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Kit Wellman (Washington-St. Louis), “Immigration and Freedom of Association,” with commentary by Fernando Teson (Florida State University—Law). Both the paper and the commentary can be found here.
Posted by tnadelhoffer on May 21, 2006 | Permalink
Wellman's argument that "a group of fellow-citizens has a right to determine whom (if anyone) it would like to invite into its political community" seems vulnerable to another argument in that the scope of 'political community' is arbitrarily chosen. Political communities come in all shapes and sizes. As any mayor will attest, any town is a political community. As any governor will attest, any state/province is a political community, albeit a step more complex than a town. Likewise a country is merely a larger, more complex political community, and finally any world diplomat would be able to confirm for us(as if it were necessary) that the entire planet is in fact one complex and intricate labrynth of a political community. I don't think it's necessary for me to run through the obvious intermediate arguments to point out that in the nth degree of this argument, it seems we are all born directly into a political community whether we or anyone else likes it or not. Just as we can't really deny people admittance into the 'existence club' it seems we can't really deny people admittance into the 'living on earth' political community either.
Another potential problem with Wellman's argument may be a failure to distinguish between membership in a political community and geographical location. While an argument of 'freedom of association' may hold for membership in a group of people who happen to be implementing something we might call a 'state,' this seems insufficient to argue that geographical proximity to high concentrations of these members is therefore something these people can regulate. It seems to bear mention that, for example, not all people in Switzerland are Swiss citizens(and hence members in that political community)and also that not all Swiss citizens(political community members)live within Switzerland. Furthermore, there are a plethora of political communities(for example political parties) that typically have no restriction on geographical location(though of course there may be restrictions on membership in the superset political community, such as citizenship in the nation in which a political party functions). All this not to say there might not be another reason for restriction of a person's geographical position, but merely that issues of membership in a political community and issues of geographical position may not be related in a strict correspondence like that suggested by Wellman.
Jeffery Coleman |
May 22, 2006 at 03:21 AM
Very intersting paper. I'm broadly sympathetic to the conclusions, and to much of the argument, though I do have one or two worries.
Two points. First, I wonder whether you don't underestimate the extent to which substantial international economic interdendence changes the global normative terrain on this issue. For instance, consider a case in which two states, A and B, enter into a trade agreement that allows free mobility of capital. If they do not simultaneously allow free movement of labor, isn't it plausible to suppose that they've created an unfair inequality in power between labor and capial, and thus instituted, by virtue of their simultaneous denial of freedom to labor and allowance of freedom to capital, an unjust economic order? With these kinds of considerations in mind, do you think it plausible to suppose that the right to restrict immigration is 'waived' in conditions under which capital moves freely? If so, given the character of the global economy, it seems to me that, even if in the abstract states do have a right to restrict immigration, this is not a right possessed by hardly any actual states, since all of these have entered into trade agreements which allow substantial capital mobility. Note that this is not the claim that global interpedence trumps the presumptive group right to freedom of association, but rather that by entering into the global economy, states waive this right with respect to restricting immigration.
Second, following up on Jeffrey Coleman's point, above, I wonder whether you don't have a more direct argument available against the 'freedom of movement' libertarian critique of restrictions on immigration. Couldn't you admit that, in principle, persons are free to 'move' anywhere they like as tourists, but, other things being equal, simply don't have a right to the kind of legal status necessary to be a functioning member of a political society? By this I mean not only rights to vote, collect Soc. Sec. checks, etc..., but also more basic, civil law type protections against breach of contract, etc... Further, one might say, in order to prevent situations in which people illicitly acquire these or others membership-benefits, states have a right to impose the menu menu of visa restrictions. Do you think, with these points in mind, that it's necessary to defend a right to restrict freedom of movement on the part of states in order to defend a right to restrict immigration?
Sean Aas |
May 22, 2006 at 07:27 PM
I found Kit Wellman’s paper highly stimulating, though I favor reasonably open borders. I’d like to raise a few issues, though I hardly do justice to the paper’s range of topics and arguments.
It seems to me that "freedom of association" may backfire as a means of excluding people. Anybody who can establish a link with somebody within the country could exercise their right to freedom of association. For example, migration is, to borrow a phrase from Saskia Sassen’s Guests and Aliens, migration is "patterned". People don’t migrate just anywhere. Among other things, diasporas play an important role in attracting migration (people are more likely to migrate where they already have contacts). As well, the right of family members to migrate (at least spouses and children) is commonly recognized by liberal states.
