Birthright citizenship was decided by the US Supreme Court in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) at the height of efforts to restrict Chinese immigration. The plaintiff was born in San Francisco to Chinese parents who were legally domiciled there. The Congress enacted a law prohibiting Chinese people from becoming citizens. The plaintiff left the country and was denied re-entry under federal law that prohibited Chinese people from entering the country.
In his work, economic theorist Murry Rothbard notes that the American model, in which every baby born in the country’s land area automatically becomes a citizen, clearly invites welfare immigration by expectant parents, whereas the French system, in which one has to be born to a citizen to become an automatic citizen, is far closer to the idea of a nation-by-consent.
The question of open borders, or free immigration, has become an accelerating problem for classical liberals because the welfare state increasingly subsidizes immigrants to enter and receive permanent assistance and because cultural boundaries have become increasingly crowded or overrun. Rothbard observed that when the Soviet Union collapsed, it became clear that “ethnic Russians had been encouraged to flood into Estonia and Latvia in order to destroy the cultures and languages of these peoples”, similar to Jean Raspail’s anti-immigration novel The Camp of the Saints, in which virtually the entire population of India decides to move, in small boats, into France, and the French, infected by liberal ideology, cannot summon the will to prevent economic and cultural national destruction.
Rothbard also notes that it is time to rethink the entire concept and function of voting. Should anyone have a “right” to vote? Rose Wilder Lane, the mid-twentieth century U.S. libertarian theorist, was once asked if she believed in womens’ suffrage. “No,” she replied, “and I’m against male suffrage as well.” The Latvians and Estonians have cogently tackled the problem of Russian immigrants by allowing them to continue permanently as residents, but not granting them citizenship or therefore the right to vote. The Swiss welcome temporary guest-workers, but severely discourage permanent immigration, and, as well as citizenship and voting.
What would voting be like in a totally privatized society?
According to Rothbard, not only would voting be diverse, but more importantly, who would really care? For an economist like Rothbard, the purest form of voting is the corporation, or joint-stock company, in which voting is proportionate to one’s share of ownership of the firm’s assets…” there are, and would be, a myriad of private clubs of all sorts. It is usually assumed that club decisions are made on the basis of one vote per member, but that is generally untrue. The best-run and most pleasant clubs are those run by a small, self-perpetuating oligarchy of the ablest and most interested, a system most pleasant for the rank-and-file nonvoting member as well as for the elite. If I am a rank-and-file member of, say a chess club, why should I worry about voting if I am satisfied with the way the club is run? And if I am interested in running things, I would probably be asked to join the ruling elite by the grateful oligarchy, always on the lookout for energetic members. And finally, if I am unhappy about the way the club is run, I can readily quit and join another club, or even form one of my own. That, of course, is one of the great virtues of a free and privatized society, whether we are considering a chess club or a contractual neighborhood community.”
As life becomes either privatized or micro-decentralized, the less important voting becomes, and dilutes the idea that “democracy,” or the “right” to vote, exists as the supreme political good.
In a truly free society, the voting process should be considered trivial and unimportant at best…not a”right,” apart from a possible mechanism stemming from a consensual contract. Unfortunately, in America, democracy or voting is only important either to join in or ratify the use of the government to control others or to use it as a way of preventing one’s self or one’s group from being controlled.
Voting, however, is at best, an inefficient instrument for self-defense, and it is far better to replace it by breaking up central government power altogether.