Monthly Archives: March 2011

“You might be a fascist if…”

…you don’t dislike government more after watching this video, says Tim Carney. (via EPJ):

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Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the Impracticality of One-World Government and the Failure of Western-style Democracy

From The Daily Bell:


Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe

The Daily Bell is pleased to present an exclusive interview with Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe (left).

Introduction: Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, born in 1949 in Peine, West Germany, studied philosophy, sociology, economics, history and statistics at the University of the Saarland, in Saarbruecken, the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, in Frankfurt am Main, and at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. He received his doctorate (Philosophy, 1974, under Juergen Habermas) and his “Habilitation” degree (Foundations of Sociology and Economics, 1981) both from the Goethe University in Frankfurt.

In 1985 Hoppe moved to New York City to work with Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995), the most prominent American student of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973). In 1986 Hoppe followed Rothbard to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he served as Professor of Economics until his retirement in 2008. After Rothbard’s death, Hoppe also served for many years as editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics and of the interdisciplinary Journal for Libertarian Studies. Hoppe is a Distinguished Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, and founder and president of the Property and Freedom Society. He currently lives with his wife Dr. Guelcin Imre, a fellow economist, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Hoppe is the author of eight books – the best known of which is Democracy: The God That Failed – and more than 150 articles in books, scholarly journals and magazines of opinion. As an internationally prominent Austrian School economist and libertarian philosopher, he has lectured all over the world and his writings have been translated into more than twenty languages.

In 2006 Hoppe was awarded the Gary S. Schlarbaum Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Cause of Liberty, and in 2009 he received the Franz Cuhel Memorial Prize from the University of Economics in Prague. At the occasion of his 60th birthday, in 2009, a Festschrift was published in his honor: Joerg Guido Huelsmann & Stephan Kinsella (eds.), “Property, Freedom and Society. Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe.” Hoppe’s personal website is http://www.HansHoppe.com. There the bulk of his scholarly and popular writings as well as many public lecture recordings are electronically available.

Daily Bell: Please answer these questions as our readers were not already aware of your fine work and considered opinions. Let’s jump right in. Why is democracy “The God that failed?”

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: The traditional, pre-modern state-form is that of a (absolute) monarchy. The democratic movement was directed against kings and the classes of hereditary nobles. Monarchy was criticized as being incompatible with the basic principle of the “equality before the law.” It rested on privilege and was unfair and exploitative. Democracy was supposed to be the way out. In opening participation and entry into state-government to everyone on equal terms, so the advocates of democracy claimed, equality before the law would become reality and true freedom would reign. But this is all a big error.

True, under democracy everyone can become king, so to speak, not only a privileged circle of people. Thus, in a democracy no personal privileges exist. However, functional privileges and privileged functions exist. Public officials, if they act in an official capacity, are governed and protected by “public law” and thereby occupy a privileged position vis-à-vis persons acting under the mere authority of “private law.” In particular, public officials are permitted to finance or subsidize their own activities through taxes. That is, they are permitted to engage in, and live off, what in private dealings between private law subjects is prohibited and considered “theft” and “stolen loot.” Thus, privilege and legal discrimination – and the distinction between rulers and subjects – will not disappear under democracy.

Even worse: Under monarchy, the distinction between rulers and ruled is clear. I know, for instance, that I will never become king, and because of that I will tend to resist the king’s attempts to raise taxes. Under democracy, the distinction between rulers and ruled becomes blurred. The illusion can arise “that we all rule ourselves,” and the resistance against increased taxation is accordingly diminished. I might end up on the receiving end: as a tax-recipient rather than a tax-payer, and thus view taxation more favorably.

And moreover: As a hereditary monopolist, a king regards the territory and the people under his rule as his personal property and engages in the monopolistic exploitation of this “property.” Under democracy, monopoly and monopolistic exploitation do not disappear. Rather, what happens is this: instead of a king and a nobility who regard the country as their private property, a temporary and interchangeable caretaker is put in monopolistic charge of the country. The caretaker does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his and his protégés’ advantage. He owns its current use – usufruct – but not its capital stock. This does not eliminate exploitation. To the contrary, it makes exploitation less calculating and carried out with little or no regard to the capital stock. Exploitation becomes shortsighted and capital consumption will be systematically promoted.

Daily Bell: If democracy has failed what would you put in its place? What is the ideal society? Anarcho-capitalism?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: I prefer the term “private law society.” In a private law society every individual and institution is subject to one and the same set of laws. No public law granting privileges to specific persons or functions exists in this society. There is only private law (and private property), equally applicable to each and everyone. No one is permitted to acquire property by means other than through original appropriation of previously un-owned things, through production, or through voluntary exchange, and no one possesses a privilege to tax and expropriate. Moreover, no one is permitted to prohibit anyone else from using his property in order to enter any line of production he wishes and compete against whomever he pleases.

Daily Bell: How would law and order be provided in this society? How would your ideal justice system work?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: In a private law society the production of law and order – of security – would be undertaken by freely financed individuals and agencies competing for a voluntarily paying (or not-paying) clientele – just as the production of all other goods and services. How this system would work can be best understood in contrast to the workings of the present, all-too-familiar statist system. If one wanted to summarize in one word the decisive difference – and advantage – of a competitive security industry as compared to the current statist practice, it would be: contract.

The state operates in a legal vacuum. There exists no contract between the state and its citizens. It is not contractually fixed, what is actually owned by whom, and what, accordingly, is to be protected. It is not fixed, what service the state is to provide, what is to happen if the state fails in its duty, nor what the price is that the “customer” of such “service” must pay. Rather, the state unilaterally fixes the rules of the game and can change them, per legislation, during the game. Obviously, such behavior is inconceivable for freely financed security providers. Just imagine a security provider, whether police, insurer or arbitrator, whose offer consisted in something like this: I will not contractually guarantee you anything. I will not tell you what I oblige myself to do if, according to your opinion, I do not fulfill my service to you – but in any case, I reserve the right to unilaterally determine the price that you must pay me for such undefined service. Any such security provider would immediately disappear from the market due to a complete lack of customers.

