Murray Rothbard was known as the state’s greatest living enemy, and this is his most succinct and powerful statement on the topic, an exhibit A in how he came to wear that designation proudly. He explains what a state is and what it is not, according to his own ideological vision. He shows how it is one institution that purports to hold the right to violate all that we otherwise hold as honest and moral, and how it operates under a false cover now and always. He shows how the state wrecks freedom, destroys civilization, and threatens all lives and property and social well-being.
The essay is seminal in another respect. Here Rothbard had bound together the cause of private-property capitalism with anarchist politics — and he was truly the first thinker in the history of the world to fully forge the perspective that later came to be known as anarcho-capitalism. He took all that he had learned from the Misesian tradition and the liberal tradition and the anarchist tradition to put together what is really a new and highly systematic way of thinking about the entire subject of political economy and social thought.
Understanding his point of view has an interesting effect on any reader. It has the effect of putting things together in a way that changes the way we see the world.
And he explains all of this in a very short space, and in this very beautiful book. This is the first time that this essay has been published separately, and it is done in order that the book can be ordered in large quantities and distributed to all interested people.
60 page, paperback, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-933550-48-0
This article first appeared on Mises.org.