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Was Rothbard an Anarchist?

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Andrew Cain Posted: Sun, Sep 27 2009 7:59 PM

There seems to be some controversy as to whether Rothbard was actually an anarchist.

I will quote from his work Betrayal of the American Right which according to the words of Thomas Woods is 'the closest thing to an autobiography that Rothbard had written'

Murray Rothbard:
My conversion to anarchism was a simple exercise in logic. I had engaged continually in friendly arguments about  laissez-faire with liberal friends from graduate school. While condemning taxation, I had still felt that taxation was required for the provision of
police and judicial protection and for that only. One night two friends and I had one of our usual lengthy discussions, seemingly
unprofitable; but this time when they'd left, I felt that for once something vital had actually been said. As I thought back on the
discussion, I realized that my friends, as liberals, had posed the following challenge to my laissez-faire position:


They: What is the legitimate basis for your laissez-faire government,
for this political entity confined solely to defending
person and property?


I: Well, the people get together and decide to establish such a
government.


They: But if "the people" can do that, why can't they do exactly
the same thing and get together to choose a government that
will build steel plants, dams, etc.?


I realized in a flash that their logic was impeccable, that laissez-faire was logically untenable, and that either I had to become a liberal, or move onward into anarchism. I became an anarchist. Furthermore, I saw the total incompatibility of the insights of Oppenheimer and Nock on the nature of the State as conquest, with the vague "social contract" basis that I had been postulating for a laissez-faire government. I saw that the only genuine contract had to be an individual's specifically disposing of or using his own property. Naturally, the anarchism I had adopted was individualist and free-market, a logical extension of laissez-faire, and not the woolly communalism that marked most of contemporary anarchist thought.

 

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Some controversy--where? On such tosswad places as infoshop?

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Knight_of_BAAWA:

Some controversy--where? On such tosswad places as infoshop?

Controversy

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I don't see the controversy to which you refer.

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Knight_of_BAAWA:

I don't see the controversy to which you refer.

Perhaps you should read through the whole topic. Rothbard wrote an article in the mid 50's in which he declared he wasn't an anarchist. I state that it was an article produced before the quote I just gave. Conza thinks that Rothbard hadn't changed his position from 1950 to 1970's.

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Conza88 replied on Sun, Sep 27 2009 8:59 PM

Laughing Man:

Knight_of_BAAWA:

Some controversy--where? On such tosswad places as infoshop?

Controversy

If you are going to refer to our exchange, how about you do it from the top.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Conza88 replied on Sun, Sep 27 2009 9:04 PM

Laughing Man:
Perhaps you should read through the whole topic. Rothbard wrote an article in the mid 50's in which he declared he wasn't an anarchist.

That doesn't mean he wasn't against abolishing the state / rulers.

Laughing Man:
I state that it was an article produced before the quote I just gave. Conza thinks that Rothbard hadn't changed his position from 1950 to 1970's.

I state it was an article produced before the quote you gave. I stated Rothbard hadn't changed his underlining principles from the 1950's to the 1970's, only the association with labels. I'd be correct.

Conventional Critiques

"He wasn't consistent. Raimondo produces letters and articles from his earliest writings showing that he had mapped out most of his life's work. That goes for his attachment to Austro-free-market theory, his anarcho-capitalism, his devotion to natural rights, his love of the Old Right political paradigm, his optimistic outlook for liberty, his hatred of war, his essential Americanism, and even his reactionary cultural outlook. The ideas were all developed throughout the course of his life, but the seeds seemed to be there from the beginning. The attacks were too. Ralph Lord Roy's 1953 book Apostles of Discord blasted some early Rothbard articles as dangerously supporting "unregulated laissez-faire capitalism." Exactly. He learned, he developed, he elaborated, but he never made a fundamental shift."

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Conza88:
I state it was an article produced before the quote you gave. I stated Rothbard hadn't changed his underlining principles from the 1950's to the 1970's, only the association with labels. I'd be correct.

So you think that Rothbard became an 'anarchist' but wasn't really an 'anarchist'?

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Conza88 replied on Sun, Sep 27 2009 9:55 PM

Laughing Man:

Conza88:
I state it was an article produced before the quote you gave. I stated Rothbard hadn't changed his underlining principles from the 1950's to the 1970's, only the association with labels. I'd be correct.

So you think that Rothbard became an 'anarchist' but wasn't really an 'anarchist'?

Rothbard was for no rulers. As he wrote in the 1950's article:

"We are left to conclude that the pure libertarian must advocate a society where an individual may voluntarily support none or any police or judicial agency that he deems to be efficient and worthy of his custom."

