Natural Order, the State, and the Immigration Order Part 2

Natural Order, the State, and the Immigration Order Part 2
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Reprinted from the Journal of Libertarian Studies


With this backdrop of domestic state policies we can return to the problem of immigration under statist conditions. It is now clear what state admission implies. It does not merely imply centralized admission. By admitting someone onto its territory, the state also permits this person to proceed on public roads and lands to every domes- tic resident’s doorsteps, to make use of all public facilities and services (such as hospitals and schools), and to access every commercial establishment, employment, and residential housing, protected by a multitude of non-discrimination laws.16

Only one more element is missing in this reconstruction. Why would immigration ever be a problem for a state? Who would want to migrate from a natural order into a statist area? A statist area would tend to lose its residents, especially its most productive subjects. It would be an attraction only for potential state-welfare recipients (whose admission would only further strengthen the emigration tendency). If anything, emigration is a problem for a State. In fact, the institution of a State is a cause of emigration; indeed, it is the most important or even the sole cause of modern mass migrations (more powerful and devastating in its effects than any hurricane, earthquake or flood and comparable only to the effects on migration of the various ice-ages).

What has been missing in this reconstruction is the assumption of a multitude of states partitioning the entire globe (the absence of natural orders anywhere). Then, as one state causes mass emigration, another state will be confronted with the problem of mass immigration; and the general direction of mass migration movements will be from territories where states exploit (legislatively expropriate and tax) their subjects more (and wealth accordingly tends to be lower) to territories where states exploit less (and wealth is higher).

We have finally arrived in the present, when the Western world—Western Europe, North America, and Australia—is faced with the specter of State-caused mass immigration from all over the rest of the world. What can and is being done about this situation?

Out of sheer self-interest States will not adopt an “open border” policy. If they did, the influx of immigrants would quickly assume such proportions that the domestic state-welfare system would col- lapse. On the other hand, the Western welfare states do not prevent tens or even hundreds of thousands (and in the case of the United States well in excess of a million) of uninvited foreigners per year from entering and settling their territories. Moreover, as far as legal (rather than tolerated illegal) immigration is concerned, the Western welfare states have adopted a non-discriminatory “affirmative action” admission policy. That is, they set a maximum immigration target and then allot quotas to various emigration countries or regions, irrespective of how ethno-culturally similar or dissimilar such places and regions of origin are, thus further aggravating the problem of forced integration. As well, they typically allow an “open” (unspecified) number of “political asylum” seekers to enter—of government approved “victim” groups (and at the exclusion of other, “politically incorrect” victims).17

In light of the unpopularity of this policy, one might wonder about the motive for engaging in it. However, given the nature of the state it is not difficult to discover a rationale. States, as will be re- called, are also promoters of forced domestic integration. Forced integration is a means of breaking up all intermediate social institutions and hierarchies (in between the state and the individual) such as family, clan, tribe, community, and church and their internal layers and ranks of authority. Through forced integration individuals are isolated (atomized) and their power of resistance vis-à-vis the State   is weakened.18 In the “logic” of the state, a hefty dose of foreign invasion, especially if it comes from strange and far-away places, is reckoned to further strengthen this tendency. And the present situation offers a particularly opportune time to do so, for in accordance with the inherently centralizing tendency of States and statism generally and promoted here and now in particular by the U.S. as the world’s only remaining superpower, the Western world—or more precisely the neoconservative-social democratic elites controlling the state governments in the U.S. and Western Europe—is committed to the establishment of supra-national states (such as the European Union) and ultimately one world state. National, regional or communal attachments are the main stumbling blocks on the way to this goal. A good measure of uninvited foreigners and government imposed multiculturalism is calculated to further weaken and ultimately destroy national, regional, and communal identities and thus promote the goal of a One World Order, led by the U.S., and a new “universal man.”19


What if anything can be done to spoil these statist designs and regain security and protection from invasion, whether domestic or foreign? Let us begin with a proposal made by the editors of the Wall Street Journal, the Cato Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education, and various left-libertarian writers of an “open” or “no” border policy—not because this proposal has any merit, but because it helps to elucidate what the problem is and what needs to be done to solve it.

