Yeah, it sucks

Many of the commenters to my post on immigration seem to have made the following leap:

"Patri says that X has significant bad consequences. Therefore Patri is against X, and believes it is right to stop X"

First of all, this is fallacious. The consequent does not at all imply the antecedent.

Second, the arguments about how it is wrong to coerce ignored the fact that I am weighing *coercion against coercion*. The coins on each side of the balance are in the same denomination, thus it is a fair comparison. It is all well and good to say that we shouldn't coerce people because of their political beliefs - but what about when those political beliefs lead to us being coerced?

Here is the obvious thought experiment: Suppose that I live on an island controlled by powerful robots. The robots are whimsical, and have mandated a democratic system where they enforce whatever rules the humans vote on. There are currently 5 of us on the island, 3 of whom are libertarians, and 2 of whom are communists. A communist couple wants to move in, and the matter is put to a vote. Do you vote to stop them?

If you truly believe that my point is absurd, and that future political consequences like increased democratic coercion are irrelevant, then you will be adamant about letting the communists move in to destroy your freedom. Is that how you actually feel?

Several people gave the classic reductio ad absurdum for immigration and extended my argument to reproduction. And it does indeed apply. Consider the thought experiment above, and add that the 3 libertarians on the island are all male, and the 2 communists are a couple. Have I mentioned that they think you are evil bourgeoisie who are exploiting them? Now, do you vote to keep them from reproducing? If not, in a generation you will be a minority, and the coconut plants on the island will be watered by your blood when your Comrades conduct their first purge.

Yeah, it sucks to have to consider these tradeoffs. It sucks that we live in a world where our rights can be voted away, and it sucks that by helping people to increase their own freedom, we might be decreasing our own. It sucks that we live in a political system where treating women like real people means giving them a part in the coercion, and that this results in higher taxes and lower freedom for everyone. It sucks that we live in a system where the beliefs of whoever reproduces the most get imposed on everyone else.

And I'm not saying that this means we should stop letting women vote, or sterilize non-libertarians, or build a wall to keep immigrants out. I'm just pointing out the uncomfortable consequences of focusing only on immediate freedom and not considering future freedom as well. And the uncomfortable implications of living under a system where the majority can vote to coerce the minority.

Do with that what you will, but if you ignore it, you deny reality.

p.s. The same argument applies to preemptive wars. If you believe it can be right to attack to prevent future attacks, how is this any different?

p.p.s. There were a bunch of good points made by commenters as well, which I have acknowledged in the comments on the previous post.

p.p.p.s. Note that the dynamic nature of the political scheme I advocate (dynamic geography) prevents the need for pre-emptive coercion. We can let everyone into our floating city because if they turn out to be bad, we can always detach and go form a new floating city elsewhere.

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While it is beside the

While it is beside the point, and while I probably shouldn't, I can't resist.

What happens to those expelled from each community? As all territory would be controlled by self sufficient polycentric territories which could also vote out trespassers and misfits, you would soon develop a rather large class of undesirables who would not be wanted anywhere.

You do realize that we live in a polycentric world, right? There's no world government. The only thing keeping any nation from doing what you describe above today is the conscience of the nation's leaders, possible repercussions from their subjects, and international pressure. Idi Amin did precisely what you describe above in the 1970's with Uganda's Indian population: he simply kicked them out. Luckily, they were able to go to other nations in this polycentric world we live in.

There's simply no evidence for the argument that there would be a huge 'underclass' of undesirables that would be created in a polycentric world that doesn't exist in today's world, because today's world is a polycentric world. Indeed, with easier immigration and government switching, there would be less incentive for governments to kick out 'undesirables' as they would sources of taxation and wealth creation. Easier switching would force governments to compete over citizens and hold governments them more accountable for their actions.

"So you would be willing to

"So you would be willing to shoot me dead yourself if that’s what it took to enforce a law saying I couldn’t hire Mexican landscapers?

I want to be crystal clear on this."

I'm not actually shooting until you've broken other laws (successfully resisting arrest?), but yes, the ultimate purpose of shooting would be to prevent the enforcement algorithm from having a loophole that everyone else can then exploit.

And let's be more precise about the law -- I'm not stopping you from employing Mexican landscapers that are US citizens, and I'm also not stopping you from moving to Mexico and employing Mexican landscapers there. I have nothing against Mexican landscapers per se. I only have a problem with illegal immigrants -- my parents had to wait in line, why don't they have to?

In answer, Jonathan: The

In answer, Jonathan:

The kind of thing I advocate is modeled on the United States. There needs to be limited authority on the local level, a Bill of Rights, separation of powers, rule of law and respect for property rights. Environmental and commerce law should be nationwide. Federally enforced constitutional rights should be guaranteed. That’s our best insurance against a dictator.
I think that dividing society into autonomous, small, powerful, self loyal units would be a disaster. Think of Iraq. The reason laws works and there is peace here is because the government has a monopoly on force. You fight your battles in court and politically. Too bad if there are still abuses, but it is an imperfect world.
By the way, have you ever lived in a small town? There is a potential Idi Amin in many of them, and don’t tell me I could just move. Thank God for the Feds.

And I don’t advocate world government. There is such a thing as too big and powerful and I don’t want a bunch of foreigners, who we are told hate America, telling America what to do.

As far as immigration is concerned, I don’t think taking down the borders is a practical answer, though I don’t oppose immigrants. In the past we didn’t have to provide so much public support. If that were eliminated and they just had to live off their earnings, it wouldn’t be as bad.

Dave, You seem to brush

You seem to brush aside the essential point that we already live in a polycentric world. Why is that governments in the West rarely go to war with each other? Why isn't there a free for all among these 'self-loyal' units?

"Indeed, with easier

"Indeed, with easier immigration and government switching, there would be less incentive for governments to kick out 'undesirables' as they would be sources of taxation and wealth creation. Easier switching would force governments to compete over citizens and hold governments more accountable for their actions."

Governments acting in their economic self-interest can be expected to compete over high-skilled citizens, but not necessarily citizens in general.

That said, governments frequently don't act in their overall economic self-interest. Cf. Amin's expulsion of Indians, or anyone who has expelled Jews.

"I submit that Patri is completely unwilling to close such loopholes which means calculating the 'tradeoffs', at least for him, is much simpler than he's making it out to be."

Perhaps that is the case. I'm curious what he has to say.

You seem to brush aside the

You seem to brush aside the essential point that we already live in a polycentric world. Why is those governments in the West rarely go to war with each other? Why isn’t there a free for all among these ’self-loyal’ units?” Jonathan

These polycentric nations are massive and are made of millions of people.
I thought we were talking about independent self sufficient entities of smaller size such as a Greek City States, African and Indian tribes and various European fiefdoms.

Historically these small groups were constantly at war with each other and with and central state. They had private armies and frequently raided each other for fun and profit or to settle grudges or matters of honor. Peace was established after the central government crushed or bought out theses entities and established national governments.

Countries where this has not happened are run by corrupt, competing political and ethnic groups bent on dominating each other. These nations chronically keep themselves poor.

Since the rise of industrial scale weapons wars between developed nations are just too horrible. There is no benefit to war or conquest. Besides these governments would have to take care of the conquered or liberated people, which is expensive and the people hate you anyway. Why not just engage in peaceful trade, which benefits everyone?

This is basically an

This is basically an elaborate false dillema fallacy.