“Summer” Rerun: Journey into a Libertarian Future: Part II – The Strategy

This post first appeared on November 30, 2011

By Andrew Dittmer, who recently finished his PhD in mathematics at Harvard and is currently continuing work on his thesis topic. He also taught mathematics at a local elementary school. Andrew enjoys explaining the recent history of the financial sector to a popular audience.

Simulposted at The Distributist Review

This is the second installment of a six-part interview. For the previous part, see here. Red indicates exact quotes from Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s 2001 book “Democracy: The God That Failed.”

ANDREW: Do other libertarians agree with your idea of a libertarian society?

CODE NAME CAIN: Well, we do have our differences. For example, the Cato Institute is severely compromised by numerous left-leaning libertarians such as David Boaz. The Cato tag-alongs and certain other prominent libertarians imagine that an extremely small government would be better than no government at all. They are, of course, wrong. They have not yet recognized that every government is destructive of what they want to preserve [235-236].

ANDREW: It sounds like you and Dr. Hoppe and Murray Rothbard are strongly critical of those other libertarians. But when I looked through the Cato web site, I found that while they sometimes express disagreements, they are surprisingly respectful of Rothbard and Hoppe. Why do you think this is?

CNC: Three reasons. First, pro-government libertarians have probably realized how difficult it is to refute Rothbard and Hoppe, and so prefer instead to learn from their ideas. Second, many agree with Tibor Machan, who says that libertarians should not let their small differences over this issue “distrac[t] from the far more significant task of making the case for libertarianism in the face of innumerable bona fide statist challenges.” But third, you have to reckon with the Human Shield Effect.

ANDREW: The what?

CNC: Libertarian Bryan Caplan says that “hard-core libertarians’ comparative advantage is to play watchdog for moderate libertarians – and make them seem reasonable by comparison.” You see, on many areas other libertarians secretly agree with us, but they are afraid to acknowledge it openly. Instead, they prefer to let us take the heat for our principled positions, and to wait for us to turn previously “radical” ideas into common sense.

ANDREW: So you can count on at least some support from other libertarians. But in order to make your revolution happen, you will have to convince other people as well. Are you going to try to get a majority of U.S. voters to support the future libertarian society?

CNC: It won’t work – persuade a majority of the public to vote for the abolition of democracy and an end to all taxes and legislation? […] is this not sheer fantasy, given that the masses are always dull and indolent, and even more so given that democracy… promotes moral and intellectual degeneration? How in the world can anyone expect that a majority of an increasingly degenerate people accustomed to the “right” to vote should ever voluntarily renounce [it]? [288].

ANDREW: If it’s not a good idea to try to persuade a majority of Americans to surrender the right to vote, what is the right approach?

CNC: It has to start with a small elite. As Étienne La Boétie said, these are “the men who, possessed of clear minds and farsighted spirit, are not satisfied, like the brutish mass, to see only what is at their feet, but rather look about them….” These people will start to secede from the United States.

ANDREW: Meaning?

CNC: It means one regard[s] the central government as illegitimate, and… treat[s] it and its agents as an outlaw agency and “foreign” occupying forces [91].

ANDREW: You don’t pay your taxes?

CNC: One tries to keep as much of one’s property and surrender as little tax money as possible. One considers all federal law, legislation and regulation null and void and ignores it whenever possible [91]. One needs to be ready in case the government makes a move, and invest in such forms and at such locations which withdraw, remove, hide, or conceal one’s wealth as far as possible from the eyes and arms of government [92].

ANDREW: Is this why you have a code name?

CNC: It took you a while, but you figured it out in the end.

ANDREW: How will a few people seceding lead to an anti-state revolution?

CNC: It won’t. … it is essential to complement one’s defensive measures with an offensive strategy: to invest in an ideological campaign of delegitimizing the idea and institution of democratic government among the public [92].

ANDREW: Did you say earlier that trying to convince the public would be difficult?

CNC: With the secession strategy, you don’t need a majority. That’s good, because [t]he mass of people … always and everywhere consists of “brutes,” “dullards,” and “fools,” easily deluded and sunk into habitual submission [92]. Still, there can be no revolution without some form of mass participation. … the elite cannot reach its own goal of restoring private property rights and law and order unless it succeeds in communicating its ideas to the public, openly if possible and secretly if necessary… [93].

