Response To Long On Hoppe

To Roderick Long,

In a comment on the Mises blog you wrote:

Re the Hoppe passage quoted by John Kennedy — while I strongly disagree with it, please note that it does NOT say “forcibly removed.” There is no suggestion that the removal is to be done in a rights-violating manner, and given Hans Hoppe’s well-known rights-absolutism, it hardly seems a likely interpretation.

In an article on immigration Hoppe writes:

The best one may hope for, even if it goes against the “nature” of a democracy and thus is not very likely to happen, is that the democratic rulers act as if they were the personal owners of the country and as if they had to decide who to include and who to exclude from their own personal property (into their very own houses).

In the passage from Hoppe to which you are referring above, doesn’t Hoppe tell us how real owners ought to act?

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. Likewise, 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. They – the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centred 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.

I take you to be interpreting this passage to mean Hoppe thinks owners ought to expel such undesirables, a position with which you disagree. I don’t find that interpretation fully credible, but let’s stipulate it for the time being.

Couple this idea of Hoppe’s with his idea that we should want democratic rulers to act as owners.

Doesn’t that mean, by Hoppe’s lights, that we should want our current democratic rulers to expel those undesirables by force?

Hoppe addresses forced emigration in his immigration piece:

As far as emigration is concerned, a king will want to prevent the emigration of productive subjects, in particular of his best and most productive subjects, because losing them would lower the value of the kingdom. Thus, for example, from 1782 until 1824 a law prohibited the emigration of skilled workmen from Britain. On the other hand, a king will want to expel his non-productive and destructive subjects (criminals, bums, beggars, gypsies, vagabonds, etc.), for their their removal from his territory would increase the value of his realm. For this reason Britain expelled tens of thousands of common criminals to North America and Australia.

For immigration policy Hoppe is saying we should want our democratic rulers to act as such a king; isn’t it clear he also approves of such a king’s emigration policy? Why shouldn’t we want democratic rulers to thus “improve the realm”? With regard to immigration we should want our rulers “following a policy of utmost discrimination” according to Hoppe; shouldn’t we want them to act with the same discrimination with regard to emigration?

And hasn’t Hoppe told us who should be expelled?

9 thoughts on “Response To Long On Hoppe”

  1. No, that doesn’t strike me as the correct interpretation. Notice that when Hoppe says “the best one may hope for” he’s referring back to the question of what “the relatively correct immigration policy” is. He’s not saying that democratic rulers should in general act as though they’re the owners of the country; otherwise he would be advocating socialism, which would be a tad uncharacteristic. He’s saying that in determining immigration policy the relatively best thing democratic rulers could do is act as though they’re owners of the country. So he’s saying who they should let in, but not who they should kick out. That’s how I read it anyway.

  2. “He’s not saying that democratic rulers should in general act as though they’re the owners of the country; otherwise he would be advocating socialism, which would be a tad uncharacteristic.”

    It’s not advocating socialism by Hoppe’s definitions. Socialist rulers don’t own the country. It’s monarchy, which Hoppe does hold as superior to democracy.

    He’s saying we’d be better off if our democratic rulers acted as monarchs. And that such a monarch will want to expell undesirables.

  3. As I recall, Hoppe’s view is that a monarch owns the government, not the country. Anyway, the passage you quote, when viewed in context, is advising democratic rulers to adopt the immigration policy they would favour if they owned the country, not to adopt those policies in general that they would favour if they owned the country.

    Of course, if my interpretation is right then Hoppe still has views I strongly disagree with. So what?

  4. So I’m answering your original response to me: “There is no suggestion that the removal is to be done in a rights-violating manner, and given Hans Hoppe’s well-known rights-absolutism, it hardly seems a likely interpretation.”

    I’m pointing out that Hoppe favors rights violations. Doesn’t that have substantial bearing on the likeliness of my interpretation?

    You say Hoppe can’t be plausibly thought to be advocating rights violations because he claims to be a rights absolutist. That would only hold if his position were consistent. Its not.

    And he clearly does endorse rights violations

  5. Long,

    In the Mises thread you write:

    “But when someone has spent the last hundred or so pages arguing that nobody should ever aggress against anybody’s person or property for any reason, and has just been attacking cultural conservatives for the error of trying to impose their values by force, and has also been advocating the formation of voluntary communities etc. — and then, in the light of that context, goes on to list various groups who he thinks should be removed from society, I don’t think it takes excessive or heroic interpretive charity or “clouds of verbal sepia” to assume that exclusion via covenants etc. rather than removal at gunpoint is what’s meant.”

    Do you think because Hoppe has argued at length that nobody should ever agress against anyone for any reason that when he endorses immigration control he does not mean at gunpoint?

    Isn’t it clear to you that Hoppe in fact endorses aggression which he does not recognize as aggression?

  6. Certainly, whenever one libertarian accuses another of misapplying libertarian principles, one is ordinarily thereby accusing him/her of advocating aggression without realising it. (And since I know hardly any libertarian that I don’t disagree with on some point of rights-doctrine, I suppose it follows that I’m committed to thinking that virtually all libertarians other than myself endorse aggression at some point. And that includes Hoppe — as well as Mises, Rand, Rothbard, etc., etc.)

    When libertarians deviate from what most people presume to be libertarian beliefs — when they regard as aggression what most libertarians think is not aggrression, or when they regard as not aggression what most libertarians think is aggression — they generally say so and explain why. Hoppe has done that at length with regard to immigration restrictions. I don’t see any analogous reason to attribute support for forced emigration to him. If the argument is just “well, he endorsed a wrong view over there so he’s probably endorsed a wrong view over here too,” I don’t see the force of it. The presumption is defeated in one case and not in the other.

  7. Long,

    “If the argument is just “well, he endorsed a wrong view over there so he’s probably endorsed a wrong view over here too,” I don’t see the force of it.”

    You write as if I’ve cited unrelated views, but I just quoted Hoppe writing approvingly of forced emigration in his immigration piece. And the same justification he gives for immigration control applies equally to emigration.

  8. “I just quoted Hoppe writing approvingly of forced emigration in his immigration piece”

    But whether Hoppe is writing approvingly of forced emigration there is just what’s at issue. That interpretation is your conclusion, it can’t be your premise too.

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