Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard

Murray Rothbard was born March 2, 1926, the son of David and Rae Rothbard. He was a brilliant student even as a young child; and his academic record at Columbia University, where he majored in mathematics and economics, was stellar. In the Columbia economics department, Rothbard did not receive any instruction in Austrian economics, and Mises was no more than a name to him. In a course on price theory given by George Stigler, however, he encountered arguments against such then popular measures as price and rent control. These arguments greatly appealed to him; and he wrote to the publisher of a pamphlet that Stigler and Milton Friedman had written on rent control.

Articles by Murray N. Rothbard

The Nationalities Question

[This article was published in in The Irrepressible Rothbard, available in the Mises Store.]
Upon the collapse of centralizing totalitarian Communism in Eastern Europe and even the Soviet Union, long suppressed ethnic and nationality questions and conflicts have come rapidly to the fore. The crack-up of central control has revealed the hidden but still vibrant "deep structures" of ethnicity and nationality.
To those of us who glory in ethnic diversity and yearn for national justice, all this is a wondrous development of what has previously lived only in fantasy or longing: it is a chance in Europe at long last, to begin to reverse the monstrous twin injustices of Sarajevo and Versailles. It is like being back in 1914 or 1919 again, with a chance for the map of Europe and near Asia to be

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Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973)

One of the most notable economists and social philosophers of the twentieth century, Ludwig von Mises, in the course of a long and highly productive life, developed an integrated, deductive science of economics based on the fundamental axiom that individual human beings act purposively to achieve desired goals.

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Trading with the Enemy: An American Tradition

During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Americans continued the great tradition of trading with the enemy, and even more readily than before. As in King George’s War, Newport took the lead; other vital centers were New York and Philadelphia.

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The New Deal and the Emergence of the Old Right

During the 1920s, the emerging individualists and libertarians — the Menckens, the Nocks, the Villards, and their followers — were generally considered Men of the Left; like the Left generally, they bitterly opposed the emergence of Big Government in twentieth-century America, a government allied with Big Business in a network of special privilege, a government dictating the personal drinking habits of the citizenry and repressing civil liberties, a government that had enlisted as a junior partner to British imperialism to push around nations across the globe.

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Rothbard: With Interest Rates, “There Are Two, Opposite Causal Chains at Work.”

Editor’s Note: Interest rates and inflation are certainly connected to efforts on the parts of central banks to loosen and tighten the money supply. These relationships, however, are much more complex than many people suppose. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, with constant talk about what the Fed will do next, expectations are an important factor in how markets respond to central bank actions.

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

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 and create a new Constitution.

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Why the Federalists Hated the Bill of Rights

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?

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The Old Right on War and Peace

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.

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America’s “Great Men” and the Constitutional Convention

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 revisions of the Articles were necessary—as can be seen from the impost and congressional regulation of commerce debates during the 1780s.

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The Annapolis Convention: The Beginning of the Counterrevolution

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, other groups, some recruited by the depression of the mid-1780s, were ready to be mobilized into an ultra-conservative constituency.

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Murray Rothbard on War and “Isolationism”

Q: Why, in your view, is isolationism an essential tenet of libertarian foreign policy? A: The libertarian position, generally, is to minimize state power as much as possible, down to zero, and isolationism is the full expression in foreign affairs of the domestic objective of whittling down state power. In other words, interventionism is the opposite of isolationism, and of course it goes on up to war, as the aggrandizement of state power crosses national boundaries into other states, pushing other people around etc. So this is the foreign counterpart of the domestic aggression against the internal population. I see the two as united.

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The Drive for State and Federal Protective Tariffs in Early America

Every depression generates a clamor among many groups for special privileges at the expense of the rest of society—and the American depression that struck in 1784–1785 was no exception. If excess imports were the culprit, then voluntary economizing could help matters, and the press was filled with silly fulminations against ladies wearing imported finery.

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How the State Preserves Itself—and What the State Fears

Once a State has been established, the problem of the ruling group or “caste” is how to maintain their rule.1 While force is their modus operandi, their basic and long-run problem is ideological. For in order to continue in office, any government (not simply a “democratic” government) must have the support of the majority of its subjects.

