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Masters of Austrian Economics #5: Murray N. Rothbard

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Murray Rothbard: Bibliography

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Rothbard accepted the Labor theory of property, but rejected the Lockean proviso, arguing that if an individual mixes his labor with unowned land then he becomes the proper owner eternally, and that after that time it is private property which may change hands only by trade or gift. Rothbard was a strong critic of egalitarianism. The title essay of Rothbard's book Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays held, "Equality is not in the natural order of things, and the crusade to make everyone equal in every respect except before the law is certain to have disastrous consequences.

Commenting on Rothbard's ideas, Noam Chomsky says that they are "not worth talking about" and "not really serious". Various theorists have espoused legal philosophies similar to "anarcho-capitalism. According to Llewellyn Rockwell, Rothbard is the "conscience" of all the various strains of libertarian anarchism, whose contemporary advocates are former "colleagues" of Rothbard personally inspired by his example.

During his years at graduate school in the late s, Murray Rothbard considered whether a strict laissez-faire policy would require that private police agencies replace government protective services.

Murray N. Rothbard and the Ethics of Liberty

He visited Baldy Harper, a founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, who doubted the need for any government whatsoever. During this period, Rothbard was influenced by nineteenth-century American individualist anarchists, like Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker, and the Belgian economist Gustave de Molinari who wrote about how such a system could work.

In an unpublished memo written around Rothbard concluded that in order to believe in laissez-faire one must also embrace anarchism. Rothbard began to consider himself a private property anarchist in and later began to use "anarcho-capitalist" to describe his political ideology. In his anarcho-capitalist model, a system of protection agencies compete in a free market and are voluntarily supported by consumers who choose to use their protective and judicial services. Anarcho-capitalism would mean the end of the state monopoly on force. In Man, Economy, and State , Rothbard divides the various kinds of state intervention in three categories: "autistic intervention", which is interference with private non-economic activities; "binary intervention", which is forced exchange between individuals and the state; and "triangular intervention", which is state-mandated exchange between individuals.

According to Sanford Ikeda, Rothbard's typology "eliminates the gaps and inconsistencies that appear in Mises's original formulation. Rothbard argues that self-interest therefore prejudices the views of many economists in favor of increased government intervention. Michael O'Malley, Associate Professor of History at George Mason University, characterizes Rothbard's "overall tone regard[ing]" the Civil Rights Movement and the women's suffrage movement to be "contemptuous and hostile". Rothbard vilified women's rights activists, attributing the growth of the welfare state to politically active spinsters "whose busybody inclinations were not fettered by the responsibilities of health and heart".

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Rothbard had pointed out in his 'Origins of the Welfare State' that progressives had evolved from elitist Gilded Age pietist Protestants that wanted to bring a secularized version of millennialism under a welfare state, which was spearheaded by a "shock troop of Yankee protestant and Jewish women and lesbian spinsters. Rothbard called for the elimination of "the entire 'civil rights' structure" stating that it "tramples on the property rights of every American.

Board of Education decision on the grounds that forced integration of schools was aggressive. Rothbard also urged the police to crack down on "street criminals", writing that "cops must be unleashed" and "allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error". He also advocated that the police "clear the streets of bums and vagrants", and quipped "who cares? Rothbard held strong opinions about many leaders of the civil rights movement. He considered black separatist Malcolm X to be a "great black leader" and integrationist Martin Luther King to be favored by whites because he "was the major restraining force on the developing Negro revolution.

But while he compared Malcolm X's black nationalism favorably to King's integrationism, and for a time praised black nationalism, in he rejected the vision of a "separate black nation", asking "does anyone really believe that New Africa would be content to strike out on its own, with no massive "foreign aid" from the U.


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  7. Political scientist Jean Hardisty commented on Rothbard's "praise" of the argument, made in Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's book The Bell Curve , that blacks tend to score, on average, lower than whites on IQ tests. Like Randolph Bourne, Rothbard believed that "war is the health of the state. Rothbard believed that stopping new wars was necessary and that knowledge of how government had led citizens into earlier wars was important.

    In an obituary for his friend historical revisionist Harry Elmer Barnes, Rothbard wrote:. Our entry into World War II was the crucial act in foisting a permanent militarization upon the economy and society, in bringing to the country a permanent garrison state, an overweening military-industrial complex, a permanent system of conscription. It was the crucial act in creating a mixed economy run by Big Government, a system of state monopoly capitalism run by the central government in collaboration with Big Business and Big Unionism. Rothbard's colleague Joseph Stromberg notes that Rothbard made two exceptions to his general condemnation of war: "the American Revolution and the War for Southern Independence, as viewed from the Confederate side.

    He celebrated Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Grant and other Union leaders for "open[ing] the Pandora's Box of genocide and the extermination of civilians" in their war against the South. He was anti-Zionist and opposed U. Rothbard criticized the Camp David Accords for having betrayed Palestinian aspirations and opposed Israel's invasion of Lebanon. In his essay, "War Guilt in the Middle East," Rothbard states that Israel refused "to let these refugees return and reclaim the property taken from them.

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    On the one hand there are the Palestinian Arabs, who have tilled the soil or otherwise used the land of Palestine for centuries; and on the other, there are a group of external fanatics, who come from all over the world, and who claim the entire land area as "given" to them as a collective religion or tribe at some remote or legendary time in the past. There is no way the two claims can be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.

    There can be no genuine settlement, no "peace" in the face of this irrepressible conflict; there can only be either a war to the death, or an uneasy practical compromise which can satisfy no one. That is the harsh reality of the Middle East. Rothbard embraced "historical revisionism" as an antidote to what he perceived to be the dominant influence exerted by corrupt "court intellectuals" over mainstream historical narratives.

    Rothbard characterized the revisionist task as "penetrating the fog of lies and deception of the State and its Court Intellectuals, and to present to the public the true history". He was influenced by and a champion of the historian Harry Elmer Barnes, a Holocaust denier. In addition to broadly supporting his historical views, Rothbard promoted Barnes as an influence for future revisionists. Rothbard's endorsing of World War II revisionism and his association with Barnes and other Holocaust deniers have drawn criticism from within the political right.

    Kevin D. Williamson wrote an opinion piece published by National Review which condemned Rothbard for "making common cause with the 'revisionist' historians of the Third Reich", a term he used to describe American Holocaust deniers associated with Rothbard, such as James J. Martin of the Institute for Historical Review. The piece also characterized "Rothbard and his faction" as being "culpably indulgent" of Holocaust denial, the view which "specifically denies that the Holocaust actually happened or holds that it was in some way exaggerated".

    In an article for Rothbard's 50th birthday, Rothbard's friend and Buffalo State College historian Ralph Raico stated that Rothbard "is the main reason that revisionism has become a crucial part of the whole libertarian position. In the Ethics of Liberty , Rothbard explores issues regarding children's rights in terms of self-ownership and contract. These include support for a woman's right to abortion, condemnation of parents showing aggression towards children, and opposition to the state forcing parents to care for children.

    He also holds children have the right to run away from parents and seek new guardians as soon as they are able to choose to do so. He asserted that parents have the right to put a child out for adoption or sell the rights to the child in a voluntary contract in what Rothbard suggests will be a "flourishing free market in children".

    He believes that selling children as consumer goods in accord with market forces, while "superficially monstrous", will benefit "everyone" involved in the market: "the natural parents, the children, and the foster parents purchasing". In Rothbard's view of parenthood, "the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. However, according to Rothbard, "the purely free society will have a flourishing free market in children".

    In a fully libertarian society, he wrote, "the existence of a free baby market will bring such 'neglect' down to a minimum". Economist Gene Callahan of Cardiff University, formerly a scholar at the Rothbard-affiliated Mises Institute, observes that Rothbard allows "the logical elegance of his legal theory" to "trump any arguments based on the moral reprehensibility of a parent idly watching her six-month-old child slowly starve to death in its crib.

    Rothbard consistently advocated for abolition of the subpoena power, court attendance, contempt of court powers, coerced testimony of witnesses, compulsory jury duty, and the bail system, arguing that all these functions of the judiciary were violations of natural rights and American common law.