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Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Born September 2, 1949 (1949-09-02) (age 60)
Peine, Germany
Residence US
Nationality German
Fields Austrian Economics
Institutions UNLV
Doctoral advisor Jürgen Habermas
Influences Murray Rothbard
Jürgen Habermas
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk
Gustave de Molinari
Influenced Stephan Kinsella
Notable awards The Gary G. Schlarbaum Prize (2006), The Frank T. and Harriet Kurzweg Award (2004)

Hans-Hermann Hoppe (born September 2, 1949) is an Austrian school economist of the anarcho-capitalist tradition, and a former economics professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


Academic career

Born in Peine, West Germany, he attended the Universität des Saarlandes in Saarbrücken, and the Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, studying philosophy, sociology, history, and economics. He earned his Ph.D. (Philosophy, 1974) and his Habilitation (Foundations of Sociology and Economics, 1981), both from the Goethe-Universität. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor from 1976 to 1978. Hoppe was Professor of Economics at University of Nevada, Las Vegas until retirement in 2008.

He taught at several German universities as well as at the Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center for Advanced International Studies, Bologna, Italy.[citation needed] In 1986, he moved from Germany to the United States, to study under Murray Rothbard.[citation needed] He remained a close associate until Rothbard's death in January 1995.

According to a blog posting by Hoppe, he gave a series of speeches at conferences that were organized by Lew Rockwell, Burt Blumert, and Murray Rothbard for the purpose of creating what came to be known as paleo-libertarianism.[1]

Hoppe is a Distinguished Fellow with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and, until December, 2004, the editor of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. The author of several widely-discussed books and articles, he has put forth an "argumentation ethics" defense of libertarian rights, based in part on the discourse ethics theories of German philosophers Jürgen Habermas (Hoppe's PhD advisor) and Karl-Otto Apel. In 2005, he founded the Property and Freedom Society.


Following in the tradition of Murray Rothbard, Hoppe has analyzed the behavior of government using the tools of Austrian-economic theory. Defining a government as "a territorial monopolist of jurisdiction and taxation" and assuming no more than self-interest on the part of government officials, he predicts that these government officials will use their monopoly privileges to maximize their own wealth and power. Hoppe argues that there is a high degree of correlation between these theoretical predictions and historical data.[citation needed]

In Democracy: The God That Failed, Hoppe compares dynastical monarchies with democratic republics. In his view, a dynastical monarch (king) is like the "owner" of a country, because it is passed on from generation to generation, whereas an elected president is like a "temporary caretaker" or "renter". Both the king and the president have an incentive to exploit the current use of the country for their own benefit. However, the king also has a counterbalancing interest in maintaining the long-term capital value of the nation, just as the owner of a house has an interest in maintaining its capital value (unlike a renter). Being temporary, democratically elected officials have every incentive to plunder the wealth of productive citizens as fast as possible.

Under Hoppean theory, a monopoly does not necessarily have to do with market share, but rather the lack of "free entry" into the business of producing a particular good or service. In this view, monopolies cannot arise on the free market. Rather, they must always be the result of government policy. Coercive monopolies are bad from the standpoint of consumers because the price will tend to be higher and the quality will be lower than they would be in markets completely free from coordinated coercion. Like Rothbard, Hoppe has conjectured that, in a free market for governmental services, competing private insurance and defense agencies would provide a better quality of protection and dispute resolution than that which currently exists under monopolistic government control.[citation needed]

Academic freedom controversy

Austrian theory includes the concept of time preference, or the degree to which a person prefers current consumption over savings. During a lecture in his Money & Banking course, Hoppe hypothesized that, because they tend not to have children, children, old people and homosexuals tend to focus less on saving for the future. One of Hoppe's students characterized this statement as derogatory and a matter of opinion rather than fact. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

