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Open borders – some notes

I never get time to write properly on most issues of interest. This is one of them. I wrote something here on this blog in 2013. Then there was a debate in 2014. Since then I never got time to sit down and review – so I could further elaborate. I’m now going to start these ‘half-baked’ blog posts which contain preliminary thoughts – so I can keep moving.

My FB post of 20 March 2014


I totally oppose open borders since the people who pay taxes for running a particular nation are entitled to decide how these should be used, not those who haven’t paid for them. For a theory of freedom kindly read DOF ( There is NO freedom without a strong state.

Economic migration always moves from a place of lower public infrastructure to higher. There are no rights to millions of people who have chosen to create unfree and poor societies to get access to higher quality public infrastructure, justice system or security. The more free societies can, however, CHOOSE whom they want. At a minimum the entrants should be both personally capable and committed to liberty.

I was informed that Hayek supported open borders. I wasn’t aware of this. I have found, now, that he OPPOSED open borders, as well:

“in a letter to the London Times on February 11, 1978, Professor Friedrich A. Hayek—himself an immigrant several times in his life—praised the British Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher for her call for stringent immigration controls. “While I look forward, as an ultimate ideal, to a state of affairs in which national boundaries have ceased to be obstacles to the free movement of men,” Hayek declared, “I believe that within any period with which we can now be concerned, any attempt to realize it would lead to a revival of strong nationalist sentiments.” [Source:].

Once nations have ALL adopted 100 per cent freedom, THEN open borders can make sense, under certain circumstances. Not in the present primitive state where 1/3rd of the world is FANATICALLY opposed to liberty.

Shika Dalmia Sood’s response:

Pardon me, Sanjeev, I admire your positions on many issues, but you are flat out wrong in identifying this as classical liberalism. If the best you could do is pluck out a single quote by Hayek from a piece that is arguing the opposite, then that’s just tendentious. That quote is noteworthy only because it comes from a guy whose full views would lead one to believe otherwise. If Malthus had said it, it would be hardly reportable. I have zero desire to argue with you given your starting point in all of this, but by your logic Bal Thackeray, who advocated even stronger nationalism and restrictionism within his own country in the name of Maharashtran pride, would be an even bigger classical liberal. If Modi used the strong arm of the state to throw Muslims out of India because they are anti-freedom, that would be completely defensible in your version of classical liberalism. Classical liberals also never use the vocabulary of “strong” state. They use limited government which is something vastly different. That you don’t appreciate the difference says something and is at the heart of your misunderstanding. To suggest that Muslims by virtue of living in Muslim countries are not entitled tofreedom of movement and earn a decent livelihood, is both sad and not classical liberal. Also, if the fact that people from less free countries shound’t be allowed to move to more free countries, then I’m not sure how an Indian like yourself is entitled to move to Australia, but not a Pakistani. The government can restrict entry of people if it can prove that they pose a security threat. Not otherwise. But the burden of proof must be on the government. To recommend, as you do, blanket bans on some people is closer to Modi-style fascism. Please reconsider your misguided crusade to label such views as classical liberal. You are not doing anyone any favors. There are plenty of other thinkers you can legitimately enlist on your side. Leave these guys alone. If you are genuinely interested in what they thought on this issue, there is plenty of material on the site I shared and Cato Institute archives. (von Mises’ opus Liberalism had plenty to say on this as did Hayek in places too numerous to mention with the exception of this one. And here too he mentions it as an exception to his full views


Shikha, the classical liberal school of thought is based on strong foundations of the state. It is NOT an anarchist school, as I’ve repeatedly explained. What you are suggesting is a version of anarchy, where people can randomly move from country to country without any check. Labour mobility is important and I’ve written about it. But it is not the same as open borders.

Clearly you’ve not bothered to read the book reference I gave you, for it elaborates how liberty begins and is supported. The territory is the key.

Kindly don’t mix my views randomly with those of bigots and fanatics. If you had cared to read and understand, you’d never even remotely suggest such a thing.

I have already said a LOT on this and may say some more on this. However, the view you are advocating is best described as libertarian. I’m NOT a libertarian. My liberalism is rooted in Hobbes and Locke, and Burke. These are NOT libertarians.

