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My question is twofold but relates to just the issue of immigration into a nation of which an Objectivist is a citizen.

What is the Objectivist stance on immigration in the ideal Objectivist society, and what is the Objectivist stance on immigration in present Western nations (USA and Australia are the two nations I have concerned myself mostly with in thinking about this question).

Does Objectivism proscribe immigration across a border into a nation without restriction or a restriction placed by government or a restriction managed by another mechanism?

Does the notion that an one of an Objectivist government's roles is to protect the nation from outside aggressors extend to denying entry by foreigners who may or may not be a threat?

My thoughts on the subject are that an Objectivist government would need to instruct the armed forces to deny entry on the basis that any person attempting entry may or may not be a threat but until that is determined the worst must be assumed. If this approach was not taken then there would be the very real chance a foreign nation with "Looter" intentions could just instruct its armed forces to enter one by one until a point in time when they would launch an attack on the Objectivist nation from within.

Does this imply that an Objectivist government, as a subset of protecting the borders, has a role in filtering immigration into the an Objectivist nation?

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There wouldn't be any opportunity for an immigrant to become a looter in the sense of living off a welfare state, because there wouldn't be a welfare government in an Objectivist country. If they wanted to be a looter in the sense of using direct force to steal, murder, commit fraud or otherwise, these people would quickly be arrested and put in jail. Also, it would be fairly obvious if a large group of people were amassing resources and weapons for an internal attack, and easily stopped. And lastly, any enemy country that sent "infiltrators" wold quickly lose it's military aggression ability due to losing soldiers who defected when they see how free they are in an Objectivist country (since any country that would attack an Objectivist country would be a country with some form of dictatorship and be oppressed).

Altogether, I think the stance at ARI is one of free and open immigration. If a person can afford to move here and obeys the laws, why shouldn't they be allowed? And at the same time, immigration generally increases a country productivity over the long term, even if there is a short-term decrease in the short-term.

I should also add that any country that tried attacking an Objectivist country, whether from the inside or outside, would quickly find it's territory turned to rubble by long-range bombs.

Edited by Chris.S
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Yes I agree that without a welfare state, persons from outside of the nation would not be able to "mooch".

As for an enemy's "inflitrators" being nullified by becoming Objectivists themselves, I think that anti-human, totalitarian, "looter" nations would send infiltrators who they could exert control over by threatening the infiltrator's family back in the "looter" nation, or through comprehensive brainwashing (ie thugs of the mind or thugs of the spirit).

Yes, I agree an individual with sufficient wealth and respect for the law should be able to emigrate, in posing my question, I was concerned about whether it is the role of an Objectivist government to control this, and if so, what Objective authority is giving for this.

As for long-range military reaction... I think even a Lion could be taken down by mice if it was careless enough to let the mice have an advantage and there were enough mice with the intent of killing the Lion.

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As for long-range military reaction... I think even a Lion could be taken down by mice if it was careless enough to let the mice have an advantage and there were enough mice with the intent of killing the Lion.

That's a specification of the problem of most people who want immigration controls - the idea that people's natures are innate, that people are divisible into those with a good nature and those without. That then translates to advocacy of the idea that the goal of immigration policy should be to admit the former and bar the latter: "I'm not a racist but..." and all that crap.

In reality, people are volitional creatures. Cultures and ideas can be good or evil - but human beings are not slaves to the cultures they were brought up in. I am not at all irreconcilably concerned with immigration of people generally associated with evil cultures because I know that people can and do change. When a country truly is free, when people are at liberty to question, to challenge, to publish radical ideas and debate them in public without fear of retribution even if others are grievously offended by people's blasphemy or lack of faith or blah blah blah, decency and reason win out in the end. The immigrant parents with bad cultures are, in a society like that, powerless to prevent their children from questioning them and from rejecting their parents' teachings if they judge those teachings to be in error.

