Libertarianism, The Alt-Right and AntiFa

On September 17, 2017, Hans Hermann Hoppe gave a speech titled Libertarianism, The Alt-Right And AntiFa at the 2017 Property and Freedom Society‘s 12th annual meeting in Bodrum, Turkey. His own subtitle of the speech was “In Search of a Libertarian Strategy for Social Change”.

Perhaps a newcomer to libertarianism and Anarcho-Capitalism would be unaware that Hoppe is regarded as an Alt-Right icon. Though there are groups of Anarcho-Capitalists who are seeking to bridge these schools of ideas, I do not share this opinion and diminution of Hoppe. After reading and listening to Hoppe’s speech a few times,  I cannot agree that Hoppe is an Alt-Right advocate. One simply needs to read the speech in context.  One can do that here.

The speech provides a brief background of the Alt-Right and it’s paleo-conservative origins. It reviews the qualities and failures of some of its most notable leaders including Patrick Buchanan and Richard Spencer. The speech is honest about both men and others, though deservedly more complimentary towards Mr. Buchanan. But these asides are not meant to promote these men nor the Alt-Right as models for libertarianism.

The speech opines that presently libertarianism lacks two things; “first how to maintain a libertarian order once you have achieved it, and, more importantly, second how to attain a libertarian order from a non-libertarian starting point”. Hoppe also emphasizes that within libertarianism are those that are less anchored to foundational libertarian principles. He does not hold back, calling some of them fake libertarians.

Hoppe explains explains “that the Alt-Right is far more united by what it is against than what it is for. It is against, and indeed it hates with a passion, the elites in control of the state, the mainstream media and academia. And why? Because the state, the mainstream media, and academia all promote social degeneracy and pathology. Thus they promote, and the Alt-Right vigorously opposes, egalitarianism, affirmative action or non-discrimination laws, multiculturalism and free mass immigration as a means to bring about this multiculturalism”.

Hoppe does not stop there, but this partial quote makes the point that the Alt-Right correctly diagnoses the symptoms of the declining characteristics of society. Hoppe’s point was not to promote the Alt-Right. Hoppe is expressly critical of the Alt-Right as typified by Hoppe stating “However, several of the Alt-Right’s leaders and many of its rank and file followers have also endorsed views incompatible with libertarianism. As Buchanan before and Trump now, they are adamant about complementing a policy of restrictive, highly selective and discriminating immigration (which is entirely compatible with libertarianism and its desideratum of freedom of association and opposition to forced integration)* with a strident policy of restricted trade, economic protectionism and protective tariffs—which is antithetical to libertarianism and inimical to human prosperity”.  

Hoppe then briefly describes Richard Spencer’s earlier commonality with libertarianism only to  become a “horrifying disappointment” for [having] “gone so far as to even put up with socialism, as long as it is socialism of and for only white people”.

These are not compliments nor compromises with the Alt-Right. To explain the sentiment under no uncertain terms, Hoppe reminds his audience that “[t]he Alt-Right did not discover these insights. They had been established long before and indeed, in large parts they are no more than common sense”.

Hoppe explains the important point that libertarians need to be reminded of (or learn) that “in recent times such insights have been buried under mountains of egalitarian, [and] Leftist propaganda”. Throughout the speech he shares examples of failure of various professed libertarians to acknowledge the problems that ironically perhaps the Alt-Right tends to get correct.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe is an academic, but he is not a utopian. This speech had a distinct ulterior purpose of appealing to the Alt-Right to recognize their failures and to appeal to libertarians to also recognize different failures. Hoppe does not hide from using politically incorrect descriptions of people. It often seems that the criticisms are more about daring to use such trigger words as “brown people”, assuming the use is meant to condemn all non-white people. Libertarians need to be more discerning.

I’m not an expert on Hoppe but for all the attempts to link him to the Alt-Right, I find the claims to be a stretch at best and typically an attempted smear by those having an ulterior motive to move libertarianism away from its principles. Even Hoppe in this speech jokes about this association, clearly being aware of it and giving it the credit it’s due; which is none.

Some professed libertarians and Anarcho-Capitalists are trying to use Hoppe as their own proof of a valid camaraderie with the Alt-Right. I find this claim is not supported by Hoppe’s own words, when they are properly understood. I believe Hoppe needs discriminating Anarcho-Capitalists to support him and to reject this association with the Alt-Right as nothing more than offering advice to a community that can see the symptoms but does not understand the problems.

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