Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Natural, Not National, Rights

Somewhere in my reading about immigration, someone made the deceptively simple point that it's not immigration we should be talking about but migration. That's another way of saying the focus has been on "us," when it should be on the people coming to the United States. The discussion has proceeded as if they have no rights in the matter but we do. We will let them come here if and only if we have a use for them. And "we" doesn't refer to a group of free individuals, but rather to a collective Borg-like entity with rights superior to any held by its constituents. The collectivist, and therefore statist, nature of the discussion indicates how far we've drifted from our individualist and voluntarist moorings.
Read the rest of my article at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

4 comments:

Libertarian Jason said...

Sheldon -

I've run out of adjectives to describe your articles. Perhaps you could come up with one on your own.

I posted an entry on my blog pointing out that the anti-migration crowd (yes, I do like that term better) has difficulty grasping the concept of natural rights.

Stop by and check it out.

Sheldon Richman said...

Jason--Thanks for the plug! Keep up your good work.

Charles Johnson (Rad Geek) said...

Sheldon: "The discussion has proceeded as if they have no rights in the matter but we do. We will let them come here if and only if we have a use for them. And "we" doesn't refer to a group of free individuals, but rather to a collective Borg-like entity with rights superior to any held by its constituents."

Yes. Thank you. Precisely.

A while back I had a discussion with Jason Kuznicki over his statements on immigration policy (which were more liberal than his interlocutor's, but not in favor of open borders, and which spent a lot of time on the completely irrelevant subject of "assimilation"). I suggested, among other things, he was being presumptuous and condescending when he tried to talk up his willingness to "let nearly all of [the Mexicans] enter who wished" as if he were doing Mexicans some kind of favor.

He seemed pretty baffled about the suggestion, and since I was more interested in discussing other points I didn't press the point. But I think this is a fine explanation of why the rhetorical posture grated on me, even from someone who favors a policy outcome that's substantially more liberal than the current regime. Jason asked what he was "supposed to do with them, if not let them through?" I think the right answer is that you're supposed to stop pretending like the American ambiguous-collective gives you some kind of authority to stand as a gatekeeper on property that doesn't belong to you.

Sheldon Richman said...

Rad--Thanks. Our only hope is to demystify every aspect of politics. We have to show that behind the curtain, there's just a mousy little bureaucrat -- backed by a lot of guns -- ruining people's lives.