An Immigration Policy that Would Exclude Its Author

It’s remarkable to find someone so lacking in awareness of self, or in the ability to perceive himself as others might perceive him, that he would announce an immigration policy that, if taken even half seriously, would have barred him from entering the country. For a recent example, check out the latest pronouncement from the inimitably kooky Hans Herman Hoppe, Nevada’s very own mad professor.

Professor Hoppe’s Immigration Views Would Exclude…Him

In the latest dogmatic pronouncement from the Prussian Academy of Las Vegas, Professor Doktor Hoppe calls for closing off the borders and not letting anyone enter a community unless he or she first calculates the “full cost” of his or her entry and then compensates the other members of the community. Hoppe thinks that, in the name of the “market,” the government should be treated as if it were the owner of all of the land of a country. (We used to call that “socialism.”) Thus, if I were to offer someone a job in the country where I live (or even if I were to invite someone to come and visit me), that person could only be admitted if the person doing the inviting “also assumes the full costs associated with the importation of his immigrant-employee.” (The stark formulation of the principle would require, of course, that it be applied not only to the borders of a nation state, but to a province or state, a county, a city, a neighborhood, etc. Travel would be made virtually impossible.) Thus, “Equipped with a work permit, the immigrant is allowed to make free use of every public facility: roads, parks, hospitals, schools, and no landlord, businessman, or private association is permitted to discriminate against him as regards housing, employment, accommodation, and association. That is, the immigrant comes invited with a substantial fringe benefits package paid for not (or only partially) by the immigrant employer (who allegedly has extended the invitation), but by other domestic proprietors as taxpayers who had no say in the invitation whatsoever. This is not an ‘invitation,’ as commonly understood. This is an imposition.”

A Pure Burden By His Own Admission

Let’s see now…a certain philosopher from Germany, with virtually no knowledge of economic science, who was invited to take a post at a state-funded university because Professor Murray Rothbard (who did not read German) received his dissertation and found his name many times in the footnotes, comes to Las Vegas. He does not bother to produce any work for the market, but instead is financed through taxes coerced from the productive taxpayers of Nevada. By the professor’s own principle, he has not only failed to assume the “full cost” of his or her entry, but he is a pure burden to the taxpayers of Nevada. It’s made worse by the fact that he’s defrauded the taxpayers, to boot, as his knowledge of economics is as deep as is my knowledge of Sanskrit.

If I were a Hoppeite, I’d call for running Hans Herman Hoppe out of the country.

Hoppe & Freedom of Movement

But the complete lack of any evidence of self-awareness is not the only source of fun when reading one of his pronouncements. An equally interesting part of a Hoppe rant is how he quickly resorts to arguments ad hominem, even descending into psychoanalysis to explain why people might be so depraved as to — horrors!! — disagree with him. As he opines, “They [people who favor freedom of movement] 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.”

Disclosure Of Interest

In the interest of “full disclosure,” I should point out that Hoppe, whom I have never met, has in at least two countries where I had lectured before him publicly attacked me in very colorful and strange terms: “Palmer is nothing but the Ambassador of Homosexuality.” I wasn’t aware that there was a country of Homosexuality and since I had not even given any talks on the subject, having focused instead on European constitutional history, rational choice political science, and other equally sexually charged topics, I found that a puzzling thing to say, as did those who reported it to me. Perhaps Hoppe thought that such a clever and witty remark was an adequate response to any substantive claims I may have made in defense of my preference for constitutionally limited representative government over monarchy, which the zany Professor Hoppe praises: (“The historic transition from monarchy to democracy represents not progress but civilizational decline.” — p. 116)

(I also sparred a bit with Hoppe’s dogmatic supporters when I responded here to some heated responses to my teasing of the Ludwig von Mises Institute for claiming the Emperor Franz Josef as a great patron of Austrian economics and all round friend of liberty.)

47 Responses to “An Immigration Policy that Would Exclude Its Author”

  1. Greg Newburn

    This is just too good. We expect great posts, but this one is priceless. I attended a Mises Institute conference once, and I remember desperately wanting to leave as soon as I heard Hoppe tripping all over himself as he called Chicago School economists “worse than Communists,” and Gary Becker an “intellectual criminal.”

    What a wacko.

  2. Russell Hanneken

    It also seems to me that having children would be at least as much of an “imposition” as hiring foreign workers. Does Hoppe think the decision to procreate should be subject to government fees and restrictions?

    As Mises said, the problems resulting from one government intervention are always used to justify another. But it’s strange to see a libertarian using the problem of socialized costs to argue for more socialist controls. Maybe Hoppe’s next article will argue for mandatory seatbelt laws, or laws against smoking.

  3. Gil Guillory

    I think this post is uncivil. Even if Hoppe has been uncivil to you, this is no reason to respond in kind. Further, you state that Hoppe has “virtually no knowledge of economic science”. This is hardly true, and I reckon you know it.

    To get down to the issue, here, though: do you favor any restrictions on immigration on libertarian grounds? If so, what are your criteria, and how do you defend them against Hoppe’s criteria?

  4. Logic Police

    Ad Hominem alert!

    (This post has been deemed irrational and engages in pointless attempts at fueling Personality Wars. Total disregard of Hoppe’s main points, addressing only Hoppe himself and how his arguments would affect him personally.)

  5. Russell Hanneken

    Gil, yes, Professor Hoppe’s rudeness does justify Tom’s ridicule. Why not? It’s good to be courteous to people before you know anything about them, but if someone acts like a jerk, I don’t see why he’s entitled to politeness. That said, I think Tom’s post is ten times more civil than Hoppe’s gay baiting and psychologizing.

