From Ludwig von Mises
May 14, 1962
Mr. R.C. Hoiles
625 N. Grand
Santa Ana, California
Dear Mr. Hoiles:
I disagree with the content of your letter of May 7.
Referring you to what I have said on pages 46-51 of my book Omnipotent Government (1944), I would say: state of government is the social institution that has the exclusive power of resorting to violent action in order to prevent individuals from resorting to violence. You call this "a double standard of rightness, which, in reality, means no standard of rightness at all." As I see it, the absence of a governmental police power would result in a state of affairs in which everybody would have continually to defend himself against hosts ofaggressor.
The government is unsatisfactory insofar as in order to prevent violence it is itself forced to resort to violence and that it is therefore a less perfect social institution than the market, has been pointed out in my writings again and again. Mr. Le Fevre's article starts with a quotation from Human Action referring to this state of affairs. But it is a far cry from the acknowledgment of this inferiority of government to the idea that the governmental functions could be performed by business.
Mr. Le Fevre suggests that every voter should choose the President he prefers and should have this man of his choosing as his President, without any obligations as against those candidates whom other voters have chosen. Is this a workable idea? The President of the U.S. is the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces and the supreme chief of all federal offices and their personnel. Can these functions be performed by a multiplicity of Presidents?
I think you err in assuming that your principles are those of the Declaration of Independence. They are rather tha principles that led a hundred years ago the Confederate States to refuse to recognize the President elected by the majority. Wherever and whenever resorted to, these principles will lead to bloodshed and anarchy.
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