The Rise and Fall of the Nation-State

The state: Its rise and decline
by Martin van Creveld
In the future, independent organizations can be expected to emancipate themselves from state control and to play an independent role. Depending on the issue and on the moment, they may cooperate with governments, exercise pressure on governments, oppose governments, and even wage war on governments.

Ten Books on the State
by Alberto Mingardi
"Here is an attempt to identify 10 essential readings on the state, some in the field of historical reconstruction, some in the field of political philosophy."

The Birth of the State

Continued Dialog on the Origin of the State
by Roderick Long and Phil Jacobson
Was the state inevitable or merely more likely to arise in times of famine?

An Essay Concerning the True Original End and Extent of Government
by John Locke
"The first major work, better known as Locke's Second Treatise, saying that individuals have a natural right to life, liberty and property, regardless what governments might say."

Fear: The Foundation of Every Government's Power
May 17, 2005
by Robert Higgs
"The people who have the effrontery to rule us, who call themselves our government, understand this basic fact of human nature. They exploit it, and they cultivate it. Whether they compose a warfare state or a welfare state, they depend on it to secure popular submission, compliance with official dictates, and, on some occasions, affirmative cooperation with the state’s enterprises and adventures. Without popular fear, no government could endure more than twenty-four hours. David Hume taught that all government rests on public opinion, but that opinion, I maintain, is not the bedrock of government. Public opinion itself rests on something deeper: fear."

Food Wars and the Origin of the State
by Philip Jacobson
The state originated in food wars. Such wars are now obsolete and so is the state.

Freedom in Chains: The Rise of the State and the Demise of the Citizen by James Bovard
reviewed by Robert Batemarco
May 2000
"The central theme of this book is that the idealist theory of the state, which depends on the concealment of government’s coercive nature, has made the American republic something that would be unrecognizable to its Founders. They were so keenly aware of the clear and present danger of state coercion that they painstakingly sought to establish institutions designed to minimize it."

From God or the Sword?
by Frank Chodorov
"The sociological theory of the State rests not only on the evidence of history but also on the fact that there are two ways by which men can acquire economic goods: production and predation. The first involves the application of labor to raw materials, the other the use of force. Pillaging, slavery, and conquest are the primitive forms of predation, but the economic effect is the same when political coercion is used to deprive the producer of his product, or even when he accedes to the transfer of ownership as the price for permission to live."

The Genesis of the State
by Franz Oppenheimer
"The state is an organization of the political means.
No state, therefore, can come into being until the economic means has created a definite number of objects for the satisfaction of needs, which objects may be taken away or appropriated by warlike robbery. For that reason, primitive huntsmen are without a state; and even the more highly developed huntsmen become parts of a state structure only when they find in their neighborhood an evolved economic organization that they can subjugate. But primitive huntsmen live in practical anarchy."

Of the origin and design of government in general, with concise remarks on the English Constitution
by Thomas Paine
"SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher."

The Origins of States
by Roy Halliday
Describes what experts have learned about how primary states arose.

Reply to Roderick Long's "Was the State Inevitable?"
by Phil Jacobson
"The state was formed when bands of conquering warriors found it was more expedient to treat the conquered as cattle than to simply kill them and/or steal from them."

The Six Stages of the Creation of the State
by Franz Oppenheimer
"In the following discussion it should not be assumed that the actual historical development must, in each particular case, climb the entire scale step by step. Although, even here, the argument does not depend upon bare theoretical construction, since every particular stage is found in numerous examples, both in the world's history and in ethnology, and there are states which have apparently progressed through them all. But there are many more that have skipped one or more of these stages."

The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change by Hendrik Spruyt
reviewed by Boudewijn R. A. Bouckaert
"Viewed from this globalist perspective, Hendrik Spruyt’s book constitutes an intellectual “scoop,” for it provides us with penetrating insights into the emergence of the nation-state and the international system of which it forms the unit. If globalization is not a mere fantasy–and there are grounds for thinking it is not; some economists have expressed strong doubts about the future of the nation-state–then it is certainly useful to understand the processes by which the system whose virtual disappearance we are now contemplating became established initially."

The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically
by Franz Oppenheimer
"A pioneering historical analysis of the state from a sociological perspective which focuses on the changing nature of political power and the groups who wielded this power. One of his key insights is the distinction between the economic and the political means of acquiring wealth."

The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically by Franz Oppenheimer
reviewed by Candice I. Copas
A positive review and summary of Oppenheimer's theory of the origin of the state, the stages of its development, its history, and its future.

Theories of the State
by Franz Oppenheimer
"Our object is to trace the development of the state from its sociopsychological genesis up to its modern constitutional form; after that, we shall endeavor to present a well-founded prognosis concerning its future development."

Was the State Inevitable?
by Roderick T. Long
The state was not inevitable, although the material scarcity before the industrial revolution made the creation of the state more likely.

Classes Created with the State

Agorist Class Theory
by Wally Conger and Samuel Edward Konkin III

America's Ruling Class – and the Perils of Revolution
August 14, 2010
by Angelo M. Codevilla
"When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term "political class" came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public's understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the "ruling class." And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class."

Bureaucracy and the Civil Service in the United States
by Murray N. Rothbard
"Bureaucracy is necessarily hierarchical, first because of the Iron Law of Oligarchy, and secondly because bureaucracy grows by adding more subordinate layers. Since, lacking a market, there is no genuine test of "merit" in government's service to consumers, in a rule-bound bureaucracy seniority is often blithely adopted as a proxy for merit. Increasing seniority, then, leads to promotion to higher ranks, while expanding budgets take the form of multiplying the levels of ranks under you, and expanding your income and power. Bureaucratic growth occurs, then, by multiplying levels of bureaucracy."

Class Analysis: Marxian and Austrian Perspectives
February 11, 2010
by David Osterfeld
"While this distinction between harmony and conflict, between mutual benefit and the benefit of one individual or group at the expense of another, between market and government, is systematically ignored in Marxian analysis, it is at the center of libertarian class analysis. It is unfortunate that class analysis is so closely associated with Marxism, for it has meant that libertarian class analysis has been largely ignored. This is unfortunate, since it is a sophisticated and powerful tool for analyzing society."

The Class-Domination Theory of Power
April 2005
by G. William Domhoff
"Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money have the power. George Washington was one of the biggest landowners of his day; presidents in the late 19th century were close to the railroad interests; for the Bush family, it was oil and other natural resources, agribusiness, and finance. But to be more exact, those who own income-producing property – corporations, real estate, and agribusinesses – set the rules within which policy battles are waged."

Classical-Liberal Exploitation Theory
October 26, 1974
by Ralph Raico
"The view that exploitation of and parasitism upon society were attributes of the nonmarket classes, of the classes that stood outside of the production process, was a very widespread one in the early and middle 19th century."

The Class Struggle
by Ludwig von Mises
"Capitalism is essentially mass production to fill the needs of the masses. But Marx always labored under the deceptive conception that the workers are toiling for the sole benefit of an upper class of idle parasites. He did not see that the workers themselves consume by far the greater part of all the consumers' goods turned out."

Class Struggle, Conservative Style
September 8, 2010
by Gary Chartier
"The only way to eliminate the power of the Ruling Class is to eliminate the state."

Class War: How public servants became our masters
February 2010
by Steven Greenhut
"There was a time when government work offered lower salaries than comparable jobs in the private sector but more security and somewhat better benefits. These days, government workers fare better than private-sector workers in almost every area—pay, benefits, time off, and job security."

Codevilla's Not-Quite Manifesto
August 4, 2010
by Gary North
"He lays out the scenario of American politics today, which he says is an extension of the split that began with the Progressive movement. He sees its incarnation as Woodrow Wilson. But he offers no call to action. He offers no program of reconstruction."

The Egyptian Crisis and Libertarian Class-Conflict Theory
February 14, 2011
by David S. D'Amato
"More than any other economic approach, the Austrian School raises and provides answers to the critical inquiries of class theory, drawing the ultimate distinction between the types of interactions between individuals. Rather than accepting the idea of the state as a concretization of an immutable class conflict that preexists it, the Austrian School looks on the state as the source of all such conflict."