    I can’t comment on Hoppe’s knowledge of economic science, except to say I’ve heard he believes all unemployment in a free market would be voluntary. If that’s what he thinks, it doesn’t sound like he has a serious grasp of the subject.

    “Logic Police,” an ad hominem argument is one that says (or implies) you should reject a person’s conclusions because of who he is. You don’t engage in ad hominem argument merely by criticizing someone or making fun of him.

    And no, Tom does not totally disregard Hoppe’s main points. He notes that Hoppe wants the government to be treated as if it owns all the land in a country, which taken to its logical conclusion amounts to an endorsement of socialism. And he reduces Hoppe’s main argument to absurdity in a parenthetical comment. (“The stark formulation of the principle would require, of course, that it be applied not only to the borders of a nation state, but to a province or state, a county, a city, a neighborhood, etc. Travel would be made virtually impossible.” I notice you totally disregard this point.) I assume he didn’t write a more detailed response because he didn’t think Hoppe’s argument merited a more detailed response, which is arguably true.

    Finally, Tom doesn’t have to justify to you the subjects he chooses to write about. If you want to read about arguments on Serious Policy Issues rather than read Tom’s assessment of a libertarian personality, you are free to ignore this post.

  6. Greg, I am so glad to hear that you only “attended a Mises Institute conference once.” I hope this means that I won’t be seeing you at any future conferences since you are the wacko, not Dr. Hoppe. He has forgotten more about economics than you and Palmer ever knew.

  7. Dear Ambassador Palmer,

    Nice post on Hoppe. I enjoyed it. What you have failed to realize, however, is that by the very act of typing those words on the computer with the intent of others reading them, you have implicitly acceded to the very premises of the argument you have so feebly attempted to rebut. You are thereby committed to not only anarcho-capitalism, but a restrictive immigration policy, poor taste in neckties, and, well, anything else that Hoppe likes/dislikes. Actually, maybe you’d just better call him up to see exactly what you’re committed to. My Hoppeian logic isn’t quite what it used to be….

  8. Gil Guillory


    We disagree on whether rudeness is ever appropriate. I think it unloving and unbecoming of a man to be rude, especially in writing, regardless of the circumstances.

    Since you seem to be ignorant of Hoppe’s contributions to economics, you might want to read one of his short works, . He actually has some worthwhile things to say, even if one doesn’t always agree with him.

    I would sincerely like to know what Palmer thinks about immigration (that is, his stance, as opposed to merely a rebuttal of Hoppe), since I regard him as an informed libertarian scholar. This is especially because I used to think I was an open-borders advocate, but have started to change my mind in recent years.

    Since you seem to be responding to comments rather than Palmer, I’d be interested to hear what you say, as well. Do you advocate any immigration restrictions? For instance, background checks for criminal/terrorist activity, or demonstrated knowledge of English and/or Spanish?

    If you advocate any restrictions, upon what libertarian grounds do you justify them?

  9. 1. Hoppe is a loon, but to be fair he definitely knows a whole lot of economics. If you are attempting to stab at Austrian Economics, come on and say so.

    2. I don’t buy Hoppe’s argument for the same reason that I don’t think we are morally compelled to refrain from gambling, nor justified in turning someone who gambles in to the police. Just because the government, against my wishes, wants to build an infrastructure, doesn’t mean that I have the right to use the self-same government to exclude others from using that infrastructure.

    3. I think immigration is in essence, irrelevant. Then again, I think “national borders” are irrelevant. If someone steps on my property without permission, they are trespassing. If not, then it’s not my business.

    4. In the meantime, on a purely utilitarian basis, I think it’s fair to deny immigrants any sort of government aid, OR require them to pay taxes. But there’s no basis for using the state to restrict who may enter “America”.

  10. Greg Newburn


    I won’t be attending any more of those conferences, and I’m sure neither will any of the 7-8 others (that I spoke to) who were left astounded at the kooky nonsense Hoppe threw at us during his lectures.

    I mean come on. “Chicago School economists are worse than communists.” That’s a reckless, pathetic attack on an entire school of thought of which, from his substantive comments, Hoppe doesn’t know too much.

    If his lectures and comments during that conference were any indication, Hoppe has apparently forgotten not only his economics, but manners and all capacity for proper reasoning.

    That said, many of the lectures at the Mises conference were actually quite interesting and fun. The participants, by and large, were great too. All in all I had a good time. The real drawbacks were Hoppe, Rockwell, the treatment of Hayek, and the creepy references to Mises as some sort of God-like figure.

  11. This smear from Dr. Palmer is not new, but it is without substance.

    One could use this sort of argument to attack any libertarian.

    Consider this: I assume that Dr. Palmer’s friend Donald Boudreaux advocates the complete separation of school and state. But if this policy were implemented today, Dr. Boudreaux, as the head of the economics department at a government university, would be out of a job. The policy he advocates would exclude him!

    But so what? It is inevitable that every libertarian takes daily advantage of government policies that he does not favor. But that doesn’t make him a hypocrite, a kook, or any other bad thing.

    Now, one might reasonably criticize Hoppe’s views on immigration by asking, “How can you trust the government to wage a war on immigration, when every other war it wages leaves so many innocent victims?” Or, one might seriously address the difficult question raised by Hoppe and other libertarians, of what would happen if we opened the borders and the country were flooded with parasites who would use their votes to run the country into the ground in short order.

