Hillary, in her own words, said “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders”.
She said it, but it’s not clear if she believes it. It’s unclear because she offered these views, many times, to rich powerful banks anxious to pay Hillary preposterous amounts of money for Hillary to tell them that open borders are good. Could it be—stretch your mind here—that these banks were not paying for her wisdom (have you thought Hillary wise?) but her future cooperation should she become president?
That’s a political question we can leave aside. More interesting is the call itself for the elimination of all borders. The call, once feint, grows lower.
Before that, consider the false but alluring ideology of Equality. Equality is the pernicious doctrine that (1) everybody is equal in theory but unequal in circumstance, and that (2) everybody could be made equal if circumstances were adjusted. The stronger the grip this ideology has, the more any inequality, no matter how trivial, outrages.
A person under the delusion of Equality will say it is unfair that one man was born here, and another there. The disparity will rankle and he will march. But it is, of course, impossible for both men to be born in the same place and time and under identical circumstances. This is why the equalitarian calls for the leveling of circumstance. This is why the equalitarian would punish, fine, or restrict one man if the equalitarian considers the man benefits from superior circumstance (it may not be superior in reality), and it is why the equalitarian would reward, embellish, and loose a second man if the equalitarian considers the second man suffers from inferior circumstance (again, it may not be inferior in practice). The equalitarian would insist on these actions against the will of both men.
Equality necessarily leads to tyranny. Why? Because the moment equalitarian controls are removed, inequalities arise, and since inequalities are unacceptable, the chains must needs reappear. Tyranny. Equality also always, and just as necessarily, leads to a massive inequality: there must under Equality be masters, the equalitarians, and slaves, the “equal.” This is obvious to equalitarians (as it is not for those not under the sway of the ideology), and it is the seductions of the great and vast powers they will wield that drives the equalitarians’ desire for Equality.
And so now we turn to The Atlantic, which published an essay by Alex Tabarrok, which gives the game away in its title (editors usually write titles), “The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely: No defensible moral framework regards foreigners as less deserving of rights than people born in the right place at the right time.”
There is the heartfelt cry against the inequality of circumstance. The cry is taken up immediately:
To paraphrase Rousseau, man is born free, yet everywhere he is caged. Barbed-wire, concrete walls, and gun-toting guards confine people to the nation-state of their birth. But why? The argument for open borders is both economic and moral. All people should be free to move about the earth, uncaged by the arbitrary lines known as borders.
Man is not born free, and man is never free in the sense meant by Rousseau and his followers (they mean Do What Thou Wilt, whereas true freedom is being unrestricted to do what is good). At the very least, infants are chained to their mothers else they die. And the same by analogy this is true of the rest of us. Equalitarians confuse the ties that bind us and make us stronger with chains that restrict desire. By a cruder analogy, you cannot take the innards of a functioning machine and toss them into the wind with the cry “Be free!” and hope the machine will still work.
Tabarrok’s only argument is that inequalities exist. “Nature’s bounty is divided unevenly,” he says. “Closed borders compound these injustices, cementing inequality into place and sentencing their victims to a life of penury,” he weeps. Tabarrok, a staunch materialist, can only put inequalities in terms of money. Spiritual and cultural worth is not quantifiable, money is measurable. And because it is measurable, it takes on meaning which far exceeds its importance.
No standard moral framework, be it utilitarian, libertarian, egalitarian, Rawlsian, Christian, or any other well-developed perspective, regards people from foreign lands as less entitled to exercise their rights—or as inherently possessing less moral worth—than people lucky to have been born in the right place at the right time.
This is confused because Tabarrok bases his morality on rights and not duties. Start from a false premise and you could end up anywhere. Worse, starting with rights assumes what it sets out to prove, that all should have the same rights (and equivalent circumstance): the argument is circular. What’s odd is that Tabarrok misidentifies moral worth as being in a state of equal circumstance, while simultaneously denying it. If moral worth is to be the key metric, as it should be, in judging a human life, then circumstance is always circumstantial.
It’s always most difficult to see what is missing, and what isn’t there in Tabarrok’s argument is the identification of who is to be in charge once all borders are erased. Ask him if he sees himself in the role of equality enforcer. He also forgets that when there is only One World, there is nowhere left to run to.