Besides making enormous contributions to sociology, philosophy, economics, history, and libertarianism, here’s the biggest reason why I admire and respect Hans-Hermann Hoppe:
Hans-Hermann Hoppe is one of the most remarkable libertarian scholars of our time. He began as a prize student of Jürgen Habermas, the famous German philosopher and social theorist. Habermas was, and remains to this day, a committed Marxist. He is the leader of the notorious Frankfurt school.
Habermas was very impressed with Hans, and, under the patronage of this eminent Marxist, Hans had every reason to expect a stellar academic career in his native Germany. A problem soon arose, though, one which has had happy results for all those who love liberty. Hans soon came to realize that the leftism and socialism he had grown up with was intellectually barren and morally bankrupt. He discovered on his own the great works of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard.
Austrian economics and Murray’s anarchism were not what Habermas had in mind. By becoming a libertarian, Hans effectively ended his chances for a chair at a major German university, even though his intellectual accomplishments easily qualified him for one. Like Murray, though, Hans is a scholar of complete intellectual integrity. He would not surrender what he had come to realize was the truth, whatever the cost to his own career.
Hans decided to come to United States in order to study with Murray, who was then teaching in New York. When I met him, I was struck by Hans’s firm commitment to Rothbardian principles and his outstanding intellectual ability. Murray, of course, immediately grasped Hans’s potential. When Murray was named to an endowed chair in economics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he worked to get Hans a position in the economics department as well. Together, the two of them made UNLV a major center for the study of Austrian economics; and they did so in the face of much opposition from some of their departmental colleagues.
Murray was especially intrigued by one of Hans’s main arguments. Hans’s teacher Habermas pioneered an approach to ethics based on the conditions for engaging in rational argument. In a way that Habermas would hardly approve, Hans turned Habermas’s ethics on its head. Instead of support for socialism, argumentation ethics as Hans explained it provided powerful support for self-ownership and private property.
In short, Hoppe’s commitment to truth, intellectual honesty, and logical consistency lost him a prestigious position at a German university. By turning away from Habermas’s Marxism and embracing Rothbard’s libertarianism Hoppe embodies Mises’s life motto:
Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito. (Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.)