The tension between democracy and freedom is an unsettling topic, especially when the issue is economic freedom.
For over a week now, there have been huge, often violent demonstrations in France by people who believe so fervently in the “right” to employment that they cannot countenance a right of an employer to fire them. Harvard professors Pepper D. Culpepper and Peter A. Hall opine thusly in the IHT:

. . . [T]he terms “left” and “right” have lost much of their political meaning in the nation that invented them. Instead of seeing more open markets as avenues toward jobs, many of the young view them as instruments of oppression.
The result is political disarray that is likely to continue until French leaders can assemble a new vision of social justice for a market society.
The youth of France do not want a new neo-liberal contract. They want a new social contract that distributes the burdens of a market economy equitably across the populace.
Until political parties deliver that kind of compromise, the underlying political crisis will not go away.

The Chicago Sun Times sums it up:

Students and labor unions say the labor law will erode France’s cherished workplace protections. Set to take effect next month, it would let companies fire employees under 26 without reason in the first two years on the job. Under current French law, it is very difficult to fire anyone.

Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the French students are rioting against freedom. The freedom to hire someone. Or not. Or fire someone. Or not. This is economic freedom of the type Americans are supposed take for granted as a birthright. The French model is different, and it is based upon communitarian perspectives heavily influenced by French Marxism, and thus we would assume it has little relevance to American society.
But let’s contrast the French demonstrations with the American “pro-immigration” demonstrations. While half a million pouring from places like area schools into the streets of Los Angeles is hardly comparable in size, scope, or length of time with the mess in France, there is a certain eerie similarity in that the demonstrators’ mindset in both countries stems from a similarly warped sense of entitlement. I believe this arises from the continental view of rights as entitlements as opposed to the American view of rights as freedom.
In France, there’s a belief that there’s an entitlement to a job at someone else’s expense, while in the United States, the idea is that Americans have some sort of responsibility to foreign nationals who have no right to be here.
I know that libertarians are stereotyped as favoring open borders, and to the extent they do, then I guess I’m not living up to the libertarian stereotype. (May whoever is tasked with libertarian thought policing please forgive me or forgive me not!)
But with all respect to those who favor open borders, I don’t think that’s really on the same page of history as the argument being made by the demonstrators. They don’t seek the merely to come back and forth in order to work along the lines of freedom or free trade; they want — they demand — the perks and privileges of United States citizenship. They want education, housing, medical care — all paid for at taxpayer’s expense. Their extreme wing actually believes that the borders of the United States are illegitimate (i.e. that the United States has no right to exist).
A sample of their professionally-prepared signs:


That’s hardly advocacy of freedom. But even if we put this extremist “Reconquista” wing aside, I seriously doubt that the L.A. demonstrators have given any more thought to the idea of American freedom than the demonstrators in Paris. If they have thought about it, they’ve rejected it.
Freedom is seen by the demonstrators in terms of rights which are not rights at all, but entitlements at someone else’s expense. The idea that the mere act of crossing a border into another country would convey entitlements of any sort is almost laughable, but considering the Marxist nature of many of the organizers, I guess it isn’t surprising. What is surprising is to see so many people in apparent agreement — and the Marxist (and overtly racist) aspects of the demonstrations so under-reported. As PR for their “cause,” it’s almost as if they’re asking the American public to round them up and ship them back. (Are they forgetting that the latter is something the United States still has the right to do?)
They’re acting as if they have a right to be here, and a right to all sorts of things to which they don’t have a right. (And to which Americans don’t even have a right.)
As someone who believes that rights are based on individual freedom, I believe that there is a human right to own property and to have your own money. I believe that this right necessarily includes the right to spend your money on anything you want, and to hire and fire whomever you want without restriction. Hiring a person to perform work no more creates a responsibility to take care of that person than does buying the goods he might have made whether here or if he lived in some other country. This is why I agree philosophically with abolishing the restrictions on employers in France, and disagree philosophically with the proposed draconian restrictions on employers in the United States. The fact that these people should never have been allowed to enter the United States (and that they are subject to deportation) is a separate issue from the economic freedom of employers.
It is not, however, a separate issue to those who believe in regulating private economic transactions “for the common good.” Why does it become anyone else’s business if a guy I hire to paint my house is behind on child support payments or doesn’t have some other kind of correct “papers” — any more than it would be if I bought a painting he had painted on canvas? My only duty is to pay the agreed-on price. Socialists who believe private consensual economic transactions should be called “exploitation” and regulated operate under the communitarian principle that there is no such thing as private conduct. That we’re all interrelated and that what I do affects everyone. (Logically, of course, this means that there is as much right to regulate my pocket as there is to regulate my penis, but I’m supposed to be talking about immigration here….)
Much as I disagree with the communitarian view of rights (and ever-expanded notions of communal obligations), the latter view seems to be winning. The fundamental error is the redefinition of obligations as “rights.” Crossing a border into another country does not convey any rights or perks of citizenship whatsoever to the border crossers. Nor does it create an obligation or burden on the part of any employer anywhere.
To maintain otherwise degrades American freedom and makes a mockery of democracy.
But hey, let’s look on the bright side.
At least we’re not living in France!
LINGERING QUESTION: Is opposition to socialism becoming synonymous with advocating anarchy? (Sometimes it seems that way….)
UPDATE: In a thoughtful post, Dr. Helen asks “Does Rioting Create Jobs?” She concludes that

rioting for cradle to grave job security is not the answer to the job crisis in France.

Absolutely right.
And giving “rights” to non-citizens here illegally isn’t going to help the people who live in this country legitimately.