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The State is the group of people that by having effective control over a government stand to benefit the most from the exercise of its power. Nock differentiates between government and the State, indicating the former "implements the common desire of society" for "freedom and security" (quoting Paine), whereas the State originates in "conquest and confiscation". An individual such as a public school teacher may be part of a government but perhaps not part of the State. Conversely, an executive at a military contractor who may not be formally a government employee, can still be considered part of the State, particularly if the executive influences government procurement decisions.

An adjective such as "welfare", "warfare" or "security" is sometimes added to "the state" to emphasize the subset of the State that concerns itself with such activities.

Notable Topics

  • Nonviolent Resistance - Opposition to statist and authoritarian forces using protests, non-cooperation and other nonviolent methods


The State - Online Library of Liberty
Fourteen titles, including works by Frédéric Bastiat, James M. Buchanan, John Stuart Mill, Ludwig von Mises, Franz Oppenheimer, Herbert Spencer, Bruce Smith and Anthony de Jasay
  • The Broken Window ...
  • Of the Limits to the Authority of Society over the Individual ...
  • The Right to Ignore the State ...
  • Bureaucracy ...
  • The Limits of Liberty ...
  • The State, and Other Political Writings ...
  • Interventionism: An Economic Analysis ...
  • Liberty and Liberalism ...
  • Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War ...
  • The Principles of Sociology, vol. 2 ...
  • Social Contract, Free Ride: A Study of the Public Goods Problem ...
  • Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis ...
  • The State (Franz Oppenheimer)
  • The State (Anthony de Jasay)


Airbrushing Barbarity, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 5 Jul 2013
Demonstrates how politicians and pundits twist the meaning of terms to support their desired ends while concealing their true purposes
Statism—in the sense that government can do good things for people—depends on lies, or base rhetoric, that is, language that conceals the truth in order to persuade. Proponents of statism cannot easily win others to their cause if they fail to obscure the fact that, in its essence, the state is physical violence and that ultimately its rule consists in intimidation ... Thomas Friedman ... [writes], "We need to keep investing in the engines of our growth— ... government-financed research ..." By we he means the state, which is the machinery that forcibly overrides innocent people's judgments about the best thing to do.
Related Topics: Health Care, Politics, Thomas Szasz
Albert Jay Nock: A Gifted Pen for Radical Individualism, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Mar 1997
Biographical essay, including Nock's early life, editorship of The Freeman (1920-1924), and notable books and essays
Nock wrote: "There are two methods, or means ... whereby man's needs and desires can be satisfied ... the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation." "The State," he continued, "both in its genesis and by its primary intention, is purely anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him. It has always made justice costly and difficult of access, and has invariably held itself above justice and common morality whenever it could advantage itself by so doing."
Albert Jay Nock, Forgotten Man of the Right, by Jeffrey Tucker, 22 Aug 2002
Lengthy biographical essay, with a selection of quotes from Nock's Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943)
In Nock's view, it is the State that crowds out all that is decent, lovely, civilized. He demonstrates this ... through calm and entertaining tales of how rich and varied and productive life can be when the State does not interfere. In a society without the State, ... the "court of tastes and manners" would be the thing that guides ... society, and this "court" would have a much larger role ... than law, legislation, or religion. If such a court were not in operation, because people are too uncivilized or too ill-educated to maintain it, there was nothing the State could do to uplift people.
Alternative Medicine Is Libertarian Medicine, by Butler Shaffer, 2 Dec 2006
Discusses several aspects of healthcare, including self-ownership, being responsible for our own care, decentralized information, the collapse of external authorities and the dehumanizing decisions resulting from institutionalized healthcare
The state is like a chicken that has just had its head chopped off: it flaps and flails around in a noisy and messy display, spreading blood in its trail ... Like the headless chicken, the state is brain-dead. Its power derives from inertia (i.e., the unwillingness of a well-conditioned populace to consider alternative systems) rather than from intelligent conviction. There is nothing coming from within its halls that would engage the mind of any thoughtful human being ... It produces nothing more than tools of death and destruction. All of its actions place it in a state of endless war with the health of people.
Anarchism, by Voltairine de Cleyre, Free Society, 13 Oct 1901
Examines various economic propositions for anarchism (socialist, communist, individualist and mutualist) and opines that all could be tried out; reprinted in Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre (1914)
[T]he great flaw in [the Anarchist Socialist] conception of the State is in supposing it to be of simple origin; the State is not merely the tool of the governing classes; it has its root far down in the religious development of human nature; and will not fall apart merely through the abolition of classes and property ... I believe that most Anarchist Communists avoid the blunder of the Socialists ..., though they lay great stress upon its being the tool of Property, and contend that in one form or another the State will exist so long as there is property at all.
Anarcho-Communism, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Libertarian Forum, 1 Jan 1970
Critique of anarcho-communism, examining its presumed voluntary nature, and its philosophical and economics orientation
[M]any libertarians, who are looking for forms of action and for allies in such actions, have become attracted by an anarchist creed which seemingly exalts the voluntary way and calls for the abolition of the coercive State ... [T]he major reason that anarcho-communists oppose the State is because they wrongly believe that it is the creator and protector of private property, and therefore that the only route toward abolition of property is by destruction of the State apparatus. They totally fail to realize that the State has always been the great enemy and invader of the rights of private property.
The Anatomy of the State, by Murray N. Rothbard, Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought, Jun 1965
Examines several attributes of the State, including how it maintains and grows itself and how it deals with other States
Briefly, the State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization ... that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion. While other individuals or institutions obtain their income by production of goods and services and by the peaceful and voluntary sale of these goods and services to others, the State obtains its revenue by the use of compulsion; that is, by the use and the threat of the jailhouse and the bayonet.
Are the Salad Days for Somalia Over?, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 8 Jun 2006
Comments on the status of Somalia 15 years after the fall of Siad Barre and in the midst of the rise of the Islamic Courts Union
What is to be gained by the creation of a state? Well, consider what a state does. First, it taxes, which means taking from the people and giving to the government, which then gives money to its friends. Second, it regulates, meaning that government tells people to do things they would not otherwise do. Third, it creates a central bank to water down the value of money. Fourth, it builds jails to put people who disobey, including political enemies. Well, rather then just go on with a catalog of what government does, consider the words of the Prophet Samuel from 1 Samuel, chapter 8:11-18 ...
Related Topic: Somalia
Atlas Shrugged and the Corporate State, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 12 Oct 2007
Explains how Ayn Ran's Atlas Shrugged properly depicted some businessmen as privilege seekers, but some of her non-fiction was mistaken about big business being a "persecuted minority"
Rand well understood that liberty is threatened by business owners who seek privileges from the state in order to gain protection from open competition, domestic as well as foreign. Those privileges ... limit the selection of consumer goods and raise prices higher ... They also ... encourage others to seek countervailing privileges. If businesses are protecting their market positions with protectionist licensing, taxes, regulations, subsidies, trade restrictions, patents, and the like, why shouldn't labor and other interest groups also seek protection? Before you know it, the state is involved in all aspects of life.
Bad Partisanship Drives Out Good, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 30 Nov 2007
Differentiates between superficial and profound partisanship (loyalty to a party vs. to a set of principles) and discusses the goals of the group Unity08 that during the 2008 U.S. presidential elections was seeking candidates that could "reunite America"
The great question of our age—of any age—is whether essential decision-making should be vested in society or in the state ... By the "state," I mean that realm where relationships are ultimately founded on compulsion. That's the partisan debate we should be having—and not just at election time. In my view, there can't be too much profound partisanship. Superficial partisanship distracts us from what we really should be arguing about. The proper question is not "Who should lead?" but rather, "What makes us think any political leader can make things better than people interacting freely can?"
Begrudging Another Battle of Ballot-Boxing, by Kenneth R. Gregg, 23 Nov 2006
Explains how those seeking power through politics are led to compromise, even if they are members of a group espousing principles over expediency, and urges others not to ballot-box but instead vote in the marketplace and the social realm
Agents of the state use the fact that many vote as evidence they are legitimate representatives. They need this legitimacy if their actions are to be viewed as acceptable by the general populace ... [S]o long as the proportion of the populace which holds the state in favor increases, the fewer resources a state needs to use in order to keep the rest under control. That is, the greater legitimacy a state has, the less it needs to use violence against any single person or faction. A state which continually uses violence to achieve its ends would soon be seen for exactly what it was: a criminal ring.
Benjamin Ricketson Tucker, Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Sep 2007
Biographical essay on Benjamin Tucker from the first issue of Liberty until his death
First and foremost, ... [Tucker] opposed violence in its most common social expression—state authority ... He defined the state as "invasion, nothing more or less." It stripped the individual of self-ownership. As a strategy, Tucker stressed psychological rather than physical disobedience; he urged people to withdraw the consent upon which the authority of the state rested. The concept of the state with its illusion of legitimacy was what commanded respect and obedience from people. He wrote, "The state is a principle, a philosophical error in social existence."
Benjamin Tucker's Liberty, by Carl Watner, Reason, Apr 1979
Examines several of the themes discussed by Tucker in Liberty, e.g., anarchism, natural rights, monopoly, and how his views changed throughout the years
The State is a compulsory institution to which all are forced to belong and which all are compelled to support ... [Tucker] and his readers were the sternest enemies of invasion of person and property, making war upon the State as the chief invader ... [H]is position was that, "of the really serious and important acts of invasion of individual sovereignty, at least nine-tenths are committed by organized State governments or through privileges granted by them, and that the governmental idea, with the State as its principal embodiment, is the efficient cause of almost all of our social evils."
Big Business and the Rise of American Statism, by Roy Childs, Reason, Feb 1971
Originally a speech given at the first convention of the Society for Individual Liberty, 15-16 Nov 1969
A philosopher who preaches total state control of individual human actions and decisions, for instance, might profitably look at history for instances of what has happened as his ideal has been approached, approached as a limit case. If he finds destruction, chaos and the like, then the burden of explaining this within the confines of his assertions of the supposedly beneficial nature of state control comes into play.
Big Pharma and Crony Capitalism, by Wendy McElroy, 9 Jul 2012
Examines the ways in which large pharmaceutical companies influence government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The role of the state in creating this drug culture is largely overlooked ... The most recent assault is on Obama ... What is not challenged ... is the fundamental function of the state in defining drug use throughout society. To the extent the state's role is acknowledged, it is usually defended as essential to control the quality of drugs and as a check on big pharma. And so all prescription drugs continue to require approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They continue to be dispensed only by state-licensed doctors and druggists who enjoy a monopoly privilege in medical care as the only legal drug dealers in America.
Bill Kauffman: American Anarchist, by Laurence M. Vance, 4 Dec 2006
Review of Kauffman's Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists (2006)
It is just a few pages into the introduction, ... that we see Kauffman's opinion of the state:
I cannot think of the libertarians without laughing, and yet, on the great issue of the day, they were dead right. They diagnosed the twentieth century's homicidal malady: the all-powerful state, which in the name of the workers of the world, the master race, and even making the world safe for democracy had slaughtered tens, nay hundreds, of millions of human beings whose misfortune it had been to run afoul of ideologues wielding state power.
The "Boomerang Effect": How Foreign Policy Changes Domestic Policy, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 26 Sep 2014
Reviews the essay "Perfecting Tyranny: Foreign Intervention as Experimentation in State Controll" by Christopher Coyne and Abigail Hall, published in the Fall 2014 issue of the Independent Review
[P]eople with skills appropriate to social control will come home to find prominent positions in both the government and private sectors ... [S]uch people are apt to lobby for or help transform public policy in the direction of greater control. "Specialists in state-produced social control are able to suggest and implement new techniques and organizational forms of state social control on the domestic population based on their experiences of doing the same to distant populations," Coyne and Hall write. Their skills complement the other forces driving the centralization of power ...
