November 12, 2012

Bryan Caplan: 3 more challenges to Sailerian citizenism

Last week, Bryan Caplan dredged up an old analogy I had drawn to launch an attack on my notion of citizenism. Bryan wrote:
If you think you're often morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you naturally feel for your children, why aren't you morally obligated to suppress the far milder favoritism you naturally feel for your fellow citizens?

This, by the way, is why I emphasize the notion of the half-full (and thus also half-empty) glass so often. If "you're often morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you naturally feel," you're often not morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you feel. Thus, for example, it's not morally right for America to invade Canada, but it's also not morally wrong for America to keep Mexicans from invading America.

This idea that the glass tends to be part-full and part-empty at the same time isn't some novel insight of mine. Aristotle, for instance, liked to point out that life is full of trade-offs, perfection is unlikely, and the best you can do is some kind of optimum. (Confucius said something like this, too.)

But, I'm a notorious extremist, always going around citing Aristotle, Benjamin Franklin, the Preamble of the Constitution, George Washington's Farewell Address, and other fringe crackpots.

Last week, Bryan got rather badly schooled in his comments section. Now, he's back with three more posts [Update: links fixed]

Immigration, Trespassing, and Socialism




92 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve, did you mean to make links to Caplan's posts at the end of your post? If so, the links are not working.

desert lady said...

the best reason to stop mass immigration is that heterogeneity fragment the unity of the populace. A unified populace is better able to control its own government because the populace share more common interests and therefore are better able to unite and elect and hold accountable elected representatives. The binding culture is stronger. That is why small white nations such as iceland, denmark, sweden et al are the best nations in the history of the world.

Applying the same princple to the USA, allowing mass immigration, especially of nonwhites, de-homogenizes the populace even more than it already is, thereby fragmenting the populace even more and making it even harder for the majority to control the government.

This same principle applies to enlarging political districts--larger districts increase factions, thereby fragmenting the unity of the populace more, making it harder for the people to control the govt.

To improve the USA for its citizens, we should 1) devolve power back to the states as much as possible 2) allow racial segregation in each state 3) devolve as much power back to city and county levels. 4) stop mass immigration.

Steve Sailer said...

"If so, the links are not working."

Thanks.

Links fixed now.

Anonymous said...

Who is this Steve Sailer and why is Bryan Caplan trying to trounce his blog musings?

Is he a tool of the administration?

Will Steve have to resign because of marital infidelity?

Five Daarstens said...

Life is indeed full of tradeoffs, it is really a mark of adolescent thinking that eternal problems in human existence can ever be "solved". Of course the solution often involves social engineering with massive unseen side effects.

I'm just finishing up Roger Kimball's new book "The Fortunes of Permanence" - a great bunch of essays.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have put a bee in his bonnet.

Plus . . . Desert Lady is ridiculously hot, if that's a real picture.

Landru said...

@desert lady

"A unified populace is better able to control its own government because the populace share more common interests and therefore are better able to unite and elect and hold accountable elected representatives"

I agree, that's why I would rather live in a socialist place like Denmark than the current US. I am trying to get my fellow conservatives to realize the benefits of living in a homogeneous place.

Anonymous said...

http://takimag.com/article/petraeus_and_benghazi_a_time_for_truth_patrick_buchanan/print#axzz2ByMtMNWi

bengate

Confucius -> Aristotle -> Sailer said...

I don't think it's quite that grandiose. Caplan has some neat insights from time to time but hasn't put in the legwork toward refuting any sub-viewpoint of the citizenist attitude (which more comprises a bunch of mundane-for-being-overlooked axioms than elements of an airtight ideology, or, a kind of sparse but ultimately coherent revision of familiar mid-century Robert Taft outlook). That is just the charitable way of looking at it, assuming Caplan's equipped to understand the tradition. What to do but throw up one's hands at this:

"would you please name a few examples of citizenist policies that you think go slightly beyond the limits of our moral obligations to outsiders? A few examples of such policies that you think are just barely within those limits? Inquiring minds want to know"

That is just bad-faith badgering. There is no prize to be had for being Mr. Sensitive at the end of this. I don't habitually read Professors of Libertoidism in order for me to educate them. While usually I find you've overrated your originality (and "slightly" exaggerated your power at epater le bourgeois) I wouldn't really say you've ever been opaque or casuistic on matters of moral "policy." Life's short, hopefully someone out there's got nothing better to do & will bring Caplan up to speed.

3 AM dorm room said...

is ridiculously hot, if that's a real picture.

It's a real picture all right. But ever since those Germans "proved" we can prove we're all part of a simulation (source: world of simulated journalism) I've become suddenly doubtful of the truth potential of this lower-order invention, the Internet

Ray Sawhill said...

Bryan Caplan is one of the most annoying people on the internet. A place that isn't exactly short of annoying people ...

Mike Steinberg said...

Quite a good discussion on this site - Chris Chang particularly schools the rather idealistic Chris Hendrix.

http://openborders.info/blog/future-citizens-of-all-kinds/

Anonymous said...

If you think you're often morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you naturally feel for your children ..


Eh? Who thinks that again? He's trying to steal his way to second base. I can imagine some far-fetched hypothetical scenarios where you might be obligated to suppress your natural impulse to favor your children, but it's not something which comes up "often".

For a tenured professor, this guy sure argues like a high-school student.

Chip said...

