Physical Removal is a concept over which undereducated libertarians shake in their sheets. So-called libertarians who have never read Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who once said in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, “There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society.” This one sentence is perhaps the only thing Hoppephobes have ever read of Dr. Hoppe, which is unfortunate whereas they are missing out on so much by disregarding him. Left Libertarians, so-called beltway libertarians, and other groups that make up the Anti-Rothbard Cult have used this one line to discredit the entirety of Hoppe’s work, though they have never read him. The criticisms of Hoppe which they put forth, however, are either deliberately false or blatantly hypocritical. In this article, I will debunk the myths of physical removal, and then provide an analysis of what physical removal actually is and why it is essential for liberty.
Perhaps the greatest myth about Physical Removal is that it is inherently bigoted. On page 218 of Democracy: The God That Failed, Hoppe does indeed say “They — the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism — will have to be physically removed from society too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.” The idea that this is a bigoted statement that is incompatible with liberty is absolutely absurd with or without context. To start, there is nothing inherently un-libertarian about bigotry. Libertarianism is about private property rights, self-ownership, and the non-aggression principle. It is not about, however, forced integration. As an individual, I have the right to choose to disassociate myself from any other individual (so long as I have not willfully signed a contract in which I agree to such associations, but that is my choice as well).
Moving on, critics of physical removal fail to see the context of this statement, and they usually ignore a very important word in this phrase. In the context of this writing, what Hoppe is saying isn’t even offensive. It’s common sense. Should a nudist colony be forced to welcome me, a man who prefers to wear clothing in public, into their community? No. Should the Catholic Church be unable to excommunicate those who commit mortal sins? No. Now take it a step further. Should a nudist colony accept people who come in and advocate that the nudists wear clothing? No. Should the Catholic Church welcome Satanists and other advocates of sin to their clergy? Absolutely not. To welcome them would be contrary to the very nature of those institutions.
Before Hoppe made the claim regarding physical removal, he said that “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.” What Hoppe is promoting is the right of individuals to form communities by contract and apply the rules and conditions the community sets forth. In the status quo, the right to exclude has been immensely suppressed by the State. To fight the State, it is essential for libertarians to reclaim their right to exclusion. If you don’t have the right to exclusion, you do not have private property. Rather, you have fiat property, to be revoked and/or used by the State at its will. In a society in which private property is recognized, you have sole control of your property, meaning you can invite whomever you please onto your property, and you can also exclude whomever you please from said property. No one has the right to interfere with that.
But in addition, critics of physical removal miss out on a very important word: “advocates.” Hoppe is not saying that all homosexuals and other people who follow non-traditional lifestyles ought to be physically removed, he is saying that the advocates of such lifestyles ought to removed from communities with the purpose of preserving traditionalism. In other words, Hoppe is referring to a community that is politically libertarian and culturally traditional. Hoppe is saying that people that are openly hostile to the pre-established norms of a community would be shamed and also ostracized from the community in question. Hoppe is not saying that gays must be removed from society no matter how red-in-the-face that annoying left-libertarian (we all know at least one) on Facebook gets. Rather, Hoppe is saying that people who are habitually hostile to the customs of a community or the rights of the people are subject to physical removal. For example, if a man has a preference toward a democratic social structure, but he’s just minding his own business and not actively promoting democracy, he’s fine. Advocating a tyranny of the majority, however, would be contrary to the sacred right to private property. I have every right not to associate with this man for his beliefs. I have the right to shun him for his beliefs. I do not, however, have the right to partake in violence against him at any point. Communities become more and more likely to act and physically remove dissidents as these individuals promote their anti-property beliefs.
This works in the same way as a community dedicated to traditionalism. A gay man who just minds his own business doesn’t have anything to worry about. A gay man who actively promotes anti-heterosexuality in a traditional community, however, would better off in a community with a different set of cultural norms. This is not to say a person that doesn’t conform to the cultural norms must hide their non-conformity. It merely means that they must not advocate their dissent become the mainstream. Can communities be more relaxed on these rules, and even harsher? Certainly! The degree of tolerance an individual and a community holds is entirely the decision of an individual or a community. Whereas there may be a community that does not allow LGBTQ individuals, there may be a community that only welcomes LGBTQ communities, and shuns heteronormativity, and anything in between regarding this or any other cultural question.