And at the same time of the article again:

Conza88:

Conventional Critiques - Lew Rockwell

"He wasn't consistent. Raimondo produces letters and articles from his earliest writings showing that he had mapped out most of his life's work. That goes for his attachment to Austro-free-market theory, his anarcho-capitalism, his devotion to natural rights, his love of the Old Right political paradigm, his optimistic outlook for liberty, his hatred of war, his essential Americanism, and even his reactionary cultural outlook. The ideas were all developed throughout the course of his life, but the seeds seemed to be there from the beginning. The attacks were too. Ralph Lord Roy's 1953 book Apostles of Discord blasted some early Rothbard articles as dangerously supporting "unregulated laissez-faire capitalism." Exactly. He learned, he developed, he elaborated, but he never made a fundamental shift."

And at the same time whilst you were referring to the 1970's article, Rothbard was getting interviewed and makes the distinction clear.

Conza88:
New Banner Interview

"Also, we have a long-range problem which none of us has ever really grappled with to any extent. That is, how do we finally establish a libertarian society? Obviously ideas are a key thing. First off you have to persuade a lot of people to be anarchists — anarcho-capitalists."

His nonarchy article was before he moved to the label of anarcho-capitalism - but the same insights were still there and didn't change. After that it became expedient to just refer to anarchism (no rulers), but of a different type. Instead of having to explain what nonarchy is. He had spent 20 years expounding on the system he had earlier mapped out and had a unifying label for all of it.

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Conza88:

Rothbard was for no rulers. As he wrote in the 1950's article:

"We are left to conclude that the pure libertarian must advocate a society where an individual may voluntarily support none or any police or judicial agency that he deems to be efficient and worthy of his custom."

Before he became an anarchist he was a minarchist. Are you sure you read Betrayal of the American Right? He clearly says that before he became an anarchist he believed that government should be used to protect person and property. That is why there was no inconsistency between him and the Old Right because people like Meckhen and Flynn were minimal government advocates, not anarchists. You cannot 'convert' to anarchism if you already consider yourself an advocate of no rulers. You can discover you are an anarchist but that is not converting.

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Conza88 replied on Sun, Sep 27 2009 11:19 PM

Laughing Man:
Before he became an anarchist he was a minarchist.

Laughing Man:
You cannot 'convert' to anarchism if you already consider yourself an advocate of no rulers. You can discover you are an anarchist but that is not converting.

Obviously. But that isn't what we are discussing, nor why we are engaged in this conversation. Don't shift the goal posts. The issue is whether he was for no state or not when he wrote the 1950's article, Are Libertarians 'Anarchists'?. The issue is whether he had a fundamental shift from when he was rejecting the label of 'anarchism' in that 50's article, preferring nonarchy, to when he was using the anarchy label in the 70's - in association with anarcho-capitalism. It's crystal clear he was for a pure libertarian society, as he so states in the exact same article that sparked this discussion, and I have quoted previously.

Laughing Man:
Are you sure you read Betrayal of the American Right?

Positive. Have you read Enemy of the State by Justin Raimondo? It's an entire biography of Rothbard's life. It deals in chapters of his childhood, not sentences.

Laughing Man:
He clearly says that before he became an anarchist he believed that government should be used to protect person and property.

As he so states in the 1950's article:

"The libertarian who is happily engaged expounding his political philosophy in the full glory of his convictions is almost sure to be brought short by one unfailing gambit of the statist. As the libertarian is denouncing public education or the Post Office, or refers to taxation as legalized robbery, the statist invariably challenges. "Well, then are you an anarchist?" The libertarian is reduced to sputtering "No, no, of course I'm not an anarchist." "Well, then, what governmental measures do you favor? What type of taxes do you wish to impose?" The statist has irretrievably gained the offensive, and, having no answer to the first question, the libertarian finds himself surrendering his case.

Thus, the libertarian will usually reply: "Well, I believe in a limited government, the government being limited to the defense of the person or property or the individual against invasion by force or fraud." I have tried to show in my article, "The Real Aggressor" in the April 1954 Faith and Freedom that this leaves the conservative helpless before the argument "necessary for defense," when it is used for gigantic measures of statism and bloodshed. There are other consequences equally or more grave. The statist can pursue the matter further: "If you grant that it is legitimate for people to band together and allow the State to coerce individuals to pay taxes for a certain service — "defense" — why is it not equally moral and legitimate for people to join in a similar way and allow the State the right to provide other services — such as post offices, "welfare," steel, power, etc.? If a State supported by a majority can morally do one, why not morally do the others?" I confess that I see no answer to this question. If it is proper and legitimate to coerce an unwilling Henry Thoreau into paying taxes for his own "protection" to a coercive state monopoly, I see no reason why it should not be equally proper to force him to pay the State for any other services, whether they be groceries, charity, newspapers, or steel. We are left to conclude that the pure libertarian must advocate a society where an individual may voluntarily support none or any police or judicial agency that he deems to be efficient and worthy of his custom."

