There was a time when slavery was the norm across the world. Many well-intentioned people sought to establish and propagate moral norms and legal systems that would reduce the worst aspects of the institution, and promote better treatment of slaves. In the end, it was not such realistic, politically feasible half-measures that brought about the demise of the institution. It was two things: economic realities, and radical abolitionists.

The radicals started leagues, wrote pamphlets and newsletters, gave speeches, and produced evidence of the horrors of slavery. They captured public attention and slowly but surely turned the notion of enslaving another human from an accepted practice to an abhorrent one. This was in tandem with economic factors, which had always been at play but increased over time, making voluntary labor more efficient than forced. But the economic incentive alone was insufficient to end the practice, as many people believed it was right and good, even if it was inefficient.

Slavery is gone today. But there exists an institution – a set of ideas and policies – that can be seen as a kind of passive enslavement of the poorest, sickest, and most desperate people on the planet. This institution forces the impoverished to stay put, creating an invisible cage around the place where they happened to be born. It prohibits them from finding health, prosperity, and happiness. This bundle of beliefs is the most anti-humanitarian institution in the world today.

The institution is not economically efficient. Even those who advocate for it, like many who advocated for slavery, pay a price and enjoy a less prosperous world because of it. But again, the economic incentives alone are not enough to overturn the oppressive practice.

The institution of which I speak is the international web of immigration restrictions. Nearly every country has armed agents prohibiting peaceful individuals from escaping their dire circumstances for a chance at a better life. Nearly every country is populated with people who applaud this horrendous oppression, and argue even about the smallest half-measures to ease the plight of the poor.

It’s time for a new abolitionist movement. It’s time for a radical, organized effort to sway public opinion towards open borders. It’s time to let people be free to peacefully live and work and travel where they want to, when they want to, how they want to. It’s time to let individual will, merit, reputation, and conduct be the only limiting factors in where people locate themselves, not the barbarous walls of states or the accidents of birth location.

It’s time to take up the mantle of true and genuine freedom and humanitarianism, to advocate the greatest anti-poverty measure in world history, and show the horrors of border restrictions. It’s time to advocate loudly, peacefully, and radically for free and open borders across the globe.

It’s time to call out any would-be humanitarians who claim to want to help people in underdeveloped countries, yet won’t lift a finger to allow them exit to a better life.

It’s time to prick the conscience of the world.

This is not a libertarian project, or a liberal project, or a conservative project, or a political project of any kind. This is a humanitarian project.

Many people – the young in particular – want a radical, compelling vision to get behind. With the evils of slavery gone and the specter of communism faded, they look for causes and end up fighting about thousands of petty tyrannies. Meanwhile, the greatest tyranny inflicted upon the lives of billions persists right under their noses. Let’s wake them up and begin a moral revolution. No one should be violently prohibited from fleeing their hellish conditions.