Steve,

You seem content to deride Caplan for engaging in dorm room sophistry and asking "childish" questions, but citizenism is clearly an ethical proposition and as such it invites critique and delineation. The fiduciary obligation analogy is at least imprecise (as you concede), and I fail to see how repeatedly citing the preamble to the Constitution (or nodding vaguely toward Aristotle and Ben Franklin) adds to a discussion that fundamentally concerns moral obligation. It isn't so difficult to envision (or locate) real-word examples where a bias favoring present citizens (or present family members) diminishes human welfare on net, and if that much is true it seems entirely reasonable to inquire as to why such an ethos is good. If the answer is that the alternative would ultimately and always prove worse, then you need to show your work. If the answer is that human nature is incompatible with universal morality, then it seems especially useful to consider the limits and potential negative consequences of localist morality, if only to minimize the foreseeable downside.

Anonymous said...

If Wall Street robbers got financial amnesty...

you see how this logic works?

GOP's been giving amnesty to globalist thieves. This is just part of the package.

Anonymous said...

Bryan Caplan has aspergers syndrome. You're literally arguing with a retard, Steve.

His argument is

1. sailer is a racist
2. ewww racism
3. (wanders off to suck on his thumb for a while)
4. (is returned to the keyboard by his handlers)
5. citizenism bad

Anonymous said...

How about US gives amnesty to illegals IF Mexico takes in 10 million non-Mexicans and China takes in 100 million non-Chinese?

Anonymous said...

Never mind illegal aliens. We got illegal capitalists, and they are enabling illegal aliens.

Anonymous said...

Bryan Caplan is one of the most annoying people on the internet.


Libertarians as a group tend to be simultaneously not very intelligent and convinced of their own intellectual superiority. It's an annoying combination of traits.

Anonymous said...

Okay, how about this? GOP accepts amnesty but blue states have to take most illegals since blues want them so much. So ship most Mexicans in Texas to Mass and Maine.

gumm said...

Globalist capitalists: "We need access to foreign markets and labor in order to grow the world economy."

Global leftists: "Western capitalist neo-imperialism has impoverished countless people in the Third World, and since Western globalism caused the problem, Third Worlders should be allowed to emigrate to the West for a better life."

Capitalism and leftism working hand in hand in the twisted logic of globalism.

Anonymous said...

Bryan Caplan has aspergers syndrome. You're literally arguing with a retard, Steve.

Aspies are not retards. Get your facts straight. Their IQ levels are average or greater. That explains why really nobody has any sympathy for them. And if aspies, among others, had proper upbringing and education rather than the torture of public schools and normal kids, they might be more patriotic.

Anonymous said...

Why SWPL and SYPL(stuff yellow people like, which is a carbon copy of SWPL) can be understood when we look at NPR and Talk Radio. Hipster liberal News vs Sapster Fox News.

NPR may be dweeby but it invites intellectuals, artists, and etc. It covers world events and shows curiosity in a host of things. And it has an intelligent tone and style(even when it says really dumb things).
Talk Radio is 50% of annoying commercials(mostly about buying gold and avoiding your creditors--now why would there be so many such commercials if conservatives are so financially responsible?) and 50% of big fat slob like Rush talking shit. I have a soft spot for Mark Levin the funny loon(especially his word plays on liberal politicians' names--Diane Frankenfeinstein), but you can't take anything on Talk Radio seriously on any intellectual or cultural level.

Now, most SWPL and SYPL may not be geniuses but they are status seekers and hipster-respect seekers. NPR is supposed to be brainy and smart and stuff like Stewart/Colbert/Maher is supposed to be witty, cool, edgy, and hipsterish.

Also, SWPL and SYPL like to show off by going to modern art museums, art films, fancy haute/hip restaurants, galleries, and etc, and at all those places, the owners, managers, and organizers are liberal, Jewish, or gay.

So, how can the party of Hannity, Beck, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Levin, and Coulter appeal to them?

Even conservatives who wanna be part of the haute urban crowd find themselves wanting to fit into the cool crowd. They change and become SWPL.

Most people wanna be popular, most people wanna be liked. They are not like me who don't give a shit about such stuff.

Another thing. The left accepts the core of real science but perverts them. For example, all libs accept evolution but twist some facts about race.
But many conservatives deny evolution ALTOGETHER.

Even when liberals are really really dumb--as with stuff like feminist theory of evolution--, they make it sound 'smart', at least 'smart' enough to fool a lot of people. And so, libs have the cult of being smart even when they are dumb.

http://feministsforchoice.com/why-do-men-rape-evolutionary-theory-has-the-answer-part-one.htm

Anonymous said...

Bryan Caplan is one of the most annoying people on the internet.

I don't know about annoying but he sure seems the type who, as a kid, was regularly beaten to pulp simply because he was never able to contain his smirking arrogance.

Severn said...

You seem content to deride Caplan for engaging in dorm room sophistry and asking "childish" questions, but citizenism is clearly an ethical proposition and as such it invites critique and delineation.


Lots of big words which don't say much. Citizenism, like many other things (libertarianism, for example) has an ethical dimension. That does not make it an "ethical proposition".

And there's nothing wrong with intelligent critique, but Caplan's tendentious questioning is not that.

That fact that an idea (libertarianism, for example) can lead to various bad outcomes under certain circumstances does not in itself mean that the idea is refuted.


where a bias favoring present citizens (or present family members) diminishes human welfare on net


Chomsky calls himself a "libertarian-socialist". I once though that term was an oxymoron, but the more I learn of libertarians the more I realize that many of them are in fact socialist, and see the redistribution of wealth from Americans to the rest of the world as some sort of moral obligation.

Does a bias favoring the presently wealthy (which is the status of the law in the US) diminish human welfare on net? It probably does. Which simply means that many "libertarians" have successfully argued themselves into becoming full-blown leftists, socialists, redistributionists, committed to maximizing equality above all.

ben tillman said...

If "you're often morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you naturally feel," you're often not morally obligated to suppress the favoritism you feel. Thus, for example, it's not morally right for America to invade Canada, but it's also not morally wrong for America to keep Mexicans from invading America.