Freedom of association can also conflict. At one level, the majority may favor exclusion, but at a lower level, others may demand it. Consider the controversy over which family members should be allowed to migrate. Should it be the nuclear family, excluding the parents? Including the parents? What about sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, etc.? Why should the nation-state take precedence? I’m inclined to believe that what’s truly valued in terms of freedom of association are individual relationships and the state perpetrates a grave injustice if it prevents people from being together. This includes the long waiting lists, often stretching into years for reuniting spouses, parents and children in most countries who acknowledge the right to family unification).
There is also the desire often expressed by the business community to hire foreign workers (even if it’s to exploit them). Why isn’t the freedom of association between employers and potential employees relevant? It seems to me that if freedom of association is what matters, we need to take this into account.
In general, I’m somewhat uneasy about the talk of a political community’s freedom of association. Kit Wellman uses the example of Canada deciding to join NAFTA or Germany the EU, but is this really freedom of association that’s involved here? Freedom of association is typically an individual right, used to protect individuals from government interference in private (e.g., religious, family) life. If we expand this analogy to states, we need to explain the legitimacy of joining NAFTA or the EU (typically an elitist decision with somewhat limited popular, i.e., democratic support). I suspect that the decisions to join NAFTA or the EU are legitimate because they were undertaken by democratically elected governments, but I’m not convinced this amounts to a state exercising its right to freedom of association. If a majority of citizens opposed it (for whatever reason), it may be that it actually violated their right to freedom of association as a political community.
In general, we need an explanation of how the state derives its right to freedom of association beyond the sum of individual rights to freedom of association. I suppose that this could be done given an account of direct democracy (or perhaps some forms of deliberative democracy). When dealing with rather elitist representational governments, I’m skeptical.
Like in Michael Walzer’s Spheres of Justice, analogies do quite a bit of work here. The two analogies here are marriage (the freedom to marry whom one chooses) and Walzer’s club analogy. The analogy with marriage has a rhetorical effect: since most of us believe that of course we should marriage whom we choose (and not be forced into marrying someone else), it leads us to conclude that freedom of association for the political community is an important right. But, as is commonly pointed out, we don’t have any contact with most of the people in our political community and, indeed, do not have to associate with most of them, at least in normal circumstances. While being forced to marry someone severely violates our right to freedom of association, within each political community there are many people we would probably rather not associate with and can avoid.
The club analogy is more complicated and may not establish what it intends. Membership depends on the type of club. The club analogy may not establish as much as Walzer and Wellman claim. It seems to me that while there is some control over membership, clubs that aspire to a minimal standard of justice need to justify their selection. It’s not simply arbitrary and people excluded can contest their case. Among other things, the standard needs to be uniform (if x is excluded and her situation is identical to y’s, who is a member, something’s wrong).
If this is correct, we need to ask exactly what sort of club is a political community. What are the rules that determine membership? Note that Walzer – rightly in my view – believes that we cannot create a permanent class of metics (referring to European guest workers who have lived in the State for a long period, sometimes generations, but are systematically excluded from political participation). (Incidentally, allowing people freedom of movement but excluding them from political communities after a period of residence causes serious worries – see Joseph Caren’s "On Belonging: What We Owe Immigrants" on www.bostonreview.net for an interesting discussion of this issue.)
In liberal states like Canada, the US, Australia (admittedly nations that are open to and recruit immigrants), the requirements to become a citizen include: a period of residence (3 years in Canada, 5 in the US), a basic grasp of the language and knowledge of the nation’s history, traditions, law (again, fairly minimal). These are rather minimal requirements, but I would argue just ones. They’re just because this is what is required to participate in a political community. (Though I realize some communitarians might disagree.)
If this is correct, what exactly gives the right of the political community to exclude outsiders who meet these requirements (e.g., undocumented residents who have lived and worked in the state for a lengthy period)? Even people in favor of closed borders tend to think they must give some sort of reason (generally sovereignty). I don’t think mere freedom of association is sufficient. It raises the danger of the tyranny of the majority excluding people for objectionable reasons (e.g., race). Rather, there must be some sort of principled reason.
In fact, I think Kit Wellman’s references to the Boy Scouts excluding homosexuals and atheists and the Augusta National Gulf Club excluding women are telling. Unless the Boy Scouts can give some principled reason why homosexuals should be excluded (in my opinion, they can’t), they’re acting unjustly, against the character of their organization. The Boy Scouts try to be inclusive, as the recent campaign in Canada to move away from the white, Anglo-Saxon protestant image to a multicultural, international one shows.