In his lectures, Mr. Hoppe said that certain groups of people -- including small children, very old people, and homosexuals -- tend to prefer present-day consumption to long-term investment. Because homosexuals generally do not have children, Mr. Hoppe said, they feel less need to look toward the future. (In a recent talk at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which Mr. Hoppe says was similar to his classroom lecture, he declared, "Homosexuals have higher time preferences, because life ends with them.") [The student], Mr. Knight found that argument unwarranted and obnoxious, and he promptly filed a complaint with the university. In a telephone interview on Saturday, Mr. Knight said: "I was just shocked and appalled. I said to myself, Where the hell is he getting this information from? I was completely surprised, and that's why I went to the university about this."[2]

Hoppe's comments triggered an academic investigation which resulted in a "nondisciplinary" letter [3] being issued February 9, 2005 instructing him to "cease mischaracterizing opinion as objective fact." The ACLU agreed to represent Hoppe, and he was defended in an editorial in the The Rebel Yell, the UNLV student newspaper."[4] Carol Harter, president of UNLV, in an February 18, 2005 letter [5] said that "UNLV, in accordance with policy adopted by the Board of Regents, understands that the freedom afforded to Professor Hoppe and to all members of the academic community carries a significant corresponding academic responsibility. In the balance between freedoms and responsibilities, and where there may be ambiguity between the two, academic freedom must, in the end, be foremost." The "nondisciplinary" letter was removed from his personnel file.[6] Hoppe's request for a one-year paid leave (sabbatical) and a letter of apology were denied.[7]


In June 2005, Hoppe gave an interview in the German newspaper Junge Freiheit, in which he characterized monarchy as a lesser evil than democracy, calling the latter mob rule and saying, "Liberty instead of democracy!" In the interview Hoppe also condemned the French revolution as belonging in "the same category of vile revolutions as well as the Bolshevik revolution and the Nazi revolution," because the French revolution led to "Regicide, Egalitarianism, democracy, socialism, hatred of all religion, terror measures, mass plundering, rape and murder, military draft and the total, ideologically motivated War."[8]


Hans-Hermann Hoppe's views about immigration [9], which do not cast libertarianism as requiring open borders, have been controversial within the wider libertarian movement. Walter Block offered arguments against Hoppe's immigration position in a 1999 article, "A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration."[10]

Hoppe has countered his opponents by commenting on their opinions in footnote 23[11] to Natural Order, the State, and the Immigration Problem [12]:

A second motive for the open border enthusiasm among contemporary left-libertarians is their egalitarianism. They were initially drawn to libertarianism as juveniles because of its "antiauthoritarianism" (trust no authority) and seeming "tolerance," in particular toward "alternative" — non-bourgeois — lifestyles. As adults, they have been arrested in this phase of mental development. They express special "sensitivity" in every manner of discrimination and are not inhibited in using the power of the central state to impose non-discrimination or "civil rights" statutes on society. Consequently, by prohibiting other property owners from discrimination as they see fit, they are allowed to live at others' expense. They can indulge in their "alternative" lifestyle without having to pay the "normal" price for such conduct, i.e., discrimination and exclusion. To legitimize this course of action, they insist that one lifestyle is as good and acceptable as another. This leads first to multiculturalism, then to cultural relativism, and finally to "open borders."







  1. ^
  2. ^ "Professor Who Was Accused of Making Derogatory Remarks in Class Wants UNLV to Clear His Record" The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 14, 2005
  3. ^ (.pdf)
  4. ^ Rebel Yell
  5. ^ (.pdf) Hans-Herman Hoppes' Website
  6. ^ The Las Vegas Review Journal
  7. ^ "U. of Nevada Reverses Professor's Reprimand" ELIZABETH F. FARRELL. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Washington: Mar 4, 2005. Vol. 51, Iss. 26; pg. A.10
  8. ^ 24.06.05 / "Freiheit statt Demokratie" / Der libertäre Vordenker und bekennende "Antidemokrat" Hans-Hermann Hoppe über seine provokanten Thesen
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Block, Walter. "A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration." Journal of Libertarian Studies. Vol. 13, No. 2. 1999. [2]
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

History is ultimately determined by ideas, and ideas can, at least in principle, change almost instantly.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe (born 2 September 1949) is an Austrian school economist, an anarcho-capitalist (libertarian) philosopher, and a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


On Ideas

  • History is ultimately determined by ideas, and ideas can, at least in principle, change almost instantly. But in order for ideas to change it is not sufficient for people to see that something is wrong. At least a significant number must also be intelligent enough to recognize what it is that is wrong. That is, they must understand the basic principles upon which society — human cooperation — rests ... And they must have sufficient will power to act according to this insight.

