Hope or Hoppe?

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First there was
the man from Hope, and now there is Hope personified. But before each
of them there was Hoppe.

Barack Hussein Obama is the president of the United States of America. He formerly taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is a product of the infamous Chicago Democratic political machine. Obama is the author of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe is president of the Property and Freedom Society. He formerly taught economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a product of the late Austro-Libertarian economist and philosopher Murray Rothbard. Hoppe is the author of A Theory of Capitalism and Socialism, The Economics and Ethics of Private Property, and Democracy: The God that Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order.

There are a number of things that President Obama can be identified with:

Fascism, communism, socialism, interventionism, redistribution of wealth, racial preference, affirmative action, ACORN, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, aberrant Christianity, liberalism, extreme left-winger, radical leftist, Community Reinvestment Act, protective tariffs, continuation of the war in Iraq, escalation of the war in Afghanistan, five fronts in the war on terror, possible military action against Iran, larger military budgets, predator drone attacks, community organizer, lying politician, biography embellisher, increased national debt, unbalanced budgets, trillion-dollar budget deficits, hate crimes legislation, universal health care, food stamps, SCHIP, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, tax rate increases, new taxes, progressive income tax rates, EITC, gun control, Head Start, WIC, TANF, welfare, abortion, war on drugs, public education, faith-based programs, TARP, bailouts, subsidies, Keynesian economics, public financing of elections, the USA PATRIOT Act, increases in the minimum wage, organized labor, cap and trade, government czars, egalitarianism, fighting global warming, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, combating climate change, foreign aid, Federal Reserve, Cuban embargo, appeasing AIPAC, federally funded embryonic stem cell research, no oil drilling in the Arctic, increased CAFE standards, the U.S. Global empire, and the military/industrial/security state.

In addition to being against all of the above, there are a number of things that President Hoppe can be identified with:

Classical liberalism, laissez faire capitalism, anarcho-capitalism, uncompromising intellectual radicalism, intransigent libertarian radicalism, Austro-libertarianism, Austrian economics, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, praxeology, the absolute inviolability of justly acquired private property, absolute freedom of contract, absolute freedom of association, absolute freedom of discrimination, unconditional free exchange and free trade, free markets, sound money, free banking, gold, peace, nonintervention, entrepreneurship, liberty, the private production of defense, and the privatization of all socialized (government) property.

For those not familiar with Hoppe, his writings, and his philosophy, I recommend the recently-published festschrift in honor of Hoppe’s sixtieth birthday: Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe (Mises Institute, 2009).

This is a book of 400 pages that contains 35 essays by colleagues, friends, associates, and former students of Hoppe, plus an introduction by two of the contributors who served as editors, Jörg Guido Hülsmann and Stephan Kinsella. The book is divided into five parts: Grato Animo Beneficique Memores, Crossroads of Thought, Political Philosophy, Democracy Reconsidered, and Economics. Each part contains from four to eleven essays. Indexes of names and subjects are also provided, as well as information about the contributors.

The nature of essays is quite diverse. Most of them were written exclusively for the book. Some of them are papers that were written previously. A few of them are adapted from recent lectures. All of them celebrate the profound original insights of Hoppe in the areas of property and property rights, money and banking, time preference, immigration, Austrian economics, capitalism, democracy, Marxism, socialism, libertarianism, public goods, and the private provision of security.

I would like to single out four essays in particular. Paul Gottfried’s “Hans-Hermann Hoppe and the Libertarian Right” informs us about the shortcomings of left-libertarianism. Jess Herta de Soto’s “Classical Liberalism versus Anarcho-Capitalism” instructs us about the fatal error of classical liberalism that contains the seed of its own destruction. Stephan Kinsella’s “What Libertarianism Is” explains the importance of property rights to libertarianism. Robert Higgs’s “Democracy and Faits Accomplis” makes clear the failures of the democratic system once elected rulers have taken office and done their damage to society.

There is no greater contrast than that between Obama and Hoppe.


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I am no fan of Alan Keyes, but he recently said about Obama: “Obama is a radical communist and I think it’s becoming clear. That’s what I told people in Illinois and now everybody realizes it’s true. He’s going to destroy this country. We’re either going to stop him or the United States of America is going to cease to exist. . . . The man is an abomination.”

Compare this with the assessment of Hoppe by Professor Yuri Maltsev, a contributor to Property, Freedom, and Society: “Hans-Hermann Hoppe is the most ardent advocate of liberty in our time. He has done more to advance our understanding of philosophical, legal, economic, and cultural aspects of liberty and private property than any other living intellectual.”

I first heard Hoppe speak at the Mises Institute’s Reassessing the Presidency conference in 1998. I have been hooked on Hoppe ever since. A Hoppean society is a free society. A society based on Obama’s principles is a government-monitored, government-regulated, government-controlled authoritarian society. Hope or Hoppe? I think the choice is obvious.

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