Mr Benjamin Marks, editor-in-chief at Dr Hartwich, thank you very much for taking the time to sit down and explain your disagreements with Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe for, and everyone else who is part of The Mises Seminar (tickets are still available), which will be held in Sydney, November 25-26, 2011, where Hoppe will be launching his first Australian tour.

Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich, research fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies: “As Hoppe himself has chosen the classical liberals to be the butt of his attacks — the title of one his lectures was ‘The errors of classical liberalism’ — he should not be surprised to meet with protest from them” (paragraph 3).

BM: No shit, Sherlock.

OMH: “Sometimes it is hard to judge someone only by what he writes, and it is definitely a lot easier to understand a person if you spend three days in discussions with him” (paragraph 1).

BM: In Hoppe’s case, that is absolute rubbish, because what he says in conversation or at the lectern is precisely what he has explained previously in writing. Hoppe is not known for his diplomacy in any communication medium. Evidently, you had not read much of him before you met him. If I am wrong on this, please point out where something he said in your discussions differs from what he has written.

OMH: “[T]hose of you who read German will soon be able to find an essay about Hoppe’s errors which will be published shortly. I have written this article with my friend Bijan Nowrousian, and should there be an interest in making it accessible to a wider audience I would be happy to translate it to have it republished in an English language publication” (paragraph 2).

BM: Yes, please, I am interested in reading it, but I can only read English. I would be happy to publish an English translation on the website of the Australian economics organisation, I will respond to it.

OMH: “[N]obody would be surprised if Hoppe, the self-confessed libertarian anarcho-capitalist, would be criticised by socialists or communists, i.e. if they had ever heard of him. But this is unlikely as Hoppe is virtually unknown outside radical liberal and libertarian circles although some of his followers may wish to believe so” (paragraph 2).

BM: Hoppe is a “self-confessed libertarian anarcho-capitalist”! Oh my goodness, really? And he is so unpopular. Imagine the shock and horror on the faces of Hoppe’s followers when they find out he is unpopular.

OMH: “Before I criticise Hoppe …” (paragraph 4).

BM: So the previous paragraphs were not intended as criticism. You fooled me. Very clever. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

OMH: “[Hoppe’s] alternative to democracy means to generalise the efficiencies of the market and to impose a new social system onto society. Hoppe calls this state the ‘natural order’” (paragraph 6).

BM: Rather than Hoppe wanting “to generalise the efficiencies of the market,” it would be more accurate to say that Hoppe applies economic reasoning to every good or service that is scarce, because he believes that the economics of the Misesian method is a science. And rather than Hoppe wanting “to impose a new social system onto society,” it would be more accurate to say that he advocates a natural order, where everything is logically justified, and not laws and rules imposed on society by those who break the natural laws.

OMH: “It remains Hoppe’s secret what is ‘natural’ about this ‘natural order'” (paragraph 7).

BM: Have you never read Lysander Spooner or Murray Rothbard? Have you never heard of natural rights? Albert Jay Nock clearly explained what is natural about it when he said:

Any contravention of natural law, any tampering with the natural order of things, must have its consequences, and the only recourse for escaping them is such as entails worse consequences. Nature recks nothing of intentions, good or bad; the one thing she will not tolerate is disorder, and she is very particular about getting her full pay for any attempt to create disorder. She gets it sometimes by very indirect methods, often by very roundabout and unforeseen ways, but she always gets it.

I trust now that you understand what is meant by natural order. So maybe you haven’t read Spooner, Rothbard or Nock, which I guess is not unusual, but have you not even read Frédéric Bastiat? He said:

[W]e assure the socialists that we repudiate only forced organization, not natural organization. We repudiate the forms of association that are forced upon us, not free association. We repudiate forced fraternity, not true fraternity. We repudiate the artificial unity that does nothing more than deprive persons of individual responsibility. We do not repudiate the natural unity of mankind under Providence.

But I guess even familiarity with Bastiat is too much to expect. But what about Adam Smith? He said:

All systems either of preference or of restraint, therefore, being thus completely taken away, the obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord. Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men. The sovereign is completely discharged from a duty, in the attempting to perform which he must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, and for the proper performance of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient; the duty of superintending the industry of private people, and of directing it towards the employments most suitable to the interest of the society.

