Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Augusto Pinochet, and the Alt-Right Trolls
The meme warriors from 4chan have revolutionized the art of meme warfare, and in the process of doing so; prominent libertarian scholars have appeared frequently together with fascist leaning military dictators, in what I would call the “alt-right meme circus”.
Memeing Gone Rampant
The helicopter is warmed up, photoshoped into the image are the faces of Augusto Pinochet (the former Chilean dictator) and Hans-Hermann Hoppe (Austrian economist and libertarian theorist) replacing the original caricature faces. Loaded onto the helicopter are a few communists or antifa social justice activists. Pepe the frog furthermore drags the commies onto the helicopter, and the helicopter carries the flag of Kekistan (an invented kingdom).
The text on the meme reads, “Hoppe’s physical removal service”, or “The Hoppean helicopter ride”, or “Free Kekistan!” Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
If you identify yourself as an anarcho-capitalist libertarian then you have certainly been exposed to the literature of Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and you might laugh in amusement at this type of weaponized autism put forward by the alt-right internet trolls.
While the perversion of Hoppe’s argumentation ethics is entertaining in a warped sort of way, it is understandable that some people could be deceived by this distortion of Hoppe’s arguments, and as a consequence obtain a twisted interpretation of one of the greatest heroes for the cause of liberty.
In order to clear up the confusion regarding the controversy around Hoppe, we need to look closer at his argumentation ethics, and frame the issue given the presumed conditions from which Hoppe derives his reasoning. In his masterpiece, Democracy – The God That Failed, Hoppe famously claims that:
“in a covenant…among proprietor and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, no such thing as a right to free (unlimited) speech exists”
because some people might promote ideas that would disturb the naturally established covenant and destabilize the covenant’s asserted protection of private property, concepts such as “democracy and communism”.
Hoppe furthermore goes on to argue that “there can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order” and the conclusion is that the alleged enemies of private property preservation “will have to be physically separated and removed from society”, so to speak.
The idea of “physical removal” is coming from the aforementioned statements. These statements, when taken out of context can be widely misunderstood.
The “Hoppean” proviso
It therefore becomes crucial to understand from what framework Hoppe delivers his bold rhetoric. People who have never even read a line in Democracy – The God That Failed, will think that Hoppe believes it is acceptable from an anarcho-capitalist stand-point to physically remove socialists by the use of government force, i.e., initiate aggression.
This is obviously not the case, and anyone who has had the opportunity to read Hoppe’s work, knows that the proviso for removing people is the understanding and contractual agreements of property rights in a free society.
The “Hoppean” proviso rests on the presumption that the notion of private property in a covenant society is the rule of law. It is therefore not controversial at all to say that a property owner has every right to exclude anyone from his/her property, for any reason, at any time. The natural right to discriminate is fundamental to maintain a peaceful and prosperous society, and it is nothing more controversial than your own right to decide whom you invite to come to your house for dinner.
In other words, when framing the issues by looking at them through the lens of self-determination, property rights, and voluntary association, it becomes crystal clear that the right to exclusion is a high necessity and a defense against moral decay and high time-preference. On the other hand, if one looks at the issues through the statist lens of government coercion, collectivism, and nationalism, like factions of the alt-right, then they are easy to become grotesquely contorted.
Migration and Borders
The anti-state mentality of the “Hoppean” proviso can be applied to the question of immigration and borders as well. In a free society no such thing as state borders would exist restricting the movement of individuals. However, there would be private borders instead driven by market forces, and private borders of property owners spanning geographical territories can exclude and discriminate freely.
We can therefore conclude that no such thing as “freedom of immigration exists” between private borders of different property titles. How could there be free immigration if highly selective homeowner associations and property owners determine admission to a specific territory?
The property titles may vary in their restrictive nature. We could have areas where there would be “no sale or rent to Jews, Germans, Catholics, homosexuals, Haitians, families with or without children, or smokers”, and at the same time there would be areas where the selectivity and discrimination would be less restricted due to more relaxed covenants on immigration.
Even in the case of immigration the “physical removal” part is not justified with state action, but it is justified by the notion that property owners ought to have the right to do as they please with their respective property titles. When immigration occurs without the consent or invitation of property owners in a specific area, by the force of the government iron fist, we have a case of forced integration. In a free society, a case of forced integration would be called trespassing, and thus “physical removal” is without any doubt warranted.
When the “Hoppean” proviso is not satisfied and the state carries out deportations despite there being an agreement between property owner and migrant, we have a case of forced segregation.
The “physical removal” by forced segregation, and hence not in line with the “Hoppean” proviso, is not warranted and it violates the ethics of private property.
Freedom From The State
This piece should have cleared up some of the confusions involving the phenomenon of “physical removal” contained in Hoppe’s argumentation ethics. All the arguments derived from Hoppe are rooted in the basic notion of negative rights as opposed to positive rights.
Namely freedom in the sense that you are free from the compulsion of the state, but not freedom to impose yourself and violate property rights of individuals who simply and peacefully refuse to associate with you in any way.
Discrimination is not an act of violence, and as individuals we choose to discriminate every day, from the food we eat, to where we buy our clothes, to who we rent from, and so forth.
For the history you didn’t learn in school, check out Liberty Classroom: