Quote note (#130)

Hoppe (from 2005) stirs it up:

… one of the most fundamental laws of economics … says that all compulsory wealth or income redistribution, regardless of the criteria on which it is based, involves taking from some — the havers of something — and giving it to others — the non-havers of something. Accordingly, the incentive to be a haver is reduced, and the incentive to be a non-haver increased. What the haver has is characteristically something considered “good,” and what the non-haver does not have is something “bad” or a deficiency. Indeed, this is the very idea underlying any redistribution: some have too much good stuff and others not enough. The result of every redistribution is that one will thereby produce less good and increasingly more bad, less perfection and more deficiencies. By subsidizing with tax funds (with funds taken from others) people who are poor, more poverty (bad) will be created. By subsidizing people because they are unemployed, more unemployment (bad) will be created. By subsidizing unwed mothers, there will be more unwed mothers and more illegitimate births (bad), etc. […] Obviously, this basic insight applies to the entire system of so-called social security that has been implemented in Western Europe (from the 1880s onward) and the U.S. (since the 1930s): of compulsory government “insurance” against old age, illness, occupational injury, unemployment, indigence, etc. In conjunction with the even older compulsory system of public education, these institutions and practices amount to a massive attack on the institution of the family and personal responsibility.

With the conclusion:

Most contemporary conservatives, then, especially among the media darlings, are not conservatives but socialists — either of the internationalist sort (the new and neoconservative welfare-warfare statists and global social democrats) or of the nationalist variety (the Buchananite populists). Genuine conservatives must be opposed to both. In order to restore social and cultural norms, true conservatives can only be radical libertarians, and they must demand the demolition — as a moral and economic distortion — of the entire structure of the interventionist state.

(Everything works for me except the senseless ‘demand’ rhetoric, which is residual Jacobinism.)

HT Hurlock.

November 14, 2014admin 42 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy


42 Responses to this entry

  • Alrenous Says:

    To be fair, to demand is not to receive. Hoppe’s just saying, “To be a conservative is to signal X.” At least here, he hasn’t commented on the likely success of this strategy.


    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 10:56 am Reply | Quote
  • Alan J. Perrick Says:

    This is very good reading.


    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 11:32 am Reply | Quote
  • bob sykes Says:

    The Democrats are a socialist party with a dominant communist wing, and the Republicans are a center/left party with a dominant liberal wing.


    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 12:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • Quote note (#130) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 1:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • scientism Says:

    “In any case, what should be clear by now is that most if not all of the moral degeneration and cultural decline—the signs of decivilization—all around us are the inescapable and unavoidable results of the welfare state and its core institutions. Classical, old-style conservatives knew this, and they vigorously opposed public education and social security. They knew that states everywhere were intent upon breaking down and ultimately destroying families and the institutions and layers and hierarchies of authority that are the natural outgrowth of family based communities in order to increase and strengthen their own power. They knew that in order to do so states would have to take advantage of the natural rebellion of the adolescent (juvenile) against parental authority. And they knew that socialized education and socialized responsibility were the means of bringing about this goal. … Social education and social security provide an opening for the rebellious youth to escape parental authority (to get away with continuous misbehavior). Old conservatives knew that these policies would emancipate the individual from the discipline imposed by family and community life only to subject him instead to the direct and immediate control of the state.”

    It seems obvious that this necessitates taking the family, rather than the individual, as the basic unit of society. If you want to dismantle the welfare state, you need to put the family back together, and if you want to put the family back together, you can no longer have individuals be equal before the law.


    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 2:24 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    Overstates the case. Prosocial policies will not be radical libertarian, because radical libertarianism doesn’t provide adequate investment in public order. Look at Singapore–very free, but not radical libertarian by any stretch. And even Singapore, despite its best efforts, is failing at the most basic investment in the public order, which is having kids. Not from lack of trying. Singapore has quite a bit of child subsidy.


    nydwracu Reply:

    Correct. ‘Redistribution’ is worthwhile insofar as it is investment — which is a lot farther than the libertarians seem to be willing to allow.


