Gated Communities and Nation States

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Michael Strong, CEO of FLOW, has some unusual ideas on gated communities and nation states:

One of the deep inconsistencies in mainstream left-liberal moral thought is that gated communities are bad, because they are exclusive, whereas nation states are good, despite the fact that they are exclusive. If the exclusivity of small-scale gated communities is bad, why should the exclusivity of much larger scale gated communities somehow be good? This moral perversity shows just how deeply the nation state paradigm distorts our moral vision.

I may be one of the few libertarians who half likes the Scandinavian nations, if only they would get over their moral presumption and acknowledge that they are no more morally lofty than are gated communities. If we allowed the Mormons to put up borders around Utah and keep the riff-raff out, they might set up something that looks like Sweden — Mormons are committed to helping other Mormons when they are down on their luck. I see Swedes as a clan of people who want to help other Swedes and keep non-Swedes out as much as possible. That clan happens to own a nation state, the Mormons don’t. If we allowed for entrepreneurial government, through secession, free zones, charter cities, or seasteading, then I could imagine a lot of clans setting up their own nation states/gated communities, and many of them might have very generous “welfare” programs.

The fastest way at present to make the global poor better off is to give them access to a developed nation — allow them to immigrate. An unskilled Mexican can earn ten times as much per day in the U.S. as in Mexico, and although some costs of living are higher, some are actually lower here. There is no transfer program of any kind that can provide as great an improvement in standard of living, as quickly, as immigration can. Until we can create a world of entrepreneurial governments, open borders ought to be moral priority number one for all who are committed to the Rawlsian principle of making “the worst off, best off.”

A progressive who dislikes exclusive gated communities presumably hates the notion of a Mormon religious state — and presumably ignores or denies the idea that Scandinavian social democracy works because of racial and cultural ties.

And if welfare programs do work best in societies with a strong sense of unity and solidarity, and we promote such monocultural states, what happens to all those poor potential-immigrants?

Leave a Reply