Capitalism and the Intellectuals [PDF], by Robert Nisbet, Regulation, Dec 1977
Review of Paul Johnson's The Enemies of Society (1977); reprinted from The Wall Street Journal
The major fault of this book ... lies in the author's unawareness of what ... A. J. Nock called "Our Enemy, the State." Now there is a monstrous enemy indeed ... Mr. Johnson is [not] totally without appreciation of the moral destructiveness which can lie in uses of state power, but I would beg him to ponder longer the malign relation between extension of the state's centralizing, monopolizing power into the social-economic sphere and the slow but inexorable erosion of those centers of moral and social authority which once did a fairly good job of holding Mr. Johnson's Enemies in check.
Cast a Giant Ballot, by Clifford F. Thies, The Freeman, Oct 1997
Memorial and biographical essay on Roger MacBride, discussing his influence on the early Libertarian Party as well as his involvement in the Little House saga
Roger MacBride began the closing chapter of his campaign book, A New Dawn for America, with the Old Testament story in which Israel demanded a king ... "Why," asked MacBride, "would anyone willingly submit to its false Authority?" Roger MacBride sensed that those who put their belief in the state violate the commandment to put no god before the one true and transcendent God, and that they did so because it doesn't take much to believe in the all-too-real force of the state. That force—the police and military, the jails and torture chambers, the firing squads and gas chambers—is quite tangible.
Check Your History, by B. K. Marcus, 11 Mar 2014
Discusses the leftist meme "check your privilege" (criticized in another article by Sarah Skwire) and offers a second, historical point based on the etymology of the word "privilege"
True privilege, in this older sense, means membership in the political class, advantages backed by coercive government. The conflation between wealth in general and State-granted privilege is understandable: For so much of human history, the "upper" class and the political class were one and the same ... Since the Industrial Revolution, more and more wealth has been created from production and voluntary exchange. The State continues to co-opt capitalists, but the rising general prosperity of the past century or two shows that, in the West at least, more and more wealth is the product of mutually beneficial exchange, not privilege.
Related Topic: Robert Anton Wilson
The Control Cult, by Butler Shaffer, 21 Apr 2007
Comments, in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, on those who believe the causal factors can be identified and controlled by the state, and how this extends not just to gun ownership but many other areas such as "global warming"
The true believers of the dogmas of control have insinuated themselves into all forms of institutions. Being ends in themselves, and with people serving as little more than resources for organizational purposes, institutions provide a fitting environment for such thinking ... Members of the control cult have always found themselves attracted to the agency whose raison d'être is to subdue all of humanity to its coercive mechanisms of control: the state. What problem, or catastrophe, or even fear thereof, is not met with the aforesaid chant of bureaucrats: "we will find out what went wrong and fix it, so it doesn't happen again"?
The Criminality of the State, by Albert Jay Nock, The American Mercury, Mar 1939
Cautions Americans that rather than being worried or surprised by the doings of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, the Munich agreement and other foreign states, they should devote their energies to reining the growth of the United States government
[T]he State's criminality is nothing new ... It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscation—that is to say, in crime. It originated for the purpose of maintaining the division of society into an owning-and-exploiting class and a propertyless dependent class—that is, for a criminal purpose.
Democracy and Government Schools, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jan 2007
Discusses the current state of government education, including "creative solutions" such as charter schools and vouchers, and the influence of the "religion of democracy" in achieving a free market in education
While charter schools are relieved of some bureaucratic burdens, ultimately they are accountable to the chartering authority: the state ... No matter how good private schools are, they can never live up to the government's schools in one crucial respect: they aren't government schools ... [T]he state is the preferred educator because only the state embodies the democratic spirit. By definition, no private school could ever be satisfactory. In this view, while private schools and home-schooling may have to be tolerated, they must not be encouraged or allowed to compete with the state for tax money.
Dialectics and Liberty, by Chris Matthew Sciabarra, The Freeman, Sep 2005
Written ten years after publication of the first two of Sciabarra's "Dialectic and Liberty" trilogy, discusses Hayek's and Rand's dialectical analysis approaches and suggests that such context-keeping analysis is important in radical libertarian theory
Like other great classical-liberal and libertarian theorists, Rand maintained that government intervention in the economy creates a civil war of all against all; advancing statism makes masters and slaves of every social group, with each vying for some special privilege at the expense of others ... Over time, Rand argued, the group becomes the central political unit of a statist society, and every differentiating characteristic among human beings—be it age, sex, sexual orientation, social status, religion, nationality, or race—becomes a pretext for the formation of yet another interest group.
Does the Market Commodify Everything?, by Thomas Woods, Mises Daily, 18 Sep 2006
Contrasts the behavior of participants in a free market vs. the state's attitude towards those it considers its subjects
The [military] draft consists of a group of people who comprise the state declaring the right to employ the physical bodies of its subjects ... This is how the state behaves all the time. It need not interact with people justly or with any concern for their preferences or rights at all, much less actually arrive at mutually satisfactory terms with them. It may act unilaterally, and the individual has no recourse other than to accept whatever the state determines [as] to how much of his property will be expropriated, what his children will be taught in school, or where he must be sent to fight and die.
Don't Hate on Welfare Recipients—The Real Parasites are Elsewhere, by Kevin Carson, 7 Aug 2013
Examines the ways in which the state, at both the micro and macro levels, acts to extract resources from society for the benefit of the classes controlling the state while returning little to the underclasses
Consider how state policies on behalf of land owners and real estate investors, like the enforcement of absentee title to vacant and unimproved land, drives up rents and closes off access to cheap living space. Consider how licensing schemes and "anti-jitney" laws, zoning laws against operating businesses out of one's home or out of pushcarts, and regulations that impose needless capital outlays and entry barriers or overhead costs, close off opportunities for self-employment. And consider how zoning restrictions on mixed-use development and other government promotions of sprawl and the car culture increase the basic cost of subsistence.
Les Economistes Libertaires, by Carl Watner, Reason, Jan 1977
Discusses the French economists of the 19th century and in particular Gustave de Molinari and his thoughts on the provision of security and defense services by private agencies
These Frenchmen in general, and Molinari especially, were perhaps the first group of thinkers to examine the State and its social functions from an objective economic point of view. Government, according to the économistes, is nothing other than the "industry of protection," whose primary aim is to attain peace and security for its customers—the citizens of the nation. Starting from the principle of free competition, whose social benefits they readily acknowledged, it was only logical for them to examine the greatest exception to this principle, namely government.
The Ethics of Voting: Part I [PDF], by George H. Smith, The Voluntaryist, Oct 1982
Examines libertarian and anarchist theory to provide a critique of electoral voting, i.e., voting for government officials
The anarchist ... avers that institutional features of the State, such as the claim of sovereign jurisdiction over a given geographical area, render the State invasive per se. This invasive trait persists regardless of who occupies positions of power in the State or what their individual purposes may be.
Related Topics: Voluntaryism, Voting
The Ethics of Voting: Part Two [PDF], by George H. Smith, The Voluntaryist, Dec 1982
An analysis of the State as an institution, the latter term being used "in a broad sense to designate a widely recognized and stabilized method of pursuing a social activity"
This historical digression is an important ingredient in developing an institutional analysis of the State. The State is a designed institution, forcibly imposed. State-builders had specific objectives in mind, foremost of which was to secure territorial sovereignty. The internal structure of the State was dictated (and continues its evolution today) with sovereignty foremost in mind. Virtually all functions of government ... may be seen as supports for the monopolization of power ... Sovereignty is the "product" of this association (or the most fundamental among many); a monopoly on legitimized coercion is the "process."
Exploiting the Workers, by Anthony Gregory, 14 Apr 2006
Discusses the attitudes of progressives and the "left", who usually favor the rights of workers, but show little or no concern of the exploitation of workers by income taxation
The percentage of the workers' production that goes to the state ... is considerably larger than the cut the capitalist pockets from what a worker produces ... [T]he employee can ultimately leave and seek other work. The state, in contrast to the most parsimonious taskmaster in the private sector, is vastly more unrelenting, unforgiving and inescapable ... Even Americans who expatriate have to keep paying their annual ransom ... One might expect a real partisan of the rights of the worker to be alarmed by the state's encroachment on the worker's right to the fruits of his labor and production.
Felix Morley: The Journalist Philosopher, by Oscar B. Johannsen, Fragments, 1985
Biographical essay based on Morley's autobiography For the Record, contrasting the Brontë sisters with the Morley brothers (Christopher, Felix and Frank) but focusing on Felix
It is impossible in the short space available in FRAGMENTS to give the true flavor of the work of the three Morley brothers ... They are powerful defenders of the individual against the State ... Essentially, the work of these brothers was to attempt to stop the growth of the State. Too many of today's intellectuals, with a few honorable exceptions, lack any really sound philosophical basis for their thinking. When problems arise, their unconscious bias is such as to cause them to look to the State for solutions. To them, whether they realize it or not, God is the State, the State is God.
Related Topics: Felix Morley, Politics, Technology
Fighting Discrimination without the Government, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Jun 2014
Comments on an amendment to Arizona's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), about discrimination by non-government individuals or groups; revised version of "We Can Oppose Bigotry without the Politicians" (28 Feb 2014)
So why do many people assume that the only remedy for anything bad—including bads that involve no physical force—is state action, which always entails at least the threat of violence? ... [A] progressive interlocutor will respond, "So a business should be allowed to refuse service to someone because the person is black?" To which I would say, No ... But by "not be allowed," I mean that the rest of us should be free to nonviolently impose costs on those who humiliate persons by the refusal of service ... The state should not be seen as a remedy, and ... it certainly should not punish nonviolent conduct, however objectionable.
Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850): Between the French and Marginalist Revolutions, by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, 2000
Biographical and bibliographical essay which also analyzes Bastiat's ideas in relation to the Austrian School
[A]s special-interest groups seek more and more of other peoples money through ... the state, they undermine the productive capacities of the free market by engaging in politics rather than in productive behavior. "The state," wrote Bastiat, "is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else." [He] is perhaps best known for his work in the field of political economy, the study of the interaction between the economy and the state ... He sought to understand how the state operated what incentives drive it and he did so as well as anyone ever has.
Frederic Bastiat, Ingenious Champion for Liberty and Peace, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Jun 1997
Biographical essay of Frédéric Bastiat, covering those who influenced him as well as those influenced by him, his writings (including correspondence with his friend Coudroy), his roles in the French Constituent and Legistative Assemblies and his legacy
Bastiat ridiculed claims that government could increase the total number of productive jobs. "The state opens a road, builds a palace, repairs a street, digs a canal; with these projects it gives jobs to certain workers. That is what is seen. But it deprives certain other laborers of employment. That is what is not seen ... For the process to be complete, does not the state have to organize the collection of funds as well as their expenditure? Does it not have to get its tax collectors into the country and its taxpayers to make their contributions?"
Frédéric Bastiat: Two Hundred Years On, by Joseph R. Stromberg, 2001
Extensive survey of Bastiat's life and writings; "EH" refers to Economic Harmonies, "Sophisms" to Economic Sophisms, "Essays" to Selected Essays in Political Economy (all three from FEE, 1964)
In Bastiat's opinion ... "the rights of the state can be nothing but the regularizing of pre-existent personal rights. For my part, I cannot conceive a collective right that does not have its foundation in an individual right or presuppose it" ... On all these grounds, Bastiat claims "that the state is not and should not be anything else than the common police force instituted, not to be an instrument of oppression and reciprocal plunder, but, on the contrary, to guarantee to each his own and to make justice and security prevail" (Essays, p. 151).