It is not difficult to predict the consequences of an open border policy in the present world. If Switzerland, Austria, Germany or Italy, for instance, freely admitted everyone who made it to their borders and demanded entry, these countries would quickly be overrun by millions of third-world immigrants from Albania, Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria, for example. As the more perceptive open-border advocates realize, the domestic state-welfare programs and provisions would collapse as a consequence.20 This would not be a reason for concern, for surely, in order to regain effective protection of per- son and property the welfare state must be abolished. But then there is the great leap—or the gaping hole—in the open border argument: out of the ruins of the democratic welfare states, we are led to believe, a new natural order will somehow emerge.

The first error in this line of reasoning can be readily identified. Once the welfare states have collapsed under their own weight, the masses of immigrants who have brought this about are still there. They have not been miraculously transformed into Swiss, Austrians, Bavarians or Lombards, but remain what they are: Zulus, Hindus, Ibos, Albanians, or Bangladeshis. Assimilation can work when the number of immigrants is small. It is entirely impossible, however, if immigration occurs on a mass scale. In that case, immigrants will simply trans-port their own ethno-culture onto the new territory. Accordingly, when the welfare state has imploded there will be a multitude of “little” (or not so little) Calcuttas, Daccas, Lagoses, and Tiranas strewn all over Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. It betrays a breathtaking sociological naiveté to believe that a natural order will emerge out of this admixture. Based on all historical experience with such forms of multiculturalism, it can safely be predicted that in fact the result will be civil war. There will be widespread plundering and squatterism leading to massive capital consumption, and civilization as we know it will disappear from Switzerland, Austria and Italy. Furthermore, the host population will quickly be outbred and, ultimately, physically displaced by their “guests.” There will still be Alps in Switzerland and Austria, but no Swiss or Austrians.21

However, the error in the open border proposal goes further than its dire consequences. The fundamental error of the proposal is moral or ethical in nature and lies in its assumption. It is the underlying assumption that foreigners are “entitled,” or have a “right,” to immigrate. In fact, they have no such right whatsoever.

Foreigners would have a right to enter Switzerland, Austria or Italy only if these places were uninhabited (unowned) territories. How- ever, 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 foreign- ers 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 any- one 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.

The recognition of the moral status of public property as expropriated private property is not just sufficient grounds for rejecting the open border proposal as a moral outrage. It is equally sufficient for combating the present semi-open “affirmative action” immigration policies of the Western welfare States.

Up to now, in the debate on immigration policy too much emphasis has been placed on consequentialist (utilitarian) arguments. Apologists of the status quo have argued that most immigrants work and become productive, so immigration contributes to a rising domestic standard of living. Critics have argued that the existing State-welfare institutions and provisions increasingly invite welfare- immigration, and they have warned that the only advantage of the current policies over the open border alternative is that the former will take decades until it ultimately leads to similarly dire effects, while the latter will produce such effects within years. As important as the resolution of these issues is, it is not decisive. The opposition against current immigration policies is ultimately independent of whether immigration will make per capita GDP (or similar statistical measures) rise or fall. It is a matter of justice: of right and wrong.

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 pub- lic 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.23

But this can only be the beginning; even if public opinion induced the state to adopt an immigration stance more in accordance with popular sentiments and justice, this fact would not change that the interests of private property owners and those of the State as a territorial monopolist of legislation and taxation are incompatible and in permanent conflict with each other. A State is a contradiction in terms: it is a property protector who may expropriate the property of the protected through legislation and taxation. Predictably, a State will be interested in maximizing its tax revenues and power (its range of legislative interference with private property rights) and dis- interested in protecting anything except itself. What we experience in the area of immigration is only one aspect of a general problem. States are also supposed to protect their citizen from domestic intrusion and invasion, yet as we have seen, they actually disarm them, encircle them, tax them, and strip them of their right to exclusion, thus rendering them helpless.

Accordingly, the solution to the immigration problem is at the same time the solution to the general problem inherent in the institution of a State and of public property. It involves the return to a natural order by means of secession. To regain security from domestic and foreign intrusion and invasion, the central nation States will have to be broken up into their constituent parts. The Austrian and the Italian central States do not own Austrian and Italian public property; they are its citizens’ trustees. Yet they do not protect them and their property. Hence, just as the Austrians and the Italians (and not foreigners) are the owners of Austria and Italy, so by extension of the same principle do the Carinthians and the Lombards (in accordance with individual tax payments) own Carinthia and Lombardy, and the Bergamese Bergamo (and not the Viennese and the Roman governments).

