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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/3262/the-intellectual-incoherence-of-conservatism/

The Intellectual Incoherence of Conservatism

March 4, 2005 by

Modern conservatism in the United States and Europe, writes Hans-Hermann Hoppe, is confused and distorted. It favors the natural order of family and community but wants to use the state to bring it about. Under the influence of representative democracy and with the transformation of the U.S. and Europe into mass democracies from World War I, conservatism was transformed from an anti-egalitarian, aristocratic, anti-statist ideological force into a movement of culturally conservative statists: the right wing of the socialists and social democrats. [Full Article]


Nathan Shepperd March 4, 2005 at 8:27 am

It may be a good idea to dump the term “Conservative” – it generally implies keeping the status quo – hence conservatives are really statists.
“Libertarian” is a far more useful term – even if one believes in old-fashioned family values, one is not necessarily a “Conservative” in essence.
I’m Libertarian in outlook, but I’m definitely not a “Conservative”. There is not much of today’s statist environment that you’d want to conserve…

Allen Weingarten March 4, 2005 at 8:28 am

I appreciated Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s insightful article, and particularly his characterization of much of modern conservatism as “national socialism”. As he notes, there is a contradiction between economic socialism and cultural normalcy. This is documented by Hoppe’s analysis of how economic policies undermine traditional families, norms, conduct, and culture.

However, I would not say that “most if not all of the moral degeneration and cultural decline—the signs of decivilization—all around us are the inescapable and unavoidable results of the welfare state and its core institutions.” Surely some of the deterioration is due to moral, philosophical and conceptual errors. Dr. Hoppe notes that taking from some to give to others is disastrous, yet he might have added, not solely for economic reasons, but for undermining character. Similarly, the justification for such policies involves such twisted reasoning as to undermine integrity.

Now this may appear to be a subtle difference between Hoppe’s attribution to the core institutions of the welfare state, and my focus upon the inner man. The issue is how to characterize the causes of historical outcomes. I submit that the primary causes are our fundamental beliefs, where our economic views, however important, are secondary. It is true that the focus of the Ludwig von Mises Institute is on economics, yet that is consistent with the view that economic theories and policies are derivative of moral and philosophical conceptions.

Modern conservatism did not go astray because of a failure to understand economics, but because of its conceptual limitations in ascertaining its objective. Were it clear that the purpose of conservatism was to preserve our civilization, it would not have deteriorated into obtaining and maintaining political power.

Allen Weingarten

Peter White March 4, 2005 at 9:41 am

“Surely some of the deterioration is due to moral, philosophical and conceptual errors.”

Certainly people make errors. Most people can’t explain the law of supply and demand. So if you ask them why an apple costs what it costs, they can’t tell you. But that doesn’t stop them from shopping for the best quality apples at the lowest price.

Since people make errors, some people pay more for apples than they might otherwise, if for example they fall for some marketing nonsense about the superiority of one apple over another. But the market still determines that those who actually provide the best apples at the best price succeed.

Similarly, some people will err in thinking that their children will be better off living in a commune than at home. But unless the state makes it difficult for parents to raise their children themselves, the overwhelming majority will never think of shipping their children off to be raised by others.

Joseph Keckeissen March 4, 2005 at 9:53 am

I am inspired by Hans Herman´s article. His arguments against Francis and Buchanan are fundamental. It makes me sad that so serious a publication like the Wanderer, to which I have gladly subscribed for almost fifty years, continues to extol Francis (keep out the undesirables) and Buchanan (preserve lunchpail America) in issue after issue. Thanks Hans Herman for your lucidity. Come down soon again to Guatemala to enlighten us Sncerely, Joe Keckeissen

Founders' America March 4, 2005 at 10:04 am


Re: http://mises.org/daily/1766

Yeah, you’ve nailed it here:

“However, most contemporary conservatives (at least most of the spokesmen of the conservative establishment) either do not recognize that their goal of restoring normalcy requires the most drastic, even revolutionary, antistatist social changes, or (if they know about this) they are engaged in betraying conservatism’s cultural agenda from inside in order to promote an entirely different agenda.

“That this is largely true for the so-called neoconservatives does not require further explanation here. Indeed, as far as their leaders are concerned, one suspects that most of them are of the latter kind. They are not truly concerned about cultural matters but recognize that they must play the cultural-conservatism card so as not to lose power and promote their entirely different goal of global social democracy. ”

Here’s why the Right is so disorganized; it’s a
psychological exhibition that’s rooted in the
natures of leftists and rightists (( for an
in-depth explanation, read this:
http://foundersamerica.blogspot.com/ )):

From my collection of thoughts, Paleoconservative Thoughts To Ponder:

2333) Conservatives are NATURALLY INDIVIDUALISTS, which explains why they don’t work together as well as leftists do, who are NATURALLY COMMUNISTIC; that is, leftists are COMMUNAL team-players, cooperative about their EMOTIONS, while rightists are LONERS, competitive about their IDEAS, which fact puts rightists at a great disadvantage in these culture wars.

– - -

2334) To partly explain why the Left is winning the culture wars in the West: White conservatives compete with each other for developing the BEST, MOST POWERFUL IDEAS while White liberals cooperate with one another for the MOST EMOTIONAL APPROACHES to combating the Right; ergo, the former keep isolated from one another – that is, ineffectually joined – while the latter readily join in their socialistic and communistic purposes.

Best Regards,

Roger D. McKinney March 4, 2005 at 10:14 am

Excellent assessment of the political landscape. Lately, I have been suffering from a dread that the Democratic party will awaken and realize that all they have to do to advance their socialist economic agenda is to abandon their radical social agenda and embrace traditional values. They would crush the Republican party! Southern Democrats, especially those in Oklahoma where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2:1, vote Republican on the basis of traditional values exclusively. They barely tolerate Republican economics. If the Democratic party comes to its senses on traditional values, then “Katy bar the door!”

Dominc Manionchi March 4, 2005 at 11:15 am

Professor Hoppes obviously believes in unrestricted free trade and bashes Buchanan for his professed beliefs in protectionism. I neither writing to protect Buchanan nor to criticize Mr. Hoppes but to clarify what has become a common misconception about global trade. Merely opting out of global trade, nor trading with others under any circumstances is beneficial.

Free trade can benefit both nations when at least two criteria are met. First, the trade must be free both ways; no tariffs, no political or governmental roadblocks, etc. Second, the two trading countries must have floating currencies with respect to each other. Only when these two criteria are met will the trade benefit both countries. If you add a third country then it must meet the criteria also. There may be more than these two criteria and there may also be times when you want to supply your own product regardless of what would be economically best such as weapons but we can leave this for another time.

Professor Hoppes must be assuming that these criteria have been met. Any statement of the benefit of free trade must include a mention of these two criteria or it implies that trading alone will be good for both, or more, parties. Buchanan’s scenario must be assuming that these criteria can never be met. Any statement regarding protectionism must include the mention that it will cease when the above conditions are met.

In the case of one of our major trading partners, China, neither are met and we have a great and growing trade deficit with them. There is no benefit to the current trade with China because these criteria have not been met. There can also be no benefit to trading with a country in the hope that these criteria will be met in the future. Even beyond the immediate harm, the long term viability of industries can be lost in our country and created in another while we wait for the above two criteria to kick in, changing the economics of the production of goods for an extended period of time in both countries. Specifically if an unfair advantage is granted to a trading partner for even a short time domestic capital investment will be curtailed in our country and the trading partner will obtain an advantage. Free trade requires the trading companies to compete fairly. If this unfair advantage continues, even domestic policies such as immigration can be affected by free trade. If the need for domestic blue collar workers diminishes due to unfair trade because factories are moved overseas then we may allow fewer immigrants, for example. This would have more than a short term effect of the economics of trade between two or more nations since labor is one the inputs in the production of goods.

In conclusion, any discussion of theoretical “free trade” should be limited to just that. Any discussion of protectionism should specifically be restricted to only those types of trade which are not “free”. Without a clear understanding of how free trade can benefit all countries we end up with the mess we have now.

Mark Humphrey March 4, 2005 at 11:59 am

Dr Hoppe’s article was interesting and insightful, as usual. His indictment of contemporary conservatism as another incoherent statist ideology is right on target.

Unfortunately, the libertarian movement, including the world view of fervent free market Austrians, similarly lacks intellectual coherence. Austrians are correct that free markets are an expression of the natural order: that government intervention anywhere creates dislocations and disharmonies; that statism creates human suffering and poverty. Moreover, Dr. Hoppe and other Rothbardians are entirely correct to question and criticize the coercive institution of the state as inconsistent with the principle of voluntary association.

What is tragically missing from the Austrian and prevalent libertarian perspective, however,is the elaboration of a moral-ethical foundation to the defense of individual liberty. For the world view of contemporary libertarianism–including that of Rothbardians–is essentially a negative reaction, a protest, against statism. What is missing from libertarianism is a clear explanation and affirmation of the source and nature of objective moral values that are natural to man, and that make liberty a value to man.

Murray Rothbard explained that the argument for liberty is inescapably, ultimately an argument about ethics, the principles that people should observe in their dealings with one another. Arguments from economics are great at showing that statism creates poverty and suffering, but only the philosophy of ethics can prove that people ought to work for their material well-being, for their intellectual independence, for their own spiritual development, and for liberty. Only ethics can prove that the findings of economics have objective value and therefore ought to be respected!

One example of this ethical agnosticism that dominates the libertarian movement is Walter Block’s “Defending the Undefendable”, in which he upholds prostitution, drug use, and other self destructive choices as socially beneficial, and thereby behavior that no one has standing to criticize. Entirely aside from the valid insight that such behavior ought to be free from coercive restriction, should one really affect indifference about one’s daughter turning to prostitution or drug use? Another example comes from the writing of anti-state, market justice libertarians, such as Dr. Hoppe, who describe competition among private defense agencies as centered around the principle of “dispute resolution”, rather than around the principle of defending and upholding justice. “Dispute resolution” is, of course, consistent with the “value-free” scientism of Austrians. In contrast, “justice” is a concept from the philosophy of ethics.

Libertarianism is going nowhere as a movement of moral skeptics who react negatively to statism. To explain what natural order actually entails, and to lead people there, requires a clear, compelling elaboration of the philosophy of moral values, consistent with the requirements of living life as a human being.