    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 3:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Hoppe is full of shit.

    Why does he want to appeal to conservatives? Why does he want the word? Conservatives are what they are. The Middle Ages weren’t libertarian. The Welfare State was invented by Bismarck, for christ’s sake. Bismarck was conservative; more so than Hoppe.

    And the interventionist state isn’t going anywhere just because Hoppe wants it to. It’s there for a reason, many of them conservative reasons. And the crap about “family”. Strong families is what the Middle East is made of. Cutting of public services means that “families”, i.e. inbred clans take over to provide them. It’s a very libertarian system; obviously it doesn’t work very well.

    I mean, please. Fans of feudalism need to read their history. Yes there is much to like about feudal society. Alas, gunpowder exists.


    admin Reply:

    Bismarck is a divisive figure. (I consider his influence to be utterly calamitous. A socialist revolution would have done less harm, once it had been broken on reality.)


    Izak Reply:

    I have a question for the radical libertarian laissez faire guys here.

    Do we have any actual historical examples of where a government-subsidized industry or service (like science funding, NASA, that sort of thing) becomes privatized and then leads to better quality results?


    admin Reply:

    You mean like SpaceX?


    Aeroguy Reply:

    SpaceX is exactly as privatized as the airmail carriers during the 1930’s. It’s private in as much the rest of the military industrial complex is private (and which I consider SpaceX a part of as much as ULA). Mind you I’m extremely disappointed at how little they are being subsidized such that there wasn’t enough government contract money to entice Orbital to make their own manned launch vehicle. The science and engineering gets done when it’s lubed up with pork. It often takes decades or sometimes even close to a century before work that was started can begin to make profits. Corporate research is infamous for having an extremely high time preference.

    Alrenous Reply:

    Do you have an actual historical example of where a private industry or service becomes nationalized and it isn’t a total disaster?


    Izak Reply:


    No, because I don’t know anything about economics. I’m not really interested in turning the thing into a competition or being like “oh yeah well my side’s dick is thiiiiis big!” or anything like that. I’m just wondering if there are successful precedents for the sorts of proposals that people who advocate for total privatization of everything tend to make. I’m not particularly well-informed about economic history, so sometimes I need to “go fishing” in order to find good info.

    William Newman Reply:

    AFAIK we don’t have all that many examples of things being cleanly sanely privatized. Often when you look into the details what’s called a market, or even a “free market” [*], is anything but: it turns out there are price controls, steep legal barriers to entry with unspecified prerequisites, strong limits on who is allowed to transfer property rights to whom, and various other important friction-inducing and distortionary stuff. (See e.g. Barbara Ehrenreich pointedly ignoring the effect of non-market things like zoning and announcing “it’s the market, stupid” to explain the lack of affordable housing near work in _Nickel and Dimed_ (and see the work of Ed Glaeser for some quantitative estimates on how enormous those effects are). Or see healthcare economics specialist Brad DeLong describing New Jersey health insurance as a “free market” in http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/12/unclear_on_the_.html . It’s like some bogus Soviet history expert trying to claim that since there were free elections under Brezhnev, and their consequences were suboptimal, democracy is thereby discredited: choosing to throw in “free” promotes the claim from merely seriously bewildered to utterly ridiculous and flat-out dishonest.) That distortionary-language tendency is pretty strong even in descriptions of mixed economy things which evolved from freer markets; it is overwhelmingly strong in mixed economy things which were “privatized” away from more centralized solutions.

    It is an unsurprising commonplace for truly private rivals to run public enterprises ragged where competition is allowed; FedEx/UPS vs. the USPS is a commonly used example. (And sometimes a similar contrast can be seen by crossing a US state boundary, as with liquor stores in states which do not allow ordinary private businesses to sell liquor.) But it would be a noteworthy surprise if USPS were “privatized” and the result was ownership, incentives, permit issues, and so forth which are as tidy and ordinary as those for normal enterprises like FedEx/UPS; not entirely coincidentally, it would also be a noteworthy surprise if the result was as efficient as companies which had thrived in an ordinary competitive market. That is, it would not be all that surprising for USPS to be “privatized” at some point in the future, but the way to bet is that when you look at the details of the outcome you will find a hybrid monster of some sort, not an ordinary efficient successful company, and the hybrid monster probably won’t be as good for customers as FedEx/UPS were.

