Left-Libertarians at Libertopia

[cross-posted at C4SS and BHL]

Next month (3-6 May) in San Diego I’ll be speaking at the Libertopia conference, which is back after several years’ hiatus. Here’s my topic and abstract:

Hoppean Libertarianism as Right-Wing Tribalism: A Critique
Roderick T. Long

One of the main conduits by which many libertarians in recent years have been drawn into the orbit of the Alt-Right is the work of Hans-Hermann Hoppe. I argue that Hoppe’s views on such matters as racial difference, immigration, monarchism, and the desirability of culturally homogeneous communities are systematically mistaken, as well as incompatible with a libertarian understanding of human action.

My Molinari Institute / Center for a Stateless Society / Alliance of the Libertarian Left / Bleeding Heart Libertarians colleague Gary Chartier will also be speaking; here’s his topic and abstract:

How to Think About the Constitution
Gary Chartier

Libertarians often defend particular theories of constitutional interpretation. But, at least for those who are skeptical about standard defenses of state authority, there’s a prior question: are we obligated to follow the Constitution? If we’re not, I suggest, then there’s no right answer to questions about the right way to read the Constitution. Instead, we should make constitutional arguments likely to advance liberty.

Other speakers include David Friedman, Scott Horton, Jeff Tucker, Spencer MacCallum, and many more. Check it out!

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20 Responses to Left-Libertarians at Libertopia

  1. Vangel Vesovski April 15, 2018 at 2:11 pm #

    Roderick

    I am sorry to point this out because I really have a great deal of respect for your intellect but it seems to me that the Hoppe obsession comes from a position of weakness. Hoppe’s biggest crime is pointing out that the Left-Anarchists cannot ever be consistent and logical because they have to depend on the use of force to impose their anti-property positions on others. We know that all systems provide different levels of productivity and that in any situation those best able to be productive will accrue a disproportionate amount of the rewards. In a free market system that is based on property rights the only way to benefit is to convince free individuals to exchange their money for your goods and services. That becomes a problem in a Left-Anarchist system because it will work against the productive class by limiting how much capital they can deploy to improving the lives of consumers. And in such a system the only way to keep those that want to be productive down is to have some committee or group of individuals approve the initiation of force.

    I am sorry but I think that you guys need to stop with the HH Hoppe attacks and start to figure out how to sell whatever system you are trying to promote and to figure out how to defend that system against those that point to its shortfalls.

    Gary

    I look forward to reading or hearing what you have to say. But as far as I am concerned, Lysander Spooner had the right idea. There is no reason to think that the Constitution has bound anyone who did not approve it or sign it. I see it as a prop that is used to defend authoritarian ideas and practices.

    • Roderick April 20, 2018 at 4:19 pm #

      “Hoppe’s biggest crime is pointing out that the Left-Anarchists cannot ever be consistent and logical because they have to depend on the use of force to impose their anti-property positions on others. ”

      I’m curious, what are the “anti-property” positions you attribute to me?

      “I think that you guys need to stop with the HH Hoppe attacks”

      What Hoppe attacks? Look through my archives. Look through C4SS’s archives. Hoppe gets so much as mentioned only a handful of times. I’m not sure what other “you guys” you have in mind.

      “But as far as I am concerned, Lysander Spooner had the right idea. There is no reason to think that the Constitution has bound anyone who did not approve it or sign it. ”

      And how is that different from what Gary said? His beef is with the Spooner of “The Unconstitutionality of Slavery,” not with the Spooner of “No Treason.”

      • Vangel Vesovski June 20, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

        “I’m curious, what are the “anti-property” positions you attribute to me?”

        I am sorry but I missed this response. I think that all bleeding heart libertarians have a very attenuated view of the free market, even though they hide it very well. In your case, I recall hearing you make a muddled case for workers rights that I thought was quite weak. At least Hoppe is very clear about the implications of property rights. I think very highly of your intellect but am very disappointed that you do not make a very clear statement where you truly stand on some of the issues. I just don’t get how you think that Left-Libertarianism is intellectually consistent and logically compatible with the idea of property rights.

  2. Irfan Khawaja April 15, 2018 at 9:14 pm #

    I don’t disagree with what you say about the influence of Hoppe, but it seems to me that one of the other important conduits by which libertarians have been drawn into the Alt-Right is Greg Johnson. Unlike Hoppe, Johnson is a bona fide leader of the White Nationalist movement. Though he disavows the label, his Alt-Right credentials are stronger than Hoppe’s. Granted, his libertarian credentials are weaker than Hoppe’s, but he was for awhile on the editorial boards of Reason Papers and Critical Review, has written for the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and has written book chapters on libertarian themes, as well (see, e.g., TIbor Machan’s Liberty for the 21st Century). So he’s no stranger to the libertarian movement, and indeed, spends a fair bit of his time criticizing libertarianism from an Alt-Right perspective. In any case, a look at Johnson’s stuff might put Hoppe’s work in perspective, Johnson’s view being a more radical version of Hoppe’s, and more obviously and explicitly at odds with libertarianism.

    • Roderick April 20, 2018 at 4:22 pm #

      Maybe so, but a) I know his work a lot less well than I know Hoppe’s, and b) precisely because Hoppe’s libertarian credentials are so much stronger than Johnson’s, Hoppe seems like a more important figure to combat (maybe not in general, but for a specifically libertarian audience).

    • Vangel Vesovski June 20, 2018 at 3:11 pm #

      “I don’t disagree with what you say about the influence of Hoppe, but it seems to me that one of the other important conduits by which libertarians have been drawn into the Alt-Right is Greg Johnson.”

      I don’t think that any anarchocapitalists are drawn to the Alt-Right because liberty and property rights are incompatible with many of the positions of the Alt-Right. Hoppe is very clear about protecting individual rights, which is why the Let-Libertarians have to take their shots. The fact is that you cannot be a Libertarian if you do not believe in property rights and liberty. That is where the Left-Libertarians fall flat on their behinds. And why they are so angry at someone like Hoppe.

  3. Irfan Khawaja April 15, 2018 at 9:15 pm #

    Hoping this gets past your spam filters:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/opinion/alt-right-white-supremacy-undercover.html

    • Roderick April 20, 2018 at 4:30 pm #

      “We will have a Europe, in 2050, where the bank notes have Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great. And Hitler will be seen like that: like Napoleon, like Alexander, not like some weird monster who is unique in his own category — no, he is just going to be seen as a great European leader.”

      While I think Hitler is significantly worse than Napoleon and Alexander, I wouldn’t mind seeing the three being viewed as more similar, since Napoleon and Alexander were despicable mass-murdering warmongering dictators too.

      • Irfan Khawaja May 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm #

        Fair enough (in response to both of your comments). Though I realize they’re a mixed bag, the Southern Poverty Law Center has a nice summary of Johnson’s views and his (oblique) relation to the libertarian movement:

        https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/greg-johnson

        They mention his being published in JARS, but not his being on the masthead of Reason Papers or Critical Review. I suppose I should be thankful that RP isn’t mentioned. I showed the JARS mention to Chris Sciabarra, who expressed relief at the form it took (repudiation of Rand).

  4. Matt April 20, 2018 at 3:55 pm #

    Sounds great. Should we count on a pdf version published afterwards?

    • Roderick April 20, 2018 at 4:23 pm #

      It will certainly be published afterwards. I haven’t thought about formats.

      • Matt April 20, 2018 at 7:32 pm #

        Looking forward!

  5. 2046 May 10, 2018 at 7:03 pm #

    Bruh, where’s the .pdf? Please….😭

  6. 2046 June 3, 2018 at 4:16 pm #

    Ahem, let me adjust that comment. We, the good libertarians, badly need this to combat the bad ones. Those who would use libertarian property rights to justify a feudal-ethno society of some sort. If you have anything from this talk, a paper, notes, an outline, anything would be of help. Also I still use your outline of “a praxeological case for an ultimate end” to this day. Thanks for your consideration.

