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.
“In retrospect, it is clear that libertarians and Old Rightists, including myself, had made a great mistake in endorsing domestic red-baiting, a red-baiting that proved to be the major entering wedge for the complete transformation of the original right wing. We should have listened more carefully to Frank Chodorov, and to his splendidly libertarian stand on domestic redbaiting: “How to get rid of the communists in the government? Easy. Just abolish the jobs.” It was the jobs and their functioning that was the important thing, not the quality of the people who happened to fill them.”—Murray N. Rothbard, Betrayal of the American Right, p.162
The MPAA & RIAA claim that the internet is stealing billions of dollars worth of their property by sharing copies of files. They’re willing to destroy the internet with things like SOPA & PIPA in an attempt to collect that money.
Hundreds of years ago a Japanese judge (Ōoka Tadasuke) handled a lawsuit by a paranoid innkeeper who accused a poor student of literally stealing the fumes of his cooking by eating when the innkeeper was cooking to flavour his dull food. Although his colleagues advised Ōoka to throw the case out as ridiculous, he decided to hear the case. The judge resolved the matter by ordering the student to pass the money he had in one hand to his other and ruling that the price of the smell of food is the sound of money. — Wikipedia
Let’s just pay them the money! They’ve made it very clear that they consider digital copies to be just as valuable as the original. That makes it a lot easier to pay them back in two ways:
We can email them scanned images of dollar bills instead of bulky paper
We don’t have to worry about the hassle of shipping huge quantities of cash
How to Help
Take a picture or scan an image of your money. Send digital copies to the MPAA & RIAA in whatever quantity you feel you can afford. Don’t go overboard. If you can only afford 20 copies then that’s good enough. If enough people contribute we should be able to fully satisify even their most outrageous demands.
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.
“Upon entering the university, I too was an etatist, through and through. I differed from my fellow students, however, in that I was consciously anti-Marxist. At the time I knew little of Marx’s writings, but was acquainted with most important works of Kautsky. I was an avid reader of the Neue Zeit, and had followed the revisionist debate with great attention. The platitudes of Marxist literature repelled me. I found Kautsky almost ridiculous. As I entered into a more detailed study of the most important works of Marx, Engels, and Lassalle, I was incited to contradiction on all sides. It seemed incomprehensible to me that this garbled Hegelianism could have such enormous influence. I realized only later that party Marxists fell into two categories: those who had never studied Marx at all and were acquainted with only a few of the better known passages from his books, and those who knew of Marx only from textbooks, or, as autodidacts, had read none of the world’s literature beyond that of Marx. Max Adler, for example, belonged to the former group. His knowledge of Marx was limited to the few pages in which the “super structure theory” had been developed. Prominent among the latter group were the Eastern Europeans, who led Marxism’s ideological charge.”—Ludwig von Mises, Education of an Austro-Marxist
“Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.”—William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, August 13, 1831
“Political ideas that have dominated the public mind for decades cannot be refuted through rational arguments. They must run their course in life and cannot collapse otherwise than in great catastrophes… One has to accept the catastrophic devaluation of our currency as foregone. Imperialist and militarist policy necessarily goes in hand with inflationism. A consequent policy of socializations necessarily leads to a complete collapse of the monetary order. The proof is delivered not only through the history of the French revolution, but also through the present events in Bolshevist Russia and a couple of other states that more or less imitate the Russian example, even though they do not display the atrocious brutality of the Jacobins and Bolshevists, but prefer less bloody methods instead. As unbecoming as the collapse of the currency is in its consequences, it has the liberating effect of destroying the system that brings it about. The collapse of the assignats was the kiss of death for the Jacobin policy and marked the beginning of a new policy. In our country too a decisive change of economic policy will take its impetus from the collapse of the currency.”—Ludwig von Mises, 1919 “Uber die im Hinblick auf das Fortschreiten der Geldentwertung zu ergreifenden Massnahmen” [On the measures to be taken on behalf of the decreasing value of money]. Memorandum. Mises Archive 109. pp. 2-3
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.
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.
“Governments seem to be congenitally incapable of keeping their mitts off any part of the economy. Government, aided and abetted by its host of apologists among intellectuals and policy wonks, likes to regard itself as a deus ex machina (a “god out of the machine”) that surveys its subjects with Olympian benevolence and omniscience, and then repeatedly descends to earth to fix up the numerous “market failures” that mere people, in their ignorance, persist in committing. The fact that history is a black record of continual gross failure by this “god,” and that economic theory explains why it must be so, makes no impression on official political discourse.”—Murray N. Rothbard
Let me start by asking what is wrong with the position taken by Mises and so many others that the choice between values is ultimately arbitrary? First, it should be noted that such a position assumes that at least the question of whether or not value judgments or normative statements can be justified is itself a cognitive problem. If this were not assumed, Mises could not even say what he evidently says and claims to be the case. His position simply could not exist as an arguable intellectual position.
