Episode 181 – The Platform (1:21:40)

We descend into a Rawlsian nightmare in our show on “The Platform” tonight. In the lockdowns, many people may have started on some of the higher floors, but some started lower – the longer this goes on, with the lack of production and the massive supply chain disruptions, the lower we will all get.

We are locked into Texas for guests apparently as we, appropriately to a movie featuring cannibalism, we have the great purveyor of the Silence of the Memes, Scott Morrison, AKA Captain A on with us tonight.

We’re also proud to announce that our YouTube video for this episode now features actual video footage of the show, check it out here and be sure to hit that subscribe button!

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Continue reading “Episode 181 – The Platform (1:21:40)”

Episode 154 – They Shall Not Grow Old (1:14:39)

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We commemorate the 101st anniversary of the armistice marking cease-fire and the end to hostilities in the Great War, now known as World War I, as it, unfortunately, set the table for a 2nd conflict that was even larger and now featured nazis and communists.

Peter Jackson’s documentary-take on the conflict in “They Shall Not Grow Old” which is a bringing-to-life account of the footage that is over 100 years old, with interviews from about 50 years ago mated with modern technology to bring vibrancy and color to the footage to bring a never-before-experienced look at the horrors of the Great War.

Our pal, Mike C. joins us for the discussion as our stars went out alignment with Jeff Deist of the Mises Institute who is running an event with Ron Paul this weekend. You can view that event here (the Scott Horton talk ties right into our discussion, but they are all excellent): https://youtu.be/IgoEFSrRnds

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Continue reading “Episode 154 – They Shall Not Grow Old (1:14:39)”

The Road to Civil War

By Murray N. Rothbard

The road to Civil War must be divided into two parts:

1.  the causes of the controversy over slavery leading to secession, and
2.  the immediate causes of the war itself.

The reason for such split is that secession need not have led to Civil War, despite the assumption to the contrary by most historians.

The basic root of the controversy over slavery to secession, in my opinion, was the aggressive, expansionist aims of the Southern “slavocracy.” Very few Northerners proposed to abolish slavery in the Southern states by aggressive war; the objection – and certainly a proper one – was to the attempt of the Southern slavocracy to extend the slave system to the Western territories. The apologia that the Southerners feared that eventually they might be outnumbered and that federal abolition might ensue is no excuse; it is the age-old alibi for “preventive war.” Not only did the expansionist aim of the slavocracy to protect slavery by federal fiat in the territories as “property” aim to foist the immoral system of slavery on Western territories; it even violated the principles of states’ rights to which the South was supposedly devoted – and which would logically have led to a “popular sovereignty” doctrine.

Actually, with Texas in the Union, there was no hope of gaining substantial support for slavery in any of the territories except Kansas, and this had supposedly been settled by the Missouri Compromise. “Free-Soil” principles for the Western territories could therefore have been easily established without disruption of existing affairs, if not for the continual aggressive push and trouble making of the South.

If Van Buren had been president, he might have been able to drive through Congress the free-soil principles of the Wilmot Proviso, and that would have been that. As it was, President Taylor’s bill would have settled the Western territory problem by simply adopting “popular sovereignty” principles in New Mexico, Utah, Oregon, and California territories – admitting them all eventually as free states. Instead, the unfortunate death of President Taylor, and the accession of Fillmore, ended this simple and straightforward solution, and brought forth the pernicious so-called “Compromise” of 1850, which exacerbated rather than reduced interstate tensions by adding to the essential Taylor program provisions for stricter enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law. Since the Fugitive Slave Law not only forced the Northern people to collaborate in what they considered – correctly – to be moral crime, but also violated Northern state rights, the strict Fugitive Slave Law was a constant irritant to the North.

The shift from free-soil principles in the Democratic Party and toward the Compromise of 1850 wrecked the old Jacksonian Democracy. The open break became apparent in Van Buren and the Free Soil candidacy of 1848; the failure of the Democratic Party to take an antislavery stand pushed the old libertarians into Free Soil or other alliances, even into the new Republican Party eventually: this tragic split in the Democratic Party lost it its libertarian conscience and drive.