ANDREW: Even if you do it secretly, convincing the masses that they are inferior sounds tricky.

CNC: That’s true, but you don’t have to convince Joe the Plumber that he is a brute. You can convince him instead that he is a hardworking, productive individual, and that other people are brutes who are making it so Joe has no control over his life.

ANDREW: I see.

CNC: Still, you’re right. Convincing the masses of the superiority of the natural elite is not the most important part of our communications strategy. The central task of those wanting to turn the tide… is the “delegitimation” of the idea of democracy… [103] It is not enough to focus on specific policies or personalities… Every critic and criticism deserving of support must proceed to explain each and every particular government failing as an underlying flaw in the very idea of government itself (and of democratic government in particular). [94]

ANDREW: Now that I think of it, I have heard people saying things like that.

CNC: There is still a long way to go. There remain far too many people who make unnecessary compromises with the idea of democracy. In fact, there must never be even the slightest wavering in one’s commitment to uncompromising ideological radicalism… Not only would anything less be counterproductive, but more importantly, only radical – indeed, radically simple – ideas can possibly stir the emotions of the dull and indolent masses. And nothing is more effective in persuading the masses to cease cooperating with government than the constant and relentless exposure, desanctification, and ridicule of government and its representatives [94].

ANDREW: A lot of Americans think that democracy has helped the country to be prosperous.

CNC: What better evidence of the limited mental horizons of the so-called “ordinary person”? Hans-Hermann Hoppe has debunked this idea entirely, but too many people still think that the collapse of the Soviet Union had something to do with the absence of democracy! [A]s for the economic quality of democracy, it must be stressed relentlessly that it is not democracy but private property, production, and voluntary exchange that are the ultimate sources of human civilization and prosperity. [105]

ANDREW: So let’s see if I understand. At this point, there will be a small elite dedicated to revolution. Meanwhile, many ordinary people will no longer believe that democracy is a good system. Will you try to do this everywhere, or just in a few key places?

CNC: It doesn’t matter if people in any one city think that what we’re doing is wrong and dangerous. As long as the people who oppose us continue to wring their hands together and to talk only to people who already agree with them, they will not obstruct our efforts to find or create secessonist majorities… at hundreds of locations all over the country [290].

ANDREW: Aren’t you a little worried about how the government might respond to all of these people choosing not to obey the law?

CNC: You mean, considering how the U.S. government has become entangled in hundreds of foreign conflicts and risen to the rank of the world’s dominant imperialist power[?] [How] nearly every president [since 1900] has also been responsible for the murder, killing, or starvation of countless innocent foreigners all over the world [244]? Of course I’m worried. The U.S. president in particular is the world’s single most threatening and armed danger, capable of ruining everyone who opposes him and destroying the entire globe. [244]

ANDREW: But then, what will you do?

CNC: We will work to create a U.S. punctuated by a large and increasing number of territorially disconnected free cities – a multitude of Hong Kongs, Singapores, Monacos, and Liechtensteins strewn over the entire continent [291]. This approach offers two advantages. First, a “piecemeal strategy” will make secession seem less threatening. Second, the more the secession process continues, the more the government’s strength will be eroded.

ANDREW: But there could still be conflicts between the new libertarian mini-states and the existing democracies.

CNC: If there is a conflict, it will be because a democracy has not respected the rights of the free mini-states. But you are forgetting that the mini-states will not be defenseless in such a conflict.

ANDREW: What will they do?

CNC: Since they will be no-tax free-trade haven[s], large numbers of investors and huge amounts of capital would begin to flow immediately. [132] It will therefore be possible to pay large multinational insurance companies to develop military forces capable of defending the free mini-states against government aggression. Keep in mind that, unlike the military forces of the democracy, these military units will be provided by private firms, and so will be much more efficient. If there were to be a conflict, these insurers would be prepared to target the aggressor (the state) for retaliation. That is, insurers would be ready to counterattack and kill, whether with long-range precision weapons or assassination commandos, state agents from the top of the government hierarchy [from the] president…. on downward… They would thereby encourage internal resistance against the aggressor government, promote its delegitimization, and possibly incite the liberation and transformation of the state territory into a free country. [264-265]

ANDREW: Will it stop there? Or will you eventually get rid of the small city-states as well?

