Tell Me How Himmler Misapplied Citizenism

This is a guest post by Bryan Caplan. Caplan’s previous guest post, My Path to Open Borders, has been one of the most viewed and most liked blog posts on our website.

Heinrich Himmler delivered his infamous Posen speech on October 4, 1943. The speech, which was actually recorded, is best-known as a smoking gun for the Holocaust. But the three-hour lecture also makes a foray into political philosophy. Himmler’s deep thoughts:

For the SS Man, one principle must apply absolutely: we must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood, and to no one else. What happens to the Russians, the Czechs, is totally indifferent to me. Whatever is available to us in good blood of our type, we will take for ourselves, that is, we will steal their children and bring them up with us, if necessary. Whether other races live well or die of hunger is only of interest to me insofar as we need them as slaves for our culture; otherwise that doesn’t interest me. Whether 10,000 Russian women fall down from exhaustion in building a tank ditch is of interest to me only insofar as the tank ditches are finished for Germany.

We will never be hard and heartless when it is not necessary; that is clear. We Germans, the only ones in the world with a decent attitude towards animals, will also adopt a decent attitude with regards to these human animals; but it is a sin against our own blood to worry about them and give them ideals, so that our sons and grandchildren will have a harder time with them. When somebody comes to me and says, I can’t build tank ditches with children or women. That’s inhumane, they’ll die doing it. Then I must say: You are a murderer of your own blood, since, if the tank ditches are not built, then German soldiers will die, and they are the sons of German mothers. That is our blood. That is how I would like to indoctrinate this SS, and, I believe, have indoctrinated, as one of the holiest laws of the future: our concern, our duty, is to our Folk, and to our blood. That is what we must care for and think about, work for and fight for, and nothing else. Everything else can be indifferent to us.

At least on a superficial reading, Himmler seems to be whole-heartedly embracing what Steve Sailer calls “citizenism.” Sailer’s words:

Personally, I am a citizenist

My starting point in analyzing policies is: “What is in the best overall interests of the current citizens of the United States?”

In contrast, so many others think in terms of: “What is in the best interest of my: identity group / race / ethnicity / religion / bank account / class / ideology / clique / gender / sexual orientation / party / and/or personal feelings of moral superiority?”

Sailer repeatedly appeals to citizenism to reject open borders.  Though I think he’s totally misguided, I would never equate him with Himmler.  I wouldn’t approvingly quote Sailer if I thought otherwise. I mean this in all sincerity, and do not mean to damn with faint praise. To condemn all citizenists because someone kills in the name of citizenism is pure guilt by association. Homicidal maniacs have yet to find a political philosophy they cannot twist into a rationalization for their crimes.

So why bring Himmler’s speech up at all? Because this particular homicidal maniac appears to correctly deduce his criminal actions from citizenism. Himmler embraces absolute devotion to  “the best overall interests of the current citizens of Germany” as the highest morality. In consequence, we can politely but firmly ask mainstream citizenists for clarification. Precisely how does Himmler misapply your political philosophy?

Here are a few possibilities:

  1. Himmler is misapplying citizenism because the actions he defends were ineffective or counter-productive means to advance German interests. This story has the implausible implication that Himmler would have been right if the policies he advocated did in fact tip the scales of victory to Germany, leading in turn to a higher standard of living for Germans than we’ve actually observed.
  2. Himmler is misapplying citizenism because many of the people he wanted to murder were German. This story has the implausible implication that murdering non-Germans was OK. Furthermore, Himmler could reply that any so-called “Germans” he wants to murder lost their German citizenship years earlier.
  3. Himmler is misapplying citizenism because the doctrine only applies to Americans. While Americans should favor fellow Americans, Germans should not favor fellow Germans. This story has the implausible implication that it would have been morally permissible for Americans to work Russians, Czechs, and other foreigners to death if it had promoted American well-being.
  4. Himmler is misapplying citizenism by taking it too literally. As Sailer puts it, “All ethical principles come with endless grown-up qualifications to fantasies hatched by childish minds.” But Himmler could easily retort, “All ethical principles come with endless childish excuses to escape unwelcome duties.” As he explains elsewhere in the Posen speech:

    The Jewish nation will be rooted out, says every Party Comrade, that’s quite clear, it’s in our program: shutting the Jews down and out, rooting them out; that’s what we’re doing. And then they all come along, these 80 million good Germans, and every one of them has his decent Jew.

My best guess is that avowed citizenists will flock to something like #4. I hope they do. But I still have to ask them: Given the horrific actions that people like Himmler have explicitly committed on citizenist grounds, why don’t you calm our fears by fleshing out the crucial qualifications that the Himmlers of the world fail to grasp? Why don’t you go further by naming some actually-existing American policies you oppose even though they’re literal implications of citizenism? If citizenists want their position taken seriously, they should start pre-emptively defending their positions from misinterpretation, even if it does tax their patience.

84 thoughts on “Tell Me How Himmler Misapplied Citizenism”

  1. Umm. No. Its more Himmler took an absolutist approach. The citizenship argument is generally more pluralist. Simply that your fellow citizen deserves a greater weight that those who are not fellow citizens.

    Himmler merely makes an extra weight absolute. Arguably there is such a weight. It is just not absolute, and the pain and death he caused almost certainly outweighs it. Citizenship is but one value among others.

    This is akin to how we place a greater value on our families wellbeing than the person down the road.

    1. This is Bryan’s suggestion #4 with regard to misapplication. But then this just raises the new question of what the appropriate weights are.

      Closed borders, by some estimates, make people 15 times poorer than they otherwise would be. So even if you weight Yemenis’ interests as, say, 10 times less consequential than the interests of Americans, you would still wind up with a prima facie argument for allowing Yemenis to work in the US.

      To put it differently, how far did Himmler get his weights wrong? And under your preferred weighting, what sort of immigration policy do you favour? My assessment is that under any morally sensible application of citizenism, the cost-benefit analysis still overwhelmingly favours much, much more liberal immigration policies than anything we have today. (It may not truly favour open borders, but it’s still far more liberal than anything on the table today.)

      1. “But then this just raises the new question of what the appropriate weights are.” Yes, that’s right, but you don’t need a quantitative or closed-form answer to the question of weights before you advocate citizenism. I don’t like suddenly being in the position of defending citizenism, but Himmler is just a reductio ad absurdum of citizenism (or at least racism). The open borders position can be similarly made victim to reductios. Consider the world’s smallest independent state: the Vatican. Do open borders advocates need to defend the right of 7 billion people to live within the Vatican borders? Most of us would argue “no” for a host of mostly empirical reasons (7 billion people will clearly not all choose to move to the same small town). But I think Himmler : citizenism :: the Vatican : open borders.

        Citizenists will probably say something like “Himmler gets his weights wrong by failing to acknowledge that, while Germans should come first, that does not justify willful murder or slavery of non-Germans.” That’s a reasonable answer, even if it invites the cosmopolitan retort that most citizenists tend to overlook when their government is willfully murdering innocent foreigners outside the country.

        1. “7 billion people will clearly not all choose to move to the same small town”.

          That’s why this is not a valid reductio ad absurdum of open borders. Open Borders advocates are not saying that everyone should live in the US, developed nations, or the Vatican. We have markets (for jobs, housing, etc.) that determine who lives where. Open Borders advocates say that everyone should be allowed to participate in those markets, not just those that happened to have been born on a particular side of the border. One can extend this argument to the Vatican without reducing it to absurdity.

          1. Actually, I like the Vatican example.

            Let’s say I and 900 of my best friends cross the Vatican border the day before elections, and demand citizenship. They then elect me leader, and I implement a policy of taking the Vatican approximate $10B in wealth and distributing it to the citizenry. We each get approximately $5M. We can then leave the country and avoid the economic collapse that follows.

            If you resolve that fear, I believe open borders will happen on their own. If you don’t address that issue, governments really do have a duty to the current citizens to protect them from having their assets seized.

            1. You would not become a citizen of the Vatican just because you cross the border. Millions of tourists don’t either. Then there are no elections, so also the second step would not work. Sure, the Swiss Guard might be too weak to fight your friends, but about any European country and many around the world would back the sovereignity of the Pope. So your friends would have to be amazing fighters.

