Reforming Hoppe: A List of Hans Hermann Hoppe’s Errors

(from elsewhere)

[I] consider my work as a restatement of Hoppe’s aprioristic justificationary rationalism in ratio-scientific terms.

Hoppe’s errors are natural for a German philosopher who was trained by Marxists. And while the errors are substantial by today’s standards, they are limited to errors in construction (justification), with his conclusions from his justifications surviving. This is important. From Hoppe’s earliest work onward, his deductions from incentives are correct.

– We justify moral actions within a normative system of evolved rules, and we criticize truth propositions to test whether the theories survive. We do not find truth in justification – we find permission. We find truth in survival against all known criticism. Justification translates to “I can get away with saying this so you cannot say I violated the rules of cooperation: morality or law” while truth propositions under ratio-scientific criticism translate to “I have done due diligence to determine if this argument survives all known attempts at failure, regardless of preference, morality or law.”  Hoppe confuses legal justification (excuse making), with truth (survival from all competition). As Mises discovered but failed to understand, truth propositions including human choice require the possibility of constructing a sequence of rational choices  AND the survival from categorical, logical, empirical falsification. Truth propositions survive competition.

Possession demonstrably (empirically) exists prior to cooperation, and property exist after an agreement to cooperate.  Scarcity exists prior to cooperation. But scarcity is imperceptible. Cost is perceptible. The origin of demonstrable property is in the cost to acquire. Scarcity explains why things are costly, but not the origination of possession nor the origination of property.

– Different sets of Property rights evolve in communities due to the disproportionate returns on cooperation at the given level of division of ability, knowledge and labor – and the necessity of preserving those returns by prohibiting parasitism. Property rights do not originate in scarcity of goods, they originate in the scarcity and disproportionate return on cooperation. We pay for cooperation by forgoing opportunities to use or consume that which others have already invested in using and consuming. Man like other animals retaliates against the imposition of costs upon that which he has himself born costs with the intent to inventory. The universal demonstration of altruistic punishment (disproportionately costly punishment of free riders, parasites, predators) demonstrates the evolutionary necessity and value of cooperation as the most costly and scarce good. (thus upending libertarianism’s attempt to suggest cooperation can be obtained for free, or that it is the natural bias of man or animal. instead, man and animal are rational. we cooperate when possible, parasite when possible and prey when possible, depending upon costs.)

Argumentation and non-contradiction originate in legal justification post-cooperation, not in constraints prior to cooperation. The first question of cooperation is ‘why don’t I kill you and take your stuff’, and only once we enter into an agreement do we justify our words and deeds within that agreement – thereby relying upon internal consistency (non-contradiction). Prior to that factm no cooperation and nor moral constraint exists – it is only desired.  Moreover, the logic of cooperation is not binary.  We live in an amoral world of  violence, theft, conspiracy and deception,  and while we  can construct cooperation, we construct cooperation at will given the costs and returns. And our choices at any time are to:
(a) preserve the options of violence, theft, deception and conspiracy until opportunity avails to use it,
(b) agree not to aggress but not to cooperate either
(c) cooperate when useful preserving future opportunity for cooperation
(d) cooperate whenever possible, expecting the same,
(e) cease any level of cooperation and retreat to a prior level.
So, contradiction is a test for a judge in matters of dispute resolution. It is not a necessary property of cooperation. We can test violations of reciprocity (cooperation) during disputes but no such dependence upon internal consistency exists prior to establishing a agreement (contract) for cooperation.

The minimum scope of property necessary to construct a reciprocal exchange, in order to provide minimum incentives for the rational formation of a voluntary polity is property-en-toto, or what we call “demonstrated-property” (demonstrated defense of that which we have paid costs to acquire), and the minimum scope of property is not IVP: intersubjectively verifiable property – (property that is epistemologically easy to test if we transfer). Hoppe and Rothbard misapply separatist ethics between polities (between states) as sufficient for the formation of a polity. (Ghetto Ethics.)  Arguably Hoppe suggests that IVP is merely a minimum criteria and that all other properties must be arbitrarily constructed upon it.  However, this means that IVP is an insufficient criteria for a basis for law.  Whereas Property in Toto (demonstrated property) is a sufficient criteria for the basis for law. In other words, physical property is insufficient for the formation of a polity, it is merely sufficient for cooperation between states (organized polities).

The formation of a voluntary (anarchic) polity requires that local transaction costs are low enough to limit demand for authority to either prevent retaliation for violations of property in toto, and to provide sufficient incentives to join such a polity rather than say, a democratic humanist polity. The reason is we must choose between high local transaction costs with low political costs that prohibit economic velocity, and low local transaction costs that encourage economic velocity with high political costs. Humans rationally choose government over anarchy unless anarchy provides the lower transaction costs. This means that anarchy is only possible under high trust. High trust is only possible under property en toto with it’s total prohibition on deception (cheating) rather than intersubjectively verifiable property with its tolerance for deception and cheating.  A rational anarchic polity can only form under property en toto, not IVP.

– Those arguably voluntary anarchic polities that have existed, on the few occasions that they have existed, because larger states have used squatters and settlers and given away territorial rights  in borderlands in order to hold it from competitors cheaply, without having to invest heavily, but still giving them an excuse to conduct war if attempts taken against it. If those have evolved for other reasons, they  have been the target of extermination by neighbors. Because the only reason to seek a low trust polity is some variation of parasitism: gypsies on the low end, pirates in the center, and financial predators (moral hazards) on the high end.

The formation of a voluntary polity (anarchic) will only be possible under western aristocratic martial egalitarianism (a militia) and the independent common law, prohibiting all parasitism against demonstrated property (what we bore costs for and defend), whether that parasitism is by violence, theft, extortion (blackmail, racketeering), fraud, (fraud by obscurantism, fraud by moralizing, fraud by omission), externality, (free riding, privatization of commons, socialization of losses), or conspiracy (statism, conversion, immigration, conquest, war and genocide).

– Mises was, like many of his contemporaries, trying to solve the problem of his era, and incorrectly cast operational testing by subjective analysis of rational incentives (praxeology) as a positive means of exploration sufficient for the investigation of cooperative and economic phenomenon, instead of a test of existential possibility of claims. Economics is empirical as any other of the science and only differs in that we know the first principles of cooperation (rational incentives on the positive side and non-imposition of costs – parasitism- on the negative side.) Whereas the first principles of the physical universe are as yet unknown to us. And where the first principles of declarative systems (logics) are matters of our discretion. (This is a rather difficult subject for all but those of us who specialize in epistemology.)

I could go on a bit, but Hoppe’s insights have been in the perverse incentives of bureaucracies – even under democracy, and the exposition of all moral and legal argument as reducible to property rights.

All his justificationary argument is pure Kantian,Cosmopolitan and Marxist nonsense. We do not justify truth propositions. Truth propositions survive attempts to refute them.

I love the man, honestly. But he was a product of his time and place just as I am a product of mine. Science wins. Rationalism loses. Not only because science is necessary for the provision of truth, but because PHILOSOPHY HAS LARGELY BEEN USED TO LIE.

Rothbardian libertarianism is just the extremism of the Marxist prohibition on Private Property inverted into an the extremism of a Marxist prohibition on Common Property – despite the fact that property rights can only exist as a commons, and no polity can survive competition for people and trade, and against competitors without providing commons as the multipliers necessary to do so.

I hope this is of some value to you.

Curt Doolittle
The Philosophy of Aristocracy
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev, Ukraine (Tallinn, Estonia)

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