The Forgotten Man and Other Essays
by William Graham Sumner
"24 essays and papers on topics ranging from protection, gold and silver currency, commercial crises, strikes, sociology, and education."

Free Enterprise: The Antidote to Corporate Plutocracy
by Keith Preston
"The natural corollary to libertarian anti-statism is the defense of the free market in economic affairs."

From Freedom to Bondage
by Herbert Spencer
"For as fast as the régime of contract is discarded the régime of status is of necessity adopted. As fast as voluntary coöperation is abandoned compulsory coöperation must be substituted. Some kind of organization labour must have; and if it is not that which arises by agreement under free competition, it must be that which is imposed by authority. Unlike in appearance and names as it may be to the old order of slaves and serfs, working under masters, who were coerced by barons, who were themselves vassals of dukes or kings, the new order wished for, constituted by workers under foremen of small groups, overlooked by superintendents, who are subject to higher local managers, who are controlled by superiors of districts, themselves under a central government, must be essentially the same in principle."

The Futility of Class Warfare
June 1997
by Lawrence W. Reed
"In an economy with great mobility, people simply do not remain in the same top and bottom income categories over time. Treasury Department data show that of the U.S. households in the bottom one-fifth of incomes in 1979, only 14 percent remained there by 1988. Meanwhile, 35 percent of 1979’s top one-fifth had fallen from the top by 1988."

The Intent of the U.S. Ruling Class Is Total Tyranny: We Must Stop It!
February 10, 2011
by Gary D. Barnett
"The U.S. government, as is true of all governments, has nothing, creates nothing, and produces nothing. It can only steal and kill in order to survive."

James Mill and Libertarian Class Analysis
by Murray N. Rothbard
"Never has libertarian ruling-class theory been put more clearly or forcefully than in the words of Mill: there are two classes, Mill declared, 'the first class, those who plunder, are the small number. They are the ruling Few. The second class, those who are plundered, are the great number. They are the subject Many.'"

Ludwig von Mises’ Legacy for Feminists
September 1, 1997
by Wendy McElroy
"With the death of the ERA and the consequent disillusionment of liberal feminists, the ideology of gender feminism came to the forefront and began to exert a defining influence on many issues. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to state that much of current mainstream feminism is based upon gender feminism’s version of class analysis. It is on this point of theory that Mises provides penetrating insights on modern feminism."

Marxist and Austrian Class Analysis
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Our Interests and Their Interests
by Murray N. Rothbard
"Mises's notable theory of classes has been curiously neglected by most of his followers. By bringing it back into prominence, we have to abandon the cozy view that all of us, we and our privileged rulers alike, are in a continuing harmony of interest. By amending Mises's theory to account for time preference and other problems in his "rightly understood" analysis, we conclude with the still less cozy view that the interests of the State-privileged and of the rest of society are at loggerheads – and further, that only moral principles beyond utilitarianism can ultimately settle the dispute between them."

The Private Use of Public Policy
February 1, 1999
by Paul Craig Roberts
"The assumption that public policy serves a public interest, itself undefined, has no empirical foundation. It is an ideological artifact serving intellectuals who gain private emotional satisfaction from their worship of government as secular redeemer."

A Splendid Essay on the Two Great Classes in Contemporary America
July 26, 2010
by Robert Higgs
"Codevilla cuts immediately to the core: the United States today is divided into (a) a ruling class, which dominates the government at every level, the schools and universities, the mainstream media, Hollywood, and a great deal else, and (b) all of the rest of us, a heterogeneous agglomeration that Codevilla dubs the country class. The ruling class holds the lion’s share of the institutional power, but the country class encompasses perhaps two-thirds of the people."

Thugocracy: America's New Gangster Government
May 20, 2011
by Samuel L. Blumenfeld
"We now have a government of men, not laws. That was how the Democrat Congress forced the enactment of Obama’s socialized healthcare program despite strong opposition from the American people."

The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy by Thomas Sowell
reviewed by Stephen Cox
"He brilliantly analyzes the ideas of the anointed, but he does not provide a comparably substantial account of the processes that can cause those ideas to be reexamined and replaced by better ones. Sowell is superbly qualified to explore that subject. One hopes that he plans to do so in an early sequel to his current book."