              While your argument fails, I think there is a kernel of truth in it. You can make up realistic hypotheticals where a plan like yours can work. And I guess there are also some real world examples or mild counterfactuals where this is the case. Let me try these:

              – Native Americans and European settlers in North America
              – (counterfactual:) takeover of Hongkong or Singapore sending in Communists from the People’s Republic
              – (counterfactual:) takeover of Luxemburg by Nazi Germany

              I’d think that many proponents of open borders try too much and prove that something like this is necessarily impossible. But a single counterexample either in the real world or a counterfactual that does not need any fancy assumptions will do. And I’d say you can come up with such examples. Refusing to admit this, may look like open borders presuppose unrealistic assumptions. And it affords its opponents an easy victory as hard-headed thinkers.

              Still this type of argument seems like a rather weak argument to me because I have not seen any realistic scenarios how something of this kind could work for the US with 300 million or the European Union with 500 million inhabitants (plus the most advanced armies in the world). Feel free to try your luck, and I am really interested, but I am quite certain that at some point you will have to plug in some very unrealistic or even silly assumptions.

              1. “I have not seen any realistic scenarios how something of this kind could work…”

                The example I gave is too simple, obviously. But it also demonstrates a weakness in the open borders argument. Even if you have 300 million voters, adding 1% more socialists does move the political center towards socialism. I don’t think that you really need to argue that point, really.

                The actual best defense I’ve heard on these grounds is that immigrants are not typically that different than the citizens – immigrants self select, after all, for people that actually want to be in the destination country. And, of course, as you point out if the citizenship laws are reasonable then there is no reason to prevent people from having dealings with non-citizens.

                But those defenses fall short. Not for logical issues, but from emotional ones – the citizen goes from having 1/population level power to 1/(population+immigration) level power. This is unsettling to average citizens, and saying that the new people are nice only partially alleviates the concern. Who knows how their kids will behave, etc.

                I think that if you eliminated birth location based citizenship, and made some other citizenship path, a lot of the issues go away. Then all you have to do is convince people that microeconomics actually works, which seems more feasible.

                As for concrete examples, people often talk about all the libertarians getting together and moving en mass to North Dakota so that they can rewrite the state Constitution and laws. Perhaps that seems silly, but it could be done. And hopefully you can understand that the current population of North Dakota would be upset by it.

                Another example: In 1831-1838 followers of the Mormon religion flooded Jackson County, Missouri. They tended to vote similarly to one another, and differently than the prior citizens. The people of Missouri forced the Mormons out at gunpoint, with the Governor Boggs issuing Missouri Executive Order 44, also known as the “Extermination Order,” which stated that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace.”

                I guess that is one way to stay in power…

                1. Actually, adding a net (!) 1% socialists would move the median voter in the US hardly at all. You would have to think that between percentiles 49% and 50% there is a pretty abrupt jump in political opinion. I find this very implausible, and I can’t see any empirical basis for it. I’d say this is unrealistic.

                  At most it would move the median voter slightly in the direction (not even to) the position of the median voter in many European countries. Not that I’d recommend this, but it is hardly the move from freedom to socialism. The argument rests on not quantifying what a “move in the direction of socialism” amounts to. I can move from Germany in the direction of the US if I walk a few steps in a westward direction.

                  If there is a problem, it is maybe one with domestic political opinion moving in a statist direction (not necessarily to the left, it can also be to the right). Foreign socialists as a bogeyman might even rally those who are against socialism, think of the red scare and similar scares early in the 20th century.

                  Apart from that, as I predicted, small scale examples at best (and I don’t fall in the trap and try to prove there can’t be such). I could help you out with further examples, e. g. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers trying to take over a county. But then there is still a huge majority of 300 million people who don’t want this. Your example of Missouri and the Mormons only shows that in such a situation the minority often gets a rough deal, not that they are on the brink of taking over.

                  And sure, I understand that such things can have huge potential for scares that are out of proportion with the threat. So it is usually a stupid strategy expect for those who are really out of touch. It can work better for people who are non-threatening and leave others alone, let’s say the Amish.

      2. This is just an argument for socialism. There is no ratio for which I have to give you my stuff if it would make you happier than me to have it.

        The weight Chris is talking about is the weight someone might put on different values. For example, someone might value the welfare of citizens and value not murdering anybody.

          1. I don’t think I’m suggesting that; I don’t think it’s necessary to the argument. John Lee is the guy who said I was obligated to do it if it helped the immigrant more than it hurt me. I said no such ratio exists and that’s not the right way to think about things.

              1. Chris said Himmler would have done okay if in addition to valuing Germans highly he’d also had a rule that said “and no wanton murder.” John Lee sailed right by that argument and wanted to talk about the appropriate ratio of Germans to trade for non-Germans.

                1. Applying moral sideconstraints like “no murder” is simply a different way of weighing competing interests (it’s essentially equivalent to saying “I place no weight on your welfare, unless this weighting requires me to murder you”). I specifically had that in mind, which is why I said: “My assessment is that under any morally sensible application of citizenism, the cost-benefit analysis still overwhelmingly favours much, much more liberal immigration policies than anything we have today.”

  2. Preface: I’m thoroughly in Bryan Caplan’s camp, so this is not a rebuttal in any way. One thing I just want to note is that Himmler’s focus is extremely narrow on “blood”, not “citizenship”. Sailer’s “citizenship” fits more closely with the posed hypothetical of being unable to return to the US after a trip to Haiti. Accidents of location, given a time period. Himmler’s laser-focus is on pure tribalism.

  3. The Himmler quote is absolutely brilliant, and I do think there is a strong kinship between the ideology of VDARE and fascism. In fact, when I first read VDARE, my immediate and absolutely unhesitant reaction was “Whoa! It’s fascism. It’s straightforward American fascism.” If a history professor wants his students to help understand what fascism was all about, I think an excellent exercise would be to assign them to read VDARE. Seeing the basic impulses and ideology of fascism translated into an American context would make it easier to understand the same phenomenon at work in 1930s Italy and Germany.

    But I’ll add a potential defense citizenists might make to this list. They might say that a person ought to pursue citizenist GOALS, but subject to MORAL SIDE-CONSTRAINTS. Do what’s best for your fellow citizens, but there are certainly limits on what you’re allowed to do. No killing innocent human beings, for example. Of course, there follows the question of where moral side-constraints come from, and what exactly they are. One of the ways I differ from most immigration restrictionists seems to be that I believe in much more robust moral side-constraints.

    Wow. It’s funny, in a horrible way, how Himmler boasts about the German’s uniquely decent attitude to animals. All in all, his logic is pretty strong.

  4. While I don’t think citizenism is a good moral perspective, it is not morally equivalent to nazism, and I think comparisons to nazism that don’t involve actual mass murder are poor form.

    The main reasons are as follows:

    Nazism is a perspective that a government exists solely to forward the interests of a race of people, and that all other people have no legitimate interests in regards to the state, but are rather means to an end.

    Citizenism in contrast says that the soverign authority over a given physical place and has an obligation to ALL of the people who are of that place. Almost* all people are of a place, and citizenism says that the government of that place has an obligation to protect them, and that they have a corresponding obligation to that place to obey the law (within reason).

    The core difference is that citizenism respects citizens of other countries as legitimate in their own regard. So, if I were a US citizen and citizenist, I would say that the US gov’t has an obligation to Americans, and the Canadian government has an obligation to Canadians. It would therefore be improper to have the US government interfere in the legitimate obligations of the Canadian government to Canadians by invading Canada, even if it benefits the US. A citizenist can reasonably say that the US owes no active duty to better the lives of Canadians, but likewise has an obligation to not interfere in their separate but fully legitimate sovereignty.

    By the time of the invasion of Poland however, Himmler’s philosophy clearly shows no respect for the idea that Poles (or anyone other than white, non-jew Germans) are legitimate citizens of a place, and rather just treats them as means to the end of some crazy and evil world domination scheme.