Each private, freely financed security producer must instead offer its prospective clients a contract. And these contracts must, in order to appear acceptable to voluntarily paying consumers, contain clear property descriptions as well as clearly defined mutual services and obligations. Each party to a contract, for the duration or until the fulfillment of the contract, would be bound by its terms and conditions; and every change of terms or conditions would require the unanimous consent of all parties concerned.

Specifically, in order to appear acceptable to security buyers, these contracts must contain provisions about what will be done in the case of a conflict or dispute between the protector or insurer and his own protected or insured clients as well as in the case of a conflict between different protectors or insurers and their respective clients. And in this regard only one mutually agreeable solution exists: in these cases the conflicting parties contractually agree to arbitration by a mutually trusted but independent third party. And as for this third party: it, too, is freely financed and stands in competition with other arbitrators or arbitration agencies. Its clients, i.e., the insurers and the insured, expect of it, that it come up with a verdict that is recognized as fair and just by all sides. Only arbitrators capable of forming such judgments will succeed in the arbitration market. Arbitrators incapable of this and viewed as biased or partial will disappear from the market.

Daily Bell: Are you denying, then, that we need the state to defend us?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: Indeed. The state does not defend us; rather, the state aggresses against us and it uses our confiscated property to defend itself. The standard definition of the state is this: the state is an agency characterized by two unique, logically connected features. First, the state is an agency that exercises a territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making. That is, the state is the ultimate arbiter and judge in every case of conflict, including conflicts involving itself and its agents. There is no appeal above and beyond the state. Second, the state is an agency that exercises a territorial monopoly of taxation. That is, it is an agency that can unilaterally fix the price that its subjects must pay for the state’s service as ultimate judge. Based on this institutional set-up you can safely predict the consequences. First, instead of preventing and resolving conflict, a monopolist of ultimate decision-making will cause and provoke conflict in order to settle it to its own advantage. That is, the state does not recognize and protect existing law, but it perverts law through legislation. Contradiction number one: the state is a law-breaking law protector. Second, instead of defending and protecting anyone or anything, a monopolist of taxation will invariably strive to maximize his expenditures on protection and at the same time minimize the actual production of protection. The more money the state can spend and the less it must work for this money, the better off it is. Contradiction number two: the state is an expropriating property protector.

Daily Bell: Are there any good laws and regulations?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: Yes. There are a few, simple good laws that almost everyone intuitively recognizes and acknowledges and that can also be demonstrated to be “true” and “good” laws. First: If there were no interpersonal conflicts and we all lived in perfect harmony there would be no need for any law or norm. It is the purpose of laws or norms to help avoid otherwise unavoidable conflict. Only laws that achieve this can be called good laws. A law that generates conflict rather than help avoid it is contrary to the purpose of laws, i.e., bad, dysfunctional or perverted law.

Second: Conflicts are possible only if and insofar as goods are scarce. People clash, because they want to use one and the same good in different, incompatible ways. Either I win and get my way or you win and get your way. We cannot both be “winners.” In the case of scarce goods, then, we need rules or laws helping us decide between rival, conflicting claims. In contrast, goods that are “free,” i.e., goods that exist in superabundance, that are inexhaustible or infinitely re-producible, are not and cannot be a source of conflict. Whenever I use a non-scarce good it does not in the slightest diminish the supply of this good available to you. I can do with it what I want and you can do with it what you want at the same time. There is no loser. We are both winners; and hence, as far as non-scarce goods are concerned, there is never any need for laws.

Third: All conflict concerning scarce goods, then, can be avoided if only every good is privately owned, i.e., exclusively controlled by one specified individual(s) rather than another, and it is always clear which thing is owned, and by whom, and which is not. And in order to avoid all possible conflict from the beginning of mankind on, it is only necessary to have a rule regulating the first, original appropriation of previously un-owned, nature-given goods as private property. In sum then, there are essentially three “good laws” that assure conflict-free interaction or “eternal peace:” a) he who first appropriates something previously on-owned is its exclusive owner (as the first appropriator he cannot have come into conflict with anyone else as everyone else appeared on the scene only later); b) he who produces something with his body and homesteaded goods is owner of his product, provided he does not thereby damage the physical integrity of others’ property; and c) he who acquires something from a previous or earlier owner by means of voluntary exchange, i.e., an exchange that is deemed mutually beneficial, is its owner.

Daily Bell: How, then, does one define freedom? As the absence of state coercion?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: A society is free, if every person is recognized as the exclusive owner of his own (scarce) physical body, if everyone is free to appropriate or “homestead” previously un-owned things as private property, if everyone is free to use his body and his homesteaded goods to produce whatever he wants to produce (without thereby damaging the physical integrity of other peoples’ property), and if everyone is free to contract with others regarding their respective properties in any way deemed mutually beneficial. Any interference with this constitutes an act of aggression, and a society is un-free to the extent of such aggressions.

Daily Bell: Where do you stand on copyright? Do you believe that intellectual property doesn’t exist as Kinsella has proposed?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: I agree with my friend Kinsella, that the idea of intellectual property rights is not just wrong and confused but dangerous. And I have already touched upon why this is so. Ideas – recipes, formulas, statements, arguments, algorithms, theorems, melodies, patterns, rhythms, images, etc. – are certainly goods (insofar as they are good, not bad, recipes, etc.), but they are not scarce goods. Once thought and expressed, they are free, inexhaustible goods. I whistle a melody or write down a poem, you hear the melody or read the poem and reproduce or copy it. In doing so you have not taken anything away from me. I can whistle and write as before. In fact, the entire world can copy me and yet nothing is taken from me. (If I didn’t want anyone to copy my ideas I only have to keep them to myself and never express them.)