Tibor Machan explains and illuminates this subject in his book “Capitalism and Individualism: Reframing the Argument for a Free Society”. Not only does Dr. Machan prove that moral skepticism is the Achilles Heel of free market economics as a cogent defense of liberty, but he highlights good arguments for objective moral values that uphold individual liberty. Dr. Machan’s arguments do not dispute the bulk of Austrian or free market insights, which is that laissez faire is right for man. Rather his arguments provide a rational moral framework that give Austrian insights far more power and cogency.

Peter White March 4, 2005 at 11:59 am

Nonsense. Eliminating trade restrictions helps both buyer and seller, even if only one criminal state eliminates the restrictions while the other criminal state maintains them. What Dominic is advocating is so-called “fair trade”, a ludicrous notion put forth by protectionists to sound good and justify their authoritarian policies.

Trade deficits are simply an accounting gimick whereby government statisticians conveniently forget to account for what the “country” does with all that cash when it “enjoys” a trade surplus.

The fact is, I “enjoy” a trade surplus with everyone who buys something from me, and a trade deficit with everyone who I buy from. The division of labor in a free market balances out all so-called trade deficits and surplusses. If Americans buy more from Chinese people than they sell to Chinese people, so what? Chinese people buy things too, or does Dominic suppose that they put all that cash under their mattresses?

If Chinese people buy more from Indian people than they sell to Indian people, and Indian people buy more from American people, than they sell to American people, and American do the same with Chinese, the money just moves from one person to another. Everything balances out in the end.

It makes no more sense to talk about trade deficits with the grocery store down the road than it does to talk about trade deficits with other countries. Anyone who wants can eliminate his trade deficit by simply eliminating his part in the division of labor. Become a hermit, grow all of your own food, make your own clothes, build your own shelter. You’ll have no need for money because you’ll not be engaging in commercial exchange. Have fun.

Hansjon March 4, 2005 at 11:59 am

Excellent clarification of what needs to done to claim conservative practices.

Logan Buck March 4, 2005 at 12:00 pm


As Austrians, we believe that any reference of a bond between ‘free trade’ & ‘government’ must be a contradiction in terms. When you are speaking of a “contry” gaining a benefit from “free trade” you are commiting this paradox.

We believe that only individuals can determine what is in their interest and what is not. Upon that basis they conduct trade. This condition is truly “free trade.” Contries should not be conducting trade at all, as this is merely an exchange of stolen goods.

John Bigelow March 4, 2005 at 12:06 pm

“Free trade can benefit both nations when at least two criteria are met.”

“There is no benefit to the current trade with China because these criteria have not been met.”

I am not quite sure how you measure and compare the benefits to the US and China under the current conditions. But assuming you can, and decide that China is benefitting more. How does the US improve it’s situation by cutting off trade with China? Everything will be more expensive in the US and there will be millions of Chinese out of work. There will be some number of Americans who now have jobs producing the products that Americans continue to buy at the new higher prices, but I doubt all of the Chinese production will now be done by Americans.

I guess at that point you could calculate that the US had been hurt less than China, and was therefore somehow better off without trade.

Personally, I’ll take trade.

Logan Buck March 4, 2005 at 12:06 pm

Apparently I forgot how to spell country! (see above)

Paul Deignan March 4, 2005 at 12:10 pm

I beg to differ.

An incoherent movement is one which does not conform to external realities. This is the modern transnational liberal movement. We have had repeated demonstrations of this whether the situation was appeasement of Communist Russia or Baathist Iraq.

On the other hand, conservatism (at least in the US) is principled. It is today formed by a confluence of old conservatism and vitalized liberalism (in the classic sense of the word).

Whether the issue is freedom, dignity of the individual, education, environment, social security, etc. one will find the “conservatives” in the lead solving societal problems. Meanwhile, TNLs are reactionary and contradictory. We know now that this new found conservatism of the left is a self-protection reflex devoid of a coherent ideology.

The greatest ideological disorder of the day is the anti-democratic tendency of “democratic” parties. They have become insular and dictatorial in their instincts as they strive to protect their living standards.

Brian Rapp March 4, 2005 at 12:11 pm

How can we have a Prof. Hoppe article or lecture about conservatives and neoconservatives without him quoting Francis Fukuyama! :-)

Well done Prof. Hoppe!

Jayant Bhandari March 4, 2005 at 12:14 pm

Great piece! People associate capitalism with economics. Capitalism creates morality and character. Not for racial reasons, but for the reasons attributable to the system that people grow up in, the young, in general, in the socialist countries grow up to be irresponsible, anti-social and non-creative; unfortunately, the young Europeans are now becoming similar thanks to the growing socialism in the West.

Jayant Bhandari March 4, 2005 at 12:15 pm

Great piece! People associate capitalism with economics. Capitalism creates morality and character. Not for racial reasons, but for the reasons attributable to the system that people grow up in, the young, in general, in the socialist countries grow up to be irresponsible, anti-social and non-creative; unfortunately, the young Europeans are now becoming similar thanks to the growing socialism in the West.

Paul Deignan March 4, 2005 at 12:43 pm

When an article about modern conservatism is based on an analysis of Buchanan, it should be clear that a straw man argument is being unhatched. Please note that Buchanan is an irrelevancy in modern US politics and has been for 25 years (yes, even when he ran against Bush 41).