    This is similar to the idea of non-aggression principles. As a person, a country owes no obligation to actively aid its neighbours, but it is obliged to keep out of their way and not be an aggressor against them.

    *Some people are stateless, and there are legal conventions about making them become of a place. These can and should be strengthened and expanded.

    1. So, instead of the accident of genetics, you would put the “us” as the accident of geography. Does that jibe with the anti-immigration insistence that existing migrants should be deported, even if they have been here since they were babies?

      1. I am not a citizenist. I was just presenting the strongest case I could for it, because anything less would be a straw man. My only point was that citizenism is not morally equivalent to Nazism, and that Nazi analogies are almost always bad arguments.

    2. While you offer a plausible way of making citizenism civilized, I’m not aware of any actual argument made by Sailer which would justify reading him in the charitable way you do. Steve Sailer, in the quote above, seems to commit himself to the same attitude as Himmler. Doubtless he really IS more civilized than Himmler, but that’s the point of *reductio ad absurdum*: you prove that people can’t really believe, in a consistent way, in what they profess to, because it implies things that they would clearly reject. Hence Bryan’s demand that citizenists explain how Himmler would be misapplying their doctrines.

      1. I don’t know Steve Sailer or that much about him. I try to take peoples views in the strongest form I can realistically ascribe them so as not to be attacking a straw man. The specific ethical distinction I am making involves the Kantian categorical imperative, which basically states that if a principle can’t be applied universally it is not a moral principle. Himmler’s principles cannot apply universally, ,whereas the view of citizenism I discussed at least facially can. That’s a big and important distinction.

    3. “This is similar to the idea of non-aggression principles. As a person, a country owes no obligation to actively aid its neighbours, but it is obliged to keep out of their way and not be an aggressor against them.”

      If a willing employer wants to hire a willing immigrant employee, a willing landlord wants to rent an apartment to that immigrant at prevailing market rents, and a citizenist advocates using the powers of government to prevent these transactions between willing counterparties, then the citizenist is actively violating the non-aggression principle. He is interfering with the immigrant’s (and employer’s and landlord’s) right to engage in commerce.

      An important point is that Open Borders advocates, as far as I understand, are not advocating a some sort of positive right of immigration — they’re not saying that we have to build free housing and invite every person in every other country to move in. They’re arguing for a negative right of immigration: we just shouldn’t interfere with immigrants’ movement across the border to engage in legitimate activity. Since citizenists oppose the negative right, they are actively interfering in the lives of people born on the other side of the border, not just passively refusing to help them.

      1. I happen to agree with you as regards to non aggression, and I think it is a reasonably persuasive case against citizenism. I think however that the best argument for citizenism makes an analogy to non aggression. But its just an analogy.

  5. paulcrider and anon, open or more liberal immigration need not imply socialism or the abolishment of private land. What would stop 7 people from moving into Vatican City would be the cost of their housing.

  6. As already suggested by Steve_O and Peter Hurley, Himmler is talking about “blood”–a type of racism–rather than citizenism. Any attempt to remove citizenship from a particular group defined by group characteristics (such as race) would seem to go beyond citizenism, which takes a well-defined criteria for citizenship as its starting point.

    It is also clear that Himmler did not intend to follow what he actually said, such as planning to “adopt a decent attitude with regards to these human animals; but it is a sin against our own blood to worry about them…” The words suggest something like benign neglect, in the same way that I might care nothing for ants and not lose any sleeep over one getting crushed; but if I spend all my time and resources smashing ant hills and rounding them up in jars to kill them, everyone would know that something else is going on and I am certainly not acting for anyone’s BENEFIT. So Himmler is clearly trying to sell his plan as a reasonable application of national self-interest, but really intends simple malevolence.

    A good example is Himmler’s own tank ditch example. Perhaps he didn’t care whether women and children were harmed while digging ditches, but by his own logic he is killing the sons of German mothers by using inept ditch diggers. How effectively could the women and children dig really? Why not employ the women to build more bulldozers and dig the ditches deeper and faster? Again, there is no citizenism at play here, just hatred of another group, which is not the same thing.

    1. re: “Himmler did not intend to follow what he actually said”

      No, I don’t think this charge holds up. Himmler’s words don’t necessarily imply benign neglect. If the ants are inconvenient for you, you might hire an exterminator. You’re not being cruel, exactly, you’re just pursuing your own interests and indifferent to those of the ants. The Nazis thought Germany needed Lebensraum. Ukrainians were in the way, so they killed them. That doesn’t have to show “simple malevolence.”

      The manner in which we treat animals really is, I think, fairly comparable to the way the Germans treated the various peoples they conquered. The difference is that it’s okay to treat animals as slaves and even as food, but humans have a higher dignity that must be respected. Himmler was very wrong to equate humans to animals, but given the premise that non-Germans are mere animals, the Nazis’ conduct was largely reasonable.

      1. You might want to read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_welfare_in_Nazi_Germany

        The Nazis were very serious about protection of animals. And I guess Himmler thinks he is sincere and decent in extending this also to “human animals”.

        In another part of the speech, he also makes the point that the SS have to be applauded because they have stayed decent (“anständig geblieben”) while killing off the Jews.

        Pretty weird idea of decency.

  7. Vipul has asked me to point to some examples where I explicitly qualify my libertarian views. Just for starters, see:

    http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/hansondebate.htm
    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/04/the_common-sens.html
    http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/pdfs/whyimmigration.pdf
    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/01/econlog_book_cl_3.html

    As I put it: “Rothbard’s casual use of the term ‘absolute’ is silly. If my right of self-ownership is ‘absolute,’ aren’t you violating my rights merely by breathing on me? And in any case, exceptionless rights go beyond the common sense morality that libertarianism builds upon. Yes, it’s almost always wrong to throw the first punch or take someone’s stuff, but if you can’t think of plausible counter-examples, you aren’t trying hard enough.”

    This piece explains Huemer’s view, but they’re pretty clearly my own as well:

    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2013/01/huemers_common-.html

  8. If the objection to this is that citizenists feel they are better able to defend giving greater moral weight to citizens than they are to defend giving greater moral weight to one race over another, then that is not much of an objection at all.How different does anyone imagine the bloodlines of Prussians and Poles are, anyway?

  9. I don’t know if this is what he was thinking, but considering the way our gov’t operates, it seems pretty likely that lots more immigrants will result in more of his private property being taken.

    If we estalbished real limits on gov’t authority in the U.S., the closed border position would almost be unsupportable.

  10. This is the type of absurd argument we see in a post-Christian world. On the one hand we have seeking to kill and destroy others for personal benefit, and on the other prioritizing care for those closest to you first.

    By Bryan’s logic, if an open borders advocate called for killing people who build border fences and work on border control, we could ask, “How are they misapplying Caplan’s argument?”

    1. 1. Please don’t just say an argument is absurd. Explain why.
      2. It seems to me you are making a moral side-constraints argument similar to what I made above, i.e., yes, we should “prioritize care for those closest to you” (in a sense I even agree with that), but we can’t do it by seeking to kill and destroy others. Are you?
      3. What does “post-Christian” have to do with anything here? Are you under the impression that Christianity implies, or even permits, citizenism? If so, I disagree, and would be interested in how you would justify the view.
      4. I assume Bryan would say that to advocate killing border control agents would be wrong, because it would be murder, and that wouldn’t be inconsistent with his position in the least. Can you explain how you think Bryan’s logic would imply this?

        1. In a word, just proportionality. A fuller version would appeal to or develop, and then apply, some form of just war theory. To kill Border Patrol agents who aren’t killing people (except possibly in a very indirect and unintentional way, but that’s of little relevance), who don’t clearly know that what they’re doing is wrong, and when the hopes of changing the regime to something better by this means are essentially nil, would definitely not be a case of justified violence.

  11. The Vatican argument points out the sheer absurdity of the “what if everyone floods into country X” argument.

    Within the United States, there are no borders to prevent Americans from migrating to New York City, to Los Angeles, to Charlotte, or any other city or town of their choice. NYC has some of the highest rents in America. This is a signal that – in the eyes of residents – it is highly attractive. Why else would they pay $2500/month for tiny little cubbyholes?