Again, further adding to my contention that he only altered his association and use of labels, not his fundamental underlining position (from the 1950's article). The New Banner Interview - 1972:

NEW BANNER: In the No. 7 issue of the Ayn Rand Letter, Miss Rand admonishes her readers, "Do not join... libertarian hippies who subordinate reason to whims and substitute anarchism for capitalism." Do you think that this remark was directed at you and other advocates of free market alternatives to government institutions, and do you think this remark is in keeping with Miss Rand's oft-stated principle of "defining your terms?"

ROTHBARD: Well, it's hard to say, because you notice there are very few specific facts in her discussion. There is one sentence covering "libertarian hippies." Who are they? Where are they?

The movement that I'm in favor of is a movement of libertarians who do not substitute whim for reason. Now some of them do, obviously, and I'm against that. I'm in favor of reason over whim. As far as I'm concerned, and I think the rest of the movement, too, we are anarcho-capitalists. In other words, we believe that capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism. Not only are they compatible, but you can't really have one without the other. True anarchism will be capitalism, and true capitalism will be anarchism.

As for her remark being in keeping with the principle of defining one's terms – well, obviously not. I don't think she has ever defined the term "anarchism," as a matter of fact.

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Conza88:
Obviously. But that isn't what we are discussing, nor why we are engaged in this conversation. Don't shift the goal posts. The issue is whether he was for no state or not when he wrote the 1950's article, Are Libertarians 'Anarchists'?. The issue is whether he had a fundamental shift from when he was rejecting the label of 'anarchism' in that 50's article, preferring nonarchy, to when he was using the anarchy label in the 70's - in association with anarcho-capitalism. It's crystal clear he was for a pure libertarian society, as he so states in the exact same article that sparked this discussion, and I have quoted previously.

Well if you read what Rothbard actually wrote he says he was against government taxation but it was necessary for the government to defend the person and property. Do we agree that this is a position of minarchism? Or at perhaps that it means there needs to be a ruler though it should be controlled? If the answer to yes is either of these and we take from Rothbard OWN WRITINGS, not the writings of some other biographer [ in the historical community we call this a primary source which has much more power behind it then a secondary source such as a biographer ] it can be said with reasonable definity that before and during Rothbard's graduate studies which lasted until the mid 50's therefore your early 50's article really supports what I am saying, he was a minarchist or what he would call classical liberal. Now his own writings say he was presented with a paradox concerning his 'lassiez-faire' government mentality which upon hearing caused him to see the contradiction of his position and either become a 'liberal' in the sense of progressivism or become an anarchist. He became an anarchist near the end of his graduate days. Rothbard in his earlier years can be likened to Mises in the sense that their political philosophical ideals were not fully self-realized. Mises talked about secession down to the individual level yet never was an anarchist. Individual secession is anarchism per say. Rothbard grew up [ politically speaking ] with the Old Right who were Leonard Reed [ that bastard who betrayed his brethren ], John T Flynn, Murray was mentored by Chodrov [ who become an anarchist AFTER Murray, Murray actually converted him ], Albert J Nock who was Chodrov's mentor, Isabel Patterson. Nock was the one of the extremist who went so far as to be semi-anarchist, the rest were for minimal government of various sizes.

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Here's a question: what does it matter.

If neither of you can give a sufficient answer, I'll lock the thread and you two can do this in private.

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Because keeping a sense of history is vital towards an ideological movement. If we build on top of myth or false statements, what does that say about the foundation. If you don't want to engage in this topic, that is fine, however this topic does nothing to transgress the rules of the forum so you taking action against it would be unlawful.

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Angurse replied on Mon, Sep 28 2009 10:00 AM

Laughing Man:

Well if you read what Rothbard actually wrote he says he was against government taxation but it was necessary for the government to defend the person and property. Do we agree that this is a position of minarchism?

He describes a confused libertarians conversation, I don't see anything where Rothbard says the state is necessary for defense.

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Angurse:
He describes a confused libertarians conversation, I don't see anything where Rothbard says the state is necessary for defense

'I had still felt that taxation was required for the provision of police and judicial protection and for that only'

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Angurse replied on Mon, Sep 28 2009 10:20 AM

Laughing Man:
'I had still felt that taxation was required for the provision of police and judicial protection and for that only'

What article are you quoting? As its not the one I was referring to.