    As for the suggestion that Hoppe knows nothing about economics, it is so far beyond absurd that it requires no response, except to note that it, along with the rest of this post, is exemplary of the beltway-libertarian practice of discouraging people from reading Hoppe at all, rather than engaging his arguments with rational responses.

    Immigration is a topic on which we need much more discussion among libertarians. Repeating lame, old smears achieves nothing.

  12. Tom G. Palmer

    Well, I usually do my humble blogging at night (sorry, Mr. Guillory), so here’s my take on the discussion above.

    After I responded to the statement of HHH that those who do not agree with him on closing the borders suffer from mental problems (that’s what’s called an ad hominem argument; they’re wrong because they’re mentally ill, homosexual, dark-skinned, or whatever) and said that I thought he was ridiculous, I received a number of quite charged up emails saying, “Hoppe didn’t use ad hominem arguments, you do!” In addition, his acolytes at (Tom Dilorenzo and Stephen Kinsella) huff about my characterization of Hoppe as “inimitably kooky,” “zany,” and “Nevada’s own mad professor.” As Kinsella exclaimed, “Talk about ad hominem!”

    Let’s see. According to Hoppe, people who refuse to accept the full truth are characterized as follows:

    1. “Theoretically bankrupt, the left-libertarian open border stance can be understood only psychologically.” That is, since their views are patently absurd and contrary to HHH’s words, there must be an explanation for why they hold those views, an explanation that is not “they have reasons to believe they are true.”

    2. “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.” Their arguments must be rejected because they are “arrested in phase of mental development.”

    Those are ad hominem arguments, as is his dismissal of my arguments on the grounds that I am “nothing but the Ambassador of Homosexuality.”

    In contrast, calling Hoppe what I think he is, that is, a kook, is quite simply not a use of ad hominem argument. (Mr. Kinsella could look the term up in a dictionary.) Even kooks can make logically valid arguments. Their kookiness and the truth or falsehood of their claims are not connected. I believe that Hoppe is a clown and an offensive boor, but not that his clownishness or his boorishness entails that his arguments are invalid. There’s no need to invoke a fallacy, anyway, for Hoppe’s arguments are subject to criticism quite independently of what an offensive boor Hoppe is. What I offered were not arguments ad hominem, but two arguments in the form of the reductio ad absurdum:

    1. Hoppe argues that since we have a state, it should act as the owner of all of the land in the United States (and presumably so of all other countries). I pointed out that that argument leads straight to socialism, not to free markets. Followers of Ludwig von Mises, a trenchant critic of socialism, would presumably recoil from accepting socialism as the outcome of the argument, and if they reject the conclusion they must reject the premises that led to it. (I could also have pointed out, as others have, that it would lead to restrictions on religion, on speech, and on anything else you could mention, all in the name of “property.”)

    2. Hoppe argues that before one is allowed to move someplace, the “full costs” of that person settling (or, presumably, even staying for a night) would have to be calculated and a payment made to all those who bear those costs, but that seems to mean (as Kinsella and others suggest) that the state would receive the payment. I pointed out that, were that proposal taken seriously, all travel would be banned. It would be impossible to tote up all the “full costs” and, in any case, the transaction costs of travel and relocation would become astronomically high. The result would be to ban travel. That result would be completely absurd. As Ayn Rand would have said, “Check your premises.” If a set of premises generates, by means of valid inferences, an absurd conclusion, there is something wrong with the premises. In this case, it is Hoppe’s utterly nutty insistence on calculation and reimbursement of the “full cost” of one’s moving.

    It’s worth noting, as well, that in the absence of markets and well-defined and tradable property rights, it’s not possible to know what those costs are. As I recall, that was one of the insights of a certain, what was his name…um…..Austrian chap…..oh, yes…Ludwig von Mises, yes that’s it! It was in his 1920 essay on “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth.” In fact, that was the same chap who, in a variety of essays and books argued that interventionism was dynamic, that one intervention would create distortions that would engender demands for another intervention, which would in turn create more distortions, which would engender demands for yet more interventions. (See his essay, “Middle of the Road Leads to Socialism.”) We’ve seen it at work in the mumblings of HHH, who has been led by one intervention to another, which would yield yet others. As Mr. Hanneken pointed out, government permission for reproduction would be a necessary consequence of Hoppe’s train of thought.

    Hoppe is neither an “Austrian” economist, nor an economist simpliciter. (On the latter point, and in answer to Mr. Kupi, I have great respect for the Austrian economists, but I refuse to be a part of a cult. One reason to find Hoppe such a distasteful creature is that his example has turned away too many people from the insights of thinkers such as Menger, Boehm-Bawerk, Mises, Hayek, and Kirzner, all of whom have added greatly to the science of economics.) Let’s take Hoppe’s approach to law and economics. Hoppe once attacked another panelist at a conference who had discussed the Coase Theorem by accusing the panelist (and Coase) of arguing that judges should be empowered to confiscate and rearrange property whenever the judge determined that the new distribution would be efficient. Now Coase has never said that and that’s not a part of or even an implication (at least, not without a number of questionable additional premises) of the Coase Theorem. The panelist objected that Coase had never said that and that the Coase Theorem didn’t imply it. Hoppe’s reaction? “Prove it!” The panelist was a bit stunned and responded that since Hoppe had made the claim, the burden of proof was on him to show where Coase had said judges should be empowered to confiscate and rearrange property whenever the judge determined that the new distribution would be efficient. Hoppe’s reaction was classic Hoppe: “No! You show me where he didn’t say that!” Not only is Hoppe ignorant of what Coase said and of what the Coase Theorem means, but he is remarkably shaky on standards of evidence and proof in argument.

