The much-awaited Hans-Herman Hoppe “Libertarianism and the ‘Alt-Right’” speech is out and I thought it was relatively awful, so I figured I’d use this occasion to explain why, and to show the gigantic difference between the misguided path which the Hoppean ideology has taken libertarianism towards vs. the glorious path the great Mises, Hazlitt, and Hayek have laid before us.
The reason why the speech and the Hoppean ideology is so awful is very simple, the ethos and focus of his speech and ideology is one where the world’s problems are predominantly seen as the result of malice by a plethora of malicious conspiring actors like politicians, “leftists”, degenerates, etc. instead of massive economic ignorance and intellectual error. This misdiagnosis leads to the wrong advice with regard to getting us to a libertarian order. His misdiagnosis of mankind’s problems and proposed solutions are at complete odds with those of the great libertarian giants before him, most notably the great Ludwig von Mises, whose mantle many people erroneously believe Hoppe is the greatest inheritor of. Let’s discuss why.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe owes EVERYTHING that makes him a great economist and thinker to the simple fact that Mises/Hazlitt/Hayek/etc. devoted their entire lives to understanding the socioeconomic world and helped mankind overcome what they correctly identified as numerous intellectual errors. These errors in turn led to the disastrous Socialist ideologies that brought so much suffering in the 20th century and still play THE leading role in today’s socioeconomic problems. It must be emphasized that these men “blamed” the world’s socioeconomic problems on INTELLECTUAL ERROR/IGNORANCE. F.A. Hayek even dedicated his classic book “The Road to Serfdom” “To the socialists of all parties”. In a wonderful speech in honor of founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, Leonard Read, Hayek mentions that FEE:
“with Leonard Read at its head, and all his co-fighters and friends are committed to is nothing more nor less than the defence of our civilisation against intellectual error.”
Hayek continues with a lot of wisdom here:
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“When I stressed that is genuine intellectual error that we have to fight, what I meant to bring out is that we ought to remain aware that our opponents are often high-minded idealists whose harmful teachings are inspired by very noble ideals. It seems to me that the worst mistake a fighter for our ideals can make is to ascribe to our opponents dishonest or immoral aims.
I know it is sometimes difficult not to be irritated into a feeling that most of them are a bunch of irresponsible demagogues who ought to know better. But though many of the followers of what we regard as the wrong prophets are neither just plain silly, or merely mischievous troublemakers, we ought to realise that their conceptions derive from serious thinkers whose ultimate ideals are not so very different from our own and with whom we differ not so much on ultimate values, but on the effective means of achieving them.
I am indeed profoundly convinced that there is much less difference between us and our opponents on the ultimate values to be achieved than is commonly believed, and that the differences between us are chiefly intellectual differences. We at least believe that we have attained an understanding of the forces which have shaped civilisation which our opponents lack. Yet if we have not yet convinced them, the reason must be that our arguments are not yet quite good enough, that we have not yet made explicit some of the foundations on which our conclusions rest. Our chief task therefore must still be to improve the argument on which our case for a free society rests.”
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Mises, in a small section aptly titled “The Fight Against Error” from his treatise “Human Action” writes:
The problems involved are purely intellectual and must be dealt with as such. It is disastrous to shift them to the moral sphere and to dispose of supporters of opposite ideologies by calling them villains. It is vain to insist that what we are aiming at is good and what our adversaries want is bad. The question to be solved is precisely what is to be considered as good and what as bad. The rigid dogmatism peculiar to religious groups and to Marxism results only in irreconcilable conflict. It condemns beforehand all dissenters as evildoers, it calls into question their good faith, it asks them to surrender unconditionally. No social cooperation is possible where such an attitude prevails.
Being an irreligious evolutionary thinker, Mises had little use for quasi-religious concepts like “natural law” and therefore some fixed yardstick which could be used to label people as good/bad/evil and then morally ostracize. Mises appreciated the concept of “natural law” and how it had evolved to protect and expand liberty, but again, his focus was on showing intellectual error, not morality.
Now it is true that the liberal and democratic movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries drew a great part of its strength from the doctrine of natural law and the innate imprescriptible rights of the individual. These ideas, first developed by ancient philosophy and Jewish theology, permeated Christian thinking….But the teachings of utilitarian philosophy and classical economics have nothing at all to do with the doctrine of natural right. With them the only point that matters is social utility. They recommend popular government, private property, tolerance, and freedom not because they are natural and just, but because they are beneficial….Bentham, the radical, shouted: “Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense.” With him “the sole object of government ought to be the greatest happiness of the greatest possible number of the community.” Accordingly, in investigating what ought to be right he does not care about preconceived ideas concerning God’s or nature’s plans and intentions, forever hidden to mortal men; he is intent upon discovering what best serves the promotion of human welfare and happiness.
…The Utilitarians do not combat arbitrary government and privileges because they are against natural law but because they are detrimental to prosperity. They recommend equality under the civil law not because men are equal but because such a policy is beneficial to the commonweal. In rejecting the illusory notions of natural law and human equality modern biology only repeated what the utilitarian champions of liberalism and democracy long before had taught in a much more persuasive way. It is obvious that no biological doctrine can ever invalidate what utilitarian philosophy says about the social utility of democratic government, private property, freedom, and equality under the law.
Mises was very much a Darwinian, focused on the intellectual/ideological/software errors that led to tyranny, not some moralistic crusade based on the cultural inertia we have inherited from pre-Darwinian days. This reminds me of the powerful opening paragraph of Richard Dawkins’ seminal bestseller, “The Selfish Gene” which begins as follows:
Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilization, is: ‘Have they discovered evolution yet?’ Living organisms had existed on earth, without ever knowing why, for over three thousand million years before the truth finally dawned on one of them. His name was Charles Darwin. To be fair, others had had inklings of the truth, but it was Darwin who first put together a coherent and tenable account of why we exist. Darwin made it possible for us to give a sensible answer to the curious child whose question heads this chapter. We no longer have to resort to superstition when faced with the deep problems: Is there a meaning to life? What are we for? What is man? After posing the last of these questions, the eminent zoologist G. G. Simpson put it thus: ‘The point I want to make now is that all attempts to answer that question before 1859 are worthless and that we will be better off if we ignore them completely.’
Had Ludwig von Mises gone in some moralist rant referring to governments and their leaders as, to borrow Murry Rothbard’s language, the leaders of “a predatory gang of robbers, enslavers, and murderers… a predatory gang of criminals”, or to use Hoppe’s who refers to government as “an institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and thieves, surrounded by willing executioners, propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns, charlatans, dupes and useful idiots — an institution that dirties and taints everything it touches.” , and stressed libertarians’ supposed need to separate from the “parasites” or “degenerates”, it could very well have been the case that Soviet-style Communism would have spread throughout the entire world. Fortunately for the nearly 8 billion human beings alive today, Mises did not do this. Through a miraculous intellectual effort, not only did Mises manage to explain the workings of the market process, how government interventions destroy prosperity, and ohh soooo much more and thus begin to put the breaks on the spread of such disastrous economic errors… he also clearly laid out THE FORMULA for all of our government created troubles. What was this formula? Economic education. Spreading of what I like to refer to as the “econogospel”. He even devoted the last part of his majestic treatise “Human Action” to the formula. In a sub-section aptly titled “Economics and the Citizen” Mises describes the formula, I summarize:
“Economics must not be relegated to classrooms and statistical offices and must not be left to esoteric circles. It is the philosophy of human life and action and concerns everybody and everything. It is the pith of civilization and of man’s human existence…All present-day political issues concern problems commonly called economic. All arguments advanced in contemporary discussion of social and public affairs deal with fundamental matters of…economics. Everybody’s mind is preoccupied with economic doctrines…Everybody thinks of economics whether he is aware of it or not. In joining a political party and in casting his ballot, the citizen implicitly takes a stand upon essential economic theories…As conditions are today, nothing can be more important to every intelligent man than economics. His own fate and that of his progeny is at stake…all reasonable men are called upon to familiarize themselves with the teachings of economics. This is, in our age, the primary civic duty. Whether we like it or not, it is a fact that economics cannot remain an esoteric branch of knowledge accessible only to small groups of scholars and specialists. Economics deals with society’s fundamental problems; it concerns everyone and belongs to all. It is the main and proper study of every citizen.”
The very last 3 sentences from “Human Action” stress that:
“The body of economic knowledge is an essential element in the structure of human civilization; it is the foundation upon which modern industrialism and all the moral, intellectual, technological, and therapeutical achievements of the last centuries have been built. It rests with men whether they will make the proper use of the rich treasure with which this knowledge provides them or whether they will leave it unused. But if they fail to take the best advantage of it and disregard its teachings and warnings, they will not annul economics; they will stamp out society and the human race.”
So the formula is pretty damn obvious. It is massive intellectual error we are mostly fighting, not some quasi-religious battle of good vs. evil or various ill intention-ed conspirators. And what have these great men (Mises,Hazlitt,Hayek) done with the formula? They spent their entire lives applying it, spreading the econogospel. Neither Mises nor Hazlitt had kids, and if I recall Hayek was a very detached father. Perhaps the best example of a person doing their utmost best at refining the formula and spreading the econogospel was the man who Mises himself once referred to as “our leader”, the great Henry Hazlitt, who passionately passes on the baton to us with the following words which come from the last third of a speech he gave on his 70th birthday, November 29th, 1964. He gave this speech in front of many of his friends including Mises. The entire speech can be found in Chapter 4, “Reflections at 70”, of a great book titled “The Wisdom of Henry Hazlitt”. Whenever I get a little discouraged, this is what I read. As one reads it, it is important to keep in mind that his words were spoken in the middle of the Cold War, when Communism was spreading and liberty declining.
