The Impossibility of Limited Government by Hans Hermann Hoppe


On the Impossibility of Limited Government and the Prospects for a Second American Revolution - Hans-Hermann Hoppe - Mises Daily


A state, in accordance with generally accepted terminology, is defined as a compulsory territorial monopolist of law and order (an ultimate decision maker). Feudal lords and kings did not typically fulfill the requirements of a state; they could only “tax” with the consent of the taxed, and on his own land every free man was as much a sovereign (ultimate decision maker) as the feudal king was on his.[3] However, in the course of many centuries, these originally stateless societies had gradually transformed into absolute — statist — monarchies. While they had initially been acknowledged voluntarily as protectors and judges, European kings had at long last succeeded in establishing themselves as hereditary heads of state. Resisted by the aristocracy but helped along by the “common people,” they had become absolute monarchs with the power to tax without consent and to make ultimate decisions regarding the property of free men.

As it turns out ancient society understood natural law and abided by it. Just as with America which started with the a free people these anceint societies degraded and grew complacent thus allowing for tyranny.

This Constitution provided for the substitution of a popularly elected parliament and president for an unelected king, but it changed nothing regarding their power to tax and legislate. To the contrary, while the English king’s power to tax without consent had only been assumed rather than explicitly granted and was thus in dispute,[8] the Constitution explicitly granted this very power to Congress. Furthermore, while kings — in theory, even absolute kings — had not been considered the makers but only the interpreters and executors of preexisting and immutable law, i.e., as judges rather than legislators,[9] the Constitution explicitly vested Congress with the power of legislating, and the president and the Supreme Court with the powers of executing and interpreting such legislated law.

What most of the masses no longer understands is that Common Law was an organic force that was shaped by a justice system without governmental force. The purpose of Common Law was to resolve conflict in contrast to today’s “justice system” that in fact creates conflict. The Common Law was based off of Natural Law incontrast to the positive law we have today. This positive law denies those involved justice and instead dictates to citizens, “do as I say, not as I do”.

The constitution granted the government the power to legislate where in the past this power did not reside with the government but with a private judicial system. Only later did the kings grant themsleves the ability to judge law and did not make law.

Worse still, given that, in every society, more “have-nots” of everything worth having exist than “haves,” the politically talented who have little or no inhibition against taking property and lording it over others will have a clear advantage over those with such scruples. That is, open political competition favors aggressive, hence dangerous, rather than defensive, hence harmless, political talents and will thus lead to the cultivation and perfection of the peculiar skills of demagoguery, deception, lying, opportunism, corruption, and bribery. Therefore, entrance into and success within government will become increasingly impossible for anyone hampered by moral scruples against lying and stealing.

Unlike kings then, congressmen, presidents, and Supreme Court judges do not and cannot acquire their positions accidentally. Rather, they reach their position because of their proficiency as morally uninhibited demagogues. Moreover, even outside the orbit of government, within civil society, individuals will increasingly rise to the top of economic and financial success, not on account of their productive or entrepreneurial talents or even their superior defensive political talents, but rather because of their superior skills as unscrupulous political entrepreneurs and lobbyists. Thus, the Constitution virtually assures that exclusively dangerous men will rise to the pinnacle of government power and that moral behavior and ethical standards will tend to decline and deteriorate over all.

In essence, the constitution made for the evolution and distillation of the best criminals. It allows for the worst of society to rise to the top. Those with the worst morals are the ones who are politically sucessful and those normal people find it too distasteful and thus leave. The system perpetuates the bads in society.

Because the government has the hammer that shapes the government these bads strive to direct or control it. Which overall corrupts.

As the Declaration of Independence noted, government is supposed to protect life, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet in granting government the power to tax and legislate without consent, the Constitution cannot possibly assure this goal but is instead the very instrument for invading and destroying the right to life, property, and liberty. It is absurd to believe that an agency that may tax without consent can be a property protector. Likewise, it is absurd to believe that an agency with legislative powers can preserve law and order. Rather, it must be recognized that the Constitution is itself unconstitutional, i.e., incompatible with the very doctrine of natural human rights that inspired the American Revolution.[18]

Indeed, no one in his right mind would agree to a contract that allowed one’s alleged protector to determine unilaterally, without one’s consent, and irrevocably, without the possibility of exit, how much to charge for protection; and no one in his right mind would agree to an irrevocable contract which granted one’s alleged protector the right to ultimate decision making regarding one’s own person and property, i.e., of unilateral lawmaking.[19]

This perfectly explains the contradiction that so many of the masses can no longer see secondary to their indocrination by governmental schooling. How can a protection agency possibly protect life, liberty, and property when it has the sole right to violate what it claims to protect? Futhermore, the client has no choice, ability to refuse, or say in how these services are rendered. The absurity of it all is open for all to see.

Hoppe goes on to discuss where we can go from here to reclaim liberty. Start small, edge out government at the city level and watch it collapse.