Minarchism, Border Control, and Invasion

NB: I know Hornberger has today replied to my latest post on the topic of open borders; this post below is not in reply to Jacob’s post of today.  I have been chewing on the below post for a couple of days and have decided that more chewing isn’t going to help.

I am not sure I will reply to Hornberger’s post of today.  I think we are talking past each other.  I am feeling that my points are either ignored or misrepresented; I do not put this solely on Jacob, as it takes two to effectively communicate (or not).  Therefore, I am not sure it is worth covering the same ground again as I will likely find no better way to cover it.


Taken from the comments to my latest response to Jacob Hornberger:

[email protected] May 26, 2016 at 3:45 PM

A minarchist that wants the state to keep the borders open. A state that controls the borders for the benefit of the nation’s posterity is the best argument for minarchism and yet Hornberger wants to retain the rump of a state merely to force the borders open. What is his agenda?

This got me to thinking about the intersection of the subjects in the title of this post.

Hornberger, in his preceding reply to me, implies he is a minarchist.  I wanted to find something explicit; it is here and stated in the first few minutes of the video interview.  I paraphrase:

Scott Horton: I know you’re a minarchist and constitutionalist.

Jacob Hornberger: I ask myself what is the role of government in a free society?

Hornberger describes the need for a final arbiter as his justification for supporting minarchism.  Absent such an institution, he suggests that the final arbiter will be the strongest brute (which, of course, this minarchist state would be, at least within its borders).

In the interview he directly speaks to the role of police and courts; he does not directly speak about some form of military defense (at least I didn’t catch it).  He does, however, refer to the “night-watchman state.”

I find this definition:

In political philosophy, a night-watchman state is a model of a minimal state proposed by minarchists, and variously defined by sources. In the strictest sense, it is a state whose only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from assault, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts. In the broadest sense, it extends to various civil service and emergency-rescue departments (such as the fire departments), prisons, the executive, the judiciary, and the legislatures as legitimate government functions.

I think it is reasonable to assume that Hornberger’s definition of minarchism includes some form of military defense – a defense from invasion; there must be some way to defend from another brute coming in to enforce his “final arbitration” over yours, after all.

Also from the interview: prior to discovering libertarianism Hornberger was a liberal – he believed in the welfare state.  This does, perhaps, explain certain of his leanings.


Hornberger’s call for a final arbiter is a road that leads to one place – one world government.  Wherever there is a dispute between two individuals under two different jurisdictions (or, more commonly, a dispute between the government authorities of two different jurisdictions), there is no final arbiter unless there is a higher final arbiter.  In other words, the only way to solve this problem via a minarchist (or any other) government (as the term is traditionally understood), is for one world government.

If one is searching for a final arbiter for the purpose of settling disputes within the context of state governments, to what other end does the road lead?

I want to come back to this later; this is especially concerning given Hornberger’s views on open borders.

Minarchism and Borders

Minarchism inherently implies a state – a state with borders, a jurisdiction.  Unless one is speaking of a realized one world government, the jurisdiction of the (almost) final arbiter has limits; in this world, these limits are geographic – these are defined by state borders.

Is everyone who enters the borders of this minarchist state entitled to the protections of this same minarchist state (military, police, and courts) merely by means of entering?  On what libertarian (even limited-government libertarian) basis?

Immigration vs. Invasion

What’s the difference?  At the extremes, this is easy – and need not be discussed, I hope, with this audience.

Invasion is nothing more than armed immigration with violent purpose.  Can an unarmed invasion also have a violent purpose?  How much “armed” is “armed”?  Need an invasion always be “armed”?  From the novel, The Camp of the Saints, it certainly needs not be.  I guess if you don’t like to lean on a novel, the videos from Europe last summer looked about as close to an (unarmed, as conventionally understood) invasion as one might care to see.

How might a minarchist government react to an unarmed invasion?  How will a minarchist state determine the purpose – violent or other?  Who decides?  On what basis?


I told you I was done chewing.  This post consists of some random pieces waiting (or not) to be woven into a more coherent narrative and analysis, nothing more.  Take this post as the first gathering of my thoughts; in other words, don’t hold me accountable for much of this – I am working through it.

For this, any feedback is welcome.  Specifically, I prefer not to turn this into a discussion focused solely on immigration, but on the intersection of the topics in the title.

If there is a minarchist state, it will have borders.  One function of the minarchist state is to secure the borders from invasion.  How will the minarchist state determine if it is being invaded?  Will it trust in the goodwill of the invader to give a fair warning: “This is an invasion”?

Is it possible that an invasion is unarmed?  How would the state determine if the invaders are armed or unarmed without examining, in some manner, the individuals entering the state?  Whether armed or unarmed, how would the minarchist state determine if there was a violent purpose behind the invasion without some type of examination?

To speak of minarchism and open borders seems like a contradiction; yet, is it?  There was a time in the past that it seems it was not.  In that time, the immigrant was expected to conform reasonably well to the local culture and customs; in that time, the immigrant was dependent on voluntary efforts to provide support.

But this is no longer that time.  In much of the west, at least, the residents are supposed to conform to the immigrant, and not the other way around.  The residents are required to support the immigrant, at the point of a gun.

If the purpose of supporting the minarchist state is to make certain a one world government (so as to have a final arbiter), then, of course, you can have open borders – as there are no meaningful borders in a one world government.  A minarchist world government – not even in the most fiction of science fiction can such a thing be imagined.

Conversely, open borders is one sure way to get one world government – if “we are the world” applies in every region of the world with its amalgamation of culture (more specifically, destruction of unique cultures), what would drive decentralization?  Further, as we see today in Europe, ever grander and ever more highly centralized schemes are offered to “solve” the governmentally-created immigration crisis.

One way or another, further centralization and control will be the outcome – whether or not liberal-leaning minarchists want this.

Some libertarians want to ignore the reality that some form of social structure is required to hold society together; a social structure that is discriminatory, exclusionary, preferably (if you care at all about seeing libertarian theory manifest in the real world) decentralized.

A minarchist state isn’t it.  Instead, there are examples in history of such societies that have lasted for centuries. The longest running, most natural social structure is family, kin, nation.

NOT nation-state, just nation.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.