That was shown in the US in the 19th century, in the days of the great melting pot. Nobody deliberately aimed at that result, it came about from the simple fact of men being set free to reason and act according to their own best judgement. Faced with the variety of viewpoints to consider and consequences to observe, the children of the immigrants strongly tended to adopt better outlooks on life, keeping only those elements of their parents' teachings as they fould reasonable. The result was a single culture that simply had a patchwork of different concrete-level practices and values that were harmless and even fascinating - and the fact that men were free to retain those differences is part of what made the USA great.

The problem today is not immigration. It never was in the past when borders were far more porous than now, and it isn't the problem today. The problem is one of attacks on freedom and its foundation in reason. We are being constantly told that logic is but a mere Western prejudice, and laws are being made with that claim in mind. It is becoming increasingly illegal to question. It is becoming increasingly illegal to offend someone's religious sensibilities. It is becoming increasingly illegal to point out that one culture's take on some issue is morally superior or inferior to another culture's take on it. The more this happens, the less that the children of immigrants are becoming exposed to and are able to ponder the differences. The more this happens, the more that the immigrant parents are able to seal their own intra-urban borders, not against the immigration of people but against the immigration of foreign languages and ideas. By means the damnable edict from multiculturalism, "THOU SHALT NOT QUESTION", ghettoes are being formed from which the children of immigrants are finding it harder and harder to escape.

For now the ghettoes' barriers are largely psychological, but the way things are going they may well become physical. There already are increasing calls for the setting up of culture-based judicial systems in defiance of existing codes of justice, and there are already no-go zones in cities of WESTERN countries where police fear to tread. Make no mistake, things are going to get MUCH worse than the occasional Parisian carbeque - but "unchecked and indiscriminate immigration" is not to blame.

The solution to the problem of immigrants with evil cultures is NOT to close borders by means military force, but to bust them WIDE OPEN by means of encouraging dialogue and dissent. The solution must come from re-establishing men's right to question and challenge. The solution must come from re-establishing men's right to make and act upon their own judgement. The solution must come, not from side issues such as the availability of welfare, but from the ascendency of REASON and RIGHTS. Establish those in a country and one may open the national doors as wide as they can go without fear of being overtaken by "them", for in time most - and particularly their children - will become valued members of "US."

JJM

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What I find fascinating about this particular thread – not its content but its existence – is that ...

one Australian who is an immigrant from Scotland,

is chatting with another Australian who either is an immigrant or is desecended from some from stuff knows where,

on a forum centred on the ideas of a woman who emigrated to the United States from Russia and in whose name there is an organisation now headed by a man who emigrated to the United States from Israel,

owned by man who emigrated to the United States from Europe,

frequented by people from all over the planet,

all of whom communicate on that forum in a language ultimately derived from proto-Aryan or Dravidian or something or other like that in India,

on computers built out of components made in a wide variety of locations in eastern Asia or Latin America,

whose sources of ideas and technologies are developments of the discoveries of some men in the Mediterranean and the Middle-East thousands of years ago!

Bugger the borders, hail reason!!

JJM

Edited by John McVey
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There wouldn't be any opportunity for an immigrant to become a looter in the sense of living off a welfare state, because there wouldn't be a welfare government in an Objectivist country. If they wanted to be a looter in the sense of using direct force to steal, murder, commit fraud or otherwise, these people would quickly be arrested and put in jail. Also, it would be fairly obvious if a large group of people were amassing resources and weapons for an internal attack, and easily stopped. And lastly, any enemy country that sent "infiltrators" wold quickly lose it's military aggression ability due to losing soldiers who defected when they see how free they are in an Objectivist country (since any country that would attack an Objectivist country would be a country with some form of dictatorship and be oppressed).

Altogether, I think the stance at ARI is one of free and open immigration. If a person can afford to move here and obeys the laws, why shouldn't they be allowed? And at the same time, immigration generally increases a country productivity over the long term, even if there is a short-term decrease in the short-term.

I should also add that any country that tried attacking an Objectivist country, whether from the inside or outside, would quickly find it's territory turned to rubble by long-range bombs.

