Monday, May 26, 2008

"Anarchists" for Borders?

The border is a creation of the state, a limit beyond which the state tends not to extend its power. When it does so, it tends to be extraordinary circumstances (war, "extraordinary" rendition, etc.) The state, and its assumed authority, actions, and services stop at the border, the limits of its jurisdiction. Borders define the geographical limits of the state, and are created and enforced by states.

The border is something different from a property line. A property line is a boundary that defines the geographical extent of ownership. Property lines can, and often do, cross political borders. The two concepts are entirely different. I guess all that is obvious to most of us.

Hence it’s quite strange that self-professed "anarcho-capitalist" Walter Block rails against Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, a.k.a. Doctors Without Borders), Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF, a.k.a. Reporters Without Borders), and the like. Is there something objectionable about providing emergency medical help to impoverished refugees, victims of natural disasters, and the like? Is Block doubtful about freedom of the press, or the rights of journalists to write and speak freely without being arrested or killed for doing so? Apparently so.

Block’s real beef seems to be that these groups don’t think state borders should define the limits of press freedom, or where they give medical care to the suffering, and the like. It’s simply bizarre that an alleged anarcho-capitalist libertarian should have such a high regard for the arbitrary divisions that states place on us, and speak out against those who don’t share his regard. Some "anarchist."

Block’s argument continues, and maintains that these organizations, and apparently any that affix "Without Borders" to their name, are inherently associated with "leftish political philosophy in general, and with support for world government in particular." And what is his evidence for this? He continues, "I have a confession to make. There is nary a word, heck, there is not a single solitary explicit indication linking any of these 'Without Borders' groups to the world government philosophy. Nada, not one. But, I am involved here in an exercise in verschtehen (sic), not empirical evidence mongering."

So in other words, he just made it all up. Some "researcher."

*Sigh* ...just one more example of crazy, bilious rambling from the LvMI. Mises rolls in his grave.

You got this one right, Charles. No one is more embarrassing than Block.
Thanks, Greg. I appreciate your comment.
Actually, Block's point is sound. If one seeks to eliminate nation-states and national borders, but not political government, one must, of necessity, be an advocate of a single one-world government. It's one of the intellectual traps in minarchism.

Besides, you couldn't tell that Block was having a bit of fun with the point throughout the article?
Thanks for your comment.

Block's point is not sound. The "sans Frontieres" orgs do not seek to eliminate national borders. I believe MSF was the first to use this name, and the meaning was that they would not restrict their charitable activities; they're willing to go wherever needed.

I'm no minarchist, but this trap isn't much. A minarchist can define borders with respect to jurisdictions of gov'ts; and they needn't apply to non-gov't actors. Alternatively, a minarchist might reasonably advocate a libertarian "one-world government," some sort of federation for example.

As for Block, I believe he is serious in his hatchet-job on MSF, RSF, and the like. These two groups in particular do good work, and do not deserve this attack.
Familiar as I am with Block's writing I'll just say it looks like a piece intended to be funny.
So what is funny about it?
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