    If it is so attractive, why don’t all 300 million Americans flood NYC? There are no border controls at the city limits. What prevents this from happening? All those folks earning less than the median NYC income – why are they not migrating to NYC?

    There are two obvious answers. One, not everybody thinks NYC is attractive at those prices. Some people actually like green hills or desert landscapes. Two, rent rises when more people want the same units – which tends to dampen interest in NYC as a destination. It self-regulates. Why is Florida a popular destination for retirees? Lower prices and taxes. Different strokes for different folks.

    Please explain to me why the same economic conditions which limit intra-country migration to NYC would suddenly cease to have effect with inter-country migration to the Vatican City or to America.

    1. To put it differently, I find this is like saying “We can’t have freedom of the press. The human brain is biologically incapable of processing an unlimited amount of information, which it would have to do if people were allowed to write and say whatever they like!”

    2. To be clear, I agree with you completely. Those are exactly the reasons why the Vatican problem would never actually be a problem. I was trying to analogize this with the citizenism-to-the-extreme that was Himmler’s philosophy. It’s probably a bad analogy, but the point I was trying to make is that most citizenists stop well short of Himmler-level citizenism for all sorts of practical reasons, “gut checks”, or side constraints (in Nathan’s terms).

      I don’t think this is really worth pursuing, but in the Vatican analogy, I was imagining a scenario in which everyone in the world became convinced that they needed to live in the Vatican (or New York City or wherever) and demanded the absolute moral right to live there, where price is no issue. This isn’t a logical impossibility; you could build towers of cages similar to modern mass-production chicken farms to fit all of the humans. I for one would start to doubt the value of freedom of movement if people all chose to live in cages without room to stand up.

      This is clearly absurd, but extermination camps are also absurd. The real problem with my analogy is that there are to my knowledge no examples in history of freedom of movement being taken to this extreme, whereas history is replete with examples of various forms of tribalism (like Himmler’s citizenism) being taken to genocidal extremes.

  12. Unfortunately we are stuck with human nature as it is, and not as we might wish or want it to be. Historically only a recent and small minority of humanity have developed attitudes that are more individualistic/universalistic and less clannish/particularistic. Viewing people outside of your group as being less important is the natural, normal attitude. It is universalism that is the aberration.

    If you wish to preserve a society that is individualistic then it might be a good idea to restrict immigration from societies that are more particularistic.

    1. But this assumes that individuals from societies that are more “particularistic” are all going to have that characteristic. I think you get a mix in every society.

      And a quibble: universalism is not a “recent” attitude. It’s actually really old. The Stoics of ancient Greece were cosmopolitans. And more directly relevant to open borders, the idea of hospitality to the foreigner is as old as the Old Testament and Homer’s Odyssey. There are a couple really good posts on that topic on this website.

    2. This fact of human nature makes me quite sad as well. That said, it appears that, while the tribalist impulse per-se is strong, the structure of the “us” and “them” is quite flexible. For example, as an American who’s traveled the U.S. and experienced culture shock multiple times, it is constantly amusing to me that so many Americans are so attached to the borders of this continent. I’ve found that, in practice, I have more culturally in common with english speaking Tejanos near the border than, say, the Pennsylvania Dutch that my skin color and ancestry resemble.

  13. How about this:

    As human beings, we have duties towards other human beings: we may not harm, but we don’t have to help.

    As members of a nation, we have additional duties towards other members of that nation: we must help to some extent.

    One could extend to families and parents, etc. The basic principle is that the role specifies the duty.

  14. If one believes that one’s primary responsibility is to oneself, as most Libertarians do, would one assume that the natural outcome is slaughter and mayhem to advance one’s personal interests?

    No, because having one responsibility does not preclude others as well.

    If citizenists believe that one has a responsibility to one’s fellow citizens, it does not preclude *also* having responsibilities to human beings in general.

    Asking what prevents citizenists from being Nazis is akin to asking what prevents Libertarians from being murderous sociopaths. The answer to both should be obvious.

  15. Belief that one has a responsibility one group does not preclude that one has other responsibilities to humanity in general.

    Asking what prevents citizenism from devolving into Nazism is akin to asking what prevents Objectivism, with its emphasis on responsibility to oneself devolving into murderous sociopathy.

    In both cases (and I suspect the latter is far more common), it’s a simple tool to discredit the philosophy by ignoring all but a single principle of the philosophy.

    1. @Tom West: Bryan has been critical of Objectivism for similar reasons:

      http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/autobio.htm references Michael Huemer’s article http://home.sprynet.com/~owl1/rand.htm that explicitly rejects the egoistic underpinnings of Objectivism and offers a lengthy critique of it.

      Also relevant: http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/rand and http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/critique3

      See also Bryan’s earlier comment on this post where he points to instances where he has pointed out limiting cases of his own principles.

      That said:

      (1) Can you point to real-world instances of Objectivism run amok that are comparable to citizenism run amok? I doubt that is possible, because Objectivism can rarely by used to inflict large-scale joint, directed harm. If every person is merely egoistic/narcissistic, it’s a lot harder to get behind war and mass murder than if people are doing it “for the nation” or for an abstract group or entity. However, it’s possible that if Objectivism were a more mainstream philosophy, such instances would emerge.

      (2) Here’s what I *don’t* think Bryan is saying: he is _not_ saying that citizenism is unique among ideologies in terms of being an ideology that people can take to extremes to do awful things. He explicitly writes: “Homicidal maniacs have yet to find a political philosophy they cannot twist into a rationalization for their crimes.”

      What I think he’s saying is that citizenists devote far less energy to identifying the boundary cases of their ideology than they should given the potent misuses the ideology can be put to. Some ideologies are more prone to misuse than others. A pro-favoritism ideology is more prone to certain kinds of misuse than an anti-favoritism ideology. A pro-violence ideology is more prone to certain kinds of misuse than an anti-violence ideology. This means that proponents of such ideologies have an additional responsibility to identify and explicitly articulate the limits of their ideology. Bryan is asking citizenists to step up to that challenge.

      1. “Some ideologies are more prone to misuse than others”. I agree. Open boarders would be a good example if we were ever foolish enough to apply it.

        I think open boarders proponents conflate the obligation to not hurt anyone, with the obligation to not enforce any sort rules on common property: this ‘hurts’ others who seemingly have a consensual agreement for interaction around such property.

        A nation is the ‘commons’ of a population, and it is perfectly reasonable for such a polity to create rights, privileges, and obligations around these commons. Restrictions on using a commons are fully consistent with a moral rule consequentialism aimed at maximizing long-run total welfare. The most basic rule for any commons is restricting access. If we belong to a country club, someone can’t show up merely because one of the other members likes him, there are rules. Is that fascism? No. It’s recognizing that there are externalities and emergent properties in individual interactions, and that individuals will not fully bear these, which is why thoughtful constraints are optimal (ie, it’s not a license to apply any rule).

        You may think adding 300 million more Americans asap would be a good thing, but most Americans do not, and it’s absurd to Godwin them (but at least it’s more transparent than implying they are ordinary, non-genocidal, racists).

  16. The answer is absolutely #1. Himmler was morally just in his ethno-favoritism, but I don’t believe that type of violence would have provided benefit to the Germans even if the Germans had won WWII. Violence usually doesn’t effectively serve self-interests, except in cases of defense. One of the great arguments for kindness is the self-interest benefits. Not all kindness, or unlimited kindness, but many forms of kindness are effectively self serving.

  17. More a factual note:

    You have to twist Himmler’s view somewhat to make him into a citizenist in the strict sense. If I understand Sailer right, what he means by the term is that the relevant collective is “all citizens”, independent of their ancestry, religion, or any other affiliations. It sounds more like the French idea of what makes a nation: common historical experience and common destiny (and not common ancestry).

    Himmler talks of the “Volk” which has different overtones (common ancestry and/or common language and/or common culture and/or common citizenship), but his actual reference point is the “Aryan race”. He would certainly include all Scandinavians, the Dutch, the English, and also the children he wants to rob from Eastern European countries because of their “good blood” (chillingly, that’s what the SS really did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensborn#Germanization). He does not define the collective via citizenship, but by race. And he would deal out citizenship according to this criterion (and else revoke it).

