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Read Hoppe, Then Nothing Is the Same

My article, “Read Hoppe, Then Nothing Is the Same,” discussing my upcoming Mises Academy course, “The Social Theory of Hoppe” (Mondays, July 11-Aug. 21, 2011) was published on Mises Daily last Friday, June 10 2011. The article has also been translated into Spanish: Tras leer a Hoppe, nada es lo mismo. Archived comments below. The course is on my site beginning with KOL153 | “The Social Theory of Hoppe: Lecture 1: Property Foundations” (Mises Academy, 2011).

“Read Hoppe, Then Nothing Is the Same” by Stephan Kinsella

 

Combining Misesian praxeology with Rothbardian insights, Hoppe has developed a magnificent, integrated edifice of rational thought.

Archived comments:

Comments (19)

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Drigan's avatar

Drigan· 3 days ago

I’m always a bit hesitant to read articles by Kinsella because of the inevitable pontification on intellectual property. (I’m not quite sure where I stand on IP, but repeatedly hammering that anti-IP is the only way to be for a libertarian has made me a bit more resistant to it.) I was pleasantly surprised by this article; now make a few substantive articles about something other than IP and I might be a bit more receptive to the IP-related message.

12 replies · active 1 hour ago

+5

Inquisitor's avatar

Inquisitor· 2 days ago

It’s not like Kinsella doesn’t back his position up with argument, and it’s not exactly a question of liking vanilla vs chocolate.

Hi, thanks for the comment. Let me say a few things in response. First, IP was never my strongest interest. It always was, and remains, other things like rights theory, Austrian economics, epistemology, and various applications of libertarianism. (If you check out my publications you’ll see that IP is only one subset of things I am interested in. http://www.stephankinsella.com/publications/)

The IP issue nagged at me as one among many little things, but I started to turn my attention to it in the early 90s when I started practicing patent law and thus thought more about it, and gradually saw the increasing importance of developing a solid view on this issue, and because of others increasingly urging me to write about it. Initially I sought a way to justify IP, b/c I thought it must be valid (Rand favored it-but Rand’s argument for it was obviously shaky).

As I have explained, I was by no means the first on the IP issue, see http://blog.mises.org/16319/the-origins-of-libert… . But I wrote a fairly systematic piece, and one more informed by knowledge of the actual law than some preceding ones because I was actually practicing law in that field. A few years later the Internet continued to grow in importance, and the IP issue could no longer be ignored by most people so my and others’ anti-IP ideas spread among libertarians because of the growing importance of this issue. At first I resisted being Mr. IP b/c as I said it’s not my favorite issue–to practice, or to write about. But I kept seeing a need to write and to be hones in the last few years there aer so many growing IP abuses and outrages that I have to comment on them. And to be honest I think the case against IP, once one really looks closely at it, is pretty clear, so it is pretty obvious to most thoughtful and principled (and Austrian-informed) libertarians. And I do think it’s probably now in the top 6 or so worst statist threats to liberty. So it’s not a trivial issue. see http://c4sif.org/2011/06/masnick-on-the-horrible-… . And we are one of the only groups actively opposing IP, from a principled and PRO-private property perspective, and the time is right to do this, so we must.

BTW Hoppe is against IP too. http://c4sif.org/2010/12/hoppe-on-intellectual-pr…. The Hoppe course will touch on IP but only a bit.

So, I hope you see why I write about IP as much as I do.

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Drigan's avatar

Drigan· 2 days ago

I agree, it is certainly an important issue, and you’ve made a lot of progress towards solving the problem from a libertarian perspective. The problem that I have is that I’m not quite convinced that a complete free-for-all is a just and ideal situation. Certainly people need to find a way to market their own ideas to make money off of them, but it’s too easy to think of circumstances where it benefits big business at the expense of the inventor.

From what I’ve heard, the guy that invented the calculator was from around here, and he paid Texas Instrument to manufacture it for him, but didn’t get IP protection for his ideas. TI snubbed him and became the TI we all know. I’m not quite sure what stops that story from being repeated in a truly libertarian society. I know the guy should have been more cautious with who he trusted and gotten everything in writing, but at some point, you have to trust *someone* to develop your ideas, or ask if they think it would work. My sense of justice tells me that TI did something criminal, but what law did they break in a libertarian society? They haven’t been physically aggressive.

I guess that’s my biggest problem with IP from a libertarian perspective . . . it doesn’t quite seem to satisfy my sense of justice.

Having questions is not an argument. Being uncertain, being confused, is not an argument.

Not clear what you mean by “free for all,” but it seems wanging this phrase out there as you did, is not an argument either.

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Drigan's avatar

Drigan· 1 day ago

Seriously?!? This is another reason I don’t like reading your stuff; in your comments you make almost no effort to understand what people are trying to say. I realize you’re a lawyer and therefore naturally combative about words, but you need to put that aside if you’re going to engage people and not push them away. I was showing that lack of IP can lead to instances that the average person instinctively feels are unjust. If you can show that this isn’t really the case, then I don’t have any further conscientious objections to your theory. I’m not willing to accept it without further consideration, but I think over the course of a few weeks I could become comfortable that I won’t find any more major objections.

