Odyssey of Freedom
After surviving (1) the Theory of Socialism & Capitalism by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, I have found myself tied to the mast of reason, unable to be swayed by the songs of intervention. But I do remember enough of my former self to sympathize with those that have been captured by those sweet sirens. Only with tremendous strength of logic can one hope to break free of those charms, whether they were sung by Keynes, Lachmann, Hayek, & yes, even Mises. (2) They were just another shade of Socialism aboard the Hoppean perspective.
This paradigm shift should not be taken lightly. Anarchy was synonymous to Pandora’s Box & anyone who tried to open it was thought to be naïve or, at best, utopian. Now a stateless society is effectively a theoretical solution, attainable by tremendous logic & a strict sense of morals based on property rights. Such a society may already exist today in the form of Zomia (3) with a sustainably simple Economy. But anarchy is conspicuously untested with the coupling of modernity.
With the Theory of the State (4) standing naked in front of us, I begin to question the sincerity of preceding Austrian Economists in their deductions for Free Markets, while greatly appreciating the formidable nature that is the State. Were some Economists merely concealing their urge to be in control of the State behind a veil of support for Free Markets, albeit for the greater good? (5) Or was it an evolutionary amalgamate of ideas requiring the contributions of generations until it was inevitable that someone would finally put the puzzle together?
Whereas before to live without Government was impossible, the power of the State was at best a necessary evil. More importantly, the State can be turned on its head to do the bidding of the greater good. But with this breakthrough insight, such notions became household myths: the State is a monopoly that requires our collective submission. Any abetment of the State, no matter how noble the cause, will inevitably backfire as it is still a parasitic machine, a mutating phoenix even, that has every incentive to grow & adapt to abuse us still more…until our resources run dry…to be born again under a different flag.
By now it should be clear the direction we must face, made apparent by theory & by the empirical empire spawned from the American Revolution. (6) Whatever hard-fought Freedom that was won has all been compromised. If we are to find Freedom again, if there is still a desire to be a moral individual, we must lay the course towards a stateless society.
1. I say “surviving” because Hoppe is no Shakespeare, though his sense of logic is brilliant, in my humble opinion. Of course, my own IQ is dubious at best. Maybe I am simply not smart enough to refute his apparent cogency.
2. Keynes, though not an Austrian Economist, deserves great credit for successfully convincing the United States that spending is the most important factor in the Economy. Never mind the broken glass fallacy. His theory of Government spending during economic downturns being necessary to reduce the gap of market recovery was influential as it was erroneous. Not only was the market prone to recover by becoming dependent on the involuntary diversion to spend, the Government encourages spending with low interest rates & monetary inflation, which destroys consumer incentives to save. The lack of savings has two consequences: it increases the substantial risk for investments either to overestimate their consumer base or to underestimate the cost of resources due to unexpected high demand caused by the artificial stimulation. It is practically inevitable that another downturn follows, thereby re-igniting the notorious cycle.
The following are Austrian Economists with Lachmann being the least popular one in my mind. He believed that the future was intrinsically uncertain, thus, markets were naturally unstable. Though his philosophy may be different from Keynes, Lachmann still advocated the occasional market intervention. Hayek believed history should make us leery of solutions based solely on logic, & this supposedly made him adamant about keeping certain interventions, while rejecting others. The Hayekian solution was to search for State equilibrium, keeping the degrees of interventions at the right temperature. Mises, being the least intervening, required the State to perform one task: to keep the peace. Once the monopoly of justice & security was in place, the markets would take care of the rest. The reason behind this is the public good defense: if there was an economic beneficiary other than the apparent consumer, then everyone is by definition a consumer & thus, the necessity to tax. Although, Mises was capable of refuting this argument for all other industries, for some reason he left this critical exception for someone else to tear down.
Of course, without knowing any of these minds personally, I am dependent on the attitude of people that did know them for more insight. Within Hoppe’s speech at the 5th annual (2010) meeting of his Property & Freedom Society, Hoppe seems to allude to Hayek’s Mont Pelerin Society as a Trojan Horse of state intervention. Meanwhile, Mises though reluctantly helped establish the same Society, eventually dissented from their course of actions. But, according to Hoppe, it was not so much an intentional conspiracy but a consequence of a theoretical flaw.
3. A mountainous realm in southern Asia home to 100 million people that successfully & intentionally escaped the inevitable: Government & Taxes.
Link to article about Zomia:
4. See Chapter 8: The Socio-Psychological foundations of socialism or Theory of the State, from A Theory of Socialism & Capitalism by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. He sums up all his chapters at the beginning of the next one. The following is from the first paragraph of Chapter 9:
“The previous chapters have demonstrated that neither an economic nor a moral case for socialism can be made. Socialism is economically and morally inferior to capitalism. The last chapter examined why socialism is nonetheless a viable social system, and analyzed the socio-psychological characteristics of the state—the institution embodying socialism. Its existence, stability, and growth rest on aggression and on public support of this aggression which the state manages to effect. This it does, for one thing, through a policy of popular discrimination; a policy, that is, of bribing some people into tolerating and supporting the continual exploitation of others by granting them favors; and secondly, through a policy of popular participation in the making of policy, i.e. by corrupting the public and persuading it to play the game of aggression by giving prospective power wielders the consoling opportunity to enact their particular exploitative schemes at one of the subsequent policy changes.”
5. I am most suspicious of Hayek’s intentions as his reasoning sounds like opium for the masses. I fail to appreciate the abetment of the State after realizing the incentive for it to grow & abuse. All the caveats in the world do not change the fact that Government is a monopoly at the end of the day. I suspect underneath the empathy for Free Markets lays the urge to be in control, albeit for the greater good.
6. In retrospect, the realization that the American Revolution failed should have been clear after the results of the Civil War. The South exercised their freedom of secession…& was forced back into the Union. Moreover, only now do I realize that the ratification of the American Constitution should be more accurately labeled a coup, albeit a peaceful one.