Sunday, September 21, 2014

For and against citizenism

Radical libertarian economist Bryan Caplan writes:
In the past, I’ve argued that Steve Sailer’s citizenism is a moral travesty. Advancing the interests of your in-group should always play second fiddle to respecting the rights of out-groups. But recently, he presented what sounds like a universal argument for citizenism:
“We live in a world of about 200 countries, a world that for all its flaws, is relatively peaceful and prosperous. And the basis of that order has been a set of assumptions about what the purpose of government is that both Caplan and myself call citizenism… The difference between Caplan and me is merely that he wants to take this order based on citizenism and blow it up, while I don’t.”
Charitably interpreted, Sailer’s saying something like: “Citizenism isn’t just great for us; it’s great for mankind. Vigorous pursuit of national self-interest leads to great global outcomes.” An interesting claim, but is there any reason to believe it? Steve’s only argument seems to be that (a) most countries on earth rest on citizenist principles, and (b) the modern world is, by historical standards, awesome.

This argument is painfully weak. ... What’s novel about the modern world is precisely that aggressive pursuit of national self-interest is finally widely recognized as a vice, not virtue.
It ia amazing how libertarians can cite these goofy ideals with so little argument about either the justification or the consequences.

Human civilization has been historically based on citizenism, and it is not clear that any other way is possible. Caplan advocates open borders on the theory that foreigners should be treated the same as citizens. Has any nation ever succeeded with such thinking?

Libertarian economics and philosophy is based on individuals, families, businesses, and corporations acting in their self-interests. We all benefit from the invisible hand, and the associated freedoms and prosperity. The same benefits accrue when nations act in their self-interest.

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