Freedom, Virtue, and Responsibility, Part 1, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Apr 1994
Examines some of the reasons why so many believe that drug legalization is a bad idea and that the war on drugs should go on, pointing out that not even penitentaries, German concentration camps or police states are drug free
[W]hy do so many people believe that the state has a legitimate role in regulating and punishing what many view as wrongful conduct that does not involve the use of force or fraud upon another? ... [I]n order to achieve a drug-free society through coercion, a massive police state must be instituted—walls built around not only the nation but around the cities, the neighborhoods, even around each home ... The sad truth ... is that some of our fellow citizens would favor a massive police state—even concentration camps for all of us—in the hopes of ... achieving their goal of a drug-free society.
From Spencer's 1884 to Orwell's 1984, by Henry Hazlitt, Man vs. The Welfare State, 1969
Chapter 23 of Man vs. The Welfare State; extensive review of Spencer's The Man versus the State comparing the 1880s to the contemporary (late 1960s) social and political environment
Spencer illustrates: "The blank form of an inquiry daily made is—'We have already done this; why should we not do that?'" "The buying and working of telegraphs by the State" (which already operated them in England when he wrote), he continued, "is made a reason for urging that the State should buy and work the railways." And he went on to quote the demands of one group that the State should take possession of the railways, "with or without compensation." The British State did not buy and work the railways until 65 years later, in 1948, but it did get around to it, precisely as Spencer feared.
The Futility of State-Directed "Market Reform": Deregulation, by Kevin Carson, 6 Aug 2013
Analyzes how so-called "deregulation" actually works, with examples from electrical utilities
The real problem with "deregulation," as promoted by the libertarian establishment—the think tanks and lobbyists who pressure the state to adopt policies of "free market reform"—is that those policies are government policies. And the primary function of the state, since its very beginning, has been to enforce artificial scarcities and artificial property rights on behalf of one economic ruling class or another, so that said ruling class might extract rents from controlling access to productive opportunities and setting the conditions under which the producing classes might be allowed to produce.
The Futility of State-Directed "Market Reform": Privatization, by Kevin Carson, 5 Aug 2013
Examines how so-called "privatization" typically works, with examples from various industries and how Carson thinks it ought to work
The economic means to wealth—production, peaceful exchange, voluntary cooperation, sharing and gifting—are positive-sum. Everyone benefits. The state, on the other hand, is the political means to wealth, by which a coalition of ruling classes uses force to extract rents from everyone else. The earliest states were instruments by which kings, nobles and priests extracted tribute from the peasantry ... As the capitalist era developed, industrial capitalists joined the class alliance in control of the state, followed later by finance capitalists and the owners of "intellectual property."
Related Topics: Free Market, Private Property
Gustave de Molinari on States and Defense, by Joseph R. Stromberg, 25 Jul 2000
Examines Molinari's conception of states, including democracies, and their role in defense, as well as his proposal for agencies to provide defense against external aggressors
In The Society of Tomorrow, Molinari first unfolds his thoughts on human nature and the role of economic activity ... Under conditions of primitive scarcity it may have paid some people to fight and kill their neighbors ... In time, such murderous raiding gave way to more organized exploitation, "once the more astute spoiler of his neighbour comprehend[ed] the position." Then ... they enslaved instead of killing. Such conquerors "began to devise systems for the better exploitation of territories and of the populations which were enslaved" (p. 9). These were the first primitive states.
Henry David Thoreau and "Civil Disobedience," Part 1, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Mar 2005
After some background and biographical material, describes the event (Thoreau's imprisonment) that led to writing "Civil Disobedience" and Thoreau's reaction to those who paid the tax on his behalf, his jailers, his neighbors and Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Civil Disobedience" is an analysis of the individual's relationship to the state that focuses on why men obey governmental law even when they believe it to be unjust ... Imprisonment was Thoreau's first direct experience with state power and, in typical fashion, he analyzed it:
The State never intentionally confronts a man's sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.
Henry David Thoreau and "Civil Disobedience," Part 3, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, May 2005
Further examination of themes in "Civil Disobedience", including unjust laws, politicians and reformers, voting, when to resist the state and the influence on Gandhi
As for [means other than voting] that the state provides for changes to itself, they are extraordinarily slow ... Does this mean men have a duty to pitch their life against an unjust state? ... Thoreau does not consider disobedience to be an overriding duty ... Thoreau believed the state should never rank above the individual conscience or the business of living. But if the state demands a person's first allegiance by asking him to violate his conscience and participate in an injustice, the person should disobey—not through violence but by removing his cooperation.
Henry Hazlitt: An Appreciation, by Roy Childs, Richard Ebeling, Nov 1985
Tribute to Hazlitt on his 91st birthday, reviews his career and works
[Hazlitt's] classic work, Economics in One Lesson (1946) has influenced three generations of both economists and the general public. The lesson was simple: what appears as beneficial effects of state intervention in the short run almost invariably carries long-run consequences that make the social condition of man worse off than if free market forces had been left alone. This simple lesson ... also [gave] him ample cause and reason to argue that the retarding of progress and the perpetuation of poverty has had its source in big, wasteful government, gluttonous tax policies, and monetary mismanagement.
Herbert Spencer: Liberty and Unlimited Human Progress, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Apr 1995
Biographical profile, highlighting Social Statics and his acquaintance with Andrew Carnegie
The most famous chapter [of Social Statics] was 19—"The Right to Ignore the State." Even during the heyday of classical liberalism, it was bold for Spencer to declare that "If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state–to relinquish protection and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others, for his position is a passive one, and while passive he cannot become an aggressor."
The History of Freedom in Antiquity, by John Dalberg-Acton, 26 Feb 1877
Surveys the ancient history of liberty, both from the side of rulers (despots, Solon, Pericles, Roman Republic and Empire) and philosophers (Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics), and the later influence of Christianity
The state is competent to assign duties and draw the line between good and evil only in its own immediate sphere. Beyond the limit of things necessary for its wellbeing, it can only give indirect help to fight the battle of life, by promoting the influences which avail against temptation,—Religion, Education, and the distribution of Wealth. In ancient times the state absorbed authorities not its own, and intruded on the domain of personal freedom. In the middle ages it possessed too little authority, and suffered others to intrude. Modern states fall habitually into both excesses.
Related Topics: Democracy, Government, Liberty
H. L. Mencken: The Joyous Libertarian, by Murray N. Rothbard, New Individualist Review, 1962
Examines the themes and style in Mencken's writings, mainly from selected pieces in A Mencken Chrestomathy
The firmness of Mencken's libertarianism may also be gauged by the numerous quotations from libertarian ... authors in his New Dictionary of Quotations. Thus, in his section on the "State," the great bulk ... are anti-State, and the remainder are so extremely pro-State that the effect ... is emphatically ironic. An example of the latter is "The National Socialist party is the state—Adolf Hitler." And the anti-State quotations are taken largely from highly individualist or anarchist sources: Emerson, Max Stirner, Thoreau, Bakunin, William Graham Sumner, Kropotkin, Tolstoy, and Benjamin R. Tucker.
How a 19th century French pamphleteer preempted two centuries of economic fallacies, by Christopher Todd Meredith, 18 Oct 2016
Examines some of the main themes in Bastiat's writings, such as ethics and economics, the seen and the unseen and the State
In another essay entitled "The State," [Bastiat] placed politics-as-usual under a microscope and showed how it violated the traditional moral principles it was supposed to uphold. In this essay, he offered the following pithy satirical definition of state: "The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else." ... What is robbery in private life is not sanctified by the political process. Bastiat called this use of the state to gain benefits at taxpayer expense legal plunder.
How Nationalism and Socialism Arose from the French Revolution, by Dan Sanchez, 12 Apr 2017
Examines how three crucial ideas (liberalism, nationalism and socialism) emerged around the same time (18th and 19th century) and how they depended on the rise of the modern people's state
[T]hanks to the Revolution [the] state was no longer a prince who ruled by Grace of God or accident of lineage: like the "Sun King," Louis XIV (1638-1715), a pompous dandy who said, "The State, it is me," (L'Etat, c'est moi) and paraded around his Versailles Palace ... The post-Revolutionary devotees of the French people's state basically believed, "The State, it is us" ... The people's state ... gives rise to nationalism, because nothing inspires more devotion to a state-centered community than a state that the individual feels is his creation (government by the people) ...
How Star Wars Can Lead America Off the Dark Path, by Dan Sanchez, 4 May 2017
Examines the first two Star Wars trilogies, drawing parallels to 20th and 21st century U.S. and world history, and draws lessons from the films that could help the United States from "giving in to the dark side"
[T]he Sith-like State accumulates power by making enemy menaces (terror), cultivating nationalistic furor (hatred), and instigating foreign wars (aggression). Indeed the very essence of the State is regularized aggression, which it terrorizes the populace into accepting as the only possible way of providing security. And the modern democratic State wins loyalty and revenue by stimulating mutual hatred and fear among its citizens, and then brokering the mutual aggression that results. The dark side is the health of the State. But it is the sickness of civilization.
I Can't Help That I'm a Libertarian, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 1 Aug 2014
Explains why libertarians hold the beliefs they do, in contrast to political conventional wisdom, and why they cannot be silent about them
I could ... keep quiet about what's going on in the world. Sometimes that has great appeal. But then I think about the injustice inflicted on the victims of systematic, mechanized, and legal aggression ... I think, "I wouldn't want to be in their place"—but then I recall that as a taxpayer and as one otherwise subject to state aggression, I am in their place, if to a lesser extent. I think of how people are kept poor (or poorer) and miserable by the most common forms of political imposition, and how insult is added to injury by telling the victims it's really for their own good.
Related Topics: Libertarianism, Logic, War
If the State Falls, Does Society Crumble?, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 25 Jan 2007
Discusses the situation in Iraq four years after the 2003 invasion and evaluates the question of "just how integral is the state to society?"
Thus did a simple theory of the state–kill the king and all will be well–fail ... The state is the only entity that is permitted to maintain a legal monopoly on the use of aggressive force. It therefore operates according to its own law. If you steal or kill, you get in trouble. The state steals and kills as part of its operating procedure, and there is no higher law to keep it in check. The same goes for its monopoly on "justice." I am not permitted to chase down and punish a person who broke into my house, but rather the state presumes the prerogative of administering justice and allows no competition.
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Iraq, Society
Impeach the American People!, by Butler Shaffer, 17 Nov 2006
Comments on proposals to impeach (or otherwise bring to justice) George W. Bush and others in his administration, countering that most Americans didn't do their part under the alleged "social contract"
The reality that the state is no more than a product of conquest has long dissipated the fairy-tale of some alleged "social contract." ... If the Constitution ... is thought of as a bilateral contract between state authorities and "the people," the state acquires its legitimacy only by adhering to the terms ... As with any other contract ... there is a burden upon those who are to be subject to state rule to insist upon adherence to the contractual terms. It is the obligation of members of the public to maintain vigilance over state officials and to make firm and timely objections when they exceed their authority.
The Impoverishing Effects of Foreign Aid [PDF], by Manuel Ayau, Cato Journal, 1984
Analyzes the 1980s debt crisis, from the viewpoint of creditor and debtor countries, suggesting some solutions such as removing trade barriers, ending debtor government interventionist policies and creditor government foreign aid and subsidized bail-outs
[A]ll governments worthy of their "underdeveloped" status are in the businesses of land, ocean, and air transportation, chemicals, power, communications, and subsidized theaters for the cultured elite ... Everyone who uses [state-owned enterprise] services or products incurs higher costs, and since the activities of the SOEs encompass such vast and basic spheres, they make the whole economy less competitive. This statization is the unavoidable result of aid programs that, throughout their history, have placed large amounts of soft credit ... at the disposal of statist bureaucrats.
