Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

“He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.“ ~ Mending Wall by Robert Frost

There’s a conundrum for us. Does Frost think good fences make good neighbors? My mind immediately leaps to the Berlin Wall, which one wouldn’t think made for good neighbors. But there is a vast difference between that wall and the wall the two farmers in this poem erect between their properties. My Libertarian friends would certainly support the farmers’ desire to build a wall between themselves, but they are stumped by the idea that several farmers might build a wall around their village.

I am speaking metaphorically in this latter instance. There are no villages to wall off—at least not in the US these days—but there is an open borders ideal that lives among some Libertarians. They balk, not just at the idea of borders of a nation state, but at the suggestion that a few people can choose “collectively” to barricade their property.

To me, it appears that they place a higher value on the liberty of the traveler to go as he pleases, than they do on the right of the property owner to keep it to himself and the rights of people to exercise their right of freedom of association (if that right has any meaning left at all—and I would suggest that SCOTUS would tell us it does not.)

I think my next few posts are going to be exploring the idea of freedom of association and the area between nation/state borders and fences between neighbors.


(Please login/register to leave a comment)