The accusation of “family values” being a governmental innovation is false. Investigation of the issues that are implied demonstrate that the government innovation is actuially a legislative and executive reaction to judicial overreach.

Chris March 4, 2005 at 1:04 pm

Another excellent article by Hoppe.

The conservative movement does not have a principled element of anti-statism about it.

One thing I do like about Pat Buchanan though, is that I must applaud his heroic stand against interventionism.

Jim Bradley March 4, 2005 at 1:36 pm

The basic argument is less government = more morality. However, the conservative party isn’t operating in a vaccuum. Rolling back the power of the state requires it to be lessened for the left wing as well, so a lot of the population will adhere to the conservative party even if their goals are contrary to the ultimate goal of a moral society and freedom.

So I think the question becomes how to implement a reduction of state power despite the entrenched parties.

Shadow Hunter March 4, 2005 at 2:26 pm

Hoppe writes “it is only necessary to recall one of the most fundamental laws of economics which says that all compulsory wealth or income redistribution, regardless of the criteria on which it is based, involves taking from some—the havers of something—and giving it to others—the non-havers of something.”

Isn’t there a danger in buying into the fixed wealth fallacy in this statement.

For discussion: Can the redistribution of wealth under certain circumstances lead to the creation of more wealth?

Paul D March 4, 2005 at 5:41 pm

“For discussion: Can the redistribution of wealth under certain circumstances lead to the creation of more wealth?”

No. If you read Hoppe’s book “Democracy”, he explains how capital goods, productivity, and wealth are increased because people with low time-preference defer immediate consumption.

One of the biggest factors that raises time-preference and wipes out this wealth increase is theft (coercive property redistribution). After all, if you have to choose between consuming wealth now or taking the chance that you will lose it anyway, there is great incentive just to use it now.

What’s more, even if the government tries to use its misappropriated resources for wealth generation, it lacks the economic tools necessary to know what to do with those resources. Only the free market can provide the right tools for efficient (wealth-producing) investment and production.

Given the same situation with and without coercive redistribution, the latter will always result in lower time-preference. Lower time-preference translates into lower short-term consumption and higher long-term production of wealth.

There are many links between government theft and cultural decay. One, for example, is that crime is a purely high time-preference activity. The criminal receives his satisfaction immediately, but with a high risk of an even bigger loss once he is punished. A regime that provokes a higher time-preference among its subjects will thus be prone to a higher rate of crime.

Ohhh Henry March 4, 2005 at 7:37 pm

“What is tragically missing from the Austrian and prevalent libertarian perspective, however,is the elaboration of a moral-ethical foundation to the defense of individual liberty … What is missing from libertarianism is a clear explanation and affirmation of the source and nature of objective moral values that are natural to man, and that make liberty a value to man.”

If you haven’t read this yet, you should.

Peter March 4, 2005 at 8:26 pm

This is the third or fourth time I’ve read a posting here from “Mark Humphrey” claiming that Austrians concentrate exclusively on economics, at give no thought to ethics (conveniently ignoring that it’s not true: Rothbard and Hoppe, among (many) others, have written on that subject rather a lot! Does the title of Rothbard’s “The Ethics of Liberty” not contain enough of a clue?), and pushing Tibor Machan’s book. If I didn’t know better, I’d think “Mark Humphrey” is an alias of Tibor Machan himself [In fact, I don't know better; I merely doubt it]

Will Adams March 4, 2005 at 8:46 pm

I believe most of Professor Hoppe’s points on paleoconservatism are absolutely correct. However, there is one point which has confused me for some time.

From my reading of Mises, the primary reason Americans are more prosperous than foreigners is our high capital accumulation. Currently, there are hundreds of millions of poverty stricken third world residents willing to work for extremely low wages. Under international free trade, this gives American businesses the incentive to move our accumulated capital abroad and employ foreign workers, lowering the per head quota of capital invested among Americans, lowering the productivity of American labor, and, thus, lowering American living standards. Obviously, Americans would gain from the expanded division of labor caused by free trade, but I think it is logical to assume that the gains of expanded division of labor would take many decades to outstrip the losses of far lower capital accumulation.

Given these circumstances, is it not in the interest of American citizens to stop capital export? Aren’t the paleoconservatives in a sense correct in their concern for the effects of international free trade on American living standards? Is their not a conflict of interest between Americans and residents of the third world? I ask that someone clear this up for me (and I am not interested in rabid proclamations of natural rights).

Barry March 4, 2005 at 9:18 pm

Agree with others that the article is a good one, but the many comments on education have left me to wonder — Has Dr. Hoppe ever written on how a university system would function if state intervention in education were substantially curtailed??

There are many things wrong with the compulsory state education of the young, but higher education is subject to a great deal more choice. Perhaps this is where the inroads against state control have to start.

We home school and I think this is becoming more popular and more “socially accepted.” Any family can make this choice, given willingness to expend the time and effort required, but many do not consider that they have made a choice at all when they send their kids to public schools.

Dewaine March 4, 2005 at 10:04 pm

I am unhappily surprised to read through the comments here and see the comments of those who have not read Democracy: The God that Failed. The joy of greater understanding could be everyone’s.

