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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4362/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-city/

The Rise and Fall of the City

November 23, 2005 by

In this excerpt from Democracy: The God That Failed, I explain why cities exist and how governments destroy them through interventionist politics. It is in the large cities where, as the subjective reflection of this complex system of spatio-functional allocation, citizens will develop the most highly refined forms of personal and professional conduct, etiquette, and style. It is the city that breeds civilization and civilized life. But once the state arrives on the scene, the process of de-civilization begins. FULL ARTICLE

{ 123 comments }

P.M.Lawrence November 24, 2005 at 7:30 am

Hoppe is historically wrong about why cities exist. They were first formed as centres of defence, with commerce developing in the aggregations so formed, so that they were actually formed with government (albeit not outside government). Later, bigger cities were actually formed by governments, e.g. Antioch and Alexandria. The only cities that grew from commerce were much later, e.g. Birmingham (the suffix -ham shows it started as a village).

Jonathan’s first objection is sound, and it has been spotted by other people before. Back in the middle ages the scholar Jacques Buridan expressed it with “Buridan’s logical ass”, thus: if a logical donkey is placed symmetrically between two identical bales of hay with nothing to choose between them, why doesn’t it dither forever and starve to death? The answer is in what physicists call “spontaneous symmetry breaking”. There is actually a symmetrical family of asymmetrical solutions, and you have something randomising to make a tie break if you actually have to collapse it to a choice. Note that all those “actually”s are actually using “actually” in its original technical sense.

Marco, the Reform Acts of the 19th century didn’t simplistically increase the right to vote, though the number of voters increased. The change of basis of the franchise actually deprived some voters of the right to vote, particularly in the West Country.

Jim Bradley November 24, 2005 at 7:36 am

Paul — this article is interesting in that it fuses conservative thought with libertarian structure contrary to your assertions in our previous debates that a pure private-property society is desirable and achievable — pure private property society is not possible as a common morality exceeding property rights is necessary, nor will anarcho-libertarianism prevent a lax majority from allowing the consolidation of power into the hands of elites, nor will it prevent the majority from turning the state to its advantage. There are several objections to Hoppe’s system: (1) how to provide for the defense common to all the states (2) the structure under which states must themselves reside in settling disputes (3) are there functionally any limits in the economics or morality of the individual states? For instance, can one state decide to invade another and what would prevent such a state of affairs? (4) How to transition (I assume a tax revolt — I haven’t read the book) to this new system.

David W — I’ve never advocated any plan to be implemented by elites, instead advocated a return to constitutionally limited government. You persist in straw man arguments.

MLS – The idea of classifying all “states” as being responsible for >150M deaths in the 20th century greatly subtracts from your argument in that you do not distinguish between those states that govern more justly (and why) from those that do not. It is an unproved assumption that states are an unnatural evil, not a necessary (but dangerous) organization arising from the nature of men (in fact, Hoppe sounds like he admits smaller states would exist). It is the nature of man that is a critical and fundamental missing element in much of anarcho-libertarian debate. The criticism of states and their usurpation of rights is equally valid against powerful economic interests, who would certainly engage in usurpation of rights if they could get away with it.

Marco – In practice the people with the most aggregate power decide the type of government they will have. Hence the importance of a majority committed to justice, private property, self-education, self-defense, and self-determination. The “me” crowd wants the benefits but shifts the costs — an attitude I see frequently in self-contradictory libertarian arguments as well (Following Lysander Spooner: a person should be able to simply succeed from the laws that society has created. But of course, criminals do exactly that by their actions, so that is a poor argument — there IS an underlying moral structure that is enforceable by violent power, whether by the state or by collective volunteers).

Ms Vedapushpa November 24, 2005 at 7:47 am

To Hans Hermann Hoppe’s warning that state welfare as regards domestic matters would amount to a ‘subsidizing of irresponsibility’ – I from India can even say that it is amounting ‘ to domestic trgedies of sorts’ – dowrydeaths and child-neglect inclusive of emotional distortions and deprivations’ due to the ‘limiting of family size to two and one ‘etc.

Vedapushpa
[sociologist]
Bangalore – India
vedapushpa@yahoo.com

David White November 24, 2005 at 8:21 am

Jim Bradley,

No straw man at all. You’ve being criticizing libertarians for not having a “plan” for “practical implementation” (by whom?), and what Garris’s essay makes clear is that with the state out of the way, the voluntary cooperation that is the essence of the social enterprise is perfectly capable of generating the spontaneous order by which society increases the well-being of its members.

As for returning to “constitutionally limited government,” please provide your “plan” for its “practical implementation,” as well as the means by which what Jefferson called “the chains of the constitution” would not be broken once again.

Marco de Innocentis November 24, 2005 at 11:08 am

P.M. Lawrence: you are not seriously suggesting that the same percentage of the population of the United Kingdom had the right to vote in 1914 as they did in 1800?

Wolf DeVoon November 24, 2005 at 12:27 pm

“will have to be physically removed from society”

Scratch a govt employee like Hoppe, you get a fascist.

Luke Fitzhugh November 24, 2005 at 12:56 pm

Suppose I am a homosexual but heretofore have not advocated nor engaged in any homosexual acts. I am a member of a “covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin…,” which I support. I own property, including a house and a building which houses my thriving business. Then, as very often happens, I realize my homosexual tendencies. Some within the covenant learn of my sexual preference and cease to patronize my business, which is their legitimate right. However, my question is can I “be physically removed from society” for the purpose of “maintain(ing) a libertarian order?” I am not an “advocate of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as… homosexuality.” I didn’t even realize I was one until recently. While one has the choice about whether to engage in homosexual acts, one does not choose whether to be a homosexual. Now suppose I engage in homosexual acts behind closed doors. No one in the covenant ever observes these acts, but some think homosexual acts are occuring within the confines of my property, again behind closed doors.

I have some questions for those of you who have attempted to explain Hoppe’s position and/or support it. Would it be legitimate to “expel me from libertarian society?” If so, on what basis? Remember, I support the protection of family and kin. And I am not an advocate of homosexuality. Furthermore, if I would be expelled, would my property be confiscated or would I be compensated? If either, who would do the confiscating and/or who would do the compensating?

