Weekly OBAG roundup 12 2014

This is part of a series of weekly posts with the most interesting content from the Open Borders Action Group on Facebook. Do join the group to weigh in on existing discussions or start your own (you might want to read this post before joining).

Thought-provoking general questions or general observations

Discussions of specific historical and current situations


4 thoughts on “Weekly OBAG roundup 12 2014”

  1. Hot tip: the less unrelated controversies people have to wade through in order to get to advocacy of open borders, the stronger advocacy of open borders is. You may sincerely believe that religiously neutral anti- discrimination laws of general applicability expanding public accommodation protection to sexual preference are an unprecedented assault on religious freedom, by why on earth would you make people being comfortable with that claim the admission price for reading your post about liberalized immigration?

    “Open borders isn’t so crazy after all, here’s how it works” beats “here’s 4 things you might think are crazy. Amongst them; open borders!” any day of the week. The contrarians aren’t really the demographic we are targeting.

    1. I have had political debates with Russians who were nostalgic for the Soviet Union and had some sympathy for Stalin. I have had political debates with Muslims who thought Saddam Hussein had the right to do as he liked with his own people (that’s why the West shouldn’t interfere), and took it for granted that all governments should punish cartoonists who draw Muhammad. As someone whose for whom rational argument seems to be a kind of vocation, I feel it is my duty to defend the values of liberal civilization even in the company of the most wicked and amoral interlocutors.

      But I don’t enjoy such debates, nor do I think I learn much from them. I think the most useful political discussions are conducted among, so to speak, “the righteous,” that is, among people who accept a certain liberal creed, taking truth and freedom and civilized decency as fundamentally non-negotiable. Freedom of conscience, above all, is the fundamental liberal value that has distinguished America from the European *ancien regime* that the Pilgrims left behind, and later, from the totalitarian regimes that tormented the 20th century.

      One of the lessons of history is that illiberal values can be reborn in the heart of liberal civilization. This has recently happened in the West. There has arisen in our midst a movement that wants to reinvent marriage by fiat from above, that does not scruple to do so through obviously abusive judicial decisions even when public opinion seems to be moving in their direction (which I find not only sinister but decidedly baffling; why is the gay marriage movement willing to forgo democratic legitimacy when it seems so attainable?) and which does not scruple to violate freedom of conscience by, for example, forcing Christian bakers to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.

      “Why on earth would you make people being comfortable with [freedom of conscience] the admission price for reading your post about liberalized immigration?” I make all kinds of people uncomfortable all the time with my writing, and sometimes I do regret it. But people who think it’s OK to force Christian bakers to serve same-sex weddings are readers I *want* to make uncomfortable. I would be distressed if anything I wrote didn’t leave them with the vague feeling that I’m not on their side. I want them to feel that they’re dealing with the righteous.

      I think this is probably the best advocacy strategy, anyway. It’s a way to signal to readers that open borders isn’t just one more excess by the libertarian fringe, but, on the contrary, is a return to norms of civilized decency that prevailed in the 19th century. I think the most effect advocate for open borders, in the end, will be the Christian church, and I want to make Christian readers feel at home in the cause. But if the price of effective advocacy is to make enemies of freedom of conscience feel comfortable, that’s not a price I can pay. I tell the truth.

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