Monday, January 18, 2016

Who belongs in Paradise? (Anarcho Traditionalism and emigration)

I thought with my last post on Anarcho Traditionalist economics I was done with the subject, and had produced a description of the only political platform worth voting for (which meant I would keep emitting blank votes, as no actual political party would ever come close to it). However, thinking more in depth about it, and reading the opposition to the tiny parts of it that can be found proposed by some (typically fringe) parties I realized there is still one aspect that needs to be clarified. I can still consider that what we may call the “static” description of how an anarcho traditionalist polity would function is complete enough (of course there are a myriad details that have to be fully fleshed, but I don’t think any of them pose an insurmountable obstacle, and the given indications should be enough to flesh out the minutiae required for a real world implementation), but to assess the feasibility (and desirability) of such static situation we have to take in consideration the dynamic of a) how it comes to be, in a world of nation states with existing laws regarding what economic activities are permitted and what citizens have to pay (or not) and b) how it sustains itself not in an ideal world where everybody has embraced the same set of general principles, but in one where some groups may linger forever in something close to the current status quo, or some variation of it that somehow limits the movement of their own citizens, or even worse, try to impose their will in the anarcho traditionalist polities that have long rejected it.

Those “dynamic” aspects have to be sorted out because one of the main arguments I have read (and heard) against my proposed social construct is that it would quickly become socioeconomically unfeasible, as the poorest, less skilled citizens of every wretched place would be attracted to immigrate there, attracted by the UBI and the economic freedom and the open borders. Once there they would cause social disintegration and put a stop to all entrepreneurship and economic activity, because, in a trope much loved by practically everyone in the right, “you can only have two of the following three: immigration, multiculturalism and democracy”. Needless to say, the sad events of New Year’s eve in Cologne are exhibit A of this line of thinking, presented as the unavoidable consequence of letting too many foreigners “of the wrong sort” in your nice, orderly little country (mouthpiece of this line of thinking is the NYT columnist Ross Douthat, asking for the resignation of none other hat the very admirable Angela Merkel for her “foolishness” advocating basic human decency: Ross spouts ugly nonsense). I’m not entirely convinced, and in the articles expounding such point of view the second feature (multiculturalism) sounds much like a straw man that nobody in his right mind would really consider desirable (the way it is construed by its critics, it has more to do with rejection of things like equality and religious freedom, so of course by definition it’s barely compatible with democracy… on the other hand its proponents tend to see it more in the vein of recognizing that the literary canon should not only include white heterosexual males and that there may be alternatives to the traditional whiggish narrative of history –consisting in the unstoppable progress of Western reason and Western values– that also have some merit) so we can confidently leave it aside. Such a multiculturalism we can do without, and we call our brand of anarchism “traditionalist” precisely because it defiantly rejects multiculturalism (and whig history), reclaiming the right to live within its own idiosyncratic tradition (and thus firmly embedded in a particular culture, with its own particular interpretation of history and its own claim to superiority regarding other alternative cultures).