OMH: “Just like the social systems of socialism and communism were nothing but armchair theories, Hoppe’s system is the mere result of his own theoretical considerations. Essentially, Hoppe presents himself as a constructivist as he is ignoring grown, historical realities and then replaces them by his own thought experiments. Wasn’t this how communist ideologues proceeded as well? Wasn’t it Hayek’s main criticism of socialist thinking that ideologues believed they could deliberately create a better order for society?” (paragraph 7).

BM: Wrong. Hayek, far from criticising, and even further from it being his “main criticism”, praised and envied the socialists for their “armchair theories” and because they “believed they could deliberately create a better order for society”. Here’s an important passage from Hayek’s “The Intellectuals and Socialism”:

Speculations about the possible entire reconstruction of society give the intellectual a fare much more to his taste than the more practical and short-run considerations of those who aim at a piecemeal improvement of the existing order. In particular, socialist thought owes its appeal to the young largely to its visionary character; the very courage to indulge in utopian thought is in this respect a source of strength to the socialists which traditional liberalism sadly lacks.

This difference operates in favor of socialism, not only because speculation about general principles provides an opportunity for the play of the imagination of those who are unencumbered by much knowledge of the facts of present-day life, but also because it satisfies a legitimate desire for the understanding of the rational basis of any social order and gives scope for the exercise of that constructive urge for which liberalism, after it had won its great victories, left few outlets. The intellectual, by his whole disposition, is uninterested in technical details or practical difficulties. What appeal to him are the broad visions, the spacious comprehension of the social order as a whole which a planned system promises.

This fact that the tastes of the intellectual were better satisfied by the speculations of the socialists proved fatal to the influence of the liberal tradition. Once the basic demands of the liberal programs seemed satisfied, the liberal thinkers turned to problems of detail and tended to neglect the development of the general philosophy of liberalism, which in consequence ceased to be a live issue offering scope for general speculation.

Thus for something over half a century it has been only the socialists who have offered anything like an explicit program of social development, a picture of the future society at which they were aiming, and a set of general principles to guide decisions on particular issues. Even though, if I am right, their ideals suffer from inherent contradictions, and any attempt to put them into practice must produce something utterly different from what they expect, this does not alter the fact that their program for change is the only one which has actually influenced the development of social institutions. It is because theirs has become the only explicit general philosophy of social policy held by a large group — the only system or theory which raises new problems and opens new horizons — that they have succeeded in inspiring the imagination of the intellectuals.

The actual developments of society during this period were determined, not by a battle of conflicting ideals, but by the contrast between an existing state of affairs and that one ideal of a possible future society which the socialists alone held up before the public. Very few of the other programs which offered themselves provided genuine alternatives. Most of them were mere compromises or halfway houses between the more extreme types of socialism and the existing order. All that was needed to make almost any socialist proposal appear reasonable to these “judicious” minds, who were constitutionally convinced that the truth must always lie in the middle between the extremes, was for someone to advocate a sufficiently more extreme proposal. There seemed to exist only one direction in which we could move, and the only question seemed to be how fast and how far the movement should proceed.


We need intellectual leaders who are prepared to resist the blandishments of power and influence and who are willing to work for an ideal, however small the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote.

The practical compromises they must leave to the politicians. Free trade and freedom of opportunity are ideals which still may arouse the imaginations of large numbers, but a mere “reasonable freedom of trade” or a mere “relaxation of controls” is neither intellectually respectable nor likely to inspire any enthusiasm.

The main lesson which the true liberal must learn from the success of the socialists is that it was their courage to be utopian which gained them the support of the intellectuals and therefore an influence on public opinion which is daily making possible what only recently seemed utterly remote. Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this had rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide — unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds. But if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost. The intellectual revival of liberalism is already underway in many parts of the world. Will it be in time?

So much for Hartwich’s appeal to the authority of Hayek.

OMH: “If Hoppe envisages a society based entirely on mutually voluntary contractual agreements, doesn’t he need ‘a new man’ to make this vision work?” (paragraph 7).

BM: No, Hoppe believes that government consists of these same people who are claimed to need a government over them. It is defenders of government, like Hartwich, not Hoppe, who believe in “a new man” to justify the social order they favour.

OMH: “Does Hoppe seriously believe that imperfect, often irrational and not always moral people can be integrated into a voluntary society, free of any kind of coercion without endangering the freedom and property rights of other individuals?” (paragraph 7).