I could absolutely see how the argument could be made that free, lawful immigration could be in the Objectivist nation's best interests, if it was done so without any special treatment. Anybody who wants to join the Objectivist nation would theoretically be fed up with whatever non-Objectivist nation they're fleeing from, and would wish to utilize their skills in a nation of Objectivism. If that were the case, and if the citizen were law-abiding, I could not see how this could be anything but positive for a nation founded on an Objectivist government.

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Anybody who wants to join the Objectivist nation would theoretically be fed up with whatever non-Objectivist nation they're fleeing from, and would wish to utilize their skills in a nation of Objectivism.

That's not necessarily so. Consider the close analogy of America.

America is a wealthy nation with plenty of opportunity for anyone. It's also a largely free country which allows many liberties other countries quash on a regular basis. Which of these two aspects draws immigrants?

I think other than people who are actively persecuted in their lands of origin, most immigrants flock to america for the economic opportunities unavailable to them at home. That's certainly the case in Mexico. It's true that in the past the Mexican government was more oppressive, but that's largely no longer the case (I can go into detail if you like). But even then poeple moved to the US in search for work and money, not freedom of thought and expression, nor were things ever so repressive that those working for free elctions did not move out of the country.

Of course the existence of welfare, including free schooling, distorts these reasons but only up to a certain point. There is a measure of welfare in Mexico as well, including free schooling.

So, most imigrants probably go to america in search of jobs and money, not in search for liberty. That probably would be the case also in an Objectivist nation. You and I know liberty is inextricably linked to the levels of wealth production, but most people either don't know it or don't care.

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Harry Binswangers has a couple of good articles posted to Capitalism Magazine which might be helpful on this topic:

Immigration Quotas vs. Individual Rights: The Moral and Practical Case for Open Immigration by Harry Binswanger (April 2, 2006)

The Solution to "Illegal Immigration" by Harry Binswanger (May 20, 2006)

I think that it is especially important to understand that individual rights -- the right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness -- are not gifts from others, not even from the government of the United States (or the US Constitution). Individual rights are inalienable to us as human beings, inherent in our nature. They come with the package. What's important is that those rights be recognized and respected.

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Harry Binswangers has a couple of good articles posted to Capitalism Magazine which might be helpful on this topic:

Immigration Quotas vs. Individual Rights: The Moral and Practical Case for Open Immigration by Harry Binswanger (April 2, 2006)

The Solution to "Illegal Immigration" by Harry Binswanger (May 20, 2006)

Craig Biddle also had an article in the Objective Standard arguing for open immigration.

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That's not necessarily so. Consider the close analogy of America.

America is a wealthy nation with plenty of opportunity for anyone. It's also a largely free country which allows many liberties other countries quash on a regular basis. Which of these two aspects draws immigrants?

I think other than people who are actively persecuted in their lands of origin, most immigrants flock to america for the economic opportunities unavailable to them at home. That's certainly the case in Mexico. It's true that in the past the Mexican government was more oppressive, but that's largely no longer the case (I can go into detail if you like). But even then poeple moved to the US in search for work and money, not freedom of thought and expression, nor were things ever so repressive that those working for free elctions did not move out of the country.

Of course the existence of welfare, including free schooling, distorts these reasons but only up to a certain point. There is a measure of welfare in Mexico as well, including free schooling.

So, most imigrants probably go to america in search of jobs and money, not in search for liberty. That probably would be the case also in an Objectivist nation. You and I know liberty is inextricably linked to the levels of wealth production, but most people either don't know it or don't care.

That's an interesting take on this issue - very profound, actually. Do you suggest with this evidence, then, that we have selective or closed borders? If welfarism is only a distortion up to a certain point, then should an Objectivist nation allow immigrants who only are in search of liberty (and thus, prosperity, production, etc.), or does an Objectivist nation choose to accept all who wish to enter, even without the guarantee that they are after liberty?

