Why don't liberals like left-wing libertarians

The haters of the state and their friends

As radical as the No Billag initiative is, the libertarian ideology behind it has long since spread far into the liberal center. The WOZ visited the lawyer, the chief ideologist and the pioneer of the initiative.

By Jan JirátMail to AutorInTwitter profile of the author and Sarah Schmalz

The man who wants to abolish the Swiss Confederation is staying in a feudal office building directly at the Basel train station. David Dürr welcomes journalists in an extremely friendly manner. After all, he would like a bigger response for his anarcho-capitalist theories. “There is no real debate,” regrets Dürr, who, in addition to his work as a lawyer and notary, teaches private law and legal theory at the University of Zurich.

It is actually astonishing that Dürr does not make it into the media more often at the moment: the initiators of the No Billag initiative consulted him when it came to the legal drafting of the radical initiative text that wants to ban the state entirely from the media sector. The fact that they are now getting cold feet, appearing in front of the media with a plan B and suddenly tell something about the federal funds that are needed, is correspondingly "disappointing". His attitude is more radical: “Not a black horse. The state should stay out of it completely. "

David Dürr, the lawyer

If the 65-year-old could create his own world, the market would rule. Dürr, whose son is the Basel FDP government councilor Baschi Dürr, does not want a welfare state, no federal judges, no state police, no state schools, universities, hospitals or day nurseries, no publicly financed media: "Nothing." Private property only. His worldview was formed when he was a young liberal Dr. iur. went to the USA for a year to study law at Harvard Law School. There Dürr began to deal with questions of legal philosophy - years later he landed on the most radical form of libertarianism: anarcho-capitalism. Like the anarcho-capitalist thinkers Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Dürr also bases his radical liberal worldview primarily on arguments based on natural law. The core of the radical market ideology is the “right of every person to private property, to land and the fruits of their own labor”. Only the individual has weight in this teaching. The state is not perceived as a guarantor of positive rights such as education, but as an illegitimate authority that threatens the individual's rights with their laws.

"The apocalyptic end," says Dürr, "would be the world state." Dürr wants the opposite: an “anarchist” society that is organized in small parts and whose units fall back on a naturally grown, decentralized legal system in the event of disputes. "Vigilante justice is wrongly tainted negatively," regrets Dürr. «Better to be a mafia baller now and then than a highly armed state. Only states have armies and instigate world wars. " For whom the freedom that Dürr preaches applies, explained Hans-Hermann Hoppe in a lecture entitled “Intelligence, Migrants and the Future of Germany”, which can be found on YouTube. The IQ of people in northern countries is around thirty percent higher than that of people south of the Sahara, says Hoppe in the video. This also explains the economic superiority of the West: "Those who are intelligent are economically successful." And primarily these people should - according to Hoppe - reproduce. “Without a welfare state,” he says, “the most successful would have the most children. It would brood humanity more wisely. Under the current conditions, the situation is no longer eugenic, so the human material is no longer getting better, but rather worse. "

Dürr, whose friendly smile persists throughout the conversation, thinks Hoppe's lecture is “good as always, with a pinch of provocation”. There is no question that the welfare state hinders creativity, innovation and coping with new challenges. And a centralized system of government would certainly not get mankind any further. Slowly you realize: Dürr's vision is the vision of an elite rule. The state is the enemy because, with its welfare state interventions, it prevents those individuals from free development who would advance humanity. Dürr would like to get out of such a state: "The best thing would be to file a class action lawsuit," he says when he leaves. "Whoever wants the state should have it, the state should dismiss the others." Dürr hopes that such a lawsuit will attract attention to libertarian deregulation fantasies. "And if concrete discussions arise, for example because the AHV continues to get into difficulties, we can intervene." For now, however, Dürr is only left with the “No Billag” gateway.

Christian Zulliger, the chief ideologist

The chief ideologist of the No Billag initiative is difficult to reach. Christian Zulliger does not react to e-mails and SMS, and he does not take calls. The 31-year-old prefers to stay in the background. A conversation finally takes place: in the “Modelhof”, one of the most absurd places in Switzerland. The “Modelhof” is a palace between orchards and farmhouses in Mühlheim, Thurgau, which the packaging manufacturer Daniel Model planted there. Model has proclaimed him the seat of government in his fantasy state Avalon. For a few years now, the “Modelhof” has also been used as an academy, where anti-state capitalists hold lectures once a month. Hans-Hermann Hoppe opened the lecture series in November 2012, the most recent event entitled “Raisins from Hayek’s Work” (including the festive incorporation of the Friedrich August von Hayek Complete Edition into the library) took place two weeks ago.

At the end of this event, Zulliger, wrapped in a sports jacket, stands on the stone steps in front of the palace and says chain-smoking: "I have a lot of trouble with the fact that the no-billag initiative is always referred to as libertarian in the media." For him, the initiative is classically liberal. "For me it is untenable that the SRG has such a dominant position in the media market thanks to government aid." When asked whether a state is needed at all, he replies: “Yes, a minimal state that guarantees internal and external security and offers minimal social security. Otherwise the state doesn't need it. " Zulliger's dream state is not only slim, he is anorexic.