CNC: At the correct moment, all remaining governments will be dissolved. Protection against violence will be provided exclusively by insurance firms. As I see it, public property should be distributed among taxpayers, with shares based on how much each individual or firm, up to now, has been forced to pay in taxes. Since public employees and welfare recipients are obviously recipients and not victim of taxes (theft), they will receive nothing.

ANDREW: Would you like to say anything else before I end this part of the interview?

CNC: Let me quote the conclusion of “Democracy – The God That Failed.” If and only if we succeed in this endeavor, if we then proceed to return all public property into appropriate private hands and adopt a new “constitution” which declares all taxation and legislation henceforth unlawful, and if we finally allow insurance agencies to do what they are destined to do, can we be truly proud again and will America be justified in claiming to provide an example to the rest of the world. [292]

In part 3 of this interview, Code Name Cain will show that he is unafraid to explain how a libertarian society will work in detail.

The Étienne La Boétie quote is from “The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary
Servitude,” New York, Free Life Editions, 1975, p. 65 (cited at Hoppe, p. 93).

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67 comments

  1. Richard

    Maybe it’s just me, but “there must never be even the slightest wavering” is not a phrase I associate with liberty. Nor does starting with a “small elite” to delegimize the idea of government among people you secretly despise sound like you care about freedom. Quite sorry, but it brings up other associations.

    Reply
    1. skippy

      The issue is liberty and freedom at on set are watery ideological concepts and have no part in economics, some thought better and used them as corner stones e.g. Road to Serfdom comes to mind.

      Not that Atomtistic Individualism is the may pole that lots of other goodies get bolted on ….

      Reply
    2. Ben Wolf

      The professed ideals of the libertarian right, without deviation or exception, reinforce the material conditions that create the authority and abuse they claim to oppose. This deep contradiction between the material and the ideal is how one identifies a fraud.

      Reply
    3. Barry

      In the neoliberal world, ‘liberty’ is about property. As in: other people shouldn’t be able to tell you what you can do with your stuff.

      People with more stuff in this moral framework are the biggest victims of governments taxing and regulating, while people with no stuff are the undeserving beneficiaries.

      If you care about liberty in this model, the state, such as it is, should be focused on enforcing property rights. The wealthiest and most powerful people have the most liberty that needs defending and promoting.

      People with nothing have no claims on liberty, but they’re free to try to acquire some property of their own.

      Reply
    4. PKMKII

      The right-libertarian notion of liberty is not one of personal liberty, but rather supreme liberty of private property. Even personal liberty is crouched in property terms (an individual “owns” themselves). So by their logic, any action a property owner takes within the bounds of their property, no matter how draconian or violating of others’ right, is justified and any attempt to limit that action is the real authoritarianism. The liberty of the individual is sacrificed in the name of property rights.

      Reply
    5. redleg

      That sounds a lot like what Hitler told Rommel at El Alamein (disobeyed) and Paulus at Stalingrad in 1942. Good times.

      Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Sounds sort of Trotskyist to me, in that it needs to be aggressively pushed onto the entire world through force if need be.

      Reply
  2. Tomonthebeach

    I could not help but think while reading this, that most people believe in big government – at least tacitly, so talking about abolishing it seems rather otre. Then I thought, I wonder what an interview would look like with an authority on Flat-earthers?

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      I think the closest we might have to an authority on Flat Earthers might be Shaquille O’Neill. Or at least, hes far more famous than any other flat earther, albeit for completely unrelated reasons. Here’s a quotation from Shaq:

      “It’s true. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. Yes, it is. Listen, there are three ways to manipulate the mind what you read, what you see and what you hear. In school, first thing they teach us is, ‘Oh, Columbus discovered America,’ but when he got there, there were some fair skinned people with the long hair smoking on the peace pipes. So, what does that tell you? Columbus didn’t discover America. So, listen, I drive from coast to coast, and this shit is flat to me. I’m just saying. I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it’s flat to me. I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity, have you looked outside Atlanta lately and seen all these buildings? You mean to tell me that China is under us? China is under us? It’s not. The world is flat.”

      Reply
    1. Adam Eran

      Yeah, but setting insurance company policy will be the business of our plutocratic, feudal masters, not the rabble that votes. See…?