Who Rules America: Power Elite Analysis and American History
January 18, 2012
by Charles A. Burris
"An understanding of power elite analysis is the "litmus test" separating real libertarians from alternative lifestyle dilettantes dabbling in free market theory. This examination of causal relationships regarding the nature and scope of political power, who has it and how it is exercised, is crucial to understanding the State as organized crime."

The Death of the State

The Almighty, Impotent State; or, the Crisis of Authority
by Sigmund Knag
"Warnings of a crisis in government authority have grown frequent and now come from many quarters. The most fundamental causes of a weakening of authority are the loss of conviction by those in positions of authority and the appearance of doubt in the public mind as to whether those in authority have the right to their social positions—in other words, the loss of legitimacy."

Climbing Off the Bandwagon
by Wendy McElroy
An argument against the Libertarian Party on the grounds that, "Voluntaryists observe that politics will not bring freedom any more than violence will bring peace."

The Death of Politics
by Karl Hess
"Politics does devour men. A laissez-faire world would liberate men. And it is in that sort of liberation that the most profound revolution of all may be just beginning to stir. It will not happen overnight, just as the lamps of rationalism were not quickly lighted and have not yet burned brightly. But it will happen — because it must happen."

Dialogue: Electronic Democracy and the Prospects for a Free Nation
by Richard O. Hammer and Phil Jacobson
An exchange of letters regarding Phil Jacobson's article Glorious Revolution for an American Free Nation.

Dimensions of the Shadow Economy
by Friedrich Schneider
"The underground economy cannot be measured with precision, but numerous plausible estimates suggest that it is large and growing, particularly in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries. Unless policy makers are prepared to see this trend continue, they must reduce the burden of taxes and social security contributions."

Dismantling Leviathan from Within, Part I: Can We? Should We?
by Roderick T. Long
Argues that seizing political power could be justified as a form of self-defense.

Dismantling Leviathan from Within, Part II: The Process of Reform?
by Roderick T. Long
Argues that "those aspects of government whose immediate cessation is ethically mandatory are distinct from the aspects which must for practical reasons be phased out over time, so that an effective state-dismantling program can take an abolitionist attitude toward the former and a gradualist attitude toward the latter, consistent with both libertarian moral scruples and pragmatic requirements."

Dismantling Leviathan from Within, Part III: Is Libertarian Political Action Self-Defeating?
by Roderick T. Long
This part challenges the following three arguments: "first, that reliance on political rather than educational solutions flies in the face of libertarian recognition that the bottom-up approaches are more effective than top-down ones; second, that trying to put libertarians in power ignores the fact that power tends to corrupt its holders, even if those holders are libertarian; and third, that by engaging in political action libertarians would be perceived as hypocritical and so would undermine their own effectiveness."

Dismantling Leviathan from Within, Part IV: The Sons of Brutus
by Roderick T. Long
Argues that those who believe they stand to lose from the establishment of a libertarian regime will obstruct it, and they can only be overcome if libertarians use a bottom-up and a top-down approach simultaneously.

Dismantling Utopia: How Information Ended the Soviet Union by Scott Shane
reviewed by Yuri Maltsev
"Shane views the breakup of the Soviet Union as the logical outcome of the absence of the market, the essential means by which complex societies transmit information."

Does Freedom Need to Be Organized?
by Carl Watner
An argument for self-improvement as the only strategy to achieve a better world.

Elections, Libertarians, and State Power
by Calvin Stacy Powers
"If we want to gain power to dismantle the state, we must start by working for good in our own communities."

Embracing the New World Order: Libertarians and Terrorism
by Phil Jacobson
An optimistic analysis of the terrorism problem. The failure of the imperial, statist approach to the problem will lead to opportunities for libertarian entrepreneurs.

End of the Nation-State
June 4, 2012
by Doug Casey
"Just as the agricultural revolution put an end to tribalism and the industrial revolution killed the kingdom, I think we're heading for another multipronged revolution that's going to make the nation-state an anachronism. It won't happen next month, or next year. But I'll bet the pattern will start becoming clear within the lifetime of many now reading this."

