Hans-Hermann Hoppe has given a terrific speech on libertarianism and the alt-right at his annual Property and Freedom Society conference. Here is the transcript that was linked by the PFS page of his speech.
Now, Hoppe does go into the modern alt-right phenomenon quite a bit, and if you want to hear that then click on the link above to the video or the link to the transcript to read it. I’m not going to discuss the alt-right stuff here, but wanted to concentrate on some other aspects of his speech. And I plan to get into some more important points of disagreement I have with Hans Hoppe in my next post.
In this most recent speech, Prof. Hoppe dismisses “live and let live” libertarians, which I have considered myself for many years. He seems to fuse the “live and let live” libertarians together with the egalitarian-humanitarian libertarians, a.k.a. “thick libertarians,” such as Jeff Tucker, those who see advocacy against “racism, sexism, homophobia,” etc. as a part of libertarianism (which it isn’t).
As far as libertarianism is concerned, I don’t agree that the egalitarians or humanitarianism has anything to do with libertarianism. Libertarianism is about freedom, the non-initiation of aggression (the “non-aggression principle,” or NAP), and self-ownership. In my view, it is also about freedom of thought and conscience. “Live and let live” means that even if someone espouses ideas one feels are abhorrent or offensive, such as racism or anti-Christian sentiments, the libertarian believes that the wrong-headed individual still has a right to think and believe whatever he wants, as long as he is peaceful. The humanitarian/”thick” libertarians don’t seem to agree with that.
So if someone owns a bakery, he has every right, within property rights and freedom of association/non-association, to not produce a wedding cake for anyone for any reason, even if he is a racist and refuses to serve someone of a different race, or is an atheist and doesn’t want to serve a Christian couple.
No one (such as a customer) has the right to force others (via the State or threats) to involuntarily serve him against their will or consent. The “live and let live” libertarians should understand this.
But as a part of Hoppe’s dismissal of “live and let live” libertarians he brings up the “bad neighbor” problem, in regards to the issues that come up when people are in close proximity to one another. “He is littering on his own neighboring property, turning it into a garbage heap; in the open, for you to see, he engages in ritual animal slaughter, he turns his house into a ‘Freudenhaus,’ a bordello, with clients coming and going all day and all night long; he never offers a helping hand and never keeps any promise that he has made; or he cannot or else he refuses to speak to you in your own language. Etc., etc.. Your life is turned into a nightmare. Yet you may not use violence against him, because he has not aggressed against you. What can you do? You can shun and ostracize him. But your neighbor does not care…”
I suppose the voluntaryist libertarian approach is to offer to buy the bad neighbor’s property. Or if you can’t afford that then get other neighbors to pitch in to buy the property. They can make a good offer. Hoppe does mention that they can pressure the neighbor to sell and leave, but he doesn’t mention the possibility of the neighbors offering to buy the property. You can even act preemptively in the first place to avoid such a bad neighbor: if you live in a neighborhood and most of your neighbors are like-minded, and a home does go up for sale, you and the neighbors can actually buy the home and resell or rent it to someone you know is also like-minded.
But sadly, the Jeff Tucker thick libertarians get needlessly upset if someone is a racist or a homophobe but not so much, it seems, toward the “bad neighbors” in the aforementioned example. Hoppe states that the tolerance of such “bad neighbors” is a part of the Jeff Tucker “live and let live” approach, but that’s not how I see “live and let live,” quite frankly.
And when Hoppe suggests to “physically remove” the bad neighbor “if need be by violence, and forced to leave for other pastures,” it isn’t because of the neighbor’s bad habits, garbage on the property, or running a bordello — no, it’s because those neighbors “openly advocate communism, socialism, syndicalism or democracy.” Now, he’s not referring to government bureaucrats who have imposed such property-violating policies, or their enforcers with guns, who might live next door, but merely those who “openly advocate” the criminal State and so on.
Well, in my view libertarianism also involves freedom of thought and conscience, which I see as a part of self-ownership. So personally I wouldn’t let it bother me if the neighbor is an economic ignoramus or morally bankrupt. I’m not sure about the moral acceptability of “physically removing” a neighbor via violence merely because he advocated something I find abhorrent.
In his speech here Hoppe doesn’t seem to mention the possibility in his example of the neighbors attempting to persuade the bad guy who openly advocates communism or socialism that freedom and free markets are the better way of life. I am assuming Hoppe means “physically removing” the bad neighbor who advocates communism or democracy after all attempts to persuade him otherwise have failed.
The bad neighbor in the example is advocating empowering a State to be an agency of monopoly and compulsion and to confiscate our earnings, sure, but why don’t you concentrate on “physically removing” those who are actual employees of the State who are actually doing those things, those criminal things against us actual victims, those actual State criminals and the enforcers who are actually involved in the stealing of the people’s earnings? Now those are the kinds of neighbors I personally would not want to have. Perhaps they should be “physically removed,” but not those who merely advocate for more communism or more socialism than we already have. As long as people are peaceful they otherwise have freedom of thought and conscience, and should have the freedom to be economic ignoramuses. Perhaps they can be persuaded to advocate freedom.
I plan to write another post following this one, responding to some more points Hans Hoppe made in his speech. And I plan to embed the video of that speech as well. Stay tuned.