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Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard, a scholar of extraordinary range, made major contributions to economics, history, political philosophy, and legal theory. He developed and extended the Austrian economics of Ludwig von Mises, in whose seminar he was a main participant for many years. He established himself as the principal Austrian theorist in the latter half of the twentieth century and applied Austrian analysis to historical topics such as the Great Depression of 1929 and the history of American banking.

Articles by Murray N. Rothbard

Introduction to Natural Law

6 days ago

This article is excerpted from the first 5 chapters of The Ethics of Liberty. Audio versions of these chapters, read by Jeff Riggenbach, are available for download. 1. Natural Law and Reason (Listen to MP3) Among intellectuals who consider themselves “scientific,” the phrase “the nature of man” is apt to have the effect of a red …

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The Interest Rate Question

20 days ago

The Free Market 6, no. 2 (February 1988) The Marxists call it “impressionism”: taking social or economic trends of the last few weeks or months and assuming that they will last forever. The problem is not realizing that there are underlying economic laws at work. Impressionism has always been rampant; and never more so than …

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Marx and Alienation

29 days ago

“Alienation,” to Marx, bears no relation to the fashionable prattle of late-20th-century Marxoid intellectuals. It did not mean a psychological feeling, of anxiety or estrangement, which could somehow be blamed on capitalism, or on cultural or sexual “repression.” Alienation, for Marx, was far more fundamental, more cosmic. It meant, at the very least, as we …

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A Libertarian Theory of War

October 30, 2021

The libertarian movement has been chided by William F. Buckley, Jr., for failing to use its “strategic intelligence” in facing the major problems of our time. We have, indeed, been too often prone to “pursue our busy little seminars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage collectors” (as Buckley has contemptuously written), while ignoring …

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History of Science: Whiggism Gone Wild

October 18, 2021

Excerpted from an edited transcript of “Ideology and Theories of History,” the first in a series of six lectures, given in 1986, on the history of economic thought. The Whig theory of the history of science is very similar, of course, to the Whig theory of the history itself. The Whig theory of history of …

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The Afghan Scam

October 7, 2021

[Column written by Murray Rothbard for the New Libertarian 4, no. 7 (April-June 1980): 13–15.] The Iran/Afghanistan crises have been a god-send to Jimmy Carter. From being lowest in the polls of any President in American history, Carter has vaulted to a probably shoo-in for reelection. Iran helped; but it was the Soviet invasion of …

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How the “Respectable” Media Serves the Political Elite

September 30, 2021

[Editor’s note: Two interviews from August 1992 given by Murray Rothbard to the Swedish student publication Svensk Linje (continuously published since 1942) were recently discovered in the Rothbard Archives and translated by Sven Thommesen for the first time. In this interview, Rothbard offers his thoughts on the 1992 election and the role of the “respectable” media in promoting …

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Monetary Competition: The Best Alternative to Razing Central Banks to the Ground

September 28, 2021

[Editor’s note: Two interviews from August 1992, given by Murray Rothbard to the Swedish student publication Svensk Linje (continuously published since 1942) were recently discovered in the Rothbard Archives and translated by Sven Thommesen for the first time. In this interview, Anton Wahlman, an economist from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, interviewed Rothbard about Sweden and European integration …

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The 1787 Constitution Was a Radical Assault on the Spirit of the Revolution

September 28, 2021

It was a bloodless coup d’état against an unresisting Confederation Congress. The original structure of the new Constitution was now complete. The Federalists, by use of propaganda, chicanery, fraud, malapportionment of delegates, blackmail threats of secession, and even coercive laws, had managed to sustain enough delegates to defy the wishes of the majority of the American people …

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Why the Federalists Hated the Bill of Rights

September 20, 2021

The Constitution had been ratified and was going into effect, and the next great question before the country was the spate of amendments which the Federalists had reluctantly agreed to recommend at the state conventions. Would they, as Madison and the other Federalists wanted, be quietly forgotten? The Antifederalists, particularly in Virginia and New York, …

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The Water “Shortage”

September 10, 2021

As everyone knows, the West, and especially northern California, has been suffering from a year-long drought, leading numerous statists and busybodies to leap in to control, ration, and ordain. The water “shortage” may not be exactly blamed on the private sector, but it is there, supposedly, and surely government must leap in to combat it—not, …

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The Old Right on War and Peace

August 9, 2021

As the force of the New Deal reached its heights, both foreign and domestic, during World War II, a beleaguered and tiny libertarian opposition began to emerge and to formulate its total critique of prevailing trends in America. Unfortunately, the Left, almost totally committed to the cause of World War II as well as to …

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How the Federalists Bullied Rhode Island into Joining the United States

August 3, 2021

Doughty, courageous little Rhode Island was the last state left. It is generally assumed that—even by the most staunchly Antifederalist historians—Rhode Island could not conceivably have gone it alone as a separate nation. But such views are the consequence of a mystique of political frontiers, in which it is assumed that a mere change in political frontiers …

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1789: The Electoral College Meets for the First Time

July 29, 2021

With all but two relatively obscure states—Rhode Island and North Carolina—having ratified the Constitution, the Confederation Congress was now ready to put the new federal government in place. As soon as New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, Congress dutifully created a committee to get the new Constitution up and running. Only the doughty …

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Ratification: The Struggle for Massachusetts

