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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, July 13, 2007


I like Ron Paul and think he's done a great service by bringing his sensible views on the Iraq war and the 9/11 attacks to the public's attention. That is the most important thing that has happened in the presidential campaign so far, and it will be tough to beat. I've long known that Ron Paul takes an unlibertarian position on immigration. Still I am deeply disappointed to learn, from an article in the latest Liberty magazine, that he calls the illegal entry of Mexicans into the United States an "invasion." This description, given in a fundraising letter, is outrageous. These are human beings, with rights, seeking better lives in an environment more free than the one they are in. For the overwhelming majority of them, complying with U.S. law, an immoral law that violates all our rights, means never getting here--ever. They mean us no harm; on the contrary, they seek a place in the division of labor.

Therefore, they are not invaders and their entry in no way constitutes an invasion. This is belligerent Pat Buchanan-talk, and it is unworthy of Ron Paul. I hope he will rethink his position.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sheldon,

I think Ron Paul takes the position I've seen from other libertarians that the Mexicans were not invited. For example, say a neighbor of yours has a garage sale or a party and so many cars come that there's no space left on your neighbor's property, so the new arrivals decide to park in your driveway or worse, on your front lawn, without even asking for your permission.

As a naturalized citizen, I had to first ask permission from the U.S. government to come to work here, and my employer had to sponsor me and that got me a "green card". Whether it's right or wrong for the government to pass immigration laws or to assume they "own" the territory they call the U.S. of A. falls in the same category as to whether it's right or wrong to pass income tax laws. But the fact is that they have been passed (or is there an immigration law denier movement as well? :-)


LarryRuane said...


It's wrong to stretch the meaning of a term to cover concepts that are nearly the opposite of each other. It's a form of demagoguery. Examples are fair competition (as in the New Deal laws to restrict competition) and international peacekeepers (i.e. armed men who go about killing people in foreign lands).

The term "invasion" usually implies a violation of property rights. But Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan apply it also to people engaged in purely voluntary interactions.

Even if you disagree with open immigration, you should object to the use of this loaded term, invasion.

Here is a recent discussion of the immigration topic. See especially the excellent comments by Brainpolice. (Is that your alias, Sheldon??)



Anonymous said...


I don't disagree with open immigration. I was just trying to offer a perspective somewhat analogous to Ron Paul's.

When someone parks on your front lawn just because there's no space on your neighbor's property and they'd rather not obstruct the "public" road, they are invading your property, are they not?

When an immigrant enters the U.S. looking for a job they are typically trespassing on some "public" property, ostensibly owned by the federal government, or perhaps some state or local government. In a perfectly libertarian society, it has been said there would be no such "public" roads or other government-"owned" expanses of land. In that case, anyone who traveled through private roads would presumably only need the permission or acquiescence of the road owner.

However, we're far from such an ideal, so right now the "public" roads and lands are "owned" by the governments (or supposedly by the collective citizens of a given nation). So I think that anyone that enters a country without abiding by the rules of that nation can be legally deemed as a trespasser or even an "invader" (the trouble with that word is the connotation of someone like Attila the Hun) since they are violating, if you will, the "collective property rights" of those citizens (whether those rights are valid is another matter altogether).

Before becoming a citizen I came to the U.S. under three different visas (visitor, student and work permit). I have also been fortunate to travel to many other countries, both for business and for pleasure, and had to obtain visas (or even work permits) for most trips. Of course things would've been much easier if everyone practiced open immigration as I understand the U.S. did originally. But the fact is that most countries (maybe all?) have some kind of immigration restrictions (just like they have trade restrictions).

Most people choose to abide by those rules, just like most people choose to pay taxes, even if many fervently believe they have the right to keep all they earn or acquire. Those who enter a country without complying with the rules are IMHO not much different than those who don't pay taxes. Maybe you would congratulate the latter groups for showing the courage to stand up to governments, but I think it muddles the debate to state the illegal immigrants are simply engaged in voluntary transactions (I was engaged in many of those yet I still followed the rules).

The U.S. still remains a magnet for immigrants, among other reasons, because --believe it or not-- it's still much freer than other countries (at least in some respects). As an example, you still don't have to carry a National Identity Card or get a passport by getting fully fingerprinted at the Federal Police.


Sheldon Richman said...

Joe, I am not denying there is an immigration law. I'm condemning it. Migrants are not invaders. Larry's point about the word is right. And how can you trespass on public property? If I invite Mexicans to come to my workplace or residential property, that's my business. Traveling on public roads to get there violates no one's rights. There's no need to wait until the roads have been privatized to accept free immigration.

You write, "you still don't have to carry a National Identity Card or get a passport by getting fully fingerprinted at the Federal Police." Funny you say that, since the anti-immigrationists want those things in order to "control the borders."

Larry, no, I'm not Brainpolice. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheldon,

I found the Liberty article online and it says the fact that Ron Paul "considers illegal immigration 'an _invasion_'" comes from an early June fundraising letter, but no further context is provided. I think it'd be more appropriate to examine that context before accusing Dr. Paul of demagoguery.

I did a search for "invasion" and "invade" at Google under site:ronpaullibrary.org and the only article that comes up is a June 2002 House speech on "Inspection or Invasion in Iraq". Ron PaulLibrary.org also has a section on Border Security and Immigration Reform, but I have not had time to read through all those articles to verify if he used wording similar to "invasion" at some point.

I also found this recent WorldNetDaily interview and one of the answers summarizes Dr. Paul's immigration position. I think he is (a) emphasizing the need to eliminate state welfare and other benefits (and sometimes advocating extreme positions, as on birthright citizenship), and (b) concerned about maintaining U.S. "sovereignty" (which may explain the "invasion" view).

Legal trespassing on "public property" is easy if you have a law that says you have to be a citizen or have a valid visa if you're a foreigner to traverse the public property.

Of course no one's rights are violated if someone from Mexico visits your house or business. The "border" is a completely artificial, man-made concept. Is there any difference if a child is born on one side of the line vs. the other? None physically, but legally and politically a child born north of the line is considered to have certain "privileges" and "duties" that are different from those had he/she been born on the other side.


James Greenberg said...

Ron Paul is a statist.

It used to be loads of fun to participate in choosing one's slavemaster.

I find it fun no more.

Knock yourselves out.

steven said...

James - would you please define statist?

Anonymous said...

As a fellow forum member wrote (in another forum):
"I see red when Hispanics go marching with the Mexican flag. That's not immigration. That's invasion."

Anonymous said...


Ned Swing said...

you make very good points about Ron Paul. America is a country of immigrants. this anti-immigrant hysteria pathetic, short-sighted and straight-up stupid. I say stupid because without "illegals", the agricultural industry of America would collapse.

fight capitalism, not workers.

David Hart said...

Could I remind my American friends that the US unjustly invaded and seized northern Mexico? Perhaps we should then ask ourselves who are the original invaders? Aren't then these people just returning to territory which perhaps should still be sovereign Mexican territory where no passports would be required for travel? Why should they have any respect for the artificail lines in the desert drawn by the American military and politicians?

Sheldon Richman said...

We are indeed needful of that reminder.