I just wonder which position is more conducive to capitalism. If we control who enters and leaves the country, do we thusly control the markets and the economy?

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If welfarism is only a distortion up to a certain point, then should an Objectivist nation allow immigrants who only are in search of liberty (and thus, prosperity, production, etc.), or does an Objectivist nation choose to accept all who wish to enter, even without the guarantee that they are after liberty?

I just wonder which position is more conducive to capitalism. If we control who enters and leaves the country, do we thusly control the markets and the economy?

A proper Objectivist government can only act to prevent violations of individual rights. Whose individual rights are being violated if a Mexican buys my house and moves in to it? Whose individual rights are being violated if said Mexican obtains a job from an employer through mutual consent? If we say that it is not a rights violation for these things to happen if the Mexican is motivated by pursuit of the value of liberty, but it is a rights violation for the same acts to occur motivated by pursuit of purely economic values, we are criminalizing ideas. This is the same underlying fallacy that lurks behind hate crime laws.

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That's an interesting take on this issue - very profound, actually. Do you suggest with this evidence, then, that we have selective or closed borders? If welfarism is only a distortion up to a certain point, then should an Objectivist nation allow immigrants who only are in search of liberty (and thus, prosperity, production, etc.), or does an Objectivist nation choose to accept all who wish to enter, even without the guarantee that they are after liberty?

I just wonder which position is more conducive to capitalism. If we control who enters and leaves the country, do we thusly control the markets and the economy?

Back when young Elian Gonzales was here in the U.S., there were discussions about his mother's efforts to get to America and bring him with her, risking both of their lives -- she in fact died in the attempt. Some said that she came here for freedom, liberty. A nobel pursuit they held. Others said that she wasn't seeking freedom, that she just wanted to join her lover here. Understandable, but not noble, they held.

Elian's mother did pursue liberty, her liberty to be with the man she loved, as well as Elian's liberty to live where he would have so much greater opportunities for his future.

If it is your view, either or both of you, that those immigrants who come to America in search of jobs and money are not in search of liberty, please explain what you'd take as evidence that they were in search of liberty.

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... does an Objectivist nation choose to accept all who wish to enter, even without the guarantee that they are after liberty?
Someone who comes to the U.S. from Mexico because jobs are available and better-paid, comes for the fruits of liberty.

It is fine for a government to keep out people who it has reason to believe would violate the rights of its citizens. So, it could keep out enemy infiltrators, or keep out people who have committed serious crimes, or people who have some extremely communicable disease... things like that. The law would need to be written tightly enough that it does not provide the government with excuses to keep legitimate people out.

(The above assumes a decent sized country, rather than some tiny Galt's Gulch sized place.)

Also, immigration does not imply citizenship, i.e. the right to vote or to be part of the government.

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That's an interesting take on this issue - very profound, actually. Do you suggest with this evidence, then, that we have selective or closed borders?

Not at all. A state should let anyone in, except for known criminals and other potential troublemakers. Freedom includes freedom of thought and speech.

I do think the people living in a free state will have to work constantly to keep it free. They will have to make sure immigrants learn the moral code of their country and push them to adopt it. Read up-thread as to why that's no longer really the case in America. Anyway, it's always useful to know why people act they way they do. If large numbers fo immigrants come to your country solely for economic opportunity, then make sure they learn that which they seek is linked to the liberty they'll aslo enjoy.

I just wonder which position is more conducive to capitalism. If we control who enters and leaves the country, do we thusly control the markets and the economy?

Thomas Sowell (I thik) made a point a few years back that in the US millions of barbarians have to be civilized and assimilated into america. he meant all the children born in a given year. He's right. No one is born culturally of any nationality. It's somethign one has to learn and accept (either on purpose or by default). No matter how iron-clad a Constitution is written, it can always be changed, and the way people regard it can always change as well. So it's not only those who come from abroad you should worry about, but also those who are born from within.

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If it is your view, either or both of you, that those immigrants who come to America in search of jobs and money are not in search of liberty, please explain what you'd take as evidence that they were in search of liberty.

