…is from Page 403 of the Liberty Fund’s 1982 edition of Adam Smith’s Lectures on Jurisprudence. When Smith writes here “an original contract,” he is referring to the idea of a social contract:
But again, upon the supposition of an original contract, by leaving the state you expressly declare that you will no longer continue a subject of it and are freed from the obligation which you owed it, yet every state claims it’s [sic] own subjects and punishes them for practices, which would be the highest injustice if their living in the country implies a consent to a former agreement. Again, if there be such a thing as an original contract, aliens who come into a country preferring it to others give the most express consent to it, yet a state always suspects aliens as retaining a prejudice in favor of their mother country, and they are never so much depended upon as freeborn subjects. So much is the English law influenced by this principle, that no alien can hold a place under the government, even tho’ he should be naturalized by Act of Parliament.
JMM: Of the more ridiculous statements to come out of popular political discourse is the phrase “If you don’t like living here, you should just get out!” It is employed often when demanding obedience to the current Administration and as a means of quashing objections to current policy.
But, given governments inherent tendency to be suspicious of immigrants (the current Trump Administration is not unique nor outside the bounds of normality in this respect), it implies that the challenge to leave is not given with any honesty. Further, given how many barriers prevent people from leaving, both internally (by the current government) and externally (by other governments), we see that not even governments truly believe in migration as consent.
Adam Smith spoke these words around 1763. Not much has changed here in 2019.
See also David Hume’s essay “Of the Original Contract.”