Zulliger laid the ideological cornerstone of the No Billag initiative in January 2013 in an inconspicuous hall of a parish hall in Zurich: at a conference entitled “Get off, socialism at the end of the line!”. One of the speakers at this conference was David Dürr: "Against the state's monopoly of force" was the title of his lecture. The conference was organized by a young and highly motivated guard of state haters from the ranks of the Jungfreisinns and the Young SVP.

Above all Zulliger. The then 26-year-old from the Zürcher Weinland gave a keynote address that began as follows: “The real socialism that actually exists has already established itself in the smallest corner of our lives. More and more competencies are being delegated to the state. So today we have a state pension system AHV, a state-regulated compulsory health system, a state education system, state and union-tied labor markets, a heavily regulated housing market, a massively subsidized and regulated agricultural sector, a state, planned-economy energy industry, a state paper money monopoly, and state television including compulsory fees. "

In the aftermath of the conference, Zulliger and his fellow campaigners (and very few fellow campaigners) developed the idea for the No-Billag initiative. They deliberately looked for the most vulnerable position possible within the state structure and found it in Billag - that widely unpopular company that collects radio and television reception fees. An attack on Billag is inevitably also an attack on the Swiss Radio and Television Company (SRG), 75 percent of which is fee-financed. If the fees cease to apply, the free market is the only thing that regulates the media sector, according to the young initiators.

As a high school student in Winterthur, Zulliger was interested in the writings of the left anarchists Michail Bakunin and Pjotr ​​Alexejewitsch Kropotkin. After graduating from high school, he began studying business administration at the HSG in St. Gallen. "At some point I realized that all these left-wing thinkers lacked the concept of property - I realized that individual freedom determines property rights," Zulliger told the libertarian blog "Die Zürcherin". He ended up in hardcore capitalism. And now read the economists of the “Austrian School”: Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich August von Hayek, but also younger libertarian authors such as Murray Rothbard, Robert Nozick, Roland Baader and Hans-Heinrich Hoppe.

Zulliger determinedly put the theory into practice. During his studies, he worked as a management consultant for international energy and raw materials companies as well as for the asset management company Resilience in Zollikon, for which he still works today. Zulliger's career reveals two constants that unite the young guard of capitalist haters of the state: a degree in economics and work experience in the financial sector.

Politically, Zulliger found refuge with the young liberals. But, as he recently wrote in a blog entry, he does not consider party work to be the main task when it comes to fighting the state: “After almost twelve years of virginity, I have had to experience myself: We may also like the political one now and then Ways to win a battle, we can and must fight war with arguments in the ideas competition of our time. " In order to spread his ideas, Zulliger joined the international libertarian network over the past five years and founded the Hayek Club Zurich. He exchanges ideas within the student organization European Students for Liberty and is a member of the editorial board of the libertarian blogs “Freitum” and “Die Zürcherin”. Within this network, Zulliger appears as an author, speaker or workshop leader.

In his networking work, Zulliger consciously seeks proximity to nationalist and right-wing conservative circles. He is a board member of the Action for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland (Auns), the nationalist SVP fighting force, which is chaired by Lukas Reimann. In the blog “Freedom”, on the other hand, the leading forces are closely linked to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party: Editor-in-chief Tomasz M. Froelich, with whom Zulliger has private dealings, is the office manager of AfD federal chairman Jörg Meuthen. "These circles are not natural allies," replied Zulliger when asked why he was looking for this closeness. In terms of the history of ideas, however, it is unfortunately the case that at the moment it is precisely such circles who are determined to uphold property rights and want to allow competition and market economy.

Robert Nef, the pioneer

Robert Nef, the doyen of Swiss libertarianism, has a general subscription to the Swiss Federal Railways. He arrives by train for a conversation in a café near the Winterthur train station. There he sits at a narrow corner table, stirs his black tea and speaks frankly about his work. Nef is an extremely entertaining conversation partner. Instead of indulging in theoretical explanations, he prefers to share anecdotes. «Did you know that the slogan 'More freedom - less state', with which the FDP campaigned in 1979, came from me? Some consider this slogan to be the reason for the party's creeping decline. "

Nef is not a hater of the state, hatred is alien to him. But his friendliness should not hide the fact that the 76-year-old publicist from St. Gallen has been persistently working for several decades to push back the state - especially from the economy.

Nef was not directly involved in the creation of the No Billag initiative, but he is undoubtedly the most important pioneer of the proposal. The initiators refer to him again and again. Last fall, the Zurich Young Freisans presented him with their “Liberal Award”, the motto of which is “Individuals first”.