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“…Those of us who place a high value on human liberty, and who are professionally engaged in the social sciences — in economics, in politics, in jurisprudence — find ourselves in a minority (and it sometimes seems a hopeless minority) in ideology. There is a great vogue in the United States today for “liberalism.” Every American leftist calls himself a liberal! The irony of the situation is that we, we in this room, are the true liberals, in the etymological and only worthy sense of that noble word. We are the true adherents of liberty. Both words — liberal and liberty — come from the same root. We are the ones who believe in limited government, in the maximization of liberty for the individual and the minimization of coercion to the lowest point compatible with law and order. It is because we are true liberals that we believe in free trade, free markets, free enterprise, private property in the means of production; in brief, that we are for capitalism and against socialism. Yet this is the philosophy, the true philosophy of progress, that is now called not only conservatism, but reaction, the Radical Right, extremism, Birchism, and only Bill Buckley here knows how many other terrible things it’s called.
Now this is no petty or narrow issue that ties us in this room together. For on the outcome of the struggle in which we are engaged depends the whole future of civilization. Our friend, Friedrich Hayek, in his great book, The Road to Serfdom, which was published 20 years ago, pointed out that it was not merely the views of Cobden and Bright that were being abandoned, or even of Hume and Adam Smith, or even of Locke and Milton. It was not merely the liberalism of the 18th and 19th centuries that was being abandoned; it was the basic individualism that we had inherited from Christianity and the Greek and Roman world, and that was reflected in the writings of such figures as Pericles and Thucydides. This is what the world is in danger of abandoning today. Why? Why, if, as we like to think, reason is on our side? Why are we drifting deeper and deeper into socialism and the dark night of totalitarianism? Why have those of us who believe in human liberty been so ineffective?
We Haven’t Been Good Enough
I am going to give what is no doubt a terribly oversimplified answer to that question. In the first place, we are almost hopelessly outnumbered. Our voices are simply drowned out in the general tumult and clamor. But there is another reason. And this is hard to say, above all to an audience of this sort, which contains some of the most brilliant writers and minds in the fields of economics, of jurisprudence, of politics, not only of this age but of any age. But the hard thing must be said that, collectively, we just haven’t been good enough. We haven’t convinced the majority. Is this because the majority just won’t listen to reason? I am enough of an optimist, and I have enough faith in human nature, to believe that people will listen to reason if they are convinced that it is reason. Somewhere, there must be some missing argument, something that we haven’t seen clearly enough, or said clearly enough, or, perhaps, just not said often enough.
A minority is in a very awkward position. The individuals in it can’t afford to be just as good as the individuals in the majority. If they hope to convert the majority they have to be much better; and the smaller the minority, the better they have to be. They have to think better. They have to know more. They have to write better. They have to have better controversial manners. Above all, they have to have far more courage. And they have to be infinitely patient.
When I look back on my own career, I can find plenty of reasons for discouragement, personal discouragement. I have not lacked industry. I have written a dozen books. For most of 50 years, from the age of 20, I have been writing practically every weekday: news items, editorials, columns, articles. I figure I must have written in total some 10,000 editorials, articles, and columns; some 10,000,000 words! And in print! The verbal equivalent of about 150 average-length books! And yet, what have I accomplished? I will confess in the confidence of these four walls that I have sometimes repeated myself. In fact, there may be some people unkind enough to say I haven’t been saying anything new for fifty years! And in a sense they would be right. I have been preaching essentially the same thing. I’ve been preaching liberty as against coercion; I’ve been preaching capitalism as against socialism; and I’ve been preaching this doctrine in every form and with any excuse. And yet the world is enormously more socialized than when I began.
Yet, in spite of this, I am hopeful. After all, I’m still in good health, I’m still free to write, I’m still free to write unpopular opinions, and I’m keeping at it. And so are many of you. So I bring you this message: Be of good heart: be of good spirit. If the battle is not yet won, it is not yet lost either.
Our Continuing Duty
I suppose most of you in this room have read that powerful book, George Orwell’s 1984. On the surface it is a profoundly depressing novel, but I was surprised to find myself strangely encouraged by it. I finally decided that this encouragement arose from one of the final scenes in it. The hero, Winston Smith, is presented as a rather ordinary man, an intelligent but not a brilliant man, and certainly not a courageous one. Winston Smith has been keeping a secret diary, in which he wrote: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two and two makes four.” Now this diary has been discovered by the Party. O’Brien, his inquisitor, is asking him questions. Winston Smith is strapped to a board or a wheel, in such a way that O’Brien, by merely moving a lever, can inflict any amount of excruciating pain upon him (and explains to him just how much pain he can inflict upon him and just how easy it would be to break Smith’s backbone). O’Brien first inflicts a certain amount of not quite intolerable pain on Winston Smith. Then he holds up the four fingers of his left hand, and says, “How many fingers am I holding up? Winston knows that the required answer is five. That’s the Party answer. But Winston can’t say anything else but four. So O’Brien moves the lever again, and inflicts still more agonizing pain upon him, and says, “Think again. How many fingers am I holding up?” Winston Smith says, “Four. Four. Four fingers.” Well, he finally capitulates, as you know, but not until he has put up a magnificent battle.