Glorious Revolution for an American Free Nation
by Philip E. Jacobson
Raises the possibility of a bloodless, libertarian revolution, which may already be underway in America.

The Good News: Tyrants Always Fail
by Richard O. Hammer
"When we comprehend, and communicate successfully, the pattern which underlies the evil of the state, then we will defeat it."

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6, Volume 7, Volume 8, Volume 9, Volume 10, Volume 11, Volume 12
by Edward Gibbon
The 12-volume set of Gibbon’s magesterial history of the end of the Roman Empire, one of the greatest works of history written during the Enlightenment.

How a state collapses
by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
"Just as the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe 10 years ago lifted the hearts of freedom lovers everywhere, the spectacular meltdown of the SLA in Lebanon is yet more proof of the fragility of even a heavily armed government power. One day, the streets were crawling with troops in full command of the country, and the next day, these same troops are catching the fastest ride out of town, abandoning their posts and not even bothering to grab their personal effects."

How Can Governments Be Abolished
by Lyof N. Tolstoy
Cease to give governments soldiers and money.

Ideas on Taking Apart Government
by Richard O. Hammer
Can government dismantle government?

The Information Revolution and the Death of the State
by Ian Angell

Is It Wise to Vote? Getting My Head Ready for Freedom
by Richard O. Hammer
Voting wastes time and energy that could be better spent working to create a free nation.

Libertarianism's stealthy triumph
by Bill Winter
"Quietly, without much fanfare, many free-market, libertarian-style alternatives to government-run systems--even ones considered hopelessly radical, like private roads and money--have been implemented around the country."

Nations by Consent: Decoupling the Nation-State
by Murray N. Rothbard

A Pessimistic View of Legitimizing the Institutions of a Free Nation
by Roy Halliday
"Our [libertarian] views are not wrong, they are just not likely to be popular with the stupid masses or with their more intelligent but evil rulers."

The Power of Non-Violent Resistance
by Jerry M. Tinker
How non-violent resistance works as a radical alternative to electoral politics.

Roll Back U.S. Government? Not This Time
by Marc D. Joffe
We can't count on the "Republican Revolution" or the Libertarian Party to transform the USA into a free nation. The best prospects for liberty remain somewhere outside the United States.

The Sovereign Individual The Impact of the Information Age
by James R. Elwood
"Today, the nation-state has run the same course as the medieval Church, becoming corrupt, bloated and a drag on society."

Thoughts on Dismantling Government
by Richard O. Hammer
When the state monopolizes an essential service, it is important to establish a market alternative before entirely dismantling the government service.

You Can't Do That
by Bobby Yates Emory
Contends that trying to use government to reduce government is counterproductive.

The Nature of the State

The Anatomy of the State
by Murray N. Rothbard
"Briefly, the State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion. While other individuals or institutions obtain their income by production of goods and services and by the peaceful and voluntary sale of these goods and services to others, the State obtains its revenue by the use of compulsion; that is, by the use and the threat of the jailhouse and the bayonet. Having used force and violence to obtain its revenue, the State generally goes on to regulate and dictate the other actions of its individual subjects. One would think that simple observation of all States through history and over the globe would be proof enough of this assertion; but the miasma of myth has lain so long over State activity that elaboration is necessary."

The Business of Government
by Murray N. Rothbard
"Conflicts and bitterness are inherent in government operation. Imagine what would happen if all newspapers were published by government. First, because a government operation gets its revenues from coercive taxation instead of voluntary payment for services rendered, it is not obliged to be efficient in serving the consumer. And, second, conflicts among groups of taxpayers would rage over editorial policy, news content, and even tabloid versus regular size. "Rightists," "leftists," "middle-of-the-roaders," each forced to pay for the paper, would naturally try to govern its policy."

Common Sense
by Thomas Paine
"Published anonymously in 1776 Common Sense was the most famous pamphlet of the American Revolution. It became an immediate best-seller and was important in galvanizing support for independence from Britain."

The Criminal State
by Albert J. Nock
"The British State has sold the Czech State down the river by a despicable trick; very well, be as disgusted and angry as you like, but don't be astonished; what would you expect?--just take a look at the British State's record! The German State is persecuting great masses of its people, the Russian State is holding a purge, the Italian State is grabbing territory, the Japanese State is buccaneering along the Asiatic Coast; horrible, yes, but for Heaven's sake don't lose your head over it, for what would expect?--look at the record!"