This is very different from refusing to marry someone because you don’t like him/her, simply because of the size of the organization and its membership policy.
Regarding the inequality argument for open borders, it strikes me as a mistake to assume that inequalities don’t have global causes. Thomas Pogge makes a compelling case that unjust global institutions play a prominent role in creating and sustaining these inequalities. As well, we shouldn’t ignore the role of colonialism and past injustices in forming the current world order. The point is that there are relationships between societies and these have a role in determining distributions (e.g., farm subsidies in the US determine the ability of Jamaica to compete). I realize that Kit Wellman acknowledges this point, but I think it can be pushed further: relational equality may no longer be primarily something that concerns nation-states, but may extend globally. This may minimize the distinction between luck/relational equality and its use as a means of opposing immigration.
Much of Wellman's argument depends on the nation-state (political communities) still having sufficient autonomy, something that’s been challenged by some writers on globalization. The argument is that nation-states are hobbled by the global economic, as well as legal regimes, and that sovereignty has been challenged. States now must adapt to global financial markets. More pertinently for this issue, they must recognize the force of international law (albeit imperfectly). Many states have ratified the relevant treaties on refugees, migrant workers and human rights, which restrain how they can treat people (e.g., the non-refoulement principle prevents sending refugees back to territories where their fundamental human rights are in danger of being violated). The extent of globalization is a matter of debate, but it’s hard to deny that States feel the need to address international refugee and human rights law (even if it’s to reject it).
I wonder, as well, if luck egalitarianism is the best basis for open borders. I think that Kit Wellman is correct to point out that we can address inequality in other ways (though I suspect it might involve taking in some immigrants, given the scale and importance of remittances for development). But what about deontological rights to freedom of movement or freedom of opportunity? These needn’t involve the libertarian arguments for private property, which I believe Wellman rightly rejects in their extreme form. But still, how do we sort out which of these rights takes precedence (my right to accept a job in Germany vs. Germany’s right to exclude me)? Wellman suggests that freedom of movement can be rejected due to freedom of association, once again relying on the marriage analogy. I have the freedom to marry anybody who wishes to marry me, but not marry anybody. As long as I have freedom to move within a reasonably large territory, others can justly exclude me.
I don’t think this settles the issue, though. I’m inclined to think that rights exercised by individuals trump group rights unless it can be shown that my freedom of movement places an unjustifiably heavy burden on others.
Alex Sager |
May 23, 2006 at 02:24 PM
The commentary by Fernando Teson can now be found here:
May 25, 2006 at 11:19 AM
Thanks for your comments and questions, Jeffrey. I’d like to say just a few words about your concluding suggestion “that the issues of membership in political community and issues of geographical position may not be related in a strict correspondence like that suggested by Wellman.”
This is an important issue because even if one believes that groups like political states are entitled to freedom of association, someone who presses your distinction could object that this gives a country’s citizens no right to deny others access to the territory. To counter this, I should emphasize a premise which is only implicit in the paper: political states can only perform their requisite political functions if they are territorially organized. My view is that states can be legitimate (despite the fact that they nonconsensually coerce their constituents) only if and when they provide crucial functions (like securing a just peace) which could not be supplied in their absence. What is more, I think it is no accident that modern states are organized territorially (as opposed to sorting subjects according to eye color or type of religion, for instance); states are territorially organized because this is the only way in which they can feasibly perform the functions required for legitimacy. And if this is true, then there is an important connection between political communities and their geographical position, and this fact may in turn be helpful establishing the correspondence which you rightly note is not explicitly defended in my paper.
Kit Wellman |
May 27, 2006 at 11:28 AM
Thanks for your post. Let me take a stab at each of your questions. First, you ask “do you think it plausible to suppose that the right to restrict immigration is ‘waived’ in conditions under which capital moves freely?” I’m not sure what to think of this. I do believe that there are circumstances in which a country might waive (or perhaps even forfeit) its right to restrict immigrants, but I don’t see why this would necessarily happen if a state merely imported some capital. As Brian Barry has written (in “The Quest for Consistency: A Sceptical View”): “There are, I suggest, two main differences between people and money that fully account for the widespread difference in their treatment. The first is that with a transfer of money there is a presumption that people on both ends benefit, whereas with the migration of a person across a frontier no such presumption is in order….The second point, which is almost so obvious that I feel like apologizing for making it, is that immigrants are people and societies are made up of people. Adding new people, especially if they are culturally distinctive, will inevitably change the society.”
