Hoppe’s Dangerous Books
by Joakim Fagerström
and Joakim Kampe
few months ago we were invited to speak at the European
Students For Liberty regional conference in Stockholm.
Our institute has previously written articles for ESFL and we have
also delivered a webinar for them, on May 1st on the
Myth of the Socialist Paradise Sweden.
It was a great event with about 200 attendees and it was, to our
knowledge, greatly appreciated. Thus, we were truly looking forward
to speaking at a one of their conferences that was going to be held
in our hometown.
topic of the speech was "How to achieve freedom". In the
speech we were going to bring up Mises and use him as a role model
in the struggle for freedom, and how you had to be uncompromising
in your struggle and never water down your message in order to better
suit the masses. What mattered was devotion to truth and to your
principles. After all, Mises in his memoirs
if there was one thing that he regretted it was that he compromised
too much (Memoirs, p. 60).
a part of our attendance at the event we were planning on selling
books from many of the great authors and legends like Ludwig von
Mises, Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Henry Hazlitt, Stephan
Kinsella, Linda and Morris Tannehill and many more. Since these
books are hard to get and a bit more expensive in Sweden we always
try to sell them at good prices. We were granted the permission
to have a table to sell the books from during the day. At this point
everything was ok.
a few days before the event we announced at the ESFL event page
that we were going to sell these books during the day and about
ten minutes later we got a message from the organizers asking us
to immediately remove the "Hoppe comment". After some
clarification it was understood that what they wanted us to do was
to remove the announcements about the books. The reason was that
we were not allowed to sell Professor Hoppe’s books at the event.
This was quite surprising, since according to their website, ESFL
prides itself on embracing "the diversity of justifications
for liberty and encourages debate and discourse on the differing
philosophies that underlie liberty", and in being a big-tent
movement. The explanation was that a person responsible for the
event didn’t like Professor Hoppe, and that Hoppe’s ideas were deemed
to be too controversial. In other words, an organization that claims
that they are all for liberty doesn’t want to sell books written
by one of the leading libertarian thinkers of our time because his
ideas are deemed controversial.
many people Professor Hoppe’s books have been and will always be
too dangerous to allow. Once you read them you understand the great
fiction of the state, and it becomes obvious to what extent you
truly believe in property, freedom and society. Of course we fully
understand that European
Students For Liberty
have every right to exclude whatever and whoever they want from
their events. It is their property and their event and they can
choose to exclude and discriminate in any way they see fit. Ironically,
this is a point that Hoppe has made and been widely criticized for,
and it is likely one of the main reasons why his ideas are deemed
as being too controversial and uncomfortable, and why ESFL wants
nothing to do with him.
is however somewhat hypocritical to say that they want to include
everyone in the freedom movement, from minarchists to anarchists,
and that they are open to all ideas regarding freedom, but at the
same time they are afraid of Hoppe’s ideas. Thus they have shown
through their demonstrated preference that they don’t live up to
the very ideal and vision they themselves have set up for the organisation.
water down the message of liberty and shy away from controversies,
with no regard to the truth, in order to gain a wider audience is
not a behaviour that we think is conducive to the overall goal and
can never be a good long-term strategy. It is coincidentally also
one which both Mises and Hoppe would advise us against pursuing.
since we hold Professor Hoppe in such a high esteem (he is even
featured on our crest) and because he is an important reason as
to why we started the Swedish
we chose to not participate. Following the lead of Mises, and coincidentally
even more so of Hoppe, we do not compromise and we are not willing
to water down our message in order to better appease the masses.
Instead we choose to stand fast in our uncompromising intellectual
radicalism. Of course without our participation the event was more
homogenous, with statists and bankers.
an interesting detail that seems to have gone by completely unnoticed,
is that ESFL at the event handed out a book with the name "Marknader
("Markets and democracy" in English only available in
Swedish) for free, by Björn Wahlroos. What they weren’t aware
of is that in the book he references Professor Hoppe’s book Democracy
The God That Failed,
and even quotes Hoppe regarding the connection between democracy
and a higher time preference.
the end, it was a simple cost-benefit analysis on our part. Yes,
it is true, we could have gained some followers in the short-run
if we compromised and watered down our message, but we would have
done so at the expense of denying who we are and what we stand for.
conclude, and to paraphrase Shakespeare, there appears to be something
rotten in the ESFL. While we are sure this article mostly will fall
on deaf ears, we at least hope that someone within the ESFL realizes
that something is not right and acts to change this. ESFL could
be a strong and true force for libertarianism in the world, and
it is likely an organization that will be with us for some time.
However, to exclude ideas and authors because they are deemed to
be too controversial or uncomfortable will in the end be the undoing
of the organization and the overall goal. Only an adherence to non-compromising
intellectual radicalism will help us achieve our goal. An adherence
to pragmatism and gradualism will not. Because, it is just like
the libertarian abolitionist of slavery William Lloyd Garrison put
it: "Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice."
Fagerstrom [send him
mail] is the President of www.mises.se.
him mail] is the Editor of www.mises.se.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.