The Cult of Sanctified Violence
January 10, 2011
by Will Grigg
"Shorn of the sophistries that provide it with a moral disguise, pared down to its essentials, political government is the systematic use of exactly the same kind of criminal violence employed by Loughner, only on a much grander scale. This was illustrated the day before Loughner's murderous rampage, when agents of the government ruling us used a remote-controlled drone operated from the safety of an office building in Nevada to murder six people in Pakistan's North Waziristan region."

Defining the State and Society
by Wendy McElroy
"Although the conquest theory has much greater historical validity than the consent theory, debate continues as to what implication the origin of the State has upon the legitimacy of current states."

Demystifying the State
by Wendy McElroy
"Libertarianism is a direct attack upon the mystique of the state. It recognizes that the state is only an abstraction and reduces it to the actions of individuals. It applies the same standard of morality to the state as it would to a next-door neighbor. If it is not proper for a neighbor to tax or pass laws regulating your private life, then it cannot be proper for the state to do so."

Dependent on D.C.: The Rise of Federal Control over the Lives of Ordinary Americans by Charlotte A. Twight
reviewed by James L. Payne
"Welcome to the real world, says Twight, where public officials are cynical—and often unscrupulous—partisans. They do not see their job as that of providing the public with a balanced account of the programs with which they are involved. Instead, they present as biased and self-serving a picture as they can get away with."

Discourses Concerning Government
by Algernon Sidney
"Written in response to Sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha (1680), the Discourses Concerning Government is a classic defense of republicanism and popular government. Sidney rejected Filmer’s theories of royal absolutism and divine right of kings, insisting that title to rule should be based on merit rather than birth; and republics, he thought, were more likely to honor merit than were monarchies."

From The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
by Karl Marx
"Marx has been wrongly seen as a supporter of the state, the socialist state. But his writings are full of critical notations against the dreadful centralization and control of everything carried out by the state in the interest of parasitic strata. The following extract presents a picture of the French state, still valid and perhaps closer to reality now more than ever." - John Zube

From The Origin of Family, Private Property and State
by Friedrich Engels
"This is one of the passages most forgotten by the "state socialists" because it points out that the state has no role to play in a socialist society. According to Engels, the state must be put "into the museum of antiquities, by the side of the spinning wheel and the bronze axe"; it should not become the centre point of any social organization and certainly not of a socialist society, as advocated by fake socialists." - John Zube

Giffords: Reality Turned Inside-Out
January 12, 2011
by Larken Rose
"There is a moral difference between aggressive force -- initiating violence against someone who hasn't threatened or harmed anyone -- and using defensive force. The vast majority of 'government' violence, advocated by the 'left' and the 'right,' is unjustified, immoral aggressive force. But again, statists from both sides, being believers in the cult of 'government,' don't think it counts as violence, because in their eyes, it's not being committed by mere people, but by the mystical, magical, superhuman entity known as 'government.'"

Government, The State, and Private Property
February 1986
by Kenneth McDonald
"Western man’s attempts to limit the State’s power brought representative Government. Its purpose was to secure unalienable rights, a very different concept from that of the State, which admitted no rights other than those it chose to grant."

Government’s contribution: Immoral violence
by Larken Rose
"So what, exactly, does “government” add to society? What can it add?"

How and Why the State Destroys Society
by Frank Chodorov
"The transition from negative Government to positive State is marked by the use of political power for predatory purposes. In its pursuit of power, officialdom takes into consideration the ineluctable something-for-nothing passion, and proceeds to win the support of segments of Society bent on feathering their nests without picking feathers."

How Government Destroys Moral Character
November 6, 2006
by Robert Higgs
"Regardless of how one assesses the morality of modern government’s hypertrophied taking from Peter and giving to Paul, however, this activity definitely bears a deadly fruit. Because it creates such widespread and powerful incentives for people to engage in government-facilitated predation, instead of production, it diverts great energies, intelligence and other resources to the pursuit of privilege."