But Nef is also a pioneer politically. At the beginning of the nineties he sat on the initiative committee of the initiative "for a free media order without media monopolies" (which had already failed at the collecting stage). This was formulated less radically than the No Billag initiative. But it was already deliberately aimed at the SRG, which was to be “put on an equal footing with the other broadcasters”, as it was stated in the initiative text. Anyone who reads the advertisements for the initiative at the time does not see any difference in the argumentation with “No Billag”: “The SRG compulsory fees should be abolished because they have no place in a free state with a free market economy.” The central figure in the initiative at that time was, by the way, private banker Konrad Hummler, who is still a good friend of Nef today.

“Politics was never my main field of activity,” says Nef. Although he is a member of the FDP, he is not part of the party apparatus. “I don't even remember how often I was asked to found a classically liberal party. I always waved my hand. What drives me to this day is rather the question of how the classic liberal idea can be carried into public debates. "

Among other things, he provided answers to these questions as co-editor and editor-in-chief of the “Swiss Monthly Issues” during the nineties and noughties. The “author's magazine” (today under the name “Swiss Month”) is probably the most influential platform in this country - after the NZZ - that preaches anti-subversive capitalism. Nef's most important answer, however, was the establishment of the Liberal Institute, initiated and financed by the city of Zurich's FDP, in 1979. Nef presided over the think tank for more than two decades, and is still a member of the board of trustees and established the institute as a formative source of ideas for capitalism that was as unrestricted as possible. By the way, the institute's deputy director is Olivier Kessler, the face of the No-Billag initiative.

When asked about the Avenir Suisse think tank, which was founded in 2000, Nef says: “We don't see ourselves as competitors, but as allies. Thomas Held and Gerhard Schwarz, the two long-time Avenir directors, have been friends with me for decades. " He has known Christoph Blocher, another old friend, since studying together at the University of Zurich. The billionaire and SVP pacemaker supported the Liberal Institute financially for many years. «This Blocher-Nef connection has always been overrated. His donation was always in the low five-digit range. " There is a central overlap with Blocher, and that is the fundamental rejection of accession to the EU, which Nef, as a “supranational entity”, is anathema. "There is, however, dissent with regard to xenophobia," says Nef. "I am xenophile and consider racism to be a mistake."

The No Billag initiative is formulated radically. But the core idea behind it - to fight the state as much as possible in order to deregulate the market - has broad political and social support. In contrast to established «liberal» forces, however, the young initiators are open to their hatred of the state - and sell their concerns as the gain of individual freedom. In this respect, too, “No Billag” is revealing: Tamedia boss Pietro Supino (economically) and Christoph Blocher (politically) would benefit from a yes: two super-rich, older men.

Ludwig von Mises

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) is considered to be one of the most important representatives of the Austrian School of Economics. Libertarians still refer to the “Austrians” today. Their teaching proceeded from the individual. Only the free market, according to the central dogma, offers the free individual the opportunity to become innovative and to find the best possible welfare through the competitive situation. Von Mises was the teacher of Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992), one of the most important thought leaders of market radicalism. Both pleaded for a minimal state limited to maintaining public security and order. Von Mises restricted this in his book “Die Bureaukratie” even more than his pupil von Hayek.

Ayn Rand

Born in 1905 as Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Ayn Rand has risen to become a chief ideologist of the libertarian movement. Rand emigrated to the USA in 1924, where she devoted her life to the fight against socialism. In 1957 she published her philosophical novel "Atlas Shrugged" ("Atlas throws the world off"). In it, Rand glorifies individualism and pleads for a radical liberal economic order without state intervention. After the book was torn up by critics for its pompous style after it was published, it has sold millions of copies in the United States since the 1980s.The work of Ayn Rand, who died in 1982, is regarded as a Bible for all followers of the libertarian ideology; it has had a major impact on the tea party, for example.

Murray Rothbard

The New York economist Murray Rothbard (1926–1995) is a major pioneer of the anarcho-capitalist movement in the United States. It was in the tradition of the Austrian school. In contrast to Friedrich August von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, Rothbard also considered a minimal state to be superfluous and harmful. Anarcho-capitalism completely rejects state taxes and the state monopoly on the use of force and wants to hand these tasks over to private organizations. Like Hans-Hermann Hoppe (the second great pioneer of anarcho-capitalism), Rothbard argues strongly in terms of natural law: Central is the conviction that people have the right to defend themselves and their property. Rothbard openly sympathized with the political ideas of former leading Ku Klux Klan member David Duke.

Roland Baader

The German economist and journalist Roland Baader (1940–2012) studied with Friedrich August von Hayek in Freiburg im Breisgau. Baader published regularly in the libertarian magazine "Eigenümlich frei" as well as in the "Swiss Month". He campaigned for a minimal state, but openly sympathized with the anarcho-capitalists. In 1999 he published the book "The Lie Lie Generation", with which he fundamentally attacked the welfare state. Baader also criticized the state health system, which had to be privatized, as well as the state "monopoly" monetary system. He also combined liberalism with Christianity. In German-speaking countries, Baader is an important point of reference for young followers of libertarianism.

This article was made possible by the research fund of the ProWOZ association. This fund supports research and reports that exceed the financial possibilities of the WOZ. It is fed by donations from WOZ readers.

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