Uep Rapor No : 2021 / 3
19 min read

Berkin Nazmi Dermiröz




Immigration and anti-immigration have become a phenomenon that Europe cannot ignore, along with the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war. Looking at the number of deputies in the parliaments of the countries in question, it can be seen that there has been an increase in the vote rates of the far right parties after the two events I mentioned above in almost every European Union country. In particular, immigrants, who make up a negligible part of the population of the leading European states, have been an option that every party that comes to power has applied to increase their vote numbers. So much so that there was a severe gap between the current Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's view of immigration when he was Minister of Integration and his view after he became prime minister. In light of these facts, it is certain that the rise of the far right in Europe will negatively impact immigrants. The parties and organizations that should stand in the way of the rise of the far right act contrary to the ideas they advocate on immigration and anti-immigrantism will be a separate topic of discussion. The fact that liberal parties that emphasize freedom are not against this situation has led to the ongoing debates on immigration and anti-immigrant issues of radical approaches such as libertarianism. Before touching on the main subject, a theoretical basis will be prepared for the article's main question by stating what libertarianism is, how it emerged, and the ideas of prominent libertarians on migration.



Political philosophy called libertarianism says that every man owns his own life and that no one can own another man's life. According to libertarian doctrine, no one can use others as tools, nor should others use themselves as tools. Humans should not be put in the object's position, for no other reason, for he is a value in itself.


Until the middle of the 20th century, liberalism's regression in intellectual and real politics was also influential in the emergence of radical approaches such as libertarianism. Their ideas received little attention in political and academic debate, and the policies they had advocated were completely discredited. The main point that distinguishes libertarian theory from classical liberalism is the way in which liberal principles and values are justified. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Austrian School of Economics, particularly its pioneers Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich A. Hayek, made two vital contributions to liberal thought. The first was that Mises proved that a purely socialist economy was literally impossible because of his inability to engage in practical economic calculation. Both Mises and Hayek made a second contribution, developing an explanation for the business cycle and the sources of economic depression in relation to the state's monetary policy. In the late 1940s, libertarians were a "scattered remnant," as Albert J. Nock termed it.


Libertarians often harshly criticize the welfare state understanding and welfare policies of states. We can talk about different tendencies and lines within these criticisms in terms of needing the state. In libertarian theory, in addition to the minarchist line, which believes that classical liberalism's arguments for the "state" are very detrimental to individual freedom and rights, there is also an anarcho-capitalist interpretation, which envisages the complete abolition of the state in order to maximize individual freedom. In minarchism, which developed with the ideas of Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick, the limited state definition of liberalism is interpreted too narrowly to allow it to go beyond providing justice and security services. In addition, the state is not given a minimal welfare distribution role. Giving the state the authority to regulate economic transactions paves the way for the centralization of power. Hayek interprets these market adjustments as the first step on the 'path to slavery' of abuse of the situation.


Consequently, the more governments can control economic life, the more they will have the ability to control all aspects of life. We must conclude that economic freedoms are fundamental to protect our civil rights and political freedoms. People who have embraced libertarianism opposes statism and collectivism, advocating unrestrained free-market capitalism and the rule of law. According to libertarianism, the role of the state should be limited to the use of violence in retaliation against those who initiate violence. The state should not interfere in areas such as religion, social organization, and economy. The state is the most dangerous institution known to man. Murray Rotbard describes the state as embodied violence, a coercion.[1]


Stephen L. Newman, on the other hand, explains the libertarian view as follows: 'Libertarianism is distinguished by its extreme hostility to political power and its refusal to consider the public interest, which is nothing more than a cruel deception. Libertarians define political power as oppression or the threat of oppression. So then, exercising political power means using the oppressive potential of the state against citizens. As a result, political power and freedom are incompatible.[2]



Immigration, which has been a significant social phenomenon throughout history, social, cultural, economic, and political formations of societies, is considered one of the main factors that directly affect the states. Immigration, whether legal or illegal, whether motivated by work opportunities or wealth, is extensively debated in the world. On the other hand, reveal the importance of the "immigrant" issue even more. The success rate of integration applications put into practice by governments is decreasing day by day. Europe's growing number of immigrants (and the children born to those immigrants) has led to both economic and social problems and an alarming increase in crime rates, as some have very different cultures and a lack of desire to integrate.


With immigration, individuals with completely different backgrounds in many aspects such as language, religion, tradition, and culture have to get along with each other in the same environment. As a natural consequence of this situation, tendencies such as violence, conflict, and radicalization are increasing. The incompatibility of settled peoples and immigrants turns into a conflict ground that can cause significant damage to the relevant country over time.