In a decisive first step, individual provinces, regions, cities, towns and villages must declare their independence from Rome, Vienna, Berlin, Paris, and proclaim their status as “free territories.” Ex- tensive efforts by the central States to the contrary notwithstanding, strong provincial affiliations and attachments still exist in many regions, cities and villages all across Europe. It is vital to tap into these provincial and local sentiments in taking this first step. With every successive act of regional secession the power of the central State will be diminished. It will be stripped of more of its public property, its agents’ range of access will increasingly be restricted, and its laws will apply in smaller and smaller territories, until it ultimately withers away.

However, it is essential to go beyond “political secession” to the privatization of property. After all, provincial and local political bod- ies (governments) have no more right to provincial property than the central government had to national property. The secession process must proceed further. Provincial or communal public property: roads, parks, government buildings, schools, courthouses, etc., must be re- turned to their genuine private owners and owner associations. Who owns what share of provincial or communal property? In principle, each owns according to his (compulsory) contribution to this property! In the case in which private property was expropriated by local government for purposes of “eminent domain,” the property is simply returned to its original owner. As for the rest (and most) of public property, tradable property shares should be distributed among community   members   in   accordance   with   their   individual taxpayments. Every public road, park, school, etc., was funded by tax- payers; hence, local taxpayers, in accordance with their tax payments, should be awarded local public property.24 This has a twofold impli- cation. First, some residents have paid more taxes than others, so it   is only natural and just that the former should be awarded more shares than the latter. Second and more specifically, some residents will be excluded altogether from receiving public property shares. For one, welfare recipients should be excluded. Presumably, they have paid no taxes but lived instead on taxes paid by others. Hence, they cannot claim any ownership share in public property. Likewise, all government officials and civil servants must be excluded from receiving ownership shares in public property, for their net (after tax) salary has been paid out of taxes paid by others. Just   like welfare recipients, civil servants have not been tax-payers but tax-consumers. Hence, they too have no claim to communal property.25

With the central state withered away and the privatization of pub- lic property complete, the right to exclusion inherent in private property and essential for personal security and protection is returned into the hands of a multitude of independent private decision-making units. Immigration once again becomes a micro-phenomenon and disappears as a social “problem.”


16“If every piece of land in a country were owned by some person, group or corporation,” elaborates Murray N. Rothbard, “this would mean that no im-migrant could enter unless invited to enter and allowed to rent or pur- chase property. A totally privatized country would be as closed as the par- ticular inhabitants and property owners desire. It seems clear, then, that the regime of open borders that exists de facto in the U.S. really amounts to a compulsory opening by the central state, the state in charge of all streets and public land areas, and does not genuinely reflect the wishes of the pro- prietors.” “Nations by Consent: Decomposing the Nation-State,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 11, no. 2 (1994), p. 7. On U.S. immigration, see Peter Brimelow, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster (New York: Random House, 1995); George J. Borjas, Friends or Strangers: The Impact of Immigrants on the U.S. Economy (New York: Ba- sic Books, 1990); idem, Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the Ameri- can Economy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999).

17Typically, it is easier for a certified “political” mass murderer, such as a socialist dictator, for instance, who has been overthrown by another, to gain entrance into Western countries than it is for the (his) “true” victims.

While he who qualifies as a victim changes with the political winds, a relative constant in Western asylum policy is the preference for Jewish immigration (at the exclusion of non-Jews). In the U.S., for instance, it has been a long-standing tradition that Jews from the former Soviet Union qualify as “victims,” while regular Russians or Ukrainians do not. Not to be outdone, Germany currently accepts every Russian Jew who desires en- trance, but excludes as non-victims all other Russians. Consequently, the demand for Ger-man asylum among Russian “Jews,” two thirds of whom are supported entirely through “public” welfare, has risen to such a level that the Central Com-mittee of Jews in Germany demanded of the German government (successfully) that applicants be “tested” for Jewishness. Es- sentially, the test is the same as that employed by the National Socialists in the infamous Nuremberg Race Laws of 1934 (while it is used to the oppo- site effect), which in turn was based on the official (self-acknowledged) re- ligious strictures of orthodox Judaism. Incidentally, Israel, which defines itself as “a Jewish State,” practically prohibits all immigration by non-Jews (while allowing any Jew from anywhere, under the Law of Return, to enter Israel with full citizenship rights). Ninety-two percent of Israel’s land is state-owned and regulated by the Jewish National Fund. According to its regulations, the right to reside, to open a business, and frequently also to work on this land is prohibited to anyone except Jews. While Jews may rent from non-Jews, non-Jews are prohibited from renting from Jews. See Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion (London: Pluto Press, 1994), esp. chap. 1.