None of us is yet on the torture rack; we are not yet in jail; we’re getting various harassments and annoyances, but what we mainly risk is merely our popularity, the danger that we will be called nasty names. So, before we are in the position of Winston Smith, we can surely have enough courage to keep saying that two plus two equals four.
This is the duty that is laid upon us. We have a duty to speak even more clearly and courageously, to work harder, and to keep fighting this battle while the strength is still in us. But I can’t do better than to read the words of the great economist, the great thinker, the great writer, who honors me more than I can say by his presence here tonight, Ludwig von Mises. This is what he wrote in the final paragraph of his great book on socialism 40 years ago:
“Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.”
Those words — uncannily prophetic words — were written in the early 1920’s. Well, I haven’t any new message, any better message than that. Even those of us who have reached and passed our 70th birthdays cannot afford to rest on our oars and spend the rest of our lives dozing in the Florida sun. The times call for courage. The times call for hard work. But if the demands are high, it is because the stakes are even higher. They are nothing less than the future of human liberty, which means the future of civilization.
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With the above in mind, let us now turn to Hoppe’s speech, why it was so awful, and why the Hoppean kool-aid of placing all this emphasis on cultural differences, ill intent by others, and our need to focus on disassociation, secession, shunning of the “degenerates”, and all this focus on the family and “Western” culture and Christian values, etc. is probably less than ideal and perhaps a recipe for disaster.
Had the speech been given by one of the many teenagers who stumble upon a few Stefan Molyneux videos that do a fantastic job of teaching economics and much more, followed it up with perhaps a few books by Murray Rothbard, and then reach astronomical intellectual superiority (or so they think) by reading Hoppe’s classic “Democracy — The God That Failed”… I would have been slightly impressed in some ways and given him a D+ and told him to next read Hayek’s “The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism”, maybe also followed by Matt Ridley’s recent “The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge” so they could get some of that “spontaneous order” thing, Hayek’s perspective on the co-evolution of the market process and culture, his critique of the powers of human reason, and other vital intellectual vitamins that are wholly lacking in the Hoppean Kool-aid, and then retry the speech at the end of the school year. The low grade, regardless of some good content is due to the fact that it totally overlooked “the formula” of course, and placed all the blame on the “parasites” instead of a collective ignorance of how freedom works which affects pretty much the entire planet. But this speech was not given by one of these teenagers, it was given by a man many consider to be one of the greatest intellectuals alive, so the grading has to be at least a little stricter, so I give it a huge F!
Next I envision a hopefully humorous conversation with Hans as if he were a young student in my fictitious class that would go as follows:
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Me: “How could you possibly give some gigantic speech about society and attempts to reach a libertarian order and NOT mention the formula! Completely overlook it, and in its place make ten suggestions which are mostly unnecessary as the formula is applied and its results spread throughout society. In combination with the formula some of your recommendations might have been ok, but without it, disastrous. Ron Paul has helped spread the econogospel to thousands, why? Because of the formula. Early in his life Dr. Paul read Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” and stumbled upon the “Austrian School of Economics” thus stumbling upon the econogospel. As Dr. Paul explains in his short pamphlet titled “Mises and Austrian Economics”:
“My introduction to Austrian economics came when I was studying medicine at Duke University and came across a copy of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. After devouring this, I was determined to read whatever I could find on what I thought was this new school of economic thought — especially the works of Mises”
How could you possibly forget to mention the formula when it has made us who we are? I am very disappointed Hans. It is true that antifa and communists/leftists can be very dangerous people but you know very well that had you not had the fortune of stumbling upon a relatively rare sequence of thoughts and ideas which explained freedom you could have easily turned out just like them. Albert Einstein, might have been a very smart guy, yet he absorbed the wrong ideas and wrote that disastrous essay “Why Socialism?”. It should be obvious that the only thing that separates us from those unfortunately clueless communists/leftists is a simple understanding of economics. The econogospel has yet to properly reach them. I was born in Communist Cuba, and have three uncles all named after Lenin, many of my family members were communists, they certainly were not communists because of any ill intent. Of course we must defend ourselves against them should their unfortunate ignorance lead to violence, but we must spread the econogospel to prevent this. Hayek and Mises were socialists before they stumbled upon/discovered the econogospel. And our beloved Murray Rothbard, a New York Jew growing up in the 1930s?!?! As Murray tells us:
“I grew up in a communist culture; the middle-class Jews in New York whom I lived among, whether family, friends, or neighbors, were either communists or fellow-travelers in the communist orbit. I had two sets of Communist Party uncles and aunts, on both sides of the family. But more important, the one great moral question in the lives of all these people was: Should I actually join the Communist Party and devote the whole of my life to the cause, or should I remain a fellow-traveler and “selfishly” devote only a fraction of my energy to communism?”
