- Daily Bell: 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.
The unprecedented success of Keynesianism is due to the fact that it provides an apparent justification for the “deficit spending” policies of contemporary governments. It is the pseudo-philosophy of those who can think of nothing else than to dissipate the capital accumulated by previous generations.
Yet no effusions of authors however brilliant and sophisticated can alter the perennial economic laws. They.. work and take care of themselves. Not-withstanding all the passionate fulminations of the spokesmen of governments, the inevitable consequences of inflationism and expansionism as depicted by the “orthodox” economists are coming to pass. And then, very late indeed, even simple people will discover that Keynes did not teach us how to perform the “miracle… of turning a stone into bread,” but the not at all miraculous procedure of eating the seed corn.” —Ludwig von Mises, Planning for Freedom, p.71
- Your professors generally don’t know what you’re talking about
- You realize that bathroom lines in stadiums are a result of prices being too low
- Being in line for anything makes you think of the Soviet Union
- You extend that analysis to include traffic jams
- You know the other person’s argument better than the other person
- You incorporate malinvestment into conversations
- You get paid, and feel it is utterly worthless because the currency didn’t originate in the market
- You can pick Stephan Kinsella, Jeffrey Tucker, Peter Klein and Joe Salerno out of a lineup
- You know Margit von Mises’ pet name for her husband
- You’re on mises.org at 2:30am
- You realise markets don’t fail, only governments do
- You start using terms like “time-preference” in everyday conversations
- You get annoyed when someone implies that the value of something is not subjective, as in “this house is selling below its true value.”
- You know what the words a priori, methodenstreit, and verstehen mean
- You tend to disagree with everyone in a conversation about politics or economics
- Ron Paul talks about something besides war and still makes sense to you
What would a free market in legal services be like?
I am always tempted to give the honest and accurate response to this challenge, which is that to ask the question is to miss the point… It is possible to describe what a free market in shoes would be like because we have one. But such a description is merely an observation of the current state of a functioning market, not a projection of how human beings would organize themselves to supply a currently non-marketed good. To demand that an advocate of free market law (or Socrates of Monosizea, for that matter) describe in advance how markets would supply legal services (or shoes) is to issue an impossible challenge.” —John Hasnas, The Myth of the Rule of Law
The history of thought and ideas is a discourse carried on from generation to generation. The thinking of later ages grows out of the thinking of earlier ages. Without the aid of this stimulation intellectual progress would have been impossible. The continuity of human evolution, sowing for the offspring and harvesting on land cleared and tilled by the ancestors, manifests itself also in the history of science and ideas.
We have inherited from our forefathers not only a stock of products of various orders of goods which is the source of our material wealth; we have no less inherited ideas and thoughts, theories and technologies to which our thinking owes its productivity. But thinking is always a manifestation of individuals.” —Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, p.178