Individual Liberty and Civil Society, by Richard Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Feb 1993
Reflects on Benjamin Constant's lecture "The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns" on what liberty meant to the ancient Greeks vs. the 19th century Europeans and Americans and about the 20th century reversion to statism
[I]n the 20th century, the state, as it has grown in power, has superseded or suppressed many of the private and voluntary associations of civil society. The individual, [the Italian historian Guglielmo] Ferrero said [in his 1926 book, Words to the Deaf], has "found himself alone confronting the state ... [Governments] force people to study, to work, to fight. They no longer let them sleep, they grind them down and fleece them mercilessly in the name ... of progress, of country ... of socialism of the people ... Multiple names of one and the same duty: to obey, to work, to pay."
James M. Buchanan and the Rebirth of Political Economy, by Peter J. Boettke, Economics and its Discontents, 1998
Examines Buchanan's contributions in bursting the "romantic vision of political science," advancing subjectivism as a challenge to modern economics formalism and re-integrating moral philosophy into economics
In The Limits of Liberty, Buchanan distinguished between the "protective state" and the "productive state". The [former] refers to the state as enforcer of agreed to rights that emerged out of the pre-constitutional moment. The state, in this capacity, is external to contracting parties ... The productive state ... is the state as producer of collective goods ... The logic of politics, unfortunately, biases the process of collective action in a manner which often transforms the productive state into the redistributive state even against the best intentions of economic and political actors.
Jan Narveson - Libertarian, by Bill Winter
Biographical profile, photograph and quote; part of the Advocates for Self-Government "Libertarian Celebrities" profiles
In an interview in Cogito (July 1998), Narveson said the inevitable tendency of any government to amass power is one of the reasons he is a libertarian. "The state always has a down side," he said. "You try to solve a problem by putting a bunch of power into someone's hands, and that power is the power to make a lot of people do what they don't want to do in order to get what you want done. In order for him to act like this, he's got to have quite a lot of authority. Question: will he stay within the bounds of that authority and only do what he is supposed to do? Answer: not likely! ..."
Karl Hess: 1923-1994: His Words, by Karl Hess, Libertarian Party News, Jun 1994
Selections from "The Death of Politics", Dear America, "The Playboy Interview", "If I Were Running Against Reagan", "Why Me?", "The Most Unforgettable Libertarian I Ever Knew" and "A Fond Farewell"
I have been jailed by the state. I have been deprived of property by the state. The state did not teach me to read and write. It did not make me a good neighbor. It did not inspire me, solace me, heal me. It has not given me anything that it did not first extort from me. ...
From "Why Me?" Libertarian Party NEWS, March/April 1986.
Lao-Tzu Argues for Liberty in Ancient China, by Lǎozǐ, 1891
Short introduction to excerpts of chapters 57 to 60 of the Tao Te Ching, as translated by James Legge, Professor of Chinese at Oxford, see Sacred Books of the East, Vol XXXIX, edited by F. Max Müller
A state may be ruled by (measures of) correction; weapons of war may be used with crafty dexterity; (but) the kingdom is made one's own (only) by freedom from action and purpose ... In the kingdom the multiplication of prohibitive enactments increases the poverty of the people; the more implements to add to their profit that the people have, the greater disorder is there in the state and clan; the more acts of crafty dexterity that men possess, the more do strange contrivances appear; the more display there is of legislation, the more thieves and robbers there are.
Related Topic: Government
Liberalism, Marxism, and the State [PDF], by Ralph Raico, Cato Journal, 1992
Examines the writings about the state by the French founders and contributors to the early 19th century journal Le Censeur, compares them to Karl Marx (who they influenced), as well as some 1990 comments by Václav Havel
As has been sometimes noted ..., Marxism contains two rather different views of the state. Most conspicuously, it views the state as the instrument of domination by exploiting classes that are defined by their position within the process of social production, for example, the capitalists. The state is simply "the executive committee of the ruling class." Sometimes, however, Marx characterized the state itself as the independently exploiting agent ... All regimes assisted in the growth of this state parasite ...:
... All revolutions perfected this machine instead of smashing it ...
Libertarian Class Analysis, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jun 2006
Examines the class analysis of Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer and Augustin Thierry and its basis on the work of J. B. Say, drawing on writings by Ralph Raico, Leonard Liggio, David M. Hart and Walter E. Grinder
The "capitalist" (meaning ... the owner of capital goods who is unconnected to the state) belongs in the industrious class along with workers. Who were the exploiters? All who lived forcibly off of the industrious classes ...
The theorists of industrialism concluded ... that it was the state and the privileged classes allied to or making up the state, rather than all non-agricultural activity, which were essentially nonproductive ...
Thus ... history is the record of conflict between producers, no matter their station, and the parasitic political classes, both inside and outside the formal state.
Libertarianism: Left or Right?, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jun 2007
Examines the origin of the political terms "left" and "right" and makes the case that libertarianism is "planted squarely on the Left"
The Left understood that historically the state was the most powerful engine of exploitation, although the various factions disagreed on the exact nature ... [Marx] appropriated [the idea] from ... radical liberals Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer ... In the liberal version two classes (castes) arose the moment government engaged in plunder: the plunderers and plundered. The plunderers were those who used the state to live off the work of others ... (Marx changed the Comte-Dunoyer thesis for the worse by moving employers with no links to the state from the industrious to the exploiter class ...)
Libertarians of Will, Intellect, and Action, by Murray N. Rothbard, Jul 1977
Keynote address to the Libertarian Party Convention; based on the "Turning Point, 1777/1977" convention theme, compares the American Revolution against the British with the contemporary libertarian situation versus the state
The state, it is said, is mighty, pervasive, and all-powerful; and who are we but a tiny handful of men and women, dwarfed by the legions of the state? ... Too many libertarians have absorbed the ... elitist conservative worldview ... that our enemy today is the poor, who are robbing the rich ... In fact, it is the state that is robbing all classes, rich and poor, black and white, worker and businessman alike; it is the state that is ripping us all off; it is the state that is the common enemy of mankind. And who is the state? It is any group who manages to seize control of the state's coercive machinery of theft and privilege.
A Libertarian Visits Mexico, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Nov 1998
Describes parts of a two-week visit to central Mexico, including some of the history of the Mexican independence struggle, discussions about current Mexican migration to the U.S., government interventions and the attitudes of the Mexicans encountered
The Mexican people have a long tradition of authoritarian control ... By and large, the society has always been governed in a mercantilistic, paternalistic, welfare-state mode. When you suggest that the state's powers should be limited to protecting people from murderers, thieves, and other violent people and to providing a judiciary by which people can resolve their disputes and should not extend to providing education, health care, Social Security, economic regulations, money, licensure, protectionism, public works, and the like, the immediate response is similar to that of American Democrats and Republicans: "Why, that would be anarchy!"
Related Topics: Libertarianism, Mexico
The life and times of Murray N. Rothbard, by Jim Powell
Full title: The life and times of Murray N. Rothbard, who showed why private individuals can do just about everything that needs to be done
Lengthy biographical essay
"The State indeed performs many important and necessary functions," Rothbard wrote, "from provision of law to the supply of police and fire fighters, to building and maintaining the streets, to delivery of the mail. But this in no way demonstrates that only the State can perform such functions, or, indeed, that it performs them even passably well." ... "[I]n a stateless society there would be no ... legalized channel for crime and aggression ... When a State exists, there does exist such a built-in channel, namely the coercive taxation power, and the ... monopoly of forcible protection ..."
Life of Liberty: Robert Nozick, R.I.P., by Richard Epstein, National Review Online, 24 Jan 2002
Memorial tribute, comparing Nozick to Hayek and discussing some of the arguments he made in Anarchy, State and Utopia
[Nozick's] exploration into the theories of private rights and duties was done in order to give us purchase on the grand question of why it was that any ordinary individual owed allegiance to the state ... I think it's fair to say that Nozick was not quite able to close the circle. He ingeniously was able to show how individuals for security would become members of extended protective organizations. He was less successful in showing how these repeated voluntary maneuvers were able to generate a single protective association that would exercise the monopoly power over force that marks the distinctive role of the state.
Lincoln-Worship Overlays the Corporatist Agenda, by Kevin Carson, Future of Freedom, Mar 2014
Review of Rich Lowry's Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream—and How We Can Do It Again (2013)
Like Lincoln, Lowry celebrates the use of the modernizing state to force people out of such activity—much as the English capitalist farmers and mill owners of 200 years ago celebrated the use of state power to drive the rural population from independent subsistence into the wage market ... The ... corporate economy lives, moves, and has its being in dependence on government. It is a creature of the state and is sustained in its existence every instant by the ongoing support of the state ... All of that had ... everything to do with using the coercive state to impose a social engineering agenda from the top down.
Lord Acton on Liberty and Government, by Gary M. Galles, Mises Daily, 11 Nov 2002
Lamenting that most people only know Lord Acton's most famous quote, lists many of his other memorable writings on liberty, government and related subjects
... [T]he interest of individuals is above the exclusive interest of the state. The power of the whole is not to be set in the balance for a moment with freedom—that is, the conscience of the subject—and those who act on other principle are the worst of criminals.
Whenever a single definite object is made the supreme end of the State, be it the advantage of a class, the safety of the power of the country, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or the support of any speculative idea, the State becomes for the time inevitably absolute ...
Lysander & Limited Government, by Fred Miller, Reason, May 1976
Argues that Spooner, although critical of the government instituted by the U.S. Constitution, was in favor of a legitimate, limited government, i.e., one that is voluntarily financed
In the past, three main defenses of the State have been offered ... The Altruistic Defense starts from the premise that the individual, as such, is of no importance ... The Libertarian Defense goes back as far as the fifth century B.C., when two Greek sophists ... maintained that the proper function of laws is the protection of rights ... The Social Contract Defense is the target of Spooner's attack. It rests on the premise ... that individuals ought to keep their agreements. Since everyone has (tacitly) agreed to obey the laws of the State, everyone is morally obligated to obey them ...
Lysander Spooner on the National Debt, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Jan 2014
Revised version of "The Goal Is Freedom" column of 27 Sep 2013; analyzes Spooner's severe criticisms of the arguments given for the legitimacy of the United States' public debt
As Charles W. Johnson writes in "Can Anybody Ever Consent to the State?": "If there is no effective possibility of refusal, then there is no possibility of publicly expressing consent, and if there is no possibility of publicly expressing consent, then there is no possibility of consenting. If existing states make a standing threat to force people to submit to their terms, even if they do not agree ..., and thus nobody can do anything that would count as consenting to be ruled by an existing state—even if she wants to do so, and even if she sincerely says that she agrees to the terms."
Related Topics: No Treason, Lysander Spooner
Misguided Democracy, by George Leef, Freedom Daily, Mar 2006
Review of Attention Deficit Democracy (2006) by James Bovard
Bovard ... correctly [notes] that Americans read less and less, and what information they do get is from a generally statist media ... [M]ost media figures can be counted on to support the interventionist assumptions behind federal policies ... [W]hat little information Americans have about politics reinforces the supposed need for a big and constantly meddling government. The people have been led to believe that the state is their friend and protector, and thus even the most egregious falsehoods and flagrant abuses of power fail to disturb them. As long as their government goodies keep coming, they'll support Leviathan.