    We do have some examples of things being truly deregulated. Many examples of “deregulation” are more like rejiggering the regulation, but when in the Carter administration the ICC lost the authority to control what trucks carried what cargo on what routes for what prices, that really was deregulation. It was predictably rough on various entrenched trucking companies (and even more on e.g. law firms specializing in the ICC processes…) but I have never seen anyone seriously try to argue that customers didn’t generally get better service for lower prices.


    Izak Reply:

    That was a good response, thanks.

    Contemplationist Reply:

    False dichotomy. Strong familiar existed during the Industrial Revolution all the way until the 1930s. And Bismarckian assistance was feeble and tiny compared to what the New Deal state and post-war states in Europe wrought.
    Neo-Victorianism uber alles!


    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 4:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Erebus Says:

    @Scientism & Lesser Bull

    “if you want to put the family back together, you can no longer have individuals be equal before the law.”

    “And even Singapore, despite its best efforts, is failing at the most basic investment in the public order, which is having kids.”

    …I’m reminded of this passage from “Ancient Rome” by Thomas R. Martin.

    “Wealthy people had increasingly come to prefer spending money on luxuries instead of on raising families. Feeling that the expense and trouble of having children threatened its high standard of living, the elite failed to reproduce itself sufficiently. Children became so rare among the social class that Augustus passed laws designed to strengthen marriages and encourage more births by granting special legal privileges to the parents of three or more children. He made adultery a criminal offense as another attempt to protect marriage. So seriously did Augustus support these reforms that he exiled his own daughter – his only child – and a granddaughter for extramarital sex scandals. His legislation had little effect, however, and the prestigious old families withered away under the Empire. Demographic research suggests that three quarters of the families of Senatorial status died out in every generation. People from below the Senatorial class who won the emperors’ favor continuously took their places in the social hierarchy.”

    Strong upper-class families were certainly a legally-privileged class under Emperor Augustus. It didn’t help much; decadent behavior was a characteristic feature of the Roman elite, and these elites consistently failed to reproduce sufficiently. They must have figured that being Trimalchio is more fun than being a patriarch — an attitude shared by much of the present generation, especially in places like Singapore.
    …Once the rot sets in, there may be no stopping it. We know how it ended in Rome. Popcorn, anyone?


    scientism Reply:

    You need the patriarchal structure enshrined in law. If individuals are equal before the law, then women have the same rights as men, the married have the same rights as the unmarried, and parental authority is limited by the rights of children. It’s the internal dynamics that matter. The Roman Empire appears to have developed increasingly lax family law.

    Singapore moved from decades of anti-natalism to trying to get educated men to procreate with educated women. Eugenics is nice in theory, but men don’t want to marry educated women and educated women don’t want children, so it didn’t work. It’s only very recently that they’ve stopped meddling altogether.

    It’s hard to reverse these policies, but I think a big part of the problem is lack of intellectual consistency. Hoppe points to the lack of consistency between pro-family conservatism and the welfare state, but I think he misses the lack of consistency between pro-family outcomes and liberal individualism. When you frame things in terms of rights, liberty, freedom, etc, it’s obvious that women are going to say, “what about my rights?” Using liberal framing for Rightist policies makes them look ridiculous. It leads to arguments along the lines of, “well, it’d be nice if women were liberated, but that leads to bad outcomes, we have to be realistic.” This is not going to get you anyway. You have to go back and pull these ideas up by their roots. The work is done when it doesn’t look like a policy reversal at all, when it doesn’t look like we want to take anything away from anyone, when it looks like we have something to offer instead. If you have to think of your position in terms of “realism” you’ve already lost, the key is to change the ideal, to give people something new to strive for.


    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    Do we have examples of dysgenic collapse under Patriarchy?


    nydwracu Reply:

    You need the patriarchal structure enshrined in law.