    True, if Himmler had been a citizenist in the above sense, he could have made exactly the same arguments (although it would have been much harder for him to cast the actions of the SS as part of a cosmic struggle if his reference point had been the result of historical accident, and not some supposedly eternal feature). It does not change your argument, it only makes it a little awkward: “If Himmler had been a citizenist, he could have argued along the same lines as he did in his Posen speech.”

  18. It seems that, in Bryan Caplan’s world, it is okay to poison the well and compare your political opponents to Nazis so long as you disclaim the comparison and promise that your words were carefully chosen and that you did not mean to offend. To him, the ends justify the rhetorical means. Of course, it’s that sort of reasoning that led to the Holocaust. Hence, Bryan Caplan is a Nazi. If you disagree that he is a Nazi, you can do so in one of four ways. Let me enumerate them for you. Mare sure to start your response with the phrase “Bryan Caplan is not a Nazi because. . .”

    ____

  19. Just a question. Sailer in the quote you give says the following:

    – My starting point in analyzing policies is: “What is in the best overall interests of the current citizens of the United States?”

    How do you get from that to your claim that his position is equivalent to Himmler’s position:

    – Himmler embraces absolute devotion to “the best overall interests of the current citizens of Germany” as the highest morality.

    Can’t you take something as a starting point for analyzing a policy without embracing it with absolute devotion as the highest morality which trumps everything else?

    I don’t see how you can make this leap.

  20. Demand explanations from the citizenists, OK. But Caplan is throwing stones from a glass house:

    “For a war to be morally justified, its long-run benefits have to be substantially larger than its short-run costs. I call this “the principle of mild deontology.” Almost everyone thinks it’s wrong to murder a random person and use his organs to save the lives of five other people. For a war to be morally justified, then, its (innocent lives saved/innocent lives lost) ratio would have to exceed 5:1. (I personally think that a much higher ratio is morally required, but I don’t need that assumption to make my case).”

    So Caplan’s position would be to stand aside and watch the Holocaust and other instances of genocide, even if he expected intervening would save millions of lives. He describes a set of circumstances under which he would support inaction, but only alludes to a theoretical limit without actually committing himself to anything. If it’s really a “much higher ratio” that he’s talking about, say another 5:1 ratio, then he’s saying that one should tolerate the Holocaust killing 6 million if stopping it would cost the lives of 240,000 invading troops and innocent Germans.

    Caplan opposes tax-based foreign aid and redistribution as “robbery.” But even Americans who are only relatively poor would still get more than 15 times the utility out of a marginal dollar of consumption than the Koch brothers, moreso for foreign aid. Caplan has a lot of excuses for this, but once again the libertarian flexibility looks like a mirage in any practically important situation (except perhaps taking a salary from the taxpayers at the public teat).

    Worse, Caplan’s supposedly deep arguments for the impermissibility of open borders supposedly don’t apply to libertarian-approved private states with their landholdings assembled through purchase, even if the consequences are just the same.

    Caplan gives as an example of his non-libertarianism as being willing to tolerate the carbon dioxide exhaled by other human beings, i.e. another nominal claim without substantive implications. He gives illusory limits on libertarianism that turn out to be “libertarian up until these horrible consequences, and way beyond, but I won’t tell you where!” Or it’s “well maybe if the whole economy were to be destroyed I would consider a deviation, but that’s not the case so I don’t have to commit myself.”

    Caplan admits to greatly favoring the welfare of his family over others, even to the point of failing to save hundreds of lives, by giving more to developing world aid, to spend more money on his immediate relations.

    Consider a citizenist who endorsed the rule “the people of a state, an enterprise for their mutual betterment, should collectively give first priority to one another in the use of their territory, and the value of the company of those natives who choose to stay, although this does not entitle them to abuse the people in other communities minding their own business, or to seize their territory,” with moral side constraints about the right of people to exit their community (to any community collectively willing to accept them), and procedures for attending to externalities. I see little basis for Caplan’s moral posturing relative to such an individual in light of the previous discussion. It’s basically the mirror-image of his own libertarian views, except that it recognizes political communities as meaningful common enterprises, as Caplan recognizes families and firms.

    But because open borders fits his libertarian dogma, Caplan is excited to trumpet its utilitarian case, even though utilitarianism conspicuously falls by the wayside whenever his libertarianism goes the other way in any practical case.

  21. I am a citizenist and will take up Dr. Caplan’s challenge.

    “For the SS Man, one principle must apply absolutely: we must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood, and to no one else.”

    Citizenists believe that we are obligated to be honest and decent toward ALL people. So after his first quoted sentence, we’re already in a starkly different camp from Herr Himmler’s.

    “What happens to the Russians, the Czechs, is totally indifferent to me.”

    It is natural, normal, and moral to experience loyalty and comradeship in a graduated fashion, strongest towards family and close friends, weakest toward strangers in strange lands. So we citizenists are not obligated to care about the fates of foreigners we’ve never met, although many do take an interest. Some even make generous gifts of time and/or treasure.

    On the other hand, we certainly DO have a moral imperative to be “honest and decent” to those strangers by doing no harm. Of course, our understanding of “doing no harm” is different from Dr. Caplan’s. We do not construe the regulation of human traffic across our national borders, even with deadly force, as doing harm, for reasons I will give later.

    “Whatever is available to us in good blood of our type, we will take for ourselves, that is, we will steal their children and bring them up with us, if necessary. Whether other races live well or die of hunger is only of interest to me insofar as we need them as slaves for our culture … When somebody comes to me and says, I can’t build tank ditches with children or women. That’s inhumane, they’ll die doing it. Then I must say: You are a murderer of your own blood, since, if the tank ditches are not built, then German soldiers will die, and they are the sons of German mothers. That is our blood. … ”

    Launching wars of imperial conquest, stealing children, enslaving them and their parents – I would call these good examples of doing harm.

    As for Dr. Caplan’s rationales #1 – #4, none of these really hits the nail on the head. Himmler misapplies citiizenism by being willing to commit huge crimes to advance what he perceives to be German interests. It’s not evil for a German politician to have the interests of the German people closest to his heart. It’s evil for these interests to trump the obligation to be honest and decent to all.

    We citizenists do have at least one idea in common with Heinrich Himmler, insofar as the quotation. We consider it OK to make a distinction between citizen and non-citizen. However, and this is crucial, the rights and obligations that WE assign to citizen and non-citizen are VERY DIFFERENT from those assigned by Himmler. He says of non-Germans, “We have only rights and no obligations with respect to them, not even the obligation to not harm them. They have no rights. If they have any obligation toward us, it is only to bend to our will.” In contrast we say — you’ve heard it.

    Now then, what about the foundational crime of citizenism, namely that of keeping people out? It’s all about the nation state, unequal social and economic conditions around the world, and low-cost transportation.

    The nation state is the most successful political organization in history and has made possible spectacular levels of material progress and human liberty. Not all nation states are prosperous and free, but all prosperous and free societies exist inside sovereign nation states.

    The function of a nation state is to defend a culture. Cultures are the means by which the benefits of learning are passed down the generations. This learning is often both very expensive and exceedingly valuable. Europeans don’t have to fight religious wars anymore, because they remember when they did. Medicine, law, science, manufacturing, commerce, etc. all amount to inheritances delivered through culture.

    National cultures are not all alike. Some are fabulously successful, others are dismal failures. If you break the nation state, you disinherit vast numbers of people from invaluable legacies. Think of just one, say respect for the rule of law. It is fundamental to the prosperity of millions of people, but far from universal.

    The preservation of a national culture requires that a critical concentration of its members, the citizens, be maintained. If there are too many non-members, the bonds of shared language, beliefs, and assumptions breaks down. For example, honor systems of all sorts are common in countries where cheaters are looked down on. Add enough newcomers from a society that admires cheating and pretty soon the citizens of the host county are deprived of a valuable cultural inheritance.

    So most nation states regulate how many foreigners may enter. And if they allow naturalization, they demand some proof of acculturation first.