18See also Robert A. Nisbet, Community and Power (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962; idem, Conservatism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).

19For a summary presentation of the neoconservative worldview, see Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Avon Books, 1993); for a critical assessment of the neoconservatives and   their agenda, see Paul Gottfried, The Conservative Movement (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993); idem, After Liberalism (Princeton, N.J.: Prince- ton University Press, 1999). For a brilliant literary treatment of the subject of mass immigration and the Western welfare state, see Jean Raspail, The Camp of the Saints (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975).

20See, for instance, Walter Block, “A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration,” Journal of Libertarian Studies 13, no. 2 (1998).

21Peter Brimelow, Alien Nation, pp. 124–27, has provided some recent evi- dence for the thesis that no multicultural state, and especially no democ- ratic one, has ever worked peacefully for very long. Working back from the present, here is the evidence: Eritrea, ruled by Ethiopia since 1952, splits off in 1993; Czechoslovakia, founded in 1918, splits into Czech and Slovak ethnic components in 1993; the Soviet Union of 1917 splits into multiple ethnic components in 1991, and many of these components are threatened with further ethnic fragmentation; Yugoslavia, founded in 1918, splits into several ethnic components in 1991, and further breakup is still under way; Lebanon, founded in 1920, has effectively partitioned Christians and Muslims (under Syrian domination) since 1975; Cyprus, independent since 1960, effectively partitions Greek and Turkish territories in 1974; Pakistan, independent since 1947, ethnically distinct Bangladesh splits off in 1971; Malaysia, independent since 1963, Chinese-dominated Singapore is expelled in 1965. The list goes on with still unresolved cases: India and the Sikhs and Kashmiris; Sri Lanka and the Tamils; Turkey, Iraq and Iran and the Kurds; Sudan and Chad and the Arabs versus Blacks; Nigeria and the Ibos; Ulster and the Protestants versus the Catholics; Belgium and the Flemish versus the Walloons; Italy and the German-speaking South Tyrolians; Canada and the French versus the English; Zimbabwe and South Af- rica and Blacks versus Whites.

Yet, is not Switzerland, with an assemblage of Germans, French, Ital- ians, and Romansh an exception? Hardly. All essential powers in Switzer- land, in particular those determining educational and cultural matters (schools), are concentrated in the hands of the cantons rather than in those of the central government. And almost all of the twenty-six cantons and half-cantons are ethno-culturally homogeneous. Seventeen cantons are al- most exclusive Ger-man; four cantons are almost exclusively French; and one canton is predominantly Italian. Only three cantons are bilingual, the Swiss ethno-cultural balance has been essentially stable, and there is only a limited amount of intercultural-cantonal migration. Even given these favor- able circumstances, Switzerland did experience an unsuccessful, violently suppressed war of secession, the Sonderbundskrieg of 1847. Furthermore, the creation of the new, breakaway French-speaking canton of Jura from the predominantly German canton of Berne in 1979 was preceded by years of terrorist activity.

22See, for instance, Block, “A Libertarian Case for Free Immigration.”

23Against many left-libertarian open border enthusiasts, it is incorrect to in- fer from the fact that an immigrant has found someone willing to employ him that his presence on a given territory must henceforth be considered “invited.” Strictly speaking, this conclusion is true only if the employer also assumes the full costs associated with the importation of his immi- grant-employee. This is the case under the much-maligned arrangement of a “factory town” owned and operated by a proprietor. Here, the full cost of employment, the cost of housing, healthcare, and all other amenities associated with the immigrant’s presence, is paid for by the proprietor. No one else’s property is involved in the immigrant-worker settlement. Less perfectly (and increasingly less so), this full-cost-principle of immigration is realized in Swiss immigration policy. In Switzerland immigration matters are decided on the local rather than federal government level, by the local owner-resident community in which the immigrant wants to reside. These owners are interested that the immigrant’s presence in their community in- crease rather than decrease their property values. In places as attractive as Switzerland, this typically means that the immigrant (or his employer) is expected to buy his way into a community, which often requires multimil- lion dollar donations.