    If you want people to do something, it needs to be an attractive option.

    Having children is not high-status in most of America. In some parts, it’s actively low-status. So: not an attractive option.

    As for marriage: no lifelong monogamy, so why bother?; no pair-bonding, so it’s more difficult; and no-fault divorce, so more risky.

    And why bother not being a lumpen when lumpens are basically outside the law? Comet probe guy gets shit for wearing a certain shirt. No one would bother some random lumpen for that. Especially since they know the lumpen’s friends would bash their head in for it. You don’t fuck with the lumpens. So people want to be lumpens, and white people start lumpenlarping despite being unable to coordinate in the necessary manner.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Something I just realized. The elite Roman infertility may explain why the Imperium was so unstable. It meant no hereditary principle, since the lines kept dying out. But mainly the need to continually recruit the Senatorial class from the lower orders meant that the tradition that only Senatorial class magnates could hold the Imperium waned, since belonging to the Senatorial class ceased to be a very meaningful distinction. Which meant that equite generals couldn’t be trusted as much, and in fact rebelled more. Result: civil war, the calamity of the third century.


    Erebus Reply:

    That’s an excellent observation. You’re right: The lack of a strong and meaningful Senatorial class certainly contributed to the instability of the Imperium. I’d only add that the way the Praetorian Guard recruited and compensated its initiates didn’t help matters, either. The soldiers of the Praetorian Guard were Roman in origin, provincial recruits were not allowed into their ranks, but membership was not hereditary — instead, Praetorian Guardsmen were recruited from the Legions in an ostensibly meritocratic fashion. As they were tasked with protecting the city of Rome and the Emperor himself, they were first given “bonus pay” and special uniforms (prestige) to secure their allegiance; “bonus pay” quickly became straightforward cash bribes; before very long, this military outfit was power-drunk and up to its neck in corruption.

    Galba’s tale is illustrative. As Emperor, Galba disbanded the germani corporis custodes — a very small unit of Germanic recruits who also served as bodyguards to the Emperor — primarily for their loyalty to his predecessor, Nero. This barbarian unit was deeply unpopular with the citizens of Rome, but was viewed by previous Emperors as loyal, honorable, incorruptible — very much unlike the Praetorian Guard, which, several months after the Germans were sent home without pay and without honor, betrayed Galba to his rival Otho and stabbed him to death in the street. Otho, now Emperor, bribed a handful of soldiers of the Praetorian Guard for this favor.

    Other sordid tales abound. The Senate became a largely meaningless institution, the soldiers of the Praetorian Guard were often for sale to the highest bidder, and Roman society under the Imperium was generally stagnant if not in active decline.


    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    If what Martin writes is what happened, that’s a slam dunk sufficient explanation of the collapse of the roman empire.


    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 4:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nyan Sandwich Says:

    Misses a major theoretical point, which is that redistribution sometimes offsets such incentives by ending up more productive.

    For example, when we slaughtered the Indians and stole their land, we used it far better than they would have.

    Libertarianism is better than communism, but it sucks compared to redistribution from low quality people to high quality people. The real world (rule of Gnon) is often closer to that, so hardcore private-property is actually a regression towards communism in those cases.

    The problem with libertarians is that they think the Indians should get NYC back.


    Hurlock Reply:

    “The problem with libertarians is that they think the Indians should get NYC back.”

    I was going to reply but then I read this and was like ‘why bother’.


    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    Ok I was being hyperbolic.

    Let’s try again. Hardline non-redistribution misses productive redistribution opportunities.

    OP argues:

    Downward redistribution is bad.
    Therefore redistribution is bad.

    Fails to address upward redistribution.

    I would like to start a discussion on the merits and limits of upwards redistribution.

    Obviously we can’t have a bureaucracy running around without limits deciding to steal from the poor and give to those they decide are deserving, but lets start a more nuanced conversation than just “redistribution is always bad”, because it is clearly good and necessary sometimes.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    NS, don’t placate. You already made your point perfectly clearly. If Hurlock wants to posture and signal, you have no need to truckle under and re-explain.