Now imagine I had been granted a property right in my melody or poem such that I could prohibit you from copying it or demanding a royalty from you if you do. First: Doesn’t that imply, absurdly, that I, in turn, must pay royalties to the person (or his heirs) who invented whistling and writing, and further on to those, who invented sound-making and language, and so on? Second: In preventing you from or making you pay for whistling my melody or reciting my poem, I am actually made a (partial) owner of you: of your physical body, your vocal chords, your paper, your pencil, etc. because you did not use anything but your own property when you copied me. If you can no longer copy me, then, this means that I, the intellectual property owner, have expropriated you and your “real” property. Which shows: intellectual property rights and real property rights are incompatible, and the promotion of intellectual property must be seen as a most dangerous attack on the idea of “real” property (in scarce goods).

Daily Bell: We have suggested that if people want to enforce generational copyright that they do so on their own, taking on the expense and attempting through various means to confront copyright violators with their own resources. This would put the onus of enforcement on the pocket book of the individual. Is this a viable solution – to let the market itself decide these issues?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: That would go a long way in the right direction. Better still: more and more courts in more and more countries, especially countries outside the orbit of the US dominated Western government cartel, would make it clear that they don’t hear cases of copyright and patent violations any longer and regard such complaints as a ruse of big Western government-connected firms, such as pharmaceutical companies, for instance, to enrich themselves at the expense of other people.

Daily Bell: What do you think of Ragnar Redbeard’s Might Is Right?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: You can give two very different interpretations to this statement. I see no difficulty with the first one. It is: I know the difference between “might” and “right” and, as a matter of empirical fact, might is in fact frequently right. Most if not all of “public law,” for instance, is might masquerading as right. The second interpretation is: I don’t know the difference between “might” and “right,” because there is no difference. Might is right and right is might. This interpretation is self-contradictory. Because if you wanted to defend this statement as a true statement in an argument with someone else you are in fact recognizing your opponent’s property right in his own body. You do not aggress against him in order to bring him to the correct insight. You allow him to come to the correct insight on his own. That is, you admit, at least implicitly, that you do know the difference between right and wrong. Otherwise there would be no purpose in arguing. The same, incidentally, is true for Hobbes’ famous dictum that one man is another man’s wolf. In claiming this statement to be true, you actually prove it to be false.

Daily Bell: It has been suggested that the only way to reorganize society is via a return to the clans and tribes that characterized homo-sapiens communities for tens of thousands of years? Is it possible that as part of this devolution, clan or tribal justice could be re-emphasized?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: I don’t think that we, in the Western world, can go back to clans and tribes. The modern, democratic state has destroyed clans and tribes and their hierarchical structures, because they stood in the way of the state’s drive toward absolute power. With clans and tribes gone, we must try it with the model of a private law society that I have described. But wherever traditional, hierarchical clan and tribe structures still exist, they should be supported and attempts to “modernize” “archaic” justice systems along Western lines should be viewed with utmost suspicion.

Daily Bell: You have also written extensively on money and monetary affairs. Is a gold standard necessary for a free society?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: in a free society, the market would produce money, as all other goods and services. There would be no such thing as money in a world that was perfectly certain and predictable. But in a world with unpredictable contingencies people come to value goods also on account of their marketability or salability, i.e., as media of exchange. And since a more easily and widely salable good is preferable to a less easily and widely salable good as a medium of exchange, there is an inevitable tendency in the market for a single commodity to finally emerge that differs from all others in being the most easily and widely salable commodity of all. This commodity is called money. As the most easily salable good of all it provides its owner with the best humanly possible protection against uncertainty in that it can be employed for the instant satisfaction of the widest range of possible needs. Economic theory has nothing to say as to what commodity will acquire the status of money. Historically, it happened to be gold. But if the physical make-up of our world would have been different or is to become different from what it is now, some other commodity would have become or might become money. The market will decide. In any case, there is no need for government to get involved in any of this. The market has provided and will provide some money-commodity, and the production of that commodity, whatever it is, is subject to the same forces of supply and demand as the production of everything else.

Daily Bell: How about the free-banking paradigm? Is private fractional banking ever to be tolerated or is it a crime? Who is to put people in jail for private fractional banking?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: Assume gold is money. In a free society you have free competition in gold-mining, you have free competition in gold-minting, and you have freely competing banks. The banks offer various financial services: of money safekeeping, clearing services, and the service of mediating between savers and borrower-investors. Each bank issues its own brand of “notes” or “certificates” documenting the various transactions and resulting contractual relations between bank and client. These bank-notes are freely tradable. So far so good. Controversial among free bankers is only the status of fractional reserve deposit banking and bank notes. Let’s say A deposits 10 ounces of gold with a bank and receives a note (a money substitute) redeemable at par on demand. Based on A’s deposit, then, the bank makes a loan to C of 9 ounces of gold and issues a note to this effect, again redeemable at par on demand.

Should this be permitted? I don’t think so. For there are now two people, A and C, who are the exclusive owner of one and the same quantity of money. A logical impossibility. Or put differently, there are only 10 ounces of gold, but A is given title to 10 ounces and C holds title to 9 ounces. That is, there are more property titles than there is property. Obviously this constitutes fraud, and in all areas except money, courts have also considered such a practice fraud and punished the offenders. On the other hand, there is no problem if the bank tells A that it will pay interest on his deposit, invest it, for instance, in a money market mutual fund made up of highly liquid short-term financial papers, and make its best efforts to redeem A’s shares in that investment fund on demand in a fixed quantity of money. Such shares may well be very popular and many people may put their money into them instead of into regular deposit accounts. But as shares of investment funds they would never function as money. They would never be the most easily and widely saleable commodity of all.

Daily Bell: Where do you stand on the current central banking paradigm? Is central banking as it is currently constituted the central disaster of our time?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: Central banks are certainly one of the greatest mischief-makers of our time. They, and in particular the FED, have been responsible for destroying the gold standard, which has always been an obstacle to inflationary policies, and replacing it, since 1971, with a pure paper money standard (fiat money). Since then, central banks can create money virtually out of thin air. More paper money cannot make a society richer, of course, – it is just more printed-paper. Otherwise, why is it that there are still poor countries and poor people around? But more money makes its monopolistic producer (the central bank) and its earliest recipients (the government and big, government-connected banks and their major clients) richer at the expense of making the money’s late and latest receivers poorer.