There are several reasons. In many polls of illegal immigrants they're asked their reason for leaving. For the vast majority is the alck of jobs in Mexico or the better jobs available in America. I'm not sure what the numbers are today, but up to about 5 years ago the hourly minnimum wage in America was about on par to the daily minnimum wage in Mexico. These polls, BTW, are conducted on deported immigrants and on those who return for the holidays (a great many do, there are even government programs dedicated to them) before heading abck to America.

Next I've known a number of immigrants. This is annecdotal, but I think it points up to a trend. Most also told me they went for jobs or money. A few for welfare, mostly those who took their children (many don't take their children or wives, but rather leave them home and send them money). None ever said a word about greater freedom in America. This applies to immigrants I've known in Mexico, and a few I've met while visiting the states; in both cases legal and illegal.

Next, freedom doesn't loom all that large in Mexican society. It wasn't a rallying cry for Mexican independence or during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-21. There was a slogan in the revolution that went "land and freedom!" but it meant taking land away from wealthy land-owners to be divided among peasants, which indicates a poor understanding of liberty at best.

The constitution guarantees several freedoms, including freedom of speech, association, religion, arbitrary government search and seizure, etc. I say freedoms because that's how they appear in the constitution, not as rights. There are many rights guaranteed, surely. Rights like to have a free education, decent healthcare, a job, etc.

Nor has Mexico been a repressive country like, say, Cuba or Argentina. The government used to control the press by owning the only means of producing and importing newsprint, but gave that up in the early 90s. The media were controlled by cronyism, not coercion, and that too has ended. But even at the height of government censorship and repression fo free speech, very few people were killed or imprisoned for their ideas (contrast that to the vast prisons in Cuba, or the disappearances in Argentina). These days you're more likely to get in trouble by runnign afoul of drug gangs than the government.

If you hear anyone stressing freedom it's usually people on the left. When they go out to block streets, highways or oil wells, they harp endlessly on the fact that they are excercising their freedom of speech (I know).

So that's what I mean.

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So that's what I mean.

Thank you for your informative reply. I understand that you don't think that many, if any, immigrants from Mexico, in particular, emigrate to America for the sake of liberty.

If emigrating for jobs or money, or, in the case of Elian's mother, to be with the person she loved and to gain a better future for her son, is not done for liberty, then what would constitute emigrating for liberty?

What would lead you to a certain conclusion that someone was immigrating for the sake of liberty as opposed to just a job or money, etc.?

Would they have to say, for instance, "I have immigrated to this country for the sake of liberty, or freedom."? (Even if they also immigrated for a job or money, etc.?)

Edited by Trebor
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What I find fascinating about this particular thread – not its content but its existence – is that ...

one Australian who is an immigrant from Scotland,

is chatting with another Australian who either is an immigrant or is desecended from some from stuff knows where,

on a forum centred on the ideas of a woman who emigrated to the United States from Russia and in whose name there is an organisation now headed by a man who emigrated to the United States from Israel,

owned by man who emigrated to the United States from Europe,

frequented by people from all over the planet,

all of whom communicate on that forum in a language ultimately derived from proto-Aryan or Dravidian or something or other like that in India,

on computers built out of components made in a wide variety of locations in eastern Asia or Latin America,

whose sources of ideas and technologies are developments of the discoveries of some men in the Mediterranean and the Middle-East thousands of years ago!

Bugger the borders, hail reason!!

JJM

Wasn't Hitler technically an Austrian immigrant to Germany? :lol:

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To refine my earlier question, what is the Objectivist test which defines the limits of a legitimate Objectivist army's power to repel hostile forces?

To break it down further:

Is an Objectivist army acting correctly if it defends an Objectivist nation against 100,000 armed soldiers attacking the Objectivist's nation's borders?

Is an Objectivist army acting correctly if it defends an Objectivist nation against 100,000 unarmed soldiers armed only with their hands, attacking the Objectivist's nation's borders?