BM: Just because you don’t want government to provide food, does it therefore follow that you don’t want anyone else to? Of course not, yet that is exactly what you are suggesting of Hoppe when it comes to law enforcement. Hoppe sees a role for justified coercion, as you admit in paragraph 12 and onwards. It is as though you are purposefully mischaracterising his position, hoping your audience has a very short attention span, and are attempting to hide your crude incorrect characterisations of Hoppe by swamping them with many other equally crude comments.

OMH: “[Hoppe] does not see that the market can only be free if somebody keeps it free from violence and crime. And this somebody cannot be a company in this market because the free market has to exist and be free before a company can act as a part of it. There always has to be someone who removes company A from the market if A becomes a criminal and violent threat to others. Fighting violence and crime is absolutely necessary to make individual freedom possible. But doing so can never work if the criminal and the victim were legally on the same level” (paragraph 14).

BM: Even if one does not apply any economic reasoning as to why defence would be better if it was not run by a monopolist (monopolies tend to produce an inferior quality product at higher cost than if there was competition to contend with), is it not possible that the non-market entity that Hartwich favours to provide defence could be run by a group who want to confiscate a large percentage of the earnings from much of the population, including those who have not expressed their consent to the non-market entity? What if government A becomes “a criminal and violent threat to others”? Hartwich is clearly defending what amounts to a protection racket that is not “on the same level” as its subjects, clearly meaning that it does not need to apply the laws it applies to others to itself.

OMH: “When Somalia ceased to exist as a state, what followed was not the utopian ‘natural order’ but the rule of the machine gun with hundreds of thousands of fatalities. This shows why all great Liberals have supported the existence of a minimal state. This is not a theoretical inconsistenc[y], as Hoppe may believe. No, it is a perhaps somewhat resigned if fundamentally correct insight into human nature” (paragraph 15).

BM: So you are defending the former Somali government, which very clearly failed to prevent the current situation from coming into being? In paragraph 15, you also talk about Mises as being opposed to anarchocapitalism. Both the “WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, WON’T WARLORDS TAKE OVER? JUST LOOK AT SOMALIA!” and the “WHY DO YOU CALL YOURSELVES MISESIANS, WHEN MISES WASN’T AN ANARCHIST” are dealt with in the middle column of

OMH: “Of course, anarcho-capitalism is not a new idea and it was not invented by Hoppe either. But it was Hoppe who combined anarcho-capitalism with a cultural ultra-conservatism, and it is this combination which makes his theory so explosive. One may well discuss the pros and cons of anarchism without having to refer to Hoppe, but it would be hard to understand and discuss Hoppe’s ‘natural order’ without evaluating his ideas about the functioning of an anarcho-capitalist society. Therefore, my critique is a critique of Hoppe’s idea of anarcho-capitalism, not of other anarchists” (paragraph 6).

BM: But when you mention Somalia and Mises, you are clearly having a go at anarchocapitalists in general, going beyond critiquing Hoppe’s contribution to the field.

So, I’ve pointed out that you have not read Smith, Bastiat, Spooner, Nock, Rothbard or Hayek, who you suggested aided your case when actually he did not. I have pointed out that what you have said you would do in your criticism differed from what you did. I’ve pointed out many errors and I could keep going having only addressed much of the first 15 paragraphs of your 29 paragraph article, but I think it is best to wait until I get an English translation of that German-language article you talked about above, which I hope actually quotes from Hoppe wherever you allege he makes an error, rather than features you incorrectly reconstructing his argument in your own words, and then criticising what amounts to his secondhand dealer.

Lastly, I admire your habit of linking to and quoting from your critics on your website. It has long been a dream of mine to be quoted and linked to prominently on that page. Also, if you would like to respond to this interview by writing in the comments section below, or by emailing me a response to post to, or by writing it for somewhere else, I will gladly read it and respond — provided that you write it in English. Also, you are cordially invited to attend The Mises Seminar, in Sydney, November 25-26, 2011, where, if you found you learnt about Hoppe by spending three days with him (as you said in paragraph 1), you can now spend a little bit longer, and learn even more. Of course, you could always read Hoppe, too.