    • Vangel Vesovski June 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

      How can you be a libertarian and not believe in property rights? And if you support property rights how can you call the results that come from the voluntary transactions that involve that property feudal? And where does the ‘ethno’ part magically appear from? Should I punish Japanese or Jewish people because their cultural emphasis on hard work and education make them better off on average than American whites or Africans? Should we be anti-Lebanese because they tend to be very successful in whatever country they migrate to?

      And since when does being a ‘good’ libertarian require the abandonment of principle and reason? Or are you just trying to be ironic?

      • 2046 June 20, 2018 at 5:33 pm #

        >How can you be a libertarian and not believe in property rights?

        Idk man, ask someone that thinks that.

        • Vangel Vesovski June 20, 2018 at 11:27 pm #

          The question still stands; how can you call the results that come from the voluntary transactions feudal?

        • Rad Geek September 20, 2018 at 10:41 am #

          Vangel Vesovski: The question still stands; how can you call the results that come from the voluntary transactions feudal?

          1. I agree with you that the results that come about from voluntary transactions are typically not something that’s appropriately described as “feudal.” Feudalism, if the term is being used literally, is a social and political order of semi-stabilized warlordism, which is incompatible with private ownership and voluntary market exchange.

          2. I’d add (without knowing whether or not you would agree) that the typical patterns of ownership and social prestige that would result from the spontaneous order of open markets are really unlikely to resemble the outcomes seen historically in feudal Europe (or in other sword-cavalry warrior aristocracies which are often described as “feudal” by analogy). Hence, my view is that voluntary transactions cannot be literally feudal, and a predominantly voluntary order of exchange is unlikely to result in systems that might be called “feudal” metaphorically.

          2. However, this is a point on which I (and maybe also you) disagree with Hoppe. Hoppe has often used feudal European aristocracy and kingship, explicitly, as a paradigmatic model and a “rough historical example” (his words) for the social and economic order of the “natural order” that he anticipates would emerge from a society of free exchange. For example, here’s a passage from his recent Short History of Man (pp. 110 et seq in the PDF edition):

          … In short, the king may look like the head of a State, but he definitely is not a State but instead part of a natural, vertically and hierarchically structured and stratified social order: an aristocracy. As I already indicated before, something like this, something resembling an aristocratic natural order had come into existence, for instance, during the early European Middle Ages, during the much-maligned feudal age. […] [T]he Middle Ages can serve as a rough historical example of what I have just described as a natural order. […] This brief description of the feudal order or more specifically “allodial” feudalism shall suffice for my purpose. Let me only add this. I do not claim here that this order was perfect, a true natural order, as I have characterized it before. In fact, it was marred by many imperfections, most notably the existence, at many places, of the institution of serfdom (although the burden imposed on serfs then was mild compared to that imposed on today’s modern tax-serfs). I only claim that this order approached a natural order through (a) the supremacy of and the subordination of everyone under one law, (b) the absence of any law-making power, and (c) the lack of any legal monopoly of judgeship and conflict arbitration. And I would claim that this system could have been perfected and retained virtually unchanged through the inclusion of serfs into the system.

          You could say “But, well, Hoppe’s mistaken about that. Voluntary exchanges wouldn’t produce anything like that system now, and they wouldn’t have produced anything like that system in the Middle Ages.” And if you do say that, I’ll certainly agree with you. But it wasn’t 2046’s idea to describe Hoppe’s imagineered propertarian “natural order” as a “feudal-ethno society of some sort.” It was Hoppe’s idea to do that. Wasn’t it?

        • Rad Geek September 20, 2018 at 10:44 am #

          Reference: Hans Hermann Hoppe, A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline (2015), Part 3.

  7. Vangel Vesovski September 21, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

    I have read, A Short History of Man as well as Democracy: The God that Failed where he makes some of the same arguments. But Hoppe is still right. The hierarchy that he talks about does not include the law-making power for whoever is looked upon as the ‘natural’ leader chosen by the community. Anarchists do not oppose rules or laws. They oppose rule-makers and rulers. In the absence of the monopoly of power, society avoids the creation of the State that can trample on the rights of individuals. You may want to look at Hoppe’s treatment of James Buchanon and Gordon Tullock when he writes about the private production of security. I think that it is hard to make the charges against the guy and this site would be better off being a bit more honest intellectually.

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