    Of course, if standards of living were roughly the same all around the world, and if travel between countries were not as cheap as it is now, these laws might not be needed. But there are huge differences in standard of living and travel is cheap. So the citizens of prosperous nation states have no choice but to forcibly keep people out, if they wish to preserve their cultural legacies.

    None of this refutes the libertarian view that regulating borders, by restricting human freedom, is a crime. But that view arises solely upon an unprovable axiom: that the preservation of human liberty is the highest of all moral goods. I don’t know of any society in which this axiom is a cultural norm. On the contrary, it is my impression that respect for national sovereignty is universal (outside libertarian circles, of course). And to the extent that there may be any “wiggle room” in the axiom – any reasonableness test – then I assert that the necessity of regulated borders to sustain national sovereignty, the universal acceptance of that sovereignty, the extraordinary value embodied in the national cultures that it preserves, and the mountains of blood and treasure that human beings have expended over the centuries to create and defend sovereign nation states, all argue strongly that the supposed right of any person to travel to any place must yield to a yet higher good.

    The final part of Dr. Caplan’s challenge is to identify American policies advocated on a citizenism basis that one disagrees with. I’ll take sugar quotas. This is fishing in a barrel and uninstructive. All laws adopted in the United States, at every level of government, are promoted as good for the general welfare. If you’re a liberal citizenist, then you’re likely to deem the Great Society programs, such as Medicare, are great accomplishments. If you’re a conservative, you may think that they are catastrophes, judged on the same basis, namely the general welfare of the citizenry. For that matter, both sides of the current immigration debate argue that their approach is best for the country as a whole.

    Only libertarians argue that advancing the general welfare of the citizenry is the wrong top priority.

    Ken

    1. “…an unprovable axiom: that the preservation of human liberty is the highest of all moral goods. I don’t know of any society in which this axiom is a cultural norm.”

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident,…,that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,…That *to secure these rights*, Governments are instituted among Men” [emphasis added]

      Ah, those crazy libertarian Founding Fathers, founding an entire nation state on the principle that *the* purpose of the nation state was to protect individual liberty…

      1. Those founding fathers followed up 11 years later with a constitution inspired by the ideals expressed in the document you quote. They introduced it with the words (my emphasis):

        “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty TO OURSELVES AND OUR POSTERITY, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

        So it seems that they, too, had a limited view of WHOSE liberty they should and could advance, making them citizenists, too.

        Ken

    2. “The function of a nation state is to defend a culture.”

      Are you telling us the reasons states were formed or are you telling us why states SHOULD exist?

      “None of this refutes the libertarian view that regulating borders, by restricting human freedom, is a crime. But that view arises solely upon an unprovable axiom: that the preservation of human liberty is the highest of all moral goods.”

      No, it doesn’t. In fact, I don’t know of any blogger on this site who holds this view. The typical position among open borders advocates here is that there is a presumption against coercion and in favor of liberty, not that liberty is the only thing that matters.

      “Think of just one, say respect for the rule of law. It is fundamental to the prosperity of millions of people, but far from universal.”

      The rule of law is overrated. What matters is whether the law is harming someone, not whether it’s harming everyone equally. In fact, if a law is harmful, I would hope it would NOT be applied universally so as to limit the number who suffered from it.

      For instance, many have complained about the disproportionate number of blacks who are convicted of drug violations compared to whites. If we cared about the rule of law, we would solve this problem by prosecuting more whites, so that all races are oppressed equally.

      1. Are you telling us the reasons states were formed or are you telling us why states SHOULD exist?

        Neither. I’m describing what I believe to be the central function performed by nation states in the modern world, albeit a function that is in decline in some places.

        “The typical position among open borders advocates here is that there is a presumption against coercion and in favor of liberty, not that liberty is the only thing that matters.”

        Fair enough. My rhetorical strategy takes this position into account. It is designed to place Dr. Caplan on the horns of a dilemma. He can pound the table with an axiom (the absolutist position) that no one believes in, calling that an argument. Or he can advocate a balancing test – as I’m happy to believe that most libertarians advocate – only to see what I consider to be a cubic meter of lead placed as my initial offering on the balance pan.

        As for respect for the rule of law, I think that you characterize it poorly. To me, it concerns the acceptable methods for advancing interests and resolving grievances via government. In societies with respect for rule of law, citizens expect government, especially the courts and bureaucracies, to be impartial among the citizens. I countries without rule of law, they expect governmental power to be exercised largely in response to family, clan, and tribal ties, ethnic and religious solidarity, bribery, and so on.

        Ken

    3. Well, Ken, I think you exaggerate the historic merits of the nation-state, you don’t take keyhole considerations into account, and I’d have some other counter-arguments, but let me just say, I’m impressed. That may have been the best statement of the restrictionist case I’ve seen yet, and it’s particularly polite the way you tailored it directly to Caplan’s argument. I’d characterize you as taking the moral side-constraints line that I advocate in the comment above.

  22. How about more practical arguments here? As we radiate out from our closest interests, our ability to influence matters decreases because the scope of the issues expands π * r2 relative to our individual abilities, while the influence of these matters on our lives is roughly linear. Our lives can be screwed up by a war, or by a guy next door. So we have only so much caring to go around, but collectively, we must care enough for these relationships to be work out at each level all the way out to a global one, or we suffer the consequences.

  23. There seem to be two different types of arguments that citizenists can make and that one should not conflate:

    – It is okay to inflict harm on non-citizens if it benefits citizens.
    – It is okay to inflict harm on non-citizens if it protects citizens from serious harm (e. g. civil war, annihilation, totalitarian rule, a societal breakdown that produces extreme violence and/or poverty, …).

    The first type is utterly frivolous. On an individual level, it would mean that it is okay to steal, rob, enslave, whatever, if it benefits you. It presupposes that other people have lesser rights or no rights at all. Either a citizenist is willing to argue also the last point, or he will have to abandon this type of argument. In this way he would also rid himself of counter-arguments like “why not invade Canada, rob and enslave Canadians, if it benefits us?”

    The second type is trickier because it does not violate moral intuition per se. On the individual level, it would mean something like a right to self-defense. This is not incompatible with granting equal rights to non-citizens. So if non-citizens cause or threaten to cause you serious harm, you may inflict harm in self-defense (e. g. you could stop a dedicated assassin at the border or an invading army). You could try and extend this to a justification for using force against innocent bystanders, at least to a certain degree. Not all non-citizens threaten you, but there may be no other way to prevent a serious harm than hurting them along with those who do.

    You can abandon the first type of arguments without abandoning the second type. Sure, there are lots of problems with them, too, e. g. whether moral intuition on the individual level carries over to the collective level, or how much you may also harm innocent bystanders. But I don’t think you can defeat arguments of type 2 as easily as those of type 1 because the basic argument is sound in that it may justify inflicting harm. Everything hinges, though, on whether an actual situation qualifies as such a situation of self-defense and whether the way you defend yourself is not excessive.

    Himmler seems to make both types of arguments, although mostly it is the second type. He does not justify the actions of the SS via benefits that accrue to Germans. He makes it sound as if there were even a danger that they suffer some harm themselves.

    His main point is that Jews as a race (all of them by their very nature) work to annihilate the “Nordic” or “Aryan race.” So as self-defense it is okay to annihilate them first. Slavs are incapable of doing anything by themselves and hence only have a choice between Jewish masters, e. g. in the Soviet Union, who will eventually annihilate them, or “decent” German masters who grant them some protection as “human animals”. Since Himmler sees himself engaged in a struggle of life and death, this “protection” does not even rule out working Slavs to death if it serves his agenda of supposed self-defense.

    A citizenist who is willing to make only arguments of the second type could easily dissociate himself from Himmler in at least two ways:

    – He could insist on equal rights also for non-citizens. So he would not have to endorse Himmler’s position on what is okay vis-a-vis Slavs and Jews.
    – And he could point out that Himmler’s case for self-defense is complete fantasy and factually wrong in each of its steps. So he might argue that a position similar to Himmler’s would only follow from citizenism via factual and/or logical errors or under very unrealistic assumptions. Again, he would not have to endorse Himmler’s position vis-a-vis Jews.

