The title comes from Claude-Frédéric Bastiat, the great nineteenth-century French economic journalist and liberal. Bastiat gave us “The Great Fiction” to describe the government mechanisms by which people attempt to live at the expense of others. The state is always present in Hoppe’s work, whether front and center or lurking in the background.
Hoppe’s subtitle, Property, Economy, Society, and the Politics of Decline gives an unsubtle clue as to what readers should expect: a damning indictment of the political world and its twenty-first-century managerial superstates.
In Hoppe’s world, the state is a wholly decivilizing institution: a predator rather than protector, a threat to property and peace. Markets and entrepreneurs produce goods, governments produce “bads”: taxation (theft), regulation (semi-ownership, thus semi-socialism), devalued money (central banks), war (defense), injustice (state courts and police), and the ruinous effects of high time preference (democracy).
Like Bastiat, Hoppe has no patience for obscuring or soft pedaling the realities of our political world.If you are new to Hoppe’s work, this is an excellent introduction and survey to his syntheses of history, anthropology, property, ethics, and state. If you already know and enjoy Hoppe, you will find here a “Hoppe reader.”