A Nation is Not the Same Thing as a State

The problem with states is that the individuals who control them are the ultimate arbiters of all conflicts, even ones which they themselves provoke. The purpose of the state is to monopolize ultimate control of private property by any means necessary. If a nation doesn’t have a state — that is to say, a territorial monopolist of taxation and ultimate decision making — that nation’s property owners are free to potentially use their resources in a way that maximizes the utility of each resource, and by extension, the productivity, liberty, and prosperity of the people in the nation.

If they’re smart enough to do so, anyway.

When a nation DOES have a state, the individuals who control it blame the nation — i.e., the very people over whom they rule — for the problems caused by the state’s intervention with the nation. Democracy exacerbates the severity of this problem because it gives people who don’t provide value to others an opportunity to anonymously take from others. This subverts meritocracy thus creating a race to the bottom. Term limits further complicate matters by disincenting intergenerational investment while simultaneously incenting pump and dump schemes.

Grab as much as you can while you can, right?

This problem becomes an unmitigated disaster when suffrage is extended to those who are beneficiaries of taxation and to latecomers like immigrants and refugees. Critics might object and say that a nation’s borders are imaginary. However, by even considering whether a nation’s borders should be open or closed and to what degree, one acknowledges that there is a distinct group of people who are the present possessors of the scarce resources within the confines of those borders who subsequently have the best objective claim to said resources. This even applies to so-called “unused” resources like land and state-controlled resources like roads. The people who are forced to fund the current conditions of these resources have the best objective link to them, as well as the right to exclude latecomers (even though the state prohibits them from doing so).

With states, true citizenship is an impossibility. A citizen is someone who owes allegiance in exchange for protection. Expropriating under the auspices of protection is a performative contradiction. Citizens can only exist in stateless nations where there is the capacity to voluntarily enter into mutually consensual protection arrangements. When we talk about citizenship in the context of the state, we are talking about who gets state permission to access resources currently controlled by the state. When state “citizenship” is extended to latecomers, scarce resources are bid away from people with superior property claims and distributed to people with inferior property claims. This is true regardless of whether state-run entitlement programs exist or not.

Most libertarians and anarchists (and pretty much all leftists) therefore have things completely backwards. No, “free movement” is not a human right. No, nationalism and liberty aren’t always mutually exclusive. No, everyone is not equally entitled to the use of the commons just because the current condition thereof is subsidized by theft.

So… yeah. Screw off with the communism already. Political globalization and economic globalization are two different things. The state and its beneficiaries define “free trade” as the former, and they’re desperate to prevent the latter because they don’t want to lose their nice little arrangement by which multinational corporations and banks slice up global markets on their behalf.