On Economics

  • Essentially, economic analysis consists of: (1) an understanding of the categories of action and an understanding of the meaning of a change in values, costs, technological knowledge, etc.; (2) a description of a situation in which these categories assume concrete meaning, where definite people are identified as actors with definite objects specified as their means of action, with definite goals identified as values and definite things specified as costs; and (3) a deduction of the consequences that result from the performance of some specified action in this situation, or of the consequences that result for an actor if this situation is changed in a specified way. And this deduction must yield a priori-valid conclusions, provided there is no flaw in the very process of deduction and the situation and the change introduced into it being given, and a priori—valid conclusions about reality if the situation and situation—change, as described, can themselves be identified as real, because then their validity would ultimately go back to the indisputable validity of the categories of action.
    • A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism: Economics, Politics, and Ethics (Kluwer: 1989): 118-19

On Private Property

  • [O]ur existence is due to the fact that we do not, indeed cannot accept a norm outlawing property in other scarce resources next to and in addition to that of one's physical body. Hence, the right to acquire such goods must be assumed to exist.
    • The Economics and Ethics of Private Property: Studies in Political Economy and Philosophy (Kluwer: 1993): 185.
  • [The] property right in one's own body must be said to be justified a priori, for anyone who would try to justify any norm whatsoever would already have to presuppose the exclusive right to control over his body as a valid norm simply in order to say "I propose such in such."
    • The Economics and Ethics of Private Property (2nd edition, Ludwig von Mises Institute: 2006): 335

On Government

  • If no one can appeal to justice except to government, justice will be perverted in favor of the government, constitutions and supreme courts notwithstanding. Constitutions and supreme courts are state constitutions and agencies, and whatever limitations to state action they might contain or find is invariably decided by agents of the very institution under consideration. Predictably, the definition of property and protection will continually be altered and the range of jurisdiction expanded to the government’s advantage until, ultimately, the notion of universal and immutable human rights – and in particular property rights – will disappear and be replaced by that of law as government-made legislation and rights as government-given grants.
  • According to the pronouncements of our state rulers and their intellectual bodyguards (of whom there are more than ever before), we are better protected and more secure than ever. We are supposedly protected from global warming and cooling, from the extinction of animals and plants, from the abuses of husbands and wives, parents and employers, from poverty, disease, disaster, ignorance, prejudice, racism, sexism, homophobia, and countless other public enemies and dangers. In fact, however, matters are strikingly different. In order to provide us with all this protection, the state managers expropriate more than 40 percent of the incomes of private producers year in and year out. Government debt and liabilities have increased without interruption, thus increasing the need for future expropriations. Owing to the substitution of government paper money for gold, financial insecurity has increased sharply, and we are continually robbed through currency depreciation. Every detail of private life, property, trade, and contract is regulated by ever higher mountains of laws legislation), thereby creating permanent legal uncertainty and moral hazard. In particular, we have been gradually stripped of the right to exclusion implied in the very concept of private property. ... In short, the more the state has increased its expenditures on social security and public safety, the more our private property rights have been eroded, the more our property has been expropriated, confiscated, destroyed, or depreciated, and the more we have been deprived of the very foundation of all protection: economic independence, financial strength, and personal wealth.
  • The monopolization of money and banking is the ultimate pillar on which the modern state rests. In fact, it is probably become the most cherished instrument for increasing state income. For nowhere else can the state make the connection between redistribution-expenditure and exploitation-return more directly, quickly, and securely than by monopolizing money and banking. And nowhere else are the state's schemes less clearly understood than here.