Thanks to the central bank’s unlimited money printing power, governments can run ever higher budget deficits and pile up ever more debt to finance otherwise impossible wars, hot and cold, abroad and at home, and engage in an endless stream of otherwise unthinkable boondoggles and adventures. Thanks to the central bank, most “monetary experts” and “leading macro-economists” can, by putting them on the payroll, be turned into government propagandists “explaining,” like alchemists, how stones (paper) can be turned into bread (wealth). Thanks to the central bank, interest rates can be artificially lowered all the way down to zero, channeling credit into less and least credit-worthy projects and hands (and crowding out worthy projects and hands), and causing ever greater investment bubble-booms, followed by ever more spectacular busts. And thanks to the central bank, we are confronted with a dramatically increasing threat of an impending hyperinflation when the chicken finally come home to roost and the piper must be paid.

Daily Bell: We have often pointed out that the Seven Hills of Rome were initially independent societies just like the Italian city-states during the Renaissance and the 13 colonies of the US Republic. It seems great empires start as individual communities where people can leave one community if they are oppressed and go nearby to start afresh. What is the driving force behind this process of centralization? What are the building blocks of Empire?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: All states must begin small. That makes it easy for people to run away. Yet states are by nature aggressive, as I have already explained. They can externalize the cost of aggression onto others, i.e., hapless tax-payers. They don’t like to see productive people run away and try to capture them by expanding their territory. The more productive people the state controls, the better off it will be. In this expansionist desire, they run into opposition by other states. There can be only one monopolist of ultimate jurisdiction and taxation in any given territory. That is, the competition between different states is eliminative. Either A wins and controls a territory, or B. Who wins? At least in the long run, that state will win – and take over another’s territory or establish hegemony over it and force it to pay tribute – that can parasitically draw on the comparatively more productive economy. That is, other things being the same, internally more “liberal” states (in the classic European sense of “liberal”) will tend to win over less “liberal,” i.e., illiberal or oppressive states.

Looking only at modern history, we can so explain first the rise of liberal Great Britain to the rank of the foremost world Empire and then, subsequently, that of the liberal US. And we can understand a seeming paradox: why it is, that internally liberal imperial powers like the US tend to be more aggressive and belligerent in their foreign policy than internally oppressive powers, such as the former Soviet Union. The liberal US Empire was sure to win with its foreign wars and military adventures, while the oppressive Soviet Union was afraid that it might lose.

But Empire building also bears the seeds of its own destruction. The closer a state comes to the ultimate goal of world domination and one-world government, the less reason is there to maintain its internal liberalism and do instead what all states are inclined to do anyway, i.e., to crack down and increase their exploitation of whatever productive people are still left. Consequently, with no additional tributaries available and domestic productivity stagnating or falling, the Empire’s internal policies of bread and circuses can no longer be maintained. Economic crisis hits, and an impending economic meltdown will stimulate decentralizing tendencies, separatist and secessionist movements, and lead to the break-up of Empire. We have seen this happen with Great Britain, and we are seeing it now, with the US and its Empire apparently on its last leg.

There is also an important monetary side to this process. The dominant Empire typically provides the leading international reserve currency, first Britain with the pound sterling and then the US with the dollar. With the dollar used as reserve currency by foreign central banks, the US can run a permanent “deficit without tears.” That is, the US must not pay for its steady excesses of imports over exports, as it is normal between “equal” partners, in having to ship increasingly more exports abroad (exports paying for imports). Rather: Instead of using their export earnings to buy American goods for domestic consumption, foreign governments and their central banks, as a sign of their vassal status vis-à-vis a dominant US, use their paper dollar reserves to buy up US government bonds to help Americans to continue consuming beyond their means.

I do not know enough about China to understand why it is using its huge dollar reserves to buy up US government bonds. After all, China is not supposed to be a part of the US Empire. Maybe its rulers have read too many American economics textbooks and now believe in alchemy, too. But if only China would dump its US treasuries and accumulate gold reserves instead, that would be the end of the US Empire and the dollar as we know it.

Daily Bell: Is it possible that a shadow of impossibly wealthy families located in the City of London is partially responsible for all this? Do these families and their enablers seek world government by elites? Is it a conspiracy? Do you see the world in these terms: as a struggle between the centralizing impulses of elites and the more democratic impulses of the rest of society?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: I’m not sure if conspiracy is still the right word, because in the meantime, thanks to people such as Carroll Quigley, for instance, much is known about what is going on. In any case, it is certainly true that there are such impossibly rich families, sitting in London, New York City, Tel Aviv and elsewhere, who have recognized the immense potential for personal enrichment in the process of State- and Empire-building. The heads of big banking houses played a key role in the founding of the FED, because they realized that central banking would allow their own banks to inflate and expand credit on top of money and credit created by the central bank, and that a “lender of last resort” was instrumental in allowing them to reap private profits as long as things would go well and to socialize costs if they wouldn’t.

They realized that the classical gold standard stood as a natural impediment to inflation and credit expansion, and so they helped set up first a phony gold standard (the gold exchange standard) and then, after 1971, a pure fiat money regime. They realized that a system of freely fluctuating national fiat currencies was still imperfect as far as inflationist desires are concerned, in that the supremacy of the dollar could be threatened by other, competing currencies such as a strong German Mark, for instance; and in order to reduce and weaken this competition they supported “monetary integration” schemes such as the creation of a European Central Bank (ECB) and the Euro.

