Stromberg on Murray Rothbard, foreign policy, peace, and war


I read this article by Joseph Stromberg on ages ago and just found the printout… still a couple of points I find interesting:

An especially important essay is Rothbard’s “The Anatomy of the State,”1 first published in 1965. Rejecting the state as a genial philanthropic enterprise, Rothbard followed Franz Oppenheimer, who, building on the classical liberal insight into politics-as-plunder, held that there are only two paths to wealth. These are the “economic means” (production and trade) and the “political means” (seizure of wealth created by others). Oppenheimer accordingly defined the state as “the organization of the political means to wealth.”

In this scheme, production was “logically prior” to plunder. Sociologists would really hate that formulation, but then sociology has never come to grips with the most elementary of economic insights, namely the distinction between voluntary and coerced exchange. It followed, for Rothbard, that if production was logically prior, 1) states had not always existed, but had come into being at specific times and places, and 2) states, living by plundering actual producers, were inherently anti-capitalist. The search for a radically anti-Marxist worldview need go no further.

The inherent “anti-capitalism” of the state did not blind Rothbard to the fact that at any given time somecapitalists will be found in happy symbiotic alliance with the state. The state – the actual personnel making up the state apparatus – makes up a very small portion of the population found within its bounds and needs allies and friends. These allies and friends profit from state market-rigging in their favor….”

In his magnum opus, Man, Economy and State, Rothbard wrote that “in all countries the State has made certain that it owns and monopolizes the vital nerve centers, the command posts of the society.”5 Such “command posts” include defense (territorial monopoly or near-monopoly of the legitimized use of violence), communications, “education,” the monetary system (central banking), ultimate say over land-use and ownership, control of rivers and coasts, and the post office….

Control of education and communication was central to the state’s peaceful existence, and here we find the relationship between states and intellectuals – a problem much larger, unfortunately, than a few art-phonies demanding state subsidies for their bad paintings. States everywhere have understood the need to “keep” intellectuals to spread the word of the state’s good intentions, nobility, supremacy, necessity, and so on. In the past, priesthoods sometimes filled this role. With the rise of state-monopoly school systems matters grew much worse.”

Joseph R. Stromberg The Old Cause: Murray N. Rothbard on States, War, and Peace: Part II, June 20, 2000, 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s