    As to my own views on immigration, two things should be noted at the outset.

    First, if Hoppe offers an invalid argument against immigration, it does not follow from that that immigration should be free and open. So the fact that I find Hoppe’s arguments invalid does not mean that the converse is necessarily true. (I will qualify that, however, with the normal classical liberal caveat: an activity should be allowed unless good reason is shown that it should not be. There is a presumption of liberty, so that unless it can be shown that people should be stopped from doing something, they should be allowed to do it. For a classical liberal, then, the burden of proof is on the advocate of restricted movement, not on the advocate of freedom of movement.)

    Second, people have a right to travel for innocent purposes, but not for purposes of harming others. Accordingly, I do not believe that terrorists have the right to freedom of movement for purposes of blowing other people up or that people should be allowed to drive car bombs or to transport poison gas or other similar weapons.

    Thus, I believe that people who seek to enter the U.S. (or Belgium, whatever) for peaceful purposes and who support themselves have the right to do so, if they can obtain by purchase, gift, or loan the use of facilities. They can’t enter and insist that others support them. And they can’t enter for purposes of violating the rights of others. Accordingly, I am opposed to a Hoppeite clamp down on immigration. The empirical evidence strongly indicates that immigrants to the U.S. are net taxpayers to the welfare state, not net recipients. (See, for example, Julian Simon’s study, “Immigration: The Demographic and Economic Facts,” as well as my colleague Dan Griswold’s relatively modest proposals for immigration liberalization at If anything, by the kind of “logic” that HHH employs, most immigrants should demand compensation from the shiftless native-born welfare bums whom they subsidize with their taxes.

    Regarding the very serious issue of terrorism, I believe that we need a policy to stop entry into the country of potential threats. But note that none of the 9/11 hijackers were immigrants or had shown any desire to live in the country. They came in on short-term visas. Employing an army of immigration agents on the Mexican border, rather than screening persons entering from nations known to have active terrorist cells, seems foolish. I am sure that I do not know the best solution, or the most libertarian solution, to the problems posed by cross-border terrorism, partly because I disagree with HHH and his friends, who believe that all such problems can be worked out while sitting in an armchair and thinking hard. The problems of port security (what do we do to keep small nukes out of container ships that could be detonated in Oakland, Newark, New Orleans, or other ports?), of airline security (how do we keep bombs out of luggage holds?), and of counter-terrorism generally are not solvable by appeals to Hoppe’s favorite (and virtually only) ploy, the performative inconsistency. (That’s the argument that he puts at the foundation of his silly ethical “system,” according to which if you open your mouth to disagree with him, you are in fact committing yourself to agree with him. Neither ethics nor law nor counter-terrorism can be handled adequately with such weak tools.)

    Overall, I favor freedom of movement unless good reason can be shown to restrict it. I see no good reason to restrict immigration in the manner that Hoppe advocates, and I believe that his arguments are risible. There are, it’s true, serious issues concerning both welfare benefits and the franchise. My response is not to cut back on freedom of movement, but to cut back on the welfare state; I would be willing to accept a first step toward that goal by specifying that immigrants are ineligible for state benefits. And I believe that the franchise should be limited to those who show an understanding of and make a credible oath to support the fundamental rights and liberties on which the country was founded. There is no obligation to arm people with the power of the vote, but there is an obligation not to stop people from freely offering their goods and services to willing purchasers.

    And finally, regarding RG’s point that I have “smeared” HHH by saying that his argument, if valid, would have precluded his immigration to the U.S.: RG has missed the point. I, too, have used government services that I would like to see privatized. (Why, just last week I took government-owned-and-managed trains from Washington, D.C. to Irvington-on-Hudson to deliver a lecture on the U.S. Constitution at the Foundation for Economic Education.) The point is that Hoppe clearly does not see himself as legitimately excluded. He’s different. (After all, he is white, or at least kind of pinkish, and from northern Europe.) It’s an argument to exclude all those “other” people, the ones he didn’t want to sit with in Guatemala, you know, the “Indians.” (As he asked my friends in Guatemala when they took him to a restaurant: “Do Indians eat in the same restaurants as white people?” When told yes, and even that they sit at the same tables, he showed visible disgust. He was unaware that the people at the table were of mixed race, as most Spanish-speakers in Guatemala are.) The ones he’s so keen on discriminating against and so angry that he can’t. Faggots, blacks, you know…those people. Shudder. But guess what, his absurd arguments would have kept him — the brilliant, the wonderful, the white European! — Hans Hermann Hoppe out, too.

    And poor Tom DiLorenzo, in an odd moment when not sputtering about Abraham Lincoln and waxing rhapsodically about the wonders of the Old South, stomps his feet and insists that state employees do in fact deliver value. Well, maybe so, but not according to the holy writ of Murray Rothbard (note his “Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics”: “We conclude therefore that no government interference with exchanges can ever increase social utility. But we can say more than that. It is the essence of government that it alone obtains its revenue by the compulsory levy of taxation. All of its subsequent acts and expenditures, whatever their nature, rest on this taxing power. We have just seen that whenever government forces anyone to make an exchange which he would not have made, this person loses in utility as a result of the coercion. But taxation is just such a coerced exchange. If everyone would have paid just as much to the government under a system of voluntary payment, then there would be no need for the compulsion of taxes. Given the fact that coercion is used for taxes, therefore, and since all government actions rest on its taxing power, we deduce that: no act of government whatever can increase social utility.). Since DiLorenzo, Kinsella, and co. have made a cult figure of poor old Murray, as well, how could it be that DiLorenzo could have contradicted him? I wonder if DiLorenzo will now tear out his tongue for uttering such heresy, or perhaps cut off his fingers for having typed it. Will there be a self-criticism session at a Mises Institute conference? Will he confess his crimes?