“Free for all” in this instance means that a person can use information no matter how it is obtained.

I guess my big problem is when a company could undermine someone who has a great idea and is requesting their help to develop it. Presumably, there’s an implied contract to not develop the idea without crediting and compensating the inventor. But how do you make that contract explicit? Sign something that says “The stuff (which we don’t yet know what ‘stuff’ means, yet) we’re about to talk about will not be used for the next year without the expressed consent of X.”?? X could then claim that he talked about *anything.* Have a 2 part contract that if they sign the first part, they are obligated to explain the idea in a second part after having heard the idea?

Seriously?!? This is another reason I don’t like reading your stuff; in your comments you make almost no effort to understand what people are trying to say.

I do understand and did make an effort, and I was not impolite or incivil at all.

I am pointing out to you that use of fuzzy words is why your ideas are not making sense. It lead to equivocation and/or sloppy reasoning.

I realize you’re a lawyer and therefore naturally combative about words, but you need to put that aside if you’re going to engage people and not push them away.

I was not combative.

I was showing that lack of IP can lead to instances that the average person instinctively feels are unjust.

I don’t think you were showing it, but it was not a bad effort. The reason people thinks these cases are unjust is a combination of acquiescence in the status quo and susceptibility to statist propaganda, compounded by economic and political illiteracy.

“Free for all” in this instance means that a person can use information no matter how it is obtained.

Of course, socialists deride the free market as a free for all. As a free market proponent, I don’t take “free for all” as a critique, but as a compliment.

I guess my big problem is when a company could undermine someone who has a great idea and is requesting their help to develop it. Presumably, there’s an implied contract to not develop the idea without crediting and compensating the inventor. But how do you make that contract explicit? Sign something that says “The stuff (which we don’t yet know what ‘stuff’ means, yet) we’re about to talk about will not be used for the next year without the expressed consent of X.”?? X could then claim that he talked about *anything.* Have a 2 part contract that if they sign the first part, they are obligated to explain the idea in a second part after having heard the idea?

Reasonable questions but these are the questions an entrepreneur would ask. The fact that you have questions, as I said before, is not an argument for IP.

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Gene Callahan's avatar

Gene Callahan· 22 hours ago

“I am pointing out to you that use of fuzzy words is why your ideas are not making sense. It lead to equivocation and/or sloppy reasoning. ”

It’s only sloppy thinkers like Socrates who sit and puzzle over things. Decisive thinkers like Lenin are always clear on what must be done!

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Drigan's avatar

Drigan· 2 hours ago

<quote>
I do understand and did make an effort, and I was not impolite or incivil at all.
</quote>True, but your answer was also not at all helpful; it amounted to “you don’t ask good questions so I’m not answering.” I’m not trying to shoot holes in the free market of ideas, I’m trying to convince myself that it’s the best of all possible ways. In physical property, possession and ownership are fairly obvious, and I’m quite comfortable with the free market in this realm. Like it or not, ideas don’t belong to this realm. As much as I’d like to be, I’m not convinced the same rules apply.

My dominant tendency is certainly not socialistic, but you may have a valid point about my ideas being colored by mainstream perspectives.

I am definitely not pro-IP. You’re right, my questions are not meant to be arguments for IP. My questions are exactly that: questions. I want to hear a satisfying answer from any perspective, but particularly yours because I think it has the greatest chance of providing satisfying answers. (Do you have a better name than “anti-IP” for your perspective? Personally I like “Intellectual Freedom” . . . “I.F.”) I have more objections to other perspectives, but this is the only major one that I have to IF. Of course, I reserve the right to object in the future, but I think this is the greatest hurdle remaining before I could embrace IF.

+2

Drigan's avatar

Drigan· 1 hour ago

The system mises.org is using to avoid trolling is horrible: my reply to you is awaiting moderator approval. (Aren’t you a moderator?) I then nullified the -1 someone gave me to see if that would unlock my commenting, and it does. At the very least it should take into account the *average* rating for a user, not the *sum* rating, and negative should not be sufficient reason to require moderation, rather you should have a *highly* negative average rating. (Currently that might mean a rating of -10 on average.) Feel free to delete this comment, but at least recognize that mises.org is effectively silencing dissenting opinion, which seems to be against everything the site stands for.
Drigan is definitely right here -1 is a crazy standard to put something into moderator queue from a regular poster.
+2

Eric's avatar

Eric· 21 hours ago

Drigan:

The best way to see the damage caused by IP law is to look at industry that does not have IP law or look at an industry that began without IP law and then what happened when IP law was instituted.

The Fashion/clothing industry does not use IP law to “own” a new style or design of clothing. There is a TED video on this which I think best presents the case.

The software industry began without patent protection. It had enourmous progress in its early years, despite (or because of) the lack of patent protection. Once patents were allowed, and the government patent office was in charge, we began to see absurdities such as “one -click” buying.

