Hoppe’s realistic libertarianism and Rothbard’s right-wing populist approach
Hoppe filled the void after Rothbard
When Prof. Hans-Hermann Hoppe in mid September 2017, took the stage at the Hotel Karia Princess, in Bodrum, Turkey, it was for the twelfth annual meeting of the Property and Freedom Society (PFS). Prof. Hoppe’s demeanor is calm, but yet determined as he addresses the room of PFS members. The topic for the day: Libertarianism and the Alt Right. Hoppe has throughout the years made it pretty clear that he has no patience for political correctness, just like his former mentor and associate, Prof. Murray N. Rothbard. Even though Rothbard passed away over 22 years ago as of today, his spirit was alive and well in the room, and channeled through Hoppe’s uncensored rhetoric. Prof. Hoppe’s academic aura could be interpreted as harsh, and his language as blunt when compared to the more amicable and outgoing style of Murray Rothbard. Nonetheless, there is nobody as Rothbardian as Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and he is the rightful heir of the Austro-libertarian torch holder position.
A populist program
In January of 1992, Rothbard wrote a brief, yet notorious un-PC essay, on what he believed would be the best approach to advance libertarianism in a very non-libertarian friendly society. He was trying to come up with the best possible plan involving the segments of people who would be more likely to embrace the libertarian message, strictly concerning property rights. Rothbard, who had rolled up his sleeves, and sought to create coalitions across the ideological spectrum, even with the new left during the 1960, due to their initial credibility to be the new anti war movement, had now switched his attention to involve a right-wing populist approach. In Rothbard’s short essay, titled Right-Wing Populism, Rothbard explains to the readers what right-wing populism is in order to understand the movement better, and hence facilitate the initiation of a dialogue with individuals who identify as right-wing populists. Rothbard finally goes through the points, one by one, of what a right-wing populist program looks like, and why it should be possible for libertarians to create coalitions with groups of individuals who endorse such a program.
Bringing back Rothbard’s ideas to the table
In Turkey, Hans-Hermann Hoppe brought back Rothbard’s strategic advice into the libertarian limelight in front of a crowd who was receptive, but not as enthusiastic as the audience at the Corax Conference in Malta just a few months earlier, where he delivered the exact same speech. Hoppe points out in his speech how the “Hayekian strategy for social change”, a model of influencing the elites in the political class, in academia, and in the mainstream media, and then await the trickle down effect, “must be considered fundamentally unrealistic” for spreading the correct libertarian message. Rothbard states the exact same thing in his essay when suggests that “the ruling elite benefits from the current system” of the status quo, and therefore no significant change is to be expected from the top among the elites down to the masses. Thus, both Rothbard and Hoppe recognize that libertarian ideas are not welcome in the realm of academia or media. On the contrary, they are met with a greater and greater degree of hostility, every day. Furthermore, we have witnessed what happens to libertarian leaning candidates in politics once they assume a position in office. They either, sell out and become part of the problem, or they get ostracized, marginalized, and most of the time ignored, if they choose to hold on to their principles.
Focusing on the disenfranchised
Hoppe recognizes this as an undisputable historical fact when he claims that the libertarian strategic approach needs to be a populist one. In other words, Hoppe says, the “libertarians must short-circuit the dominant intellectual elites, and address the masses directly” in order to arouse the contempt for the ruling elites within the most disenfranchised group of people in society, and awaken their disdain for the class of ruling elites. Rothbard was also very clear when mentioning that, “ripping the mask off elites is ‘negative campaigning’ at its finest and most fundamental”, and to make this happen, Rothbard further suggests, libertarians ought to focus their attention on the “groups who are the most oppressed and who also have the most social leverage”. Given the limited amount of resources for outreach, and knowing what it takes to convert people to the libertarian message, I think it is safe to say that we need to focus primarily on specific subdivisions of demographics in society. Hoppe and Rothbard have both proposed a strategy for targeting the most victimized groups; that is, those who do not have any protective status label accorded by the state, and those who are most likely to be taxpayers as opposed to tax consumers. From a libertarian perspective then, considering property rights to be the only existing legitimate rights, then anyone who has protective status in form of affirmative action, and other non discrimination laws implemented by the state, is the person who on average will be the least likely to support our cause.