Marco de Innocentis November 24, 2005 at 1:09 pm

Allen:

Regarding Hoppe and homosexuals, you are right. In another passage of the book (can’t remember where), Hoppe hints that the libertarian order he envisages would probably drive several of them, and others, “back into the closet”, so to speak. However, I wonder if a homosexual who wanted to live openly as a homosexual and adopt children in this society would be considered an advocate, and therefore expelled.

Regarding mathematics, the passage you are quoting was written by myself, not David Friedman (the Friedman passage referred to natural law rights in Hoppe’s ethics).
Even if you view mathematics as analytic a-priori, there is still room for “experimental” methods. For example, suppose we have an equation and I prove a complicated theorem which states that this equation has no rational solutions, that is no rational number (of the form p/q, where p and q are both integers) is a solution. You think the theorem is false and decide to prove me wrong. After some work you find a fault in my proof. This however doesn’t mean the theorem is wrong. It may still be possible to prove it with a different method. So you set up a computer program which tries to substitute every integer from 1 upwards into the equation. A few days later the program finds that X = 912989716761526751250 is a solution. You check it and it’s right. This proves that the theorem is wrong, since a whole number is a particular case of a rational number.

Angelo Mike November 24, 2005 at 2:11 pm

Excellent article. Hoeppe’s one of the best thinkers here.

averros November 24, 2005 at 5:29 pm

Regarding experimental methods in math: unfortunately, physicists (including great physicists) tend to miss the point of mathematics completely – they see it as a natural law for some reason matching inner workings of the universe, and so, like any other laws, they consider it to be a subject to experimental testing.

In fact, there are NO experimental methods in mathematics. What is misleadingly called experimental mathematics is merely automation of the quite old-fashioned formal reasoning and analythical work – a computer simply allows it to be made faster, that’s it. Exactly the same results could in principle be obtained by “just thinking”.

The confusion mostly arises because some prominent mathematicans (most notably, Penrose) hold unabashedly Platonistic view of the physical world – in such, mathematics is, indeed, a foundation of the physical world itself. Most professional mathematicans I know consider it a serious lunacy, because it is pretty much obvious that out of the infinite number of axiomatics we only use a few – the ones which happen to match our intuitive understanding of what’s going on in the real world. The second reason why Platonic view of mathematics is invalid is because the real world is, for all we can know, finite, whereby most issues in foundaitons of mathematics have arisen precisely because of the need to deal with infinities. Needless to say, no observable physical quantity can be infinite.

Raymond November 24, 2005 at 5:53 pm

I considered myself a libertarian well before learning of Hoppe. But I am proud to boast that I am not a conservative. Among other differences, conservatives have problems with homosexuals enjoying the same rights as heterosexuals, whereas libertarians do not. On page 189 of his book is the conclusion that “conservatives must be libertarians and libertarians must be conservatives.” I am not a conservative. Is Hoppe a libertarian?

jeffrey November 24, 2005 at 8:29 pm

Raymond, as you know if you have that book and have read it, exactly half of that chapter you mention is a crushing assault on conservatives. The other half is an attack on libertarians who are insufficiently libertarian for compromising in their defense of property rights. Another slight hint as to Hoppe’s views on conservatism can be found in the helpfully titled article: The Intellectual Incoherence of Conservatism.

David Chaplin November 25, 2005 at 6:53 am

While agreeing with the broad sweep of Hoppe’s article, I found I could not agree with all of his differentiations between other animals and the human one in the first few paragraphs – we are not THAT different from other social animals, particularly simian and cetatian, which have also developed very sophisticated levels of co-operative activity motivated by individual benefit – culturally transmitted ones that vary from group to group, no less!

The gulf between the ‘substance’ of Man vs the ‘substance’ of other animals has narrowed a lot since Mises’s day. That comparitive foundation for Hoppe’s argument definitely needs updating if critics are not to use it to debunk his subsequent conclusions on a ‘baby and bathwater’ basis.

Wolf DeVoon November 25, 2005 at 8:27 am

Hoppe quote from Intellectual Incoherence of Conservatives: “You cannot have your cake and eat it too, for instance. Or what you consume now cannot be consumed again in the future.”

What a brain. Sheer genius.

billwald November 25, 2005 at 9:53 am

Can’t think of a time or place in the last 3000 years where the cities didn’t have political control over the farm communities. Not in any place large enough to have a real city.

Allen Weingarten November 25, 2005 at 10:24 am

Yesterday, I posted some comments to the Mises Blog, which do not appear to have been listed on all of our computers. Luke Fitzhugh seems to make one of the same points, that a homosexual who “supports the protection of family and kin” ought not be expelled. Again, it is unreasonable to expect parents to accept the expulsion of their children who happen to be born that way. Let us note that even in the animal kingdom, creatures are born with a wide variety of sexual characteristics.

One can clarify the difference between advocacy and action by the case of hedonism. It would undermine an order were its objective to maximize the immediate pleasures of its members, but if one engages in a Roman orgy, he should not be expelled.

Marco de Innocentis refers to my comments (which were not listed in my Blog) about mathematics, by “Even if you view mathematics as analytic a-priori, there is still room for “experimental” methods.” He then shows how experimenting with many integers can refute a theorem. However, that constitutes an analytic, and not a synthetic, refutation. Even if one had a physical experiment that produced a refutation, it would not be legitimate until it were described in purely analytic form. Insights can be provided by reference to reality, but only logical refutations count in an analytic a-priori discipline. So although I agree with Marco that mathematicians ‘experiment’ perhaps by trial-and-error, or by examining graphs and results in physics, these provide insights, while only analytic methods are legitimate for proofs or disproofs.

Here, I also agree with averros that in principle, all results in an analytic discipline can be found by just thinking. However, I do not think that he has refuted the Platonic view of mathematics by stating that reality is finite while math is infinite. First let us note that all that has ever been written, or ever will be written in mathematics, is comprised by a finite number of letters. Thus if we view mathematics from the perspective of a completely formal manipulation of symbols, all is finite. Moreover, even if we interpret the symbols for the various orders of infinity as having the physical meaning that is usually given. Plato views the ideal world as the true reality, which could be infinite, while the world that we experience would be but a finite reflection.