Secondly, you inquire: “Couldn’t you admit that, in principle, persons are free to ‘move’ anywhere they like as tourists, but, other things being equal, simply don’t have a right to the kind of legal status necessary to be a functioning member of a political society”? Because I favor a relational approach to equality, I think this option is not open to me. I am sympathetic to Walzer’s concerns about bringing in guest workers who are subjected to a subordinate political status, for instance, so (while I am not worried about the typically tourist who just passes through) I am for similar reasons uncomfortable with a ‘tourist’ who ‘moves’ to a new state and is subjected to the usual array of political duties without having the typical list of political rights.
Kit Wellman |
May 27, 2006 at 11:53 AM
You raise a lot of important issues. I think that some of your most serious worries overlap with those Fernando Teson expresses in his very good comments on my paper. And because I plan to respond (if only briefly) to Fernando a little later, I hope that you will not mind if I focus exclusively on a point that you raise toward the end. You write: “I think Kit Wellman’s references to the Boy Scouts excluding homosexuals and atheists and the Augusta National Gulf (sic) Club excluding women are telling. Unless the Boy Scouts can give some principled reason why homosexuals should be excluded (in my opinion, they can’t), they’re acting unjustly, against the character of their organization.”
This is a difficult issue, and I’m not completely sure which stand to take here (mostly because I think no position is entirely unproblematic). But I have addressed this question head-on in a longer version of this paper, so I’ll simply post here (without the endnotes) what I’ve written there:
Assuming that states have the right to control who, if anyone, may enter their territories, does it follow that a country may adopt a policy that explicitly excludes people based upon their race, religion or ethnicity? What if a country wanted to admit only whites, for instance? This question is especially difficult, I think, because if the state is genuinely at liberty to exclude everyone, how could an applicant righteously complain about not being admitted? On the other hand, most take it for granted that, even if a business is not required to hire anyone, it may not adopt a policy to hire only whites. And if a company cannot select employees in this way, presumably a state may not screen potential immigrants according to this type of criterion.
Walzer explores this question in terms of “White Australia,” Australia’s erstwhile policy to admit only whites. Walzer concludes that Australians would in fact be permitted to admit only whites, but only if they ceded a portion of their territory to those who needed it to survive. He writes: “Assuming, then, that there actually is superfluous land, the claim of necessity would force a political community like that of White Australia to confront a radical choice. Its members could yield land for the sake of homogeneity, or they could give up homogeneity (agree to the creation of a multiracial society) for the sake of the land. And those would be their only choices. White Australia could survive only as Little Australia.” Thus, Walzer appears to believe that, while Australia was not at liberty to simply turn its back upon needy non-whites, there is nothing inherently unjust about an immigration policy that discriminates based upon race.
Miller diverges from Walzer on this question, arguing that, even if the state is at liberty to exclude everyone, it wrongs potential applicants for admission by excluding them based on a category like race. As he puts it:
I have tried to hold a balance between the interest that migrants have in entering the country they want to live in, and the interest that political communities having (sic) in determining their own character. Although the first of these interests is not strong enough to justify a right of migration, it is still substantial, and so the immigrants who are refused entry are owed an explanation. To be told that they belong to the wrong race, or sex (or have the wrong color) is insulting, given that these features do not connect to anything of real significance to the society they want to join. Even tennis clubs are not entitled to discriminate among applicants on grounds such as these.
I must admit to being torn between these two views. I am tempted by Walzer’s position because, as much as I abhor racism, I believe that racist individuals cannot permissibly be forced to marry someone (or adopt a child) outside of their race. And if the importance of freedom of association entitles racist individuals to marry exclusively within their race, why does it not similarly entitle racist citizens to exclude immigrants based upon race? At the very least, one must explain why the immigration case is dissimilar to the marital one. In the end, though, I reject Walzer’s position because I think that such an explanation can be furnished. Yet I am also not entirely persuaded by Miller’s explanation.
As noted above, Miller suggests that a state may not exclude immigrants based upon a category like race because doing so wrongly insults applicants of the rejected race. I am not sure that this account suffices, though. I do not doubt that the rejected applicants might feel horribly insulted, but I am not convinced that they have a right not to be insulted in this way. By analogy, I would expect a black person to be insulted by a racist white who would never consider marrying someone who is black, but I would not say that this black person has a right not to be insulted in this way. Because of these concerns, I would like to offer an alternative suggestion as to why states may not limit immigration according to racist criteria. In doing so, I will focus upon the rights of those already within the political community rather than the rights of those who might want to enter. I shift the emphasis from foreign immigrants to citizens of the state whose policy is in question because, given the relational theory of equality detailed above, it makes sense to presume that we have responsibilities to our compatriots that we do not equally owe to foreigners. In particular, we have a special duty to respect our fellow citizens as equal partners in the political cooperative. With this in mind, I suggest that a country may not institute an immigration policy which excludes entry to members of a given race because such a policy would wrongly disrespect those citizens in the dispreferred category.