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Betrayal of the American Right

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Angurse replied on Mon, Sep 28 2009 10:32 AM

So? Rothbard was a confused libertarian, by his own admission, then he understood what it took to be a pure libertarian or "nonarchist" sometime in the 50's. I don't think this was in dispute.

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Angurse:

So? Rothbard was a confused libertarian, by his own admission, then he understood what it took to be a pure libertarian or "nonarchist" sometime in the 50's. I don't think this was in dispute.

He was a classical liberal, a minarchist, a minimal government libertarian, call it what you will. However, he did have a conversion to anarchism when he discovered that the social contract is fictitious and that lassiez-faire government or minimal state government is utopian. Government either expands and conquers or it is buried.

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Angurse replied on Mon, Sep 28 2009 10:44 AM

So its one of those odd "controversies" that aren't being disputed.

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Conza88 replied on Mon, Sep 28 2009 10:55 AM

Laughing Man:
Well if you read what Rothbard actually wrote he says he was against government taxation but it was necessary for the government to defend the person and property. Do we agree that this is a position of minarchism?

I did read what Rothbard wrote. Thanks for the suggestion, but I'd recommend you do the same. Why exactly are you arguing in circles? You essentially ignored my entire post, yet what you ignored - addressed your question.

Laughing Man:
He clearly says that before he became an anarchist he believed that government should be used to protect person and property.

As he so states in the 1950's article:

"The libertarian who is happily engaged expounding his political philosophy in the full glory of his convictions is almost sure to be brought short by one unfailing gambit of the statist. As the libertarian is denouncing public education or the Post Office, or refers to taxation as legalized robbery, the statist invariably challenges. "Well, then are you an anarchist?" The libertarian is reduced to sputtering "No, no, of course I'm not an anarchist." "Well, then, what governmental measures do you favor? What type of taxes do you wish to impose?" The statist has irretrievably gained the offensive, and, having no answer to the first question, the libertarian finds himself surrendering his case.

Thus, the libertarian will usually reply: "Well, I believe in a limited government, the government being limited to the defense of the person or property or the individual against invasion by force or fraud." I have tried to show in my article, "The Real Aggressor" in the April 1954 Faith and Freedom that this leaves the conservative helpless before the argument "necessary for defense," when it is used for gigantic measures of statism and bloodshed. There are other consequences equally or more grave. The statist can pursue the matter further: "If you grant that it is legitimate for people to band together and allow the State to coerce individuals to pay taxes for a certain service — "defense" — why is it not equally moral and legitimate for people to join in a similar way and allow the State the right to provide other services — such as post offices, "welfare," steel, power, etc.? If a State supported by a majority can morally do one, why not morally do the others?" I confess that I see no answer to this question. If it is proper and legitimate to coerce an unwilling Henry Thoreau into paying taxes for his own "protection" to a coercive state monopoly, I see no reason why it should not be equally proper to force him to pay the State for any other services, whether they be groceries, charity, newspapers, or steel. We are left to conclude that the pure libertarian must advocate a society where an individual may voluntarily support none or any police or judicial agency that he deems to be efficient and worthy of his custom."

Again, further adding to my contention that he only altered his association and use of labels, not his fundamental underlining position (from the 1950's article). The New Banner Interview - 1972:

NEW BANNER: In the No. 7 issue of the Ayn Rand Letter, Miss Rand admonishes her readers, "Do not join... libertarian hippies who subordinate reason to whims and substitute anarchism for capitalism." Do you think that this remark was directed at you and other advocates of free market alternatives to government institutions, and do you think this remark is in keeping with Miss Rand's oft-stated principle of "defining your terms?"

ROTHBARD: Well, it's hard to say, because you notice there are very few specific facts in her discussion. There is one sentence covering "libertarian hippies." Who are they? Where are they?

The movement that I'm in favor of is a movement of libertarians who do not substitute whim for reason. Now some of them do, obviously, and I'm against that. I'm in favor of reason over whim. As far as I'm concerned, and I think the rest of the movement, too, we are anarcho-capitalists. In other words, we believe that capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism. Not only are they compatible, but you can't really have one without the other. True anarchism will be capitalism, and true capitalism will be anarchism.

As for her remark being in keeping with the principle of defining one's terms – well, obviously not. I don't think she has ever defined the term "anarchism," as a matter of fact.