Pro-southern domination of the Democratic Party in the 1850s, with Pierce and Buchanan, the opening up of the Kansas territory to slave expansion (or potential slave expansion) in 1854, led to the creation of the antislavery Republican Party. One tragedy here is that the surrender of the Democrat and Whig parties to the spirit of the Compromise of 1850 forced the free-soilers into a new party that was not only free soil, but showed dangerous signs (in Seward and others) of ultimately preparing for an abolitionist war against the South. Thus, Southern trouble making shifted Northern sentiment into potentially dangerous channels. Not only that: it also welded in the Republican Party a vehicle dedicated, multifold, to old Federalist-Whig principles: to high tariffs, to internal improvements and government subsidies, to paper money and government banking, etc. Libertarian principles were now split between the two parties.

The fantastic Dred Scott decision changed the political scene completely: for in it the Supreme Court had apparently outlawed free-soil principles, even including the Missouri Compromise. There was now only one course left to the lovers of freedom short of open rebellion against the Court, or Garrison’s secession by the North from a Constitution that had indeed become a “compact with Hell”; and that escape hatch was Stephen Douglas’s popular sovereignty doctrine, in its “Freeport” corollary: i.e., in quiet, local nullification of the Dred Scott decision. Continue reading “The Road to Civil War”

Just War

By Murray N. Rothbard

[Given Donald Trump’s recent comments regarding Andrew Jackson and the Civil War, it is a good time point out the historical context and the justifications as presented in the modern classroom vs. a more informed interpretation.  It is our view that Donald Trump was making a point that the Civil War and its attendant horrors were avoidable and the absolution of slavery still possible had a tyrant such as Lincoln not been in the dictatorial seat of power.]

 Much of “classical international law” theory, developed by the Catholic Scholastics, notably the 16th-century Spanish Scholastics such as Vitoria and Suarez, and then the Dutch Protestant Scholastic Grotius and by 18th- and 19th-century jurists, was an explanation of the criteria for a just war. For war, as a grave act of killing, needs to be justified.

My own view of war can be put simply: a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them.

During my lifetime, my ideological and political activism has focused on opposition to America’s wars, first because I have believed our waging them to be unjust, and, second, because war, in the penetrating phrase of the libertarian Randolph Bourne in World War I, has always been “the health of the State,” an instrument for the aggrandizement of State power over the health, the lives, and the prosperity, of their subject citizens and social institutions. Even a just war cannot be entered into lightly; an unjust one must therefore be anathema.

There have been only two wars in American history that were, in my view, assuredly and unquestionably proper and just; not only that, the opposing side waged a war that was clearly and notably unjust. Why? Because we did not have to question whether a threat against our liberty and property was clear or present; in both of these wars, Americans were trying to rid themselves of an unwanted domination by another people. And in both cases, the other side ferociously tried to maintain their coercive rule over Americans. In each case, one side — “our side” if you will — was notably just, the other side — “their side” — unjust.

To be specific, the two just wars in American history were the American Revolution and the War for Southern Independence. Continue reading “Just War”

Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature

By Murray N. Rothbard

For well over a century, the Left has generally been conceded to have morality, justice, and “idealism” on its side; the Conservative opposition to the Left has largely been confined to the “impracticality” of its ideals. A common view, for example, is that socialism is splendid “in theory,” but that it cannot “work” in practical life. What the Conservatives failed to see is that while short-run gains can indeed be made by appealing to the impracticality of radical departures from the status quo, that by conceding the ethical and the “ideal” to the Left they were doomed to long-run defeat. For if one side is granted ethics and the “ideal” from the start, then that side will be able to effect gradual but sure changes in its own direction; and as these changes accumulate, the stigma of “impracticality” becomes less and less directly relevant. The Conservative opposition, having staked its all on the seemingly firm ground of the “practical” (that is, the status quo) is doomed to lose as the status quo moves further in the left direction. The fact that the unreconstructed Stalinists are universally considered to be the “Conservatives” in the Soviet Union is a happy logical joke upon conservatism; for in Russia the unrepentant statists are indeed the repositories of at least a superficial “practicality” and of a clinging to the existing status quo.

Never has the virus of “practicality” been more widespread than in the United States, for Americans consider themselves a “practical” people, and hence, the opposition to the Left, while originally stronger than elsewhere, has been perhaps the least firm at its foundation. It is now the advocates of the free market and the free society who have to meet the common charge of “impracticality.”