That's a sound piece of logic, but I'd prefer to say that you can pursue your self-interest without violating moral rules. That's the point that all of Caplan's inane arguments implicitly reject.

The whole point of morality is to facilitate self-interest. Morality facilitates the interest of the group by mediating conflicts of interest among group members and conflicts of interest between group members and the group as a whole.

The fact that a person or group is self-interested does not imply that he or it will act immorally. Caplan just can't grasp this.

Severn said...

I'd prefer to say that you can pursue your self-interest without violating moral rules. That's the point that all of Caplan's inane arguments implicitly reject.


It's striking that "libertarians" have talked themselves into believing that self-interest is morally wrong. What next - the CPUSA will reject the idea of "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs"?

ben tillman said...

The fiduciary obligation analogy is at least imprecise (as you concede), and I fail to see how repeatedly citing the preamble to the Constitution (or nodding vaguely toward Aristotle and Ben Franklin) adds to a discussion that fundamentally concerns moral obligation.

It is a question of morality, but the DISCUSSION has nothing to do with morality. Caplan has no conception of morality and therefore cannot engage moral arguments.

ben tillman said...

It isn't so difficult to envision (or locate) real-word examples where a bias favoring present citizens (or present family members) diminishes human welfare on net, and if that much is true it seems entirely reasonable to inquire as to why such an ethos is good.

It is impossible to envision what you propose. Advocacy of property equals advocacy of and prosperity and a right to live. Rejection of property equals advocacy of poverty and a right to kill.

You and Caplan reject the notion that people should be allowed to keep the resources they assemble for their own use. Instead, you believe the less-productive should be subsidized by policies that allow them to confiscate the resources of the more-productive.

Utilitarian is a bogus concept that ultimately relies on theological premises, but your prescriptions are a monumental failure even in utilitarian terms.

Even half-assed economists like you and Caplan should be able to grasp that you get more of what you subsidize and less of what you tax, so that if you allow people to take what the productive produce you will have fewer producers and more takers. This means less per capita, especially for people in the future. Oh, the irony!

Anonymous said...

"How about US gives amnesty to illegals IF Mexico takes in 10 million non-Mexicans and China takes in 100 million non-Chinese? "

How about 10 million Republicans move to Mexico? If Mexico acts to deport them, rail about the double standard and use that to argue against amnesty in the US. If Mexico lets them stay, then stay. Start a political party. Turn Mexico into a first world country -- it has plenty of natural resources. Then, build a fence on the border to keep jealous Americans out.

Severn said...

I see that Bill Gates has three children. They're going to gain a great deal of wealth which they had no part in creating. The traditional libertarian position was that estate taxes were wrong, but Capalns critique of the notion that some people could gain an advantage in life merely from an accident of birth has to throw that into serious doubt.

I'm told that its a moral outrage that Joe Smith, the son of a mill worker in Ohio who works in a mill himself, earns more money than a mill worker in Peru or China simply because he was lucky enough to be born in America. Surely it must also be a moral outrage that Bill Gates Junior will never need to work a day in his life simply because of his own accident of birth? Perhaps the correct and "moral" course would be to confiscate all the wealth of the wealthy when they die?

I'd ask these questions over at Caplans blog but with characteristic libertarian hostility to the free movement of ideas, they banned me. If somebody else wants to ask them in my stead, feel free.

Severn said...

Most people wanna be popular, most people wanna be liked. They are not like me who don't give a shit about such stuff.


You're so utterly gutless you won't even give yourself a screen name. Spare me your self-indulgent fantasies in which you play a heroic role.

ben tillman said...

If the answer is that the alternative would ultimately and always prove worse, then you need to show your work. If the answer is that human nature is incompatible with universal morality, then it seems especially useful to consider the limits and potential negative consequences of localist morality....

The immigrants whose interests you champion do not believe in the universal morality you commend to us. If they did, they would not be interested in moving here -- against our will -- to share what we have created.

Orthodox said...

Anonymous, have you ever listened to public radio in NYC? It sounds intelligent, but they might as well be discussing various types of farts.

Auntie Analogue said...


I read all three of the Caplan posts you linked to, Mr. Sailer, and have just one question: how much dope does Caplan smoke? I suspect the amount must be prodigious.

You're right about Caplan: his arguments aren't arguments - they're nothing more than vapid sophomoric notions as worhtwhile as the notion that one or more angels might boogaloo on the head of a pin.

If Caplan believes so fervently that peoples who arrange their affairs to have countries of their own are "immoral," wouldn't you love to see Caplan have a go at migrating to Mecca? See how many employers there would not object to his labor in exchange for their paycheck. See how many landlords there would not object to renting digs to him. See how many merchants there would not object to selling him, say, a nice shiny Sterling silver blue enameled Star of David pendant.

Wake up, Señor Caplan: men form nations because there is Human Biodiversity. Same reason that all fowl do not occupy the same kind of nest.

“Birds of a feather will gather together.” - Robert Burton - 'Anatomy of Melancholy.'

Rulers and Big Business/Big Money always have to find out the hard way - by making themselves suffer last, only after they've made millions of ordinary people suffer - that Burton's wisdom is eternal because it inheres in Nature.

Anonymous said...

"You're so utterly gutless you won't even give yourself a screen name. Spare me your self-indulgent fantasies in which you play a heroic role."

My real name is Anon E. Mous. For real.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous, have you ever listened to public radio in NYC? It sounds intelligent, but they might as well be discussing various types of farts."

Like I said, it often just 'sounds' intelligent.

Anonymous said...

GOP needs to do what the Iraqi resistance did. Disappear and then fight a long subversive guerrilla war as pretend-Democrats.

