Lots of people lay claim to being 'libertarian'. This credo is quite popular these days as people rant and rail against "statism" and "big government". Calls are made for more free speech, for the dismantling of the nanny state, for the troops to be brought home post haste, for fewer regulations and less government interference. Gay (or rather an ever lengthening string of letters - I think we're up to LGBT now but more may have been added while I wasn't watching) rights are extolled and encouraged and religions are condemned for their outmoded attitudes to all sorts of things - but mostly sex.
And then we get to immigration. At this point I watch as strange contortions go on while people explain how they really are libertarian but that this doesn't mean we can't have a ban on "permanent" immigration. Accompanying this almost Cardhousian contortion is a commitment to the nation state - to Britain or England.
Let me explain - firstly by quoting a pretty good liberal (in the days when liberal meant what we now mean by libertarian):
“The world is my country,
all mankind are my brethren,
and to do good is my religion.”
Pretty good, eh! But it is a philosophy without boundaries - it's not just trade, speech and enterprise that should be free but movement. To call for tighter restrictions - even bans - on immigration is to reject the essence of this freedom. And that means you aren't a libertarian.
Nor can you hide behind statements about "level playing fields" or misconceptions about immigrants and benefits. These are no different from arguments for protectionism and managed trade - they block our goods so we block theirs, they protect their farmers so we protect ours.
You see folks, you're not libertarians at all really - what you are is conservatives. You like small government, you're a fan of voluntarism, you think business is important and you place great store in the old liberties of England - all that Magna Carta and killing the king stuff. But just as importantly you think place is important - nation, county, town, Your place, my place - a sense of belonging to somewhere that really matters.
A bit like Kipling - who certainly wasn't a libertarian:
GOD gave all men all earth to love,
But since our hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
Belovèd over all;
That, as He watched Creation’s birth,
So we, in godlike mood,
May of our love create our earth
And see that it is good.
So one shall Baltic pines content,
As one some Surrey glade,
Or one the palm-grove’s droned lament
Before Levuka’s Trade.
Each to his choice, and I rejoice
The lot has fallen to me
In a fair ground—in a fair ground—
Yea, Sussex by the sea!
So, my friends, if you are a conservative, have the good grace to admit to it rather than pretend you're a sexy, trendy, Rothbard-quoting libertarian.