Would you have called them parasites too? How dare you refer to fellow human beings as parasites. I am very disappointed Hans. Where would the great Ron Paul be had he not stumbled upon the econogospel? Without the econogospel he might have been an even better doctor and delivered more babies, or perhaps a religious scholar, but probably not the tremendous asset to liberty and civilization he has become. And his son Rand Paul would not have put himself in a position so close to Trump to perhaps save mankind if he can really teach him economics and thus spread the econogospel to the world’s most powerful man. Where would Stefan Molyneux be without the econogospel of Mises? Would he have become such an influential free-market educator had he not stumbled upon the econogospel? My guess is that he would have been making videos about defooing and not spanking kids to a youtube audience of less than 1,000 subscribers. But again, fortunately for all of us he has helped spread the econogospel to thousands thus turning them into libertarians.
Hans: “Yeah, I guess I forgot, so to speak. But culture is very important, look at all those Muslims coming here. Modern civilization arose in Europe among mostly white heterosexual males and perhaps that tells us something. In an article I wrote the following:
More specifically, he realistically notices that libertarianism, as an intellectual system, was first developed and furthest elaborated in the Western world, by white males, in white male dominated societies. That it is in white, heterosexual male dominated societies, where adherence to libertarian principles is the greatest and the deviations from them the least severe (as indicated by comparatively less evil and extortionist State policies). That it is white heterosexual men, who have demonstrated the greatest ingenuity, industry, and economic prowess. And that it is societies dominated by white heterosexual males, and in particular by the most successful among them, which have produced and accumulated the greatest amount of capital goods and achieved the highest average living standards.”
Me: “Oh Hans. This is getting really bad. What you said is true, yet this sort of rhetoric is dangerous because it overlooks the more important factor which ultimately leads to the validity of your statements. The ‘the market process’, and the cultural-evolutionary process that took white Europeans to prominence had little to do with the biological characteristics of white Europeans which these statements erroneously imply. It is very easy for people to see the recent relative prosperity which arose in Europe and make the mistake that such prosperity is significantly tied to relative differences in biology (Whites vs. non-whites), but what about the nighttime picture of North and South Korea, doesn’t that begin to tell you something? As numerous great free-market thinkers like Mises, Robert Higgs, and Ralph Raico just to name a few have shown, during the last couple thousand years different groups of people in widely dispersed locations like, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, traded the sort of title for most socioeconomically advanced places in the planet. For example, with respect to the momentary lead in terms of civilization that China had, Hayek writes:
“And the history of China provides many instances of government attempts to enforce so perfect an order that innovation became impossible. This country, technologically and scientifically developed so far ahead of Europe that, to give only one illustration, it had ten oil wells operating on one stretch of the river Po already in the twelfth century, certainly owed its later stagnation, but not its early progress, to the manipulatory power of its governments. What led the greatly advanced civilisation of China to fall behind Europe was its government’s clamping down so tightly as to leave no room for new developments, while, as remarked in the last chapter, Europe probably owes its extraordinary expansion in the Middle Ages to its political anarchy”
These temporary leads and the relative quick advantage that Europeans have recently enjoyed has little if anything to do with biological differences. What created modern civilization, in other words, ‘the market process’ and its various intertwined institutions/mechanisms like private property, money, banking/finance, economic competition, interest rate coordination, etc, are the results of a cultural (NOT biological) evolutionary process, this cultural evolutionary process can be summarized as the inadvertent competition between socioeconomic orders and the legal/moral structures that sustain them, and it has evolved much faster than the slow genetic biological evolution thus rendering it largely irrelevant. As Hayek tells us:
“With respect to what we mean by cultural evolution in a narrower sense, that is, the fast and accelerating development of civilization…Since it differs from genetic evolution by relying on the transmission of acquired properties, it is very fast, and once it dominates, it swamps genetic evolution” (Hayek F. A., 1981, p. 156)
“…biological evolution would have been far too slow to alter or replace man’s innate responses in the course of the ten or twenty thousand years during which civilisation has developed…. Thus it hardly seems possible that civilisation and culture are genetically determined and transmitted. They have to be learnt by all alike through tradition.” (Hayek’s ‘The Fatal Conceit’ page 16)
And with respect to a culture of enterprise, Hayek again:
“those who are inclined to argue that competition will not work among people who lack the spirit of enterprise: let merely a few rise and be esteemed and powerful because they have successfully tried new ways, even if they may be in the first instance foreign intruders, and let those tempted to imitate them be free to do so, however few they may be in the first instance, and the spirit of enterprise will emerge by the only method which can produce it. Competition is as much a method for breeding certain types of mind as anything else: the very cast of thinking of the great entrepreneurs would not exist but for the environment in which they developed their gifts.” (Hayek F. A., 1981, p. 76)
