This is a personal statement by Paul Crider (written by him in first person), one of the regular bloggers for the Open Borders website. For all blog posts by Paul Crider, see here. For the overall site story, see here.
History of attitude to open borders
When and how I became as passionate as I am for open migration is unclear to me. Growing up in Oklahoma in the 1990s, most of what I heard about immigrants, always “The Mexicans”, was from my family and it was mostly the refrain “I don’t mind if they come over here as long as they work and don’t just sit on welfare.” The implication was that they did indeed “just sit on welfare”. I don’t remember taking this belief especially to heart though.
The first time I remember thinking about immigration specifically was on some iteration of the Libertarian Party’s World’s Smallest Political Quiz. This was during high school, after I read Atlas Shrugged and was thus immersing myself in libertarianism. My teenage, fresh-from-Rand, nuance-free libertarianism found the question of open borders obvious: It’s totally a violation of the Non-Aggression Principle! Still, it wasn’t an issue I was particularly exercised about.
While a lot of my libertarianism and my confidence in specific positions didn’t survive graduate school (an environment where everyone seemed to be smarter than me), my belief in open borders strengthened and came to the
fore of my concerns. Maybe this was because I started meeting so many foreigners, some of whom became close friends. I certainly started traveling more internationally and appreciated the experience of different cultures. But I also started reading Will Wilkinson and Kerry Howley and the writers of Reason, who don’t just blandly and technocratically favor immigration, but enthusiastically embrace open borders as an ideal. Then I started seeking out other writers and social scientists who advocated open borders and I consumed them like candy (Bryan Caplan, Michael Clemens, Lant Pritchett, and Michael Huemer come to mind).
Current philosophy of open borders
The bedrock of my position on open borders is cosmopolitanism, the belief that all human beings are worthy of equal moral consideration on account of their humanity alone. My cosmopolitanism is fleshed out by bleeding heart libertarianism, ethical intuitionism, and empiricism. I ultimately want to see a world of human flourishing, in which every human being brought into existence has an excellent chance at having a long, prosperous life, autonomously led by each individual’s vision what “the good life” means. Everything I understand about open borders suggests that this is one engine by which this eschaton can be immanentized.
Agenda for open borders, the website and the cause
I think history has shown that moral progress is possible, at least in certain auspicious circumstances. And this moral progress has included an expansion of who we consider worthy of moral consideration. I think it’s possible to further this advance in the direction of cosmopolitanism, including open borders (along with things like less hostile foreign policies). With Open Borders: The Case, I want to explore the ways this goal can be advanced, through rhetorical strategies, coalition building, and so on.