Unfortunately, welfare states are not operated like factory towns or even Swiss communities. Under welfare-statist condition the immigrant employer must pay only a small fraction of the full costs associated with the immigrant’s presence. He is permitted to socialize (externalize) a substan- tial part of such costs onto other property owners. 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 associated is permitted to discriminate against him as regards housing, em- ployment, accommodation, and association. That is, the immigrant comes invited with a substantial fringe benefits package paid for not (or only par- tially) by the immigrant employer (who allegedly has extended the invita- tion), 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. It is like inviting immigrant workers to renovate one’s own house while feeding them from other people’s refrigerators. Consequently, because the cost of importing immigrant workers is low- ered, more employer-sponsored immigrants will arrive than otherwise. Moreover, the character of the immigrant changes, too. While Swiss com- munities choose well-heeled, highly value-productive immigrants, whose presence enhances communal property values all-around, employers under democratic welfare State conditions are permitted by state law to external- ize their employment costs on others and tend to import increasingly cheap, low-skilled and low value-productive immigrants, regardless of their effect on all-around communal property values.

Theoretically bankrupt, the left-libertarian open border stance can be understood only psychologically. One source can be found in the Randian upbringing of many left-libertarians. Big businessmen-entrepreneurs are portrayed as “heroes” and, according to Ayn Rand in one of her more ridiculous statements, are viewed as the welfare state’s “most severely persecuted minority.” In this view (and untainted by any historical knowledge or experience), what can possibly be wrong with a businessman hiring an immigrant worker? In fact, as every historian knows, big businessmen are among the worst sinners against private property rights and the law of the market. Among other things, in an unholy alliance with the central State they have acquired the privilege of importing immigrant workers at other people’s expense (just as they have acquired the privilege of exporting capital to other countries and being bailed out by taxpayers and the military when such investments turn sour).

A second motive for the open border enthusiasm among contemporary left-libertarians is their egalitarianism. 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 They express special “sensitivity” in every manner of discrimination and are not inhibited in using the power of the central state to impose non-discrimination or “civil rights” statutes on society. Consequently, by prohibiting other property owners from discrimination as they see fit, they are allow-ed to live at others’ expense. They can indulge in their “alternative” lifestyle without having to pay the “normal” price for such conduct, i.e., discrimination and exclusion. To legitimize this course of action, they insist that one lifestyle is as good and acceptable as another. This leads first to multiculturalism, then to cultural relativism, and finally to “open borders.” See further on this Hoppe, Democracy—The God That Failed, esp. chap. 10.

24It should be emphasized that the distributed property shares must be trad-able in order to constitute genuine private property. On the one hand, the tradability of shares makes it possible that people can cash-in (sell) their property. Not everyone has the patience and is willing to assume the risk associated with the ownership of capital goods. On the other hand, by the same token tradability makes it possible that the shares can be bought and put to productive use by capitalist-entrepreneurs who do have the requisite patience and are willing to assume the associated risk (of profit and loss). 25To be sure, a number of complications would arise with this privatization strategy. In order to determine the ownership shares granted to various individuals in buildings and structures currently owned by federal, regional, and local governments, these individuals would have to provide documentation of their past payments of federal, regional and local taxes respectively, and in each case past welfare payments received must be deducted from taxes paid in order to arrive at a figure for the amount of net taxes paid. In a fully privatized market society, the task of finding a detailed solution to this problem would be typically assumed by private accountants, lawyers, and arbitration agencies, financed directly or indirectly, for a contingency fee, by the individual claimants.


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Profile photo of Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Hans-Hermann Hoppe, an Austrian School economist and anarchocapitalist philosopher, is professor emeritus of economics at UNLV, a distinguished fellow with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and founder and president of The Property and Freedom Society.

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