Identifying likely supporters
In his speech, Hoppe specifies which group he believes will be the most likely supporter of the libertarian creed: Bourgeoisie, married, heterosexual, Christian couples, with children, who also happen to be taxpayers. First and foremost, if you are Caucasian of European ancestry, then you are not part of any protected class of people as determined by the state. It follows then, according to the egalitarian leftist narrative, that if you are not part of any protected group, then you must be part of the oppressing group. Why? Because if other groups need to have a protected label on them then there must be a group of predators, or else no protection status would be needed and granted by the state’s ruling elites. This means that Christian, white, heterosexual males, have been unjustly labeled as the oppressing class, and are therefore bound to be the most exploited group of individuals in society. However, as Hoppe correctly identifies, “it would be a serious strategic error to make whiteness the exclusive criteria on which to base one’s strategic decisions”, which some factions of the alt right have done, reprehensibly. Libertarians must recognize that white men are the people who make up the ruling elites within the state apparatus, and who have awarded all the legal privileges to different groups of the population via coercive affirmative action legislation. Hoppe accurately indicates this group of white men in control of governments, as perhaps the biggest problem that libertarians face. Nevertheless, if it so happens that the majority of taxpaying, married, heterosexual, Christian couples, with children, happen to be white, then so be it. It is not the ethnicity, but rather the cultural life style that matters in this case, according to Hoppe. This must remain a strategy of colorblindness, as Hoppe wisely recommends, although we can, and should expect backing primarily from the afore-mentioned demographic.
We finally arrive at the libertarian strategy that Hoppe laid out, which bares striking resemblance with Rothbard’s right-wing populist program from 1992. Hoppe’s strategy is a ten-point strategy:
1) Stop all mass immigration
This does not mean that we need to stop all immigration, but rather that immigration should occur exclusively by consent of private property owners, i.e., by invitation and work contract, and similar agreements of that nature only. Property owners are free to discriminate against anyone, at any time, for any reason. So, a potential invitee will need to demonstrate proof of good neighborliness in addition to a productive skill set, and a moral character that aligns with the community in which the immigrant will settle. This will lead to immigration bias with respect to some parts of the world, but this does not mean that there will be exclusively immigrants from only one part of the world. It is after all character, value system, cultural affinity, and productivity that count, and not the color of one’s skin. This highly selective approach to immigration is not at odds with libertarianism in any way. Just because there are no distinct private borders as would be the case in a free society, it does not follow that public property has no borders. For who owns the public property if not the exploited taxpayers of the given territory? From this perspective we can easily argue that the open border policy suggested by the “liberalala libertarians”, is indeed an attack on private property. I think the border topic is certainly something that can be discussed further, and I have great sympathy for open border advocates such as Larken Rose and Robert Higgs. But, to dismiss Hoppe’s position, as “fascist” is nothing but dishonest and ludicrous.
2) Stop attacking and killing people in foreign countries
Every honest libertarian will agree to this, so there is no controversy here. We will even have support from Jeffrey “Cucker” et al. On this initiative Rothbard calls for an America first foreign policy in which the US government stops “supporting bums abroad”, quits all foreign aid, and “all the globaloney”. Somehow the America first policy has been met with criticism, and called “racist” as well as other smear terms. Not only by the left-liberals, but also by the “liberalala libertarians” as Hoppe calls the “left libertarians” in his PFS speech. Perhaps such people would be happier if we renamed America first to America fifth, or 34th, or 63rd. Perhaps we should ask them what number they want to assign to America in order to be satisfied? Of course, needless to say, it would be even more preferable to say, New York first, or Florida first, or Manhattan first, or Brooklyn first. The smaller the better, but America first is a good start, and it should not be difficult for libertarians to get behind this initiative given our strong opposition to globalism, and our deep support for secession.
3) Defund the ruling elites and their intellectual bodyguards
Here Hoppe stresses the importance of exposing the “bribes and hush monies received by the ruling elites”, lobbyists, crony capitalists, and politicians in general. Hoppe encourages the publication of the corruption that goes on within the state apparatus at the expense of the exploited taxpayers.
4) End the Fed
Rothbard also calls for the abolishment of the fed and calls it an “organized cartel of banksters, who are ripping off the public.” This point is hardly controversial at all, and it is scarcely debatable whether or not libertarians should support the complete abolition of the Federal Reserve Bank. The Fed is an institution created by the state and that has been granted the monopoly of counterfeiting the coin at a very large scale.