End Gop and all join the democratic party. All gop candidates switch parties.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

Chomsky calls himself a "libertarian-socialist".
Maybe because "socialist-anarchist" is not as sympathetic sounding. "Maybe", because I have never studied him in enough detail to do more than hazard a guess.

Bill said...

Although I'm a big fan of Steve, I'm a citizenism skeptic. However, rather than argue endlessly over it, I just think citizenism will always lose because it ignores tribalism, and is therefore easily shoved aside or usurped.

Citizenism is simply geographically restricted individualism. Not a terrible thing, but how does one citizen stand up to a motivated gang of other citizens with a common tribal interest?

Libertarians like Caplan ignore the existence of tribes for some reason or another. But so does citizenism. IMO, that's enough to dismiss both out of hand.

Anonymous said...

That is why small white nations such as iceland, denmark, sweden et al are the best nations in the history of the world.

Probably has more to do with things like the Industrial Revolution and scientific advancement from major countries such as England, the US. Otherwise those small countries would be cold and miserable. Nobody would want to live there.

Lugash said...

You seem to have put a bee in his bonnet.

It's probably because the number of page views he gets increases a hundred fold when Steve comes into the picture.

Anonymous said...

The whole point of morality is to facilitate self-interest. Morality facilitates the interest of the group by mediating conflicts of interest among group members and conflicts of interest between group members and the group as a whole.

The fact that a person or group is self-interested does not imply that he or it will act immorally. Caplan just can't grasp this.


I think Caplan would grasp here that you can't derive ought from is.

Anonymous said...

That is why small white nations such as iceland, denmark, sweden et al are the best nations in the history of the world.

The smallpox vaccine, the potato, and industrialization (imported from the UK) have more to do with these places being nice places to live. 100 years ago these areas were poor areas with agricultural economies. Not much grew there - even less grew there before the potato.

Anonymous said...

Sanford figures out how to win over hispanics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k0-ayQFbZ4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOuFA0jNaac

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4ccYgKNTgY

Anonymous said...

***Although I'm a big fan of Steve, I'm a citizenism skeptic. However, rather than argue endlessly over it, I just think citizenism will always lose because it ignores tribalism, and is therefore easily shoved aside or usurped.***

***Citizenism is simply geographically restricted individualism. Not a terrible thing, but how does one citizen stand up to a motivated gang of other citizens with a common tribal interest?***

***Libertarians like Caplan ignore the existence of tribes for some reason or another. But so does citizenism. IMO, that's enough to dismiss both out of hand.***

True; but citizenism, while impractical over the long term, at least isn't bat-sh!t insane like open borders libertarianism is. So there's that.

DoJ said...

"Although I'm a big fan of Steve, I'm a citizenism skeptic. However, rather than argue endlessly over it, I just think citizenism will always lose because it ignores tribalism, and is therefore easily shoved aside or usurped."

Some groups of tribes and subsets thereof are able to interact with each other in mostly positive ways. It was mostly true in the US not too long ago, and it's still pretty much true in countries like Canada which have avoided the US's mistake.

Volksverhetzer said...

"The smallpox vaccine, the potato, and industrialization (imported from the UK) have more to do with these places being nice places to live. 100 years ago these areas were poor areas with agricultural economies. Not much grew there - even less grew there before the potato."

And where do you get you information from?

Norway had the highest life-expectancy in the world at Thomas Malthus time, something that would be impossible if they were piss poor.

Mary Wollstonecraft was surprised at how well the population lived in the 17'th century.

If you think logically, it should stand to reason that really poor people would die off in a cold climate, as you need shoes, clothes, a house, etc to survive the winter.

Really poor people can only be found where the climate is warm enough for poor people to survive.

Anonymous said...

Recently I had to participate in some management game at work to see what kind of personality/ way of working my dept as a group was.

All 'personalities' got a color; if you're novelty-oriented, you were yellow; green -> social, red -> confrontational, orange -> ambitious, driven, blue -> administrative.

Anyway, there was also purple. Purple sort of means you're like the Japanese; you want your work group to be personal. Lunch together, do stuff together. You prefer your own department's people over other department's people.

I scored quite low on this dimension, but a surprising amount of especially older guys (and women) were looking for this exact thing in their work. For them work meant to be part of something, it gave a meaning to their job beyond career goals, money, stability, responsibility. It made them feel at home and cozy.

This, Caplan, is incapable of grasping. It misses from his psychology. To him all departments are interchangable faceless outsourcable units that can only be seen and valued arithmetically. It signals a complete inability to grasp his fellow man.

Sure, writing this will not help win him over. His first gut instincts will be some libertarian exegesis on companies first and foremost being instruments of profit.

Anonymous said...

And where do you get you information from?

Scandinavia was an agricultural economy until starting about 100 years ago. It was poorer than Southern Europe which was more agriculturally productive. Scandinavia didn't become wealthy until industrialization, which was imported ultimately from the UK.

Anonymous said...

If you think logically, it should stand to reason that really poor people would die off in a cold climate, as you need shoes, clothes, a house, etc to survive the winter.

Really poor people can only be found where the climate is warm enough for poor people to survive.


You need a space suit and other equipment to survive on Mars. That doesn't mean living in the suburbs without a space suit is a poorer lifestyle than living on Mars.