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        Now I’m imagining people pushing for the insurance companies to be more democratic, with radicals demanding that the insured have a say in how the insurance company is run…

        Reply
  3. Aumua

    This is one of the strangest things I’ve seen posted here. Reading part 1 and the comments thereafter has only marginally improved my understanding of just what the hell is going on here. I am entertained but still scratching my head.

    Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, it isn’t satire in the normal sense. The proponents of these views are dead serious about them and have followers. This is all taken from the works of Hans-Herman Hoppe, a prominent conservative libertarian. All the red sections are verbatim quotes from his publications.

        Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I get that, but if the conversational bits weren’t being put in their mouths they would take care to sound less ludicrous.

          Obviously I think libertarianism, like free market fundamentalism, is full of circular reasoning and sophistry. Just bears no relation to reality.

          Reply
        2. shinola

          About 20 years ago I decided to change my voter registration form Independent to Libertarian just so a 3rd party would be on the ballot that I could use as a proxy for “none of these”.

          Apparently, that got me onto a mailing list for a Libertarian “newspaper”. It carried articles with crap like this in total seriousness. What a bunch of Koch suckers.

          Didn’t take long to switch back to Independent.

          Reply
    1. Ignacio

      Not so strange if you take in account that cryptocurrencies are daughters of the libertarian ideology/utopy. Strange and extreme as it sounds (the ideology) there are guys –apparently mostly in the US– that believe and try to enforce it.

      Reply
  4. peter

    Instead of a Government that is still somewhat legitimized by an electorate there will be private companies with private armies fighting against this government and its agencies, companies that by definition are only beholden to the creating profit by any means possible…what can go wrong?
    This corporatism has another name: fascism. The state and the interest of the corporate class is one.

    there must never be even the slightest wavering in one’s commitment to uncompromising ideological radicalism

    How is this stance different from any other ideology who promised a utopia, be it the version of Soviet or Chinese communism or the Fascism of Europe or the promises of the various religions from Christianity to Islam?
    The pursuit of an Utopia always has been the bane of humankind, following a chimera that promised salvation and redemption leading almost always to mass murder and misery.

    Reply
      1. Newton Finn

        No. Socialism coupled with genuine, vibrant democracy is a social experiment yet to be undertaken. The Achilles’ heel of capitalism is the tendency toward fascism; the Achilles’ heel of socialism is the tendency toward totalitarianism. In places like the Scandinavia of the recent past, we can see the best that capitalism can offer when it avoids the fascist temptation. But we have yet to see what the best of socialism would look like were it to avoid all totalitarian impulses. Such a society, however, has been vividly imagined:

        https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/19/on-earth-as-in-heaven-the-utopianism-of-edward-bellamy/

        Reply
        1. peter

          No. Socialism coupled with genuine, vibrant democracy is a social experiment yet to be undertaken.

          Yes, but unfortunately the non Marxist state capitalism experiment in China and the ex USSR are held up as examples why it cannot work.

          One does not have to read Marx analysis of the capitalist mode of production and wealth accumulation to be clear that capitalism and democracy cannot exists together as the power of the capitalist class always is stronger in determining politics than the working class, and that true democracy can only exist when the production is also based on democratic principles like common ownership.

          Reply
  5. Alex V

    The belief in “more efficient” mercenaries is adorable. What incentive do the men with the guns and skill to use them have to compete on price in such a libertarian paradise?

    Reply
    1. bmeisen

      Libertarian “common sense” is efficiency fetishism. Walmart, Amazon, Bayer, VW, Facebook, McDonalds, Liga Nord strive for optimal efficiency. Inefficiency is the savior of civilization.

      Reply
    2. Off The Street

      All those mercs need to be paid off, or at least mesmerized, while performing protection detail duties for their betters. That is one of the little Achilles Heel aspects of the fantasy. One’s own troops just might ask who the hell they are protecting, why, and what about one’s own families? Is there room enough onboard those escape cruise ships, at that New Zealand bugout spot or somewhere in South America, and who will tell the others?

      There is an element of suspicion about that system, and another one not too distantly related about the other system against which they fight. Pick a rallying cry or imagine that someone isn’t already picking it for you or pushing it at you. Don’t want trannies in your kid’s school bathroom? Don’t want to pay taxes to support objectionable subgroups, don’t want to consume quick fashion, NAXALT, whatever.

      Now that ex-Redditor Eileen Pao has spilled the beans about phony customer counts, what is to be shared next in your Potemkin village?

