Will Wilkinson recently wrote A Libertarian’s Lament: Why Ron Paul Is an Embarrassment to the Creed. I rarely read him, but here are my thoughts…
First, he goes after Paul on immigration. As far as I know, Paul seems to oppose free immigration with modern state citizenship for now because of state interventionism in other areas, such as welfare, education, infrastructure and so on, and because he seems to have some exaggerated and unfortunate affection for the Constitution and the like. While admittedly not the supreme consideration of a libertarian, the reality is that the Constitution says that the federal government has power in regards to naturalization, which isn’t the same as immigration.
Interestingly enough, and thankfully, Paul says that he would pardon non-violent drug offenders from unjust legislation that criminalized their choices as consumers, yet he says “illegal” immigrants shouldn’t be “rewarded” for acting in the face of the unjust state interference with and against international labor mobility. Perhaps he has a point about citizenship, but it is unfortunate that as far as I can tell he doesn’t defend the immigrants as workers and such. The citizenship and immigration issues are not one and the same.
Anyways, I don’t think the consistent libertarian answer can be the maintenance or expansion of immigration restrictions until other state interventions are removed. It must be simply the weakening or removal of interventions when possible. If this is not the case it is troublesome for other libertarian positions. Though, granted, one set of series of weakening and repeals can perhaps be superior to another similar to how all tax cuts aren’t equal.
Second, Will Wilkinson is right that the state in America has committed grave crimes against blacks and Indians. Yet it also goes far beyond them because it has also aggressed to a horrifying extent against Confederates, Filipinos, Germans, Japanese, Vietnamese, Iraqis, and so on with warfare, but also white Americans and the rest of them with forced segregation and desegregation, taxation, bailouts, conscription, vice prohibitions, and so on, and basically everyone in the world with international barriers. Of course, the other states are guilty as well.
Third, I think Wilkinson is wrong to focus on coercion. My libertarian understanding is opposition to aggression, the initiation and continuation of unjustified violence. He is right to say that it is justifiable to commit violence against an aggressor in defense of property and self. He is wrong in claiming that it is morally permissible for a person or group to initiate violence against non-aggressors so that they have the resources to defend property and self against other aggressors. Robbery is a crime even in the pursuit of justice, and taxation is mass robbery. Of course, the state in America is far from minimalist anyways.
Fourth, he tries to justify the mass robbery that is taxation by saying poor kids benefit from it. I think the state has been aggressing against them too and making them worse off. The taxation and programs he defends deprives people of their property and discourages greater production, while the spending is wasteful and encourages dependency and corruption. It helps the state to sustain and farther expand and further concentrate the power that is denying the marginal person opportunities in the economy. Indeed, even the involvement of the state in education is a great crime against children, young adults and their families.
Basically, I think libertarianism is most prominently in opposition to the privilege of the state: the idea that state aggression is protected by a moral loophole. Unfortunately, the crime and horrors of states are not unique to America. Indeed, the states of the world are the most prominent criminals.
Reparations are effectively owed to all others and yet the funds from taxation, the claims to lands and so on aren’t the legitimate property of the various states. I don’t think the libertarian answer can be to defend the statist solution of further tainting property claims and social relations by continuing their horrible cycle of interventionism. It must surely be opposed to the interventionism of the federal government.
In this regard, perhaps Ron Paul has his flaws, but it seems to me he is easily a relatively strong libertarian on taxation, war, drugs, money and banking, the right to discriminate, and probably more. In my opinion, Paul is a much stronger libertarian than Wilkinson thinks. As well, Wilkinson has less libertarian ground to stand on than he realizes.