Anonymous said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sverige#Modern_history

"There was a significant population increase during the 18th and 19th centuries, which the writer Esaias Tegnér in 1833 attributed to "the peace, the smallpox vaccine, and the potatoes".[42] Between 1750 and 1850, the population in Sweden doubled. According to some scholars, mass emigration to America became the only way to prevent famine and rebellion; over 1% of the population emigrated annually during the 1880s.[43] Nevertheless, Sweden remained poor, retaining a nearly entirely agricultural economy even as Denmark and Western European countries began to industrialize.[43][44]

Many looked towards America for a better life during this time. It is believed that between 1850 and 1910 more than one million Swedes moved to the United States.[45] In the early 20th century, more Swedes lived in Chicago than in Gothenburg (Sweden's second largest city).[46] Most Swedish immigrants moved to the Midwestern United States, with a large population in Minnesota, with a few others moving to other parts of the United States and Canada."

Anonymous said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_famine_of_1866%E2%80%931868

"The Famine of 1866–1868 was the last famine in Finland and northern Sweden, and the last major naturally caused famine in Europe. In Finland the famine is known as "the great hunger years", or suuret nälkävuodet. About 15% of the entire population died; in the hardest-hit areas up to 20%. The total death toll was 270,000 in three years, about 150,000 in excess of normal mortality. The worst-hit areas were Satakunta, Tavastia, Ostrobothnia, and North Karelia."

Noker said...

"confucius->aristotle->steve sailer"

Prerry sure Aristotle knew nothing of Confucius, so his views weren't influenced by him.

Velan said...

"Really poor people can only be found where the climate is warm enough for poor people to survive."

Or where libtards are willing to support it. Detroit is pretty much poverty heaven (or hell, depending on how you look at it) but as long as the welfare checks from Obamaclaus keep coming in, the party keeps rolling.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for a nice environment + libtard checks. If I were homeless poor, I'd probably choose San Francisco.

Marlowe said...

I wonder why Mr. Caplan bothers with the argument since immigration restriction on any serious scale will likely never happen. It's academic. Unusually for a libertarian he finds himself cheering for the current state policy.

Bostonian said...

I think Caplan is ridiculous on immigration, but he makes a lot of sense on education, as in his latest post "Higher Education: Time to Cut the Cord". Like Steve he understands the importance and heritability of intelligence. It is more productive to read what people write on topics where they are sensible than to rebut their nonsense, especially if they are not very influential. If open borders do arrive it will be due to the Democrats' desire to elect a new people, not the libertarian ravings of Caplan and his ilk.

Bill said...


Anonymous said . . .

. I have a soft spot for Mark Levin the funny loon(especially his word plays on liberal politicians' names--Diane Frankenfeinstein)

Why? Mark Levin is a tinny, derivative echo of Michael Savage. Dumber, too, I'd bet.

Bill said...


Marlowe said...

I wonder why Mr. Caplan bothers
. . . Unusually for a libertarian he finds himself cheering for the current state policy.


Answered your own question. Most of them are desperate to be loved by their leftist confreres. See also: The Volokh Conspiracy.

Anonymous said...

"it's not morally right for America to invade Canada"

Now you're just trolling Whiskey.

Bostonian said...

I think Steve and his readers will find an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education interesting:

In Defense of Favoritism
By Stephen T. Asma
November 12, 2012

"In short, favoritism or bias toward your group is not intrinsically racist, sexist, or closed-minded. Privileging your tribe does not render you negative or bigoted toward those outside your tribe. And to top it off, we're now beginning to understand the flexible nature of our ingroup favoritism—it doesn't have to be carved along bloodlines, or race lines, or ethnic lines. Psychological experiments reveal a whole range of criteria for ingroup bias. For example, test subjects have been shown to award higher payoffs to arbitrary ingroups, like people who just happen to share the same birthday as the test subject. And ingroup bias can be demonstrably strong when subjects share allegiance to the same sports teams, and so on.

Young people in our schools are repeatedly exposed to a bogus association between unbiased equality for all and open-mindedness. But even the laudable pantheon of fairness fighters, paraded before elementary students, have their origins in ingroup favoritism. Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony were not fighting for the equality of all people per se, but for the inclusion of their ingroups. It's no disservice to them or denigration of them to point out this basic fact of favoritism. Some serious allegiance to one's tribe is, after all, how anything gets done at the social level—including civil rights."

Zazooba said...

Caplan's analogies are fundamentally wrong in an important way. He is assuming that you are king of the world, or, to put it another way, that you are head of a Government which has power over the whole world.

But that is not the case. The reality is that each country has a government tasked with looking out for its own people.

In that context, it is reasonable, even optimal for each government to have the interests of its own people at heart and to strike deals with other countries where mutually beneficial.

The analogy to parents and children is apt. I get my kids to do their homework and my neighbor gets his kids to do theirs. I don't want my neighbor's kids to flunk because they don't do their homework, but I don't spend any effort to prevent that because that's my neighbor's job, not mine. I don't do serious harm to my neighbor's kids even even it would be a minor benefit to my kids because my neighbor wouldn't permit it-we have agreed we won't do that sort of thing-we agreed to make mutually beneficial laws to that effect. It all works out fine.

Caplan's inability to see this is striking. As Steve has said, he seems to be Aspergery in his ignorance of the simplest human interactions.

People who want the US Government to give as much weight to the welfare of people in other countries are, ,quite literally traitors. We have an agreement that our government will look after us. Caplan and others like him want to betray this deal for their own benefit - in this case merely to feel morally superior.

If Caplan were to acknowledge these simple realities, and if he genuinely cared about us and foreigners, he would be advocating international agreements to achieve what he wants and he would be explaining how we could achieve these agreements in the context of a US government that cared about its own people.

Maciano Van der Laan said...

I bet Caplan smiles before he goes to bed thinking about a chance to plea his case for open borders at some future TED conference.

Zazooba said...