The human body is the result of the actions of 30 trillion human cells and another 40 trillion non-human bacteria, yet it is obviously NOT the result of any conscious planning or designing on their part. Over billions of years natural selection evolved the mechanism of biological evolution with genes being the main knowledge/information carriers needed to describe life/order. Over the last 50,000 thousand years natural selection via the inadvertent competition between social orders evolved another mechanism, the market process, to create what the great Herbert Spencer so cleverly referred to as the ‘Social Organism’ with human brains, books, and now software as the knowledge/information carriers needed to coordinate/design the socioeconomic order. But yet again, this new civilization/order-making mechanism, although the result of human action, owes its evolution/design to group-selection, to the inadvertent competition between socioeconomic orders and the legal/moral structures that sustain them and has little to do with biological evolution. Even human reason has less to do with it than most realize. As the 20th century with its numerous Socialist disasters has shown, most intellectuals use their reason to prescribe central planning which destroys the far more intelligently-evolved market process. As Hayek tells us:
“We have never designed our economic system. We were not intelligent enough for that. We have stumbled into it and it has carried us to unforeseen heights and given rise to ambitions which may yet lead us to destroy it.” (Hayek F. A., 1981, p. 164)
Although I do not recall hearing this directly from you, many of your friends in the playground seem to make a big fuzz about race and genetic differencesand some of the more ignorant ones even believe that perhaps black people might not be as suitable for a libertarian order as many hope to believe and I really hope you enlighten them. As you must recall in Mises’ “Human Action”he writes :
“It is a general fallacy to believe that … the logical structure of mind of primitive man was and is categorially different from that of civilized man. On the contrary, what Levy-Bruhl, on the basis of a careful scrutiny of the entire ethnological material available, reports about the mental functions of primitive man proves clearly that the fundamental logical relations and the categories of thought and action play in the intellectual activities of savages the same role they play in our own life. The content of primitive man’s thoughts differs from the content of our thoughts, but the formal and logical structure is common to both.”
Many of these “race realists” like your former play-buddy Richard Spencer and many of the other kids you have swayed with your brilliant more economics-related writings have simply not been exposed to the econogospel like they should have. It is quite understandable that they make the intellectual errors that they do which helps explain why Spencer and the Alt-Right are oftentimes totally mislabeled as Nazis. Unfortunately, this error is still widely shared by many people. Spencer and the ‘Alt-Right’ are simply people who have the courage to voice their views. Views which should be debated using freedom of speech and intellectual debates instead of simply insulting and vilifying this often-times highly courageous individual. Spencer erroneously focuses on race instead of focusing on the economic ignorancethat leads to centralized planning and massive government bureaucracies that are truly destroying the social order. Praising white people for “inventing” capitalism/‘the market process’ and cultural concepts that helps sustain it is just as absurd as blaming them for “inventing” Socialism, world wars, and nuclear annihilation. Anyone who truly understands the market process and the mindbogglingly complexity of the social organism is well aware that all human beings are dependent on a massive division of knowledge/labor that unites most of the world. The Internet and its vital role in the continuing evolution of mankind could not have existed had it not been for this massive division of labor and knowledge that allowed cheap computers/phones/electronics to be manufactured in China/etc. Overpaid/overweight unionized “master race” white guys would not have led to the creation of the Internet.
The sort of white nationalism that most of these economically ignorant people want to see would be better achieved by simply focusing on ‘the formula’ and thus teaching economic freedom by spreading the econogospel and even going against Spencer’s own erroneous socioeconomic understanding of the world. As long non-whites believe that they need to be connected or dependent on white people, or see their relative lack of success as being the fault of some white people’s dislike or racism (which sadly many do), the more they will continue to blame ‘white men’ for ‘exploitative capitalism’ and all kinds of popular nonsense and make it even harder for these white people to be left alone. So even the key to Spencer’s white nationalism/separatism to various degrees lies in abandoning his socioeconomic errors. The black people who from the bottom of their hearts and deep in their bellies have no fear of white nationalism and will even encourage the freedom of white nationalists to do their thing, are those who had the fortune of stumbling upon the econogospel and thus understand that economic freedom, not ‘white people’ is the key to prosperity. Perfect examples of this are the famous black economists like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell, and also young popular libertarians like musician Eric July, and commentator Taleed Brown(thatguyt). The formula, the spreading of the econogospel, is the ultimate algorithm for prosperity. The econogospel turned these men into great libertarians, and if there was some problem with their “time preference”, which seems to be an important part of the pseudo-science these alt-right kids have come up with, the formula seems to cure it too.
However, if your focus on culture and the supposed achievements of white heterosexual males and the need to separate from other cultures/races, gets a huge amount of white men who are upset about the fact that black men dominate popular culture and sports and online porn, and are thus more susceptible to an ideology that preaches separation, and this in turn causes them to stumble upon your wonderful economic writings that preach economic freedom and will ultimately lead to unimaginable socioeconomic prosperity for all human beings…. Then you are a god damn genius! It would be the second time black dicks inadvertently saved civilization. Had the USA had an all white homogeneous population when share-the-wealth socialism was spreading like wildfire in the early 20th century, the ideology would have been far more palatable and perhaps lead to the sovietization/destruction of America, but having to share the wealth with the often-times feared/disliked blacks inadvertently helped prevent this to a significant degree.
