Conservatism, like virtually everything else is defined differently by different people…not only do its adherents define it differently, but so do its opponents.
I used to prefer to call myself a “Paleo-Libertarian,” Murray Rothbard’s term for generally socially Conservative, economic Libertarians, which, ironically enough, pretty accurately defines all of America’s Founders.
The most fundamental American principle is INDIVIDUALISM, the inalienable right of the individual to be free from the tyranny/control of others, especially from the control of government.
Today that is often seen as “the flaw of America’s Founding Design,” when it’s actually the essence of what its adherence call “the 5,000 year leap,” alluding to the view that America’s Founding Design was a gargantuan leap in sophistication by humans.
Individualism requires a basic faith in each individual member of society, that left to their own devices and forced to make their own way they will, always and everywhere find a way.
That is what the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin believed and it is what allowed America to grow exponentially in terms of economy and global influence over a remarkably short time frame (1781 to 1878).
In 1867, the great abolitionist and American patriot Lysander Spooner put the Founder’s ideals into a very clear perspective after what he saw as creeping federalism and tyranny after “the Great War” (the Civil War), when in the introduction to his No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, he wrote; “The question of treason is distinct from that of slavery; and is the same that it would have been, if free States, instead of slave States, had seceded.
“On the part of the North, the war was carried on, not to liberate slaves, but by a government that had always perverted and violated the Constitution, to keep the slaves in bondage; and was still willing to do so, if the slaveholders could be thereby induced to stay in the Union.
“The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.
“No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle – but only in degree – between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man’s ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and [*iv] asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.
“Previous to the war, there were some grounds for saying that – in theory, at least, if not in practice – our government was a free one; that it rested on consent. But nothing of that kind can be said now, if the principle on which the war was carried on by the North, is irrevocably established.
“If that principle be not the principle of the Constitution, the fact should be known. If it be the principle of the Constitution, the Constitution itself should be at once overthrown.” (Lysander Spooner, 1867)
Individual LIBERTY makes room ONLY for self-ownership and bars anyone from having any claim to the earnings or profits of another, just as it bars any communal claim, in the name of “the poor,” or “the children,” or “the sick,” etc. Such aid to those so distressed and disenfranchised comes ONLY in the form of alms (voluntary charity) in a free society and it’s why America, which today remains the most generous nation on earth, was far more generous still, in the days prior to the welfare state.
Spooner’s assertions about “state/political slavery” being as immoral as “chattel slavery” are undeniable., as they echo Jefferson’s assertions to the letter. Moreover, they are proven out by the travails we’ve experienced as a nation since the abandonment of the free and open market, in favor of the allegedly more “secure” government-regulated market or Corporatism, since 1912.
This regulated market has led to a pernicious and corrupt partnership between business and government that’s kept innovation and new products and advances from coming to market and allowing old jobs to be destroyed as new technologies, new industries take their place. It has delivered a modicum of security to the worker, a burdensome and crippling largesse to the slothful and indigent, while cementing the gains of the wealthiest (those “captains of industry”) in place.
Virtually ALL of today’s complaints against “Capitalism” are really complaints against the Corporatism we’ve had in place in America since 1912 and throughout most of Western Europe even longer.
The Non-Existent “Right” to Immigration
The author of “Modern-day Boromirs” either deliberately, or out of ignorance, mischaracterizes Arizona’s S-1070, which DOES NOT allow police to stop people on “suspicion of being here illegally,” but instead mandates police to ascertain the legal status of all those who are stopped by police for either criminal or traffic infractions.
Unfortunately, open borders proponents long ago ceded trying to make the “illegal immigration issue” a part of the larger “immigration issue.”
Opponents have won the argument separating the two by default, as proponents simply have never advanced a real argument in favor of open borders anywhere.
As a result, “illegal immigration” is no longer discussed as “an immigration issue,” it’s discussed either as an “illicit employer issue,” a “national security issue,” or a “criminal trespass issue.”
That was a fatal error, in my view, by open border proponents and I believe it was made out of moral cowardice. They simply dared not offend the large segment of America who wouldn’t accept the “immigration as a basic human right” argument. Regardless of the reason, that ship has sailed.
And truth be told, I WOULD support open borders with ONE single caveat, the smallest of possible concessions – the complete end and eradication of America’s welfare state, and yes, I’d include Medicare, Medicaid and SSI into the aforementioned “welfare state.” And Social Security would have to be strengthened either by drastically raising the retirement and eligibility ages to where they were originally (within 1 year of the average American’s lifespan) or draconian increases in contributions (FICA taxes).
That way, we would ONLY attract those who’d come here to work and produce.
That is the ONLY environment in which an “open border” policy can work.
But that is NOT going to happen. We are NOT going to witness the eradication of the welfare state any time soon, nor are we going to see support for far more draconian immigration laws fall below 70%.
The will of the people is clear, and since there is NO “right to immigration” enumerated in our Constitution, America’s immigration policy (which has NOT been “open” since prior to the Civil War) can be arbitrarily made as strict as the people deem reasonable.
What the vast majority of the 70% of American polled who support far stricter immigration laws, is one that benefits America first, through last. To the vast majority of Americans the term “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” does NOT include amnesty or a “path to citizenship for those already here illegally, instead it includes employer sanctions, like requiring E-Verify for employers hiring workers. It includes basing immigration on America’s needs – math teachers, physicists, chemists, yes, ditch diggers, welders, auto mechanics no. It includes ending the “anchor baby,” loophole that does not exist in any other 1st world nation’s immigration policies. It even might include requiring a sizable amount of capital as countries like Canada, Australia and Switzerland all do.
We the people have every right to put whatever strictures we deem necessary and practical on immigration….previous policies are subject to change at any time.