Review of A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline by Hans-Herman Hoppe

Why you should read A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline by Hans-Herman Hoppe

Posted by Nathan J. Nikkhoo on July 30, 2021

Summer Has Come

School is coming to a close and summer has begun. Now it’s time to party and relax, right? Yes and no. While we should be having fun with our friends and family, we must not ignore “the summer slide”; that is when students of all ages do not engage in the same level and rigor of academics and readings they previously did. Study after study shows that the summer slide results in lower scores and reduced intelligence and academic ability. Work on your most difficult subjects, but do not neglect other important subjects like english, math, history, and science. Utilize Khan Academy and YouTube in order to stay on top of your studies.

In addition to Khan Academy, you should be reading at least one book during summer. (1) A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline by Hans-Herman Hoppe is a short and enjoyable read that I recommend for every single student, teacher, or adult.

Who is Hans-Herman Hoppe?

In A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline, ustrolibertarian philosopher and economist Hans-Herman Hoppe lays out his revisionist take on the history of mankind. Hoppe was born in Germany in 1949. He attended Saarland University for his Bachelor of Arts, then studied under the famed Jürgen Habermas Goethe at the University in Frankfurt, Germany where received both his Masters and PhD. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan and has taught several German universities as well as at the Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center for Advanced International Studies, Bologna, Italy. He is Professor Emeritus of Economics at UNLV, Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute, founder of the Property and Freedom Society and has authored over 8 English-Language books as well as several in his native tongue, German. He moved to America to study under Murray N. Rothbard and is considered to be Rothbard’s greatest living disciple. He currently resides in Istanbul.

Man’s Progress and Decline

"In this short 144 page book, he discusses the formation of private property, the family, and other social institutions while combining history, sociology, and economics. In the forward, Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., close friend and associate of Hoppe, called it “an ideal introduction to the thought of a major social thinker,” and he is right.

How did the exodus from Africa help establish different forms of civilization? How do family and social bonds develop? Why is private property so important to human flourishing? How did different human populations (races) form? How did human organization transform from a society of hunter-gatherers to one based on the division of labor? What is the relationship between dogs and wolves? How has the climate changed and what effect has man had, if any? How did we overcome the Malthusian trap and transition into an industrial society? What are the failures and shortcomings of the modern welfare state? Hoppe answers all these questions in detail and with thought.

It is a collection of three previously published essays, but when viewed together, present the history of man from his exodus of Africa to modern times, laid out a new revisionist take, not giving in to any cherished myths.

The subtitle, Progress and Decline, denotes the progress of man; the development of family and social bonds as well as private property and man’s decline; the rise of a powerful and managerial state and of democracy, which Hoppe is bitterly opposed to.

The first essay, which is my favorite, is entitled (2) On the Origin of Private Property and the Family. There need not be an explanation for this essay because 1) the title is self-explanatory and 2) to do so would trivialize Hoppe’s articulate tone.

The second, (3) From the Malthusian Trap, is the most empirical of the three. He lays out the fundamental errors in Malthus’ thesis of human overpopulation and provides commentary on the rise of a new type of society, one based on industry.

His take on Monarchy and Democracy (which he previously discussed in his work (4) Democracy: The God That Failed) is described in the last essay entitled (5) From Aristocracy to Monarchy to Democracy. It shows the progression of society through the different systems and lays out Hoppe’s take on each one. Hoppe views anarchy or a “private law society” as more preferable to monarchy, but monarchy as “far less pernicious than democracy.”

The Solution

He discusses the often ignored ideas of radical decentralization and secession as a solution to the problem of an all-powerful central government. He sees them as “the last best way forward.” The last essay by far will revolutionize the way you view society and the state.

Overall, Hoppe provides a systematic revisionist analysis of human history; and it is amazing. This short book is a must-read for anyone who wants a better understanding of human behavior, history, sociology, or economics.

You can read a free PDF version here or buy the paperback on Amazon.

To stay up to date on Hoppe and his work, visit his website.