Monday, March 23, 2020

Freedom Wants to Be Global

Stuart K. Hayashi

MAGA nationalists throughout white-majority countries have shouted, Admit you can have freedom while borders are permanently closed to economic migrants from the Third World!

There is actually an internal contradiction in their vague notion that freedom originates from the very confines of national borders.

To be free is to be able to do anything possible to you and peaceful without being threatened with violently-enforced constraints, such as those from government. For your peaceful actions to be free of constraint from government is, necessarily, for them to be free of constraint from governments’ geographic borders.

Nationalists would have you believe that the source of freedom from violently-enforced constraints is . . . borders that are violently-enforced constraints.

For the government to put you under lockdown is for it to draw a crude ring around you and say, “You’re free to do what you want with your own belongings — up until the edge of our crudely drawn ring. If you accept other people’s invitations to step foot on their private land holdings, and those holdings are outside the ring we drew, we’re right to use force against you.” That makes as much sense as putting you under house arrest and saying, “You have freedom because you’re still free to do what you want in your own house . . . up until you attempt to step outside peacefully.”

But that is what nationalistic restriction of immigration happens to be — except nationalism is a sort of quarantine that’s intended to be permanent.

And insofar as they cite, as the basis for this long-term quarantine, the “cultural incompatibility” of some peaceful people with others, what the nationalists fear is not that you will infect others with some physically damaging pathogen, but with your ideas.

Stewart Brand famously said something that is seldom completely understood by those who quote it enthusiastically: “Information wants to be free.” I want to borrow a bit from that. More than I am of what Brand said, I am certain of this: freedom wants to be global.