“War is mass murder. Conscription is slavery. Taxation is robbery.”
Renowned Austrian school economist. Founder and former leading theoretician of anarcho-capitalism. Passionate historical revisionist. Arguably the preeminent libertarian thinker of the 20th century. Whenever you see the colors black and yellow laid side by side, the first man who comes to your mind should be Murray Newton Rothbard. And needless to say, when you read Murray Rothbard quotes you should pay attention.
Rothbard was born in 1926 to Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia. He received his PhD in economics at Columbia University, noting that he was nearly the only student at the school who didn’t espouse extreme leftist ideologies. Rothbard was an active member of Mises’ seminars at New York University School of Business where he was also paid to write Man, Economy, and State, a textbook based on Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action which the author himself soundly approved of.
Following the collapse of the Volker Fund which had permitted him to work from home, Rothbard taught at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute from 1966 until 1986. He derided the school as Marxist and ultimately found better circumstances at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he worked until his death in 1995.
Rothbard founded the Center for Libertarian Studies, the Journal of Libertarian Studies, and the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He also co-founded the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Let us briefly summarize the theories of a man who wrote over one dozen books and spent a lifetime teaching.
Rothbard believed in studying economics through the lens of praxeology rather than econometrics, treating it like a set of fixed principles rather than a phenomenon only to be studied after the fact. Rothbard was a font of criticism for modern, mainstream economics, dismissing Adam Smith’s work as the root of Marxism and Milton Friedman as a pernicious establishmentarian. He was also a fierce opponent of egalitarianism, insisting that implementation of so unnatural a doctrine would inevitably lead to disastrous consequences.
Rothbard coined the term “anarcho-capitalism” to describe his philosophy which favored self-ownership, private property, and the free market, as well as the abolishment of the state’s monopoly of force. Rothbard’s views on women’s suffrage won’t get his face put on a postage stamp anytime soon, and his support for a powerful police force that would administer instant punishment for crimes including vagrancy wouldn’t merit charitable treatment by CNN if he proclaimed it today.
Rothbard was a staunch opponent of aggressive foreign policy, arguing that WWII in particular created an untenable military-industrial complex and state monopoly on capitalism. To Rothbard, the only justifiable American wars were the Revolution and the Civil War – but the latter only on the Confederate side.
Rothbard asserted that historical revisionism was necessary to unroot narratives which gave undue favor to the state, that judiciary authority violated natural rights, that the “eye for an eye” system of retribution was only a half measure, and that the action of every man must only be attributed to his free will.
Not content to sit in an ivory tower, Rothbard vocally supported politicians including Strom Thurmond, Ron Paul, George H. W. Bush, Ross Perot, and Pat Buchanan throughout his lifetime.
An Austrian School economist, Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises devoted much of his life to writing and educating on the subject of classical liberalism. While several classical libertarians including John Locke and Jean-Baptiste Say preceded him, Mises’ revival of the ideology following the Second World War has cemented his place as one of libertarianism’s most revered figures.