As an aside, someone ‘refuted’ a certain number theorem of Ramanujan, by presenting integers on the order of zillions that countered his conclusion. In response, Ramanujan said that if someone understood the theorem, he would note that it only applied asymptotically, which did not take effect until there were integers far greater than those employed in the ‘refutation’. Ramanujan was less concerned with what happened for the first few integers, than he was about the last few.

tz November 25, 2005 at 11:41 am

Hoppe allows discrimination based on gestation to the point where there is no right to life. (He may simply be quoting Rothbard, but he should also read Doris Gordon, otherwise avoid or address the issue). But why is gestation (abortion) special? Why not infanticide, burning widows when their husbands die (are women persons or property or do we just all make up our own minds?). Then again, why is liberty itself better than anything else when all is individual and relative and a “personal choice”?

If there are fixed standards which would allow for liberty to be good or a virtue, there are also fixed standards that will identify evils and vices. And many of those would redefine things called liberty here into license.

If there are no fixed standards, then liberty is merely another nice thing, but wouldn’t warrant any of the strong defenses often given here for it.

To twist Augustine (in essentials: unity, in doubtful matters: liberty, in all things: charity), we have in all things liberty, unity and charity are entirely optional and probably to be discouraged, at least until more analysis which might prove their utility is done.

As to the 10 identical people, Even if each spend one hour per day doing 10 tasks needed for survival, it would likely be more efficient for each one to do each task for 10 hours (or some other division). This is simply a case of the fallacy if the surgeon can maintain his instruments faster than a workman that he should do that – but if he can spend time doing surgery instead of maintainence, he can make more money. For division of labor not to work, there would have to be equality and isolation so contrived as to make any result inapplicable.

A final semantic problem is that I don’t see a clear definition of “family”. Why isn’t the “mayor” simply the big-father of the family of all within the border? Or does he mean the traditional family? Probably not since that would require a recognition that some social structures work (to preserve liberty) and others don’t.

Maybe freedom is simply a public good that few libertarians (much less anyone who prefers the comfortable slavery) will actually pay the costs to obtain. Put differently, if the only way to obtain liberty is to force it upon an unwilling population violently, ought it be done?

David White November 25, 2005 at 12:09 pm

tz,

Liberty is a purely practical matter in that it is but a means to an end, that end being the improvement of one’s lot in life. Freely cooperating with others via the division of labor is the very essence of the social enterprise in that it alone generates the spontaneous order by which we progress as a species. For as Proudhon rightly said, liberty is “the Mother, not the Daughter, of Order,” which is why we must it must be so fiercely protected.

Vince Daliessio November 25, 2005 at 12:19 pm

tz says;

“Hoppe allows discrimination based on gestation to the point where there is no right to life.”

HUH? Where did you see that?

“why is liberty itself better than anything else when all is individual and relative and a “personal choice”?”

Because liberty is based on and is consistent with natural law, and is the default setting for a peaceful society. In other words, you and I may live in the same city. I wish to be free, you do not. Only in liberty is there a chance for both of us to have what we want – I can continue to be free, while you can choose to indenture yourself.

“If there are fixed standards which would allow for liberty to be good or a virtue, there are also fixed standards that will identify evils and vices.”

Under liberty, the only evils are initiations of force, the only vices things which contradict one’s own internal or community standards. Once any other state exists, all vices can be made into evils, and all evils can be visited on targets of democratic choice with impunity.

Unenumerated November 25, 2005 at 5:39 pm

(1) Humans are qualitatively different from animals in the way that we cooperate, by using, for example money to enhance kin and especially reciprocal altruim. See for example my article on the origins of money. (This article also contains an update on Menger’s theory of money). No other animals have formed a catallaxy. I don’t think this depends on any profound emotional differences.

(2) I agree the 10 identical people would learn to become non-identical (and even unequal) since distribution of knowledge and division of labor will generally better satisfy their preferences.

(3) It’s too bad Austrians aren’t more empirical. Hoppe makes some good points about, for example, the relative amount of taxes under democracy and monarchy. A good specific example (I don’t know if Hoppe cites this) is that taxes reached their low point in England just before Cromwell’s revolution, and have generally risen ever since as parliament gained more power. I note, however, that taxes were also higher earlier in English history when the monarch was even more powerful. Thus the balance achieved between Parliament and the Crown just before Cromwell may be the optimal balance of power between the owner of certain kingdom-wide property rights related to military and taxation (the monarch) and a taxpayer-elected (in modern terms analogous to shareholder-elected) body with veto power over most of the monarch’s taxing power. I’d love to see more empirical study on whether this is an accurate view of English history and what the minimal-tax balance looked like in other countries.

Unenumerated blog

P.M.Lawrence November 25, 2005 at 8:46 pm

No, Marco, I am pointing out that the Reform Acts indulged in one of the fundamental democratic fallacies – counting heads rather than taking account of individuals.

The point is that as between (say) 1830 and 1845, MORE people in Britain had the vote – but SOME people who had had the vote in 1830 lost it because of the Reform Acts. The franchise had been enlarged but NOT extended.

In this light, 1914 is not commensurable with 1800 anyway since none of the same individuals were involved.

averros November 25, 2005 at 9:09 pm

> It’s too bad Austrians aren’t more empirical.

Actually, Austrians point out that the amount of information which can be gathered by the observation is seriously limited (you cannot deduce the structure of utility function by observing few trades), and rightfully resist making unstated assumptions about the utility functions. This leaves them in position of saying “we just don’t know” in places where mainstream economists (which all make unstated assumptions about how humans make decisions, of one kind or another) happily pontificate.