And they realized that their ultimate dream of unlimited counterfeiting power would come true, if only they succeeded in creating a US dominated world central bank issuing a world paper currency such as the bancor or the phoenix; and so they helped set up and finance a multitude of organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, etc., that promote this goal. As well, leading industrialists recognized the tremendous profits to be made from state-granted monopolies, from state-subsidies, and from exclusive cost-plus contracts in freeing or shielding them from competition, and so they, too, have allied themselves to and “infiltrated” the state.

There are “accidents” in history, and there are carefully planned actions that bring about consequences which are unintended and unanticipated. But history is not just a sequence of accidents and surprises. Most of it is designed and intended. Not by common folks, of course, but by the power elites in control of the state apparatus. If one wants to prevent history from running its present, foreseeable course to unprecedented economic disaster, then, it is indeed imperative to arouse public indignation by exposing, relentlessly, the evil motives and machinations of these power elites, not just of those working within the state apparatus, but in particular also of those staying outside, behind the scenes and pulling the strings.

Daily Bell: It has been our contention that just as the Gutenberg press blew up existing social structures in its day, so the Internet is doing that today. We believe the Internet may be ushering in a new Renaissance after the Dark Age of the 20th century. Agree? Disagree?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: It is certainly true that both inventions revolutionized society and greatly improved our lives. It is difficult to imagine what it would be to go back to the pre-internet age or the pre-Gutenberg era. I am skeptical, however, if technological revolutions in and of themselves also bring about moral progress and an advance toward greater freedom. I am more inclined to think that technology and technological advances are “neutral” in this regard. The Internet can be used to unearth and spread the truth as much as to spread lies and confusion. It has given us unheard of possibilities to evade and undermine our enemy the state, but it has also given the state unheard of possibilities of spying on us and ruining us. We are richer today, with the Internet, than we were, let’s say, in 1900, without it (and we are richer not because of the state but in spite of it). But I would emphatically deny that we are freer today than we were in 1900. Quite to the contrary.

Daily Bell: Any final thoughts? Can you tell us what you are working on now? Any books or websites you would like to recommend?

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: I once deviated from my principle not to speak about my work until it was done. I have regretted this deviation. It was a mistake that I won’t repeat. As for books, I recommend above all reading the major works of my two masters, Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, not just once, but repeatedly from time to time. Their work is still unsurpassed and will remain so for a long time to come. As for websites, I go most regularly to mises.org and to lewrockwell.com. As for other sites: I have been called an extremist, a reactionary, a revisionist, an elitist, a supremacist, a racist, a homophobe, an anti-Semite, a right-winger, a theocrat, a godless cynic, a fascist and, of course, a must for every German, a Nazi. So, it should be expected that I have a foible for politically “incorrect” sites that every “modern,” “decent,” “civilized,” “tolerant,” and “enlightened” man is supposed to ignore and avoid.

Daily Bell: Thank you for your time in answering these questions. It has been a special honor to address them to you in the context of your remarkable work.

Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe: You’re welcome.

Voting is Evil – Christine Smith

From the web:

 

Indiana prosecutor told Wisconsin governor to stage ‘false flag’ operation

Here’s the full story

on “supporting the military”

Michael Rozeff writes:

Yellow ribbons pasted on cars is the least of the support given to the military by Americans. In a blog, Laurence Vance reports on third-graders singing “Thank You Soldiers.” Stephan Kinsella reports an airplane flight attendant thanking members of the military on board “for their service.”

These reports encourage me to report on an incident about which I had previously decided to keep quiet, for there may be a nationwide trend going on here that should be brought out into the open. Of even greater importance is a serious intellectual issue. Is support of the military a political action or is it a neutral action? Can one separate support for the military personnel from what the military does, or from its obedience to military actions that one finds objectionable?

This story and the debate on these questions will be told without my editorializing. Instead I will display the contents of e-mails. They contain the debate. They contain my side of it, and they contain that of my opponents.

The story began on February 7 at 9:25 a.m. when I got an e-mail from a committee of the School of Management (SOM) at University at Buffalo. This is where I used to work. The committee is called Strengthen Our Sense of Community Committee. It informed me

“The UB School of Management SSCC (Strengthen Our Sense Of Community Committee) is working with AMillionThanks.org to send thank-you notes to members of our military (active, reserve and veterans). During the week of February 7 to 11, there will be a table set up in the Alfiero Center Atrium. Please stop down and write a brief note of appreciation and gratitude to send to our men and women serving our country. We have over 200 note cards to fill out, please spread the word!”

Six members of the committee signed this appeal.

At 10:11 a.m., I sent a bluntly worded e-mail to the Dean of the SOM:

“The SSCC sent me this strange request. I don’t know whose idea this was, but it’s a bad idea. The UB School of Management should not be involved in politics! This kind of thing supports the military, but such support is a political thing. A huge number of people object to using the military in such ventures as Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as many, many other places in the world. Therefore, such support coming from UB definitely takes a political position that is not neutral. The School has no business taking such a stance. I won’t wash the School’s dirty linen in public, but if this idea is not dropped, I surely will inform the Provost and the President of the University.”

The Dean replied to me that night at 11:44 p.m., writing

“Thank you for your e-mail. I appreciate the concern you have expressed. I wish to assure you that the School of Management should absolutely stay out of politics, to me this is axiomatic in the academic community. However, I do not agree that the SSCC request indicates a political position. This is a volunteer activity that supports a segment of our society that serves the nation. I venture to think that veterans can be worthy of gratitude for their service without regard to their particular assignments, just as I do not consider the Vietnam memorial as a glorification of that war. It is entirely possible that others may disagree with this view, in which case they would opt not to respond to [SSCC’s] call. To my mind, suppressing an activity like this goes against the spirit of free exchange of ideas that the academy should preserve. It would also put the dean in the unwelcome position of favoring one cause over another, which I would be loathe to do. I will try to be vigilant that future volunteer efforts of this kind maked [sic] the non-political nature of the effort more explicit.”

At 5:30 a.m. the next morning, having read the Dean’s reply, I responded at some length as follows:

“I wish I could agree with you 100%, but I cannot, for I find contradictions in your thinking about this.