    I can’t see how this falls under any of your four points. Maybe the alternatives are not exhaustive.

  24. The obvious point here is that the citizenists show up and reply, “of course we believe in moral side-constraints to citizenism!” And then it’s the same old philosophical and empirical argument about whether freedom of migration should be one of those side constraints.

    1. Theo: citizenists show up and reply, “of course we believe in moral side-constraints to citizenism!”

      That’s silly, characterizing the reasonable limits of a citizen-centric policy as an ad hoc confabulation. Every virtue becomes a vice if sought to an extreme. Balancing competing principles (liberty vs. property) is what makes prudence essential. Moderation in all things.

      See Hansjörg Walther and Joseph Hertzlinger above.

  25. Bryan,

    Wonderful riddle. Took me a week to work through it. I really enjoyed the exercise. Here is the solution:

    Correlation is not proof of Causation.

    1. Bryan asked, “Precisely how does Himmler misapply your political philosophy [Citizenism]?”

      Citizenship is a contractual arrangement between individuals wherein each person agrees to a 1) non-aggression towards other members and 2) common defense when other members are threatened. The point of such a contract is to reduce the risk of injury and death for each member of society. As a practical matter, this type of arrangement works so well that there are very few people in the world who are not party to an agreement of this nature.

      Most of Himmler’s quote [above] is simply a colorful description of this citizenship-agreement. What is not consistent with the political philosophy of citizenship, however, is his statement, “Whatever is available to us in good blood of our type, we will take for ourselves, that is, we will steal their children and bring them up with us, if necessary.”

      It goes without saying that stealing anything—particularly children—from another citizen is forbidden by the societal contract because it causes harm—which invokes the common defense pact. On the other hand, stealing from someone who is not a citizen is not forbidden by the contract, since—by definition—that person is not party to the contract. However [and this is the key point] the fact that the societal-contract is not activated when injury is caused to people who are outside of society is NOT THE SAME as saying the societal-contract encourages or justifies injury to people outside of society. In fact, aggression towards other people, whether they are in the society or outside it, generally increases the risk of injury and death to people in the society, especially the ones who are committing the aggressive acts. That increase in the risk of injury and death violates the spirit of the citizenship-pact, whose sole purpose was to minimize those risks. So, if anything, the political philosophy of citizenship implicitly OPPOSES AGGRESSION towards people who are not party to its covenants.

      So, my answer to Bryan’s question is that Himmler missapplied the spirit of the societal-contract when his ideas and actions increased the risk of injury and death for German citizens, even though he did not technically violate the covenants of his societal-contract. Additionally, the fact that he was a Citizen and a genocidal maniac is not the same thing as saying that he was a genocidal maniac BECAUSE he was a Citizen. Correlation is not proof of causation.

      1. Actually, states often prosecute crimes no matter whether the victim is a citizen or not, and even in cases where neither perpetrator nor victim are citizens, at least if the crime occurs under their jurisdiction. Technically, that was even the case in German law when Himmler was speaking.

        So you argue with a social contract that seems to be at odds with typical legal systems. But then social contract theories have their problems (cf. Michael Huemer: The Problem of Political Authority for a thorough critique) and one of the problems is that no one has ever seen what is in the contract.

        Your take seems strange to me apart from that. E. g. the Einsatzgruppen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einsatzgruppen) killed hundreds of thousands in the Soviet Union who were clearly not German citizens. I can’t see how this raised the “risk of injury and death for German citizens”. Hence according to your argument, there should be no problem with it.

        The same would apply to most of Himmler’s other crimes. But then there were often also some victims who were German citizens. But would it have been okay if no German citizens had been killed? According to your argument: yes. Killing people off in a concentration camp does not raise the “risk of injury and death for German citizens” as far as I can see.

        1. “Actually, states often prosecute crimes no matter whether the victim is a citizen or not…”

          I was speaking of citizenship and Himmler, not states–although the relationship between citizenship and states is a very interesting topic.

          “So you argue with a social contract that seems to be at odds with typical legal systems.”

          I humbly disagree. The societal contract is the foundation of any legal system, second only to overwhelming strength through violence.

          “The Einsatzgruppen killed hundreds of thousands in the Soviet Union who were clearly not German citizens. I can’t see how this raised the ‘risk of injury and death for German citizens’.”

          Russia did not sit idly while its people were slaughtered. A World War was ongoing. And that war clearly increased the risk of injury and death for all German Citizens. Consider the bombing of civilians. Consider the death of soldiers.

          “But would it have been okay if no German citizens had been killed?”

          Counterfactual questions are challenging but I believe I can come close to a decent theoretical answer. I think I am correctly reading a moral tone in your question. The societal contract does not exist for moral reasons, it exists to increase the odds of survival. So when you ask if “it would have been okay if no German citizens had been killed?” the answer from the perspective of the societal contract is, “YES. It is more than OK. That is the desired outcome!” But again, this is fantasy. Killing people outside your society–going to War–increases the risk of death for everyone within your society and is only, therefore, justified under the societal contract if the risks produced by war are smaller than the risk averted by war. Arguing for war using the societal contract as justification is a difficult case to make. It is a very large hurdle.

          Hansjörg, I am flattered by our reply and questions. Your other posts on this page demonstrate you have a vibrant mind. I hope my answers were helpful.

          1. Your claim is that the social contract does not include provisions to safeguard rights of non-citizens unless not doing so endangers citizens. Legal systems regularly do this, so they are at odds with your supposed version of the social contract.

            The Einsatzgruppen were not part of the military effort. They moved into occupied areas, rounded up Jews and killed them. This did not change anything about the Soviet Union wanting to defeat Germany. So according to your argument it should be in keeping with the social contract.

            My question about Himmler’s other crimes is not so counterfactual. There were just about half a million Jewish Germans, so obviously most of those killed were non-citizens, and that was not part of the war effort either. I just took the Einsatzgruppen as an example because there it was practically only non-citizens.

            All I am trying to say is that if you try to draw the line here, then I cannot really see how you dissociate yourself from Himmler’s logic. Maybe something else will work.

            1. “Your claim is that the social contract does not include provisions to safeguard rights of non-citizens unless not doing so endangers citizens.”

              Correct. Non-Citizens are not part of the contract. The social contract has nothing to say about them unless they are a threat.

              “Legal systems regularly do this, so they are at odds with your supposed version of the social contract.”

              Again, you are confusing the social contract with the legal system. They are not the same, exactly. Think of the social contract as the foundation of a house, and the legal system as the house. The house can take any shape it wants over the foundation. It can even deviate from the confines of the foundation. So the shape the house takes does not necessarily reveal anything about the shape of the foundation, but the stability of the house over time reveals much.

              “The Einsatzgruppen were not part of the military effort.”

              That does not matter. The social contract is not a military construct. It involves soldiers and citizens alike.

              “They [The Einsatzgruppen] moved into occupied areas, rounded up Jews and killed them…So according to your argument it should be in keeping with the social contract.”

              Assuming the Jews offered no resistance and they were not German citizens, your example does not violate the German social contract. As such, you would not expect many, or any, German citizens to rise up and violently oppose the actions of the Einsatzgruppen.

              “All I am trying to say is that if you try to draw the line here, then I cannot really see how you dissociate yourself from Himmler’s logic.”

              Himmler’s logic was flawed. Making a case for war an aggressive war using the social contract as justification is a very difficult task. In my opinion he failed miserably. Many Germans thought differently. Many Germans died.

              1. Just for the record: I am not a party to such a social contract if it exists.

                If I understand you correctly, there is really no problem with Himmler’s argument from a citizenist perspective, at least in your version. I refer to the argument that Bryan Caplan quoted in his post (not some others, e. g. about starting an _unsuccessful_ war of aggression).

                Himmler’s argument is that if it a tank ditch yields a benefit to Germans, anything goes, e. g. working Russian women and children to death. Working the women and children to death does not raise the “risk of injury and death for German citizens” as far as I can see. So you would have to be okay with it. Since not having the tank ditch would arguably raise the “risk of injury and death for German citizens”, it would even be sanctioned by the social contract or Himmler would be in breach of it.