I do write about the ultimate dissolution of the state, as well. But that stage is far, very far away. Till there is 100 per cent equal freedom in all nations, we MUST have borders

Shikha’s response:

I AM NOT SUGGESTING ANARCHY. I am suggesting limited government which a state that is empowered to impose freedom litmus tests is not. Gotta run.

My response:

Open border is a form of anarchy. There is basically no state, for anyone can come and go. MILLIONS of beggars from all over the world will land up and one can’t thrown them out. No preference is given to those who have paid taxes and worked hard to make a state a state.

Israel would be overwhelmed by foreign migrations, and the massive efforts of its citizens to achieve a free prosperous society totally nullified.

I disagree with such anarchy. Your denial of this as anarchy doesn’t mean it is not so. It has all the key signs of anarchy under the present circumstances

My FB comment April 2014

SECOND CLASS CITIZENS? THAT’S THE BEST AN OPEN-BORDER DEBATE PROMOTES? The whole idea is fundamentally flawed, and time permitting I’ll one day write about it.
“We don’t have to give foreigners welfare or let them vote.” – see: Bryan Caplans post here.


Open borders comment by Cameron K Murray here:

It allows supporters to pretend that the borders of private property within a nation are moral, yet the borders between nations are not. Somehow if I am denied, through accident of birth, to make a living from my share of the land in my own country, this is a radically different thing to Alex Tabarrok’s view,where he asks “How can it be moral that through the mere accident of birth some people are imprisoned in countries where their political or geographic institutions prevent them from making a living?”

As I have said before, even the wildest proponents of open borders agree that

“…open borders could not on its own eliminate poverty and that international migration could only help the relatively better off among the global poor”

Then what is it really for?


My summary position: The cost of protecting private property precludes having open borders.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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4 thoughts on “Open borders – some notes
  1. Joyson Fernandes

    The point is simple! People fail to see logic, because they are blinded by internationalism and utopian thinking.

    The citizens own their country, and as such, their elected government is free to decide whether they want to accept migrants, and if so, how many of them and what kind. There is no moral obligation to allow every economic refugee to settle in an advanced country.

  2. Harsha

    As a minarchist my thoughts on open borders is that VISAs should not be denied when there is a employer, govt. need not put additional constraints, limit on number of immigrants etc. etc.

    I also came out of anarcho capitalist libertarians but I am not in favour of strong government.

    Defense and legislature should be the only government bodies, courts and police also private adherent to laws made by legislature. Laws have to be there to provide liberty.

  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    I’m not making a case for a big government or intrusive government. There is even no need to have an employer before an permanent residency visa is granted. The objective can be to meet any specific skill shortage and anyone with such qualification could be brought in – or even anyone with potential. These are details. All that’s being said here is that there can’t be open slather – i.e. anyone going anywhere. A nation that has worked its way through great hardship to establish rule of law, taxes, etc. can’t afford to have these institutions destroyed through reckless immigration.

  4. Foreseeing the Future


    I fully agree with you. Once again, an article demystifying misconceptions about liberty.

    Citizens pay taxes to the govt for their property rights, justice and security. Opening borders entirely will 200% lead to total destruction of their hard work in building up their state. The state has the right whether or not to accept immigrants legally.

    This “open borders across the planet” proposal will make it far easier for miscreants, like say, ISIS, al-Qa’ida and other Islamic fanatics/terrorists, to overrun the planet. DESPITE tight border regulations in advanced nations, they still have Jihad as a major problem. The open borders proposal will most certainly render nations totally defenseless at the face of terror. Forget property rights, even the basic right to live cannot be protected due to the totally inhuman, odious, vile and discriminatory nature of such “migrants”. If in doubt, please take a look at Sweden which has virtually collapsed due to the “open borders policy” followed by successive governments there since the 1980s and is in the state of semi-anarchy. Congratulations Shikha Sood, here’s a preview of how a nation you propose looks like…. in reality.

    On your statement: “Not in the present primitive state where 1/3rd of the world is FANATICALLY opposed to liberty.”

    Is it 1/3rd or more? Adding Russia, Africa, Latin America, and almost all Asian countries (except Singapore, South Korea and Japan, to some extent), it might go to around half the planet that’s fanatically opposed to liberty (Islamic Asian and African nations and China, Philippines, Viet Nam, Myanmar, etc.). Open borders is a pipe-dream of some dreamers. Nah, it’s utterly impossible.



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