“1. You say ‘…absolutely stay out of politics…’ That is my position too, and I agree it’s ‘axiomatic’.

“2. Does the SSCC activity breach this axiom? Yes, indeed. How else are we to understand what I was told? It says ‘The UB School of Management SSCC (Strengthen OurSense Of Community Committee) is working with AmillionThanks.org to send thank-you notes to members of our military(active, reserve and veterans). During the week of February 7 to 11, there will be a table set up in the Alfiero Center Atrium. Please stop down and write a brief note of appreciation and gratitude to send to our men and women serving our country. We have over 200 note cards to fill out, please spread the word!’

“The SSCC decided this was a worthwhile activity. It decided to partner with a supportive group. It designated a time and place, within the SOM, as a locus for the activity. It asked people and encouraged them to participate. It took the political position that these men and women are serving the country, when that is the very thing that is non-neutral, for many believe they are not serving the country but other interests and the State. They encouraged spreading the word.

“They advertised the organization AMillionThanks. Its activity is thoroughly political. I quote [from their website]: ‘A Million Thanks is a year-round campaign to show our appreciation for our U.S. Military Men and Women, past and present, for their sacrifices, dedication, and service to our country through our letters, emails, cards, and prayers.’ Who do you think commands them? The executive-in-chief. To do what? Aren’t wars political? Who pays for these wars? How? Through taxes. Aren’t those politically determined?

“What do you think all of that activity is, if not political activity?

“I have strongly to disagree with you.

“To make my point, what if the SSCC had done the opposite? What if it partnered with a peace group and encouraged a campaign to ask Congress to stop funding these wars? What if it organized a campaign of writing letters to soldiers asking them to STAND DOWN and not obey immoral orders in immoral wars that kill civilians? What if it organized protests against some egregious activities of soldiers in these wars?

“Would you tell me that this is not political?

“I shouldn’t have to spell this out for you. You are an intelligent man. I think you have not thought through this clearly enough, and so I have to make you understand that your position is superficial and wrong in being inconsistent with the axiom that you propose and that is correct.

“There are those who are grateful to the military, but there are those who are not. That is true. That implies that the SOM should not take a position one way or another by the activities involved in providing a locus and focus for one side and encouraging the expression of one side.

“You express a very naive attitude toward this, which is that support of troops in this way doesn’t support the activities that these troops engage in, but it does. It is merely one step removed, because these troops join and are paid to do these tasks. The money is exacted by the government. The troops willingly become part of a political process that has a military manifestation.

“I request that you stop this activity as quickly as possible and certainly do nothing like it in the future. If that prohibition needs to be made explicit in the code of the SOM, that should be done.”

At 8:46 a.m., the Dean replied:

“It is clear that we disagree. I have nothing further to contribute as I do not find it appropriate for a dean to engage in a discussion of political leanings or preferences.”

I then informed the Provost, as I said I would. I left the President out of it since he has resigned. I sent the Provost all the e-mails and added these comments:

“It seems to me that the SOM is engaging in political activity when it should not. The Dean and I disagree on this.

“A committee in the SOM is acting as a locus and focus to encourage a letter-writing campaign to U.S. military personnel.

“My ideas on this and the Dean’s ideas are contained in the attached exchange of e-mails.

“I’d like to see the SOM cease this activity and return to a true state of neutrality, which means saying and doing nothing one way or another with respect to military personnel. Disengagement seems to me to be neutral.

“Dean Assad seems to think that using SOM facilities, committees, and batch e-mails to promote letters to the military is neutral. I do not. That takes a stance in favor of the military who have joined the armed forces willingly and who willingly become instruments of the political policies of U.S. administrations. Since these by nature are political and meet with disagreement in the nation, I do not see how the Dean’s position can be maintained. I think he is wrong and that the activity is wrong. I want to see it stopped.”

On Wednesday, I had a few further thoughts and passed them on to the Provost:

“Dear Dr. Tripathi,

“As you deliberate, consider another thing. In re-reading what Arjang said in his reply, I realize that he has made an argument that supports my contention. He wrote

“‘This is a volunteer activity that supports a segment of our society that serves the nation. I venture to think that veterans can be worthy of gratitude for their service without regard to their particular assignments, just as I do not consider the Vietnam memorial as a glorification of that war. It is entirely possible that others may disagree with this view, in which case they would opt not to respond to [SSCC’s] call.’

“He asserted his opinion that the activity supports ‘our society’ that ‘serves the nation’. But he admits that ‘others may disagree with this view.’ Yes, they may. That indicates that the activity is not neutral.

“In his view, what makes it neutral is that it is a ‘volunteer’ activity and that those who disagree with it can ‘opt out’. But is that true? I think not. The fact that one is not required to participate (participation is voluntary) doesn’t make it neutral politically. Imagine that this committee or some other one now comes along and looks for letters to Congress that protest against the use of the military in Iraq, or against some other current issue like national health insurance, and suppose these letters are voluntary. Does that make the activity neutral? It means that the SOM has become a forum for political matters, that e-mails are being sent in batches to everyone promoting positions, and that space is being used, and time of employees being used for political positioning. This, I say, is not neutral to politics.

“Arjang goes on to say ‘To my mind, suppressing an activity like this goes against the spirit of free exchange of ideas that the academy should preserve. It would also put the dean in the unwelcome position of favoring one cause over another, which I would be loathe to do.’ But since when is it the mission of the SOM to air political conflicts and to promote support for one side or another? And, more fundamentally, is letter-writing an aspect of any ‘free exchange of ideas’? Does Arjang propose to use the SOM facilities to have a debate on the role of the U.S. military? That would be more in line with an academic mission. It might not be the SOM’s bailiwick, but it would be consistent with a university. But taking one side of such a debate is not.