Laughing Man:
Or at perhaps that it means there needs to be a ruler though it should be controlled? If the answer to yes is either of these and we take from Rothbard OWN WRITINGS

What of the above is not Rothbard's own writings?

Laughing Man:
not the writings of some other biographer [ in the historical community we call this a primary source which has much more power behind it then a secondary source such as a biographer ]

Don't patronize me thanks. If you scroll up, basically every single quote is either from Rothbard's 1950's article, Rothbard being interviewed in the 1970's AND Lew Rockwell stating what Rothbard's biographer who had "produced [PRIMARY] letters and articles from his earliest writings showing that he [Rothbard] had mapped out most of his life's work."

Conventional Critiques - Lew Rockwell

"He wasn't consistent. Raimondo produces letters and articles from his earliest writings showing that he had mapped out most of his life's work. That goes for his attachment to Austro-free-market theory, his anarcho-capitalism, his devotion to natural rights, his love of the Old Right political paradigm, his optimistic outlook for liberty, his hatred of war, his essential Americanism, and even his reactionary cultural outlook. The ideas were all developed throughout the course of his life, but the seeds seemed to be there from the beginning. The attacks were too. Ralph Lord Roy's 1953 book Apostles of Discord blasted some early Rothbard articles as dangerously supporting "unregulated laissez-faire capitalism." Exactly. He learned, he developed, he elaborated, but he never made a fundamental shift."

I guess you wouldn't know because you haven't read the biography on Murry N. Rothbard, which contain those primary sources.

Laughing Man:
it can be said with reasonable definity that before and during Rothbard's graduate studies which lasted until the mid 50's therefore your early 50's article really supports what I am saying, he was a minarchist or what he would call classical liberal.

No, it doesn't. It supports what I say. If you actually read Rothbard's 1950 article it is clear as day. He is not a statist.

"We are left to conclude that the pure libertarian must advocate a society where an individual may voluntarily support none or any police or judicial agency that he deems to be efficient and worthy of his custom. I do not here intend to engage in a detailed exposition of this system, but only to answer the question, is this anarchism?"

Yeah, because he had the rest of his life to do that. He'd already mapped everything out. Big Smile What he does is outline the logical contradiction the minarchists find themselves in, and how it can be applied to everything, NOT just defense. His writings refute your contention very nicely. Smile

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Laughing Man:
Because keeping a sense of history is vital towards an ideological movement. If we build on top of myth or false statements, what does that say about the foundation. If you don't want to engage in this topic, that is fine, however this topic does nothing to transgress the rules of the forum so you taking action against it would be unlawful.
Think again. This is nothing but a bitch-fest thread.

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Answer me this question:

Why would Rothbard, who in the 1950's [ a time which he engaged in his own graduate work ] write an article saying 'I am not an anarchist' yet in his own autobiographical work he would say that he converted to anarchism, not 'nonarchism' and used the word converted which means to involve some form of change from one thing/position to another? Is Rothbard being intellectually dishonest here? Is he purposely lying? If not we must assume, given that Rothbard is a logical man, that he wrote the article you are posting before he converted to anarchism and therefore he was a 'nonarchist'/ classical liberal / lassiez-faire liberal etc. before he converted to anarchism which he admits in his own writings that it happened while he was in graduate school and not suddenly out of the blue in 1970.

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Knight_of_BAAWA:
Think again. This is nothing but a bitch-fest thread.

Its a debate on the political philosophy of Rothbard and its development.

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No, it's the same passages being posted over and over.

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Knight_of_BAAWA:

No, it's the same passages being posted over and over.

I'm trying to deconstruct the Berlin wall. Give it time.

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Time for what? Take it to private.

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Conza88 replied on Mon, Sep 28 2009 9:02 PM

Laughing Man:
Answer me this question

Funny, if you read my responses this has already been answered countless times. You're arguing in circles and continue to ignore essentially everything of substance that was posted. So do me a favor;

Answer me this question:

Why would Rothbard, who outlines [in the 1950's article] the logical contradiction that minarchists, classical liberals and limited government types face, then go on to state:

"We are left to conclude that the pure libertarian must advocate a society where an individual may voluntarily support none or any police or judicial agency that he deems to be efficient and worthy of his custom."

How on earth is it possible to contend that Rothbard is not a "pure libertarian"? He states in the next sentence,  "I do not here intend to engage in a detailed exposition of this system" - but he does intend too later, yeah and it's called anarcho-capitalism.

Laughing Man:
'nonarchist'/ classical liberal / lassiez-faire liberal etc.

I don't think it's clear you understand what a "nonarchist" is, otherwise you wouldn't have joined those terms together. Maybe you could explain your take? I'll go ahead and quote the article, since it disagrees with you - like most things we've been discussing.