      Reply
    3. SufferinSuccotash

      “Efficient” mercenaries are the usually the ones that end up taking over on their employers. It was that Machiavelli fellow who pointed that out.

      Reply
        1. SufferinSuccotash

          In the end, the Sultan Mahmoud II had to turn artillery on the Janissaries and wipe them out in 1826. Moral of the story: the only cure for a weak state with mercenaries is a strong state without mercenaries.

          Reply
  6. Bruce Stone

    After reading this and the associated comments– One must hope that this is an early April Fools joke–Emphasis on the “FOOLS”.
    Insurance companies as enforcers–with private mercenary armies? A small Elite guiding the “Brutish Masses”? Legislation and a Constitution that outlaw Constitutions and Legislation?
    The only good thoughts that follow this read are what would happen to their Mercenaries when they run into the 10th Mountain Division or a USA Special Forces team.

    The correct phrases for one who holds these ideas is “Lunatic” and “Fascist”. It causes a shudder of revulsion to see them published as dialogue as if they were normal–or worse, potentially actualize-ready plans from a group of strangely deluded miscreants.

    Please do provide enough background to at least make it possible to judge whether this is satire or an actual exchange of craziness –because if there are people this deluded walking the streets– we need to get them to a hospital for treatment.

    Really, is this meant to be an off-color joke??

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Do you have a reading comprehension problem? The post clearly states at the top that it is based on the work of the conservative libertarian, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who is a Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the founder and president of the Property and Freedom Society. The text is full of verbatim quotes from his work.

      Reply
  7. unfettered fire

    “Aryeh Neier, founder of Human Rights Watch and its executive director for 12 years, doesn’t hide his contempt for the idea of economic equality as one of the key human rights. Neier is so opposed to the idea of economic equality that he even equates the very idea of economic equality and justice with oppression—economic rights to him are a violation of human rights, rather than essential human rights, thereby completely inverting traditional left thinking.

    Here’s what Neier wrote in his memoir, Taking Liberties: “The concept of economic and social rights is profoundly undemocratic… Authoritarian power is probably a prerequisite for giving meaning to economic and social rights.”

    Neier here is aping free-market libertarian mandarins like Friedrich von Hayek, or Hayek’s libertarian forefathers like William Graham Sumner, the robber baron mandarin and notorious laissez-faire Social Darwinist.

    As with Neier, William Graham Sumner argued that liberty has an inverse relationship to economic equality; according to Sumner, the more economic equality, the less liberty; whereas the greater the inequality in a society, the more liberty its individuals enjoy.

    It’s the fundamental equation underlying all libertarian ideology and politics—a robber baron’s ideology at heart.

    Neoliberalism was created by libertarians, who believe in economic freedom over social freedom. The neoliberal globalists are clinging to their agenda even though it’s proven itself a failure with the 2008 crash, the financial disaster of the EU, the protesting that is erupting globally and the exposure by MMT that it’s an ideology founded on financial myths and Orwellian doublespeak, including the way it hides behind the term “neoliberalism”!

    “In a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees and trespassers – not legal and illegal immigrants.” ~ Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute

    This libertarian dream to replace nations with charter cities, an idea founded by recent Nobel Prize in economics recipient Paul Romer, is still very much on the table. It has been tried out in Honduras, but failed. Here’s a lecture by Romer on the POSSIBILITY of progress, since it’s apparently been a foregone conclusion that reducing the world to serfdom was the only logical option.

    Angela Merkel is trying her failed globalist best to convince the world that national sovereignty must be forfeited because having a government with the power to invest in public purpose is anathema to their total “benevolent dictatorship” control.

    Reply
    1. Susan the Other

      Angela still believes in globalism and she’s trying to soften her legacy on immigration, which infuriated almost all of Germany, so that it still has momentum. Her talk on surrendering sovereignty to an authority that has so far ignored the importance of sovereignty is puzzling. The EU clearly wants control of foreign policy and development toward becoming a federation. So far they’ve just been a free-trade agreement. So if it is sovereignty and development she’s touting, she’s probably doing it in light of the EU’s shift away from the recent demands of NATO which Germany clearly doesn’t like. But if the EU/Germany had its own thriving MIC it would be a different story. They’d clean our clock, for starters.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        But if the EU/Germany had its own thriving MIC it would be a different story. They’d clean our clock, for starters.