July 12, 2021

As the epochal struggle for Massachusetts began, it was clear that the majority of the people of the state opposed the Constitution. Furthermore, in contrast to Pennsylvania where the Federalists had the important advantage of recently acquired control of the state government, the story in Massachusetts was almost the reverse. For in 1787, in reaction to the harsh measures taken to suppress Shays’ Rebellion, the people had swept the ultra-conservative Governor James Bowdoin out of office and reelected the highly popular John Hancock. Hancock, a dedicated opportunist who might be described as slightly left of center, certainly gave no comfort to the Federalist cause. It was clear that the Federalists would need every item in their large bag of tricks

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Ratification: The Struggle For Massachusetts

July 10, 2021

As the epochal struggle for Massachusetts began, it was clear that the majority of the people of the state opposed the Constitution. Furthermore, in contrast to Pennsylvania where the Federalists had the important advantage of recently acquired control of the state government, the story in Massachusetts was almost the reverse. For in 1787, in reaction …

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The American Revolution and Classical Liberalism

July 3, 2021

The libertarian creed emerged from the “classical liberal” movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Western world, specifically, from the English Revolution of the seventeenth century. This radical libertarian movement, even though only partially successful in its birthplace, Great Britain, was still able to usher in the Industrial Revolution there by freeing industry …

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Privatize the Police

June 25, 2021

Abolition of the public sector means, of course, that all pieces of land, all land areas, including streets and roads, would be owned privately, by individuals, corporations, cooperatives, or any other voluntary groupings of individuals and capital. The fact that all streets and land areas would be private would by itself solve many of the seemingly insoluble …

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The Ratification Debate: A Standing Army vs. the Militia

June 21, 2021

[This passage is excerpted from Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.] 
One of the most important aspects of the proposed Constitution was its authorization for a permanent national standing army, a striking contrast to the simple reserve constituting the state militia. The standing army was a particular objection of the Antifederalists, who, in the liberal antimilitary tradition, believed such an army to be inimical to the liberty of the American people. In contrast, the ex-Continental Army officers, particularly the higher officers, yearned for the power, the pelf, and the prestige that would come to them once again, and this time permanently, should there be a standing army. The

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The Ratification Debate: A Standing Army vs. the Militias

June 19, 2021

[This passage is excerpted from Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.]  One of the most important aspects of the proposed Constitution was its authorization for a permanent national standing army, a striking contrast to the simple reserve constituting the state militia. The standing army was a particular objection of the Antifederalists, …

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How the Federalists Stacked the Deck to Win Ratification

June 9, 2021

[This passage is excerpted from Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.] The Federalists shrewdly decided to strike hard and swift and drive the Constitution rapidly through the states. The Federalist leaders were a small and cohesive group concentrated in the cities of the eastern seaboard, knew each other, were often tied …

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How the Constitutional Convention Vastly Expanded the Powers of the President

May 25, 2021

All the articles of the draft plan having been considered by the convention, the amended draft was referred on August 31 to a grand Committee of Unfinished Parts. In the committee, the nationalists, not content with their plethora of victories, launched several important offensive strikes and secured crucial victories. It was confirmed that the Senate …

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Tobacco Smokers: America’s Most Persecuted Minority

May 12, 2021

If today they come for the smoker, tomorrow they will come for you. Neo-Prohibitionism has been long on the march. Original Article: “Tobacco Smokers: America’s Most Persecuted Minority​​” This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael Stack.  

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The Corrupt Bargain and the Preservation of Slavery

May 10, 2021

[Chapter 19 of Rothbard’s newly edited and released Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.] The most important battle of the August days of the Constitutional Convention was waged, as had been the battle over the three-fifths clause, between the North and South and had at its heart the institution of slavery. One of the small …

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Tobacco Smokers: America’s Most Persecuted Minority

April 29, 2021

[Editor’s Note: following reports that the Biden administration is planning to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigarettes, the following is an article by Murray Rothbard written in August 1994.] Quick: Which is America’s Most Persecuted Minority? No, you’re wrong. (And it’s not Big Business either: one of Ayn Rand’s more ludicrous pronouncements.) All right, consider this: …

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The Debate over the Scope of National Power

April 27, 2021

[Chapter 15 of Rothbard’s newly edited and released Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.] At the end of May [of 1787], the convention approved with little debate the severely national power granted to Congress, including the absolute power to act when it deemed the states to be “incompetent” and to veto all state laws it …

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Elections in the Bicameral Congress

April 20, 2021

[Chapter 14 of Rothbard’s newly edited and released Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.] The nationalists who went into the convention agreed on certain broad objectives, crucial for a new government, all designed to remodel the United States into a country with the British political structure. They had the ultimate advantage of any group that …

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America’s “Great Men” and the Constitutional Convention

April 14, 2021

[Chapter 13 of Rothbard’s newly edited and released Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.] From the very beginning of the great emerging struggle over the Constitution the Antifederalist forces suffered from a grave and debilitating problem of leadership. The problem was that the liberal leadership was so conservatized that most of them agreed that centralizing …

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The Annapolis Convention: The Beginning of the Counterrevolution

April 7, 2021

[Chapter 12 of Rothbard’s newly edited and released Conceived in Liberty, vol. 5, The New Republic: 1784–1791.] By 1787, the nationalist forces were in a far stronger position than during the Revolutionary War to make their dreams of central power come true. Now, in addition to the reactionary ideologues and financial oligarchs, public creditors, and disgruntled ex-army officers, …

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