It is generally known that libertarians support free immigration and oppose closed borders. However, there are not sheer numbers of libertarians or classical liberals who argue for restrictions on immigration. Michael Huemer, one of the advocates of immigration restriction, explains his thoughts with five different reasons in his book titled "Is There a Right to Immigration?". The first is that some American workers' wages are likely to decline. However, Huemer does not say that this justifies deporting poor migrant workers. Because no one has a built-in right to offer income in a competitive market. The second reason is cultural protection. Some authors argue that a state has the right to limit immigration to preserve its culture. This argument assumes that immigrants will destroy their culture. However, there is no empirical evidence that such fears will materialize. Moreover, morally speaking, the preservation of a particular culture is not achieved by ensuring the deportation of immigrants.


The third reason is the collapse of the host state. Some people think that open borders will allow more than a billion people to come to America, thus undermining government activities, increasing crime and destroying people, democracy, causing environmental disasters, lowering the standard of living, etc. Shows fear of situations.


On the other hand, according to Jan Krepelka-about against restriction on immigration- who gives a different explanation to this issue with a libertarian perspective, there can be two different immigration policies. Firstly, free immigration, that is, with no border checks; secondly, invited immigration, with border checks to filter out the uninvited.


Freedom of immigration and “open borders” have been advocated by many libertarians, arguing for  various reasons.  From the libertarian point of view, all people are equal. This equality is a kind of universal right. These universal rights do not change by crossing an arbitrary line called a border, or by acquiring a piece of paper called a passport or national identity card. The libertarian argument in favor of open borders is that foreigners have the same rights as citizens, not more rights.


Invited immigration raises the question mark: If an immigrant is to be invited, how will he be invited, and how will the invitation be defined? This is where the issue of private property comes into play. That is, will citizens of the country be able to give property to immigrants? This type of immigration appears mostly in touristic trips, but these trips, which later become permanent, become an unknown within the boundaries of private property, as I mentioned before.


I will now proceed from the Austrian perspective to elaborate on this issue in a more specific way.



After a little historical reminder, I will move on to the details.

In 1956, with the dissolution of the Union of Independents (VdU), which adopted the nationalist ideology, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) was established. FPÖ has shaped its views on nationalist elements. Anton Reinthaller, a former SS officer, was appointed as the party chairman. The party, which was stigmatized by the Nazis in its first years, tried to rasp its original view a little by incorporating liberals from the 1960s on. Then Austrian Social The FPÖ, which started to get closer with the Democratic Party (SPÖ), is involved in normalization efforts has entered. Although liberalization within the party has been important step for normalization policy since the 1970s, the spirit and essence of the party carrying a nationalist identity have been criticized by the nationalist wing. Thanks to the growing liberal wing, the FPÖ, which was invited by the SPÖ to form a coalition after the 1983 elections, was now shifting to the center.  However, after Jörg Haider, known as a former Nazi, became president of the FPÖ, which could not find support from the grassroots, the party took on a completely nationalist identity. The fact that the workers started to vote for the FPÖ from the beginning of the 1990s and the collapse of the Soviet Union created the political environment that the FPÖ sought.


While anti-Semitism was among the ethnic exclusionary elements in Austria until the 1990s, foreigners replaced anti-Semitism with the massive influx of refugees. Concentrating its rhetoric on xenophobia in the 1990s, the FPÖ declared a 12-item motion with the slogan "Austria First". In the first article of the proposal, it was clearly stated that Austria was not a country of immigration. In addition, it was requested that foreign children be limited to one-third in Austrian schools and that immigration should be stopped. Haider, who wanted to draw the public to his side by distorting some ratios with the wrong numbers, is given in this motion. Thus, it caused a small number of liberals within the FPÖ to leave the party. Strache, who took the helm of the Party in 2005, could not create a Haider effect but received 19.7% of the votes in the 2014 European Parliament elections and 26% in the 2017 Austrian general elections. This brought the FPÖ back to its strength in the 1990s. Particularly, the discourses of the FPÖ and similar parties have been directed towards Muslim groups, with the entry of large numbers of refugees and immigrants into the country. So much so that on 8 June 2018, Prime Minister Kurz and his far-right partner Strache closed 7 mosques in Austria, citing the Islamic law.


Looking at the issue from a European perspective, it is seen that a nationalism intertwined with racism has been adopted in European societies leading the globalization process. Accordingly, Europe has become an area where racist tendencies such as Islamophobia are on the rise. In this context, we can see that extreme right-wing parties have started to talk about themselves frequently in Europe recently. Especially the 2014 European Parliament elections showed that today, far-right parties in many European Union member countries find support from a large part of the society and increase their vote rate day by day. When we examine the emergence processes of far-right parties in the political scene of Europe, we are faced with a generally rising picture, although there have been decreases from time to time. The increase in votes in the election results of far-right parties has placed the facts such as xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia on the European agenda. In particular, anti-Islam has come to the fore as the main element in the election propaganda and discourse of political leaders in European countries. The laws passed and the referendums held have been indicators of how widespread Islamophobia in Europe has become. These “discriminations” against Muslim immigrants have paved the way for clashes between groups that socially advocate or oppose this situation.


