Summary – Decentralization & Immigration: A Strange Liberty, with Jeff Deist

In this episode, Doug Stuart sits down with Jeff Deist, welcoming him as he makes his first (but hopefully not last) appearance on the Libertarian Christian Podcast. Having served as president of the Mises Institute for ten years, Jeff Deist has grown to become one of the most well-known names of the modern liberty movement, and today he’s here to talk to Doug about decentralization. In his recent book “A Strange Liberty: Politics Drops Its Pretenses,” Jeff claims that a “relentless pursuit of decentralization” is the best—and perhaps only—way to fight back against the tyranny resulting from federalism and democracy.

After clarifying his skeptical outlook on democracy, Jeff begins his pitch for decentralization through an analysis of localism; what exactly is it? Is local policy truly better than central policy? Jeff believes that it absolutely is, arguing that centralized policy—wherein a single set of rules is universally applied to everyone—is unable to accommodate the wide array of policy preferences in the same way that local policy can. This notion of policy variance leads Doug and Jeff into a discussion on self-determination as well as liberalism, both of which are at odds with the universalist rhetoric that dominates politics today. Indeed, Jeff suggests that even libertarians fall into the trap of universalism when they advocate for their conception of freedom to be applied everywhere, because people don’t always agree on what freedom even means.

In line with this critique, Jeff brings up the topic of immigration and explains that decentralization, although it precludes the involvement of the Federal government, open borders are not necessarily the conclusion that libertarians should come to. According to Jeff, private property owners should be able to set their own immigration restrictions, but public ownership of land complicates this reality. To hear his solution and to get more insight into the previous topics, tune into this episode today!

Jeff Deist is a writer, public speaker, and passionate advocate of libertarianism, having served as president of the Mises Institute from 2013 until 2023. After stepping down in April, Jeff now works as the general council for Monetary Metals, a company with a mission to “Unlock the Productivity of Gold®.” Jeff has also worked as a private equity attorney, as well as on the congressional staff of Congressman Ron Paul. Links to his recent book “A Strange Liberty: Politics Drops Its Pretenses,” can be found in the additional resources section below.


Main Points of Discussion

00:00 Introduction
01:17 What is the status of democracy in the U.S.?
Are the left and right equally bad?
08:07 Is more local better?
10:52 What is self-determination?
15:01 What is liberalism?
18:34 What’s wrong with universalism?
Borders: who gets to decide?
26:35 Can immigration restrictions be consistent with free markets?
28:20 Should immigration be a state or federal issue?
31:09 Is immigration a threat to Christianity in the U.S.?


Additional Resources


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