        Then they would be the U.S. with a weaker central government.

        Reply
      2. F.Korning

        That’s a silly comment. The EU is by its very nature all about foreign policy. Neighbouring nations voluntarily choosing to come together and collaborate on a wide swathe of common issues in peace. The warmongering NeoCon agenda has been so succesful in coopting the word that many now equate Foreign Policy to war. But really foreign policy is what you pursue in peacetime.

        Reply
        1. F.Korning

          Apologies, I read that quickly without enough sleep. I would say that the EU is much more than a mere free trade union. Harmonising law, standards, recognition of rights and freedoms, civic and consumer protections. This is foreign policy writ large. The ideal diplomat wet dream, answering the question what if we could convince our neighbours to see it our way? I’m not sure why people are loathe to the word federation, but in any case one is not really needed for security. Nato is already an example of mutual collaboration by non-federated states. All the EU is proposing is same, minus the “ingerence” of the American gorilla thumping its chest in the room.

          Reply
    2. knowbuddhau

      Is there another W.S. Graham? Was yours a wildly popular Yale professor, the first of sociology, and clergyman? Not a word about being a robber baron. Could believe the Social Darwinist claim, tho. He was anti-imperialist. And Skull & Bones.

      Robert Bierstedt writes that Sumner preached two sermons every Sunday at the Church of the Redeemer. They “stressed without surcease the Puritan virtues of hard work, self-reliance, self-denial, frugality, prudence, and perseverance.” Furthermore, writes Bierstedt, “it may be said that Sumner spent his entire life as a preacher of sermons.” However, Sumner “preferred the classroom to the pulpit,” so he left the ministry and returned to Yale in 1872 as “professor of political and social science” until he retired in 1909.[11] Sumner taught the first course in North America called “sociology.”[12]

      Other than what he said in the ordination service, there is no information about what motivated Sumner to be ordained. At his ordination, Sumner said that he thought that he was “truly called” to the ministry.[13]

      Sumner did not make known, at least publicly, his reasons for leaving the ministry.[14] However, he and historians suggest that it might have been a loss of belief and/or a dim view of the church and its clergy.

      Clarence J. Karier says, “Sumner found that his deity vanished with the years.” “I have never discarded beliefs deliberately,” Sumner said later in life, but “I left them in a drawer and, after a while, when I opened it there was nothing there at all.”[15] Harris E. Starr found that Sumner “never attacked religion” or “assumed a controversial attitude toward it.” At the same time, Starr found that during Sumner’s time as a professor he stopped attending Trinity Church, New Haven, where he had been ordained Deacon. After that, Sumner attended church only occasionally. However, in the closing years of his life, he baptized a little grandson, and not long before his death he attended New Haven’s St. John’s Church[16] to receive Holy Communion. Starr wrote that these two events “suggest that deep down in his nature a modicum of religion remained.”[17]

      In his book What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1883), Sumner argued that the “ecclesiastical prejudice in favor of the poor and against the rich” worked “to replunge Europe into barbarism.” Furthermore, Sumner asserted, that this prejudice still lives, nourished by the clergy. “It is not uncommon,” he said, “to hear a clergyman utter from the pulpit all the old prejudice in favor of the poor and against the rich, while asking the rich to do something for the poor; and the rich comply.”[18] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Graham_Sumner

      He was preaching in a classroom and calling it sociology, or economics. Since Yale is a private religious school, that’s their right. But how is the wider community of scholars to address the true source of his theories? They’ll never “lay a glove on him.”

      Even though he himself later lost faith, now his lectures sermons are still taken as lectures, and his theology as sociology. This is epistemological sleight-of-hand. His sociology is just a transformation, into scholarly forms, of his BS (belief system). Is that Science, or proselytizing? Later generations of Libertarians wouldn’t even know the religious roots of their fantasy government.

      Peer review can’t work if we don’t get naked right down to our core beliefs. (h/t Walt Whitman)

      Is Libertarianism just intellectualized religion, just scientistic apologies for “Might Makes Right,” like Social Darwinism? If this WSG is the *grandfather of Libertarianism, then it owes its existence to the age old belief that God loves rich people most. How “innovative.”