In this respect, Austrian economics is akin to the theory of evolution – it cannot predict what exactly will happen, but places constraints on the range of possibilities instead, or offers only qualitative predictions. For someone understanding that knowledge of incompleteness of information is preferable to the false knowledge of precise figures, Austiran economics actually yields better quality predictions: the difference is the same as between a professional scientist estimating error margins and saying “oh, well, this will be approximately 0.6″ and a student reading off 0.6238319 off the instrument and thinking that he knows the precise answer.

That said, both Rothbard and Hoppe cite a lot of historical data; unfortunately history is full of noise and disinformation, and it is hard to make any conclusive statements about the history, not tainted by the deliberate or unconscious selection (if not outright fabrication) of facts and interpretations by the generations of historicans and propagandists. At the very least, the axiomatic logical reasoning can be directly verified by the reader; this is not so for the historical accounts. This makes logical method of constructing social theories preferable to the empirical. (Although I would not deny the value of empirical validation – but historical anecdotes can not be generally considered reliable tests for anything).

In my opinion, economics will become a real quantitative science only after a comprehensive quantitative model of human behaviour is built – an undertaking which is equivalent to building a fully-functional artificial intelligence. Which may render economics of human societies to be a marginally useful field of scientific inquiry anyway. (Just like the modern ethology, which does have working quantitative models based on game theory – which are of interest only to the researchers in the field, unlike the qualitative insights from the same discipline, which are quite useful in the everyday life :)

Andre Faulksmen November 25, 2005 at 9:15 pm

It should be quite clear to any objective observer that Hans-Hoppe is a racist. It is a constant undertone in almost all of his works and most pronounced in his essay “Natural Order, The State, and the Immigration Problem”, published in the Journal of Libertarian Studies (Winter 2002). He seems to believe that discrimination and oppression of one ethnic/racial group over another is acceptable and preferable, without regard to wither or not one has a “right” to do so (again, see the aforementioned essay). In fact, I would say he believes such behavior is natural and instinctive. For Example, he talks about the “natural” repulsion of different races from one another and the races as “subspecies”.
Hans-Hoppe’s character is one which is classically German, but one which has not been seen in such a raw and visceral form since the end of World War Two. The best examination of this character type was done by Dr. Carroll Quigley (1910- 1977), formerly chair of the Political Science Department at Georgetown University. In his monumental work “Tragedy and Hope: a History of the World in Our Time”, (on pages 409-457) Quigley examines the need of Germans of Hans-Hoppe’s type for an absolute and totalitarian society. They long for a rigid and ordered system that will encompass their whole lives and free them from making any personal decisions. Quigley believes this need is an outgrowth of Germany’s tribal origins. Within the Germanic tribes, life was completely ordered; one knew one’s positions and the implied responsibilities. Quigley asserts that the German psyche suffered a great trauma from which it has yet to recover. The Germans abandoned their tribal societies for the more advanced, but equally totalitarian post-Constantine Roman society, only to have it destroyed shortly thereafter.
The need for a “total” society, with rigid conformity is a need that is still felt by Germans like Hans-Hoppe. I do not believe that Hans-Hoppe is a Libertarian, but rather a man who sees the ideology of “Anarcho-Libertarianism” as a path to that all encompassing society with rigid conformity which he so desires. He would probably be equally happy with socialism, national-socialism (Nazism), and any other system that offered to serve his goal.
One of the most dangerous outgrowths of personalities like Hans-Hoppe’s is the tendency to devalue human beings who are not a part of the “group”. Quigley states that the Germanic tribes where so absolute in there nature, that members of the group considered outsiders to be “barley human”. The great German composer Richard Wagner once wrote in a private letter “The thing which is most dangerous to a German’s character, is to rule over non-Germans.”. Indeed, persons of Hans-Hoppe’s type can be perfectly harmless in and of themselves, they may even be “good” people, but when among others (unlike themselves), they can be a destructive force and to borrow from Hans-Hoppe, “must be physically restrained”. Most disturbing of all is their violent, and irate reaction if the “non-person” or “barley human” person does not act or think in accordance with their worldview. Reinhard Heydrich said, “If I ever met a Pole worthy of setting at the same table as me, I will have him shot”.
Han-Hoppe’s ideas or more likely aligned to xenophobic racist Thomas Fleming’s. He wants a per-Enlightenment world of rigid caste and “noble” elites. He is a true German nationalist! This ideology is hinted at in his book “Democracy: The God that Failed”; in which he argues that in a purely capitalist society, a few great families would remain the wealthiest. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, during the height of Western laissez-faire capitalism, there was a constant flow of new (and less the previously distinguished) family moving to the top rungs of wealth. This is also the case in the newly developed countries in East Asia.
Hans-Hoppe has a few good positions, but the ideology by which he comes to those positions is dangerous to civilization and to civilized persons. I can no more embrace Hans-Hoppe then I can embrace a Marxist who supports free trade because Lenin (in “Imperialism, The highest form of Capitalism”) argued it would cause “class conflict”. Like John Prince-Smith, Hans-Hoppe is likely to become a statist as he observes that people are not acting in accordance to his desires under “free cooperation”.
We must all be careful of Hans-Hoppe and read his works with a “discriminating” eye; that is unless you are a racist German Nationalist that shares Hans-Hoppe’s views. My only question is how he justifies his association with the ideas of a Jew like Ludwig von Mises. In traditional German Nationalist thinking, Jews are “non-persons”.

Paul Edwards November 26, 2005 at 2:16 am

Marco:

I think you are correct in suggesting that I should read the whole chapter of Hoppe’s book. I’m going to have to buy the book and read the whole thing. However, i would have thought that if you were going to provide a quote of a paragraph or two from that book that supported your position you would have done it by now. The two paragraphs you did quote certainly do not stand up to the task.

Hoppe makes a point or two here ( http://www.lewrockwell.com/hoppe/hoppe15.html ):

“In my book Democracy, The God That Failed I not only defend the right to discrimination as implied in the right to private property, but I also emphasize the necessity of discrimination in maintaining a free society and explain its importance as a civilizing factor. In particular, the book also contains a few sentences about the importance, under clearly stated circumstances, of discriminating against communists, democrats, and habitual advocates of alternative, non-family centered lifestyles, including homosexuals.

