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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2002
Hoppe is not afraid to butcher, bleed and shrink-wrap that most sacred of sacred cows - democracy. As the title suggests, Hoppe considers democracy to be a horrible step backward in the evolution of human government, and he makes a compelling case for his thesis.
The book is actually a series of essays on the nature of government and economics, each of which stands on its own. However, the book is better consumed as a whole because he builds the case against democracy in an orderly, rational - an imminently readable - manner.
This would be a good book if Hoppe did nothing more than skewer western civilisation's sacrosanct belief in the innate superiority of democracy over other forms of government. He does that quite well, thank you.
But what sets DTGTF above your typical run-of-the-mill libertarian cant is that Hoppe not only destroys the theoretical foundations of democracy but also actually provides the theoretical and practical framework for an alternative form of government that might actually work.
I digested this book slowly over a couple of months' time just because my little mind needed the extra time to get wrapped around new and rather startling ideas. While not lengthy, it is extensively footnoted, and the footnotes alone make compelling reading.
DTGTF is not a perfect work, but then the subject does not lend itself to perfection. I would liken this work to that which a road builder undertakes when blasting a tunnel through a mountain. Dynamite does not lend itself to finely detailed work, but if you need to blow a hole through a mountain of faulty beliefs, nothing does the job quite like dynamite.
Recommended with no reservations.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2007
I liked this clearly writtten book with its novel viewpoint and analysis about the perils of government which is not limited in its scope and is firmly believed to be acting for the good by way of democracy. It occurred to me after reading chapter 1 that the current situation in Burma is simply the Junta exercising its high time preference to leapfrog the democratic process and go straight to the logical consequences of contemporary democracy. This would be a valuable book for the Burmese pro-democracy leadership to read, so that they might not repeat the mistakes of the world's most recently liberated states.

The conclusion that the state should be replaced by insurance companies and contracts is reasonable, and does currently work in certain classes of international business activity to circumvent the complications and delays of inter-state law, but I suspect--if computer security is anything to judge by--security and sophisticated scare-mongering would become a dominant preoccupation and divert capital from more productive activity.

The state as a monopoly is democratically granted its temporary monopoly, and although any constitution is simply a piece of paper which may be capable of abuse by interpretation and manipulation, it is up to the electorate to exercise good judgement in their electoral choices. Which is another good reason for many to read this book at this juncture in time. Furthermore--as a crude metaphor--just because a metal ladder doesn't specify that it should not be leaned against overhead electricity cables, sufficient 'a priori' knowledge should avoid this from happening instead of having to legislate for the banning of metal ladders and pursue claims for damage or death through the courts and seek compensation by way of insurance.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I won't say a lot, but I'll say this:

Some years back; I don't remember why I bought the book (I must have been on the recommendation of a friend), and it stood unread on my shelf for some time, before i finally picked it up. The title was provoking, as I was still a firm believer in democracy before I read it, but when I finally turned the first pages, I got hooked - it was like new doors of knowledge were opening up for me, and it was disconcerting, because (as many others who read this book can attest to, I'm sure), the message of the book broke down the political illusions we create for ourselves. And the more I read, the more I realized that a blind faith in democracy today is just as bad as outright supporting tyranny.

H.H. Hoppe convincingly shows how the rise of democracy (publically "owned" government, as opposed to privately owned government, such as monarchies) around the start of the 20th century has resulted in a massive success for socialism (and thus erosion of private property rights), and a dire failure of sound financial and monetary policies. And, of course, the eternal growth of the state, which is now invading more and more of our personal lives and taking away our economic freedoms.

You should not read this if you are reluctant to have your political opinions challenged. Read it enough, and you may become an anarchist - consider yourself warned!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2010
In this courageous and scholarly book, Professor Hoppe challenges many of the common assumptions about democracy, arguing for its replacement by anarcho-capitalism.

Starting from first principles, he shows that far from being a system of government in which people rule themselves, democracy is in fact characterised by a parasitical ruling class of tax consumers that derives all its wealth from tax payers.

