a given territory.
In particular, a State can insist that all conflicts involving itself
be adjudicated by itself or its agents. And implied in the power
to exclude all others from acting as ultimate judge, as the second
defining element of a State, is its power to tax: to unilaterally
determine the price justice seekers must pay to the State for its
services as the monopolistic provider of law and order.

based on this definition it is easy to understand why there might
be a desire to establish a State. Not, as we are told in kindergarten,
in order to attain the "common good" or because there
would be no order without a State, but for a reason far more selfish
and base. For he who is a monopolist of final arbitration within
a given territory can make and create laws in his
own favor rather than recognize and apply existing law; and he who
can legislate can also tax and thus enrich himself at the expense
of impoverishing others.

cannot cover here the fascinating question of how such an extraordinary
institution as a State with the power to legislate and tax can possibly
arise, except to note that ideologies and intellectuals have a lot
to do with it. Rather, I will assume states as "given"
(as in fact they are) and consider the changes as regards migration
that result from their existence.

with the establishment of a state and territorially defined state
borders, "immigration" takes on an entirely new meaning.
In a natural order, immigration is a person's migration from one
neighborhood-community into a different one (micro-migration). In
contrast, under statist conditions immigration is immigration by
"foreigners" from across state borders, and the decision
whom to exclude or include, and under what conditions, rests not
with a multitude of independent private property owners or neighborhoods
of owners, but with a single central (and centralizing) state-government
as the ultimate sovereign of all domestic residents and regarding
all of their properties (macro-migration). Now, if a domestic resident-owner
invites a person and arranges for his access onto his property but
the government excludes this person from the state territory, this
is a case of forced exclusion (a phenomenon that does not
exist in a natural order). On the other hand, if the government
admits a person while there is no domestic resident-owner who has
invited this person onto his property, this is a case of forced
integration (also non-existent in a natural order, where all
movement is invited).


order to comprehend the significance of this change from decentralized
admission by a multitude of property owners and owner-associations
(micro-migration) to centralized admission by a state (macro-migration),
and in particular in order to grasp the potentialities of forced
integration under statist conditions, it is necessary first to briefly
consider a state's policy of domestic migration. Based on
the state's definition as a territorial monopolist of legislation
and taxation and the assumption of "self-interest," the
basic features of its policy can be predicted.

fundamentally, it can be predicted that the state's agents will
be interested in increasing (maximizing) tax revenues and/or expanding
the range of legislative interference with established private property
rights, but they will have little or no interest in actually doing
what a state is supposed to do: protecting private property owners
and their property from domestic and foreign invasion.

specifically, because taxes and legislative interference with private
property rights are not paid and accepted voluntarily but are met
with resistance, a state, to assure its own power to tax and legislate,
must have an existential interest in providing its agents access
to everyone and all property within the state's territory. In order
to accomplish this, a state must take control of (expropriate) all
existing private roads and then use its tax revenue to construct
more and additional "public" roads, places, parks and
lands, ultimately until everyone's private property borders onto
or is encircled by public lands and roads.

economists have argued that the existence of public roads indicates
an imperfection of the natural – free market – order. According
to them, the free market "under-produces" the so-called
"public" good of roads; and tax-funded public roads rectify
this deficiency and enhance overall economic efficiency (by facilitating
interregional movement and trade and lowering transaction costs).
Obviously, this is a somewhat starry-eyed view of things.

markets do produce roads, although they may well produce
less and different roads than under statist conditions. And as viewed
from the perspective of a natural order, the increased production
of roads under statist conditions represents not an improvement
but an "over-production" or better yet "mal-production"
of roads. Public roads are not simply innocent and harmless facilitators
of interregional exchange. First and foremost they are facilitators
of state taxation and control. On public roads the government's
taxmen, police, and military can proceed directly to everyone's

addition, public roads and lands lead to a distortion and artificial
break-up of the spatial association and separation characteristic
of a natural order. As explained, there are reasons to be close
and inclusive, but there are also reasons to be physically distant
and separated from others. The over-production of roads occurring
under statist conditions means on the one hand that different communities
are brought into greater proximity to one another than they would
have preferred (on grounds of demonstrated preference). On the other
hand, it means that one coherent community is broken up and divided
by public roads.