    Hans Hermann Hoppe and his hangers-on have created a cult. If you point it out, they heap vituperation on you. They say your arguments should not be heard because you’re a queer, or mentally deranged, or developmentally arrested, or on drugs (as Hoppe said of my old friend Don Lavoie), and then they gnash their teeth and cry “unfair,” “ad hominem,” and “uncivil” when it’s pointed out that what they have offered is a parody of argumentation and a cartoon of scholarship. And to make matters worse, their creation of a cult blackens the name of one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century, Ludwig von Mises. If it weren’t so comical and amusing, my response would be: Shame. Shame. Shame.

  13. Tom G. Palmer

    What a pathetic response. Hoppe engages in gay baiting and expresses racist views, and all that RG can do is cite an article arguing that being anti-immigration doesn’t necessarily make you a racist?

    And the charge of being cultist is not that all of them agree on everything, but that they think that the way to resolve disputes is to consult the holy books, as Mr. Kinsella did to me when I argued that it’s bad economics to claim that all unemployment in a free market is voluntary. (That would imply that entrepreneurs never make mistakes, that unexpected shifts in preferences never happen, that adjustment does not take time, etc. His response? Why, there’s a passage in the holy book of Human Action that seems to say that! And then Kinsella posts excerpts from our private email conversation in which I say that I’m not interested in what “Mises said” just because he said it, but because it may help me to understand the world — as evidence that I’m crazy.) Now that’s a cult.

  14. This feud between the Mises Institute followers and CATO members has gone on too long. I’ve certainly seen hypocrisy on both sides.

    It is hardly sporting to refer to one’s opponents as a cult. Where is the Rockwellians great leader, claiming to be God on earth? Where do they offer writings that are absolute truth, above God’s words even? When do they brainwash recruits? Let’s not descend into sillyness.

    The Mises Institute group has done its fair share of correcting errors and trying to keep libertarians on the path of liberty.

    But this time it is some Mises Institute followers who must take their lumps for appearing to lead libertarians away from liberty, and toward government intervention.

    Let’s be brutally honest about why these blow-ups occur: Both CATO and the Mises Institute are in a battle for the hearts and minds of libertarians.

  15. “And the charge of being cultist is not that all of them agree on everything, but that they think that the way to resolve disputes is to consult the holy books, as Mr. Kinsella did to me when I argued that it’s bad economics to claim that all unemployment in a free market is voluntary. (That would imply that entrepreneurs never make mistakes, that unexpected shifts in preferences never happen, that adjustment does not take time, etc. His response? Why, there’s a passage in the holy book of Human Action that seems to say that! … Now that’s a cult.”

    Your claim was that Hoppe was an embarrassment to the Austrian economists from whom they claim to be inspired–namely Misese–because of his views about voluntary unemployment on the free market. I simply pointed out this is exactly the view of Mises, one of the preeminent Austrians. The point was not to resort to authority to prove the substance of the view; it was to show that it’s hard to be an embarrassment to Mises to hold the same view he did. You are too smart not to understand what I was saying. It is not treating Human Action like a holy book to use it to demonstrate what views Mises held, and it is not cultlike to establish Mises’s view on voluntary unemployment when you have claimed that Hoppe’s views on this issue show that he is an embarrassment to Mises himself.

  16. I’m tired of the people at the Mises Institute giving libertarians and Austrians a bad name. They routinely attack libertarian groups that are not located in Auburn, Alabama (as if being located in Auburn, Alabama were evidence of libertarian bona fides, and not suggestive of masochism.)

    Most serious Austrians don’t associate with the the Mises Institute. Most (all?) of the people at NYU and GMU and their students who get published and who do serious work don’t have much of anything to do with the Mises Institute. Who can blame them?

    If the Mises Institute were just a bunch of people with kooky views and hanging around an institute at a university with an MA program in economics, that’d be one thing. But I’ve run into too many people whose first encounter with libertarianism was at a Mises Institute event and who have rightly regarded that kind of libertarianism as doctrainaire nonsense.

    I have my own kooky Hoppe episode. At a Austrian Scholars Conference (the only Mises event I attended), Hoppe gave an impromptu closing speech, wherein he instructed the audience that libertarians need to be prepared in the war of ideas because the revolution was nigh. It was, to the say the least, not the kind of sentiment that I typically associate with classical liberalism.

  17. As a practicing and publishing Austrian economist, I echo everything ABC just said, not to mention Tom’s general take on all things Hoppe and Mises Institute-related. I cringe in shame every time those associated with the institute named after one of the greatest minds of the 20th century says one of the many absurd and offensive things that they frequently say. It is truly a tragedy.

  18. I understand that there are some significant theoretical disagreements as well as some personal issues on both sides but, looking from the outside and having good friends in both camps, I can only wish that efforts be directed to closing the gap between the Mises Institute and Cato instead of widening it.

    I believe a good starting point would be to consider that there are some matters on which people can “agree to disagree” and still regard each others as commited libertarians.

  19. Yes there are theoretical issues and personal ones as well, but I don’t think the “gap” can be closed until the MI folks decide they want to behave, at least with respect to Austrian economics, like members of a scholarly community. The kinds of behavior Hoppe and others have engaged in at public fora, as well as their more scathing personal attacks on those with whom they disagree, are simply uncalled for, unethical, and counter-productive for libertarian ideals.

