Murray Rothbard – The Government Is Not Us

in the phrase we are the government the useful collective term we has enabled an ideological camouflage to be thrown over the naked exploitative reality of political life for if we truly are the government then anything a government does to an individual is not only just and not tyrannical it is also voluntary on the part of the individual concerned if the government has incurred a huge public debt which must be paid by taxing one group on behalf of another this reality of burden is conveniently obscured by blithely saying that we owe it to ourselves but who are the we and who the ourselves if the government drafts a man or even throws him into jail for dissident opinions then he is only doing it to himself and therefore nothing improper has occurred under this reasoning then Jews murdered by the Nazi government were not murdered they must have committed suicide since they were the government which was democratically chosen and therefore anything the government did to them was only voluntary on their part but there is no way out of such grotesque arees for those supporters of government who see the state merely as a benevolent and voluntary agent of the public and so we must conclude that we are not the government the government is not us the government does not in any accurate sense represent the majority of the people but even if it did even if 90% of the people decided to murder or enslave the other 10% this would still be murder and slavery and would not be voluntary suicide or enslavement on the part of the oppressed minority crime is crime aggression against rights is aggression no matter how many citizens agree to the oppression there is nothing sacrosanct about the majority the lynch mob too is the majority in its own domain but while as in the lynch mob the majority can become actively tyrannical and aggressive the normal and continuing condition of the state is oligarchic rule rule by a coercive elite which has managed to gain control of the state machinery there are two basic reasons for this one is the inequality and division of labor inherit in the nature of man which gives rise to an iron law of oligarchy in all of man's activities and second is the parasitic nature of the state enterprise itself we have said that the individualist is not an egalitarian part of the reason for this is the individualist s' insight into the vast diversity and individuality within mankind a diversity that has the chance to flower and expand as civilization and living standards progress individuals differ in ability and in interest both within and between occupations and hence in all occupations and walks of life whether it be steel production or the organization of a bridge club leadership in the activity will inevitably be assumed by a relative handful of the most able and energetic while the remaining majority will form themselves into rank-and-file followers this truth applies to all activities whether they are beneficial or malevolent as in criminal organizations indeed the discovery of the iron law of oligarchy was made by the italian sociologist Robert Miko's who found that the Social Democratic Party of Germany despite its rhetorical commitment to egalitarian ISM was rigidly oligarchical and hierarchical and its actual functioning a second basic reason for the oligarchic rule of the state is its parasitic nature the fact that it lives coercively off the production of the citizenry to be successful to its practitioners the fruits of parasitic exploitation must be confined to a relative minority otherwise a meaningless of all by all would result in no gains for anyone nowhere has the coercive and parasitic nature of the state been more clearly limbed than by the great late 19th century German sociologist France Oppenheimer Oppenheimer pointed out that there are two and only two mutually exclusive means for man to obtain wealth one the method of production and voluntary exchange the method of the free market Oppenheimer termed the economic means the other the method of robbery by the use of violence he called the political means the political means is clearly parasitic for it requires previous production for the exploiters to confiscate and it subtracts from instead of adding to the total production in society Oppenheimer then proceeded to define the state as the organization of the political means the systematization of the predatory process over a given territorial area in short private crime is at best sporadic and uncertain the parasitism is ephemeral and the coercive parasitic life line can be cut at any time by the resistance of the victims the state provides a legal orderly systematic channel for predation on the property of the producers it makes certain secure and relatively peaceful the lifeline of the parasitic cast in society the great libertarian writer Albert J nock wrote vividly that the state claims and exercises the monopoly of crime it forbids private murder but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale it punishes private theft but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything at once whether the property of citizen or of alien at first of course it is startling for someone to consider taxation as robbery and therefore government as a band of robbers but anyone who persists in thinking of Taxation as in some sense of voluntary payment can see what happens if he chooses not to a the great economist Joseph Schumpeter himself by no means a libertarian wrote that the state has been living on a revenue which was being produced in the private sphere for private purposes and had to be deflected from these purposes by political force the theory which construes taxes on the analogy of club dues or of the purchase of the services of say a doctor only proves how far removed this part of the social sciences is from scientific habits of mind the eminent Viennese legal positivist Hans Kelsen attempted in his treatise the general theory of law and the state to establish a political theory and justification of the state on a strictly scientific and value-free basis what happened is that early in the book he came to the crucial sticking point the pons a Senora of political philosophy what distinguishes the edicts of the state from the commands of a bandit gang quelle soms answer was simply to say that the decrees of the state are valid and to proceed happily from there without bothering to define or explain this concept of validity indeed it would be a useful exercise for non libertarians to ponder this question how can you define taxation in a way which makes it different from robbery to the great 19th century individualist anarchist and constitutional lawyer Lysander Spooner there was no problem in finding the answer Spooner's analysis of the state as robber group is perhaps the most devastating ever written it is true that the theory of our Constitution is that all taxes are paid voluntarily that our government is a mutual insurance company voluntarily entered into by the people with each other but this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact the fact is that the government like a highwayman says to a man your money or your life and many if not most taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat the government does not indeed wail a man in a lonely place spring upon him from the roadside and holding a pistol to his head proceeded to rifle his pockets but the robbery is nonetheless a robbery on that account and it is far more dastardly and shameful the highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility danger and crime of his own act he does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money or that he intends to use it for your own benefit he does not pretend to be anything but a robber he has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a protector and that he takes men's money against their will merely to enable him to protect those infatuated travelers who feel perfectly able to protect themselves or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection he is too sensible a man to make such professions as these furthermore having taken your money he leaves you as you wish him to do he does not persist in following you on the road against your will assuming to be your rightful sovereign on account of the protection he affords you he does not keep protecting you by commanding you to bow down and serve him by requiring you to do this and forbidding you to do that by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so and by branding you as a rebel a traitor at an enemy to your country and shooting you down without mercy if you dispute his authority or resist his demands he is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such imposters and insults and villainies as these in short he does not in addition to robbing you attempt to make you either his Duke or his slave

Maurice Vega

38 Responses

  1. I F*$#&%~g love Rothbard! He is unbelievably intelligent and gets the point across better than anyone I know, hands down the best!