In his trespassing post, Caplan says:

"In our post-Soviet age, fortunately, socialism has become extremely morally implausible to almost everyone. "Unless socialism is true, illegal immigrants aren't trespassing," should be an awkward dilemma for even the harshest critics of immigration. So I have to ask them: Would you rather embrace socialism - or abandon one of your most rhetorically powerful arguments against immigration? "

This is so silly I can't give him the benefit of assuming he is Aspergery. This must be dishonesty. Thirty seconds of thought would show this to be ridiculous. So, I now think he is dishonest rather than socially stupid. He wants to cause a little stir by threatening the social at ability of the US and the welfare of its citizens. And just so he can feel morally and intellectually superior ("ha ha, look at how my silly sophistry ties people on knots - I'm so smart"). The fact that he threatens so much harm for so little benefit makes him evil.

The US has both public and private property. Individual citizens have the power to exclude people from their private property and violation is trespassing. Some property is owned by the government and is supposed to be managed for the benefit of all citizens more or less. The government has the responsibility to exclude foreigners from this property and violations are trespassing.

The trespassing analogy does not require that the government own everything.

Duh.

Rohan Swee said...

Chip: I fail to see how repeatedly citing the preamble to the Constitution (or nodding vaguely toward Aristotle and Ben Franklin) adds to a discussion that fundamentally concerns moral obligation.

...because a truly rigorous discussion that fundamentally concerns moral obligation would of course take libertarian/utilitarian moral premises as given. No need for all this vagueness when we've already got a tight set of axioms all wrapped up and ready to rock.

It isn't so difficult to envision (or locate) real-word examples where a bias favoring present citizens (or present family members) diminishes human welfare on net, and if that much is true it seems entirely reasonable to inquire as to why such an ethos is good. [my emphasis]

...as I was saying.

Yes, that would be entirely reasonable, and I'm sure it would be a most enjoyable conversation among acolytes of the libertarian/utilitarian dispensation. But I would have thought you were here to persuade people who are not your co-creedals of the rightness of your views on open borders.

If the answer is that the alternative would ultimately and always prove worse, then you need to show your work.

Do you really not see how you're begging the question here?

If the answer is that human nature is incompatible with universal morality, then it seems especially useful to consider the limits and potential negative consequences of localist morality, if only to minimize the foreseeable downside.

So we've established that "human nature is indeed incompatible with universal morality", and it's time to move on to the moral questions flowing therefrom? I must have been napping. Otherwise I'd have to assume there was some kind of ka-razy burden-of-proof shell game going on here.

Anonymous said...


If Caplan believes so fervently that peoples who arrange their affairs to have countries of their own are "immoral," wouldn't you love to see Caplan have a go at migrating to Mecca? See how many employers there would not object to his labor in exchange for their paycheck. See how many landlords there would not object to renting digs to him. See how many merchants there would not object to selling him, say, a nice shiny Sterling silver blue enameled Star of David pendant.


I suspect that this response would be: "The world is full of morally reprehensible people!" and that we should take the moral high ground.

DoJ said...

"This is so silly I can't give him the benefit of assuming he is Aspergery. This must be dishonesty."

This is what I would normally conclude, but the bizarre thing is that he writes quite a few articles on other subjects which are considerably more sane than average.

I'm still honestly uncertain of what's going on in his brain; my working hypothesis is "infinite certainty" about one or two false propositions, buttressed by a bias against normal American people.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting fairly sick of Caplan's twists, turns, evasions, falsehoods, false analogies, strawmen, childish quibbling, angels dancing on the head of a pin, absurd hypothecalisation, and general attempts to defend the indefenisble by spewing out an ocean of words (words incudentally attached to nonsensically weak 'arguments').

First things first. The concept of the 'sovereign state' is generally recognised as *the* unit of self determination, self government and self rule in the deo-political world. Unless a sovereign state invades another, or commits some particularly egregious 'human rights' abuses against its own citizens, its absolute right to rule itself under its own rules and own government, devising domestic policy, laws, customs etc - as it sees fit, and with regard to no other - is respected.

Another fundamental principle is the nation state 'belongs' to its people, its citizens, in the sense that a state, any state really only consists of its people, live, tangible human beings who actually exist and inhabit the land. 'Land' in terms of the physical ground the state covers exists too, of course, bbut a land without a people is no nation and thus cannot be said to hold an 'interest'. The people, the life, the soul, the blood of the land, the essence of the nation state do live and breath on that land - and thus hold a very real definable 'interest' in the life of the nation, the life of the nation being so defined and decided as consisting of the legitimate government of that nation.
It follows therefore, that the 'interest' of the nation (ie its people)must always be the highest and paramount cause of the government of any nation, since to repeat myself, 'nation' only really means 'the people of the nation'.
If it so happens that resisiting the unwelcome entry of foreigners, outsiders (who the nation explicitly rejects, and have no claim whatsoever either in terms of blood, sympathy or utility)to that nation, is the primary 'interest' of the 'nation', then the national government is obliged to accept this.
Analogies to 'private property' are valid, but on the national level, it must be realised that the 'interest of the people' is the crucial argument, since land and property are merely subsidiary to the life of the people - which is the crucial point. Land and property in this context, when we get down to basic basics are secondary to the right of a people,as so defined to exist as a people. It's like comparing the food, water and oxygen that allows a person to exist, but not the fact of his existance itself.

Anonymous said...

This is so silly I can't give him the benefit of assuming he is Aspergery. This must be dishonesty.


Maybe he's just not very bright. He's written nothing so far which would suggest he possesses any intelligence.

Anonymous said...

If open borders do arrive it will be due to the Democrats' desire to elect a new people, not the libertarian ravings of Caplan and his ilk.


No, if open borders continue to exist (we already have them) it will be due to the influence of libertarians in the Republican party.

Anonymous said...

"Unless socialism is true, illegal immigrants aren't trespassing," should be an awkward dilemma for even the harshest critics of immigration.