"We must conclude that the question "are libertarians anarchists?" simply cannot be answered on etymological grounds. The vagueness of the term itself is such that the libertarian system would be considered anarchist by some people and archist by others. We must therefore turn to history for enlightenment; here we find that none of the proclaimed anarchist groups correspond to the libertarian position, that even the best of them have unrealistic and socialistic elements in their doctrines. Furthermore, we find that all of the current anarchists are irrational collectivists, and therefore at opposite poles from our position. We must therefore conclude that we are not anarchists, and that those who call us anarchists are not on firm etymological ground, and are being completely unhistorical. On the other hand, it is clear that we are not archists either: we do not believe in establishing a tyrannical central authority that will coerce the noninvasive as well as the invasive. Perhaps, then, we could call ourselves by a new name: nonarchist. Then, when, in the jousting of debate, the inevitable challenge "are you an anarchist?" is heard, we can, for perhaps the first and last time, find ourselves in the luxury of the "middle of the road" and say, "Sir, I am neither an anarchist nor an archist, but am squarely down the nonarchic middle of the road."

The "anarchists" are the irrational collectivists who historically have been traditional socialists. They state they wouldn't impose dictatorships, but we all know they want to increase the size of the state, so they can smash capitalism and then with the beauty of dialectical materialism, the state will vanish away. So covertly they are for rulers and oppression. The archists end up with the same result, rulers and oppression. Rothbard didn't associate with either, he was for a pure libertarian society, he wasn't for a state or rulers when he wrote that article in the 1950's.

His conception of the labels and association with them then changed when he adopted the term anarcho-capitalism. It's only natural when interpreting / reliving the past, that you apply your current world view / theory to it - no? Well he was for no state and no rulers then, when he wrote the article, as can be seen - from actually reading the article. Yet, it is more effective to explain, 20 years earlier that you converted to "anarchism" [a term that is well known] - but a particular type of anarchism, anarcho-capitalism. [And again, he did exactly this in the New Banner interview 1972, around the exact same time of "Betrayal of the American Right"]... but hey, I'm only repeating what I've already made clear and you've chosen to ignore. The term nonarchism, never took of because the article was never published and who knows he may have changed his mind in terms of label association due to tactics and strategy, that doesn't relate to change or fundamental shift in underlying philosophy though. Again, clear as day from the article, he's for a pure libertarian society. 

Laughing Man:
before he converted to anarchism which he admits in his own writings that it happened while he was in graduate school and not suddenly out of the blue in 1970

Yeah, he was a minarchist / limited government / classical liberal before he had a discussion with some friends in graduate school about a social contract, pg 47 Enemy of the State. That's when he realised he'd have to go either way, he chose the pure libertarian society. The 1950's article was written after his conversion. Again, I've said this previously, in circles we go.

 

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Conza88:
That's when he realised he'd have to go either way, he chose the pure libertarian society. The 1950's article was written after his conversion. Again, I've said this previously, in circles we go.

How can someone who chooses to become an anarchist then write a article saying 'Hey I'm not an anarchist, but I don't want ruler' That is anarchism. What you are proposing is a complete contradiction. He is  a 'nonarchist' which means no rulers, yet he is not an anarchist which means....no rulers.

I am going to email Dr. Gordon about this to see what he thikns.

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Angurse replied on Mon, Sep 28 2009 11:57 PM

Laughing Man:

How can someone who chooses to become an anarchist then write a article saying 'Hey I'm not an anarchist, but I don't want ruler' That is anarchism. What you are proposing is a complete contradiction. He is  a 'nonarchist' which means no rulers, yet he is not an anarchist which means....no rulers.

He chose to be a nonarchist because it was the only position for a pure anarchist. He refused to call himself an anarchist (at first, obviously) because of the popular opinion of what anarchy is (chaos) and the left-wing association with anarchism.

 

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I emailed David Gordon and I will post his answer when I receive it. His answer will definitively end this debate for me.

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Sep 29 2009 12:05 AM

Laughing Man:

How can someone who chooses to become an anarchist then write a article saying 'Hey I'm not an anarchist, but I don't want ruler' That is anarchism. What you are proposing is a complete contradiction. He is  a 'nonarchist' which means no rulers, yet he is not an anarchist which means....no rulers.

I am going to email Dr. Gordon about this to see what he thikns.

There is no contradiction. And Rothbard outlines why... in the article.