“For instance, on p. 218, I wrote “in a covenant concluded among proprietors and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, … no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant … such as democracy and communism.” “Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. … (violators) will have to be physically removed from society.”

“In its proper context these statements are hardly more offensive than saying that the Catholic Church should excommunicate those violating its fundamental precepts or that a nudist colony should expel those insisting on wearing bathing suits. However, if you take the statements out of context and omit the condition: in a covenant… then they appear to advocate a rights violation..

“My praise of discrimination was part of a frontal attack against what is sometimes called left-libertarianism – against the politics that equates liberty with libertinism, multiculturalism, and so-called civil rights as opposed to existence and enforcement of private-property rights. In retaliation, to discredit me as a “fascist,” a “racist,” a “bigot,” etc., the left-libertarian smear-bund has routinely distorted my views by quoting the above passages out of context.”

If people would read, and then think, they could avoid coming to conclusions that are, as was aptly described earlier, preposterous. Hoppe’s arguments are libertarian from top to bottom. It is really something to see how people use their emotional reaction as an excuse to throw reason and thought out the window.

Secondly, you state “Hoppe doesn’t say clearly why homosexuals should be banned…” This uncharacteristic oversight on Hoppe’s part becomes understandable when one realizes that he in fact does not say that homosexuals should be banned. What he says is this “in a covenant… no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant” and also “in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal…”

Jeffrey is correct that this should not need a rehashing at this late point in the game.

Wolf DeVoon November 26, 2005 at 3:08 am

Very nice. Hoppe the homesteader, who thinks his covenant binds all heirs for eternity, no different than the Pilgrim fathers who were theocratic dictators of a “shining city on the hill,” no different than lunatics Jim Jones or David Koresh.

It is revealing indeed that Mr. Edwards claims a slam dunk that should not need a rehashing at this late point in the game. It sounds like he’s ready to don an armband and join the SA because there’s nothing further to discuss about human rights or constitutional law.

Like I said previously, Herr Hoppe is irrelevent and made no original contribution.

Paul Edwards November 26, 2005 at 4:23 am

P.M.:

The question of “why doesn’t it dither forever and starve to death?” does not need to defer to physics for an answer. The answer is because that involves choosing an inferior third option, starvation. The ass will by instinct prefer survival over suicide. It will probably not be too aware of the ponderous decision he has made in choosing one bale of hay over the other.

Paul Edwards November 26, 2005 at 4:42 am

Jim:

You say that “this article … fuses conservative thought with libertarian structure contrary to your [my] assertions in our previous debates that a pure private-property society is desirable and achievable — pure private property society is not possible as a common morality exceeding property rights is necessary, nor will anarcho-libertarianism prevent a lax majority from allowing the consolidation of power into the hands of elites, nor will it prevent the majority from turning the state to its advantage.”

One of us is not following what Hoppe was driving at in the article because i do not disagree with anything he has said, or anything i have inferred him to mean in the article.

If i understand how you come to this interpretation it is that you think a covenant becomes a social apparatus of coercion and essentially a state. Furthermore, you take Hoppe to suggest that this state is necessary and will be run by an elite such as what we often refer to here on this site as the “ruling elite”.

I do not think that is what Hoppe is driving at. First of all, the covenant is entirely and at all times voluntary. You can agree to it or secede, but you can’t violate the agreement and expect not to be removed from the community. It involves strict adherence to property and contract and through those two, the right to exclude. There is no state, no theft, no compulsion and no violence. Just plain libertarian contract enforcement.

Paul Edwards November 26, 2005 at 4:50 am

Luke:

To underscore the answers embedded in my post above,

“no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant”

and

“there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal…”

In the context of Hoppe’s text, the terms “advocate” and “promote” stand out as key to answering your questions. And that is to say if you don’t advocate and don’t promote, you are keeping to the contract.

Paul Edwards November 26, 2005 at 5:20 am

Andre:

You begin your post with a statement that suggests that you hold objectivity and non-racist perspectives in high esteem:

“It should be quite clear to any objective observer that Hans-Hoppe is a racist.”

you then continue on to make your case in a fashion that strikes me as most ironic, given such an introduction:

“…Hans-Hoppe’s character is one which is classically German, but one which has not been seen in such a raw and visceral form since the end of World War Two… Quigley examines the need of Germans of Hans-Hoppe’s type for an absolute and totalitarian society. They [Germans] long for a rigid and ordered system that will encompass their whole lives and free them from making any personal decisions. Quigley believes this need is an outgrowth of Germany’s tribal origins. Within the Germanic tribes, life was completely ordered; one knew one’s positions and the implied responsibilities. Quigley asserts that the German psyche suffered a great trauma from which it has yet to recover. The Germans abandoned their tribal societies for the more advanced, but equally totalitarian post-Constantine Roman society, only to have it destroyed shortly thereafter.”

Finally, to support your position you quote not Hoppe, but instead German composer Richard Wagner and Reinhard Heydrich. It’s very refreshing to see such an objective analysis of Hoppe’s racism based on … his race?

Too funny.

Wolf DeVoon November 26, 2005 at 6:39 am

I agree, something’s too funny. Please state succinctly what, if any, original proposition Herr Hoppe has contributed to freedom philosophy.

Examples:
“An act against natural equity is void.” (James Otis)
“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living.” (Jefferson)
“Civilisation implies, in any society, the freedom to criticize the government of the day; free speech; free press; free thought; free religious observance; no racial persecution; fair treatment of minorities; and courts of law and justice which have an authority independent of the executive and untainted by Party bias.” (Churchill)
“Evil requires the sanction of the victim.” (Ayn Rand)
“Justice is the armed defense of innocent liberty.” (me)

Sherman Broder November 26, 2005 at 9:17 am

Content aside, Hoppe’s article is the worst piece of writing I’ve read in quite some time. Never mind the plethora of typos and grammatical errors. Hoppe’s piece is disjointed. Conclusions do not flow naturally and reasonably from premises.

I suspect he didn’t write the piece, but dictated it off the top of his head, stringing facts, arguments and speculations here and there upon the skeleton of his theme (monopolist government is responsible for the fall of great cities) like tinsel flung haphazardly on a Christmas tree.