Allen Weingarten March 5, 2005 at 8:35 am

Mark Humphrey writes “What is tragically missing from the Austrian and prevalent libertarian perspective is the elaboration of a moral-ethical foundation to the defense of individual liberty.” Let us note that this is not a strictly economic matter, but the need for a proper philosophical orientation. As he says, this is not covered by the value-free scientism of Austrians, but by dealing with such matters as justice, which in turn would give Austrian insights far more power and cogency. In my comments, I attributed the failing of conservatism to “its conceptual limitations in ascertaining its objective.” Humphrey indicates that this applies as well to those who resist Statism.

This is not to claim, as one reader suggested, that Austrians do not address ethical matters, but rather that they view them as subordinate. However, if there are Austrians who aver that philosophical and ethical matters are primary, while Wertfrei matters such as economics are secondary, I will be pleased to stand corrected.

Alex March 5, 2005 at 9:13 am

The things that frustrate me the most about conservatives is their lack of knowledge on democracy and free markets. Both free market ideas and democractic ideas they have are warped.

Their gushing on democracy frustrates the heck out of me. This country was founded as a Republic. The Founding Fathers hated democracy, which they (correctly) thought of as nothing more than mob rule. Anyone with any correct knowledge on politics or economics knows of the links that have been made between the super state and democracy. People with merely two bits of common sense can see how dumb of an idea having a large majority decide what the other half does merely by being the greater number is a bizarrely unethical claim (and the of-repeated addendum, ‘if you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain’ is one of the dumbest boobus American truisms).

So-called conservatives constantly gush about democracy, but they often know nothing about the dynamics of a highly decentralized classical liberalism – the foundation of this country. These, the people who are supposed to be the guardians of American culture, never talk about the benefits of decentralization (at least when a Republican president is in office, in which case such talk is ignored).

Their parading as lovers of free enterprise is disingenuous. Witness the latest fad among them, the nonsensical ‘privatization’ of social security. What is private about a forced savings program…? The words ‘privatized social security accounts’ make as much sense as a Jewish Nazi. It just doesn’t work.

They say they support capitalism, yet want it regulated; they say they support free trade, but enjoy either giving “American” business subsidies so that they can compete with “unfair” foreign counterparts.

Question: what is fair trade? I think someone on this board said that fair trade occurs when there is no such thing as tarriffs or ‘floating currencies’. I’m assuming he means inflation. If those are the two current criteria for ‘fair trade’, we will never have it, as all governments tarriff and inflate their currencies.

And the lamentations about cheap foreign goods are that they ‘steal’ American (overpriced and inferior) goods and are ‘unpatriotic’ (I swear if I hear that word one more time I’m going to stab the closest person).

How’s about this; buying stuff cheaply so he can save a buck is *this* American’s way, patriotic or not.

Their idealogical affinity to King Lincoln makes them wary of any talks about succession, as they have a dumb headed idea about ‘preserving the Union.’ Funny, I thought that was an un-American thing; imagine if someone tried using a line like that when we attempted to succeed from Britian. Again, conservatives have almost no knowledge of the greatest of American values; succession.

While they show the left’s hypocrisy of freedom of speech, they themselves enjoy the idea of regulating ideas and materials that they consider ‘too dangerous’ for others to either see or experience (witness the war on drugs, or the recent calls to regulate and monitor videogame violence by conservatives).

Now that they are firmly in power, I have seen no calls to dismantle any government agencies (of which there are tons that should be destroyed). Instead I see ‘conservative twists’ of what were formerly liberal inventions, such as social security, welfare, and nationalized health insurance. All of them, being ignorant of economics, don’t see the inherent economic (much less moral) problems of taking money from X person’s hand and putting it in Y person’s hand. As long as it’s for a patriotic cause (or has that magical conservative twist) don’t worry about it.

They trip over themselves thinking about how unsafe America is, getting mad at people who want more freedom and (much, much less) government, a cause that was supposedly a conservative one.

They wage war on Osama bin Laden (a good thing) but fail to see that OBL has won the war; he has changed the way American’s live their lives now and in the very far forseeable future. He has set a precedent of massive government intervention in our lives at home.

Conservatives used to preach about how bad a police state was (no less under Bill Clinton), now that they have it, they want more of it.

They become angry at dumb headed libertarians and classical liberals who want succession and laissez-faire capitalism, mocking them as living in ‘another world’ and having ideas that are old fashioned. I did not think laissez-faire capitalism and freedom was old fashioned, and I didn’t think conservatives would be the ones to say such.

They enjoy deciding amongst themselves which of our remaining personal and economic freedoms are the most dangerous, and promote legislation that will gleefully remove these last vestiges of personal privacy. Why? For *freedoms* sake, for heavens sake. And democracy’s, too.

We are currently in an era where big liberal government is being replaced by big conservative government. I’m sure we’ll get some more freedom in some areas than we would have in a fully leftist state under the likes of Clinton, but it will be modest compared to the real classical liberal dream.

Josh March 5, 2005 at 9:36 am

“For discussion: Can the redistribution of wealth under certain circumstances lead to the creation of more wealth?”

This is like asking if theft can increase economic prosperity. Certainly not for those that have their wealth confiscated. For those that are the recipients of the wealth redistribution no new wealth has been created, only transferred from an earner to a non earner through the use of force.

