DEMOCRATIC LEGITIMACY AND COERCIVELY ENFORCED BORDERS
ASSESSING THE ARGUMENT OF ARASH ABIZADEH
Arash Abizadeh argues that all coercive enforcement of borders is democratically illegitimate, since foreigners do not participate in the creation of border laws. It is irrelevant whether the border laws are substantively just or unjust, whether the state enforcing them is affluent or poor, and whether the individual being coerced autonomously chooses to cross the border or is forced by desperate circumstances to do so. His argument involves (1) a foundational commitment to individual autonomy; (2) a normative premise that coercion requires democratic legitimation; (3) and an empirical premise that border enforcement laws subject all foreigners to state coercion. In this essay, I contest each of these components. I challenge the empirical premise through examples illustrating the empirical limits to state coercion over foreigners. I contest the normative premise by showing that state coercion requires democratic legitimation only for those involuntarily and indefinitely subject to it. Finally, I challenge the commitment to individual autonomy as foundational to political legitimacy by distinguishing political legitimacy from political authority. I conclude by demonstrating how my critique renders a more plausible account of the normative limits of border coercion, one that coheres more readily with stances advanced by Javier Hidalgo and Abizadeh himself.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.