5) Abolish all affirmative action laws and non-discrimination laws
We have addressed this issue above, but I will mention again that, there are no rights other than property rights. This means that any protective status awarded to some group of people in society, takes away the freedom from property owners to associate and disassociate. It is unethical, and an assault on private property to force individuals or a group of individuals to associate with someone with whom they do not wish to associate. It follows then, that in order to avoid physical clashes, conflicts, and tension between distinct groups of people, it is essential to be free to include or exclude at will in adherence with property rights. Voluntary segregation and voluntary integration.
6) Crush the “anti-fascist” mob
While the ANTIFA is a new phenomenon in America, Rothbard’s similar point was to take back the streets, and crush the criminals. Rothbard calls for an approach where “cops must be unleashed and administer instant punishment”, which in turn has led to huge controversy among “liberalala libertarians”, and the sequential smearing campaign against Murray Rothbard. It might would have helped just finishing the sentence which is somewhat taken out of context in this case. Rothbard goes on by saying that, cops must be “subject of course to liability when they are in error”. We all understand that the state police force is funded coercively and illegitimately by the means of taxation, but that should not stop them from intervening when there are actual crimes against person or property. The question that Hoppe asks is, if the people, who object to the police crushing the “anti-fascist” mob, also object to the state police arresting murderers, robbers, and rapists? There are real crimes against person or property, and in a libertarian social order such criminals would be arrested and convicted. Here again, I do not see what the real controversy is, and what the objection is to the state police acting against legitimate crimes? After all, we are coerced, under the threat of violence to fund the state police. The least we can ask for is for them to at least sometimes carry out legitimate operations against real criminals, especially when it comes to pulverizing the “anti-fascist” mob.
7) Crush the street criminals and gangs
This point is merely a derivative of point number six above, and needs no further explanation, except one added detail: It is of great necessity to make sure that ordinary non-violent citizens have the ability to arm themselves, and to take matters into their own hands if needed. If the state police is incapable of preventing crimes, as it so often is, libertarians and other right-wing populists must be armed to defend themselves, their families, and their communities. Taking the streets back from thugs, criminals and violent street gangs and mobs is necessary in order to maintain a peaceful social order.
8) Get rid of all welfare parasites and bums
This should also be a no brainer for any honest libertarian. To keep an underclass on the public dole and make it dependent on the welfare state requires extortion (taxation) of the productive class. This should be considered nothing less than robbery and theft. This segment of the population will be the most reliable support for carrying out and expanding the welfare state, and hence grow the parasitic underclass. Rothbard also advocated this exact same point of getting “rid of the underclass rule by abolishing the welfare system”. High time-preference and low impulse control should not be subsidized and encouraged, but rather discouraged and looked down upon.
9) Get the state out of education
Most libertarians would need very little convincing even with this issue. Public education has become the new American religion. It is in state funded public schools the brain washing begins, from the civic and social science teacher in elementary school, to the higher ups in academia and university settings. The purpose of state funded education is for the state to mold the mind of the children from an early age, and turn them into obeying robots and good state servants, and not free thinkers as they claim. Defunding all public education is an initiative that libertarians should get behind and support with little to no thinking.
10) Do not put any trust in politics or political parties
Hoppe states that “it is the ultimate libertarian goal to put an end to all politics”, and turn to a complete private law society. The main reason libertarians should not be putting any trust into politics, is because of the identified short comings of the so called “Hayekian strategy”. Just as we are not welcome in academia and mainstream media, libertarian ideas are met with contempt by the ruling elites.
The above ten-point program for libertarian social change is logical, realistic and hardly controversial at all. If you listened to Hoppe’s speech, and read this article, your knee jerk reaction should not be “fascism”, or “racism”, but rather realism. There is nothing even faintly resembling fascism in Hoppe’s libertarianism. Finally, for everyone who calls Hans-Hermann Hoppe a statist based on these observations, perhaps it would be useful to listen to the first ten minutes of the speech. You will hear him loud and clear assert that one cannot be a libertarian or merely a fake libertarian if one supports the existence of a state, any state at all. He affirms that one has to be a proponent of an anarcho-capitalist society or a proponent of a private law society.
New York, NY
October 16, 2017
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