What if the numbers were 10,000 or 100 or 10?

To put an even blunter point to it, what would Ayn Rand have said about 30 KGB operatives who wanted to walk into America in 1960?

Imagine that it is 1960. These would be 30 unarmed individuals but I would argue their ideology make them very "armed" (ie able to do significant harm). What if the number was 300 or 30,000? Also remember that many KGB agents were chosen due to their zeal (read: brainwashing) or ability to exert control (read: threats to their family etc).

So thinking as an Objectivist, what are the limits to government power in defending it's borders, especially as defence ostensibly appears to overlap with immigration?

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The government can stop a single unarmed enemy spy. Numbers and arms are not crucial here. More than stop him, if they find him in the country or trying to enter, they can capture him and punish hiom according to the law. This might even include capturing him abroad, to the extent that the law allows.

Edited by softwareNerd
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If emigrating for jobs or money, or, in the case of Elian's mother, to be with the person she loved and to gain a better future for her son, is not done for liberty, then what would constitute emigrating for liberty?

What would lead you to a certain conclusion that someone was immigrating for the sake of liberty as opposed to just a job or money, etc.?

Would they have to say, for instance, "I have immigrated to this country for the sake of liberty, or freedom."? (Even if they also immigrated for a job or money, etc.?)

Look at political refugees and some asylum seekers. Their reasons to move elsewhere is to escape repression, or persecution, or both. Such people explicitly know they are seeking freedom.

The more common type of immigrant, tough, probably doesn't know that greater freedom in America is the reason for the greater wealth and economic opportunities. The government here has an overt, though unofficial, attitude that the US government should let Mexican immigrants in because they need the money to support their families. This attitude extends throughout Mexican society, therefore I'd expect it applies to illegal immigrants as well. You can clearly see it means the US should run a welfare program for excess Mexican workers.

BTW that's another reason for America to open her borders to people seeking to work there. As things are now an illegal worker won't be able to get much more than menial work no matter how many years he spends in the US. Moving up from fruit-picking or housekeeping or kitchen help would require a legitimate residency or citizenship, as would self-employment. And such higher positions would perforce make them broaden their horizons beyond the latino communities they live and work in, allowing them to better know their host country and to integrate themselves into it. And that includes the role of liberty in everyday life.

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Wasn't Hitler technically an Austrian immigrant to Germany? :)

I'm not quite sure how I am supposed to interpret this. Anyhew, the answer is evidently yes.

For the record, "Aryan" properly refers to a group of people originating in the region around north-west India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. It's where the Iranians got the current (and original) name for their country from after they ditched "Persia" in 1935. Hitlers' toadies took a few bogus theories about languages & human origins and then twisted the actual story to suit their own ends. The use of the swastika follows the same pattern and has a similar cultural-geographic origin.

JJM

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Ok so we are agreed that defence of a nation is a good thing. We are also agreed that allowing free immigration is a good thing. What is the Objectivist test which defines the balance between defence (keeping some people out) and immigration (letting most people in).

A side question, what was the philosophical Objectivist basis for Galt's shield over the Gulch to keep people out? We know he did it to stop the "Looter" world finding Galt's Gulch but what was the Objectivist principle which allowed the defence of Galt's Gulch to override the Objectivist principle that human beings should be able to go across borders freely?

(@all the people talking about Swastika's, Aryans and Hilter's nationality I fail to see how it is related to the topic of this thread so it might be useful to start a new thread for discussion of such things to keep each discussion separate and focused)

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A side question, what was the philosophical Objectivist basis for Galt's shield over the Gulch to keep people out? We know he did it to stop the "Looter" world finding Galt's Gulch but what was the Objectivist principle which allowed the defence of Galt's Gulch to override the Objectivist principle that human beings should be able to go across borders freely?

Galt's Gulch was private property, not a city, country or state of any kind. If America were to ahve open immigration, that mans I could freely move to, say, Boston. It does not mean I could move into your house in Boston.

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