Skip the Hoppe

By John "Birdman" Bryant

 

In his article 'Free Immigration or Forced Integration' (Chronicles, July 1995; recently reprinted on the Net at Lew Rockwell's home page), Prof Hans-Herman Hoppe professes a sincere belief in anarcho-capitalism, ie, no government at all, but puts forth the second-choice alternative of monarchy just in case government can't be avoided. Prof Hoppe's recrudescent throwbackianism is refreshing in a way, somewhat in the same sense that the acrid odor of smelling salts is refreshing after a syncope. But that doesn't keep his opinions from being silly.

Let's start with 'anarcho-capitalism', which is a tongue-twisting substitute term for anarchy, but sounds a bit more civilized, as if it were one of those free radicals who had managed to obtain a much-needed shave and haircut. If Prof Hoppe had ever bothered to step outside of his ivory tower, he would have been immediately confronted with the ugly reality that at no place or time on earth have there ever been significant numbers of human beings living in proximity to one another without some form of government. Or to put it more bluntly, government, like shit, just happens; so no matter how much one hates government, as Prof Hoppe apparently does, it is as pointless to be 'for' the absence of government as it is to be 'for' the opinion of Bishop Berkeley that the world exists only as a result of our looking at it.

As to monarchy, the argument is a bit more subtle. In his article, Hoppe points out -- correctly and interestingly -- that monarchs have the motive to improve their country by encouraging good quality people to immigrate and stay, while democratically-elected leaders, being in 'possession' of the country for only a short time, seek to 'maximize current income' by playing to the (non-quality) rabble who will then vote for them. But Hoppe's essay, like the major media, is most noticeable for what it omits, which in Hoppe's case is that monarchy has a few serious drawbacks. One of these is that there is no 'feedback mechanism' (voting) whereby people can express their likes and dislikes of the government in a forceful way, and in particular where they can terminate a Crazy Harry or Lousy Larry who occupies the seat of power. Another problem is that monarchs, like dictators and other names they go by, have a tendency toward megalomania which may on the one hand encourage good people to immigrate and stay, but on the other may fritter all those resources away in wars and other games of global hegemony and realpolitik.

It is a delight to have Prof Hoppe around recycling his old ideas -- it gives us a boost to realize that, no matter how foolish we ourselves may be, there is always someone else who is worse.

 

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