Because they only control the current use of state resources but do not own them, these rulers have no interest in policies based on long term wealth creation, but rather pander to short term populism in order to stay in power. The inevitable result of this is trend towards de-civilisation, the results of which one can see in any major urban centre.

Along the way he shows that even a system of absolute monarchy is preferable to democracy not only because the rulers have an interest in the long-term maintenance of capital values, but also because there is a clear class distinction that acts as a natural brake on government greed.

He also shows that it is no more than a delusion to imagine that any constitution will limit the power of the state, and draws some very interesting conclusions with regard to free trade and immigration.

Based on the foundation of Austrian economics, this book is a real treasure trove of ideas for the freedom minded reader, with fascinating discussions of apriori knowledge and time preference.

It is also a timely warning that the social democratic regimes of the west are all living on borrowed time, and that we must start to give serious thought as to what will replace them.
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on 4 March 2015
Essential reading for any student of politics, history or philosophy
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is a wonderful book, wonderfully written. The way historical events affect political and economic and social transformations are nicely put together. I totally agree with the author and I believe this book should be a mandatory reading at school and especially for those in power. Buy this book, read it and enjoy it then tell others to do the same.
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9 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2009
As I type this, I see four Amazon reviews, all praising this book fulsomely. They may be planted reviews to help the author; who knows. My view is the exact opposite of theirs...

[1] There are thirteen chapters, or 'studies' as the author calls them, 'most [grew] out of speeches ... sponsored by the von Mises Institute or Center for Libertarian Studies'. The footnotes are about the same length as the chapters themselves, which probably gives some indication of how badly thought out the material is.

[2] There's no attempt to define or measure democracy, or power. Hoppe thinks the 20th century was 'democratic' despite the fact that manipulations of the systems gave and still give virtually one party systems in most places. (Hilaire Belloc was quite good on that in the UK.) The voter bases in various countries altered, but Hoppe does not in any way attempt to show what effects this had. As to power, Hoppe quotes US Federal Regulations, 26 feet of library shelf space. '.. it is doubtful whether ... any ["absolute monarch"] wielded [that] kind of authority..' It is doubtful? Hoppe has no way to decide even this simple example. Another example is his commentary on US military adventures and the accompanying disasters to the victims; he never as far as I can see really concludes anything very useful. They were, in my personal view, a disaster. But Hoppe has no way to judge, so his remarks are isolated and purposeless. After all in a sense the military is its own entrepreneurial system, seeking ways to maximise itself. There's nothing on financial power as a lever affecting opinions.

[3] As might be expected from the sources of these lectures, and the fact that Hoppe received anonymous money, the whole emphasis is economic in the US corporate sense: Hoppe seems to have no idea of technologies - maybe oil will run out; what then? - but has a sort of 1950s blissful assumption that all will be well.

A good book summarising democracy in what may turn out to be a post-democratic era, would be valuable: the original ideologues, the way it was tried, the ways in which it was deformed, the theories of why it should work, or, if you're e.g. a monarchist, as Hoppe seems to be, why it shouldn't, voting systems and their characteristics, education, etc etc, are not dealt with here, in any way at all. This book is badly-written and of no interest except as a specimen of what happens when donors don't donate wisely.
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7 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2010
Once every couple of generations it seems along comes a German with a grudge against democracy and a very bad book. This particular example of the genre leaves a number of questions unanswered.
Firstly, if unfettered capitalism is "natural" why doesn't it exist anywhere? Why, in fact, does capitalism rely on regular state intervention to save it from organised labour - union busting without the state and its "bodies of armed men", its sequestrations and its array of anti-union laws has traditionally been a non-starter.
Secondly, when they had unlimited power would not capitalists shut down free enterprise and establish their own monopolies? It's what they've always done in the past when they could, as Adam Smith was well aware, so why would things be different this time?
Thirdly, why does the author, who so despises the democratic system, work for a state maintained university in one of the world's largest democracies?
Lastly, exactly how does he think he would fare if he had to earn his living by selling his books and attracting paying pupils to his lectures? Well enough for now, maybe - the rich and powerful will always pay to be told there should be no restrictions on their wealth and power but if he ever got the world he wanted and they no longer needed him....
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