Even if we assume that there is a special responsibility not to treat one’s compatriots as less than equal partners, someone might still question how an immigration policy (which cannot evict any current citizens) could possibly affect any of a state’s constituents. To see how such a policy might disrespect existing citizens, consider the analogous situation from the familial context. Rather than focusing upon racists who are unwilling to marry outside of their race, imagine a family of two white parents with two children, one white and another black. (For the purposes of this thought-experiment, imagine that white parents sometimes gave birth to black children and vice versa.) Now, imagine the parents announcing that, as much as they would love to have a third child, they have decided against it for fear that she or he might be black. I take it as obvious how hurtful this announcement could be to the existing black child, even though the decision not to have any additional children obviously does not threaten his or her chances of coming into existence. In light of this analogy, it is not difficult to see how black Australians, for instance, might feel disrespected by an immigration policy banning entry to non-whites. Even though this policy in and of itself in no way threatens blacks with expulsion, it sends a clear message that, qua blacks, they are not equally valued as partners in the political union. As Blake comments, “Even if a hypothetical pure society could close the borders to preserve itself, a modern multi-ethnic democracy could not do so without implicitly treating some individuals already present within the society as second class citizens. Seeking to eliminate the presence of a given group from your society by selective immigration is insulting to the members of that group already present.” Thus, unless Australia were already composed exclusively of white constituents (and no state is completely homogenous), it would be impermissible to institute immigration policies designed to approximate a “White Australia,” not because such policies might insult potential black immigrants (though no doubt it would) but because they would fail to treat non-white Australians as equals. And because no state is completely without minorities who would be disrespected by an immigration policy which invoked racial/ethnic/religious categories, no state may exclude potential immigrants on these types of criteria.
A possible exception to this rule might be a religious state like Israel. When a country is designed as a state for Jews, it might be thought entirely appropriate to deny non-Jews entry. I am not so sure about this conclusion, however, because I do not see why a state’s being designed to cater especially to a specific group should license it to disrespect those subjects not in the favored group. Thus, assuming I am right that adopting a policy of barring non-Jews would treat the current non-Jewish citizens as less than equal members of the political community, only a state that was completely Jewish could permissibly adopt such an anti-non-Semitic immigration policy.
Of course, in the case of Israel, the moral horror of the holocaust makes it is tempting to accept an immigration policy that excludes non-Semites. After all, as Hannah Arendt famously emphasized, an early but crucial step toward rendering the Jews vulnerable to inhumane treatment was stripping them of their citizenship. Against the backdrop of this tragic history, the idea of a state prepared to act as a safe haven for all and only Jews might seem unobjectionable. In my view, however, while this type of consideration could well justify Israel’s controversial Law of Return (which automatically grants admission to all Jews), it would not justify Israel’s admitting all and only Jews. An immigration policy that summarily rejected all non-Jews might be acceptable for a state which included no non-Jewish subjects, but because roughly twenty percent of Israel’s population is not Jewish, it may not adopt such an immigration policy. Even a wrong that follows on the heels of the unimaginably horrible wrong of the holocaust (like all second wrongs) does not make a right. To emphasize: whether or not we are sympathetic to the idea of a state designed especially to serve a specific racial, ethnic, or religious constituency, such a state is not exempt from the requirement to treat all of its subjects as equal citizens. So if I am right that restricting immigration according to racial, ethnic, or religious criteria wrongs the current subjects in the banned groups, then only a state completely devoid of people in the banned category could permissibly institute this type of immigration policy. As a result, Australia is not free to reject potential immigrants based upon their race, and even Israel is not free to exclude non-Jews simply because they are not Jewish.
Kit Wellman |
May 27, 2006 at 12:11 PM
Wow! Thank you for your very careful and insightful comments. You not only manage to raise a lot of important issues in very few pages, your points go right to the core issues. I won’t try to address all of the concerns you raise, but I would like to respond to what I see as being your three most central worries: (1) State’s don’t have a right to anything; where states are concerned, moral reasoning is strictly a function of consequences. (2) Because states are nonvoluntary associations, only individuals, not states, can have rights to autonomy, including freedom of association. (3) One must choose between giving the state or giving its individual constituents freedom of association, and Wellman wrongly chooses the state over the individual.
