Hoppe, Carson, and Me

I have found that the two other thinkers within the current anti-state milieu to whom I am most often compared are Hans Hermann Hoppe and Kevin Carson. These associations are made by both sympathizers and critics regarding my own work. So perhaps if might be of interest to point out both similarities and differences between these two men and myself.

I very much respect and am influenced by the work of both gentlemen. I have written praises to the high heavens on behalf of both of them in the past.

Hoppe is an anarcho-capitalist in the vein of Murray Rothbard, and it would probably be appropriate to characterize Hoppe as a full-fledged Rothbardian. The system developed by Rothbard was an amalgam of Thomistic natural law theory, Lockean natural rights, Austrian economics, foreign policy isolationism, and individualist-anarchism. Rothbard’s outlook in many ways resembles that of the Marxists: rationalist and atheist in philosophy, extreme political and economic radicalism, and staunch social conservatism. Rothbard also considered his brand of libertarianism to be a branch of the far Left, with socialism being a middle of the road ideology between libertarianism and traditional conservatism.

Hoppe has taken Rothbard’s system and added to it a critique of modern mass democracy that is largely derivative of an earlier critique of the same offered by the Catholic liberal monarchist Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn. Hoppe’s critique of democracy also overlaps with Carl Schmitt’s analysis of the tensions between democracy and liberalism. Hoppe has also added a further philosophical justification for the Rothbardian system based on argumentation ethics, in addition to adding a much more thorough culturally conservative critique of multicultural and counterculturalism of a kind similar to that of the paleoconservatives. Additionally, Hoppe has adopted secession as a primary strategic vehicle.

As for the differences between my outlook and those of Hoppe (or Rothbard), I am a Nietzschean in philosophy, a Stirnerite in ethics, a pan-anarchist (which I consider to be the contemporary equivalent of “anarchism without adjectives”) in political theory, a Proudhonian (for the most part) in economics. I have provided an extensive critique of cultural conservatism here.

As for the similarities, I share Hoppe’s disdain for mass democracy as a mask for rule by an oligopoly of interest groups, state-empowered banks and industries, bureaucratic parasites, and the fickle winds of public opinion. I share Hoppe’s emphasis on secession as a primary strategic tool. I also share Hoppe’s and Rothbard’s advocacy of homesteading of state-privileged or state-owned industries, and the primacy of foreign policy and opposition to imperialist war.

As for the work of Kevin Carson, his critique of the alliance between state and capital greatly strengthens the Rothbardian-Hoppean critique of central banking and plutocracy. Carson essentially takes Proudhon’s economics and updates it for the modern world. Carson has also offered valuable insights concerning the development of an anarcho-populist strategic paradigm with regards to economic issues. Carson has taken some of Rothbard’s best work on the question of the state/capital alliance, such as that from Rothbard’s New Left phase, and supplemented it with a more comprehensive critique of his own. I remarked some years ago that Carson is the Proudhon of our time, and I stand by that comment.

Regarding where I disagree with Carson, his work often resembles the narrow class determinism and economism of the Marxists and classical anarcho-syndicalists/anarcho-communists. For instance, this essay by Carson more or less advances a classical “workerist” outlook by suggesting that the standard contemporary left-wing taboos such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are counterproductive because these conflicts undermine class solidarity. This is essentially a restatement of the classical Marxist view that “the workers have no country” and should carry out international proletarian struggle. Perhaps a modern restatement of this view would be “the workers have no race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity” but only their material and class interests. But as the lessons of the First World War demonstrated, it doesn’t work that way in real life. And the majority of contemporary leftists are not interested in proletarian solidarity but in demographic conflict: “Gay and transgendered womyn of color unite against straight white male hegemony!”

Carson’s outlook on these matters is essentially an effort to synthesize the “workerism” of early twentieth century classical anarchism, the cultural values of the 1960s counterculture, and 1970s therapeutic culture. But as even the early theorists of the New Left (most notably Marcuse) recognized, workers had ceased to be a revolutionary force in Western industrialized societies by the beginning of the postwar era. Instead, a combination of political and economic reforms, technological expansion, economic growth and rising living standards allowed the traditional working class to successfully integrate into the middle class. For this reason, the radicals of the New Left recognized that workers had become a conservative force, and looked to other groups as the new foundation for political radicalism: racial minorities, women, homosexuals, young people, students, intellectuals, and educated urban professionals. But half a century later, these demographics have undergone the same transformation as the working class before them in that all of these populations have largely been integrated into the middle class, and into the political and cultural mainstream. Hence, the rise of political correctness with the newly rich and the expanded New Class as its primary constituent base. And workers are even less inclined towards revolutionary struggle at present than they were a half century ago, as the ongoing decline in union membership and enthusiasm for unionization indicates.

Therefore, a genuinely revolutionary movement in twenty-first century Western industrialized nations will require a much different approach. That’s why the bulk of my work has been oriented towards developing a new theoretical paradigm and strategic model for a 21st century anarchism.  This new paradigm is pluralist and pan-anarchist in political theory in the tradition of the synthesists and anarchists without adjectives (thereby capable of accommodating the views of both Hoppe and Carson to a great degree), favors pan-secession as a primary political tactic (this might be comparable to the classical anarchist notion of the general strike), identifies ten core demographics as the primary population base for revolutionary struggle (at least in North America) with a principal emphasis on the lumpenproletariat, alters the analysis of the in-group/out-group dichotomy to reflect the anarcho-populist concept of class and demographic conflict, and recognizes totalitarian humanism as the basis of the self-legitimizing ideological superstructure of the present Western ruling classes.

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