On the Absurdity of The State

Murray Rothbard

Let us assume... that a sizeable number of people suddenly arrive on Earth, and that they must now consider what sort of social arrangements to live under. One person or group of persons argues as follows (i.e., the typical argument for the State): “If each of us is allowed to remain free in all aspects, and particularly if each of us is allowed to retain weapons and the right of self-defense, then we will all war against each other, and society will be wrecked. Therefore, let us turn over all of our guns and all of our ultimate decision-making power and power to define and enforce our rights to the Jones family over there. The Jones family will guard us from our predatory instincts, keep social peace, and enforce justice.” Is it conceivable that anyone (except perhaps the Jones family itself) would spend one moment considering this clearly absurd scheme? The cry of “who would guard us from the Jones family, especially when we are deprived of our weapons?” would suffice to shout down such a scheme. And yet, given the acquisition of legitimacy from the fact of longevity given the longtime rule of the “Jones family” this is precisely the type of argument to which [supporters of the State] now blindly adhere.1


Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Assume a group of people, aware of the possibility of conflicts between them. Someone then proposes, as a solution to this human problem, that he (or someone) be made the ultimate arbiter in any such case of conflict, including those conflicts in which he is involved. Is this is a deal that you would accept? I am confident that he will be considered either a joker or mentally unstable. Yet this is precisely what all statists propose.2


1. Rothbard, Murray N. "The Inner Contradictions of the State." The Ethics of Liberty. New York: New York Universtiy, 1998. 175. Print.
2. Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. "The Role of Intellectuals and Anti-Intellectual Intellectuals." The Great Fiction. Baltimore: Laissez Faire Books, 2012. 35. Print.


AngryCitizen's picture


I don't think the founding fathers went too far wrong in setting up self-rule. But clearly, we have structural problems that need attention. The trick is, does the next generation have enough history and smarts to adequately address the issues, or have they been damaged beyond repair by government education?

Nick Elway's picture

One of Puck's best..thanks

Along these lines I believe that the Supreme Court (part of the federal government) should never have been allowed to assume the "we'll decide what is constitutional" role.   I would welcome suggestions of what should replace the supreme court in this role.  (a jury chosen from citizen voters at random for a term of six months, paid enough to be bribe-resistant?  Their role is only answering "Is this constitutional?" ) 

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. (All quotes excerpted from The Real Thomas Jefferson , pp. 574-578)

More at http://www.nccs.net/2008-04-the-constitution-its-only-keepers-the-people.php

It appears to me letting the government provide public education and train the students to be state-loving is where the statists got the upper hand.

Nick Elway's picture

Ethics of Liberty 23. The Inner Contradictions of the State

Murray Rothbard's "Ethics of Liberty" Chapter 23


A wonderful 24 minute audio ..I take it as the government must obey ALL its own laws OR ELSE the statism-creep we are witnessing is inevitable even with the Constitution's wonderful attempt to define a limited government.

I'm leaning toward the "Governments inevitably grow until they collapse" hypothesis.

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