An Interview with Hans-Hermann Hoppe:
AEN: So the classical liberals were too tolerant of the state?
HOPPE: Far too much. Once you admit the basic principle that the state is an essential provider of security, you give up all counterarguments. Take the example of the case of the social safety net that most free-market advocates say we must have. If you ask them how high the provision of a guaranteed income should be, they can’t tell you. They know that if it is too high, people will work less; but if it is too low, they say people will be too poor to recover. But the dividing line between the two is completely arbitrary.
Yet through it all, they take the position that there must be such a thing as a social safety net. If there is no question that the must be such a thing, then you have already admitted that private property rights, the rights of contract, free association, and voluntary trade are not the essential source of security and no longer supreme. There are some considerations that override all these institutions.
If you make these sorts of exceptions, it is very difficult to argue that the exceptions should not apply more broadly. What argument do you have? You have already admitted that some people can be legally expropriated for socially important reasons. The only task for statists is to make the purposes seem important enough to allow for expropriation. Everything then becomes possible.
HOPPE: Indeed, today’s ideological landscape is filled with people who claim to want selective cuts in government or to bring about what they call limited government. Then, to ward off the charge that they are too radical, they assure the public that they do not oppose government as such–indeed it is a necessary thing; they just oppose its present size and present policies.
And to prove that they are respectable, then, they lend support to some aspects of the regime, usually its war-making power, its educational apparatus, its regulatory regime, or its social-safety net. By their own logic, they end up trying to improve government rather than dismantle it. This is why they are ultimately no threat to anyone in power. Those who advocate merely “limiting” intervention rather than eliminating it are always ripe for co-option by the state. Mises once observed that anyone who has ever had something new to offer humanity had nothing good to say of the state or its laws.