Hoppe should have place his last paragraph first. It is more a premise than a conclusion anyway.

Halfway through the piece Hoppe abruptly changes from the present tense to the future. As a result the tone of his article changes from well-reasoned argument to arbitrary futurism.

He writes, for example, that “almost by definition it follows that with the establishment of a city government interracial, tribal, ethnic, and clannish-familial tensions will increase…” And “in the great trading centers…the legal distinction between inlander and foreigner…will almost invariably lead to some form of forced exclusion and a reduced level of interethnic cooperation.”

ALMOST by definition? ALMOST invariably? What kind of reasoning is this? Of course, it is not reasoning at all, it is merely wild speculation and personal opinion.

In this article Hoppe had a real opportunity to examine the true nature of cooperative action, its necessary prerequisites and conditions, its inexorable consequences and implications. For instance, he might have reasoned that cooperative action is merely two (or more) human beings purposely concerting their individual action in order to bring about a new state of affairs that is more satisfactory to both, when considered from their own, subjective points of view.

What are the necessary mechanics of this “concerting” of individual action? What new social relations, conditions and requirements does this “concerting” of individual action impose on the cooperators? What social and societal consequences must necessarily follow?

Hoppe begins his article as if to objectively explore and answer these questions, but soon slips into a muddle-headed morass of absurd personal observations. For instance, Hoppe opines that non-private roads “whereon everyone may proceed wherever he wants” will bring together different households and villages “into closer contact than they might have preferred…”

Mises taught all of us that individual human beings prefer, not households and villages. How does Hoppe know what individuals in particular households or villages might or might not prefer?

Hoppe speculates further that with “the arrival of bureaucrats from various racial, tribal, and ethnic backgrounds in the capital city, the frequency of interethnic marriage will increase, and the focus of interethnic sex — even without marriage — will increasingly shift from the upper class of merchants to the lower classes — even to the lowest class of welfare recipients.”

Even if Hoppe’s wild speculation is correct, why is it necessarily governmental bureaucrats that “will” or “must” affect this change? Wouldn’t a flood of “lower class” immigrants have the same effect?

Moreover, is Hoppe contending that “class” determines how individuals think and act? Is Hoppe here slipping into Marxian social analysis?

No? Too harsh? Well, consider this speculation: “As a result of this overproportional growth of low and even underclass people and an increasing number of ethnically, tribally, racially mixed offspring especially in the lower and lowest social strata, the character of democratic (popular) government will gradually change as well.”

Hoppe, apparently, knows (somehow) what the correct proportion of “lower class” growth should be in a democracy. Clairvoyance perhaps? Or elitism? Or racism? Who knows?

Lest there be any doubt about Hoppe’s sloppy language and muddle-headed, subjectivist thinking, consider this one sentence:

“Human cooperation — division of labor — based on integrated family-households and on separated households, villages, tribes, nations, races, etc., wherein man’s natural biological attractions and repulsions for and against one another are transformed into a mutually recognized system of spatial (geographical) allocation (of physical approximation and integration or of separation and segregation, and of direct or of indirect contact, exchange and trade), leads to improved standards of living, a growing population, further extensification and intensification of the division of labor, and increasing diversity and differentiation.”

Whether you profess to understand what Hoppe has in mind or not, I rest my case.

Jim Bradley November 26, 2005 at 10:00 am

Paul — I think at this point you’ll persist in playing the “this is really libertarian society” and refuse to accept the basic facts that Hoppe describes what we already had and to the extent that he doesn’t, it isn’t possible to implement. So we’re back to a shared extra-private-property morality with a series of smaller governments united to a common set of laws that protect individual rights (such as we had and have) and that the last and ultimate protection is that every man “should be armed” to prevent the usurpation of rights, etc. etc. Absolutely nothing truly groundbreaking and contrary to Spooner, each individual cannot “succeed” neither are violators of the “covenant” to be tolerated instead removed from society by force, etc. etc.. What is the point?

Allen Weingarten November 26, 2005 at 10:29 am

I agree with Paul Edwards that “if you don’t advocate and don’t promote, you are keeping to the contract.” Let us note that unless belonging to an enterprise requires adherence to its purpose, then anything goes. To wit, one who is committed to sabotaging a nation would remain a citizen in good standing, while an employee of a company could engage in pursuits that favor the competition.

Membership in a group should be determined by the nature of that group. If there are no qualities associated with membership, then that group has no nature. That is, if anything is defined as an apple, then being an apple has no meaning. If being an American only indicates a geographic location, then America is no more than an area of geography. The guiding principle for membership in a social group has to be mutual advantage. If it is, the group is viable; if it is not, it cannot survive. What other principle could guide the approach to social membership?

Tz asks “why is liberty itself better than anything else when all is individual and relative and a “personal choice”?” David White answers that “Liberty is a purely practical matter in that it is but a means to an end, that end being the improvement of one’s lot in life” while Vince Daliessio responds that “liberty is based on and is consistent with natural law, and is the default setting for a peaceful society.”

Now I concur that liberty is practical (or to state this negatively, any encroachment of freedom is destructive). I also concur that liberty is consistent with natural law, since man’s nature requires it. Thus there are practical and theoretical arguments for liberty. Here, Ayn Rand has made a telling case for liberty. It may be said that aggression undermines man, so our guiding societal principle ought to be the non-initiation of force.

Yet this leaves out another dimension that justifies liberty, namely that of aspirations. Each individual has ideals that he aims for, as do civilizations. This is not quite the same as that which is derived (objectively) from man’s experience or nature, since it is a (subjective) sense of what someone, or a civilization, ought to be. Whereas an aversion to aggression is uniformly correct, which hierarchy of aspirations one selects is a choice among many conceivable alternatives. Thus, it remains to be evolved, which hierarchy best elevates and inspires. Liberty is surely a primary aspiration, which can be seen by literature as well as by philosophy.

