As Ludwig von Mises correctly stated, in a free state, no one is forced to remain within the state. Anyone who seeks to emigrate is free to do so. This is, in fact, one of the primary tenets of liberty – if you don’t like it, you can leave.
And so, it follows that, if the right to exit is curtailed in any way, the state has ceased to be free.
There are those who feel that, once this line has been crossed by a state, it’s time to skedaddle. Don’t wait for conditions to “get better.” They won’t. History shows us that, in every case where migration has become curtailed, the state never reverses to a more open policy; in fact, it becomes decidedly more restrictive.
We’re presently living in a period in which most of the countries that were formerly the most free, half a century ago, have declined considerably and many are approaching a state of totalitarianism.
The principle countries that are at the forefront of this decline will be steadily increasing both their capital controls and their migration controls. With regard to the latter concern, the emphasis will not be on keeping non-productive people out, it will be on keeping productive people in.
Please read that last line again, as it’s very telling.
The EU and US are rife with problems regarding large numbers of people immigrating from other countries. The respective governments do all that they can to encourage this immigration, including providing immigrants with rights and benefits that are not accorded to the tax-paying citizens of those jurisdictions.
All the more reason, then, that an eyebrow should be raised when these jurisdictions make it more difficult for their own citizens to travel within or exit the jurisdiction.
The US, for example, now has a 100 mile zone along all its borders, where checkpoints are set up to control the movements of those who pass through them. Citizens are routinely asked intrusive questions that they are not lawfully obligated to answer, yet, if they don’t, they may have their car windows smashed, be tased, apprehended and subjected to search and detainment. As can be seen in this video, https://youtu.be/wnicMKKSReY, the policies set nine years or more ago for the patrols bear a striking resemblance to those of the Nazi Brownshirts of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s.
Of course, it’s quite true that Americans are presently able to fly out of the country, as long as they have a valid passport and submit to a search, so, does this not suggest that it’s paranoia to think that the ever-expanding number of “border” inspections occurring 100 miles within US boundaries has any purpose other than to detain illegals?
Well, there is that niggling problem that the US government goes way out of its way to allow illegals to enter, then provides them with welfare, education, housing, healthcare and other encouragements. In addition, an illegal is far more likely to be released than an American citizen if he commits a crime, even if that crime is murder.
Clearly, the segment of the population that’s being indoctrinated to believe that they no longer have the right to move freely are American citizens themselves.
But the question remains, why?
Well, a simple answer is that, historically, whenever a state has created an economic and/or political time bomb that’s set to go off in the not-too-distant future, that state has instituted migration controls to assure that its most productive members do not leave.
This can be seen throughout history and is presently most visible in Venezuela, whose porous borders have allowed over 2.3 million people to escape to neighbouring Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador in recent years.
The state has ramped up its border controls in order to stem this flow, but has found that merely guarding the border is not sufficient. A buffer zone is additionally necessary – one where anyone travelling is suspected of attempting to exit.
And, again, this is nothing new. Buffer zones and “no man’s lands” have existed throughout history. At present, the US practice of shaking down those in vehicles is merely a nuisance – the removal of the “inalienable right” to liberty on a temporary basis.
However, it does not bode well for the future. If the only reasonable explanation for these inland checkpoints – some of which are placed in small towns where everybody knows each other – is to get citizens accustomed to the concept that they do not have the right to liberty, it’s a necessary step to achieve, if the intent exists to one day curtail migration by US citizens.
Such zones would then be quite effective, not just in discouraging anyone living in the 100-mile zone, but in discouraging any American citizen. If, for example, someone living in Nebraska decided to exit a deteriorating US, he’d know that he’d be unlikely to penetrate a 100-mile zone that included innumerable checkpoints.
That would leave airports as the only alternative. And, in actual fact, for those government agencies that perceive a future problem of thousands and perhaps millions of productive people exiting, creating limits at airports is easy. That system of identification and search is already in place. All that’s needed is for the agent at the desk to say, “I’m sorry, sir, but the computer tells me that permission for you to board this flight has been denied.”
Those who use airports to travel in and out of the US are already familiar with the fact that they are not to refuse authorities in any way whatsoever. Those few who create a fuss are often escorted to the back room. Their fate, whether it be good or bad, is never learned by other travelers, but the message is clear – comply with everything.
Returning to Mises, in a free state, no one is forced to remain within the state. Anyone who seeks to emigrate is free to do so.
For those who recognize that the US is no longer a free country, as it once was, the question arises: Do I accept that my liberty has been removed by my government? Do I wait, in the vain hope that a state that’s moving headlong into totalitarianism will somehow magically reverse itself and reinstate my liberty?
Or do I choose to make an exit now, while the window of opportunity still exists and migrate to one of the countries where liberty is still very much alive?
But, again looking at history, the latter decision has been uncommon in the extreme. From Rome in the fourth century, to Nazi Germany in the 20th century, history shows that very few people take action while there’s still time. The great majority wait until the migration restrictions have been implemented, then attempt to leave, usually unsuccessfully.
In the ramping-up of any totalitarian police state, one of the warnings that conditions are going to become more draconian in the near future is that the state first secures the borders. That warning is as invaluable as it is prophetic.