In no area has the Left been granted justice and morality as extensively and almost universally as in its espousal of massive equality. It is rare indeed in the United States to find anyone, especially any intellectual, challenging the beauty and goodness of the egalitarian ideal. So committed is everyone to this ideal that “impracticality”—that is, the weakening of economic incentives—has been virtually the only criticism against even the most bizarre egalitarian programs. The inexorable march of egalitarianism is indication enough of the impossibility of avoiding ethical commitments; the fiercely “practical” Americans, in attempting to avoid ethical doctrines, cannot help setting forth such doctrines, but they can now only do so in unconscious, ad hoc, and unsystematic fashion. Keynes’s famous insight that “practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist”—is true all the more of ethical judgments and ethical theory.1

Continue reading “Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature”

Property and Exchange

By Murray N. Rothbard
[This essay originally appears as Chapter 2 of For a New Liberty]


The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. This may be called the “nonaggression axiom.” “Aggression” is defined as the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else. Aggression is therefore synonymous with invasion.

If no man may aggress against another; if, in short, everyone has the absolute right to be “free” from aggression, then this at once implies that the libertarian stands foursquare for what are generally known as “civil liberties”: the freedom to speak, publish, assemble, and to engage in such “victimless crimes” as pornography, sexual deviation, and prostitution (which the libertarian does not regard as “crimes” at all, since he defines a “crime” as violent invasion of someone else’s person or property). Furthermore, he regards conscription as slavery on a massive scale. And since war, especially modern war, entails the mass slaughter of civilians, the libertarian regards such conflicts as mass murder and therefore totally illegitimate.

All of these positions are now considered “leftist” on the contemporary ideological scale. On the other hand, since the libertarian also opposes invasion of the rights of private property, this also means that he just as emphatically opposes government interference with property rights or with the freemarket economy through controls, regulations, subsidies, or prohibitions. For if every individual has the right to his own property without having to suffer aggressive depredation, then he also has the right to give away his property (bequest and inheritance) and to exchange it for the property of others (free contract and the free market economy) without interference. The libertarian favors the right to unrestricted private property and free exchange; hence, a system of “laissez-faire capitalism.”

In current terminology again, the libertarian position on property and economics would be called “extreme right wing.” But the libertarian sees no inconsistency in being “leftist” on some issues and “rightist” on others. On the contrary, he sees his own position as virtually the only consistent one, consistent on behalf of the liberty of every individual. For how can the leftist be opposed to the violence of war and conscription while at the same time supporting the violence of taxation and government control? And how can the rightist trumpet his devotion to private property and free enterprise while at the same time favoring war, conscription, and the outlawing of noninvasive activities and practices that he deems immoral? And how can the rightist favor a free market while seeing nothing amiss in the vast subsidies, distortions, and unproductive inefficiencies involved in the military-industrial complex?

Continue reading “Property and Exchange”


By Murray N. Rothb

Now that the New Left has abandoned its earlier loose, flexible, nonideological 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. Also, 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 quest for allies in specific tactical actions. Anarcho-communism, both in its original Bakunin–Kropotkin form and in its current irrationalist and “post-scarcity” variety, is poles apart from genuine libertarian principle. If there is one thing, for example, that anarcho-communism hates and reviles more than the State, it is the right of private property. As a matter of fact, the major reason that Anarcho-Communists oppose the State is because they wrongly believe that it is the creator and protector of private property, and, therefore, that the only route toward abolition of property is by destruction of the State apparatus. They totally fail to realize that the State has always been the great enemy and invader of the rights of private property. Furthermore, scorning and detesting the free market, the profit-and-loss economy, private property, and material affluence—all of which are corollaries of each other—Anarcho-Communists wrongly identify anarchism with communal living, with tribal sharing, and with other aspects of our emerging drug-rock “youth culture.”

The only good thing that one might say about anarchocommunism is that, in contrast to Stalinism, its form of communism would, supposedly, be voluntary. Presumably, no one would be forced to join the communes, and those who would continue to live individually and to engage in market activities would remain unmolested. Or would they? AnarchoCommunists have always been extremely vague and cloudy about the lineaments of their proposed anarchist society of the future. Many of them have been propounding the profoundly antilibertarian doctrine that the anarcho-communist revolution will have to confiscate and abolish all private property, so as to wean everyone from their psychological attachment to the property they own. Furthermore, it is hard to forget the fact that when the Spanish Anarchists (anarchocommunists of the Bakunin–Kropotkin type) took over large sections of Spain during the Civil War of the 1930s, they confiscated and destroyed all the money in their areas and promptly decreed the death penalty for the use of money. None of this can give one confidence in the good, voluntarist intentions of anarcho-communism.