    Hurlock Reply:

    The thing is to me ‘upward redistribution’ sounds like a contradiction in terms.

    Redistrubution is a third party redistributing stuff that party A control, to party B. But surely if party B was so deserving it could have acquired the stuff it needs by itself. Whether through violence or not.

    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    A owns X, B owns guns. A has no talent, and X will do nothing. B could turn X into glorious Y. A is irrational and possesive, and won’t accept a deal.

    By some turn of events A ends up dead, and B gets X, and turns it into Y. Is this good or bad?

    In the case of X=North America, A=Amerindians, B=British Colonists, there is no X’ that B would get, were it so virtuous.

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Conventional example of upward redistribution is polygamy, which is widely thought to be less optimal, no?


    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    No doubt you can find many examples of upward redistribution that turn out to be bad ideas. Most probably are.

    Polygamy is unclear. “Highest status man takes all” probably bad. Assortive monogamy (alpha male takes best wife) pretty good. “Highest status men get harems, middle class get wives, lower class get nothing” probably slightly more eugenic, but may have other problems.

    I guess the question is, is there a superior mechanism to “always enforce property rights fully” that takes advantage of upward redistribution? In the set of all possible capital transfer deals, is the optimal selection criteria “strictly voluntary” or something more nuanced?


    Aeroguy Reply:

    The word I would use for what Nyan is describing is conquest. It is done between two parties. When I use the word redistribution, I use it to describe three parties, where party A uses it’s power to to grant favors for party B at party C’s expense. Conquest is generally pleasing to Gnon, though even might makes right can gives way to he who has the gold makes the rules. Redistribution is far more fraught with peril.

    I’m inclined to agree with Nyan that exceptions exist but hard cases make bad law.

    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 4:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hurlock Says:


    First of all, you didn’t reply to my last comment, you avoided it.

    As I said redistribution always involves a third party. Otherwise the term is pretty meaningless. You have plenty of word who can be used for a trasnfer of property between two parties: exchange, theft, conquest, whatever. But if you equate the two you are blurring the lines.

    The turn of events you are probably talking about is B killing A and taking X. There is no third party involved here. This is just killing and stealing, or conquest. If the situation is as you describe it, this does seem like an improvement. But if it is done in social conditions it creates a lot of other problems, which you are overlooking. What about incentives, order and etc? Those will be quite negatively impacted by this.

    Your example is easy because it happens between two separate societies. However Hoppe is talking about redistribution WITHIN the same society, which opens a whole other can of worms.


    Posted on November 14th, 2014 at 10:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hadley Bennett Says:

    “all compulsory wealth or income redistribution, regardless of the criteria on which it is based, involves taking from some — the havers of something — and giving it to others — the non-havers of something.”

    Yes, this is true.

    “Accordingly, the incentive to be a haver is reduced, and the incentive to be a non-haver increased.”

    This is not true in a very strict sense. In many cases, it is treated like any other expense–for instance, you’d pay for public services in a private city, and they’d levy you. Do regular expenses disincentivize work?


    Posted on November 15th, 2014 at 12:42 am Reply | Quote
  • vimothy Says:

    Far be it from me to gainsay the value of a bit of provocation, but I think you (and Hoppe) have taken something with an element of truth to it and pushed it so far that it’s gone into the realm of the false and even the silly. What it boils down to, in my view, is this idea that the Nazis were not right-wing at all, but were really leftists about whose political affiliations history has become confused (bar some brave visionaries at NRO). The evidence for the Nazi’s socialist bona fides is supposed to be their intervention in the economy, with the implication being that any such intervention of itself renders a definitive judgement on the matter. Ends or any other factors are irrelevant. The fact that such intervention was undertaken in the service of the glory of the Aryan race or the creation of a Germanic empire (or whatever) means nothing. The Nazi belief in racialism, hierarchy, martial spirit, tragedy, etc, etc, doesn’t matter either. What matters – the only thing that matters – is that they failed to allow the public total freedom in the marketplace.