The only case where I think one could make an argument would be a government grant of tax money to start a business etc. but even in that case you don’t know what wealth might have been created by the rightful owner. In any case it isn’t the place of government to transfer wealth or income to ensure the greatest amount of wealth creation even if it were possible which I highly doubt.

Wild Pegasus March 5, 2005 at 10:32 am

I think this article is faulty on a couple of grounds:

1. Society was never as virtuous as he would have us think. Homosexuality, marriage infidelity, sex before marrige, drug use, etc. have been with us since the dawn of recorded history. There was no Golden Age of Morality. Trying to bring a Golden Age back is trying to bring us back to something that never was.

2. There are numerous cultural factors that government size cannot really influence. The 60s radically changed public perception. There’s no going back to the old norms of a woman’s role, or the old norms of what people should be allowed to say about sex, etc. It’s true that increasing the size of government won’t do much to combat these cultural changes, but neither will shrinking the size of the government. They simply are. A cultural conservative is going to have to go to war in the culture.

3. I don’t see the connection between decreased state and increased morality. After all, on the surface, heavily theocratic societies have much better morals. Individual liberty gives people the freedom to enjoy their own private morality, subject to some overarching principles. Decreasing the size of the state isn’t going to do anything about the mainstreaming of pornography or the divorce rate.

4. It’s true that the state provides more services now than it did, but liberty has only really decreased for white men. Minorities, immigrants, and women all enjoy much greater liberty now than they did in the 1930s or so. Occupations are open to them which were not 70 years ago. They have more legal recognition of their natural rights of liberty and property. A black man in 2005 is freer than a black man was in 1935, doubly so if he lives in the South. If anything, the 20th century has been pretty neutral for liberty in America: less for white men, more for everybody else. On those grounds, it’s much more difficult to blame the state for non-victorian morality.

- Josh

David White March 5, 2005 at 11:45 am

“Aren’t the paleoconservatives in a sense correct in their concern for the effects of international free trade on American living standards? Is their not a conflict of interest between Americans and residents of the third world? I ask that someone clear this up for me (and I am not interested in rabid proclamations of natural rights).”

Free trade is an oxymoron in a statist environment, i.e., where it is presumed that one state trades with another and not the citizens thereof. Which is to say that we cannot have free trade as long as we have states, at least states that do not limit their activities to the protection of life, liberty, and property (which of course none do).

Thus, there is indeed “a conflict of interest between Americans and residents of the third world,” for the simple reason that all states are class states, and over time, those that have been the most “classifying” — i.e., oppressive — have created more “non-havers” than less classifying states, resulting in hundreds of millions of dispossessed souls at the mercy of forces completely beyond their control. Eventually, however, the tables are turned, as capital flows in the direction of cheap labor and the “havers” find themselves increasingly at the mercy of this process. That is, the non-havers’ gain is the havers’ loss, resulting in the third-worldization of haver societies like ours — all the more so as we allow legions of non-havers to freely cross our borders.

The solution? Even Lew Rockwell agreed with me (in an email exchange awhile back) that if the U.S. sealed its borders — matching immigration with emigration and otherwise acting as if the rest of the world didn’t exist — while reducing state activity to the protection of life, liberty, and property, the result would be a sound-money, free-trade dynamo that would create far more wealth far more equitably and at far less environmental cost than Americans are now experiencing. Leading by example in this way, trade could then extend to other nations (and only those nations) that, in seeing the advantages of doing so, followed suit.

No, it won’t happen. But you get the idea.

Peter March 5, 2005 at 2:07 pm

Alex: please, the word you want is “secession”; “succession” is what royals do when the previous one dies :)

Alex March 5, 2005 at 2:26 pm

Sorry about that Peter. I do that all the time these days… :|

Curt Howland March 5, 2005 at 4:14 pm

Will Adams, as money exits country A to pay for labor in country B, the relative value of the remaining cash increases. Products in country A seem less expensive because of the trade “imbalance”.

In the mean time, country A which is likely to have a more developed industrial base and all the rest that goes with having the capital to spend elsewhere, is still producing whatever it is that A produces best. That production would not have moved. What B produces is now available, at lower cost than when A was producing it. The net result is more stuff, cheaper, and more people able to enjoy it. There is never a “level field”, because no place or people produces exactly the same stuff for exactly the same cost as anywhere else.

Remember when Japan was country B, and “Made In Japan” was an insult? Well, Japan developed their industry and infrastructure, their people stopped working as cheaply, and the Japanese companies had to farm out work to Taiwan and South Korea. Each of them, in turn, went through the same cycle, and the work is now being done in China, Vietnam, soon hopefully Russia. Each time, the beginning might look like capital flight and the production of junk, but what is really happening is more stuff cheaper, raising the standard of living everywhere. Especially in the places where there is now industry where there was not before.

The freer the trade, the faster this cycle can occur. Any trade is better for the lowest economic strata in any country than no trade, as North Korea demonstrates. They are the perfect example, a country with very restricted trade surrounded by countries with no more natural resources and immense wealth by comparison.

The elite, the powerful, they get along just fine. It is the common man who is always hurt by trade restrictions.

Paul D March 6, 2005 at 2:49 am

“I don’t see the connection between decreased state and increased morality. [...] Decreasing the size of the state isn’t going to do anything about the mainstreaming of pornography or the divorce rate.”