under the particular assumption of a democratic state even
more specific predictions can be made. Almost by definition, a state's
territory extends over several ethno-culturally heterogeneous communities,
and dependent on recurring popular elections, a state-government
will predictably engage in redistributive policies. In an ethno-culturally
mixed territory this means playing one race, tribe, linguistic or
religious group against another; one class within anyone of these
groups against another (the rich vs. the poor, the capitalists vs.
the workers, etc.); and finally, mothers against fathers and children
against parents. The resulting income and wealth redistribution
is complex and varied. There are simple transfer payments from one
group to another, for instance. However, redistribution also has
a spatial aspect. In the realm of spatial relations it finds expression
in an ever more pervasive network of non-disciminatory "affirmative
action" policies imposed on private property owners.

owner's right to exclude others from his property is the means by
which he can avoid "bads" from happening: events that
will lower the value of his property to him. By means of an unceasing
flood of redistributive legislation, the democratic state has worked
relentlessly not only to strip its citizens of all arms (weapons)
but also to strip domestic property owners of their right of exclusion,
thereby robbing them of much of their personal and physical protection.
Commercial property owners such as stores, hotels, and restaurants
are no longer free to exclude or restrict access as they see fit.
Employers can no longer hire or fire who they wish. In the housing
market, landlords are no longer free to exclude unwanted tenants.
Furthermore, restrictive covenants are compelled to accept members
and actions in violation of their very own rules and regulations.
In short, forced integration is ubiquitous, making all aspects of
life increasingly unpleasant.


this backdrop of domestic state policies we can return to the problem
of immigration under statist conditions. It is now clear what state
admission implies. It does not merely imply centralized admission.
By admitting someone onto its territory, the state also permits
this person to proceed on public roads and lands to every domestic
resident's doorsteps, to make use of all public facilities and services
(such as hospitals and schools), and to access, protected by a multitude
of non-discrimination laws, every commercial establishment, employment,
and residential housing.

one more element is missing in my reconstruction. Why would immigration
ever be a problem for a state? Who would want to migrate from a
natural order into a statist area? A statist area would tend to
lose its residents, especially its most productive subjects. It
would be an attraction only for potential state-welfare recipients
(whose admission would only further strengthen the emigration tendency).
If anything, there is an emigration problem for a state.
In fact, the institution of a state is a cause of emigration;
and indeed, it is the most important or even the sole cause of mass
migrations (more powerful and devastating in its effects than any
hurricane, earthquake or flood).

has been missing in our reconstruction is the assumption of a multitude
of states partitioning the entire globe (the absence of natural
orders anywhere). Then, as one state causes mass emigration, another
state will be confronted with the problem of mass immigration; and
the general direction of mass migration movements will be from territories
where states exploit (legislatively expropriate and tax) their subjects
more (and wealth accordingly tends to be lower) to territories where
states exploit less (and wealth is higher).

have finally arrived in the present, when the Western world – Western
Europe, North America, and Australia – is faced with the specter
of state-caused mass immigration from all over the rest of the world.
What is being – and what can be – done about this situation?

of sheer self-interest states will not put up no defense at all
against uninvited intruders (that is: declare an "open border"
policy). Otherwise, the influx of immigrants would quickly assume
such proportions that the domestic state-welfare system would collapse
(apart from other problems such as popular resistance and unrest).
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.

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 such 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. In so doing the individual is isolated
(atomized) and its power of resistance vis-a-vis the state weakened.
In the "logic" of the state, a good 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-socialdemocratic 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 block on the way toward 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."


if anything can be done to spoil these statist designs and regain
security and protection from invasion, whether foreign or domestic?

me begin with a proposal made by the editors of the Wall Street
Journal, the Cato Institute, and various left-libertarian writers
of an "open" or "no" border policy – not
because this proposal has any merit. To the contrary, it helps to
bring out clearly what the problem is and what needs to be done
to solve 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,
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 comes the
great leap – or the gaping hole – in the open border argument. Somehow,
out of the ruins of the democratic welfare states, we are supposed
to believe, a new natural order will emerge.