Morals and the Welfare State, by F. A. Harper, 1951
Examines five moral principles by which the idea of the Welfare State (described in more detail in an appendix) can be judged; extension of talk given 13 June 1951; later published as "Morals and Liberty" (see The Freeman, Sep 1971)
[T]he state, as such, produces nothing with which to supply ... "benefits." Persons produce everything which the Welfare State takes, before it gives some back as "benefits"; but in the process, the bureaucracy takes its cut. Only by thus confiscating what persons have produced can [it] "satisfy the needs of the people." So, the necessary and essential idea of the Welfare State is to control the economic actions of the vassals ..., to take from producers what they produce, and to prevent their ever being able to attain economic independence from the state and from their fellow men ...
Murray N. Rothbard: Mr. Libertarian, by Wendy McElroy, 6 Jul 2000
A tribute to Rothbard as a "system builder," an integrator of multiple disciplines into a "philosophy of freedom"; examines several of Rothbard's essays and books
Rothbard marched with a jaunty step straight toward the single greatest enemy of Liberty: the State. The next essay is entitled "The Anatomy of the State" and it systematically argues that statism is the antithesis of individualism ... [It] begins by addressing "What the State Is Not", "What the State Is" and, then, proceeds into a now-classic analysis of how the State acts primarily to preserve and expand itself. The concluding section ... briefly describes the conflict between those who live through productive labor (society) and those who live by usurping the products of others (the State).
Murray Rothbard's Philosophy of Freedom, by David Gordon, The Freeman, Nov 2007
Examines the arguments made by Rothbard that, given the premise that slavery is wrong, self-ownership, private property rights and a free market without government interventions follow
If you own your own labor, you cannot be compelled against your will to support the state, even if it confines its activities to protecting rights—other than, of course, the rights it violates by extorting resources through taxation ... [I]f Rothbard is right about political morality, it will often be immoral to attempt to prohibit immoral activity. This seeming paradox ... actually serves as an important means for its defense. One has only to glance at any period of history to see that the main violator of morality has been what Nietzsche called "that coldest of all cold monsters, the State."
The NFL is Not for Libertarians, by S. M. Oliva, 26 Apr 2012
Examines various statist aspects of the National Football League
[S]ince the 1960s, [the National Football League] has steadily morphed into a subsidiary of the state ... In the decades following the merger with the [American Football League], the NFL embraced its special status and started demanding municipal governments, rather than franchise owners, assume the financial risks of constructing new stadiums ... Even the term "Draft" invokes a statist institution—government military conscription—just like [the] title "commissioner" applied to [Roger] Goodell. Name one private business that calls its CEO a "commissioner."
Nock, Albert Jay (1870-1945), by Charles H. Hamilton, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay
The strongly antipolitical and antistatist flavor that runs throughout Nock's writing is most evident in his influential 1935 work Our Enemy, the State: "Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators, and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class." ... [T]he starting point of Nock's legacy to libertarianism is elegantly summarized in Walter E. Grinder's 1973 introduction ...: "It is a natural rights philosophy of self-responsibility, of inviolable individualism ... It is a political philosophy of anti-Statism."
Related Topics: Albert Jay Nock, The Freeman
Nonsense on the Inevitability of Democracy, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, May 2006
Examines Francis Fukuyama's assertion about the "universalization of Western liberal democracy" and related pronouncements by George W. Bush
Fukuyama quotes Hegel's assertion that "the History of the World is nothing other than the progress of the consciousness of Freedom." But Hegel ... declared, "The State in-and-for-itself is the ethical whole, the actualization of freedom." ... Far from being a champion of the individual against his rulers, he stressed that "all the worth which the human being possesses—all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." He profoundly influenced modern political thinking by mystifying government, declaring that the state is "the shape which the perfect embodiment of Spirit assumes."
Not Just Japanese Americans: The Untold Story of U.S. Repression During 'The Good War', by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, The Journal of Historical Review, 1986
Detailed and well-annotated survey of United States government's repression of civil liberties during World War II, both before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor
Although designed to keep the State out of war, neutrality laws ended up more often in practice being used by the State to harass private citizens ... [Fritz Kuhn's] tale demonstrates the vindictive lengths to which the State carried its persecution of the Bund ... The U.S. deported him to Germany at the war's close, where the U.S. occupation government promptly arrested him again and finally sentenced him to ten years hard labor for associations with Hitler which Kuhn had, in fact, fabricated ... Concomitant with the State's new attention to the crime of espionage was the birth of the U.S. intelligence community ...
Nozick, Robert (1938-2002), by Ellen Frankel Paul, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay
To the liberals' wholehearted embrace of the welfare state, Nozick responded that the justification of any state, even a minimal one, is problematic. To their fondness for redistribution, Nozick offered a blistering argument against "patterned theories" of justice that require constant intervention by the state to prevent deviations that voluntary acts cause ... A necessary condition for a state is that it "claims a monopoly on deciding who may use force" within its territory and the consequent right to punish anyone who uses force without its "express permission."
Objectivism and the State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand, by Roy A. Childs, Jr., The Rational Individualist, Aug 1969
Published by the Society for Rational Individualism (later merged into the Society for Individual Liberty); responds to five of Rand's arguments in her essay "The Nature of Government"
And there is the major issue of the destructiveness of the state itself ... [H]istorically, the state is a blood-thirsty monster, which has been responsible for more violence, bloodshed and hatred than any other institution known to man. Your approach to the matter is not yet radical, not yet fundamental: it is the existence of the state itself which must be challenged by the new radicals. It must be understood that the state is an unnecessary evil, that it regularly initiates force, and in fact attempts to gain what must rationally be called a monopoly of crime in a given territory.
On Evil Acts, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 19 Apr 2007
Analyzes the typical mainstream ("liberal") and conservative responses to acts of violence such as the April 2007 Virginia Tech shooting
[W]hat if the conservative position of total depravity turns out to put totally depraved people in charge of running the system that is supposed to protect us against evil? That only magnifies the problem. In fact, I've never understood the people who claim that the universal pervasiveness of human evil means that we need a strong state. What guarantee do we have that the people who run the state will be less evil than those who are run by the state? If people are irredeemably corrupt, don't we have even more reason to reduce the chance that evil people will get hold of the mechanisms of power?
Related Topics: Conservatism, Free Market, Society
On Feminism, by Tonie Nathan, Willamette Valley Observer, 1977
Written about four years after the founding of the Association of Libertarian Feminists, explains what was the purpose of the group; reprinted in On Libertarianism (1981) and the 25th anniversary issue of ALF News (1998)
Male domination or state domination—neither should be tolerated. Neither help women to become free and independent. The following statement was released ... after our first ALF meeting in Eugene.
There is today a terrible tendency to apply political solutions to what are really psychological and educational problems ... Politically, of course, a person has the right to be a bigot and the state ought take no notice of this flaw. However, more often than not, the state itself promotes bigotry and sponsors legislation which results in unfair discrimination against certain classes of citizens ...
The Only Thing Dumber Than Libertarianism's Critics are its Right-Wing Defenders, by Kevin Carson, 22 Jun 2013
Responds to question posed by "liberal" commentator Michael Lind regarding the lack of actual libertarian countries and an attempted rebuttal by Objectivist writer Robert Tracinski
If anything, Lind's argument [would] be answered by ... silence if he challenged advocates of social and economic justice to name one country without economic exploitation by a privileged class. Every country in the world has an interventionist state. Every country in the world has class exploitation. Every country in history with a state, since states first arose, has also had classes and economic exploitation ... Since their first appearance, states have without exception been the mechanism through which a ruling class—kings, priests, landlords, capitalists, state bureaucrats—extracts a surplus from the rest of society.
Related Topics: Democracy, Libertarianism
Oppenheimer, Franz (1864-1943), by George H. Smith, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay
According to Oppenheimer, "the State grew from the subjection of one group of men by another. Its basic justification, its raison d'être, was and is the economic exploitation of those subjugated." Oppenheimer identifies six stages in the development of the state. The first was marked by roving tribes of herdsmen who periodically attacked, looted, and killed sedentary peasants ... There followed a system of economic exploitation that became institutionalized through the payment of regular tributes (later known as taxes) by the vanquished to their rulers.
Our Elective Monarchy, by Sheldon Richman, 16 Jun 2004
Comments on the "fit for a king" funeral for Ronald Reagan and the similar treatment given to other U.S. Presidents, contrasting them to the treatment of Prime Ministers in Great Britain
The procession down Constitution Avenue ... culminated in Reagan's lying in state under the Capitol dome. It all served to glorify not only the former president, but the State itself. For several days Ronald Reagan was the State ... It all comes to a head when a president dies, especially if he has requested a state funeral. At that point the State brings out all the signs of its majesty and mystique, especially the military. Maybe this satisfies some need in people. But one thing is sure: it notifies them that, notwithstanding the jabber about "of the people, by the people, for the people," the State is in charge.
Paine, Thomas (1737-1809), by David Fitzsimons, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay discussing the main themes in Paine's writings
Paine based his political philosophy on the belief that the central dynamic of domestic politics was the conflict between what he called state and society. He argued that society consisted of the "productive classes," which included laborers, farmers, ... and small [businesses] not holding government-chartered monopolies. The state, in contrast, consisted of government officials, standing armies, blue-water navies, aristocrats, established clergy, and holders of government-chartered monopolies, the "plundering classes" who used state power to live off the productive classes through taxation.
Related Topics: Thomas Paine, Free trade, War
Parallels Between Liberty and Health, by Rich Schwartzman, 30 Sep 2011
Discusses guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration that attempt to regulate nutritional supplements as synthetic food preservatives, in spite of the 1994 Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, and the advertising concept of "social proof"
The FDA says only drugs can claim to cure diseases, ignoring the fact that vitamin C, through citrus fruits and sauerkraut, cured scurvy in the sailing days of yore. Yet people think that taking prescription drugs is the only way to health. Statists tell us that only Democrats or Republicans can cure society's ills, ignoring the fact that they're the ones who created the problems in the first place. And people believe that voting for anyone other than a Republican or Democrat is a wasted vote. We've heard it all before. It's no more a person's lot in life to be sick than it is to be subservient to the state.
The Phony Trade-off between Privacy and Security, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 16 Aug 2013
In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations and subsequent policy directives by Barack Obama, examines the claim that, in a dangerous world, a "balance" must be struck between privacy and security
Of course, our rulers can't really set things to the security side of the spectrum because the game is rigged. When we give up privacy—or, rather, when our rulers take it—we don't get security in return; we get a more intrusive state, which means we get more insecurity ... Likewise, where the state is concerned, you can't trade off privacy against security because they're exactly the same thing. Anyone who reads dystopian novels knows that government access to personal information about people serves to inhibit and control them. That's insecurity.
The Political Thought of Étienne de La Boétie, by Murray N. Rothbard, 1975
Introduction to The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (Free Life Editions, 1975), translated by Harry Kurz; summarizes the key insights of La Boétie's work
The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude is lucidly and coherently structured around a single axiom, a single percipient insight into the nature not only of tyranny but implicitly of the State apparatus itself. Many medieval writers had attacked tyranny, but La Boétie delves especially deeply into its nature and into the nature of State rule itself. This fundamental insight was that every tyranny must necessarily be grounded upon general popular acceptance. In short, the bulk of the people themselves, for whatever reason, acquiesce in their own subjection.
The Pope Dabbles in Economics, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 20 Dec 2013
Examines the economic premises of Pope Francis' 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, explaining where the Pope has a point and where he is wrong
When the pope laments that the prevailing ideologies "reject the right of states [i.e., governments], charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control," one must suppress the urge to laugh. When have states ever looked out for the common good? It is states and their elite patrons that preserve the exclusion and inequality that the pope abhors by squelching the social cooperation inherent in freed markets ... It is states that embody the worst sense of the "survival of the fittest" principle by defining "fit" in terms of prowess in navigating the halls of power.