      Reply
      1. paul

        I feel they have a very partial reading of the idea that :

        the poor are with you always

        and conveniently eliding the latter half of the statement

        …but you will not always have me


        The one who criticizes the woman in John is Judas. And it reads that Judas says this not because he cares about the poor but because he’s the treasurer and regularly steals from the Jesus movement’s coffers. Judas uses the poor as an excuse to make money for himself.

        I can think of worse things to cross post at this time of year

        Reply
  8. JCC

    This quote:

    With the secession strategy, you don’t need a majority. That’s good, because [t]he mass of people … always and everywhere consists of “brutes,” “dullards,” and “fools,” easily deluded and sunk into habitual submission. Still, there can be no revolution without some form of mass participation. … the elite cannot reach its own goal of restoring private property rights and law and order unless it succeeds in communicating its ideas to the public, openly if possible and secretly if necessary….

    was enough to stop me in my tracks. Of course it’s necessary based on their sick philosophy. These people (the Cato Institute – formerly known as the Charles Koch Foundation) are nasty, sociopathic, …and dangerous

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      You would read the same in the words of the English upper class, and evry other aristocratcy.

      The concrts look identical to a feudal society, where the debetors in default become vassales very quickly.

      Ther have no view of history. All their ideas were tried. The only people “free” arre possibly nomads who have no concept of land ownership, but even nomads fight over terrstory and food.

      Reply
  9. Susan the Other

    Spit my coffee with the insurance-enforcement-of-liberty proposition. That’s gotta be the funniest thing Herr Hoppe ever conjured up. Because snafu all over again. Who’s gonna bail out the insurance companies? Sorry, just sitting here chuckling. This would make a super dead-pan movie script. (Because it is already a little bit true. “It’s funny because it’s true,” Tina Fey.) Private property is still so sacred we just can’t think around it, just too insecure, and therein lies the source of all our contradictions. Maybe. I hope in the next installment (can’t remember this stuff from 2011 – or I wasn’t amused by it back then) asks the really stupefying questions about what money is and isn’t. I really can’t imagine what the libertarians say on that one. I dunno, but maybe everything should be on lease. Including gold. What a crazy world. (New soap opera: As The World Burns)

    Reply
    1. Jon S

      I’d hate to see some IP violation by Microsoft against an Apple patent lead to Geico launching nukes at Seattle with Allstate launching some back at San Jose. That would have a high suck factor for area retail workers.

      Reply
    2. Synoia

      That assumes no Insurance monopoly, following a cartel, the cartel following some lmited competition.

      The concet of private armies has also been well tested. They figh for their profit and are always a threat because they take over states.

      Business only works under rule of law. These propossl is just a proposal for a change in form of governance.

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether

      > This would make a super dead-pan movie script.

      Recognizing the dead-pan aspect of the post is important. (Dead-pan like the ending of Dr. Strangelove: “A quick survey would have to be made of all the suitable mine-sites in the country, but I shouldn’t be surprised if several hundred thousand of our people could be accommodated.”)

      One good example of a dead-pan joke this: “At the correct moment, all remaining governments will be dissolved. Protection against violence will be provided exclusively by insurance firms. “

      Reply
  10. KLG

    His characterization was directed at a slightly different crew, but Lionel Trilling also would have been correct about Hoppe et al. This is nothing more than a series of irritable mental gestures from the comfortable who lack all imagination.

    Reply
  11. Tom Stone

    I am all to familiar with this style of Assholiness, selfish cruelty veneered with moral certitude.
    Implicit in this plan is a substantial reduction in the populace…
    100 Million deaths or so, but no one of any importance.

    Reply
  12. John

    Has Hoppe read Hobbes? What’s to stop all of the insurance companies’ militias from plundering the countryside and warring with each other? He also seems to have forgotten the huge quantity of guns held by the American citizenry. If we were to get rid of the state, the type of anarchy that would result would much more resemble The Road than any libertarian fantasy (as horrific as that would be).

    Reply
    1. knowbuddhau

      Good question. Odd how all of Herr Hoppe’s subordinates seem to think like his very own clones, ie, the oft noted puzzle of why the better armed guards dont just usurp them.

      It reads like the work of a narcissistic Dungeons & Dragons dungeon master. That no one actually behaves according to their assumptions, or that the world doesn’t at all resemble their fantasy, doesn’t matter. Creative thinking on your part is their kryptonite.

      Their ever so elaborate plans can’t withstand a simple sidestep left. Boggles the mind, that apparently intelligent people can be so blinded by self-interest not to be able to smell such rancid BS.