Now, we can focus on the question of the plausibility of an open border policies compatible with the maintenance of democracy, once we have gotten rid of the multiculturalism thing. So people may come, but the receiving group would be free to accept them or not as I explored in my post about the potential difficulty for my system of not just ensuring a “right to exit” to any member –which would serve as a check against autocratic tendencies of each phratry rulers– but also assuming a “right to join” would be sufficiently extended as to ensure everybody could find a group where he would feel reasonably accepted and secure to follow the “plan of life” he felt more congenial to his particular tastes and sensibility (of bigots and would-be victims). However, that lack of acceptance would also be tempered by the necessary respect of any phratry of the rights we listed as non-negotiable. So for example they could not prevent any newcomer from enjoying their Universal Basic Income if they chose to stay there for some time. Or from running for office (if there was such a thing, remember the phratria didn’t need to be democratic in the first place, and could have their rulers and guardians appointed for life if they chose to, so not letting newcomers vote wouldn’t be a discrimination in that case). Wow, wow, wow, I can hear potential critics already saying. So everybody can come to your group and demand he is paid the same UBI as everybody else, no string attached. How is that not a call for total disaster right away, attracting every lazy bum on Earth to live off the public purse in exchange for nothing, until such purse is exhausted and every last worker and industrious person is driven off the land? Not so fast, critic. Remember that each right in our playbook was accompanied by an equivalent duty, and to enjoy the former you had to discharge the later (AT economics). So if you wanted your UBI you had to either pay your taxes in money or devote a certain amount of time doing communal work, to ensure even people not able to find a job were rightfully employed towards the communal good and the maintenance and development of the commons. If more people came, the phratry would have more able bodies to do more work, and produce more collective wealth. It is conceivable that an extremely successful phratry, a shining exemplar of well managed economy and social harmony, may receive more people than what it can profitably employ, or that it can absorb without jeopardizing the cultural homogeneity that underlies such success and such harmony (not just because too many newcomers are ignorant of the language to be usefully directed, although much socially profitable labor doesn’t require an extensive training or complex instructions to be suitably done, but because they lack the core of common values required for efficiently coordinating a complex group).

To avoid such problem, it can be expedient (and thus admissible) to limit the amount of people that each phratry is obliged to extend their welcome to, so no group has ever to grant citizenship rights to more than 5% of their population per year (a percentage that anti-immigration zealots probably consider already unacceptably high, but remember that 5% is to be gainfully employed by the community, and that I would expect the moment they enjoyed the same rights and permission to work as the rest of the citizens they would surely generate additional wealth and contribute to their new home over and above what was initially requested). It could also be acceptable to establish a “probation” period in which newcomers would need to contribute to the community more than the settled citizens, by bearing an additional tax (so instead of working 576 hours per year, or paying the equivalent of 28,656 $, during the first five years they had to either work 1,000 hours or pay 50,000 $, after which time they would be full fledged citizens, with the same advantages and the same burdens as everybody else). That additional tax would discourage moving to other phratria (so the tradition of each is not wantonly weakened by the caprice or the wanderlust of their younger generations) but not prohibitively so (thus keeping the “right to exit” open not just in theory, but also in practice). That sounds to me much saner and more humane than the current system, where most countries let a tiny quota of immigrants in, regardless of how desperate their plight is, but then make it almost impossible for them to get legal status that allow them to work and contribute to their new homeland, ensuring they are kept in a cycle of dependency, degradation and may times criminal behavior. If you let them came (as you should, as it is not their fault to have been born in most of the hellholes they are trying to escape from) you should let them work, and prosper, and contribute to the society that has adopted them.

What about the permanently disabled and destitute, you may ask. Those that can not work at all and have no assets, so have no way to discharge their obligations to the rest of the group, and thus can not aspire to ever become citizens. Well, politics can only take you so far, and there comes a point where social justice, it doesn’t matter how comprehensive, has to cede its place to pure and simple charity. Every phratry will set the amount (and the potential condition)  of the cases they are willing to support entirely for free, and will have the right to deny entrance to those in such condition above such number. Charity, being a virtue, can’t be mandated or imposed, and it is up to each group to decide how much of it they think it fair to exercise, according to their own wealth and the position of the rest of the world.

What has been said for the case of a future world where anarcho traditionalist phratria (grouped in phylae and eventually in even greater confederations to build great projects that bring them everlasting glory) may coexist with traditional societies is equally applied for our current world, where there is not a single anarcho traditionalist phratry, so the first one will be entirely surrounded by powerful nation-states that impose, by the sheer force of their irrationally grown armies and police apparatuses, their monopoly of power, and use that monopoly of power not just to extract such crazy amounts of the citizens’ incomes that they leave no space for sharing it in any alternative way, but also to indoctrinate them in the triad of commandments that we saw guarantee both maximum collective growth in the production of material things and maximum individual angst at the waste and senselessness of lives wrongly lived. How is such lonely phratry to survive and prosper, so it can lead by example and inspire others to join in their better way of organizing society? We will deal with such question in our next post in the subject. 

No comments:

Post a Comment