                I thought the conclusion would go against moral intuition that something is wrong here. And so I thought you would want to change your argument so that it does not lead to such a conclusion.

                1. “Just for the record: I am not a party to such a social contract if it exists.”

                  All right, perhaps I made an error. But before I submit, answer the following questions:

                  1) If a small part of your country–not the part in which you live–is attacked by an outside force, will you join with your countrymen to forcibly repel the invaders?
                  2) If a small part of your country–the part in which you live–is attacked by an outside force, would you expect your countrymen to join you to forcibly repel the invaders?
                  3) If an outside force attacks a small part of a different country–perhaps China–how would you and your countrymen react?
                  4) If someone yells for help and you hear their cry, would you stop what you are doing to aid them? What if there was some risk to you in providing that aid? And would you expect payment for the services you provided?
                  5) If you had great need and yelled for help, would you anticipate someone would answer your call? Do you think they would expect some kind of payment for their service?
                  6) Does the pattern of your answers suggest and understanding between you and your countrymen that is not present between you and foreigners?
                  7) Does the pattern of your answers hint at a mutual covenant against harm and an expectation of unified response to harm between you and your countrymen?

                  “If I understand you correctly, there is really no problem with Himmler’s argument from a citizenist perspective.”

                  NO! The Social Contract has very specific and limited duties. 1) Do not harm other citizens. 2) Assist other Citizens who experience harm. That’s it. It says nothing about killing women and children in other societies, for any reason. No one would agree to it if it did.

                  Himmler did not understand citizenship. He thought citizenship meant a duty to advance the goals of his society over those of other societies. That is not a “citizenist perspective.” That is a genocidal perspective spoken by a man who happens to be a German citizen.

                  “Since not having the tank ditch would arguably raise the ‘risk of injury and death for German citizens’, it would even be sanctioned by the social contract or Himmler would be in breach of it. Working the women and children to death does not raise the “risk of injury and death for German citizens” as far as I can see.”

                  The social contract requires citizens to assist each other when any member of society experiences threat of harm. So, according to the terms of the contract, if a ditch needs dug, the threatened citizen and his fellow citizens will dig it together. The contract says nothing about using slave labor to satisfy contractual duties.

                  1. 1) If a small part of your country–not the part in which you live–is attacked by an outside force, will you join with your countrymen to forcibly repel the invaders?

                    – I’d think that self-defense is justified and also helping someone with his self-defense (citizen or non-citizen). Whether this is the best way to proceed depends on circumstances.

                    2) If a small part of your country–the part in which you live–is attacked by an outside force, would you expect your countrymen to join you to forcibly repel the invaders?

                    – It depends on the meaning of “expect”: what I think is likely or what I think they should feel obliged to do or what I think I am entitled to force them to. As to the first, probably they will (hard to say without any context). As to the second, probably I’d think they should feel obliged (again hard without specifics). As to the third, prima facie no. But maybe you can defend a draft under certain circumstances.

                    3) If an outside force attacks a small part of a different country–perhaps China–how would you and your countrymen react?

                    – There is no difference here: self-defense is justified, so is helping someone with his self-defense. Whether it is the best way depends on circumstances. Likewise for whether others will probably join in.or feel an obligation. As for drafting them, prima facie no, perhaps under certain circumstances.

                    4) If someone yells for help and you hear their cry, would you stop what you are doing to aid them? What if there was some risk to you in providing that aid? And would you expect payment for the services you provided?

                    – Probably I would help, I’d probably also feel obliged to help if this involves risks that are low or even minimal compared to what I can effect. No, I would not expect payment (expect in the sense of having a right to force them), maybe I might find it becoming (expect in the sense of: they should feel obliged, but I don’t have a claim on them).

                    5) If you had great need and yelled for help, would you anticipate someone would answer your call? Do you think they would expect some kind of payment for their service?

                    – Probably someone would help although I would not be sure. I would be grateful and would feel obliged to compensate them for costs and do also some good for them, I don’t think they would have a claim in the strict sense. I’d feel ungrateful if I failed to do something for them or at least offered to do so. If your question is whether I’d expect other citizens to help more, I would not mind, but Samaritans don’t have to be citizens, I guess.

                    6) Does the pattern of your answers suggest and understanding between you and your countrymen that is not present between you and foreigners?

                    – I’d be honest enough to admit that I’d find many things easier to do for people I like and maybe also on an instinctual level for people who are more like me (whether citizens or not). But in principle, all my answers do not differentiate between citizens or non-citizens or any other in- or out-group.

                    7) Does the pattern of your answers hint at a mutual covenant against harm and an expectation of unified response to harm between you and your countrymen?

                    – No, as my answers are the same for any in- or out-group. I don’t know what you want to get at. There is no inconsistency in my answers that would limit them to some in-group.

                    If your thrust is whether I believe there are groups of people who feel more solidarity with each other than with others: I guess that is a fact of life. But from this fact you can get to no “ought”.

                2. I think, in summary, that in order to answer Bryan’s question we must first understand what is meant by the word “Citizenism”. I provided a definition, defended it, and described how its logical consequences are different from those prescribed by Himmler. If you have a different understanding of Citizenship, please define it. Better yet, ask Bryan to define what he meant by the term. (He has funny habit of leaving such essential-elements out of his arguments.)

                  1. I agree that the term citizenism is somewhat obscure. But my understanding is that it means that only current citizens count, and that the interests of non-citizens do not enter into any considerations qua citizenism (you might add constraints to citizenism, but that is something that comes on top and does not follow from it).

                    I’d say that your definition is in keeping with this. There are only obligations of citizens towards other citizens. You can do whatever you like with non-citizens, unless there is some blowback for citizens.

                    Maybe this is repetitive, but according to your definition Himmler is justified in what he wants to do (work Russian women and children to death) because there is no blowback for German citizens.

                    And you could even argue that there would be some blowback for German citizens if he did not proceed in this way, and so he might even be obliged by citizenism to work the children and women to death. (He may be factually wrong about his assumptions, but I find it rather obvious that working the women and children to death will not harm German citizens, and having no tank ditch might do so.)

                    I have to agree with Bryan Caplan that this is, to put it mildly, a very unappealing consequence of citizenism thus defined.

                    Maybe some other definition avoids such a conclusion. I made a suggestion that you could possibly get around such ugly consequences if you throw out the part “It is okay to inflict harm on non-citizens if it benefits citizens” where it amount to something like robbery, theft, etc., and allow only to inflict harm if it is some type of self-defense Of course, working the Russian women and children to death is not some sort of self-defense, so Himmler would violate such a condition with his argument.

                    (I realize that my original version of the argument was not good enough. But then why am I defending citizenism anyway? ;-).

  26. I’d say this:

    Governments have a fiduciary duty to advance their current citizens interests. However, that does not give the government any particular power over non-citizens. Governments should behave like corporations – they shouldn’t be “above the law”, they should just implement the law.

    I think this gets to the root of why unlimited immigration is seen as bad in a democracy – people move in, and then vote to transfer assets from the previous citizens to the new citizens. Of course, empirically the evidence of this is weak at best – but if you eliminated that possibility, I suspect most people would be for unlimited immigration.

  27. The weak link is to first prove something for a small-scale example (real or hypothetical with realistic assumptions) and then jump to large-scale examples (the US, the EU) under current conditions as if you had proved it for those examples as well. (See also my reply to one of your other comments further up.)

  28. I’m not seeing how Himmler’s words equate to citizenism when he says:

    “For the SS Man, one principle must apply absolutely: we must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood, and to no one else.”

    Citizenism, as Sailer describes it, is a form of civic nationalism, as opposed to the ethnonationalism Nazis advocated:

    “My starting point in analyzing policies is: “What is in the best overall interests of the current citizens of the United States?”

    In contrast, so many others think in terms of: “What is in the best interest of my: identity group / race / ethnicity / religion / bank account / class / ideology / clique / gender / sexual orientation / party / and/or personal feelings of moral superiority?””

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