On Democracy

  • As for the moral status of majority rule, it must be pointed out that it allows for A and B to band together to rip off C, C and A in turn joining to rip off B, and then B and C conspiring against A, and so on.
    • Democracy - The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order (Transaction: 2001): 104
  • Predictably, under democratic conditions the tendency of every monopoly - to increase prices and decrease quality - will be only more pronounced. Instead of a prince who regards the country as his private property, a temporary caretaker is put in charge of the country. He does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his and his proteges’ advantage. He owns its current use - usufruct - but not its capital stock. This will not eliminate exploitation. To the contrary, it will make exploitation less calculating and carried out with little or no regard to the capital stock, i.e., short-sighted. Moreover, the perversion of justice will proceed even faster now. Instead of protecting pre-existing private property rights, democratic government becomes a machine for the redistribution of existing property rights in the name of illusory `social security.’
  • The American model – democracy – must be regarded as a historical error, economically as well as morally. Democracy promotes shortsightedness, capital waste, irresponsibility, and moral relativism. It leads to permanent compulsory income and wealth redistribution and legal uncertainty. It is counterproductive. It promotes demagoguery and egalitarianism. It is aggressive and potentially totalitarian internally, vis-à-vis its own population, as well as externally. In sum, it leads to a dramatic growth of state power, as manifested by the amount of parasitically – by means of taxation and expropriation – appropriated government income and wealth in relation to the amount of productively – through market exchange – acquired private income and wealth, and by the range and invasiveness of state legislation. Democracy is doomed to collapse, just as Soviet communism was doomed to collapse.

On Natural Elites

  • In every society, a few individuals acquire the status of an elite through talent. Due to superior achievements of wealth, wisdom, and bravery, these individuals come to possess natural authority, and their opinions and judgments enjoy wide-spread respect. Moreover, because of selective mating, marriage, and the laws of civil and genetic inheritance, positions of natural authority are likely to be passed on within a few noble families. It is to the heads of these families with long-established records of superior achievement, farsightedness, and exemplary personal conduct that men turn to with their conflicts and complaints against each other. These leaders of the natural elite act as judges and peacemakers, often free of charge out of a sense of duty expected of a person of authority or out of concern for civil justice as a privately produced "public good."

On Conservatism

  • Private property capitalism and egalitarian multiculturalism are as unlikely a combination as socialism and cultural conservatism. And in trying to combine what cannot be combined, much of the modern libertarian movement actually contributed to the further erosion of private property rights (just as much of contemporary conservatism contributed to the erosion of families and traditional morals). What the countercultural libertarians failed to recognize, and what true libertarians cannot emphasize enough, is that the restoration of private property rights and laissez-faire economics implies a sharp and drastic increase in social “discrimination” and will swiftly eliminate most if not all of the multicultural-egalitarian life style experiments so close to the heart of left libertarians. In other words, libertarians must be radical and uncompromising conservatives.
    • Democracy - The God That Failed: 207-08
  • Families, authority, communities, and social ranks are the empirical-sociological concretization of the abstract philosophical-praxeological categories and concepts of property, production, exchange, and contract. Property and property relations do not exist apart from families and kinship relations.
    • Democracy - The God That Failed: 203
  • Egalitarianism, in every form and shape, is incompatible with the idea of private property. Private property implies exclusivity, inequality, and difference. And cultural relativism is incompatible with the fundamental----indeed foundational----fact of families and intergenerational kinship relations. Families and kinship relations imply cultural absolutism.
    • Democracy - The God That Failed: 217

On Promoting Libertarianism

  • We must promote the idea of secession. Or more specifically, we must promote the idea of a world composed of tens of thousands of distinct districts, regions, and cantons, and hundred of thousands of independent free cities such as the present day oddities of Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Greatly increased opportunities for economically motivated migration would thus result, and the world would be one of small [classically] liberal governments economically integrated through free trade and an international commodity money such as gold.

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