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reviewed by T. Nelson


Getting Libertarianism Right

by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Mises Institute, 2018, 126 pages
reviewed by T. Nelson

L ibertarianism is not just another political ideology. It's an entire moral system that derives from first principles how people and governments should act. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, a theorist in the Austrian school, is a pre-eminent advocate of these ideas.

Hoppe's idea is that there are only two ways individuals can respond to conflicts over resources: by negotiating and discussion, or by force. If they respond by force, then they are stepping outside the basic norms of civilization. Therefore, if one accepts the norms of rational discourse, one must also accept the basic principle of libertarianism: the non-aggression principle, from which all other libertarian principles follow.

Hoppe is a follower of Murray Rothbard, who taught that the State is praxeologically (that is, by its action) incompatible with the existence of private property*, but his views are a bit more right-wing (in the American sense) than Rothbard's. Hoppe estimates that 70% of the US population can be counted as State dependents [p.69], meaning they are bribed to support the institution of the State.

Because the State is a monopoly that is permitted to sit in judgment of its own actions, says Hoppe, it is illegitimate. It atomizes its population and constantly engineers crises to enhance its own power. He calls this de-civilization, writing that citizens are tempted to “propose and promote every conceivable measure of legislation and taxation to gain advantages at other people's expense.” Instead of focusing on their daily lives, people are forced to spend their time on politics. Ironically, in a democracy, this politicization of society never ends, and demagoguery becomes routine.

Politicians, says Hoppe, proclaim themselves as selfless public servants, but they should all be put in jail to rot [p.69]. Modern-day victimology and multiculturalism are not grass-roots movements, but consist of people (especially in the media and academia) trying to influence the State to use its power to redistribute others' resources for their own benefit. He proposes ten specific populist-style goals, which are generally shared by Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul:

  1. Stop mass immigration. Allow immigration by invitation only.
  2. Stop attacking, killing, and bombing people in foreign countries. Withdraw from all supranational organizations including NATO, the UN, and the EU.
  3. Defund the ruling elites and their intellectual bodyguards.
  4. End the Federal Reserve and all central banks.
  5. Abolish affirmative action and all other intrusive social laws and regulations.
  6. Crush the “Anti-Fascist” mob.
  7. Crush the street criminals and gangs.
  8. Get rid of all welfare parasites and bums.
  9. Get the State out of education.
  10. Don't put your trust in politics or political parties.

Hoppe realizes that these ideas may sound extreme. And indeed, some of them seem more like personal advice and Archie Bunkerisms than policy recommen­dations. But we should ask ourselves: how much of our resistance to them is genuine, and how much is an artifact of constant bribery and propagandization by the State? I suspect if we asked ourselves that question honestly, we might be surprised.

may 06, 2019

* According to Rothbardian libertarianism, property rights, i.e. the right to ownership of one's physical body and of all external objects peacefully acquired by the person, are the only universal human rights.