Vince Daliessio November 26, 2005 at 11:35 am

Good points Allen, however Liberty is not just desirable for its utility but for its own sake, as a necessary neutral condition for peaceful existance. If the utility of liberty were the greatest thing going for it, we here would be no better than Mill and the Benthamites, and we would evaluate everything in light of whether it benefits others. I would prefer to evaluate everything on whether it benefits me and does not harm others by violence or deprivation of their justly-aquired property.

mikey November 26, 2005 at 2:54 pm

The rules laid out to live in Hoppe-ville would not appeal to very many.Yet that is no problem in an anarcho- capitalist world.I may not agree with Hoppes’ ideas, but I agree with his right to express/enforce them on his own property.He cannot impose his ideas in Mikey-ville by force.
And he is free not to have any dealings here,Mikey-ville being rife with gays, lesbians,
pot smokers, promiscuous singles,money squanderers,and other assorted goof-offs who are so much more fun to hang out with than uptight preachers of family values, whatever they are,
most families I know fight like cats and dogs.

David White November 26, 2005 at 4:12 pm

Vince,

I fully concur with your preference for evaluating liberty “on whether it benefits me and does not harm others…” That’s why I define liberty in terms of individual utility — “the improvement of ONE’s lot in life.” Yes, society advances accordingly, but since society exists for the individual, not the individual for society, preserving individual liberty is always of paramount importance.

What this has to do with the city is simply that because man is, as Aristotle said, a “political animal” — i.e., a being of the “polis” — he naturally associates with others, free and voluntary exchange being the source and sustenance of that association. That the state subverts this process by creating social imbalances that, among other things, distort the relationship between town and country, is the very stuff of human history. For once the state “arrives on the scene,” the natural rhythm of society is undone, and its “invisible hand” is replaced to one extent or another by an all too visible fist, from the ancient conquest and subjugation of sedentary populations by the “earthborn” (a term approvingly employed by Plato in his aptly named “The Statesman”) to their well-born heirs who rule over the modern-day welfare state.

Mikey,

Whatever one thinks about Hoppe’s ideas, the fact that the state does not allow people to associate as they see fit, so long as they do not harm or otherwise impose themselves on others, is really all you need to know about its inherent immorality.

Wolf DeVoon November 26, 2005 at 4:14 pm

“I may not agree with Hoppes’ ideas, but I agree with his right to express/enforce them on his own property. He cannot impose his ideas in Mikey-ville by force.”

Rubbish. If Mikey-ville dumps raw sewage in a river, your downstream neighbors can and will justifiably declare war.

averros November 26, 2005 at 10:39 pm

[rant]
Dear Mr. Wolf DeVoon – would you please learn to think before posting? Your childish and content-free babbling is not welcome. And, no, analogy is not a valid argument, and neither are mudslinging, name-calling, and willful discarding of context.

Andre Faulksmen – I’m a racist, too. I think demagogues are an inferior, genetically deficient race, and should be exterminated. That includes all those who think that posting ad hominems like calling someone a racist is a valid way to disprove what the target of a smear attack says.

People, please, do not feed the trolls!
[/rant]

Wolf DeVoon November 26, 2005 at 11:31 pm

Because averros is exempt from the rule that says posts must be signed with a valid email address, I will assume he/she is a Mises Blog moderator. Yet it seems peculiar to be singled out and slimed with adjectives I haven’t heard since grade school. I wonder also about the moral stature of someone who advocates extermination of “demagogues.”

In any case, I’ll do as you ask and cease all further communication in future. In parting, I recommend that impartial readers reflect on an unanswered question: What original contribution has Hoppe made to freedom philosphy?

Unchallengeable supremacy of private property, governed by a feudal elite, is not an original proposition.

Ciao.

Vince Daliessio November 27, 2005 at 2:48 pm

I, for one, am sorry Wolf is leaving – arguing against his points from Misesian principles simply helps us strengthen our case! As for his assertion that our property rights would be enforced by a “feudal elite”, I submit that that is exactly the current state of things we are currently working to overturn!

jeffrey November 27, 2005 at 6:47 pm

The rule in favor of a valid email address for blog commentators is not software enforced.

P.M.Lawrence November 27, 2005 at 8:49 pm

Paul Edwards, you misunderstand the nature of the problem that Buridan was trying to explore with a concrete thought experiment. Of course the donkey has motives not to starve – but how, within a framework of logic and symmetry, does it achieve that result? There must be a mechanism in there somewhere to break the symmetry.

It’s the same kind of thing that theologians were exploring in asking how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. A literal reading is obviously absurd, but they shouldn’t have been derided for that. They were trying to find out where one should draw certain lines of definition, between physical substance and the lack of it, just as much as the Greek philosophers were trying to bring out matters of definition in asking how many hairs make a beard.

The point here, of general application, was that there has to be some tie breaking mechanism. It doesn’t have to be quantum physics, that was just a further illustration of the same point – a particular and not a general thing. The particulars illustrate the general for us, but they do not provide any general solution, just the framework that solutions (if any) must fit.

averros November 28, 2005 at 12:50 am

For the record – I’m not a moderator and not an affiliate of Ludwig von Mises Institute. I do have reasons for keeping my identity private, and would prefer that my words be judged by their own worth, and not by who I am.

Vince – I’m not against testing and refining our argumentation in discussions with opponents; but there’s nothing to be gained by arguing with demagogues – they are imprevious to reason. In any case, they are not in short supply – any leftist or neocon blog is full of them. What I’m enjoying here is the higher-than-usual intellectual level of discussion, with people actually listening and trying to understand what their opponents say. This is a rarity, and is worth preserving. I’m afraid this is not going to last… the more attention the libertarian (and specifically ancap) ideas attract, the more demagogues (and, eventually, paid provocateurs) are likely to show up. They could actually be dangerous, too – I think noone here needs to be reminded of the recent attack of the politcorrect gang on Prof. Hoppe.

Paul Edwards November 28, 2005 at 1:36 am

Jim:

If i may restate my original response, but more succinctly it is that you said this:

“this article … fuses conservative thought with libertarian structure contrary to [my] assertions… that a pure private-property society is desirable and achievable”

To this, i answer, i don’t know what this article says that supports your contention and i wouldn’t mind if you’d point them out to me.