Preventing Opposition to War, by Sheldon Richman, 13 Apr 2007
Explains why the Bush administration has not gotten more people directly involved in its foreign wars, such as by demanding "sacrifices" or re-instituting conscription, and points out the paradox that increased involvement could cause more war opposition
The welfare-warfare state does not exist primarily to serve and protect "its" people. It does those things to some extent ... but only for the same reason the giant ... fed the goose that laid the golden eggs ... [I]n its primary role the welfare-warfare state is a grand scheme to enable a ruling class, through its complex bureaucracy ..., to transfer wealth from the industrious classes to itself. This system deceives and compels the taxpaying producers to support a tax-consuming aristocracy, which includes the bureaucracy and corporations that exist on government contracts.
Related Topic: War
Price Controls Are No Answer to Isabel, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 19 Sep 2003
Explains the counterproductive effects of government setting price controls, such as forbidding selling of candles at a price higher than before Hurricane Isabel struck
What happens if state officials impose price controls in a misguided attempt to protect consumers from "exorbitant" prices? They destroy the market's messaging system and actually worsen the effects ... The natural disaster strikes ... Professing to protect consumers ... state officials set a price ceiling that prohibits candles from being sold for more than the pre-disaster price ... The state's intervention throws the market into chaos ... For consumers, the lower price means that there's no special incentive to conserve candles, and for producers it means that there's no special need to supply them.
Related Topic: Prices
Public Enemy Number One: The Public, by Kevin Carson, 15 Jun 2013
Considers the establishment's reaction to revelations by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, and the attempts to manipulate public opinion
In the late 19th century two phenomena emerged simultaneously: First, the giant corporation and the power nexus between corporation and state ... Samuel Huntington wrote ... in 1974, that the United States in the two decades after WWII had been the "hegemonic power ..." ... [O]nly because of a domestic power structure in which the country "was governed by the president acting with the support and cooperation of key individuals and groups in the Executive office, the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses, banks, law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the private establishment."
Related Topics: Democracy, George Orwell
Read Rothbard, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 29 Jul 2013
Bibliographical review of 11 of Rothbard's major works, including suggested reading order, plus three additional titles
The Anatomy of the State. This essay appeared in Rothbard's collection Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays, and the Mises Institute has since released it as a stand-alone publication. Now that you've read Rothbard on basic economics and have seen the sharpness of his mind and the persuasiveness of his arguments, it's time for something more challenging. Here Rothbard explains the true nature of the state. I'll give you a hint: the state isn't a benign institution that provides for the common good.
The Real Aggressor, by Murray N. Rothbard, Faith and Freedom, Apr 1954
Counsels conservatives to reconsider their foreign policy stance of instigating war, fomenting militarism and demanding foreign interventions, and realize that the aggressor is not the "Reds" but the state, which "has been conceived in original sin"
Thus, conservatives who say that the state should be limited to what is necessary for defense purposes, are caught from the start on the horns of a great dilemma. For the state has been conceived in original sin. Any state, even the best intentioned, subsists by means of coercion. If Henry Thoreau says: I don't want your protection, so will pay no more taxes; he goes to jail—sent there by his "representatives." If he attempts to argue by saying: I wish to pay for my defense through privately-financed police and judiciary companies ... the same punishment is meted out to him, or worse.
Related Topic: Conservatism
Regime Libertarians, by Lew Rockwell, 12 Jul 2005
Criticizes the "Iraq Exit Strategy: America's Path Forward" proposal, made by the Libertarian National Committee on 29 June 2005, and suggests the name "Regime Libertarians" for those who make that kind of proposals
The blessings of freedom are not due to the prior existence of the right regime. On the contrary, freedom is nothing more than the de facto condition that exists in the absence of the parasitic state ... [C]onsider how pie-in-the-sky is the view that the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, and the several dozen other agencies involved, along with the Congress, are going to ... stumble on the LP's plan for Iraq, and agree to follow it ... More likely, the only use that the state has for the LP plan is to provide reassurance that even the LP is too afraid of the regime to fundamentally oppose it.
Reports of Peak Oil's Death Are Somewhat Premature, by Kevin Carson, 22 Jul 2013
Examines shale oil and tar sand oil vis-à-vis the state policies that allow extraction to be profitable
America's 20th century economy developed largely by adding more and more inputs of artificially cheap resources, guaranteed by the state, rather than by using resources more efficiently. The fossil fuel economy and everything dependent on it—mass production factories supplying distant markets, suburban sprawl, the car culture—was essentially a free rider on this artificial abundance created by the state. And now even the state is realizing that there are limits to its resources ... If climate change is a real problem ... it's not something the government needs to fix. It's something the government needs to stop causing.
Related Topic: Fuels
Revisiting a Libertarian Classic: Nock's Our Enemy, the State, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Mar 2006
Examines some of the major themes of Nock's Our Enemy, the State (1935)
As Oppenheimer wrote,
... The state is an organization of the political means. No state, therefore, can come into being until the economic means has created a definite number of objects for the satisfaction of needs, which objects may be taken away or appropriated by warlike robbery. [Emphasis added.]
Nock picks up from there:
It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another ...
Robert Nozick and the Value of Liberty, by Aaron Ross Powell, 21 Jun 2011
Responds to Stephen Metcalf's essay "The Liberty Scam", published on the previous day
According to Nozick and most other libertarians, it is for the protection of liberty that we organize a state—and a state that violates its citizens' liberty (beyond, arguably, certain "night watchman" duties) commits a moral wrong. Metcalf gets that much right. But this is not because liberty is the only value. Rather, it is because liberty is the only value the state should concern itself with. All the other values—of which there are a great many, not all shared equally by all individuals—are the exclusive concern of civil society.
A scholar's scholar retires, by Donald J. Boudreaux,, 21 Jul 2015
Discusses Higgs' retirement, highlighting his books Competition and Coercion and Crisis and Leviathan as well as his identification of "regime uncertainty"
As summarized by the late Nobel laureate economist Robert Fogel in his review of Bob's book, "Those who seized control of the state machinery not only disenfranchised the blacks, but used their political power to transfer income from blacks to whites, to restrict blacks' access to such public institutions as schools and hospitals, to restrict the occupational mobility of blacks, and to bar them from certain occupations ... Higgs concludes that the forces of competition proved strong enough to check the forces of coercion ..." Competition in the market is the best friend that disfavored people can have. Not so the state.
The Security State's Reaction to Snowden Shows Why It's Doomed, by Kevin Carson, 9 Aug 2013
Comments on the differing behavior between networks and hierarchies and how the responses by the hierarchical national security state to the Manning and Snowden leaks tend to be counterproductive to the State's ends
We can see this in the way the national security state has responded to leaks, first by US Army PFC Bradley Manning and now by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Hugh Gusterton ... notes that the government is taking measures to avoid future such leaks by "segmenting access to information so that individual analysts cannot avail themselves of so much, and by giving fewer security clearances, especially to employees of contractors." This approach is doomed. "Segmentation of access runs counter to the whole point of the latest intelligence strategy, which is fusion of data from disparate sources ..."
Related Topic: Technology
The Servile State Revisited, by Joseph Sobran, The Wanderer, 5 Jun 2003
Ponders David Hume's observation as to the ease with which "the many are governed by the few" and positing that in modern society, "the habit of obedience" has been taken too far
We are taught to beware of violent tyrannies like those of Stalin and Hitler. But we are seldom warned against the bland and gradual tyranny of the bureaucratic State, which is the one modern man typically lives under ... The parasites know they depend on the State; but many of the productive people who create the wealth that supports the parasites are also convinced that their freedom depends on the State. The bureaucratic State has blurred the lines, disguising the opposition of interests ... How hugely ironic that the bureaucratic State is able to enlist the most conservative instincts to support it.
Related Topics: Democracy, Law, Militarism
The Six Faces of the Terrorist; The One Face of Bureaucracy, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 18 Aug 2006
Wonders how much more will Americans tolerate the searches and commands of the Transportation Security Administration agents, contrastring "public sector" security to private security and comparing the TSA to the welfare bureaucracy
The poor are what provides the welfare state its raison d'être. So the welfare state faces perverse incentives. This is one reason the welfare state didn't work. So it is with the security state. It only benefits from increasing insecurity and fear. The more threats there are to security, the better off it is. Finally, the money that runs the security state is not a drain on a business's bottom line, so there is no one setting out to find ways to reduce the expenditure. Rather, the money comes from the taxpayers who need to be cajoled into coughing up more, and the best means of doing that is by scaring people ...
Related Topics: Bureaucracy, Business, Government
Society Without A State, by Murray N. Rothbard, 28 Dec 1974
Paper delivered before the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, Washington, DC; published in The Libertarian Forum, Volume VII, No. 1, January 1975
I define the State as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as "taxation"; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area. Any institution, not possessing either of these properties is not and cannot be, [per] my definition, a "State" ... The State, by its use of physical coercion, has arrogated to itself a compulsory monopoly of defense services over its territorial jurisdiction.
Related Topics: Anarchism, Law, Taxation
Somebody Might Get Hurt, by Kevin Carson, 31 May 2013
Comments on two unrelated third-party blog posts to highlight a commonly offered "liberal" argument about state programs
The coercive state, by its nature, is the instrument of a ruling class. Sometimes the state functionaries themselves will supplant the old ruling class ... More frequently, the regulatory and welfare state will align itself with the preexisting corporate capitalist ruling class ... [T]he rulers will exercise their power over us in all sorts of unpleasant ways. Once you set up an enforcement bureaucracy of cops and administrative law courts capable of shooting or imprisoning people, or seizing their assets without proving them guilty of a criminal offense, they will happily exercise this power.
Related Topics: Democracy, War on Drugs
So What If Freedom Isn't Free?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 31 May 2013
Examines the assertion "Freedom isn't free" from the viewpoint of free will, negative or positive rights, resource scarcity and common usage
[T. H.] Green's notion of freedom would require people to do more than simply not initiate force against others because he thought no one could be free who lacked certain material things. So, in order that all can be free, everyone would be required to submit to the state's demands in the form of taxation and regulation of consensual transactions ... I find that he phrase is more commonly used as a demand that we unquestioningly accept any state-imposed burdens placed under the national-security rubric. It's an emotional appeal ... It's a blank check for the state.
The Sphere of Government: Nineteenth Century Theories: 1. John Stuart Mill, by Henry Hazlitt, The Freeman, Jan 1980
Critiques John Stuart Mill's ideas on what are the "necessary" and "optional" functions of government
As [Mill] keeps adding to his list of "exceptions" to the general rule of laissez-faire, he gradually seems to forget all his earlier warnings against piling an unmanageable number of functions on the state and building excessive powers that can more easily be abused. In many of his exceptions he unconsciously takes it for granted that the state will necessarily do better than private initiative ... After having warned us that the state may carry out its delegated powers very badly, he assumes in particular instances that they will carry out these powers very well.
The State in the Dock, by Lew Rockwell, 26 May 2006
Reflects on the then ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein (2004-2006) and wonders what would happen if other heads of state, including George W. Bush, were put on trial
What we call the rule of law is really the rule of two laws: one for the state and one for everyone else ... Judged by this standard, all states are guilty. And all heads of state are guilty of criminal wrongdoing if we are using a normal, everyday kind of moral standard to judge them. Thus are they all vulnerable. To be clear, I'm not talking about states in our age, or just particular gangster states. I'm speaking of all states in all times, since by definition the state is permitted to engage in activities that if pursued privately would be considered egregious and intolerable.
