Hoppe’s Dangerous Books

By Joakim Fagerstrom and Joakim Kampe, www.mises.se

Introductory Comments

by RadioFreeMarket.com Founder, Michael J. McKay

Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe

To the human mind held in captivity Freedom is an idea which, if it comes at all , can come slowly at first and then – maybe – more quickly.

For some thinking about life outside of jail is too much. They learn to love their captivity.

As the notion of Freedom dawns it is common for people to see it first in only one area, like rebelling against a requirement to wear a motorcycle helmet or being prohibited from experiencing the rich sweet taste of raw milk from their youth, or maybe noticing how abusive some petty clerk ­­­­­bureaucrat at the Department of Motor Vehicles can be.

But then – maybe – it picks up steam and for those fortunate few they start to study what Freedom – True Freedom – would look like.

There can be several stages to this process.

But the biggest and most challenging transition stage is when people seriously consider whether government itself is necessary.

This is when it gets really interesting.

For many people, even most people living today, they cannot even imagine the idea of “no government” and still having a society of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom.

Yet some who study Freedom not only come to the idea of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom without government, they actually write volumes on how that is possible – and practical.

I know, for many of you reading this, it may sound simply crazy.

But crazy it is not.

Only a couple hundred years ago very few people could imagine separating The Church from The State.

And now, today, a large number of people around the world live in such a reality.

Indeed they cannot imagine a world where to be excommunicated actually meant, as did then, certain death.  Life itself was dependent on keeping your head down and just going along.

There are some, extremely few, who have articulately presented how a stateless yet orderly society could and would work.

And here is why one and all should read the works of Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe and especially his newest book “The Great Fiction”.

The story that follows this introduction is told by my two very good friends Joakim Fagerstrom and Joakim Kampe from the Mises Institute in Sweden.

Please read it closely. You will see that they respect those students of Freedom who have only come “so far”, but are not ready to even think about a world without The State.

The story will show that the organizers (who paid for the event) wanted to exclude Dr. Hoppes books because they thought these books to be “too radical”.

This was their right to do.

My friends respected the rights of these organizers, as they should.

This is an interesting story. At its heart it shows that, along the path to Freedom, some people stop at the idea that government still must be a key player in the equation of human society. Ironically, these early-in-development “freedom lovers” impede the broader understanding of how True Freedom could practically work.

But others learn, and now you dear reader can be one of them, that to expand Peace, Prosperity and Freedom we do not need government at all.

We do, emphatically, need Rules and Laws.

This next layer of understanding shows us the practical way where we do not need government to create, arbitrate or enforce our Rules and Laws.

After reading the story of my friends from Sweden, please do yourself a favor and purchase Dr. Hoppe’s book (here).

Your life – our life – will be changed for the better. MM

Hoppe’s Dangerous Books

by Joakim Fagerström and Joakim Kampe

A few months ago we were invited to speak at the European Students For Liberty regional conference in Stockholm. Our institute has previously written articles for ESFL and we have also delivered a webinar for them, on May 1st on the topic The Myth of the Socialist Paradise Sweden. It was a great event with about 200 attendees and it was, to our knowledge, greatly appreciated. Thus, we were truly looking forward to speaking at a one of their conferences that was going to be held in our hometown.

The topic of the speech was “How to achieve freedom”. In the speech we were going to bring up Mises and use him as a role model in the struggle for freedom, and how you had to be uncompromising in your struggle and never water down your message in order to better suit the masses. What mattered was devotion to truth and to your principles. After all, Mises in his memoirs concludes that if there was one thing that he regretted it was that he compromised too much (Memoirs, p. 60).

As a part of our attendance at the event we were planning on selling books from many of the great authors and legends like Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Henry Hazlitt, Stephan Kinsella, Linda and Morris Tannehill and many more. Since these books are hard to get and a bit more expensive in Sweden we always try to sell them at good prices. We were granted the permission to have a table to sell the books from during the day. At this point everything was ok.

However, a few days before the event we announced at the ESFL event page that we were going to sell these books during the day and about ten minutes later we got a message from the organizers asking us to immediately remove the “Hoppe comment”. After some clarification it was understood that what they wanted us to do was to remove the announcements about the books. The reason was that we were not allowed to sell Professor Hoppe’s books at the event. This was quite surprising, since according to their website, ESFL prides itself on embracing “the diversity of justifications for liberty and encourages debate and discourse on the differing philosophies that underlie liberty”, and in being a big-tent movement. The explanation was that a person responsible for the event didn’t like Professor Hoppe, and that Hoppe’s ideas were deemed to be too controversial. In other words, an organization that claims that they are all for liberty doesn’t want to sell books written by one of the leading libertarian thinkers of our time because his ideas are deemed controversial.

For many people Professor Hoppe’s books have been and will always be too dangerous to allow. Once you read them you understand the great fiction of the state, and it becomes obvious to what extent you truly believe in property, freedom and society. Of course we fully understand that European Students For Liberty have every right to exclude whatever and whoever they want from their events. It is their property and their event and they can choose to exclude and discriminate in any way they see fit. Ironically, this is a point that Hoppe has made and been widely criticized for, and it is likely one of the main reasons why his ideas are deemed as being too controversial and uncomfortable, and why ESFL wants nothing to do with him.

It is however somewhat hypocritical to say that they want to include everyone in the freedom movement, from minarchists to anarchists, and that they are open to all ideas regarding freedom, but at the same time they are afraid of Hoppe’s ideas. Thus they have shown through their demonstrated preference that they don’t live up to the very ideal and vision they themselves have set up for the organisation.

To water down the message of liberty and shy away from controversies, with no regard to the truth, in order to gain a wider audience is not a behaviour that we think is conducive to the overall goal and can never be a good long-term strategy. It is coincidentally also one which both Mises and Hoppe would advise us against pursuing.

Obviously, since we hold Professor Hoppe in such a high esteem (he is even featured on our crest) and because he is an important reason as to why we started the Swedish Mises Institute we chose to not participate. Following the lead of Mises, and coincidentally even more so of Hoppe, we do not compromise and we are not willing to water down our message in order to better appease the masses. Instead we choose to stand fast in our uncompromising intellectual radicalism. Of course without our participation the event was more homogenous, with statists and bankers.

Also, an interesting detail that seems to have gone by completely unnoticed, is that ESFL at the event handed out a book with the name “Marknader och demokrati” (“Markets and democracy” in English only available in Swedish) for free, by Björn Wahlroos. What they weren’t aware of is that in the book he references Professor Hoppe’s book Democracy The God That Failed, and even quotes Hoppe regarding the connection between democracy and a higher time preference.

In the end, it was a simple cost-benefit analysis on our part. Yes, it is true, we could have gained some followers in the short-run if we compromised and watered down our message, but we would have done so at the expense of denying who we are and what we stand for.

To conclude, and to paraphrase Shakespeare, there appears to be something rotten in the ESFL. While we are sure this article mostly will fall on deaf ears, we at least hope that someone within the ESFL realizes that something is not right and acts to change this. ESFL could be a strong and true force for libertarianism in the world, and it is likely an organization that will be with us for some time. However, to exclude ideas and authors because they are deemed to be too controversial or uncomfortable will in the end be the undoing of the organization and the overall goal. Only an adherence to non-compromising intellectual radicalism will help us achieve our goal. An adherence to pragmatism and gradualism will not. Because, it is just like the libertarian abolitionist of slavery William Lloyd Garrison put it: “Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice.”

Joakim Fagerstrom [send him mail] is the President of www.mises.se. Joakim Kampe [send him mail] is the Editor of www.mises.se.

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