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James Mill: Laissez-Faire’s Lenin

[An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (1995)]
James Mill (1771–1836) was surely one of the most fascinating figures in the history of economic thought. And yet he is among the most neglected. Mill was perhaps one of the first persons in modern times who might be considered a true "cadre man," someone who in the Leninist movement of the next century would have been hailed as a "real Bolshevik." Indeed, he was the Lenin of the radicals, creating and forging philosophical radical theory and the entire philosophical radical movement.
A brilliant and creative but an insistently Number 2 man, Mill began as a Lenin seeking his Marx. In fact, he simultaneously found two "Marxes," Jeremy Bentham and David Ricardo. He met both at about the same time, at the age of 35, Bentham

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Compulsory vs. Free Education

[A selection from Education: Free and Compulsory.] The Reverend George Harris described the effects of compulsory education in imposing uniformity and enforced equality (soon after the establishment of compulsion).

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The Death Wish of the Anarcho-Communists

[This article first appeared in the Libertarian Forum, January 1, 1970.]
Now that the New Left has abandoned its earlier loose, flexible non-ideological stance, two ideologies have been adopted as guiding theoretical positions by New Leftists: Marxism-Stalinism, and anarcho-communism.
Marxism-Stalinism has unfortunately conquered SDS, but anarcho-communism has attracted many leftists who are looking for a way out of the bureaucratic and statist tyranny that has marked the Stalinist road.
And many libertarians, who are looking for forms of action and for allies in such actions, have become attracted by an anarchist creed which seemingly exalts the voluntary way and calls for the abolition of the coercive State.
It is fatal, however, to abandon and lose sight of one’s own principles in the

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The Great Society: A Libertarian Critique

The Great Society is the lineal descendant and the intensification of those other pretentiously named policies of twentieth-century America: the Square Deal, the New Freedom, the New Era, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and the New Frontier. All of these assorted Deals constituted a basic and fundamental shift in American life—a shift from a relatively laissez-faire economy and minimal state to a society in which the state is unquestionably king.

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What Is Entrepreneurship?

We shall concentrate on the capitalist-entrepreneurs, economically the more important type of entrepreneur. These are the men who invest in “capital” (land and/or capital goods) used in the productive process….

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The Fight for Liberty and the Beltway Barbarians

In the conservative and libertarian movements there have been two major forms of surrender, of abandonment of the cause. The most common and most glaringly obvious form is one we are all too familiar with: the sellout. The young libertarian or conservative arrives in Washington, at some think-tank or in Congress or as an administrative aide, ready and eager to do battle, to roll back the State in service to his cherished radical cause.

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The Many Ways Governments Create Monopolies

[From Power and Market, Chapter 3.] Instead of making the product prohibition absolute, the government may prohibit production and sale except by a certain firm or firms. These firms are then specially privileged by the government to engage in a line of production, and therefore this type of prohibition is a grant of special privilege. If the grant is to one person or firm, it is a monopoly grant; if to several persons or firms, it is a quasi-monopoly or oligopoly grant.

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Conservation in the Free Market

It should be no news by this time that intellectuals are fully as subject to the vagaries of fashion as are the hemlines of women’s skirts. Apparently, intellectuals tend to be victims of a herd mentality. Thus, when John Kenneth Galbraith published his best-selling The Affluent Society in 1958, every intellectual and his brother was denouncing America as suffering from undue and excessive affluence; yet, only two or three years later, the fashion suddenly changed, and the very same intellectuals were complaining that America was rife with poverty.

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Marx and Left Revolutionary Hegelianism

[This article is excerpted from volume 2, chapter 11 of An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought (1995).] Hegel’s death in 1831 inevitably ushered in a new and very different era in the history of Hegelianism. Hegel was supposed to bring about the end of history, but now Hegel was dead, and history continued to march on. So if Hegel himself was not the final culmination of history, then perhaps the Prussian state of Friedrich Wilhelm III was not the final stage of history either.

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