first error involved 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 onto the new territory.
Accordingly, when the welfare state has imploded there will be a
multitude of "little" (or not so little) Calcuttas, Daccas,
Lagos', and Tiranas strewn all over Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
It betrays a breathtaking sociological naivitee to believe that
out of this admixture a natural order will emerge. Based on all
historical experience with such forms of multiculturalism, and given
the existence of a state that intrudes into every aspect of social
and economic life, it can safely be predicted instead that the result
will be civil war. There will be wide-spread plundering and squattering
leading to massive capital consumption, and civilization as we know
it would disappear from Switzerland, Austria and Italy. Furthermore,
the host population will quickly be outbred and ultimately physically
displaced by their "guests." There will be still Alps
in Austria and Switzerland, but no Austrians or Swiss.

the error of 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.

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 owned
by others (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. But this analogy
between public property and unowned resources is mistaken. There
exists 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 be assumed to have any rights regarding Austrian, Swiss or
Italian public property.

recognition of the moral status of public property as expropriated
private property is not only sufficient grounds for rejecting the
open border proposal. It is equally important for combatting the
present semi-open "affirmative action" immigration policies
of the Western welfare states.

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 become productive
and work and hence immigration contributes to rising domestic standards
of living. Against this 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 leading ultimately to similarly dire effects as the latter
will produce within years. As important as the resolution of these
issues is, however, 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.

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 the citizens and they are their citizens' trustees in regard
to public property. Indeed, the state's legitimacy is derived
from its claim to protect its citizens and their property from invaders,
intruders, and trespassers domestic and foreign. Regarding foreigners,
this would require that the state act like the gatekeepers in private
gated communities: to check every newcomer for an invitation and
monitor his movement on route toward his final destination. When
it is pointed out and made clear that, contrary to this, the government
instead 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
for it to adopt a more restrictive and discriminatory admission

this can only be the beginning, for even if public opinion induced
the state to adopt an immigration stance more in accordance with
popular sentiments and justice, this would not change the fact that
the interests of private property owners and those of the state
as a territorial monopolist of legislation and taxation are incompatible
and in permanent conflict with each other. A state is a contradiction
in terms: a property protector who may expropriate the property
of the protected through legislation and taxation. Predictably,
a state will be interested in maximizing tax revenues and power
(the range of legislative interference with private property rights)
but disinterested in protecting anything except itself. What we
experience in the area of immigration is only one aspect of a general
problem. States are also supposed to protect their citizen from
domestic intrusions and invasions; yet as we have seen they actually
disarm them, encircle them, tax them, and strip them of their right
to exclusion, thus rendering them helpless.

the solution to the immigration problem is at the same time the
solution to the general problem inherent in the institution of a
state and public property. It involves the return to a natural order
by means of secession. To regain security from domestic and foreign
intrusion and invasion, the central nation states will have to be
decomposed into their constituent parts. The Austrian and the Italian
central state do not own Austrian and Italian public property. Supposedly,
they are its citizens' trustees. But they do not protect them and
their property. Hence, just as the Austrians and the Italians (and
not foreigners) are the owners of Austria and Italy, so by extension
of the same principle do the Carinthians and the Lombards (in accordance
with individual tax payments) own Carinthia and Lombardy, and the
Bergamese Bergamo (and not the Viennese and the Roman government).
By means of secession, the central state's public roads and lands
are repossessed by their genuine owners: provinces, cities, towns,
villages, neighborhoods, and ultimately private property owners
and ownership associations. The central state, stripped of its public
property, has no longer access and its laws no longer apply anywhere.
At the same time, the right to exclusion inherent in private property
and essential for personal security and protection is returned into
the hands of a multitude of independent private decisionmaking units.

16, 2001

Hans-Hermann Hoppe [send
him mail
] is Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada
Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises
Institute, Auburn, Alabama, and Editor of the
Journal of Libertarian
Studies, An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Review
. He is the
author of Kritik
der kausalwissenschaftlichen Sozialforschung
(1983), Eigentum,
Anarchie und Staat (1987), A
Theory of Socialism and Capitalism
(1989), The
Economics and Ethics of Private Property
(1993), and
The God That Failed
(forthcoming). In Italian, see Abasso
la democrazia. L'etica libertaria e la crisi dello stato (Leonardo
Facco Editore, 2000). For additional information see:

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