(in order of appearance on
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  2. Sports Fans Should Be Libertarians
  3. Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures
  4. Government Schools Teach Fascism Perfectly
  5. Deport Government to Solve Immigration Problem
  6. The Drugs Problem Problem
  7. Self-Defeating Campaigning
  8. Gittinomics: Economics for Gits
  9. Exclusive Ross Gittins Interview on The Happy Economist
  10. Population Puzzle Solved
  11. An Open Letter to the CIS
  12. Principled Foreign Policy Options: Reinvade or Shut Up and Get Out
  13. WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Political Corruption Exposed!
  14. Feedback please: Is this worth doing?
  15. CIS and IPA Defend State Schooling
  16. A Thorough Review Without Spoilers of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  17. Dead Reckoning and Government: A Proposal for Electoral Reform
  18. Quadrant Defends State Schooling
  19. The MPS 2010 Consensus
  20. Slogans for Property Rights Funeral
  21. Government is Impossible: Introduction
  22. Government is Criminal: Part 1
  23. Exclusive John Howard Interview on Lazarus Rising
  24. Response to Senator Cory Bernardi and the IPA
  25. Earn $$$$$ by Justifying Government Against Anarchocapitalism: Survey
  26. Statism is Secrecy: WikiLeaks vs
  27. One question the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Greens, the CIS, the IPA, Ross Gittins, Ross Garnaut, Ken Henry, Gerard Henderson, John Quiggin, Clive Hamilton, Tim Flannery, Catallaxy Files, Club Troppo, Larvatus Prodeo, Phillip Adams, Robert Manne, Michael Stutchbury, Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt and Dick Smith are scared to answer
  28. Libertarian Philanthropists Should Exploit Tax Evasion Convictions
  29. Ronald Kitching Obituary
  30. The Minarchist Case for Anarchism
  31. Libertarianism in a 300-word rant
  32. in the news again
  33. Libertarianism In An Executive Summary
  34. The Banking Bubble Blow-by-Blow
  35. WARNING: Libertarianism Is NOT ...
  36. Would Anything Possibly Convince You that You Are Living Under a Protection Racket?
  37. An Open Letter to Dick Smith
  38. at 42
  39. "My boyfriend calls himself a Marxist and votes Labor, what should I do?"
  40. "He says if I leave him due to politics, I should leave the country too."
  41. No Booboisie at Gülçin’s Galt’s Gulch
  42. "Hey, Mr Anarchocapitalist, show me a society without government"
  43. The Three Epoch-Making Events of the Modern Libertarian Movement
  44. Government is Criminal: Part 2 - Methodological Individualism
  45. Government is Criminal: Part 3 - Subjective Utility
  46. Government is Criminal: Part 4 - Praxeological Synonyms
  47. Government is in a State of Anarchy
  48. Limited Government is Absolute Government
  49. Why the 2012 double Nobel laureate is coming to Sydney
  50. Exclusive Oliver Marc Hartwich Interview on Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  51. A Critique of the Opening Two Sentences of the "About CIS" Page on The Centre for Independent Studies' Website,
  52. An invitation for ANDEV members to the Mises Seminar
  53. Sell the ABC to Rupert Murdoch: Lid Blown on ABC Funding Disgrace!
  54., The Centre for Independent Studies new blog
  55. The Unconstitutionality of Government in Australia (demonstrated in under 300 words)
  56. The Best Libertarian Film Is ...
  57. Launch Southeast Asian Military Operations to Free Australian Drug Dealers and Consumers
  58. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  59. Hoppe's Inarticulate Australian Critics: The Hon Dr Peter Phelps, Dr Steven Kates and James Paterson
  60. Vice Magazine Westralian Secession Interview
  61. Sideshow to Dr Steven Kates' criticism of the Mises Seminar: Davidson vs Hoppe on Adam Smith
  62. The Best Australian Think Tank Is ...
  63. Announcing a new magazine to rival Time and The Economist
  64. The exciting new Australian Taxpayers' Alliance
  65. Neville Kennard Obituary
  66. Contrarian Conformism
  67. An invitation for Dick Smith, the IPA and other Walter Block fans to the 2nd Australian Mises Seminar
  68. Westralian mining legend Ron Manners of Mannkal belongs in The Property and Freedom Society
  69. What would Bert Kelly think of the Mises Seminar and Walter Block?
  70. Bad news about the Mises Seminar
  71. Gina Rinehart Fan Club gives big to Australian political education
  72. Sam Kennard wins North Sydney by-election by unanimous consent
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  1. Exclusive Ross Gittins Interview on The Happy Economist
  2. Exclusive John Howard Interview on Lazarus Rising
  3. Exclusive Oliver Marc Hartwich Interview on Hans-Hermann Hoppe
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