      Amazing how many words Herr Hoppe just throws up there, and none ever touch the ground.

      Is Libertarianism what happens when overripe adolescents of privilege spend too much time together?

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        Libertarians are closet Warlords. Warlords are closet aristocrats. Aristocrats ate closet Kings. Kings are closet emperors.

        Oncan replace closet with aspiring.

        Reply
        1. knowbuddhau

          Nice, and kings and emperors thought they were what? That’s right, demigods. Wannabe war gods, I call them. They thought they were so special. Not like our humble leaders.

          To give the devils their due, some do have the literal power to rain death from above, not just with close air support but on millions, even billions, the whole world round, day and night. Others know what you’ve been reading, and to whom it is you speak, but Santa Claus they ain’t.

          They’re not all religious nutters. But many are. The USAF academy recently had something of a purge.

          God loves us most –> Manifest Destiny –> American Exceptionalism –> Full-spectrum Dominance. Clearly it’s God’s will, who could argue with that? The Devil is putting our enemies up to it, I’m sure of it. /s

          Reply
  13. Jon Doe

    This interview just confirms for me just how shocking superficial and stupid libertarians are.

    A couple of questions that would have shut down this interview: Who runs the government? What’s the revolving door? Do you know anything about private institutions and accountability?

    Reply
    1. TankTruman

      I was holding my breath while reading this, sensing that at the finish the answer to the most important question of the last 2018 years: “Who is John Galt?”

      Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      I don’t know if the Cato Institute, George Mason University, the Niskanen Center, the Fraser Institute, or the Libertarian Party have radio stations.

      Libertarian ideology has deeply penetrated the discourse, and is often seen as “common sense.” The post heightens the absurdities that many have come to accept.

      Reply
  14. rob

    those institutions “teach” this BS, BECAUSE they are paid to. Propaganda, pure and simple. These are part of the academic industrial complex that exists at the behest of those with enough capital to put forth their ideas into others opinions.
    This is important so that when other groups funded by the same corporate interests; like ALEC who writes the text of the legislation that the state and federal politicians who are also funded and helped into office by the same corporate money. These politicians are voted into office by the voters who are propagandized,educated,led to believe this emperor has clothes.
    The laws of “freedom” are just protections from liabilities of mismanagement. Rather than clean up after your industrial process, it is cheaper to write laws that shift the responsibility to someone/everyone else. These are well worn paths.
    What is crazy is that these low lifes who spout this drivel get so much public support. And then the politicians like paul ryan or rick scott or scott walker and all that ilk, like the republican legislature of north carolina have all these ready voters to keep them alive in one form or another. These voters then support the people who are really against their own interests, but they don’t think so.
    Smart and educated may mean something somewhere, but as preparation for upholding our form of democratic republicanism, it doesn’t keep people safe from” stupid is as stupid does”

    Reply
  15. George Tafelski

    As I read this I realized that CNC sounded just like Darren Nichols the pompous pretentious theatre hating director from the Canadian series “Slings and Arrows”. Libertarians are spoiled children and will never be anything more than a nuisance. I enjoyed the interview though.

    Reply
  16. MikeW_CA

    Libertarians and Socialists both have useful ideas to contribute to our political discussions, but I wouldn’t want either in control.

    Reply
  17. F.Korning

    Here’s the seminal divergence in libertarian thought.

    Government is an attempt to increase prosperity and reduce precarity by removing what causes fear, anxiety, risk, and strife. Physical things that belong to the commons whose benefits compound but are hard to price, like infrastructure; Abstract assurances like confidence in a state of law, protection of right; – all these normally serve to reduce worry. Even universal healthcare and education are a boon, because most would rather live in a world where their neighbours are not driven to desperation to a point where predation is seen as the only way out.

    The recent cooptation of the sponsored “think tank” libertarians, however, seem to relish and delect in strife, in causing precarity, predation, and maximising fear and loathing, and most importantly in exact punitive plunder. The very notion that strife us something to be priced-in and exploited is repugnant and smells of disaster capitalism imposed on the unwilling masses. The language has strong tones of racialism, slavery, and colonialism (brutish masses). Essentially, here are powerless fantasists dreaming of becoming thugs, hoodwinked by predatory barons. The language is fear. It’s a fear cult.

    Reply

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