Border-Line Madness: The Art of Not Being Boxed In
By Sterlin Lujan and Daniel Hawkins.
As American bombs ravage the Middle East, terrorists initiate counterattacks, and whole nations descend into a desperate wild panic, some “anarchists” and “libertarians” have responded by reverting to their Statist and neo-conservative roots. In the roar and clamor of the explosions, these libertarians seem to have gone borderline mad over border lines.
They now vie for governments to protect and guard imaginary borders. They advocate State intervention under the pretense that “refugees” will come in and instigate more controls, more welfarism, and more Statism. This is an ironic alarmist position because it sacrifices principle and consistency for government expediency. Christopher Cantwell summed up the neo-conservative or anarcho-alarmist stance in his article Libertarianism is not a Suicide Pact:
“The fact that lawbreaking foreigners from socialist, communist, and theocratic civilizations will vote for candidates and policies wholly destructive to liberty matters not. Democracy is illegitimate, so consequences be damned. The fact that they will in large part find themselves on the welfare rolls matters not.”
Anarcho-Statist arguments like Cantwell’s assume that anarchists want the State to take care of refugees and pay their housing and living arrangements. This is a straw man argument. The pro-refugee position is a pro-people position: anyone should be allowed to move freely across landmasses, and that the initiation of force against people walking across imaginary lines is immoral and anti-humanitarian.
Borders do not exist. They never have. All that exists are people with guns trying to prevent other people from traveling. But once refugees arrive in certain regions, they should not be aided or funded by governments via tax extortion either. No anarchist argues that refugees should receive any special treatment from the State. No anarchist suggests that refugees should be “imported” by governments. Anyone who argues these positions are simply not anarchists.
The anarcho-Statists ultimately contend using border control as a strategy to create more freedom. However, using the State to violently stop people from entering certain regions in land is the opposite of engendering freedom. One does not use government force against people seeking refuge and imagine themselves as protectors and defenders of liberty. This is utter hypocrisy.
There is also this idea that the Syrians coming into the “United States” might be Jihadists prepared to blow more innocent civilians to smithereens. The facts do not support this conclusion. The majority of refugees are people who have been persecuted by ISIS/Daesh, like Shia Muslims, Kurds, Yazidis, Druze, and Christians. They do not pose a significant threat. Even if they did, the American government is employing an Orwellian vetting program before letting a single person through, which could take two years for approval (that is not to say that anarchists support this). It is also good to keep in mind one fact: refugees did not incite the attacks in Paris. The attackers were European nationals, with the possible exception of one.
Russel Berman from The Atlantic cited some telling statistics on the history of refugee terrorist violence:
“In the 14 years since September 11, 2001, the United States has resettled 784,000 refugees from around the world, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank. And within that population, three people have been arrested for activities related to terrorism. None of them were close to executing an attack inside the U.S., and two of the men were caught trying to leave the country to join terrorist groups overseas…”
Berman’s statistics illustrate that refugees are usually harmless people seeking aid, support, and assistance after being bombed by both terrorists as well as U.S and European forces. They are just people, like everyone else, trying to make their way in life and survive. They are not wild eyed murderers, ready to kill westerners on sight. To believe that is to believe unfounded propaganda.
By succumbing to this fear and paranoia, a few self-professed “anarchists” and “libertarians” are playing into the hands of both sides of the conflict.
On one hand, it is not hard to see how the Paris attacks will factor into the political agenda of the United States government and the governments of Europe. The corpses were not even in the ground before pundits started blaming Edward Snowden and cryptography for the attacks. By playing up the danger of terrorists hiding among the population, governments can take advantage of a real tragedy and encourage millions of people into voluntarily surrendering their invaluable freedom for the sake of security. Is that what some anarchists want? More security and controls?
On the other hand, Daesh looks on with glee as Americans and European spit venomous rhetoric toward Muslims. As with civilian casualties from drone strikes, Daesh takes advantage of emotional trauma experienced by Muslims both in the Middle East and in the West. Some candidates have suggested mandatory registries and identification for Muslims, others suggesting only Christian refugees should be allowed.
Daesh wants to divide the world into their Caliphate, their burgeoning Islamic State, versus the secularized Christian world. The more Muslims feel undue hatred, the more they will turn to violence as a response. So why would so-called anarchists seek to further incense Muslims and terrorists for the sake of “liberty,” when it will cause less liberty and more causalities?
Anarchists are not neo-conservative Statists, yet that is the philosophy many of them are adopting by arguing for border security. But this position is a logical impossibility. Countries are not property of individuals. Countries are just landmasses put into symbolic form by tyrannical megalomaniacs. They are not individual pieces of property you and I own. They are delineations on maps created by a small group of domestic terrorists called politicians. Thus, anarchists cannot and will not support border control. It is antithetical to the philosophy of freedom.
Even more important than that, anarchism is a philosophy of compassion and peace, and wanting to use government to stop downtrodden people from moving across geographies undermines the philosophy. It sacrifices the love and compassion instilled by the anarchist drive for peace. Instead, it causes borderline madness.
Sterlin Lujan is a professional writer, editor, research assistant, and aspiring counseling psychologist. He runs the psychologic-anarchist.com and writes for The Art of Not Being Governed, HER Magazine, and has written a peer reviewed scholarly article for the International Journal of Reality Therapy. You can find him here: psychologic anarchist.