Today large companies, which can afford the patent process, patent every conceivable idea and use this to deter competition. Open source groups are fighting back by creating their own war chest of patents – to fight off the large companies that patent such trivial ideas as license key tests which inform the user they can buy a license if the software detects that they’ve moved their program to another computer. That one might cost Microsoft half a billion. Once you get into the courts there’s no telling what you will get.

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Drigan's avatar

Drigan· 1 hour ago

Yes, I agree that IP has hurt the IT industry. I really don’t have any defenses of IP; I think it’s *probably* always bad . . . but until I hear an explanation about my remaining objection to intellectual freedom, I can’t embrace it.

Somewhat off topic, but also related to censorship, and very annoying to me:
Since when have we had censorship on this site? I get a -1 on one of my dozens of posts and now my replies to Kinsella need to be approved by an admin? That system needs to change. I’m clearly not just trolling. Maybe if I had -5 on average for my postings.

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Sonny Ortega's avatar

Sonny Ortega· 1 day ago

I have a comment on the Hoppe’s speech at Mises Brasil. Hoppe says that the rules that he specified (self-ownership and aquiring property though homesteading or voluntary exchange) are the only rules we can use to avoid conflicts, while other sets of rules make conflicts permanent.

Now, Hoppe’s rules only effect in avoiding conflicts if everyone follows them. This is something he implicitly admits; he says that if these rules are universally respected, then there cease to be conflicts. Of course, if these rules are not respected by everyone, the conflicts still exist; if I don’t respect someone’s homestead and want to use a good he homesteaded, a conflict emerges that needs to be settled.

But this of course applies to every imaginable consistent set of rules. If they are respected by everyone, conflicts are avoided, if they’re not, conflicts arise. If the rules are, e.g., that every resource will be allocated by decision of a democratic council, or that I own a homesteaded resource for a week and then I have to pass it on to the first person I meet, or that I can’t lift my left hand unless someone orders me to, so that my self-ownership excludes the right to lift my left hand—then, if these rules are universally respected and followed, conflicts cease to exist.

I can see that Hoppe’s set of rules is the most efficient for prosperity, I just don’t agree with the notion that it’s the only set of rules that we can use to avoid conflicts. Although I’m aware that this is purely academical point and has no practical consequences to the theory, I’d like to have the theory put nice and clear. Is this maybe analysed more in depth in one of Hoppe’s books?

1 reply · active 22 hours ago

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Gene Callahan's avatar

Gene Callahan· 22 hours ago

“But this of course applies to every imaginable consistent set of rules.”

Very good, Sonny. You’ve seen through the verbal mist about private property being “voluntary” and states being “coercive.” All sets of rules are “purely voluntary” to everyone who follows them voluntarily, and they are all coercive to those who don’t.

-12

Veritas's avatar

Veritas· 1 day ago

Hoppe is working together with german neo nazis and holocaust-deniers. enough said. those guys arent the ones youre supposed to support.

liberalism and totalitarism just dont fit together. Hoppe does not understand this. he welcomes every party that hates the state. in his logic, the enemies of his enemy must be his friend.

3 replies · active less than 1 minute ago

+2

integral's avatar

integral· 1 day ago

I’d believe you, but I see no reason to trust a self-confessed unrepentant pedophile.
+6

Rick's avatar

Rick· 1 day ago

“Hoppe is working together with german neo nazis and holocaust-deniers”? Idiot. Typical baseless, dumb-ass slander.
+1

Dan's avatar

Dan· 23 hours ago

LOL. Your poor grammar and confused statements illustrate you babble for what it is. Find somewhere else to troll.
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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Thom Brogan June 14, 2011, 10:07 am

    Hi Attorney Kinsella!

    If you were to recommend a Hoppe book to a layperson as a starting point for Hoppe’s ideas, which would it be?

    Thanks!

  • Stephan Kinsella June 14, 2011, 10:49 am

    TSC, but it’s pretty advanced. When I write my 100 page “Hoppe: A Very Short Introduction,” I’ll point you to that. 🙂

  • Thom Brogan June 14, 2011, 12:15 pm

    Thanks much! Once I finish America’s Great Depression, I’ll smash my brain on A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism.

    Ever notice that, if you remove just one letter from Hoppe’s last name and put the remaining letters on a pro-statist bumpersticker, you’ll quickly find someone to avoid? 😀

  • Thom Brogan August 3, 2011, 6:05 am

    Thanks, Stephan!

    Read Hoppe’s A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism and loved it!

    At first, I was thinking “Well the title’s not as sexy as Democracy: The God That Failed, so maybe that one’s just for the cool kids,” but then reading example after example of his argumentation ethics and his destruction of Popper’s rational empiricism as both a method and as a pee-poor defense of social engineering and I was like “zOMG! Han-Hermann rules!” And then my wife asked me to stop talking like a youngster, but I still loved the book. Thanks for the recommendation!

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