"I do not here intend to engage in a detailed exposition of this system, but only to answer the question, is this anarchism? This seemingly simple question is actually a very difficult one to answer in a sentence, or in a brief yes-or-no reply. In the first place, there is no accepted meaning to the word "anarchism" itself. The average person may think he knows what it means, especially that it is bad, but actually he does not. In that sense, the word has become something like the lamented word "liberal," except that the latter has "good" connotations in the emotions of the average man. The almost insuperable distortions and confusions have come both from the opponents and the adherents of anarchism. The former have completely distorted anarchist tenets and made various fallacious charges, while the latter have been split into numerous warring camps with political philosophies that are literally as far apart as communism and individualism. The situation is further confused by the fact that, often, the various anarchist groups themselves did not recognize the enormous ideological conflict between them. One very popular charge against anarchism is that it "means chaos." Whether a specific type of anarchism would lead to "chaos" is a matter for analysis; no anarchist, however, ever deliberately wanted to bring about chaos.

...

The major difficulty in any analysis of anarchism is that the term covers extremely conflicting doctrines. The root of the word comes from the term anarche, meaning opposition to authority or commands. This is broad enough to cover a host of different political doctrines. Generally these doctrines have been lumped together as "anarchist" because of their common hostility to the existence of the State, the coercive monopolist of force and authority. Anarchism arose in the 19th century, and since then the most active and dominant anarchist doctrine has been that of "anarchist communism." This is an apt tern for a doctrine which has also been called "collectivist anarchism," "anarcho-syndicalism," and "libertarian communism." We may term this set of related doctrines "left-wing anarchism." Anarchist communism is primarily of Russian origin, forged by Prince Peter Kropotkin and Michael Bakunin, and it is this form that has connoted "anarchism" throughout the continent of Europe.

The principal feature of anarchist communism is that it attacks private property just as vigorously as it attacks the State. Capitalism is considered as much of a tyranny, "in the economic realm," as the State in the political realm. The left-wing anarchist hates capitalism and private property with perhaps even more fervor than does the socialist or Communist. Like the Marxists, the left-wing anarchist is convinced that the capitalists exploit and dominate the workers, and also that the landlords invariably are exploiting peasants. The economic views of the anarchists present them with a crucial dilemma, the pons asinorum of left-wing anarchy: how can capitalism and private property be abolished, while the State is abolished at the same time? The socialists proclaim the glory of the State, and the use of the State to abolish private property — for them the dilemma does not exist. The orthodox Marxist Communist, who pays lip service to the ideal of left-wing anarchy, resolves the dilemma by use of the Hegelian dialectic: that mysterious process by which something is converted into its opposite. The Marxists would enlarge the State to the maximum and abolish capitalism, and then sit back confidently to wait upon the State's "withering away."

The spurious logic of the dialectic is not open to the left-wing anarchists, who wish to abolish the State and capitalism simultaneously. The nearest those anarchists have come to resolving the problem has been to uphold syndicalism as the ideal. In syndicalism, each group of workers and peasants is supposed to own its means of production in common, and plan for itself, while cooperating with other collectives and communes. Logical analysis of these schemes would readily show that the whole program is nonsense. Either of two things would occur: one central agency would plan for and direct the various subgroups, or the collectives themselves would be really autonomous. But the crucial question is whether these agencies would be empowered to use force to put their decisions into effect. All of the left-wing anarchists have agreed that force is necessary against recalcitrants. But then the first possibility means nothing more nor less than Communism, while the second leads to a real chaos of diverse and clashing Communisms, that would probably lead finally to some central Communism after a period of social war. Thus, left-wing anarchism must in practice signify either regular Communism or a true chaos of communistic syndics. In both cases, the actual result must be that the State is reestablished under another name. It is the tragic irony of left-wing anarchism that, despite the hopes of its supporters, it is not really anarchism at all. It is either Communism or chaos."

I mean, why must you persist in refusing to address numerous quotes from the actual article under discussion? Have you even read it and understood it? You seem to be stuck on The Betrayal of the American Right part. That ain't under debate though, yet you keep bringing it up as if it is. All of the above confirms what I said previously.

Laughing Man:
I am going to email Dr. Gordon about this to see what he thikns.

Could you do me a favor & link him to the thread, so he can read it all before offering his take? Thanks. Smile

Angurse:

Laughing Man:

How can someone who chooses to become an anarchist then write a article saying 'Hey I'm not an anarchist, but I don't want ruler' That is anarchism. What you are proposing is a complete contradiction. He is  a 'nonarchist' which means no rulers, yet he is not an anarchist which means....no rulers.