On all other grounds, anarcho-communism ranges from mischievous to absurd. Philosophically, this creed is an allout assault on individuality and on reason. The individual’s desire for private property, drive to better himself, to specialize, to accumulate profits and income are reviled by all branches of communism. Instead, everyone is supposed to live in communes, sharing all his meager possessions with his fellows and each being careful not to advance beyond his communal brothers. At the root of all forms of communism, compulsory or voluntary, lies a profound hatred of individual excellence, a denial of the natural or intellectual superiority of some men over others, and a desire to tear down every individual to the level of a communal ant-heap. In the name of a phony “humanism,” an irrational and profoundly antihuman egalitarianism is to rob every individual of his specific and precious humanity. 

Continue reading “Anarcho-Communism”

The Irish Revolution

By Murray N.  Rothbard

Fifty years ago, on Easter Monday, April 25, 1916, began the glorious Irish Revolution, a revolution that was to end by sweeping away a monstrous record of brutality and oppression that had been foisted for centuries upon the long-suffering Irish people.

In defeating the mighty armies of the greatest and most ruthless empire on the face of the earth, the Irish were the first people to have the courage and the stamina to follow through on the promise of the American Revolution against the same imperial oppressors: a Revolution that had been the first successful war of national liberation in modern history. The Irish Revolution was the second such successful war. For other wars of national liberation prompted by the American Revolution (e. g. Belgium, the Netherlands. Geneva, and later the revolutions of 1848) had been beaten back by the forces of armed international counter-revolution. The Irish Revolution was fought and won in the only way such wars can be won: in relentless guerrilla fashion, by an armed people. Characteristically, it was begun heedlessly, recklessly by a relatively small band of idealistic young people, young people who did not sit around waiting for the ripening of ‘objective conditions” before launching their rebellion. The Easter Rising was hopeless, bungled, quixotic, doomed–and yet was eventually to succeed, thus confirming the unquenchable convictions of the rebel leaders. As the historian of the Irish Revolution writes:

The leaders realized with complete clarity that the majority of the Irish people were almost lost to all sense of the rights of Ireland as a nation, had learned to rely on the vague optimism of the Parliamentarians and were ready to give thanks for a petty instalment of Home Rule. The Independence movement was the movement of a minority still, and those who were ready to give and take life in arm-ed insurrection were a minority in that movement. They believed, however, that the inherent native passion for freedom was dormant, not extinguished, and that only bold action was needed > to arouse the people to a sense of their rights, their needs, and the strength that still lay within them unused.’ 1

Continue reading “The Irish Revolution”

Outlawing Jobs: The Minimum Wage, Once More

By Murray Rothbard

Thеrе іѕ nо сlеаrеr dеmоnѕtrаtіоn оf the essential identity оf thе twо роlіtісаl раrtіеѕ thаn thеіr роѕіtіоn on thе mіnіmum wage. The Dеmосrаtѕ рrороѕеd tо raise thе lеgаl mіnіmum wаgе frоm $3.35 аn hour, tо which it had bееn rаіѕеd by the Rеаgаn administration durіng іtѕ аllеgеdlу free-market salad dауѕ іn 1981. Thе Rерublісаn counter was tо аllоw a “subminimum” wаgе fоr tееnаgеrѕ, who, as mаrgіnаl wоrkеrѕ, are the оnеѕ whо are іndееd hаrdеѕt hіt bу аnу lеgаl mіnіmum.

This ѕtаnd wаѕ quickly mоdіfіеd by the Republicans in Cоngrеѕѕ, whо proceeded tо argue fоr a teenage subminimum that wоuld lаѕt only a piddling 90 days, after whісh the rаtе wоuld rіѕе to thе hіghеr Dеmосrаtіс mіnіmum (оf $4.55 аn hоur.) It was lеft, іrоnісаllу еnоugh, for Sеnаtоr Edward Kеnnеdу tо роіnt оut the ludісrоuѕ есоnоmіс еffесt оf thіѕ рrороѕаl: tо іnduсе employers to hire teenagers and thеn fire them after 89 dауѕ, tо rеhіrе others the dау аftеr.

Finally, аnd characteristically, Gеоrgе Bush gоt the Rерublісаnѕ оut оf this hоlе by thrоwіng іn thе tоwеl altogether, and рlumріng for a Dеmосrаtіс рlаn, реrіоd. Wе wеrе lеft wіth thе Democrats fоrthrіghtlу рrороѕіng a bіg increase іn thе mіnіmum wаgе, аnd thе Rерublісаnѕ, after a series оf іllоgісаl wаfflеѕ, fіnаllу gоіng аlоng wіth the рrоgrаm.