This is like a bad neighbor. If you have a neighbor who is just in general unpleasant, the community is your friend. You have no right to initiate violence against your neighbor, and neither does the community. But the community refusing to associate with your neighbor will be much more effective in altering the behavior of the neighbor or convincing him/her to go to a community that tolerates whatever unpleasant feature they exhibit. This is completely compatible with property rights; no violence and no threats occur.
Hoppe is not a cultural universalist, quite the opposite actually. Much of his work regarding opposing the State is built upon anti-globalism and advocacy for self-determination. With this in mind, one can see that society would be much more localized than it currently is. This would lead to a much larger cultural diversity than we experience today. The difference between this cultural diversity and the siren song of multiculturalism is that the many cultures would not be forced to integrate. Cultures would not have to fight within geographical regions. Rather, they can all thrive in their own way within communities that value their culture. Whereas there may be a Western community here, there may be an Eastern community elsewhere. The possibilities are endless. Surely, one can visit different communities with the consent of a resident, but in the same way one can visit, one must never advocate the overthrow and destruction of the cultural norms property owners within that geographical region have agreed upon.
To prove that this is, in fact, Hoppe’s view, and I’m not just projecting my view onto Hoppe, one can look to page 212 of Democracy: The God That Failed in which Hoppe says that “a libertarian world could and likely would be one with a great variety of locally separated communities engaged in distinctly different and far-reaching discrimination.” This is the same view other cultural conservatives with libertarian political views advocate. Much of this train of logic, in fact, can be derived from Murray N. Rothbard’s writings in the Rothbard-Rockwell Report. This tradition of localism in libertarianism, however, does not start with Hoppe or Rothbard. Rather, it starts with Ludwig von Mises. In Mises’s 1927 book Liberalism, Mises advocated for the right of secession not as a right of the State, but as a right of the individual. At any level from the nation, to the community, to the individual, one has the right to secede and form his/her own form of culture, and to exclude all who advocate against one’s culture from their property.
With all of this in mind, we can clearly see that those who advocate democracy or communism must, in fact, be physically removed from a libertarian social order. In a society based on the private property ethic, one who advocates for the systematic violation of private property rights has no place in that society. To call for the abolition of the natural right to property is inherently contrary to the nature of a libertarian social order. If you do not like private property rights, go to a community that shares each others’ toothbrushes rather than forcing us to do so. Liberty, once lost, is extraordinarily hard to regain, if not impossible. It is for this reason that libertarians must reject the State as the immoral monstrous absurdity that it is, and must shun habitual advocates of the State as sociopathic lunatics. This is not to say that kindness and good manners towards these people must be rejected. This is to say that their ideas must be logically eliminated before them. If they still insist the right to use force against you and your community, then they must be ostracized and physically removed from a libertarian society.
Just to see how detrimental a rejection of physical removal can be, consider this: in California, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in the presidential race by an incredible 3,446,281 votes. In Kentucky, Rand Paul defeated Jim Gray in KY’s US Senate race by 276,931 votes. In other words, if 276,932 California Democrats moved to KY and registered to vote, Rand Paul would have lost his reelection bid and the Democrats in California would still be ahead by more than 3,000,000 votes, ceteris paribus. If the Democrats in California were smart, they would distribute 3 million of themselves to swing states or red states with smaller populations such as Kentucky. So why don’t the democrats move here en masse? Simply put, there is a culture of conservatism here in KY. Far Left liberals, except those on college campuses, tend to be social outcasts in KY and other conservative states. This culture is one of the strongest barriers to leftists taking over Kentucky and similar states. Value Rand Paul and Thomas Massie? You have our anti-DNC attitude to thank.
In a way, Rothbard was prophetic in predicting that the critics of true libertarianism would savagely target Hans-Hermann Hoppe, but not in an honest way. The critics of Hoppe tend to have never read him or they deliberately misinterpret his work. We can see that physical removal is merely an expression of the right of exclusion. In the same way that these “libertarians” exclude Hoppe and people who follow his line of thinking from their organizations and friend groups, so too are they physically removing an individual and thus practicing hypocrisy so long as they reject physical removal. One can see that anyone has the right to exclude anyone else from their property for any reason. It is with this in mind that physical removal is essential to liberty and the rejection thereof is a rejection of the very basics of libertarianism: self-ownership, non-aggression, and private property rights.