In my opinion, Hoppe’s concluding paragraph summarizes and is perfectly consistent with my thinking and my assertions:

“The state — a judicial monopoly — must be recognized as the source of de-civilization: states do not create law and order; they destroy it.”

I believe this truth explains why no amount of faith in constitutionalism can save us.

The fact is, as Hoppe drives home further, it is the family that is key to civilization, not any supposed “limited” state:

“Families and households must be recognized as the source of civilization. It is essential that the heads of families and households reassert their ultimate authority as judge in all internal family affairs. Households must be declared extraterritorial territory, like foreign embassies. Free association and spatial exclusion must be recognized as not bad but good things that facilitate peaceful cooperation between different ethnic and racial groups. Welfare must be recognized as a matter exclusively of families and voluntary charity and state welfare as nothing but the subsidization of irresponsibility.”

Allen Weingarten November 28, 2005 at 7:56 am

I wrote that that liberty is practical and consistent with natural law, yet there was another dimension that justifies liberty, namely that of aspirations.

Vince Daliessio responds “Good points Allen, however Liberty is not just desirable for its utility but for its own sake, as a necessary neutral condition for peaceful existance. If the utility of liberty were the greatest thing going for it, we here would be no better than Mill and the Benthamites, and we would evaluate everything in light of whether it benefits others. I would prefer to evaluate everything on whether it benefits me and does not harm others by violence or deprivation of their justly-aquired property.”

I do not follow his reasoning. Vince argues that liberty is desired for its own sake, by stating it is desired as a condition for peaceful existence, which has the opposite meaning. That is, he says it is an end, by claiming it is a means. Moreover, he seems to counter my view that it is practical, theoretical, and an aspiration, as though I said that it is only desirable for its utility.

So allow me to clarify that when I speak of an aspiration, I am referring to an ultimate end (a “ding an sich”). Truth, justice, righteousness, and liberty, are the sorts of open ended aspirations that guide us, as individuals and as a civilization. One can evaluate them on the basis of whether it serves us, but that leaves out the fact that aspirations often cannot be directly evaluated. For example, we may not be able to show whether a particular crime benefits the individual, but we employ the aspiration of ‘justice’ as a generic prohibition, which constitutes the operational guide. Note that this does not constitute evaluating ‘liberty’ by its utility, but on the contrary, evaluates utility by the guide of justice.

Lord Acton wrote “Liberty is not the means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.” I view that as sound, but would add that a political end is a means for serving the higher human end of righteousness, which constitutes an end in itself.

Vince Daliessio November 28, 2005 at 1:58 pm

Allen,

Sorry if I misconstrued your take as implying that the utility of Liberty was what made it valuable. But my point is that all of the rest of societal interaction becomes force, or at least tangentially so without a universal, fundamental respect of personal liberty. The minute society is allowed to constrain any non-forceful, non-fraudulent behavior by ACTUAL FORCE (not consensual agreement, disdain, discrimination, or other sanction), liberty and freedom are compromised. Admittedly, it is an unknown ideal, even going back to the creation stories in the Bible, but liberty as a total lack of forcible coercion is, in this respect, a negative, or inherent right, a zero setting, a null value. It is simply the fundamental right to be left alone. Any societal interaction that violates this without the person’s consent degrades this natural, perfect state of liberty.

mikey November 28, 2005 at 3:26 pm

Wolf raises the Question of externalities, or neighborhood effects.Yes, if I dump raw sewage in a river it will anger my downstream neighbors. But the market punishes such behavior in a libertarian world.I might (for example) find the electrical power was off all over in my little municipality.On calling the power company, I would be informed that I would have to stop polluting the river if I wanted the power restored.Why would they do this? Because they can,
and because it is in their own self interest.They are getting complaints from my neighbors about selling power to a bonehead like me, and threatening to buy their power elsewhere.The possible scenarios are endless, really.

Secondly, some have unfairly accused Hoppe of being
a racist and homophobe.They fear minorities will be driven out of society as a whole in a libertarian world.Impossible. While there will still be racists around, they can only exclude from their own property.Picture a sign No blacks,
no gays, no Jews at the entrance to any establishment.There is no government to stop such a thing.Yet how many would live there even if they could? How many people would buy or sell or work there? A tiny fringe element at most. And this is apart from the competitive disadvantage that comes from discriminating.

Third, the idea that the family is the foundation of civilisation doesn’t sound too convincing .
The strong paternalism the child experiences teaches him to respect authority figures of all kinds.Bad lesson, bad, bad.

Allen Weingarten November 28, 2005 at 3:27 pm

Vince:

Well said.

Paul Edwards November 28, 2005 at 3:49 pm

But Mikey: You aren’t suggesting that learning respect for your parents teaches children to blindly respect state authority are you? And conversely, if a child learns to disrespect the state, you wouldn’t argue he will also learn disrespect for his parents would you?

I agree with you that parents can teach their children wrong attitudes. It’s just, if they’re doing so, odds are the parents picked up these attitudes themselves from a state run school.

But finally, if family is not the foundation of civilization, and if you agree that neither is the state, where would you suggest is the most optimal source for children to obtain their values upon which civilization will be based?

Vince Daliessio November 28, 2005 at 4:51 pm

Mikey;

Nice pickup on the Wolfster’s pollution strawman – however, in a libertarian society the river would be privately owned, the pollution would be trespassing, and Wolfie’s polluter would quickly find himself hauled before a (private) arbitrator to explain just why exactly he was smearing feces on the property of others, with swift restitution to follow.

As for the paternalism argument, that only works if you are dumb enough to teach your kids unquestioning submission to authority. Whatever shortcomings my dad had as a father growing up, that was one lesson he did NOT teach us. I hope I do as well with my kids. It takes great moral courage (or a criminal mind) to teach your kids that right does not flow automatically from authority or from the barrel of a gun. It requires that one be able to confront uncomfortable truths about oneself, one’s past, and the history of the nation in order to avoid the paternalistic trap you speak of.

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