If we go back to the Austrian particular, we see that the discrimination environment created by a few discourses has reached a higher level with the regulations made. For instance, Haider says, “you cannot internalize the spirit of that place just by living in it; your house is not just your neighborhood or the region you are in. So, according to this view, immigrants, and newcomers will always be seen as foreigners. Populist radical right parties argue that the increase in crime rates is due to the increasing number of immigrants. They see immigrants as scapegoats. In the FPÖ's discourses, 'refugee influx,',' 'foreign flood,' etc. It is seen that the expressions are frequently used in relation to immigration. The FPÖ distinguishes between 'us' and 'others' more than other populist radical right parties. The FPÖ advocates that asylum seekers should remain in isolated areas until all procedures are completed.  This gives the party a kind of racist and discriminatory label. In addition to these discourses of discrimination, migration, integration, Muslims, and Turkey, which were addressed in the 5-year government program published by the ÖVP and FPÖ coalition established in 2017, were discussed under the title of "order and security". This is quite remarkable in terms of showing the view of Austrian politics towards Turks and Muslims. In the program, some arrangements are foreseen, such as expanding the fight against Islamic radicalism, closing Islamic nurseries and institutions making terrorist propaganda, and cutting off Turkey's negotiations with the EU.


When we consider these events, a very interesting contrast emerges. That is, Austria is the first country in Europe to recognize Islam. Despite this, the country where anti-Islam and discrimination is most popular is Austria. Finally, in the map named "Islam Landkarte" published by the Austrian state in the past months, we see that this discrimination and xenophobia are applied at the highest level.



The "Political Islam Documentation Center", which was established by the Austrian coalition government last year as a project of the ÖVP, announced its one-year study by publishing it on a website called "Islam Landkarte". Although the aim of the project was determined as the fight against political Islam, the sharing of the digital map with the detailed information of 623 mosques and various institutions belonging to Muslims with the public is an indication of the increasing discrimination against Muslims in the country. It is an indisputable fact that the published map will fuel racism over time and that discrimination against the population in the marked regions will increase. This problem will greatly affect the new Muslim immigrants who will come to the country. Because the chancellor Kurz, who sees Muslims as a "ticking bomb", knows that if he succeeds in instilling this view in other countries, it will disrupt EU-Turkey relations. He also showed once again that he was anti-immigrant regarding Afghan refugees and stated that they would close their borders to new refugees. This map, which jeopardizes the safety of Muslims living in already marked areas, is also a very objectionable development according to the libertarian view. According to libertarianism, which is a new generation political view on freedom, the most important fact is property rights. This creates a contrast in countries like Austria, which see themselves as democracy-rich in the world. The anti-racist sanctions imposed by the European Union since 1986 within the integration efforts have not been implemented since far-right parties have increased recently in the countries within the union.


In Europe, where there are mostly coalition governments, right-wing views and nationalist discourses are encountered in the majority of populist parties to get votes.  “Islam Landkarte”, which is the continuation of the discrimination that started with the Islamic Law in Austria in 2015, will be a milestone for states with far-right attitudes.



To sum up, I have seen that even the most liberal libertarians look at the growing wave of immigration in the world differently. I realized that the main issue in these differences of opinion is the quality of the immigrant and the way the local people accept it. However, due to the populist political practices that affect this situation, anti-immigrant opposition is gradually increasing. The most recent example of this situation is the map called “Islam Landkarte”, which was published in the past months. The Islamic Landkarte, the details of which I have given above, will herald that we have entered a new era in Europe and in the world. This or similar maps will be produced especially for countries that quickly adopt right and far right views, and many diplomatic crises will arise on these maps. It is known that the increasing discrimination in Austria in recent years is one of the most important problems of Muslim immigrants. It is seen that this discrimination has emerged on a ground where xenophobia and anti-Islamism intersect. Austria, one of the birth points of neoliberalism, shows that this view is gradually being lost. Because the ultra-nationalist governments that came with populism, using the immigration issue as a tool, found the enemy they were looking for in immigrants who threatened the economic and social welfare of the "real people". Every propaganda made under the title of fighting against political Islam will cause Austria to be described as a country that evokes danger for the next generation of immigrants. It is possible to see the distinction made in the media and in the news written in an anti-immigrant style.



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[1] Murray N. Rothbard, For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, Macmillan, New York, 1973, s. 15-18

[2] Stephen L. Newman, Liberalism at Wit’s End: The Libertarian Revolt against the Modern State, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N. Y. 1984, s. 41


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