    Their scholarship-with-an-agenda has turned them into the CBS News of Austrian economics – reading both other Austrians and the rest of the economics profession with prejudice, unable to confront actual arguments with even a modicum of fair-mindedness and charity, and intentionally misreading the textual evidence before their eyes .

    Lastly, the sorts of things that the MI crowd has said in public and private on immigration, Rodney King, and the South I find to be offensive both to my values as an individual and to the spirit of tolerance, cosmopolitanism, and humanism that is the very core of my understanding of the classical liberal and libertarian tradition. Bottom line: I have NO desire to close a “gap” if it brings me any closer to people and organizations whose views are, in my mind, contrary to the spirit and text of libertarianism, and an embarassment to the name of Mises.

    It pains me deeply after almost 25 years as libertarian and almost 20 years after I began my graduate work in Austrian economics to see the damage these folks have done.

  20. Tom G. Palmer

    Just to wrap this up, I’ll note two things. First, I work at the Cato Institute but this is on my personal blog and posted from home on my own time. My other colleagues have much better things to do than to respond to the remarks of crackpots. Cato scholars write things about public policy and the LMI group attacks them and they don’t respond. That’s pretty one-sided. (Maybe I should follow their example more, but once *every seven years* I have responded to the bizarre claims and the frankly obscene baiting from the nutters at the Mises Institute.) There’s no “feud,” but one person every seven years writing one response under his own name. Some feud.

    Second, where is the moral equivalence to which some people appeal? One group of people call others “intellectual criminals,” “nothing but the Ambassador of Homosexuality,” “worse than communists,” etc., etc. They slander and traduce serious thinkers, such as Ronald Coase and Gary Becker. They eagerly spread astonishing historical falsehoods, such as that the secession of the Confederacy had nothing to do with slavery, which is one of the very few historical claims that can be definitively refuted, just by looking at the resolutions for secession of the state legislatures, which mention slavery as a ground for secession! They post on the Lew Rockwell site the strangest personal vilifications, complete with making fun of other peoples’ names and other adolescent behavior. In contrast, what has been the response? Silence, with the exception of two essays that I’ve written over a period of seven years. That’s two in seven years. No one else bothers to engage with them. No one else ever criticizes them in any terms, much less calling them “intellectual criminals.” So, where’s the moral equivalence? There comes a time when people have to realize that they are judged by their associations. My reputation matters to me and for that reason I don’t associate with people who make a habit of hanging out with bigots, racists, and glorifiers of the “southern heritage” of enslaving other people.

  21. Ok. Like I said I’m looking from the outside and I certainly don’t have a perspective as informed as any of the US participants in this discussion, so I accept and respect your views on the issue.

    What I expressed was merely my personal wish. Perhaps it is indeed not realistic.

  22. The rot runs deep at the Mises Institute. In case one thinks that charges of racism are overblown, let me prove otherwise in three easy steps:

    Go to and enter “Sam Francis” into the search bar. Notice how often he’s cited approvingly or praised.

    Go to google and type in “Council of Concerned Citizens”. Notice that Sam Francis is at least a recent former editor of that group’s newsletter and listed as a current columnist.

    Take a look at the CCC’s front page to get a sense of the vicious racism and bigotry advocated by that group.

  23. Oooh, can I play? Here’s the anti-Semitism version:

    Go to either or and type in “Joe Sobran” and see how often he’s cited approvingly.

    Go to google and type in “Institute for Historical Review” and then search their site for “Joe Sobran” and see how he is lauded there. Or go to google and search “Institute for Historical Review, Joe Sobran.”

    Then take a peek around IHR’s site to see what the smiling face of Holocaust Revisionism looks like. The rot runs very very deep indeed.

  24. Brokkemand Bob

    Let me see …

    According to Palmer Rothbards writings are treated by the Mises-crowd as “holy writ”. But according to the latest comment, the Mises-crowd are antisemites.

    Put together that must make them antisemite jewworshippers. Get a grip, will you …

    Brokkemand Bob, Denmark

  25. Dear heavens. I expect more substance and less ad hominem when I read libertarian blogs, but this is a bottom scraper. I quote:

    “…inimitably kooky Hans Herman Hoppe, Nevada’s very own mad professor.”

    how flattering.

    “Let’s see nowÃ?Â?Ã?¢Ã?¢?Ã?¬Ã?Â?Ã?¦a certain philosopher from Germany, with virtually no knowledge of economic science,”


    ” who was invited to take a post at a state-funded university”

    guilt by association, working on a tax-funded educational institution. does that mean I should feel equally guilty when i drive on a public road ?

    “If I were a Hoppeite, I’d call for running Hans Herman Hoppe out of the country.”

    in the name of tolerance ?

    ” An equally interesting part of a Hoppe rant is how he quickly resorts to arguments ad hominem,”

    Double standards, as demonstrated above.

    This is too childish. The proponents of liberty should not be getting into silly mudfights like this. If Hoppe really has said and done the things you accuse him of, it just demonstrates that he also has his flaws, but to continue the blog trench warfare with personal attacks and sly comments certainly isn’t helpful or beneficial to the cause of freedom.

    My .02$

  26. Steve Horwitz

    Brokkemand Bob: there’s nothing contradictory in the commenter’s point about anti-Semitism. Yes Rothbard was Jewish by birth (as was Mises), but there are plenty of Jews-by-birth who reject their heritage and say things that might well be construed as anti-Semitic. In addition, the fact that Rothbard is Jewish by birth hardly means that others associated with the MI can’t be guilty of anti-Semitism.

