Democracy – The God That Failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

In the 20th century, mankind’s darkest hour, the economists Ludwig Von Mises and Murray Rothbard produced brilliant scholarship and stunning logical arguments for advancing human liberty. Now in the 21st century, it is their ideological heir Hans-Hermann Hoppe, professor emeritus of economics, Universty Of Nevada Las Vegas, who continues their very important work with 2001’s “Democracy: The God That Failed”. Hoppe’s writing is just as good his teachers and here, he breaks new ground with this comparison of monarchy and democracy.

Hoppe wrote “Democracy: The God That Failed” to make two cases: first, that government is an unnecessary evil that should cease existing and second, that monarchism is superior to democracy because monarchism tends to keep government’s most unpleasant features in check whereas democracy exacerbates these features. Hence the transition from monarchy to democracy is a decline.

Hoppe’s complaint against the institution of government is that it is “a compulsory territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making and property rights violations”. Analyzing this charge, 1: Hoppe declares the belief that private property rights are morally justified is the foundation of a free society. Everything the government does violates the private property rights of the citizens, hence government is an abomination. 2: The government’s status as society’s ultimate decision-maker eliminates any possibility that its citizens can stand as free men, sovereign and in control of their own destiny. 3: appealing to the economic concept of free market competition, Hoppe points out that if government possesses a monopoly on things like defense and justice, then defense and justice will be higher in cost and lower in quality than they would be in a society filled with competing defenders and justice-seekers. 4: Governments do not give their citizens the option of voluntarily following their rules. They force us to follow. Finally, 5: Government has a natural tendency towards growth. It desires to increase its jurisdiction, to force more and more people to bow to its will. Eventually, this always leads to tyranny.

He describes “limited government” as an impossibility and dismisses the United States Constitution as incapable of protecting people’s natural rights to life, liberty and property. “In granting government the power to tax and legislate without consent, the Constitution cannot possibly assure this goal…it is absurd to believe that an agency that may tax without consent can be a property protector. Likewise, it is absurd to believe that an agency with legislative powers can preserve law and order.” (pg. 279) These arguments will probably be unpalatable to most people because of how hardcore they are, yet in all my life, I have heard very few things that make as much sense. It’s something that many people probably have intuitively figured out yet have trouble vocalizing. He deserves strong praise for stripping away our illusions about government and speaking these blunt truths to us.

Hoppe also deserves strong praise for calling attention to some facts of reality that libertarians often ignore or resist: that races differ in average intelligence and criminality, that religiously and ethnically homogenous communities have far less conflict than diverse multicultural communities, that private property owners have the moral right to discriminate in their hiring and service practices and that “Free Immigration” isn’t free at all because it denies the rights of natives their right to free association (Representative Emanuel Celler never asked the 90% White America of 1965 if they wanted to be flooded with third world immigrants). Libertarians must consider these facts as they attempt to build a stateless society.

In his discussion of monarchy and democracy, Hoppe demonstrates clearly why the world today is so utterly screwed up. Monarchs viewed their countries as their own private property and hence had a built-in incentive to keep them in good condition because their personal value was tied to their country’s well-being. They were more likely to consider the long term impact of their policies instead of only the short term and less likely to mercilessly abuse their subjects; by contrast, today’s democratically elected “caretakers” (presidents and prime ministers) can inflict horrible damage on the world, face virtually no consequences and enjoy a carefree retirement.

Hoppe is not exaggerating when he describes World War I as “the end of civilization”. This was the point in history where the three monarchical empires of Europe, (the Austro-Hungarian Habsburgs, German Hohenzollerns and Russian Romanovs) surrendered their thrones, leaving the stage set for unlimited totalitarian government. What followed was Communism, Nazism, Fascism, mass terror killings and famines, World War II, the New World Order’s one world government under the United Nations, constantly rising taxes and spending, debt and inflation, the welfare state, mass imprisonment and social dysfunction at all levels. Hoppe outright murders the Whig/Progressive Theory Of History with disquieting statistical evidence. The idea that the world was a more noble and peaceful place centuries ago isn’t just for wistful romantics, it probably actually was better back then. “Democracy: The God That Failed” is such an effective attack on several “sacred ideas”, the institution of government, the sanctity of the Constitution, the idea of democracy, the myth of progress and politically correct standards, that if I were to describe this book in one phrase, I’d call it “a refutation of the modern world”.

In order to escape from our current apocalyptic situation, Hoppe gives two suggestions: one is a large shift in public opinion causing people to view democracy as illegitimate. I highly doubt this will happen, at least in the short term. More realistically, he suggests secession. People all around the world should secede from their countries so that new, stateless territories may be created (this may also cause the majority countries to become less corrupt, for competitive reasons). I offer a third solution: civilians everywhere should arm themselves for self-defense, defying government statute if necessary. All tyranny is dependent upon the people being unwilling or unable to resist it; armed people are able to resist, at least somewhat.

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