Article by Noah Mickel
Many of the people I work within the liberty movement deride Hoppe as the above words: fascist, nazi, racist, sexist, xenophobe, homophobe, nationalist, bigot. Even I get called those things by people within the liberty movement, as I was at Young Americans for Liberty’s 2017 National Convention when I was defending a Hoppean immigration position in an invite-only discussion run by IHS (ironic, I know). Dr. Tom Palmer from the Cato Institute posted an article that compared Hoppean anarcho-capitalists to Stalinists: fervent defenders of an “evil” man. Nicholas Sarwark describes Hoppe as a man who wasn’t truly “for liberty”. Jeffrey Tucker got angry because myself and five other students took a picture with Hoppe while he held a toy helicopter. I’m here to simply explain why Hoppe is my favorite libertarian thinker alive, and one of the greatest of all time, second only to Rothbard.
Allow me to list off a few contributions because it is necessary to put some groundwork down. Hoppe has authored over ten books, written hundreds of articles, and studied under Murray Rothbard. In his first English book, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, he established the clearest definitions of the most important concepts in economics and politics (property, contract, aggression, capitalism, and socialism). He’s expanded upon the work of Ludwig Von Mises on praxeology’s role in not only economics but in philosophy. In Democracy: The God That Failed, he gave a bulletproof case against typical libertarian positions on classical liberalism, conservative alliances, democracy, and, most controversially, free immigration. He’s taken on a role as the heir to Murray Rothbard, carrying the torch of the beautiful combination, yet compartmentalized, ideas that are revisionist history, Austrian Economics, and Anarcho-Capitalism. The man has done more in the last 35 years than many thinkers can hope to do in a lifetime.
But what has Hoppe meant to me? For one, he destroyed my appreciation for so-called “limited government” conservatives (Jeff Flake, for instance) and people who claim to be “libertarian” (Bill Weld comes to mind). I am all for working with others, but there have to be lines, and telling me that I need to include in it a senator that advocates breaches of surveillance and huge public works programs, or a former governor that supported gun control and the Iraq War, wouldn’t fly anymore. Secondly, he got me to stop caring about voting. Not being anti-voting, especially in cases where a “Ron Paul” candidate was running, but understanding that, in many cases, a democratic state is worse than a limited monarchy (you don’t have to revolt against a populous, for one). His immigration position, too. Since my first libertarian event in Denver, CO (a Young Americans for Liberty Spring Summit), I was told that libertarians should believe in free immigration post-welfare state, if not before that. Like a sheep, I followed the beltwaytarian opinion for a few months, until I was introduced to Hoppe. I was an immediate convert. His contributions to Austro-Libertarianism have shaped my intellectual evolution more than almost anyone else.
Another fantastic contribution Hoppe has made is his strategy. In his lecture “What Must Be Done,” Hoppe promotes mass anti-statist activism that ought to take the form of decentralist and secessionist movements. Hoppe, unlike Hayek, understands that revolutions come from the bottom-up, not top-down. Being a “secondhand dealer in ideas” can seem appealing, but we must remember that elected officials are not where they are to improve our lives. Rather, they are there to assume more power. They won’t change their governance because liberty is proper, so we must take their support from under them, and thus encourage localization, secession, and a distain for federal activity.
However, the most important thing Hoppe showed me is that you should NEVER apologize for what you know to be true. Hoppe refused to apologize for intellectual honesty, whether it was at UNLV, or in speeches at his Property and Freedom Society. I will not apologize for a man like Hoppe, who has been so fundamental in the formation of modern libertarianism.