    Under this idiosyncratic and revisionist political taxonomy, the extreme right, and even the mainstream right, is an almost completely empty location on the map, inhabited only by American libertarians and their self-proclaimed predecessors like Von Hayek and Von Mises. Everyone else is on the left! Charles Maurras: on the left. Roger Scruton: on the left. Ezra Pound: on the left. Franco, Salazar, Hitler: left, left, left.

    According to Moldbug (if I remember rightly), pseudo-conservatives at the National Review make these sorts of arguments because they are historically and politically illiterate. That might be true to an extent, but I don’t think it suffices as a total explanation. What you also need to understand is that these people are timid and afraid. They don’t want to be associated, however indirectly, with the dispensation that gave rise to the Nazis and the Holocaust, certainly not in the current media climate. Never mind principles, a person’s career is at risk. Instead of saying, “I don’t give a damn what you think, this is what I believe and it matters; I won’t back down”, our cowardly pseudo-cons try to disavow the 20th Century far right and the philosophies that drove it. “Nothing to do with us mate, not only are we liberals, but we’re actually more liberal than you.” No one is fooled. They can see this for what it is: fear, – fear of being put with the right-wing monsters, fear of being seen as illiberal, fear of being one of them – which is why conservatives are constantly giving up ground and have basically lost every major battle for half a century or more.

    That obviously doesn’t apply to you or to Hoppe, but I do think that trying to distance yourself from fascism in this manner is both a tactical error and lacking in a certain spirit.


    admin Reply:

    The fascism point is just collateral damage. The distancing is directed at traditionalist conservatives, who make the same error the left always does — transforming “something must be done!” into an implicit apology for centrally-directed social management.

    (Something must be done, and it is being done, and it’s Bitcoin. ENR-style fascist nostalgia is just an idiotic distraction.)


    vimothy Reply:

    It’s the same genre of argument, isn’t it?

    It’s silly to suggest that Roger Scruton is a socialist, ditto for Patrick Buchanan, and on up the entire right-axis to include Evola, Hitler and whoever else.

    What motivates libertarians and more mainstream conservatives in these revisionist attempts to re-position those on their right onto their left is the desire to disavow illiberal and morally other elements within conservative (and ultimately right-wing) discourse. But this is both bad form and playing into the enemy’s hands.


    Hurlock Reply:

    Hitler was a socialist.

    If there is such a things as a right-wing socialist (a lot of reactionaries believe there is) – he was right wing and he was a socialist.
    So? I don’t care whether Hitler was a rightist or a leftist. I care that he was a socialist. That is the problem.

    A leftist is always a socialist. Which is why the two words are pretty much synonymous nowadays.
    Now a rightist is not always a socialist. But he can be.

    I have a problem with socialists period, Hoppe has a problem with socialists as well. He is arguing against socialism in that quote. Doesn’t matter whether it is done by conservatives or progressives. That is his point and that is what you are misunderstanding. This crucial distinction gets a lot of people confused which is why they say libertarians don’t fit on the general left-right axis.
    Ironically enough despite your criticism of the NRO guys you are guilty of a similar conceptual mistake.


    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    Postscript: not that Vimothy needs further refutation beyond what Admin & Hurlock already said, but in Hoppe’s book “A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism,” one of the types of socialisms Hoppe analyizes is something he explicitly calls right-wing Socialism.

    Ok so vimothy loves the state and thinks it will help protect whatever he likes. However in his invocation of Molbdug, one thing vimothy forgot to mention is that Moldbug points out that such rightist-socialisms never, um, work.


    Deogolwulf Reply:

    “A leftist is always a socialist.”

    Except when he’s not. (E.g., when he’s a liberal, a libertarian, an anarchist, or a common-or-garden American who erroneously calls himself a rightist because he opposes the leftist who “is always a socialist”.) Liberty or equality? I have a problem with leftists. Full-stop.


    Posted on November 15th, 2014 at 5:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wally Greeniker Says:

    “We are all socialists now.” – William Harcourt (British lawyer, journalist and Liberal statesman) 1885


    Posted on November 17th, 2014 at 12:18 am Reply | Quote

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