Josh, I believe there are many connections, and Hoppe has pointed out many ways that the state has assisted the decline of culture. Remember the Austrian maxim that any activity the government subsidizes is increased, and any activity it taxes is decreased. For example:

1. Welfare, single-parent subsidies, and state-funded daycare subsidize divorce at the expense of families that stay together.

2. The state, through welfare, also subsidizes idle, unproductive lifestyles while heavily taxing productive, responsible behaviour.

3. Social security makes the elderly dependent on the income of the young, perverting the natural familial relationship between generations.

4. Anti-discrimination laws penalize people for acting upon their own moral judgments, while encouraging lifestyles and industries that would normally be ostracized.

5. State education subsidizes conformity and humanism while taxing private, religious education.

6. The state imprisons millions of people unjustly for silly things like smoking pot or holding unpopular political views. Prison culture tends to have a devastating effect on the moral fortitude of its victims. Just look at how many people become drug addicts while in prison, for example.

I’m sure dozens of other examples could be given.

Rolf March 7, 2005 at 12:19 am

Ludwig von Mises had been indoctoranated and conditioned with the protestant work ethic.

Workaholism is a serious illness and afflicts Americans in particular.

The planet earth is not a slave factory where humans have been born to spend their days in servatude before they go to eternal bliss.

Josh March 7, 2005 at 8:28 am

“The planet earth is not a slave factory where humans have been born to spend their days in servatude before they go to eternal bliss.”

Agreed. That is why all wealth redistribution schemes should be eliminated. Mises work ethic was his choice. If you prefer more leisure and less work that should be your choice. But those that do work should not have to fund those that do not.

edoardo rozza March 7, 2005 at 12:51 pm

Eternal bliss = fantastic, Rolf. Too much serious and stricly cold logic this discussion. Libertarians may be better go back to the personal freedom of 60s and 70s, enjoys more the life, come out the “steel cage” of Max Weber memory? If you want to fight state and neocons expansion seems to me very hard to do with passionate discourses, you have to take the streets with the risk of being taking as “terrorists”. Hence, you are in a tramp.

Rolf March 7, 2005 at 3:13 pm


Your framed thinking is exactly that which the wealthy want you to have.
You step out of line to far against the wealthy and powerfull and I can garantee, they will put you back in your servetude place. You are a worker Joss and don’t you ever forget it boy.

Rolf March 7, 2005 at 4:35 pm

Edoardo Rozza

I prefere other methods of which there are a variety.

A poet I have enjoyed for 2 decades is Allen Ginsberg, particularly his poem Capitol Air.
Perhaps it will also be refreshing for you and your friends.

Capitol Air

I don’t like the government where I live
I don’t like dictatorship of the Rich
I don’t like bureaucrats telling me what to eat
I don’t like Police dogs sniffing round my feet

I don’t like Communist censorship of my books
I don’t like Marxists complaining about my looks
I don’t like Castro insulting members of my sex
Leftists insisting we got the mystic Fix

L don’t like capitalists selling me gasoline Coke
Multinationals burning Amazon Trees to smoke
Big Corporation takeover media mind
I don’t like the Top-bananas that’re robbing Guatemala banks blind

I don’t like K.G.B. Gulag concentration camps
I don’t like the Maiosts’ Cambodian Death Dance
15 Million were killed by Stalin Secretary of Terror
He has killed our old Red Revolution for ever

I don’t like Anarchists screaming Love Is Free
I don’t like the C.I.A. they killed John Kennedy
Paranoiac tanks sit in Prague and Hungary
But I don’t like counterrevolution paid for by the C.I.A.

Tyranny in Turkey or Korea Nineteen Eighty
I don’t like Right Wing Death Squad Democracy
Police State Iran Nicaragua yesterday
Laissez-faire please Government keep your secret police offa me

I don’t like Nationalist Supremacy White or Black
I don’t like Narcs & Mafia marketing Smack
The Generals bulling Congress in his tweed vest
The President building up his Arimies in the East & West

I don’t like Argentine police Jail torture Truths
Government terrorist takeover Salvador news
I don’t like Zionists acting Nazi Storm Troop
Palestine Liberation cooking Israel into Moslem soup

I don’t like the Crown’s Official Secrets Act
You can get away with murder in the Government that’s a fact
Security cops teargassing radical kids
In Switzerland or Czechoslovakia GodForbids

In America it’s Attica in Russia it’s Lubianka Wall
In China if you disappear you wouldn’t know yourself at all
Arise Arise you citizens of the world use your lungs
Talk back to the Tyrants all they’re afraid of is your tongues

Two hundred Billion dollars inflates World War
In United States every year hey’re asking for more
Russia’s got as much in tanks and laser planes
Give or take Fifty Billion we can blow out everbody’s brains

School’s broken down ’cause History changes every night
Half the Free World nations are Dicatorships of the Right
The only place socialism worked was in Gdansk, Bud
The Communist world’s stuck together with prisoners’ blood

The Generals say they know something worth fighting for
They never say what till they start an unjust war
Iranian hostage Media Hysteria sucked
The Shah ran away with 9 Billion Iranian bucks

Dermit Roosevelt and his U.S. dollars overthrew Mossadegh
They wanted his oil then they got Ayatollah’s dreck
They put in the Shah and they trained his police the Savak
All Iran was our hostage quarter-century That’s right Jack