    It’s simply fallacious to suggest that the fact that people at the MI treat Rothbard’s work as holy write is inconsistent with a few/some/many of them being anti-Semitic. Whether the latter is true or not, I leave to the reader’s judgment, but if true, it’s not contradictory.

    By analogy, the fact that some members of the KKK might find things of value in the work of Tom Sowell or Walter Williams does not innoculate them against being racists.

  27. Steve Horwitz

    One more thing: if you think Tom is engaging in hearsay, I’ll verify the story about HHH’s ad hominem about Don Lavoie being on drugs. I was at that Mont Pelerin meeting and was in the audience for that talk. (I even lost a bet when a friend predicted that HHH would verbally attack Don and I said even HHH wouldn’t do it at Mont Pelerin. Ooops.) I will gladly regale you with stories other than those Tom has recited here about Hoppe’s juvenile behavior in public forums, including making raspberry noises at the mention of the names of insuffiently pure Austrian economists. I guess he was “arrested in this phase of mental development.”

  28. Don Boudreaux

    I’ve been in Hoppe’s presence only once, about ten years ago at a Mises Institute conference in Auburn, Alabama. I recall Hoppe’s discussion of the Coase theorem; I recall also that Hoppe’s rendition of this vital contribution to economics and law tracked pretty closely Murray Rothbard’s bollixed interpretation that first appeared in the Cato Journal (!) back in 1982. Hoppe pooh-poohed Coase and the Coase theorem — I don’t recall his precise words — but I remember thinking “this guy has absolutely no earthly idea of what he’s talking about.” It was as if I, who know nothing of physics, had chosen to pontificate on developments in string theory.

  29. Steve Horwitz

    To ask that question is to prove precisely what the problem is. Whether or not it’s true that Don did or didn’t use drugs, or which drugs it was or wasn’t, to make an accusation like that at a formal academic conference and to use it as a means to attack his paper, are in such violation of what it means to engage in truth-seeking scholarship, not to mention the norms of civil conversation, that one shouldn’t even have to explain it. For a guy who talks about the “ethics of argumentation”, HHH has no clue how to behave ethically and how to argue. Evidently Hoppe was unable to answer either speaker intellectually, given that he resorted to ad hominems and 7th grade responses. So much for his extraordinary knowledge of economics.

    And if you think the humor-content is how one judges behavior at a scholarly conference, you have once again provided evidence for the problem.

    Thanks for proving the point.

  30. If anyone can tell me just how flinging insults about the Cato and Mises Institutes around on a weblog deals with their respective stances on immigration, I would love to be enlightened… Being involved in high school level debate I can honestly say that if anyone on my policy debate team conducted an argument like this they would promptly get the boot. This is really quite pointless.

  31. BerlinBlogger

    Let’s look at the English language.
    “If I were a Hoppeite, I’d call for running Hans Herman Hoppe out of the country.”

    in the name of tolerance ?

    Palmer is saying that “if I were” a Hoppeite. It seems clear that he’s not, so he wouldn’t run Hoppe out of the country. He’s drawing an implication from Hoppe’s arguments, not endorsing them.

    ” An equally interesting part of a Hoppe rant is how he quickly resorts to arguments ad hominem,”

    Double standards, as demonstrated above.

    Note again that saying that someone behaved badly is not an ad hominem argument. An ad hominem argument would be something like this: “Lavoie smoked marijuana. Lavoie said X. Lavoie is wrong about X because he smoked marijuana.” Or “Palmer is a homosexual. Palmer said X. Palmer is wrong about X because he is a homosexual.”

    Palmer said that Hoppe acts badly and uses bad arguments. He did not say that Hoppe is wrong because he is tall or short or acts badly. He said that Hoppe is wrong about X because he uses bad arguments. He also said that Hoppe is embarrassing because he behaves badly, doesn’t understand basic ideas of economics, and so forth. He may be right or wrong, but none of that is ad hominem.

  32. Mat��?�¢?�ºj Suster

    Tom Palmer wrote:
    “Hoppe thinks that, in the name of the “market,” the government should be treated as if it were the owner of all of the land of a country. (We used to call that “socialism.”)

    Let��?���´s see what Hoppe actually said:

    “Foreigners would have a right to enter Switzerland, Austria or Italy only if these places were uninhabited (unowned) territories. However,they are owned, and no one has a right to enter territories that others own unless invited by the owner. Nor is it permissible to argue,
    as some open border proponents have done, that while foreigners may not enter private property without the owner’s permission they may do so with public property. In their eyes, public property is akin to unowned property and thus “open” to everyone, domestic citizen and foreigners alike.22 However, this analogy between public property and unowned resources is wrong. There is a categorical difference between unowned resources (open frontier) and public property.
    Public property is the result of State-government confiscations –of legislative expropriations and/or taxation–of originally privately owned property. While the State does not recognize anyone as its private owner, all of government controlled public property has in fact been brought about by the tax-paying members of the
    domestic public. Austrians, Swiss, and Italians, in accordance with the amount of taxes paid by each citizen, have funded the Austrian, Swiss, and Italian public property. Hence, THEY MUST BE CONSIDERED its LEGITIMATE OWNERS. Foreigners have not been subject to domestic taxation and expropriation; hence, they cannot claim any rights regarding Austrian, Swiss or Italian public property.”