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Government, Iraq
The State: Judge in its Own Cause, by Kevin Carson, 22 Aug 2013
Explores, with several historical examples, the United States government's role in judging itself or disregarding its laws
There's an old legal principle, ... "no one should be the judge of their own cause." But in fact all the laws theoretically limiting the state's power are interpreted by—wait for it—officials of the state. The state is, in a very real sense, judge in its own cause ... Consider what the security community's classification system amounts to ... The government commits crimes, classifies all the evidence of its criminal activity, and punishes anyone with the audacity to tell you about it. The government is judge of its own cause, every step of the way. This is not a government of laws. The state is the opposite of law.
Taoism in Ancient China, by Murray N. Rothbard, Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, 1995
Chapter 1, section 1.10; discusses the three schools of political philosophy and then concentrates on the Daoists, covering Lǎozǐ (Lao Tzu), Zhuāng Zhōu (Chuang Tzu), Bào (Pao) Jìngyán and the historian Sīmǎ Qiān (Ch'ien)
Chuang Tzu, moreover, was perhaps the first theorist to see the state as a brigand writ large: 'A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes a ruler of a State.' Thus, the only difference between state rulers and out-and-out robber chieftains is the size of their depredations. This theme of ruler-as-robber was to be repeated, as we have seen, by Cicero, and later by Christian thinkers in the Middle Ages, though of course these were arrived at independently.
Taxation Is Robbery, by Frank Chodorov, Out of Step, 1962
Chapter XXII, previously published in 1947 as a Human Events pamphlet; starting with the historical origins of taxation, proceeds to examine its indirect and direct forms and the rationales behind it
What sanction, in morals, does the State adduce for the taking of property? ... The present inquiry ... is as biased as would be an inquiry starting with the similarly unprovable proposition that the State is either a natural or a socially necessary institution ... If the State has a prior right to the products of one's labor, his right to existence is qualified. Aside from the fact that no such prior right can be established, except by declaring the State the author of all rights, our inclination (as shown in the effort to avoid paying taxes) is to reject this concept of priority.
Thinking about Foreign Policy, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Dec 2006
Analyzes why most people, even libertarians, tend to think about foreign policy as if it were decided upon by "the people" or at least with their interests in mind, rather than the "ruling elite" and its desire "to preserve and augment its own power"
[T]he most fundamental problem of foreign-policy analysis ... is the absence of the state ... There is an ... assumption that the state's actual role is to carry out the wishes of the people, as if they were the principal decision-makers ... The state ...; or ... ruling elite, which includes influential corporate interests outside the formal organization of the state, makes foreign policy ... The state's unique characteristics are clear to libertarians when they think about domestic policy ... Is the state a different sort of entity when its focus is the military and relations with other countries?
The Third Industrial Revolution: Not As Easy to Co-opt as the Second, by Kevin Carson, 8 Jun 2013
Compares the first (steam and hydraulic power) and second (electric power) industrial revolutions with the new micromanufacturing and networked communications technologies and the ability of dominant players to co-opt the third revolution
The Paleotechnic Era itself—the First Industrial Revolution—was of course thoroughly statist in its origins. Its choice of production technologies and industrial focus were determined by the interests behind it: an alliance between the absolute states ... the big landed interests ... and the imperial fleets and colonizing corporations ... But a funny thing happened on the way to the Neotechnic Revolution. To make a long story short, the state happened. Neotechnic technologies like electrical power were co-opted and enclosed by the existing economic interests that controlled the state in the U.S., Britain and Germany.
Related Topic: Technology
Treating People Like Garbage, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 4 Oct 2013
Prompted by the "closing" of the U.S. government during Oct 2013, examines two examples of how the state behaves towards people: an Iraq war veteran and his family, and the genocide of Bengalis in March 1971, with the support of Nixon and Kissinger
At its heart, the state—more precisely, the pretenders who call themselves "leaders"—is capable of the most horrendous acts ... The other day I saw a commercial for the Wounded Warrior Project ... These scenes brought tears to my eyes, and I said out loud, "This is what the state does to people." I should have said, "This is what the state does to families and little girls and boys." ... [C]ritics of the libertarian world view complain that the market treats people like commodities. Maybe, [historian Ralph] Raico replies. But the state treats people like garbage.
Two Libertarian Classics, by Murray N. Rothbard, Reason, Mar 1974
Reviews of Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy the State and John T. Flynn's As We Go Marching
The better-known conservative libertarian ... regards the State as a bumbling, generally inefficient instrument of society ... [E]very so often, the conservative libertarian cranks his data into his "cost-benefit" computer and grinds out the conclusion that, on this particular issue or other, the State should intervene ... Instead of a bumbling and inefficient tool ..., the radical [libertarian] sees the State itself, in its very nature, as coercive, exploitative, parasitic, and hence profoundly antisocial. The State is, and always has been, the great single enemy of the human race, its liberty, happiness, and progress.
Up From Freedom: Friedrich von Hayek and the Defence of Liberty, by Richard Ebeling, ama-gi, 1996
Opens with biographical and bibliographical details and then discusses Hayek's insights. concluding that he was fortunate to witness the collapse of communism which "demonstrated the practical impossibility" of social engineering
Once the state takes over responsibility for the economic planning of society, it inevitably follows that the state controls access to employment. The state sets the levels of people's incomes, distributes the supply of all the goods and services made under the control of the state, and determines who has the use of the printing presses, lecture halls and artistic facilities. And since the political arena will be the only avenue of success ..., the worst qualities ... will tend to surface in the battle for political power, with the result that, in general, that the worst people will get on top.
Voting Is No Sin [PDF], by R. W. Bradford, Liberty, Nov 1996
Bill Bradford's response to Wendy McElroy's "Why I Would Not Vote Against Hitler" essay, published in Liberty, May 1996
The crux of McElroy's argument, I believe, is that the power of the state rests on its claim to legitimacy ...; so by refusing to participate in elections, we can deny the state's legitimacy and reduce (or destroy) its power ... There is a glimmer of truth to the legitimacy argument. The power of any state does depend on the opinions of its subjects; if enough of them view it as good or inevitable or too powerful to resist, the state achieves a certain viability. Ultimately, power is in the hands of individual human beings, and the most powerful states are those with the widest support.
Related Topics: Government, Wendy McElroy, Voting
Warfare/Welfare/Corporate State: All of a Piece, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 24 Jan 2014
Dissects article by Princeton professor Sean Wilentz criticizing Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange due to their libertarian sympathies
Wilentz seems to live in fear that the baby—the welfare/warfare state—will be thrown out with the bathwater—the admitted "abuses" by the NSA ... "Where liberals, let alone right-wingers, have portrayed the leakers as truth-telling comrades intent on protecting the state ... that's hardly their goal," Wilentz writes ... Peter Frase at Jacobin makes an interesting point when he sees in Wilentz's article "an attempt to conflate the ideal of the liberal state with the existing national security state, in an attempt to force defenders of the welfare state to also embrace the authoritarian warfare state."
The War of 1812 Was the Health of the State, Part 1, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 27 Feb 2015
Examines the sentiments of the United States founding fathers and other leading figures as well as some of the events that led to the War of 1812, and argues that "dangerous precedents were set" that led to imperialism and further wars
As [Bourne] explained it,
The republican State has almost no trappings to appeal to the common man's emotions ... In [an unmilitary era] the sense of the State almost fades out of the consciousness of men. With the shock of war, however, the State comes into its own again, ... [I]n general, the nation in wartime attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war. Loyalty—or mystic devotion to the State—becomes the major imagined human value.
War, Peace, and Murray Rothbard, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 18 Jul 2014
Review and commentary on Murray Rothbard's 1963 essay "War, Peace, and the State"
[G]overnments are groups of individuals that have their status ... in virtue of their specific relationship to their subject populations. There is no independently existing entity called "the state." ... The state ... is unique in society in that it claims a legal monopoly on the use of aggressive force, beginning with taxation, the most basic government power of all. How does libertarian thinking about freedom and aggression apply to war between states? [N]otice ... that when states go to war, they intensify the violations of liberty that they already commit against their own populations.
The War the Government Cannot Win, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 1 May 2007
Discusses how government cannnot win the war on terror because economic law is more powerful than the state; talk given at the Wisconsin Forum in Milwaukee
There are some things that a state just cannot do, no matter how much power it accumulates or employs ... [N]ot only does the state not accomplish its stated goals, it recruits more people into the armies of the enemy, and ends up completely swamped by a problem that grows ever worse ... We all need to begin to say no to the state on an intellectual level. When you are asked what you would like the government to do for you, we need to be prepared to reply: nothing. We should not ask it to save our children, nor provide security, nor vanquish all evil, nor give us anything at all.
We Can Oppose Bigotry without the Politicians, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 28 Feb 2014
Explains why the state (as in the case of Arizona's Senate Bill 1062) is not necessary to ensure that people or businesses don't discriminate against others on the basis of sexual orientation or other reasons
Right off, I'd ask how a "compelling state interest"—whatever that may be—could license government to impose burdens, substantial or otherwise, on anyone's peaceful exercise of religion. The state is an organization of mere mortals who, by one dubious method or another, have been allowed to don the mantle of political legitimacy and to command obedience on pain of imprisonment even of those who never consented to the preposterous arrangement ... The state should not be seen as a remedy, and considering that its essence is violence, it certainly should not punish nonviolent conduct, however objectionable.
We Need an Angel Like Clarence, by Lew Rockwell, Mises Daily, 28 Dec 2006
Attempts to counter the despair felt by some in the freedom movement by examining, by example, the "unseen" benefits of libertarian activism over the past century
Less than a century ago ... the state was in its heyday. ... Preposterously, a small faction ... believed that if we could just pass national legislation against drinking, sobriety would prevail ... [A]nd even poverty ... would be a thing of the past. The state would uplift us in every way. If the state had had its way—and the state is always happy with more power and money—there would have been no zone of freedom left to us, and we would live as people have always lived when the state controlled every aspect of life: in the absence of civilization. It would have been a catastrophe.
When What's Costly is Cheap—and Vice Versa, by Kevin Carson, 6 Jul 2013
Explains how the corporate state programs subsidize big business at consumer expense, and on the other hand creates artificial scarcities to again benefit corporate interests
Consider all the "industries" whose primary "customer" is the state, whose products are bought involuntarily by taxpayers, and whose "users" are a captive clientele of inmates, students, soldiers, etc. ... At the same time, though, the state makes things that are naturally free or cheap artificially expensive ... By prohibiting the free movement of information and giving corporations a right of ownership in controlling permission to utilize improved techniques, the state enables corporate interests to profit by setting up toll gates and charging rent on access to naturally free information.
Related Topic: Corporatism
Who Owns the Internet?, by Tim Swanson, Mises Daily, 4 May 2006
Explains how and why "net neutrality" proposals came about, monopolistic tendencies, comparisons to natural resources and others held in common, and how variable pricing has been used elsewhere to solve similar problems
Market intervention begets yet more market intervention: the State caused the problem in the first place, and is now called into action to fix it ... The chief concern for both individuals and corporations alike has been the role of the State. If either side had their druthers, the State would intervene; it is a win-win situation for government intervention—a role whose legitimate jurisdiction has been left unquestioned ... [C]hecked or unchecked the intervening State apparatus and its subterfuge obfuscate and remove accountability that private property and contracts would otherwise resolve.
Why I Am An Anarchist, by Caleb Johnson, The New Hampshire Free Press, 12 Mar 2008
Contrasts the general public view of anarchism with the reality of national governments and their actions
[I]nteraction between men requires a sort of government ... A family exists in some sort of governmental arrangement, inasmuch as there are roles and understood norms of conduct ... In larger groups of people, it is likely to be more explicit. But what distinguishes these forms of government from the state is that the state is not voluntary. The state is ... is an authoritarian model of government that enforces its rule over anyone that it considers to be within its jurisdiction, regardless of whether or not they have consented to its rule. In this respect, a state is exactly like the mafia.