Yes. Culture is important, but its importance is incomparable to the ease and speed with which incentives and character can change as people absorb the econogospel. Again, take Eric July as the perfect example. A few years ago he was a totally clueless Obama-supporting gang-banging black youth. Yet he stumbled upon the econogospel, and like myself, and thousands others who realize the paramount importance of freedom, he quickly made spreading the econogospel an important part of his life. Why did he, myself, and countless others do this? Are we “better” people, smarter, or more courageous? Of course not, we simply stumbled upon ideas whose inevitable outcome would be to motivate us to spread them because doing so is in our best interest.
— — — — — Done with fictitious chat
So to summarize, why was the speech awful, because at its core it treats mankind’s problems as the result of malicious ill intent instead of massive economic ignorance coupled with a tribalistic human nature we have inherited from our small-tribe days. And instead of focusing on doing our utmost at helping everyone overcome such ignorance like the great Mises/Hazlitt/Hayek before, it focuses on preaching separation. Its ethos is old and static, from the old days when people were defined by their culture/religion and seen as blobs whose actions can be arrogantly assumed by kings or central planners. It arrogantly assumes away their ability to use their reason to adopt freedom and be more civilized members of a worldwide libertarian order. Earlier Hazlitt told us:
I am enough of an optimist, and I have enough faith in human nature, to believe that people will listen to reason if they are convinced that it is reason. Somewhere, there must be some missing argument, something that we haven’t seen clearly enough, or said clearly enough, or, perhaps, just not said often enough.
Liberalism is rationalistic. It maintains that it is possible to convince the immense majority that peaceful cooperation within the framework of society better serves their rightly understood interests than mutual battling and social disintegration. It has full confidence in man’s reason. It may be that this optimism is unfounded and that the liberals have erred. But then there is no hope left for mankind’s future.
By completely abandoning Mises’ formula, if Mises is correct, and I certainly think he is, “there is no hope left for mankind’s future”.
In his speech Hoppe shuns politics and recommends that if people do attempt to use politics to bring about a libertarian order that they do so locally. This is likely to be a gigantic intellectual error rooted in the original fallacy. Had it not been for the tremendous amount of publicity and inadvertent focus brought upon the econogospel thanks to the presidential runs of Dr. Ron Paul in 2008/12, all of the celebritarians like Hoppe himself who shun the political process as a way to reach our libertarian order because it is “immoral” or beneath them, etc. would still be giving lectures or selling books in obscure libertarian/free-market organizations. When people who have a good understanding of the econogospel run for office, they place themselves where everyone who is motivated to make the world a better place looks, thus quickly becoming beacons for the econogospel which is precisely what happened with Ron Paul.
Let’s go over 5 things that can greatly help jumpstart the libertarian revolution.
- Identify the real “enemy”. Massive economic ignorance and act accordingly.
- Ideas spread based on many factors like how viral they are which includes things like how motivated to spread them people become once they stumble upon them and realize their importance. There are two key concepts that are extremely important and have huge viral potential and should be as efficiently and passionately spread as possible, they are 1) a basic understanding of inflation and 2) the vital importance of economic competition and the role that freedom plays in it.
Inflation is easy to teach and understand, and places the focus and blame on the FED/ ‘central bank’ which is obviously the biggest enabler of all the government damage and militarism we have. If 10 people in an island each have ten dollars so there is a total of $100, can anything sell for $200? Of course not, because even if they all combine their money the transaction can’t take place. What if each person has 1 million so there are now 10 million in total. Can something now sell for $200 or $1 million? Yes. So what is obviously needed for prices to rise, more money. Who creates the money that allows this, the FED. The very fact that most libertarians know this is a testament to the viralness and power of this simple idea. It seems like the perfect initial bit of info which can get people to open their minds so that the rest of the econogospel can transform them. AND THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT HENRY HAZLITT ADVISED US TO FOCUS ON!
“This brings me, finally, to one more single issue on which all those libertarians who lack the time or background for specialized study can effectively concentrate. This is in demanding that the government provide an honest currency, and that it stop inflating.
This issue has the inherent advantage that it can be made clear and simple because fundamentally it is clear and simple. All inflation is government made. All inflation is the result of increasing the quantity of money and credit; and the cure is simply to halt the increase.
If libertarians lose on the inflation issue, they are threatened with the loss of every other issue. If libertarians could win the inflation issue, they could come close to winning everything else. If they could succeed in halting the increase in the quantity of money, it would be because they could halt the chronic deficits that force this increase. If they could halt these chronic deficits, it would be because they had halted the rapid increase in welfare spending and all the socialistic schemes that are dependent on welfare spending. If they could halt the constant increase in spending, they could halt the constant increase in government power.”