That's a stupendously stupid thing to say. The problem with Caplan is that he's not even trying to be intellectually coherent - his only interest is in coming up with half-baked justifications for wealthy people in American getting what they want.

Many of his arguments, if taken seriously, would lead to genuine soak-the-rich socialism. But Capaln does not take his own words seriously - their only purpose is to justify whatever actions a small group of people wish to take. I'd call him a "court intellectual" but his intellect does not rise to even that level.

candid_observer said...

Even as liberal a figure as John Rawls was not on board with Open Borders. His concern was the social contract with current citizens.

He's of course been criticized by the current academic left for this, but Rawls was always something of a realist about possible social orders, and he was not about to adopt as extreme a position as Open Borders which will never be accepted by the larger population. (In all seriousness, why shouldn't it be the case that half the world's population or more would choose to come to the US if they could bring their entire families with them? How many liberals even would choose this in fact, as opposed to in sermon?)

Anonymous said...

Does Steve know anything about Aristotle other than that he is a dead white female?

Kingdong said...

http://i46.tinypic.com/2ugf6rm.jpg

The above is Caplan after debating Steve...


... or if he ever gets the immigration he so truly wants.

rho said...

Caplan misses the fundamental question in his race to pedantry. The morality of favoritism is irrelevant because favoritism exists. It always will.

Asking a hypothetical about tariffs increasing our GDP 1% while decreasing others' by 10% is an awful question. The biggest problem with "can God make a rock so big that even He can't lift it"-type arguments is the self-satisfied look on the asker's face, but the second biggest problem is that it doesn't shed any light on the question.

Caplan has resorted to Jesus-like parables as a shaming mechanism because he's arguing in bad faith.

Anonymous said...

Funny how Jews always seem to know whats "best" for white countries when it comes to immigration...

Severn said...

You've gotta love the way that for Caplan, the concept of "country" is socialist, but the concept of "tenured professor" is not.

For a guy who is trying to tell us that self-interest is evil, his own philosophy seems to be much more about naked self-interest than citizenism is.

Libertarianism in a nutshell: "My self-interest is noble and good, your self-interest is socialistic and morally wrong".

Milton Friedman made this same point.

"every businessman is in favor of freedom for everybody else, but when it comes to himself that’s a different question. He’s always the special case. He ought to get special privileges from the government, a tariff, this, that, and the other thing…"

Anonymous said...

Average joe in Texas doen't like the illegal messed but the reason why the state is a whopping 1.6 jusr a million behind California is a lot of rightwinger and libertarians business folks in Texas like using the illegal immirgants so Bob perry cousin of Rick Perry would opposed it, Texas Reps supported a guestworker program .

Anonymous said...

Well, heavily Mexician areas in the Us live and some of them are in states less generous like Yma Arizona. Europeans longer not because of the welfare state of eating habits and homicide. In fact Red County Orange in Ca whites live to 80.5 and blacks to 80.4 versus blacks in the other part of ca and other states around 74. People there smoke less.

Svigor said...

You seem content to deride Caplan for engaging in dorm room sophistry and asking "childish" questions, but citizenism is clearly an ethical proposition and as such it invites critique and delineation.

Right. Caplan just gets to ask stupid questions, even though he can't answer any good questions himself. Like, "how would a liberaltarian polity survive more than five minutes?"

The fiduciary obligation analogy is at least imprecise (as you concede), and I fail to see how repeatedly citing the preamble to the Constitution (or nodding vaguely toward Aristotle and Ben Franklin) adds to a discussion that fundamentally concerns moral obligation.

Yes, pointing out that Caplan wants to steamroll the Constitution isn't persuasive at all to Americans, which I'm sure is why you want it stricken from the record.

It isn't so difficult to envision (or locate) real-word examples where a bias favoring present citizens (or present family members) diminishes human welfare on net, and if that much is true it seems entirely reasonable to inquire as to why such an ethos is good.

It's impossible to envision real-world examples where Liberaltarianism doesn't diminish its constituents' welfare. It's impossible to envision how Liberaltarianism isn't a suicide pact.

Libertarians as a group tend to be simultaneously not very intelligent and convinced of their own intellectual superiority. It's an annoying combination of traits.

The part that boggles my mind is how they seem to be invested in their ideology as answer to everything, but can't answer the most basic questions about national survival. Bizarrely, they seem to think rejecting the premise of the question is satisfactory.

That fact that an idea (libertarianism, for example) can lead to various bad outcomes under certain circumstances does not in itself mean that the idea is refuted.

By "under certain circumstances," I assume you mean "any circumstances remotely resembling their implementation."

"That is why small white nations such as iceland, denmark, sweden et al are the best nations in the history of the world."

Probably has more to do with things like the Industrial Revolution and scientific advancement from major countries such as England, the US. Otherwise those small countries would be cold and miserable. Nobody would want to live there.


Probably has more to do with the type of people forming said homogeneity. That's why some nations prove consistently capable of adopting the good things from other peoples, and others prove consistently incapable.

Svigor said...

I think Caplan would grasp here that you can't derive ought from is.

I think you've woefully misapprehended Hume's Law. I see no "can't" therein.

Hume's Law and Naturalistic Fallacy are widely and heavily abused, IMO. People use them to excuse themselves from aligning their ideologies with human nature; the misanthrope's favorite fig leaf.

The smallpox vaccine, the potato, and industrialization (imported from the UK) have more to do with these places being nice places to live. 100 years ago these areas were poor areas with agricultural economies. Not much grew there - even less grew there before the potato.

Yet in places where stuff does grow, they're still poor, with agricultural economies. But they do lack Icelanders, Danes, and Swedes. And as Volksverhetzer points out, places like England had better economies in the middle ages than sub-Saharan Africans do now.