Before I try to say a little bit in response, let me make two quick points. First, the position you advance seems to be the straightforward cosmopolitan stance, and it is a position for which I have great respect. Like you, I am inclined to begin with value-individualism (the view that only individual humans are of non-derivative moral significance). Moreover, I think you are right to focus on the fact that states are non-voluntary groups. Given these two points, it sure seems like states cannot have deontological rights of any stripe, let alone rights to autonomy (which presumably must depend upon the autonomy of the group’s members). So, in making the points that you do, you are clearly among the majority on a solid cosmopolitan base. Second, because I will not be able to adequately grapple with these difficult issues here, I should say that the place where I say the most about these questions (and defend my account of political self-determination in the face of considerations like the ones you raise) is in chapter 3 of my recent book, A THEORY OF SECESSION.
With that said, let me quickly say a few words in defense of my position. First of all, the reason that I am reluctant to discuss our duties regarding states in purely consequentialist terms is because I think that political groups are ENTITLED to certain things, and I do not believe that consequentialists can adequately capture entitlements. (Another way of making this point is to emphasize that when a party is denied that to which it is entitled, it is WRONGED, and I don’t think consequentialists can do justice—no pun intended—to the idea of a party being wronged.) To see why I think that matters of entitlement are relevant in how we treat states, think of the current U.S.-led occupation in Iraq. Whatever one thinks of the permissibility of the war in the first place, virtually everyone agrees that the U.S. has a duty to pull its troops out if and when things stabilize and the Iraqis are able and willing to perform the requisite political functions on their own. But notice: I am disinclined to cash out this duty to withdraw in exclusively consequentialist terms because I am convinced that it is a RELATIONAL duty, it is owed TO the Iraqis. Thus, if the U.S. decided to forcibly annex Iraq as the 51st state in the Union, then this forced merger would WRONG the Iraqis. My view is that (once they become politically viable) the Iraqis are ENTITLED to decide for themselves whether they would like to continue the union with the U.S. And if they decide that they would prefer to regain their independence, we would wrong them by disregarding their preference.
It is also important to notice that, when speaking of who is wronged, I am referring to the Iraqi individuals, not to the state of Iraq. (Thus, I am neither abandoning value-individualism nor supposing that states are some kind of “organic” entities.) But I am also not merely invoking the standard cosmopolitan stance, both because (1) these individuals are wronged qua “Iraqis” rather than qua “human beings” and because (2) it is the group of Iraqis as a whole—and not the Iraqis as individuals—who preside over the decision as to whether or not to merge with the U.S. (Thus, no individual Iraqi could righteously complain that her political self-determination was being violated if the U.S. permanently incorporated Iraq after the Iraqis voted—against her wishes—to accept the merger in a free and fair plebiscite.)
This is all very quick, of course, but it strikes me that one has only two choices on this matter. If one goes the consequentialist route and denies that there can be duties owed TO nonvoluntary groups (as you suggest), then one cannot say that the Iraqis are entitled to decide for themselves whether the U.S. occupation is permanent or not. If one insists that the Iraqis can be wronged by being annexed against their collective will (as I do), on the other hand, then one has to turn one’s back on your claims about (1) states having no rights and (2) nonvoluntary groups being ineligible for rights to autonomy. (Incidentally, given what you say elsewhere about the conditions of permissible humanitarian intervention, I am a little surprised that you would describe yourself as favoring strictly consequentialist reasoning in this arena.)
Finally, regarding your point (3), notice that in the case of the Iraqi decision of whether or not to continue its association with the U.S., the group as a whole is in the privileged position of dominion, not the individual. Thus, if all but one Iraqi voted that it would prefer independence over becoming the 51st state of the United States, then the lone dissenting Iraqi could not righteously object that her freedom of association was wrongly subordinated to that of the group. As you and I agree, the individuals and the group as a whole cannot both have dominion over freedom of association; at most one or the other can have the right. But if it is okay to give the Iraqis as a group the right to decide whether or not to merge with the U.S., why is it not similarly permissible to give the group as a whole dominion over immigration?
I know that these very quick thoughts do not do near enough to adequately respond to your very fine set of comments, but I hope that they are at least enough to show that I’ve thought about many of the issues you raise and have a great deal of respect for your reasons for rejecting my conclusions. Thanks again, Fernando, for your very thoughtful comments.
Kit Wellman |
May 27, 2006 at 01:25 PM
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