Economic competition turns every brain in the social order into parts of a global supercomputer which motivates everyone to both innovate and to copy the innovations of others thus helping spread superior knowledge and order through society. Why do BMW, Ford and Honda continuously strive to innovate and copy innovations from each other as best as they can? Because the public is FREE to choose among competing alternatives. Freedom is what “turns on” economic competition which in turn leads to the creation and spread of superior knowledge and order throughout society. As cost-cutting ideas emerge leading prices to continuously fall, new profitable ideas arise and spread via competition in an endless cycle of knowledge generation/innovation. For example, computers were once very expensive, but once the price of making them came down enough, people realized that every home could have them, which gave birth to our computerized world and the Internet and all the great things that flow from it. Due to our tribal nature and maladapted social concepts, when we think of competition we think of the “I win, you lose” tribal world. But competition in our modem market-process-coordinated world is not a battle that harms people, it is a battle between ideas and ways of doing things, and the winners get to guide our actions in the most productive and technologically advanced way for our benefit. Governments are MONOPOLIES which are immune from competitive knowledge discovery so they are inefficiently ordered leading to increasing waste and destruction of wealth and prosperity. Government regulations are knowledge, which unlike the superior knowledge which arises through competition and is constantly being replaced/refined in the voluntary/competitive/private sector, it arises in a central bureaucracy and is then forced upon the entire social order via the law, and can only be changed slowly via lawyers, lobbyist, etc. The more the government regulates, the more it paralyzes competitive knowledge discovery which helps explain why progress and competition move so fast in the relatively unregulated IT/Software sector, and so slow in the heavily regulated/paralyzed healthcare sector. In IT there is no American Medical Association-like central planning bureaucracy dictating what knowledge people must learn and at what institutions to be IT pros, no central planning bureaucracy like the FDA dictating how to test software… Hardly any central planning thus paralyzing, so competitive knowledge discovery and subsequent order evolves at breakneck speeds. With our focus on ‘The Use of Knowledge in Society’ we have a relatively simple and yet profound way of understanding how the social order is built and the key role that freedom plays in “turning on” the market process, which in turn is what truly coordinates/creates the social order instead of the top-down paralyzing/consumptive bureaucracies the economically clueless public believes. It is very simple. If it is superior knowledge we are after, the only way to get it in our modern market-process-coordinated world is via economic competition which requires FREEDOM.
3) Ensure that there is a passionate individual who is well versed in the econogospel running in every political office! Join the Libertarian Party’s Mises Caucus which will help put such a person in every race (I hope). With thousands of mini-Ron Pauls or mini-Miseses spread out across the country AND world (a simple online database to learn about every misesian running for office in every election in the world), positioning themselves where people look and all the free electoral publicity… So many beacons of econogospel will bring enlightenment to the entire world in one election cycle. In 2008/12 we painted America Ron Paul. Regardless of whether you are a Randian, or Rothbardian, or Hayekian or Hoppean, etc. There is one man, a sort of common root whom we all love, upon whose shoulders we all stand on whose charming face we should paint the entire planet with, Ludwig von Mises
“Less Marx More Mises!” It also helps that he is Jewish! 🙂 Which will come in very handy when our growing austro-libertarian revolution and its strong respect for freedom, fanatical anti-war position, and real history inevitably collides with dangerous ideologues over the Israeli/Palestinian issue.
4) We should network to try to reach and educate famous people. If we can make austro-libertarians out of famous stars like a LeBron or Kobe, rappers, etc…. Perhaps set intellectual bounties. If just 10,000 people pledge to give $10 to whoever can make a huge megastar a passionate libertarian that would create a huge incentive for this to happen. We could use some kind of intellectual online guerrilla. We can also try to fish people high up in industries, many of the world’s top software pioneers like Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto are misesians. Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin is also a huge fan of Austrian Economics “I thought Austrian economics was like the world” We could be just a small coordinated effort from a massive IT coordinated intellectual Coup d’état that can quickly transform the world.
5) Shun, ostracize, disassociate with, and if violating private property norms, physically remove anyone who arrogantly attempts to make the case that other human beings who are intelligent enough to learn something as difficult and complex as a human language, are somehow incapable of appreciating and feverishly working towards a libertarian order. I’m sort of kidding here, these people should just be persuaded to focus on the econogospel and overcome the race-realist and other related fallacies which currently drive their thinking.
I’ll conclude with the following words from one of Mises’ greatest students, Prof. George Reisman:
“The solution to the present problem of massive, overwhelming poverty is nothing other than the science of economics. As should be increasingly clear, economics is a science which can make possible the construction of a social and political system in which human success is a feature of normal, everyday life everywhere. It is truly the humanitarian science, and only those who have studied it well and who are prepared to implement its teachings deserve to be called friends of mankind. The most important charity which true friends of mankind can pursue is to disseminate knowledge of this vital subject as widely and as deeply as they know how.” — George Reisman
Hayekian is the editor of Evolutionary Liberalism
This article was originally published on Medium. Read the original article