True; but citizenism, while impractical over the long term, at least isn't bat-sh!t insane like open borders libertarianism is. So there's that.

Thank you. Did anyone in the first Caplan thread ever answer my question as to how their fantasy republic could possibly stop an army of Al Qaeda U-Haul van drivers carrying nukes? You'd think a brain-trust bent toward the shining city on the hill would at least figure that much out.

"In our post-Soviet age, fortunately, socialism has become extremely morally implausible to almost everyone. "Unless socialism is true, illegal immigrants aren't trespassing," should be an awkward dilemma for even the harshest critics of immigration. So I have to ask them: Would you rather embrace socialism - or abandon one of your most rhetorically powerful arguments against immigration? "

Yes, Caplan, I'd rather embrace National Socialism than commit national suicide.

Duh.

Svigor said...

Jesus, my eyes finally glazed over after reading about 3/4ths of the third thread's comments.


*Yaaaaaaawn*

Anonymous said...

Maciano
"I bet Caplan smiles before he goes to bed thinking about a chance to plea his case for open borders at some future TED conference."

I predict in the future all nations will be open borders because frankly that is the goal of the global capitalist elites. With the free movement of people across borders all nations will become multi-racial. Anybody from anyplace can go anywhere on the planet anytime.
but...
It's not going to be a Lefty liberal wet dream where all the white, black, asian, and latino people hold hands and sing "we are the world" while we create a global centralized government which promises free college education and universal health care for everybody. No sir. I predict while people may cross national boundaries cities will be segregated by race. Kind of like what we have today in the USA but people don't like talking about it.


Strawman said...

I'm getting fairly sick of Caplan's twists, turns, evasions, falsehoods, false analogies, strawmen, childish quibbling,

None of these are Aspie traits. Aspies are famous for being too honest for their own good.

Anonymous said...

Does Steve know anything about Aristotle other than that he is a dead white female?

Was Aristotle even white? Remember, Wogs begin at Calais.

Anonymous said...

Yea the whites drafted him after Colin Powell in Chapelle's racial draft.

ben tillman said...

If it so happens that resisiting the unwelcome entry of foreigners, outsiders (who the nation explicitly rejects, and have no claim whatsoever either in terms of blood, sympathy or utility)to that nation, is the primary 'interest' of the 'nation', then the national government is obliged to accept this.

Yeah, it's pretty crazy that a guy named Caplan is arguing that members of the Wehrmacht, SS, and Gestapo had an absolute moral right to march into Warsaw in 1939.

Anonymous said...

"That is why small white nations such as iceland, denmark, sweden et al are the best nations in the history of the world."

The smallpox vaccine, the potato, and industrialization (imported from the UK) have more to do with these places being nice places to live. 100 years ago these areas were poor areas with agricultural economies. Not much grew there - even less grew there before the potato.

Every country has access to smallpox vaccine, the potato, and are theoretically able to import industrialization. So, to repeat the original point, why are the small Nordic nations arguably the best nations in the history of the world?

Cennbeorc

Truth said...

"So, to repeat the original point, why are the small Nordic nations arguably the best nations in the history of the world?"

The U.S. is the the best nation in the history of the world, and there is no credible argument. New York is full of young Swedish Au Pairs overstaying their visas by 5 years, I don't think Stockholm has the American equivalent.

sr said...

Why is Steve the only one who gets to ask silly hypotheticals? If Caplan thinks the value of the welfare of foreigners is equal to (or remotely close to) the value of our own welfare, or his own welfare, shouldn't he favor massive transfers of wealth to poor regions like Africa? What does it cost to save a starving African child's life for a year, $100 or so (Sally Struthers used to tell us on TV ads but I can't remember the exact figure)? Isn't the utility of $100 far more for an African, for whom it literally means the difference between life and death, then it is for Caplan? Isn't Caplan therefore obligated to give his money away until he has so little of it left that the marginal value of a dollar is about the same for him as it would be for Starvin' Marvin?

But, unlike Caplan's tariff, this isn't really a hypothetical, since everybody makes this choice every payday, and even the most morally rarefied of utilitarians end up keeping most of their $$$ for themselves and theirs. Peter Singer fully accepts the reasoning given above, and actually does give a relatively large portion of his income (compared to most people), but even he chooses to sacrifice a few hundred third worlders a year so he can put his senile mother up in a nursing home. That's because the utilitarian way of thinking is completely unnatural.

Anonymous said...

A recent Bryan Caplan blog post titled:

Social Intelligence: The Wisdom of Muawiya

Muawiyah I 602-680 first Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate

It has always been very chic amongst academia to sympathize with Islam against Europeans.

They wish Tours and Vienna had been lost and Europe overrun with Islam. They invented the zero and algebra doncha-know. We would have landed on the moon in 980 AD

A typical example, from Crimes of Christianity (1887):

The Christians were brought face to face with a civilization superior to their own; their eyes were dazzled by the light of Arabian learning
...
The Crusaders could not help seeing that the Saracenic civilisation was superior to their own, but they were too bigoted to learn from the professors of a rival faith.
...
Arabian learning had been trickling into Europe through Spain and Italy for two centuries before the Crusades



Just take the ferry from Gibraltar to Tangier and see what could have been if Spain had not been reconquisted from the Moops by the infamous Ferdinand and Isabella.

Or go to Cons... I mean Istanbul and gape in wonder. See the advanced architecture of the Ayasofya Mosque.

Anonymous said...

They wish Tours and Vienna had been lost and Europe overrun with Islam. They invented the zero and algebra doncha-know. We would have landed on the moon in 980 AD

I think someone is confusing Islam with Greco-Roman paganism.