“Is the Dean favoring one cause over another by promoting this activity? I say he is. He says that if he disallowed this campaign, he’d be suppressing the free exchange of ideas. I think that is nonsense. There’s no exchange going on in this. It’s strictly one-sided. There is no SOM committee or statement that I know of that has opened up the SOM for political debates and begun to promote the school as a locus for airing particular political postures. If there were and if this activity were done properly in such a context, it might lend it the credibility that Arjang seeks. Even then, would this be a credible avenue for such activity? It doesn’t look that way. It would need a neutral committee to promote debates and exchanges. This committee has not been formed in that way or with that purpose by the appearance of its communications or by what it has chosen to do.”

“Cordially,

“Michael

This missive resulted in silence. Days passed. On February 18, I sent an e-mail to Provost Tripathi:

“Dear Dr. Tripathi,

“It’s now 9-10 days since I communicated to you, in detail, my concerns about political activity within the SOM.

“What have you decided on this matter?

“Cordially,

“Michael Rozeff (Professor Emeritus)”

Dr. Tripathi answered the next day:

“Dear Professor Rozeff,

“I apologize for my belated response. I have given this matter thought. Indeed, we are mindful that some may view the efforts of the Strengthen our Sense of Community Committee as having a political message. From my vantage point, I believe that this particular activity is, on balance, probably more aptly deemed a community service activity. This is a completely voluntary effort and faculty and staff can chose [sic] to participate or chose [sic] not to participate. I know that my perspective on this does not conform with your perspective, but as academics I think we are use [sic] to people approaching issues from different frames of reference. As I write, I know that this is not the response you were seeking, but I do hope that at least we can respect our differences of opinion at least on this matter.

“Sincerely,

“SatishTripathi”

The entire interchange ended with my final e-mail sent to Dr. Tripathi an hour later:

“Dear Dr. Tripathi,

“You know, if you had been willing to give just a little, we could find a solution. If you had simply said that in the future you’d instruct the committee to be more mindful of the kind of concerns expressed by me and to make a concerted effort to avoid any hint of political involvement, that would have sufficed.

“You didn’t do that. Instead you told me what your belief is about this particular activity. That means you were 100% nonresponsive to me and my concerns. You gave them no weight. Only your judgment mattered.

“Well, I’m sorry, but I find that an unacceptable response on your part.

“Therefore, I ask you to reconsider along the lines I’ve just mentioned. Does it not seem reasonable that the committee be made to know from you that it needs to be more mindful of crossing boundaries that should not be crossed? Doesn’t it need to know that cystic fibrosis is not the same as supporting war? Doesn’t it need to know that ‘community’ is not a catchall phrase that justifies support of everything involving any community in America? After all, there are good and bad communities.

“Sincerely,

“Michael Rozeff”

I never got an answer.

An interesting thing happened on March 17. Tripathi was chosen to be UB’s next President.

I really did not expect to change much immediately. At most I expected to plant seeds of doubt, so that the next time something like this arises, people will think twice about what they are doing. Raising doubts is a step in awakening consciousness.

It is dismaying that people who possess ordinary intelligence do not see that support of the military is a political position, and that turning a blind eye to such support in a business school is biased in favor of a political position, which in this case is pro-militarism.

I was taken aback by this military support coming to roost in a business school. This committee has all sorts of community efforts that it can support and has supported, such as its effort on cystic fibrosis. The fact that it chose to support the military could be, in my opinion, a sign of people refusing to face unpleasant facts about what the American military has been and is doing overseas. Hearing criticism, many people whose being is associated with the nation-state respond by asserting the value of the military and expressing support of it. A person indoctrinated into a supine patriotism of flag-waving and blind support of the state and its wars will naturally rally to its defense against criticism, because their person has been lost or diminished as a result of the indoctrination. They have submerged themselves into the state. Freeing them from these beliefs requires patience and continual exposure to ideas of freedom, peace, and government to which they are unaccustomed. Plant seeds and wait for their fruition. Don’t expect instant conversions. It takes time to shed old beliefs and take on new ones.

Gold as the Silent Witness

Dan Norcini writes:

I wanted to post some brief comments to let some of the newer readers understand why many of us believe that there is a war being waged upon gold by the Central Banks of the West.

Let me start this off by quoting from none other than former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan more than 40 years ago:

In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. … This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard

What the former Fed Chairman was then saying was that absent a gold standard or some device for restraining the unlimited creation of fiat money, there was nothing to impede monetary officials from engaging in such activity to the extent that it would ultimately set in motion a process of inflation, which is really just another name for the erosion of the purchasing power of a nation’s currency by debasing it. Inflation was and is in essence, the transfer of wealth from one class to another.

Today we have the Fed engaging in the very process that Greenspan warned against back then. We also have the BOJ and the ECB effectively doing the same thing to an extent.

Unlike Silver, Gold is the main metal that most analysts and commentators look to when attempting to decipher whether or not inflation is a serious problem. That means the reference point of gold has become a target for Central Banks which want the world to believe that they can create unlimited amounts of funny money with absolutely ZERO impact on inflation levels. In other words, that they can conjure up wealth and produce prosperity with the electronic equivalent of a printing press and produce no serious inflationary impact by so doing.

A rising gold debunks their hubristic assertions to the contrary for it stands as a silent witness testifying against them. This is the reason the yellow metal is despised by so many Central Banks. It mocks their policies and displays their folly for all the world to see. Central Bankers, being the demigods that they are, will tolerate no rivals to their claims of economic omniscience. You see they have actually come to believe that it is their own wisdom and foresight which enables them to see through the fog that hinders and impedes our economic progress and that they are in a unique position to provide the rest of us with lasting prosperity. They attempt to do this by basically providing or withdrawing liquidity as they in their wisdom judge best and by the setting or manipulation of interest rates.

Those of us who believe that it is free market capitalism and the industry and efforts of mankind that produce wealth and prosperity would beg to differ but that is another story altogether. I would add that it is my opinion that the world would be better off without this plague of locusts that actually devour a nation’s wealth but the fact is that they are here.

