As we should all already know, libertarians of any sort are a very contentious bunch. We only rarely agree with each other. We almost never agree with the Left or the Right. There are a great many factions, branches, and camps under the libertarian banner much like any other political movement. Prominent among these branches are the Rothbardians, the Anachro-Capitalists. Among his most dogmatic followers, only anarchists can be libertarians. Hoppe was the pupil of Rothbard and is his very figurative prophet in the liberty movement today. There has always been an association here between the “paleocons” and this branch of libertarianism. It has come to prominence again with the fusion of tea party vestiges and the same libertarians who have always been here.
Hoppe himself has been well aware of this. In recognition of this, he recently gave a speech to his own organization the Property and Freedom Society. In this speech, he addressed this connection between Rothbardian libertarians and the paleocons who have become the Alt-Right specifically the “Alt-Lite.” Hoppe made it clear that he disavowed the white race socialism of Dick Spencer. So what of this connection that he wants to draw between the Anachro-Capitalists and the Alt-Right?
A theme that has long been with Hoppe is his yearning to forge an alliance with the Right that is outside of different from the sort of Buckley/Meyer Fusionism. He has been on record as saying that libertarians can teach economics to the conservatives and that they can, in turn, teach libertarians about the value of culture. This has since evolved in a new direction. He spends a significant early portion of the address talking about how the libertarians have a cohesive ideology that can be shared, where the Alt-Right has a keen understanding of human nature that many libertarians especially the egalitarian ones do not.
This is where I would like to draw my first distinction and establish my first beef with his thesis. I am open to correction on this matter, but it would seem to me that the lense of empiricism and economics where all of this Austrian philosophy begins lacks a moral angle that can be observed outside of these systems. This is perfectly consistent. It lacks a certain “something” however. This leads a view of egalitarianism that feels rather mechanistic. Definitionally and in a manner of spirit, however, egalitarianism is ultimately about intrinsic worth not just worth in the market. This is not an equality of culture, net worth, or utility rather it is about being human and that invaluable worth then as a human.
After this setup, he begins to get into his theorizing on the “bad neighbor” problem. This is where the largest divide among libertarians originates ultimately. This cannot be overcome in a manner that reconciles libertarians back together. I will do my best to summarize his argument faithfully, and I will link to a transcript so that you may all examine it for yourselves.
The “bad neighbor” problem in its most simple form is the question of how you deal with someone who is degrading your community but is not actively aggressing you. You can’t aggress him because he has not aggressed you. You can’t shame him into leaving or successfully ostracize him. The people with the most standing in the rest of the community can’t convince the bad neighbor to leave either. This is Hoppe’s argument, that it will ultimately lead to social decay and bring about a strong man instinct. The bad neighbor extends in his mind to “neighbors who openly advocate communism, socialism, syndicalism or democracy in any shape or form. ” Even if they have not aggressed you, because their mere presence poses a threat to the libertarian social order.
He then goes on to acknowledge that this is the origin of the “physical removal” meme. To preserve the libertarian social order, generally and specifically from those threats quoted above, it becomes acceptable even necessary to drive them out, with force if necessary.
As to whether or not cultural rot is a real and true phenomenon. It would be hard to deny that there is. He argues for this idea that culture rot and conflict must arise from cultures being in direct contact with each other. This does not seem right to me. It does not seem to me that there is a capacity for culture conflict without its creation by the state. It is always the state associated with one culture or the other that creates either directly the conflict itself or allows the circumstances for it to fester. The indigenous peoples fought American immigrant-settlers. Was this because all of the individuals hated everyone who showed up? Hardly, the story of our recent holiday of Thanksgiving, in fact, disproves this. Rather once a proto-state began developing a conflict with the state of the natives did we see the break down of coexistence. This is the state directly instigating conflict.
Immigration to welfare is the example of the state allowing for cultural conflict to arise, and this is the sort of circumstance that many of the Alt-Right and this brand of Libertarian fear the most. Without the state to provide and administer these job and welfare programs without exception this becomes a non-issue. Charity which traditionally filled this role instead is never extended to aggressors or people who are not capable of living in a given society. Think of the role aid networks played in America before the Progressive Era.
My final issue with this speech and the one thing I can’t seem to reconcile with the Hoppe is the point at which it becomes acceptable to become the initiator of force. It must be admitted that when you begin removing people with a valid property right and who have not aggressed that you are in the moral wrong. It is seen as pre-emptive but if you have no indication that you will actually be aggressed how do justify this? I can’t see an answer. I’m very amenable to listening to one. Justify the physical removal to me, please. Please also, if you can, show me that somehow the cultures are the enemy and not the states that project a culture’s force.
I want to end on a high note. Generally speaking, I do like Hoppe. He is clearly a brilliant thinker and his policy solutions seemed to be exactly right. I just can’t find a way to justify the beginning the violence myself.