Internationalization and the Libertarian Principle

“The Libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else.”   –  Murray Rothbard, For a New Liberty

Recently, I was advised by an American that, “This is still the greatest country in the world. If you don’t believe it, just look at all the people that want to come here. Everybody wants to be an American.”

On the surface of it, this comment appears quite valid. There are, indeed, large numbers of people from less-advantaged countries who would hope to be allowed to reside in the US. And this is understandable. If, for example, you were Mexican and were poor, the US, with its vast entitlement opportunities, would undoubtedly seem a major step up. And there can be no doubt that the US is in need of inexpensive labour, as so many Americans, even many of those who have not had a job in years, are unwilling to perform menial tasks or accept minimum wage.

The view of the US as the Great Melting Pot therefore remains intact. However, there is another facet to the immigration tale in First-World countries today. Whilst it is easy to be cognizant of those who are just arriving, the departures are quite a bit less noticeable.

This being the case, if one were to assess the departures with any accuracy, one would need to be stationed in one of the “destination” countries – those countries that are now attracting the greatest number of expatriates from the First World. A quiet exodus has begun. Increasingly, citizens of the troubled First World are investigating the possibility of expatriating to more favourable destinations.

At present, a “flood” has not occurred into any jurisdiction; however, the numbers are unquestionably on the rise in quite a few countries. Many of these people come from those countries that, until recently, were considered to be the best places to be.

Of greater interest than the actual percentages, however, is the description of those expatriating. And for this, it may be helpful to look at a little background.

The Brain Drain

As I am a West Indian, I tend to be especially conscious of those mass exits that have taken place in the Caribbean in my lifetime. In 1959, there was a sudden exodus from Cuba, as a result of the revolution. Those who left were not “refugees” in the classic sense. They were the more educated, the more entrepreneurial, the more successful residents – both Cuban and expat. Although Fidel Castro had not yet proclaimed himself as a communist, those who recognised that such a change was coming, and recognised that they would fall prey to the new government, chose to exit.

In 1962, Jamaica went independent of the UK, and, without the Crown to limit the direction of the Jamaican Government anymore, the local politicians quickly headed in a more socialist direction, to the cheers of all… or at least all but the more educated, the more entrepreneurial, the more successful residents – both Jamaican and expat.

Then, in 1973, Home Rule was achieved in the Bahamas. As the first Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Lynden Pindling adopted the policy, "Bahamas for Bahamians." An immediate result was, at the time, called the “Brain Drain” – an exit of the more educated, the more entrepreneurial, the more successful residents – both Bahamian and expat.

There are other examples, but these three should suffice.

The net result was twofold. First, the countries that moved to a more socialistic, more dominant government lost many of their best and brightest. Although the countries remained “in business,” that business declined as a result of the loss. Second, those who expatriated found homes in jurisdictions that were only too pleased to take on the best and brightest from their neighbouring countries. Not surprisingly, these new residents brought their expertise, their inspiration, and their investment funds with them. Both they and their new home countries prospered as a result.

The Libertarian Principle

Libertarians tend to have a fairly simple message. It goes something like this:

I believe that I can find my own way in life. I’m content to sink or swim on my own. I don’t ask anything from others, including my government. In return, I only ask that others, my government included, not burden me with controls instituted over me without my consent.

Sounds reasonable enough. And yet, libertarian thinking may well be regarded by all governments (and a large percentage of the population in many countries) as being downright dangerous.

Why should this be? Why should, say, a Ron Paul be such a threat that both the liberal and conservative media refuse him air-time, whilst treating him with a hatred that goes well beyond the hatred that they hold for their traditional enemy – the opposition party?

The reason is that libertarians threaten the sanctity of government itself. For a finely-stated description of this condition, we can again consult Mister Rothbard:

While opposing any and all private or group aggression against the rights of person and property, the libertarian sees that throughout history and into the present day, there has been one central, dominant, and overriding aggressor upon all of these rights: the State.

Small wonder, then, that most libertarians choose to simply exit quietly, seeking a new home where, hopefully, “they won’t mess with me.”

So, this exodus that has begun… Where are the new, most-favoured destinations for those who are expatriating? Well, they are a disparate group. They consist of those countries whose governments are, at present, less intrusive by design (Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, Singapore, etc.), and those countries that lack the funds and organization to be intrusive (Belize, Mongolia, etc.). Additionally, there are those countries that are offering new opportunities for business (Chile, Canada, Australia, etc.).

At any given time in history, there will be people seeking a better life for themselves. However, when there is a major change in some countries toward a totalitarian state, as we are now seeing in much of the First World, an increased percentage of those expatriating will be the best and the brightest. Whenever this happens, there is a decline in the prosperity of the countries that are abandoned, as a replacement “best and brightest” does not simply come along and fill the void.

It is of interest that many of these departees do not even regard themselves as libertarians at the time that they become dissatisfied. However, those who take up even a cursory study of libertarianism often conclude that they had been libertarians all along but simply didn’t know it. They find that internationalisation and the libertarian principle are virtually synonymous.

For those readers who are in the process of internationalising, a study of libertarian thinking, however brief, can be a major asset in making the transition.

(Note: A definitive source on libertarian principles and thinking is For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard.)

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