Why Limited Representative Government Fails, by Michael S. Rozeff, 17 Apr 2008
Presents a four-element theory of why limited representative government fails, prefaced by numerous examples of how the American version of it has failed
Hobbes conceived that we could not achieve cooperation without a State to keep us all in awe. He was incorrect (self-contradictory) even on his own terms because the State itself is an aggregation of men in an organization ... He did not propose another State to control the behavior of those men in the first State ... The success of the State owes to many factors, one of which is the State's ability to imitate self-government. Even to distinguish government from self-government and present them as opposites in their essentials is made difficult because of the trappings of self-government that the State employs.
Why the Republicans Are Doomed, by Lew Rockwell, 21 Feb 2007
Discusses Republican behavior at both the presidential and grassroots level, arguing that they take their societal view from Hobbes
[T]he law these days is not the law written on our hearts but rather the rules as laid down by state masters. But this seemingly important point is completely lost on the Republican mind, since they believe that without the state as lawmaker, all of society ... would collapse into a muddle of chaos and darkness. This view they get from Hobbes. Not that the average buyer of Ann Coulter's books reads political philosophy. They rather accept a popular version of the fundamental anti-liberal idea: society is a wreck without Leviathan ... Liberty is fine but order, ORDER, is much more important, and order comes from the state.
The Wisdom of LeFevre, by Lew Rockwell, The Free Market, Jul 2001
Discusses various aspects of LeFevre's thoughts, e.g., the distinction between true and artificial government, patriotism, and includes excerpts from a draft new Declaration of Independence
[LeFevre] liked to distinguish between its true and artificial forms. True government is made up of the customs (habits, manners, folkways) and institutions (family, workplace, church) that regulate our daily life. Artificial government (the state) is the institution that steals our property, restricts our freedom, and endangers our lives in the name of protecting us. He saw his main role as a teacher as dislodging the false conscientiousness that keeps so many from seeing artificial government as a parasite. Whether the form is democratic or autocratic, the state adds nothing to the development of civilization but rather hinders it.
Without the State, No Troops to Support, by Jeremy Weiland, 6 Mar 2007
Comments on the critics of the 2003 Iraq invasion who qualify their opposition by saying they still "support the troops"
Without exception, each and every participant in this endless debate has supported the authority of the State ... Faithful adherents to the State, hawks and doves alike, appeal to the same sacrificial and mystical arguments as those who peddled the war originally ... Critics of the war are obligated to speak in terms that reinforce the abstract dogma of the State—otherwise, why would they seek office? ... The reality is that people are wrongly dying because of the State, people have always wrongly died to preserve the State, and they will continue to die until we, the people, start saying "no".
Related Topics: Militarism, War


Curing the Therapeutic State: Thomas Szasz interviewed by Jacob Sullum, by Thomas Szasz, Jacob Sullum, Reason, Jul 2000
Subjects discussed include involuntary commitment, the insanity defense, ADHD, government drug policies and physician-assisted suicide
Szasz: ... First of all, if there were no drug laws, then they wouldn't need doctors to give suicidal people drugs to commit suicide with ... Second, people seem oblivious to the fact that doctors—psychiatrists—are given the job both of preventing suicide and of providing suicide. To me these are symptoms of the galloping therapeutic state, where increasingly we are giving away our existential choices and responsibilities to doctors—and therefore to the state, because they're really not talking about doctors as healers; they're talking about doctors as agents of the state.
Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?, by Lew Rockwell, Kenny Johnsson, 25 May 2007
Interview by Kenny Johnsson for the short-lived "The Liberal Post" blog; topics discussed include libertarianism, statism, war, elections, taxes, anarchism and the U.S. Constitution
Rockwell: To be anti-state is to hold the intellectual position that there is nothing that society needs that the state can do better than the market ... So in some ways, to say anti-war, anti-state, and pro-market is to propose redundancies of the same idea ... The number one, central, ubiquitous problem of our time and all time is the state. Whenever a criminal band manages to bamboozle the public that it alone should be granted the legal right to aggress on others, there is a problem that needs to be uprooted. The struggle for freedom is precisely this and no other.
Faculty Spotlight Interview: Jeff Riggenbach, by Jeff Riggenbach, 18 Mar 2010
Topics discussed include Austrian economics, the Mises Institute, the people who inspired Riggenbach, alternate career paths, hobbies, his book Why American History is Not What They Say and revisionist history
How important do you think revisionist history is in terms of progressing libertarian theory?
Murray Rothbard addressed this ... "... [T]he State has always been the major aggressor ... [Many] libertarians see no need to concern themselves ... If all States are evil, why worry about the details?" The problem with this view, as [he] saw it, was that "theory is not enough in dealing with the concrete world of reality. If all States are evil, some are more evil than others, some particular States have engaged in enormously more aggression, both internally against their subjects, and externally against the citizens of other States ..."
Mutualism: An interview with Kevin Carson, by Kevin Carson, 3 Nov 2009
Topic discussed include: mutualism in theory and practice, worker cooperatives and credit unions, small-scale manufacturing, Henry George, worker-managed firms, Lockean land ownership concepts, labor theory of value and political coalitions
Politically, where do you think mutualists should align themselves ...?
I think by far the most important, and the most interest, of our tasks is actually building the kind of society we want, and doing so so far as possible without regard to the state. But there's something to be said for putting external pressure on the state, and participating in political coalitions to remove as much state interference with our activities as possible. Of course the primary emphasis of such coalition-building should be forming pressure groups, rather than attempting to become part of a governing coalition.
Radical Economics: An Interview with Walter Block, by Walter Block, Austrian Economics Newsletter, 1999
Discusses topics such as the effect of Rothbard's death, Block's own intellectual development, the legality of blackmail and barriers to Austrians in academia
Block: Consider public finance ... [E]very textbook includes a "proof" that the state is necessary; the question is only how it ought to be financed. But this is a value judgment. The authors have the view that the benefits of coercing outweigh the costs, as determined by some arbitrary measure. Or else they believe that voting covers up a myriad of state aggressions against person and property ... All these texts assume that the state is a productive agent ... For government, though, the GDP counts what it costs to make, whether or not there is a market for what they produce.
Rockwell on Libertarianism, by Lew Rockwell, Jedrzej Kuskowski, 20 Apr 2007
Interview for the Polish libertarian website Liberalis; topics discussed include libertarianism, the Internet, movement leaders, the State, Ron Paul, the Libertarian Party, left-libertarians, Milton Friedman, immigration and Poland
ROCKWELL: Government is always and everywhere a rich man's business. The poor have never played a role in the administration of the State, except insofar as they are used by elites as a cover. In fact, the emergence of the State itself grows out of the successful cartelization of one sector of elites against all its competitors. So of course these same elites rule on behalf of themselves ...
[T]here is a special premium that the State pays to libertarians who sell out. The State wants nothing more than to be seen as promoting liberty, so when libertarians assist in providing that cover, the State is pleased to oblige.


A Viper Lived in Johnny's House, or A Child's First Verse in Political Philosophy, by Robert Higgs, 9 Oct 2006
An allegorical poem about vipers that people keep in their houses
"Listen, boy, it's not wise to wonder.
From the earliest days of mankind,
everyone's had a viper or another
sort of snake: people say they're divine."
At home, they surrendered a great deal
of their food for the snake to consume. ...

Mother fancied the snake had brought them
prosperity and good fortune; ...

Father deemed that the snake kept away
even worse snakes from down the river ...

But for Johnny, all excuses fell flat,
and he dreamed of the day he would slay
the disgusting, menacing serpent that
distressed him by night and by day.


Anarchy, State and Utopia
    by Robert Nozick, 1974
Partial contents: Why State-of-Nature Theory? - The State of Nature - Moral Constraints and the State - Prohibition, Compensation, and Risk - The State - Distributive Justice - Equality, Envy, Exploitation, Etc. - Demoktesis - A Framework for Utopia
Related Topic: Anarchism
Bargaining With the State
    by Richard Epstein, 1993
Partial contents: Theoretical Foundations: The Problem of Coercion - Government Relations Within a Federal System - Economic Liberties and Property Rights - Positivie Rights in the Welfare State
Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen
    by James Bovard, 1999
Partial contents: The Great Pretending: The State, Ideal & Real - The Mirage of Welfare State Freedom - Cagekeepers and Caretakers: Modern Democracy - The Moral Glorification of Leviathan - Sovereignty & Political Slavery
Interventionism: An Economic Analysis
    by Ludwig von Mises, 1940
Partial contents: Capitalism or Market Economy - The Socialist Economy - Interference by Restriction - Interference by Price Control - Inflation and Credit Expansion - Confiscation and Subsidies - Corporativism and Syndicalism - War Economy
The Man Versus The State, by Herbert Spencer, 1884
Contents: The New Toryism - The Coming Slavery - The Sins of Legislators - The Great Political Superstition; electronic version of the 1992 Liberty Fund edition available at the Library of Economics and Liberty
Related Topic: The Man Versus the State
Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children
    by David Harsanyi, 2007
Contents: Tyranny of the Busybody - Twinkie Fascists - Days of Whine - The Smokists - Yahweh (or the Highway) - Playground Despots - Mission Creep - How We Pay
Our Enemy, the State, by Albert Jay Nock, 1935
Table of contents (from the Hallberg edition): Social Power vs. State Power - The Origins of State and Class - The State in Colonial America - Land Monopoly and American Independence - Politics and Other Fetiches - The State and the Remnant
The State Against Blacks
    by Walter E. Williams, 1982
Partial contents: Discrimination Axioms and Discrimination Facts - Racial Terminology and Confusion - Minimum Wage, Maximum Folly - Occupational and Business Licensing - The Taxicab Industry - Economic Regulation by the States
The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically, by Franz Oppenheimer, 1908
Contents: Theories of the State - The Genesis of the State - The Primitive Feudal State - The Maritime State - The Development of the Feudal State - The Development of the Constitutional State - The Tendency of the Development of the State
Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State
    by Ron Paul (foreword), Sheldon Richman, The Future of Freedom Foundation, 2001
Partial table of contents: What the Welfare State Really Is - Didn't We Vote For it? - How It Started - The Idea of the Welfare State in America - What About the Poor? - Time to Abolish the Welfare State


Military Times: Obama—contractors in security-force, by Barack Obama
Senator Obama interviewed by editorial board of the Military Times magazine (now Military History Matters), discussing the use of private military contractors like Blackwater
I am troubled by the use of private contractors when it comes to potential armed engagement ... If ... you start making decisions about armed engament based on the availability of private contractors to fill holes and gaps, that over time you are, I believe, eroding the core of our military's relationship to the nation and how accountability is structured. I think you're privatizing, something that is, what essentially sets a nation-state apart, which is the monopoly on violence ...
The Sunset of the State, by Stefan Molyneux, 4 Aug 2010
Our statist system has become so ridiculously complicated because it has ... a fundamental error right down at the root of it ... the belief that violence is the best way to solve complex social problems; the delusion that if you point enough guns at enough people, run up enough debt ..., kidnap and enslave enough free souls, that the world will just get better and better and better.
Related Topic: Non-aggression principle


The Scam Called the State, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Lew Rockwell, The Lew Rockwell Show, 30 Jul 2008
Rockwell asks Hans-Hermann Hoppe to explain why we allow the State to exist and whether there is any hope in opposing it