At first glance this does not seem to take one very far. Indeed, it still seems to be a far cry from this insight to the actual proof that normative statements can be justified and that it is only the libertarian ethic which can be defended. This impression is wrong, however, and there is already much more won here than might be suspected. The argument shows us that any truth claim, the claim connected with any proposition that it is true, objective or valid (all terms used synonymously here), is and must be raised and settled in the course of an argumentation. Since it cannot be disputed that this is so (one cannot communicate and argue that one cannot communicate and argue), and since it must be assumed that everyone knows what it means to claim something to be true (one cannot deny this statement without claiming its negation to be true), this very fact has been aptly called “the a priori of communication and argumentation.”
Arguing never consists of just free-floating propositions claiming to be true. Rather, argumentation is always an activity, too. However, given that truth claims are raised and settled in argumentation and that argumentation, aside from whatever it is that is said in its course, is a practical affair, it follows that intersubjectively meaningful norms must exist—precisely those which make some action an argumentation—which have a special cognitive status in that they are the practical preconditions of objectivity and truth.
Principled Populism—The Libertarian Party should be a mass-participation party operating in the electoral area and elsewhere, devoted to consistent libertarian principle, and committed to liberty and justice for all. The Libertarian Party should trust in and rely on the people to welcome a program of liberty and justice and should always aim strategically at convincing the bulk of the people of the soundess of libertarian doctrine.
Rights Are Primary—The central commitment of the Libertarian Party should be to individual liberty on the basis of rights and moral principle, and not on the basis of economic cost-benefit estimates.
Power Elite Analysis—American society is divided into a government-privileged class and a government-oppressed class and is ruled by a power elite. Libertarian Party strategy and pronouncements should reflect these facts.
Resistance & The Oppressed—The Libertarian Party should make a special effort to recruit members from groups mosts oppressed by the government so that the indignation of those who experience oppression is joined to that of those who oppose oppression in principle. The Libertarian Party should never approve of the initiation of force, nor should it rule out self-defense and resistance to tyranny.
No Compromise—The Rothbard Caucus insists that all reforms advocated by the Libertarian Party must diminish governmental power and that no such reforms are to contradict the goal of a totally free society. Holding high our principles means avoiding completely the quagmire of self-imposed, obligatory gradualism: We must avoid the view that, in the name of fairness, abating suffering, or fulfilling expectations, we must temporize and stall on the road to liberty.
No Particular Order—The removal of a harmful government policy should never be held up as a condition for removing another, for this throws self-imposed barriers in the path of liberty and removes potential pressures for change. For example, saying that borders may be opened only after welfare is eliminated is unacceptable; the proper position is to push for both changes. Should we succeed in achieving open borders only to find that welfare burdens are increased, this should be used as an additional argument to abolish welfare.
Strategic Centrism—Avoiding the twin errors of sectarianism and opportunism is key. Simply repeating our basic principles and not proposing transition measures is ineffective in the short run because only a small part of the populace is interested in liberty in the abstract, and hiding or abandoning our principled positions is ineffective in the long run because it fails to sustain us as a movement and attract and retain new Libertarians.
Radical Abolitionism —As the word radical means “going to the root” of something, radical Libertarians should not merely propose small changes to the status quo and debate the fine points of government policy with their opponents, but should propose the abolition of State institutions and programswhile calling attention to the evil at their base: the coercion, force, and tyranny inherent in the State. Because morality and logic are on our side, the best candidates and spokespersons will sound eminently reasonable while maintaining radical libertarian positions.
Anti-Imperialism & Centrality of Foreign Policy—Because the United States government aspires to world-wide control of events, foreign policy is always potentially the most important issue of our time. The Libertarian Party should bring to the public the truth about the continuing threat to world peace posed by U.S. foreign policy. No one should be deceived by the notion that any government, like the American, which has a relatively benign domestic policy, therefore has a relatively benign foreign policy.
Anti-State Coalition—The Rothbard Caucus agrees to the view, adopted by the Libertarian Party at its 1974 Dallas convention, that for purposes of party programs and activities the issue of the ultimate legitimacy of government per se is not relevant. We oppose all efforts to exclude either anarchists or minimal statists from party life.
“[P]oliticians policies necessarily fail. Without a direct linkage between the subjective value underlying the choices of consumers and the objective prices used by producers and consumers to make economic calculations — without, in short, a free market — waste, corruption and the tyranny of planned chaos inexorably result. No matter what task politicians remove from individuals and arrogate to themselves, they will do it improperly, inefficiently and ineffectively. They are a disgrace to all that is good and true, and their activities constitute an axis of plunder.”—Chris Leither, Evil Princes of Martin Place, p.252
It might be objected that, after all, a politician who urges higher taxes is not only imposing suffering on other people; he himself as a taxpayer will also have to bear the same deprivations as other citizens. Isn’t there, then, a kind of nobility, even if misguided, in his plea for “belt-tightening” common sacrifice?
