Thursday, September 19, 2013

Real Independence

Orania is a private town in South Africa.  In contrast to the violence-plagued country that surrounds it, Orania enjoys peace and prosperity.  Its motto is “Working for freedom.”  The town leaders hope one day to become an independent state.  Toward that end, Orania already circulates its own currency, the Ora. 

The people of Orania embody the independence, self-reliance, and love of freedom that libertarians celebrate.  What kind of libertarian wouldn’t? 

Well, some self-described libertarians are ambivalent or even hostile to the notion of proprietary communities.  Libertarian open-borders universalists assert a positive right of anyone to migrate anywhere, while simultaneously claiming to be defenders of property rights.  The existence of private towns such as Orania forces libertarians who assert a positive right to migrate into an ideological dilemma.  Do they seek to impose open immigration into these jurisdictions?  Or do they defend the right of communities to be selective about who gets in?    

Orania's success is tied to its policy of restricting residency to white Afrikaners who meet certain criteria.  Whereas the city of Detroit in the last century saw its white population displaced, its total population decline, its wealth erode, and its crime rate explode under the open borders policy forced on it by the Michigan and U.S. governments, Orania has experienced the opposite (albeit on a smaller scale) -- rising wealth, rising population, and very low crime.   Fortunately for Oranians, the South African constitution explicitly guarantees the freedom of association and disassociation, at least when it comes to establishing residential communities (a freedom U.S. citizens have been denied since the 1964 Civil Rights Act).

The evidence of a town’s high quality of life being tied to its explicit restriction of inflows is a bitter pill to swallow for open-borders universalists.  They tend to be steeped in anti-Racism ideology and hold idealistic egalitarian conceptions of human nature borrowed from the cultural left.  But if they are political libertarians, they must permit Orania to exist, at as long as it remains privately owned.

As of now, Orania exists as a private entity within the context of a state to which Oranians still owe taxes.  But what if Orania moved to secede and become fully independent?
As soon as Orania became a completely self-governing sovereign jurisdiction, it would be sovereign nation, just like the United States.  If all nations are morally obligated to the rest of the world to let in anyone who wants in, then how could Oranians retain their right to be selective? 

Only by remaining part of the socialistic state of South Africa, according to these so-called libertarians.  Because only then could their exercise of their right to exclude people from their property be tolerated.  Once they declare independence, a different set of rules apply – including the one about erecting no barriers to foreign migrants.  An independent Orania would have to bulldoze the fences that formerly served as boundaries and declare itself part of a single world community of people. 

Of course, this isn’t independence at all.  But it’s what the global egalitarian idealists prescribe. Some do so quite consistently in the name of socialism, communism, or communitarianism.  Some do so quite falsely in the name of liberty.

The open-borders prescription carries with it an inherent hostility to the principles of private property.  A propertarian advocate of liberty would not demand that an independent Orania open its doors to the whole world.  Nor would a propertarian advocate of liberty insist that Oranians remain attached to an overbearing state that only tenuously recognizes their property rights.  

If your conception of liberty is grounded in private property rights that fully honor freedom of association and disassociation, then you should endorse full self-determination for private communities.  That means the right of Oranians to exclude people from the state and the surrounding populations from which they seek total separation.  To work against their ambitions of being independent is to work against freedom.


  1. you obviously support Orania right to exclude blacks.

    Orania is protestant christians. Do you support Orania's - or any private families - right to expel homosexuals?

  2. Niggers and faggots are a threat for any society they're living in.

  3. Orania obviously could not exist in the US or Canada due to anti-discrimination laws.

    Conceivably some nations like baltic states Lithuania Latvia Estonia

    Russia is moving to ethnostate + Orthodox religion

    Libertarian Realist is non-religious agnostic/atheist. Orania is explicitly Protestant Christian. Some of the low crime of Orania and low drugs may be due to religion.

    Does Orania have the right to exclude white homosexuals and lesbians?
    What about scaling Orania up to a nation-state like Estonia or Latvia?
    What about a major nation like Russia, Japan, Korea? etc.

    1. Certainly, a private organization may discriminate on any basis it chooses. But I personally wouldn't favor barring homosexuals from my community or nation.

    2. do you favor banning blacks or muslims from your community or nation?

      what distinction do you make between a private organization and a public organization? one can argue an entire nation is a "private organization"

      Right now Orania is indeed a "private organization", but it aspires one day to be a nation. If it does make that transition, is it still a "private organization"

      for example,
      is an ethnonation-state like Russia a "private organization"? Russia has passed anti-gay laws. France has passed anti-burka laws directed at Muslim women.

    3. Once an organization acquires exclusive sovereignty in a geographical area, it is a government.

      I'm for keeping Muslim citizenship seekers out but not throwing people in jail for practicing Islam.

      "There is no contradiction between maximum liberty within a nation and maximum vigilance on the nation's borders. Not only is there no contradiction between the two things, in fact, it may be that the second is a precondition for the first."
      -John Derbyshire

    4. Democratic govt consists of private citizens voting and representing (at least in theory).
      Orania consists of private individuals forming a voluntary community. The idea of Democratic govt is a people of the people, by the people for the people. Orania which you approve of does have pretty strict requirements on language culture political views and religion. And Orania is semi-sovereign.

      So say if Russia private citizens vote for representatives to throw people in jail for practicing Islam, or atheism, and opinion polls clearly show this as the will of the Russian people, and that only Orthodox Russian Church can be practiced in their borders, would you support this? If not how is it different from Orania which have similar requirements?

      for the record I favor an enthnostate solution, and an ethnostate patterned after Orania. Russia seems to be heading in the direction of Orania.

    5. Orania can kick people out for holding views the community disapproves but it can't imprison them. That's the difference.

      No, I wouldn't support a coercive Russian theocracy, no matter how democratic or popular it is.

    6. notagain, what's with your fascination with democracy? Democracy directly contradicts the principles of 'freedom' (not sure how we're defining freedom). Nobody has the 'right' (again not sure how we're defining rights) to tell you what you do with your body or your property.

  4. I don't know if I agree but I thought you'd find this interesting. Watch entire clip.

  5. OK, let's take the position of some libertarians that anyone has a right to move anywhere in the world. How much of this position is the result of these people not currently having to live with the consequences. i.e., it is easy enough to take the alleged moral high ground without having to put one's money where one's mouth is. But could these libertarians (or liberals, or progressives, etc.) survive very long in such a world?

    You make a very good point about Detroit being forced into a de facto open borders situation by the state and feds. With the result that within a generation, Detroit has been turned into a wasteland, right out of Mad Max. Do we see open borders advocates moving there? Or liberals so they can partake in all the joys of diversity and civil rights?

    Of course not.

    Look at how open borders in European countries have led to third worlders spiking crime rates and burning cars, not to mention rioting. How do libertarian open borders advocates plan to deal with this type of situation? Would they be willing to exercise their Right to Bear Arms and shoot the immigrants?

    These are real issues but I suspect they will receive only ideological responses until it is too late to turn back the tide.

    Obviously, I am not coming down on libertarianism per se. The ideal of individual liberty seems to be largely a Western one, and one which makes us great. But too many people seem willing to throw it away just to stand on their soap box.