Democracy vs. Freedom (And The Nation-State)?



Libertarians And
Immigration Archive

Almost all libertarians (with
the exception of the heroic
Von Mises Institute)
want open borders because they think

border control
is just one more tyrannical act
of government. Hans-Hermann Hoppe, a libertarian who

teaches economics
at University of Nevada at Las
Vegas, has finally set the movement right on this
question. Free immigration, he explains, is a
misnomer. What the open borders crowd are really
pushing is

forcible integration
, a denial of the rights of
natives. This argument is just one of many that make


Democracy—The God That Failed
deeply
subversive, even revolutionary.

This book is a powerful
critique of government, specifically of democratic
government, which Prof. Hoppe thinks is worse,
theoretically, than monarchy. It marshals the laws
of economics and human nature to explode one liberal
myth after another.

For example, many people think
“free immigration” and “free trade” are necessary
complements, but Prof. Hoppe points out they have
little in common. Free trade requires willing buyers
and sellers of goods, but immigrants walk across the
border whether they are

wanted or not.
Even if there are

employers
who want immigrants, it does not mean
other citizens want to share parks, shopping malls,
streets, and movie theaters with them. Therefore, if
capitalists really want foreign workers, they should
keep them in self-sufficient company towns rather
than force them on the rest of us.

Prof. Hoppe points out that
antipathy towards those unlike one`s own group is
perfectly natural and no obstacle to trade: 


“From the fact that one does not want to associate
with or live in the neighborhood of Blacks, Turks,
Catholics or Hindus, etc., it does not follow that
one does not want to trade with them from a
distance. To the contrary, it is precisely the
absolute voluntariness of human association and
separation—the absence of any form of forced
integration—that makes peaceful relationships—free
trade—between culturally, racially, ethnically, or
religiously distinct people possible.”

Immigration policy, in Hoppe`s
controversial view, is just one example of how
democracies are inferior to monarchies. A king takes
a proprietary view of his kingdom—because he owns
it—and wants to increase the value of the estate he
will pass on to his heirs. By contrast, Hoppe
argues, democratically-elected rulers act like
tenants who want to get as much out of their
temporary occupancy as possible. They have to appeal
to the mob to be elected, and once in office care
more about short-term exploitation than long-term
improvements.

An owner/king has a simple
immigration policy: He expels criminals and losers
and admits only productive people. Prof. Hoppe
explains how presidents are different: 


“[B]ums and unproductive people may well be
preferred as residents and citizens, because they
create more so-called `social problems,` and
democratic rulers thrive on the existence of such
problems. Moreover, bums and inferior people will
likely support egalitarian policies, whereas
geniuses and superior people will not. The result of
this policy of non-discrimination [in immigration
policy] is forced integration: the forcing of masses
of inferior immigrants onto domestic property owners
who, if the decision were left to them, would have
sharply discriminated and chosen very different
neighbors for themselves.”

It is egalitarianism—the myth
behind one-man-one-vote—that Prof. Hoppe dislikes
most about democracy. “There is nothing ethically
wrong with inequality,” Prof. Hoppe explains, but
democracy promotes the idea that inequality is an
outrage, which leads to indignation over differences
of wealth and income. Politicians win elections by
promising to reduce these differences, which means
one of the central tasks of government is
redistribution of wealth by taxing away the property
of one group of citizens and

giving it to another.

Transfer payments of this kind
foster a spirit of larceny:  


“Everyone may openly covet everyone else`s property,
as long as he appeals to democracy; and everyone may
act on his desire for another man`s property,
provided that he finds entrance into government
.”

Since candidates win office by
appealing to covetousness, “prime ministers and
presidents are selected for their proven efficiency
as morally uninhibited demagogues.” Kings, on the
other hand, were not necessarily bad people.
Moreover, they didn`t believe in equality and didn`t
have to win votes, so had neither theoretical nor
practical reasons to redistribute wealth.

Prof. Hoppe takes the view that
cultural conservatism is not compatible with the
big-government nanny-state democracy inevitably
brings. Social security and Medicare support people
in old age and makes them less dependent on their
children, thus weakening family ties and reducing
birth rates. Support for single mothers encourages
illegitimacy. All such programs subsidize
irresponsibility.

Ultimately, it is inherent in
the nature of government—which Prof. Hoppe defines
as “a territorial monopoly of compulsion”—to
increase its powers and exploit citizens. If there
must be governments, they should do nothing more
than protect property against fraud, crime, and
foreign invasion, but as Prof. Hoppe explains, they
always want to do more:

“In the name of social,
public or national security, our caretakers
`protect` us from global warming and cooling and the
extinction of animals and plants, from husbands and
wives, parents and employers, poverty, disease,
disaster, ignorance, prejudice, racism, sexism,
homophobia, and countless other public enemies and
dangers.”

In the United States, all this
protection requires a

Code of Federal Regulations
that takes up 26
feet of shelf space, thus “revealing the almost
totalitarian power of democratic government.” It
also requires high taxes and armies of

parasitic bureaucrats
.

The United States is, in fact,
a perfect example of the futility of trying to limit
government. It has a

plainly-written Constitution
that enumerates
specific federal powers and reserves the rest to the
states and the people. But presidents and
bureaucrats simply ignore the Constitution.

What to do? Prof. Hoppe thinks
it is pointless to tinker with policy, thereby
leaving the “territorial monopolist of compulsion”
in place. He insists on outright abolition of
government, with private, competing organizations
assuming its few genuinely useful functions. He
thinks insurance companies could protect against
crime and invasion, just as they do against natural
disasters. He also thinks that in the absence of
government, natural aristocrats would arise to
arbitrate contract disputes between citizens.

Prof. Hoppe is not optimistic
government can be abolished soon—indeed, it is
expanding relentlessly towards a global government
that would be

colossally repressive
—yet he reminds us that
“every government can be brought down by a mere
change in public opinion, i.e., by the withdrawal of
the public`s consent and cooperation.”  He suggests
that, after a critical mass of opinion was achieved,
a few cities might secede and form “natural order”
societies, whose success would prompt imitators.

Appealing as this vision may
be, it is hard not to be skeptical of the idea of
abolishing government entirely. Insurance companies
might be able to track down burglars and rapists,
but it is hard to imagine even the best-equipped
among them managing to protect libertarian statelets
from greedy neighbors with governments, armies – and
potential immigrants. Abolition of government is the
sort of experiment one might prefer to watch some
other country try before attempting it oneself.

But whether a “natural order”
society is ever established, it is refreshing to
read an author who so clearly and logically
justifies the contempt for government that is
increasingly widespread. It may never be possible to
put every last bureaucrat out to pasture, and so
long as even a few remain we are well advised to
heed Prof. Hoppe`s warning: 


Once the principle of government – judicial monopoly
and the power to tax – is incorrectly accepted as
just, any notion of restraining government power and
safeguarding individual liberty and property is
illusory
.

Jared Taylor (email
him) is editor of


American Renaissance

and the author of


Paved With Good
Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in
Contemporary America
.
(For Peter Brimelow`s review,
click


here
.)