To meet this question, we must realize a vital truth that has long remained discreetly veiled to the tax-burdened citizenry. And that is: contrary to carefully instilled myth, politicians and bureaucrats pay no taxes. Take, for example, a politician who receives a salary of, say, $80,000; assume he duly files his income tax return, and pays $20,000. We must realize that he does not in reality pay $20,000 in taxes; instead, he is simply a net tax-receiver of $60,000.
The notion that he pays taxes is simply an accounting fiction, designed to bamboozle the citizenry into believing that he and the rest of us are on the same moral and financial footing before the law. He pays nothing; he simply is extracting $60,000 per annum from our pockets. The only virtue of United Nations’ employees is that they are frankly and openly exempt from all taxes levied by any nation-state-which simply makes their position the same as other national bureaucrats, except uncamouflaged and unadorned.
However, on rethinking immigration on the basis of the anarcho-capitalist model, it became clear to me that a totally privatized country would not have “open borders” at all. If every piece of land in a country were owned by some person, group, or corporation, this would mean that no immigrant could enter there unless invited to enter and allowed to rent, or purchase, property. A totally privatized country would be as “closed” as the particular inhabitants and property owners desire. It seems clear, then, that the regime of open borders that exists de facto in the U.S. really amounts to a compulsory opening by the central state, the state in charge of all streets and public land areas, and does not genuinely reflect the wishes of the proprietors.
Under total privatization, many local conflicts and “externality” problems—not merely the immigration problem—would be neatly settled. With every locale and neighborhood owned by private firms, corporations, or contractual communities, true diversity would reign, in accordance with the preferences of each community. Some neighborhoods would be ethnically or economically diverse, while others would be ethnically or economically homogeneous. Some localities would permit pornography or prostitution or drugs or abortions, others would prohibit any or all of them. The prohibitions would not be state imposed, but would simply be requirements for residence or use of some person’s or community’s land area. While statists who have the itch to impose their values on everyone else would be disappointed, every group or interest would at least have the satisfaction of living in neighborhoods of people who share its values and preferences. While neighborhood ownership would not provide Utopia or a panacea for all conflicts, it would at least provide a “second-best” solution that most people might be willing to live with.
To clarify Rothbard’s point it goes without saying there would obviously still be individual ownership of housing and property but those arrangements would not generally solve the ‘externality problem’ posited. Hans-Hermann Hoppe goes on to make essentially the same argument here.
In such a world what would immigration look like? How do the immigrants get there, wherever there is?
Once Upon a Time there was a peaceful valley. The people were happy in this valley; they worked, they traded, and they laughed together. No man exerted force upon his neighbor, and all lived and prospered.
One day there came to this valley a roaming band of marauders, led by a gang leader, whom we shall call Hector. This band came with machine guns, and, as was their custom, raped and looted at will among the people of the valley. As they were preparing, as usual, to put the whole valley to the torch (“for kicks,” as one of Hector’s Gang put it, succinctly), one of their number, a brilliant young intellectual whom we shall call Iago, stopped them. “Look, chief,” said Iago, “Why don’t we change our modus operandi? I’m getting pretty sick of all this roaming around, looking always for the next mark, the next victims, always on the run. This is an isolated spot, a beautiful spot. Let’s settle down here, and run these people’s lives. Then, we can milk them all the time, instead of killing them all and moving on.” Hector was a shrewd gang chief, and he saw the wisdom of the idea. The gang settled down.
And so the robbery and the pillage became chronic instead of acute. Annual tribute was levied on the people, the Gang exercised power and dictation over them, and the Gang strutted about in uniforms, issuing orders. There was a great deal of resentment at first; the valley people muttered, and they began to form a People’s Resistance.
Iago, the chief theoretician of Hector’s Gang, explained to the chief that another great change in their methods was due, to fit the changed conditions. “These people outnumber us, chief. Eventually, even though they have no guns now, these people could throw us out, and we’d lose the best deal we ever had. What we’ve got to do is to make them like it.” Making them like it was the great task of Iago and his group of fellow-theoreticians, and Hector and his boys marvelled at the results. Iago fed to the people arguments like the following: Read more…
“One of Friedman’s most disastrous deeds was the important role he proudly played, during World War II in the Treasury Department, in foisting upon the suffering American public the system of the withholding tax. Before World War II, when income tax rates were far lower than now, there was no withholding system; everyone paid his annual bill in one lump sum, on March 15. It is obvious that under this system, the Internal Revenue Service could never hope to extract the entire annual sum, at current confiscatory rates, from the mass of the working population. The whole ghastly system would have happily broken down long before this. Only the Friedmanite withholding tax has permitted the government to use every employer as an unpaid tax collector, extracting the tax quietly and silently from each paycheck. In many ways, we have Milton Friedman to thank for the present monster Leviathan State in America.”—Murray Rothbard, Milton Friedman Unraveled