While they are here gold will attempt to move in such a manner that it either blesses or curses their policies. Now we all would love to have our policies approved by the vote of the market but what about those times in which the market frowns on our course of action and refuses to smile upon it? Why this is but a simple matter – attack the messenger! If one can somehow manage to keep the price of gold under wrap so that it does not move sharply higher then one can attempt to make the claim that inflation is not a serious problem. The comments usually go something like this:

“Well Jerry, we are looking at the gold price and from what we can see, that while it is definitely higher, it is not soaring out of control. The market may be pricing in some gradual inflation but the action in the gold price is telling us that any fears of inflation getting out of control are definitely unwarranted. Besides, we all agree that some inflation is a good thing because the alternative is deflation and no one wants to see that”.

Imagine Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testifying before Congress saying that the current rise in prices of many goods is only “temporary” and “relatively modest” if the gold price were soaring beyond $1650 and higher! Do you think anyone would take anything that the Chairman said seriously? Copper can soar higher and most will not notice it. Even if it does, it is generally explained as a positive because we are told it is a sign of strong economic growth ahead. Crude oil and energy prices can rocket higher and that can be attributed to geopolitical unrest among oil producing nations. Food can rise sharply and everyone notices that but such things are often explained away by citing weather conditions, supply constraints, etc. but a rising gold price? How does one explain that away?

The only reason that gold has a sustained price rise is because of a lack of confidence in the monetary system. It does not rise sharply because of such things as jewelry demand or industrial demand – it rises when fear, distrust, doubt, suspicion and uncertainty over Central Bank policy reigns. It rises when REAL interest rates are negative and investors understand the insidious process of currency debauchment practiced by these monetary authorities is underway. It thus cries aloud and issues a warning to those who can hear it and what it shouts displeases many Central Bankers because they are among those who while they despise its message, are all too keenly able to hear that message.

Thus the messenger, the prophet, the oracle, must be silenced or at the very least, his message blunted, toned down, marginalized, trivialized by whatever means possible. The mechanism employed to do just this is a subject for another time and place. Suffice it to say for now, without the efforts by the monetary officials of the West to discredit gold, it would be trading considerably higher. Even at that however, the ancient metal of kings refuses to go quietly and docilely into the night. It will yet have the final say.

It’s Time to Get Government Out of the Major Emergency Response Business – Robert Wenzell

From Robert Wenzell:

As pictures are splashed across the internet and television news broadcasts of the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, one thought comes to my mind, the government is the last organization we should count on in a major emergency.

In these times of over-spending by government in all kinds of directions spending for government major emergency response should be completely eliminated.

No doubt, most of those left homeless and those walking around like zombies on the streets of Japan and, who knew a  bad earthquake or tsunami could hit their area, were counting on a rescue from the government if such a disaster hit. Huh.

Like those in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, those impacted by the earthquake are quickly learning that government assistance amounts to the government possibly taking over a high school gym and sticking you on a cot, with long lines for terrible army rations food.

I mean, what do most people expect? This is the government. It’s the same outfit where you will find long lines and surly help at the post office and the DMV. The same outfit that can’t figure out how to educate those in the poorest sections of town. And the same outfit that, at the airport, treats your grandmother, literally, as a potential terrorist.

Is it any wonder that no matter what the emergency that government doesn’t act until after the fact? Duh! A dike break in New Orleans. An earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Shouldn’t people have a quality emergency plan before such events? It’s not like, say, a major earthquake hitting Los Angeles is going to come as a major surprise. Yet, if such an earthquake hits Los Angeles, few know now where they are going to go and what they will do, if they are caught up in such an earthquake. Most of the emergencies that the government comes to rescue on are emergencies that can be seen as possibilities ages before the events occur, such as a Los Angeles earthquake. And much better solutions can be developed than, after the crisis, at the scene, rushed FEMA-type refugee camps.

But with most people thinking that they should count on government for a solution in a crisis, there is limited demand for private sector solutions and what we get is typical after the fact shoddy response from government. I say its time we pull the plug on government “response”. Once the plug is pulled, I fully expect the private sector to fill the gap with quality emergency response solutions, get this, IN ADVANCE.

Yes, we will have to put up with emergency response salesmen who will be explaining the different options we will have during a crisis. How much living space we will get in our emergency quarters, the quality of the food, how many television channels we will get on our emergency television etc. The different location options, depending where an earthquake does damage. But that’s one helluva better option than the government after the fact “response” of sticking everyone in a smelly gym, on a cot.

Now, I have not gone beyond, a discussion of emergency quarters and food, because you just don’t know what innovations that the free market will come up with once people in the private sector start thinking of options and solutions.

It’s very likely that some companies will even provide emergency response for the travelling businessman. If he is in Los Angeles, he is covered there against earthquakes. If he is in New York City, he is provided shelter if a suitcase bomb goes off in the city. Perhaps, there will be general disasters coverage. Someone else, who doesn’t travel, may decide to only be covered for a particular location, against all disasters in that location. Hell, the gym I belong to, sells options for multi-locations and just one location. Someone is sure to come up with the same options for emergency response.

Again, I repeat, the types of emergencies that may develop in an area can generally be largely foreseen in advance. And can be prepared for in advance. That this isn’t being done now on an individual basis is simply because most people can’t think out of the box and propaganda that “government will be there to help”.

Government largely exists to protect itself, just take a look at the poor folks in Libya, or ask Bradley Manning, who hasn’t been convicted for a crime but is being mentally tortured.

Once the government fiction is removed that the government is the best and only organization that can respond to a crisis, we will see private sector business open up and develop pre-planned emergency options. I would anticipate that once economies of scale kick in, the cost of such emergency options would be fairly reasonable.  For those, however, who do not have the funds to purchase advance emergency protection, there is nothing wrong with various charity services providing assistance, but this FEMA style herding of everyone into the largest building in the area has to stop.

Let’s End FEMA, abolish it’s budget and turn major emergency response over to the private sector.