    HH Hoppe – Natural Order, the State and the Immigration Problem, pg. 90 –

  33. Mat��?�¢?�ºj ��?��� uster

    Once again, Hoppe, on page 91:

    “Understandably, the democratic welfare States try to conceal the source of public property (i.e., acts of expropriation). However, they
    do acknowledge that public property is “somehow” the property of their citizens and that they are the citizens’ trustees in regard to public
    property. Indeed, the modern State’s legitimacy is derived from its claim to protect its citizens and their property from domestic and foreign invaders, intruders, and trespassers. Regarding foreigners, this would require that the state act like the gatekeepers in private gated communities. The State would have to check every newcomer for an invitation and monitor his movement while en route to his final destination. Once it is made clear that the government actually tolerates or even promotes the intrusion and invasion of masses of aliens who by no stretch of the imagination can be deemed welcome or invited by domestic residents, this is or may become a threat to a government’s legitimacy and exert enough pressure on it to adopt a more restrictive and discriminatory admission policy.”

  34. BerlinBlogger

    If Mr. Hoppe were correct, as cited by Mr. Suster, then I would have to get the permission of the government of Bavaria before I could go there, because the “people” of Bavaria pay for the roads (set aside general government subsidies; there is still some local government provision in Germany). The transactions costs of travel would become insanely high. It seems like a crazy proposal to say that the “people” own the highways and airports, so you can’t use them without the “people’s” permission. I don’t really see how that differs from the old communism. If a friend flies to the airport and I pick him up, must I ask permission from the government to use the airport (what if it were like the private ones in Britain and America?) or to drive him on the highways? And do I need the permission myself to drive on the highways? Every time? What a bizarre approach. Under the old communism the state said that since it had educated you, you could not leave, because you owed them your education. That sounds just like Hoppe’s mentality. This is to go from the arguments of a Mises to the conclusions of a Honneker; something is wrong with the argument.

    I think that the Mises Institute people have created a cult in all the bad senses of the word, since it is not just to reverence the writings of some founders, but to twist them into more and more crazy positions that you then have to accept because if you don’t you show that you have something wrong with your head.

  35. I like both Cato Institute and Mises Institute. Cato and Mises Institute, both do a good job of promoting Liberty.

    I am a great fan of Mises, Hayek, Rothbard and loved the two new books by Mr. Rockwell and Mr. Tom Dilorenzo.

    However, Hoppe is a pure kook. He does nothing but DIVIDE and SPLINTER the already small libertarian community. Hoppe’s writing show him to be extremely intolerant which is contrary to the spirit of libertarianism as every freedom lover since Jefferson to Rothbard has argued for more tolerance for those who are different or have different views.

    Hoppe also engages in childish psycho-babble. Hoppe is a disgrance to libertarianism.

  36. LvMI and Cato Supporter

    On too many occasions I have had to suffer Cato supporters denigrating the Mises Institute AND Mises supporters denigrating the Cato Institute.

    Neither of these organizations are PURE enough for the other, since both have DIFFERENT purity tests.

    Yet, I still support each and will continue to do so.

    To all involved: LIGHTEN UP. Save your real vitriol for the REAL bad guys.

    But maybe you can’t tell, and that’s the problem.

  37. I visit both web sites occasionally and have never found an attack on the Mises Institute people on the Cato web site. Just Palmer on his personal web site and just this once. (He linked to an article he wrote in Liberty in 1997.) I just did a search on the LRC site for “Cato” or “Palmer” and came up with lots and lots of nasty and hate-filled postings. (Actually, do two searches, since you have to search for “Beltway libertarians” or “D.C. think tank” to come up with a lot of them.) Do a search on the Cato site or the Palmer site and you’ll come up with…..this posting and the one on Gary North. (Palmer doesn’t have a search engine, so I scanned his list of blog archives and then did a google search of his name and LRC, Rockwell, Hoppe, etc. This and the 1997 Liberty article are all I came up with.) Hmmmmm. It doesn’t look like there is any kind of equivalence. The LRC site has some nasty swipe at libertarians regularly; they thrive on it. The Cato site…never. And Palmer has had two between 1997 and 2004.

  38. Steve Horwitz

    “The real bad guys?” Sorry but theocrats, Confederacy nostalgists, and holocaust revisionsts ARE AMONG THE BAD GUYS.

    What is libertarianism if they aren’t bad guys? Not much, I’d say.

  39. Tom G. Palmer

    Well, it looks like the madcap professor was sent back to his garret. His “argument” has been taken off the air. I posted a little note, including what they had put up in its place as of when I posted it, at: I’ve had enough of this discussion, but I do hope that other people have learned a bit about the kinds of cultish behavior, hatefulness, bad argument masquerading as genius, and utter creepiness that surrounds the crowd at Lew Decent people often go to their events and are invited to speak there. I just wish that they’d think twice before doing so, or that they knew what strangeness was lurking in the background.

  40. Tom G. Palmer

    P.S. I just got a note that this was an error. Instead, the entire essay is available. My mistake. Well, read it and you’ll find more of the same. (Hat tip to Jim B for pointing out my mistake.)

  41. Constantino Diaz-Duran

    I was having lunch with Mr. Hoppe, when he made that comment about Indians being “allowed” to go into the same restaurants as whites. I and two other students at Francisco Marroquin University had the “honor” of taking him to Antigua that day. We were at a restaurant where the servers wore typical Guatemalan outfits, and he was surprised when he saw a native couple come in and actually sit at a table. On the drive back to Guatemala City, we started talking about the Cato Institute, but he quickly dismissed the work of the whole insitute by simply remarking on Mr. Palmer’s “embassy.”

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>