In truth, thеrе is only оnе wау to regard a mіnіmum wаgе law: іt іѕ compulsory unеmрlоуmеnt, реrіоd. The lаw ѕауѕ: it is іllеgаl, and therefore сrіmіnаl, for anyone to hire аnуоnе else below the level оf X dоllаrѕ an hоur. Thіѕ means, plainly аnd ѕіmрlу, thаt a large number оf free and voluntary wage соntrасtѕ аrе now оutlаwеd and hеnсе thаt thеrе will be a lаrgе аmоunt оf unеmрlоуmеnt. Rеmеmbеr thаt thе mіnіmum wаgе lаw рrоvіdеѕ nо jоbѕ; it оnlу оutlаwѕ thеm; аnd оutlаwеd jobs аrе the inevitable rеѕult.

All demand сurvеѕ аrе fаllіng, аnd the demand for hiring labor іѕ nо еxсерtіоn. Hence, laws thаt prohibit еmрlоуmеnt аt аnу wаgе thаt is relevant to thе market (а minimum wage оf 10 сеntѕ аn hоur wоuld hаvе little or nо impact) muѕt rеѕult in оutlаwіng employment аnd hence causing unеmрlоуmеnt. Continue reading “Outlawing Jobs: The Minimum Wage, Once More”

Tax Day


By Murray N. Rothbard

Aрrіl 15, that drеаd Inсоmе Tаx dау, іѕ around again, and gіvеѕ uѕ a chance to ruminate оn the nаturе оf tаxеѕ аnd оf thе gоvеrnmеnt іtѕеlf.

The first grеаt lesson tо lеаrn аbоut tаxаtіоn is that taxation іѕ ѕіmрlу rоbbеrу.

Nо mоrе аnd no less. For whаt іѕ “robbery”? Robbery is the tаkіng оf a mаn’ѕ рrореrtу bу thе uѕе of vіоlеnсе or thе threat thereof, and therefore wіthоut thе vісtіm’ѕ соnѕеnt. And уеt whаt еlѕе is tаxаtіоn?

Thоѕе who сlаіm that taxation іѕ, in ѕоmе mystical ѕеnѕе, rеаllу “voluntary” should then hаvе no qualms about gеttіng rіd оf thаt vіtаl fеаturе of thе lаw whісh ѕауѕ that fаіlurе to рау оnе’ѕ taxes іѕ сrіmіnаl and ѕubjесt tо appropriate реnаltу. But does аnуоnе seriously believe thаt if thе рауmеnt оf taxation were rеаllу mаdе vоluntаrу, ѕау in the ѕеnѕе оf contributing tо thе American Cаnсеr Society, that аnу appreciable revenue wоuld fіnd іtѕеlf іntо the соffеrѕ оf gоvеrnmеnt? Thеn why dоn’t wе try it аѕ аn experiment for a few уеаrѕ, оr a fеw decades, аnd fіnd оut?

But іf taxation іѕ rоbbеrу, then іt fоllоwѕ as thе night thе dау that thоѕе people whо еngаgе іn, аnd lіvе оff, rоbbеrу аrе a gаng of thіеvеѕ. Hence thе government іѕ a group оf thieves, and deserves, mоrаllу, aesthetically, аnd philosophically, tо be trеаtеd еxасtlу аѕ a grоuр оf less ѕосіаllу rеѕресtаblе ruffіаnѕ wоuld be treated.

This іѕѕuе оf The Lіbеrtаrіаn іѕ dedicated tо that grоwіng lеgіоn оf Amеrісаnѕ whо аrе engaging in vаrіоuѕ fоrmѕ оf that оnе wеароn, thаt оnе act оf thе public whісh оur rulеrѕ fеаr thе most: tаx rеbеllіоn, the сuttіng off thе funds bу whісh the hоѕt public іѕ ѕарреd tо maintain thе parasitic ruling сlаѕѕеѕ. Here is a burnіng іѕѕuе whісh соuld арреаl tо еvеrуоnе, уоung аnd оld, poor and wеаlthу, “wоrkіng сlаѕѕ” and middle class, rеgаrdlеѕѕ оf rасе, соlоr, оr creed. Here іѕ an issue which еvеrуоnе understands, оnlу tоо wеll. Taxation.

This appeared in the April 15, 1969, issue of The Libertarian (soon to become The Libertarian Forum).

Murray N. Rothbard (1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian School, founder of modern libertarianism, and chief academic officer of the Mises Institute. He was also editor – with Lew Rockwell – of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report, and appointed Lew as his executor.