Bishop Romero wrote President Carter to stop
Sending guns to El Salvador’s junta so he got shot
Ambassador White blew the whistle on the White House lies
Reagan called him home cause he looked in the dead nuns’ eyes

Half the voters didn’t vote they know it was too late
Newspaper headlines called it a big Mandate
Some people voted for reagan eyes open wide
3 out of 4 didn’t vote for him That’s a landslide

Truth may be hard to find but Falsehood’s easy
Read between the lines our Imperialism is sleazy

But if you think the People’s State is your Heart’s Desire
Jump right back in the frying pan from the fire

The System the System in Russia & China the same
Criticize the System in Budapest lose your name
Coca Cola Pepsi Cola in Russia & China come true
Khrushchev yelled in Hollywood “We will bury You”

America and Russia want to bomb themselves Okay
Everybody dead on both sides Everybody pray
All except the Generals in caves where they can hide
and fuck each other in the ass waiting for the next free ride

No hope Communism no hope Capitalism Yeah
Everybody’s lying on both sides Nyeah yheah nyeah
The bloody iron curtain of American military Power
Is a mirror image of Russia’s red Babel-Topwer

Jesus Christ was spotless but was Crucified by the Mob
Law & Order Herod’s hired soldiers did the job
Flowerpower’s fine but innocence has got no Protection
The man who shot John Lennon had a Hero-worshipper’s connection

The moral of this song is that the world is in a horrible place
Scientific Industry devours the human race
Police in every country armed with tear Gas & TV
Secret Masters everywhere bureaucratize for you and me

Terrorists and police together build a lowerclass Rage
Propaganda murder manipulates the upperclass Stage
Can’t tell the difference ‘tween a turkey & a provacateur
If you’re feeling confused the Government’s in there for sure

Aware Aware wherever you are. No Fear
Trust your heart Don’t ride your Paranoia dear
Breathe together with an ordinary mind
Armed with Humor Feed & Help Enlighten Woe Mankind

Frankfurt-New York, December 15, 1980 By Allen Ginsberg

edoardo rozza March 7, 2005 at 6:13 pm

Thanks Rolf for Ginsberg’s Capitol Air too good I really enjoyed remembering my best years: this kind of poets (and/or critical thinkers) are no more in town you know. Now I get Vargas Llosas, also called Rita Hayworth, purchased by AEI or by other logo as NH Hoteles. Compliments.

Josh March 7, 2005 at 8:37 pm


You are being inconsistent. On the one hand you deride slavery, as you should. But on the other hand you advocate forcing some to pay for the livelihood of others.

Rolf March 8, 2005 at 12:13 am

You are welcome edoaro rozza. Yes I am aware they have left town.


No I do not advocate the use of force. Verbal, physical or subliminal.

Rolf March 8, 2005 at 2:03 am

One additional comment concerning your statement:

“You are being inconsistant”

When you are confronted in you life Josh
by a sick, crazed organism what will be your
response and what will be your reaction time?

When you know that answer for yourself, then you will know yourself in that area.

Josh, Economists call cheap labor “Smart Economics” If you go to the conclusion of that, the Smartest Economics is Slavery.

So who is paying for the livelyhood of others?
You need not answer that as it is a retorical question.

William R. Wright March 9, 2005 at 2:49 pm

I appreciated professor Hoppe’s recognition that government regulation of the insurance industry is giving the “sickest”, laziest, most high-risk people an advantage.

Insurance consumers are going to act in their own interest and abandon government-regulated insurance in preference for personal savings, FHA/HSA’s, etc. Everyone will be worse off because we can’t share risk effectively any more.

Any thoughts on that one? I’m self employed, and have chosen go without insurance, and trying to save what I would have paid into a “health trust” of sorts.

John Byrne April 12, 2005 at 9:16 am

I never did see the proof of his claim about homosexuals. Isn’t that the heart of the problem? A teaching, learning pointis missed? If the professor doesn’t back up his contention, then he is a poor professor. Perhaps our professors, on average, are smarter and more liberal than others, because they must consider both or many sides of an issue, before choosing a position. I learned little by reading his apologia.

Curt Howland April 12, 2005 at 10:16 am

Mr. Byrne, the issue is not homosexuals, the issue is time preference. For example, people who do not have children *tend* toward spending now and saving less. Homosexuals *tend* to not have children.

By trying to start the proof with homosexuals, you’re taking things completely out of context. That is also what the offended student did.

Political Correctness is the idea that there are things people may not bring into discussion, such as sexual preference, the physiological difference between male and female, etc.

It’s fine for me to say that there are exceptionally intelligent women, yet I cannot say that statistically women tend toward the center, such that men make up a predominance of the outliers, in both positive and negative ways. There are more exceptionally intelligent men, just as there are more murderously psychotic men.

So if you read that and then ask me to prove that men are better than women, you have again taken the issue completely out of context.

Do you see what I mean?

Sameen Farouk April 14, 2005 at 2:53 am

I like the last comment. Is it fair to say that the best kind of tactics are that of reciprocity?

Universities are overly bureaucratic and this Kafka-esque account proves that.

Bryan Baumgart April 14, 2005 at 12:36 pm


Thanks for standing up for our rights and freedoms!!!

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