  2. That is a straw man argument. "if we are the government, then it is OK for the government to murder people. Therefore, we are not the government.". The phrase we are the government, refers to the fact that, at a societal level, the government is made up entirely of citizens; many of the most powerful of whom, were elected into power. If "we" decided tomorrow that a two party system was BS, we could remove everyone currently in power from power, and promote the wisest of us to those roles in less than 10 years. To do that, would take a lot of work, and a lot of research, and a lot of effort on everyone's part; but it would not take bloody revolution. "We" have never bothered to put in that effort. As such, "in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve".

  3. Supreme Court Rulings Further the Agenda of the Police State
    The above link to YT video shows we have no rights to fight back..I feel they have all their ducks in a row.. and not long to the total take over.

  4. My one and only disagreement with Rothbard in this portion of <i>For a New Liberty</i> is his claim to reject egalitarianism, which is predicated on his adopting a rather narrow definition of "egalitarianism" akin to "support for the sort of forced homogenisation as depicted in 'Harrison Bergeron' by Vonnegut."

    Obviously, any rational person, including all true libertarians, oppose forced homogenisation of society.  People should be free to be different from one another.

    But, by adopting that rather narrow definition of "egalitarianism" obscures the fact that libertarianism is not opposed to equality.  Since libertarians wish for everyone to be 100% free from coercion, it can be legitimately said that libertarians wish for everyone to be equally free, and therefore equal.  This sort of egalitarianism is entirely libertarian, and I wish Rothbard had been more keen to note this.

    I recommend Professor Roderick T. Long's essay "Equality: The Unknown Ideal."

    Other than that one disagreement I have with Professor Rothbard, this portion of his libertarian manifesto is flawless.

  5. People are vile and stupid. They are short-sighted and selfish. Therefore, it is not only important that we establish norms for human behavior, we need to give one organization, run by the same stupid and vile people, the sole authority and capability to have monopoly on the use of force. Without the Lord our State, we humans would be so at war against each other. See the contradiction? Now go study free market economy and polycentric law systems.

  6. This man is one of the reasons I have my positions today. At the heart of every thinking and just human is a libertarian, and at the heart of every libertarian is an anarchist.

  7. You've read the Bible many times over? Given your last sentence you are either lying or you don't read well.

  8. Wast the heck? If you you don't personify your creator you ARE an atheist. In that case you don't have a creator, just a causative agents for your existence.

  9. A free market company sold an explosive device that he put in his wallet "just in case".

    It detonated and the robber died.

    Long live free markets 😀

    On a more serious note: The police is a monopoly. There would be so much better services available if there was not a state coerced monopoly on serving the public for their protection. etc etc….

  10. Just saying, Hitler got his majority by imprisoning the Communist Party and making a deal with the centre party.

  11. Also, once again, your comment had NOTHING to do with what I was arguing.

    Voluntary trade BY DEFINITION creates wealth.

    Involuntary trade does NOT NECESSARILY create wealth.

    Ergo, involuntary trade is MUCH less desirable than voluntary trade.

    Government is nothing more than forced trade.

    Ergo, government is not desirable compared to free voluntary trade.

    By definition, government is a waste of resources.

  12. Heck, Robert Murphy made a video for "Wouldn't Warlords Take Over". You don't even have to read.

    It's on Youtube

  13. Right. You haven't studied anarchic theories at all.

    Start with Economics in One Lesson, Chaos Theory (Robert Murphy), or, for a quicker read, "Wouldn't Warlords Take Over" by Robert Murphy.

    If it needs to exist, then it can be provided through voluntary contracts.

  14. I think I'll find the route Professor Rothbard uses to get home, waylay him and take his wallet.

    And see how fast he asks one of the parasites to do something about that.

  15. When Paul wrote that, the governing authority was the Roman Empire, and Christians were being martyred. Paul himself wound up being beheaded, and he knew that was a possibility when he wrote Romans. So perhaps his thought is a bit more complex than that.

  16. And he instituted reforms that started the most successful century ever enjoyed by any nation in the entire history of the world – the "American Century."

    But you're right – it was SO much better when we had child labor, and when companies could sell poison and label it "MEAT." We call that FREEDOM.

  17. That's because the UK still has a monarch. Although Parliament runs the country. In the U.S. it is illegal to be in the government and hold a title of nobility. So, when the United States were first being put together it was with the understanding that it was the bodies of people from the individual colonies that made up: We the People. It's also why our system was first penned to be a Republic and NOT a democrazy.

  18. This is partially simply a symptom of civilization itself. Recommended reading:
    Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
    The Art of Not Being Governed by James C. Scott
    finally perhaps Endgame by Derrick Jensen

  19. I understand you buddy. You don't understand me. That's cool though. This is a youtube comment seciton, not Harvard. My expectations aren't that high. Carry on.

  20. You really didn't understand my argument, did you.

    The government IS a parasite. And just like all parasites, is best dead.

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