So declared Professor Hans Hermann Hoppe, retired economist at the University of Nevada, LV, and Distinguished Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in his address to the society on Thursday, 23rd October.
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Speaking on the subject, 'What is Exploitaiton? Who Exploits Whom?,' Professor Hoppe argued that Marxist class-analysis was essentially true in its nominal conclusions, but that fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of exploitative activities had produced the correct conclusions by faulty reasoning, causing them to be misapplied to voluntary free-market exchange. Marxism is correct, however, in recognising the exploitative character of the state, which prospers only by expropriating legitimate property owners and interfering in private exchange. The state is exploitative, then, in that every act of the state cannot occur without making some people - the taxpayer, the conscript &c - worse off, contrary to the mutual benefit of both parties in voluntary exchange.
Refuting the claims of Hobbes and Rousseau, Hoppe rejects the state as a necessary evil, explaining its origins as equivalent to those of criminal gangs and the mafia, who monopolise 'protection' not for the benefit of those being protected, but for the enrichment of the protectors. Discussing how the state has evolved from its primitive origins into a largely acquiesced institution, he draws on the thought of French essayist Étienne de La Boétie, pointing out the central place of education and custom that permitted the perpetuation of the state;
"It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, without further effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they are born ... the powerful influence of custom is in no respect more compelling than in this, namely, habituation to subjection"In further consolidating its control by monopolising the supply of currency and prosecuting as counterfeiters those who engage in equivalent activities, the state makes itself a party to all transactions, facilitating further exploitative rent seeking. The role, too, of the intellectuals is considered, with Hoppe sharing Robert Nozick's analysis of the sybmiotic relationship between anti-capitalist intellectuals and the state.
Discours de la servitude volontaire, Étienne de La Boétie, p. 60
Returning to Marxist rhetoric, Hoppe concludes by arguing for the development of a "clear class consciousness," not based on narrow, misleading criteria of income, but a coalition of the exploited - that is, the productive agents who are net losers from the state. Perhaps an appropriate statement of the unity of the exploited could go something like this;
"I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
John Galt, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand