Murray Rothbard

by | Jan 24, 2019

I was asked to record a thing about Murray N. Rothbard for a friend, so here’s what I wrote to record for him:

Before I read Murray Rothbard, I thought all libertarians were minarchists and constitutionalists. Say what? No need for a monopoly on national defense or criminal justice either? Great.

Plus he told me what I already think: Nothing is a greater determinate of our freedom here in America than our government’s foreign policy around the world.

As Rothbard put it in War, Peace and the State, anti-imperialism is the key to the whole libertarian business.

My favorite Rothbard essay is Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty, from 1965, wherein Rothbard says libertarianism is the epitome of leftist radicalism and that progressivism, socialism and communism are right wing conservative deviations from the true wave of the future: individualism and property rights. The metaphor isn’t perfect — communism is even more statist than fascism after all — but there can be great wisdom gained from this essay for lefties, rightwingers, libertarians and anyone else interested in political theory.

To these you could add Wall St., Banks and American Foreign Policy, Our Anti-Imperialist Heritage, World War I as Fulfillment and War Guilt in the Middle East.

I’ve never had the time or ambition to read all of Man, Economy and State, but the most important part to me is covered in The Case Against the Fed and What Has Government Done to Our Money?: government, through its central bank, causes the inflationary boom-bust, so-called business cycle which destabilizes the entire economy every decade or dozen years or so, destroying the lives of millions of people and causing the what’s left of the free market to take the blame.

One day, when I’m an old man, I plan to site down and finish his history of early America, Conceived in Liberty, which I’m just a few hundred pages into but is great so far.

Be Rothbardian. Be anarchist. Be political. Fight the empire.

About Scott Horton

Scott Horton is director of the Libertarian Institute, editorial director of Antiwar.com, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He's the author of the 2021 book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, the 2017 book, Fool's Errand:Time to End the War in Afghanistan , editor of the 2019 book The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019 and the 2022 book Hotter Than The Sun: Time to Abolish Nuclear Arms. He’s conducted more than 5,700 interviews since 2003. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Larisa Alexandrovna Horton.

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