2014-02-13

Open Borders Critics: Mostly Just Annoyed

I.
More fodder from the "meh" files:
Why don’t you see that you can put forth a case for a policy change without going the extra mile of insisting that your preferred policy is *required* due to ‘rights’ and (therefore) that other people are *invalid* for disagreeing?
II.
OpenBorders.info is one of the most comprehensive single-issue websites I have ever seen in my life. The quality of that website is the main reason I chose to respond to one of their calls for guest- and occasional-bloggers. The depth of information there is truly astounding.

What sets OpenBorders.info apart from most other websites of its kind is that it is not merely an advocacy blog. Beyond the blog, it is essentially an immigration wiki, offering moral, practical, "second-order," and country-specific arguments for immigration. The arguments covered are not merely the arguments posed by the website's bloggers; as I said, the website functions as a sort of wiki for all known arguments in favor of immigration, categorized and annotated.

But wait, there's more. In addition to the four categories of arguments in favor of open immigration, OpenBorders.info also offers five categories of arguments against open immigration: harms, more harms, harms (theoretical bases), other practical objections, and theoretical objections.

If you've been keeping score, that means the website covers objections to open borders as thoroughly or more so than it covers arguments in favor. And as well it should: understanding people's objections is an important part of effective advocacy and intellectual rigor.

So claims to the effect that open borders advocates are "deceitful" or "dishonest" ("intellectually dishonest") or that open borders advocates refuse to address the criticisms of others are not just untenable, they are preposterous.

III.
Which brings me to the topic at hand. What bothers critics of open borders, such as AnonySonic or "Christopher Chang," is not the many overwhelmingly good arguments in favor of open immigration, but simply that they find a few such arguments irritating. As Chang writes:
Asserting that open borders are a moral imperative is much more specific, and among other things, condemns everyone (including myself) who honestly believes that letting countries voluntarily set border policies achieves better outcomes for practically everyone than forcing them all open immediately as evil.
The idea that it might be completely immoral to bar immigrants from improving their lives using a means that has proven benefits to you, and minimal costs, irritates the critics because they can't respond to it. Instead, they recede into the usual send-up of abstract philosophical reasoning around property rights and the state of nature, and whether this aggregates up to the state level, and whether it implies that if we open the borders we have to disband the army and lolz, lolwut, wtf, bahaha, etc...

One of the reasons open borders advocates make such a hobby horse out of the moral case is that it is completely irrefutable. There is no good argument against the moral case. And because restrictionists understand this, they become irritated and say, "It's not fair! It's not honest! It's not reasonable!"

But of course it is. If it's fair to let refugees die in a boat thanks to border restrictions, then it's perfectly fair to condemn those who defend such practices. I won't call them evil, but I will call them misguided to the point of having questionable morals.

If they find that irritating, I can live with that.

Housekeeping: I'm adding an "Immigration" label.