He chose to be a nonarchist because it was the only position for a pure anarchist. He refused to call himself an anarchist (at first, obviously) because of the popular opinion of what anarchy is (chaos) and the left-wing association with anarchism.

Yes exactly. Then the term anarcho-capitalism was adopted as the name for the system of ideas, his lifes work was all about. From then on, he had developed and proved:

Rothbard - New Banner Interview 1972:
In other words, we believe that capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism. Not only are they compatible, but you can't really have one without the other. True anarchism will be capitalism, and true capitalism will be anarchism.

So instead of previously in the 50's having to distance himself from the "anarchists" (traditional socialists), he could now say, having proved it with MES, Power & Market, For a New Liberty - that: 'we are the only true anarchists!'

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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This is his response [ I can't believe that David Gordon is up this late ]

Dear Mr. Cain,

Thanks for your excellent question. I don't think that there is a contradiction between Rothbard's anarchism and his 1951 article; there is rather a different use of the word "anarchism." In the 1951 article, he says that anarchist movements of the past tended to be collectivist; further, there isn't a fixed meaning for the term. For these reasons, he at that time preferred to find a different word for his own political doctrine. On this point, he later changed his mind and didn't have problems in calling himself an anarchist.

An easy way to see why there isn't a contradiction is this: what Rothbard was converted to in graduate school was the belief that we do not need a monopoly state. This belief need not entail that the word "anarchism" is suitable to describe this belief.

Here is a link to the 1951 article, in case you don't have it handy: http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard167.html

Best wishes,

David Gordon

 

Dr. Gordon,

I have recently been going through Rothbard's Betrayal of the American Right in which he states that he converted to anarchism [ p. 74 ] during his graduate work. However in the 1950's, Rothbard also wrote the article 'Are Libertarians Anarchists?' in which he states that libertarians are not anarchists. Is this not a contradiction? How can Rothbard say he converted to anarchism during his graduate studies yet then wrote an article which implied he was not one? I ask you because you personally knew Rothbard, wrote a biography on Rothbard and you are considered very knowledgeable on the subject of individual's political philosophy.

Thank you for your time,

 

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Conza88 quoting Rothbard:
The major difficulty in any analysis of anarchism is that the term covers extremely conflicting doctrines. The root of the word comes from the term anarche, meaning opposition to authority or commands. This is broad enough to cover a host of different political doctrines. Generally these doctrines have been lumped together as "anarchist" because of their common hostility to the existence of the State, the coercive monopolist of force and authority. Anarchism arose in the 19th century, and since then the most active and dominant anarchist doctrine has been that of "anarchist communism." This is an apt tern for a doctrine which has also been called "collectivist anarchism," "anarcho-syndicalism," and "libertarian communism." We may term this set of related doctrines "left-wing anarchism." Anarchist communism is primarily of Russian origin, forged by Prince Peter Kropotkin and Michael Bakunin, and it is this form that has connoted "anarchism" throughout the continent of Europe.

could have used you back in the Poptech on Mises' Minarchism thread...

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Sep 29 2009 10:24 AM

And.... Gordon confirmed everything I said... lol.

nirgrahamUK:
could have used you back in the Poptech on Mises' Minarchism thread...

Haha, yeah I came in late so I didn't bother. Got him stumped here though.

 

By the way, just interested.. does anyone know how Rothbard chose his pen name?

[This article was written in the mid-1950s under the byline "Aubrey Herbert," a pseudonym Rothbard used in the periodical Faith and Freedom.]

 

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Angurse replied on Tue, Sep 29 2009 10:46 AM

Conza88:

By the way, just interested.. does anyone know how Rothbard chose his pen name?

[This article was written in the mid-1950s under the byline "Aubrey Herbert," a pseudonym Rothbard used in the periodical Faith and Freedom.]

It sounds like a take on the 19th century voluntaryist Auberon Herbert. He, like Rothbard, didn't want to be known as an anarchist, but at the same time didn't support a state. Ironically, its argued today whether Herbert actually was an anarchist.

 

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Sep 29 2009 11:02 AM

Angurse:

It sounds like a take on the 19th century voluntaryist Auberon Herbert. He, like Rothbard, didn't want to be known as an anarchist, but at the same time didn't support a state. Ironically, its argued today whether Herbert actually was an anarchist.

Oh thanks! Ha, that's cool.

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Looks like I was wrong on this one. I guess Rothbard when writing his 'autobiography' knew that he can converted to anarchism when he was writing it but at the time he did 'convert' he didn't think it was anarchism.

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Conagain replied on Tue, Sep 29 2009 10:48 PM

why would anybody "not support a state" but refuse to be called an anarchist?

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