CJay Engel

October 23, 2019

Hoppe on Nihilo-Libertarians

From Democracy: The God that Failed:

The principled opposition of the libertarians to the Vietnam War coincided with the somewhat diffuse opposition to the war by the New Left. In addition, the anarchistic upshot of the libertarian doctrine appealed to the countercultural left. For did not the illegitimacy state and the nonaggression axiom (that one shall not initiate or threaten to initiate physical force against others and their property) imply that everyone was at liberty to choose his very own nonaggressive lifestyle?
Did this not imply that vulgarity, obscenity, profanity, drug use, promiscuity, pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, polygamy, pedophilia or any other conceivable perversity or abnormality, insofar as they were victimless crimes, were no offenses at all but perfectly normal and legitimate activities and lifestyles? Not surprisingly, then, from the outset the libertarian movement attracted an unusually high number of abnormal and perverse followers. Subsequently, the countercultural ambiance and multicultural-relativistic "tolerance" of the libertarian movement attracted even greater numbers of misfits, personal or professional failures, or plain losers.
Murray Rothbard, in disgust, called them the "nihilo-libertarians" and identified them as the "modal" (typical and representative) libertarians. They fantasized of a society where everyone would be free to choose and cultivate whatever nonaggressive lifestyle, career, or character he wanted, and where, as a result of free-market economics, everyone could do so on an elevated level of general prosperity.
Ironically, the movement that had set out to dismantle the state and restore private property and market economics was largely appropriated, and its appearance shaped, by the mental and emotional products of the welfare state: the new class of permanent adolescents.
This intellectual combination could hardly end happily. Private property capitalism and egalitarian multiculturalism are as unlikely a combination as socialism and cultural conservatism. And in trying to combine what cannot be combined, much of the modern libertarian movement actually contributed to the further erosion of private property rights Just as much of contemporary conservatism contributed to the erosion of families and traditional morals).
What the countercultural libertarians failed to recognize, and what true libertarians cannot emphasize enough, is that the restoration of private property rights and laissez-faire economics implies a sharp and drastic increase in social discrimination and will swiftly eliminate most if not all of the multi-cultural-egalitarian life style experiments so close to the heart of left libertarians. In other words, libertarians must be radical and uncompromising conservatives.

About the author

C.Jay Engel is the founder and publisher of Bastion Magazine. He has written for, LRC, David Stockman, and related. He owns several consulting business, actively works on the magazine, and lives in Northern CA.

more from the blog