Is Protecting Us the Government’s First Priority?
by Ivan Eland
"The answer is simple. Although the U.S. government repeatedly warns its citizens of imminent terrorist attacks and takes Draconian measures—both at home and abroad—in the name of “national security,” it really does not have many incentives to actually make those citizens safer."

The Lawless State
by Karl Hess
"In terms of actual change, as a matter of fact, there hasn't been an election in the United States since its inception that has driven the country solidly onto a course toward less government and more liberty. Each, rather, has driven the country toward more government and less liberty."

The Man versus the State
by Herbert Spenser
"This volume contains the four essays that Spencer published as The Man Versus the State in 1884 as well as five essays added by later publishers. In addition, it provides "The Proper Sphere of Government," an important early essay by Spencer. Spencer develops various specific disastrous ramifications of the wholesale substitution of the principle of compulsory cooperation - the statist principle - for the individualist principle of voluntary cooperation."

Masterbond and Enron demonstrate market success, not market failure
December 15, 2002
by Leon Louw
"It is a great tribute to the market system that an Enron or Masterbond failure creates such surprise and fuss when it happens. Some pundits even talk excitedly about 'market failure'. However, an Enron failure is one more powerful piece of evidence of market success. By not allowing such firms to survive, the market forces them to release resources and create market and employment opportunities for more able current and future participants.
Unfortunately, this can't happen in state operations. They never fail no matter how badly they perform. Or more accurately, they keep failing forever but are never liquidated because they are propped up by money taken from taxpayers. Yet nobody ever talks about "government failure," presumably because it's the norm. In most government systems, failure is so endemic and constant that people don't even bother to complain. There are delays and hold-ups and black-outs and an endless array of failures. Many individuals in government are doing their best, though that is not obligatory. The problem lies not with the individuals, but is an inherent part of the system. It's just the nature of government."

Meet the Enemy
by Butler Shaffer
"Those who chide critics of the state as being "idealistic" or "utopian" must, themselves, answer for their visionary faith that state power could be made to restrain itself. As Nock understood, and as more recent history confirms, it is those who believe that written constitutions can protect the individual from the exercise of state power who hold to a baseless idealism, particularly when it is the state's judicial powers of interpretation that define the range of such powers."

The Myth of Efficient Government Service
by Murray N. Rothbard
"The well-known inefficiencies of government operation are not empirical accidents, resulting perhaps from the lack of a civil-service tradition. They are inherent in all government enterprise, and the excessive demand fomented by free and other underpriced services is just one of the many reasons for this condition."

The Nature and Morality of Government
by Jarret B. Wollstein
"Since a "limited government" cannot, by definition be limited to dealing solely in retaliatory force, we necessarily conclude that limited government is inherently immoral and must be rejected by any advocate of human freedom and justice in favor of competing agencies of retaliatory force."

The Nature of Man and His Government
by Robert LeFevre
"The value of this little book is its contribution and its stimulus to true revolutionary thinking. I think you have not read its like before. If it jolts you, that's good; these are the times when minds need waking up. Let nothing keep you from it any longer." -- Rose Wilder Lane

The Nature of the State
by Murray N. Rothbard
"The State indeed performs many important and necessary functions: from provision of law to the supply of police and fire fighters, to building and maintaining the streets, to delivery of the mail. But this in no way demonstrates that only the State can perform such functions, or, indeed, that it performs them even passably well."

The Nature of the State
by Clarence Darrow
"But the origin and evolution of the political state show quite another thing — they show that the state was born in aggression, and that in all the various stages through which it has passed its essential characteristics have been preserved."

The Nature of the State and Why Libertarians Hate It
May 3, 2010
by Stephan Kinsella
"Anti-statism is an essential aspect of libertarianism–anarchists oppose the entire state, root and branch, while minarchists oppose all of the modern state save for a tiny core of vital functions."

Our Enemy, The State
by Albert J. Nock
"What we and our more nearly immediate descendants shall see is a steady progress in collectivism running off into a military despotism of a severe type. Closer centralization; a steadily growing bureaucracy; State power and faith in State power increasing, social power and faith in social power diminishing; the State absorbing a continually larger proportion of the national income; production languishing, the State in consequence taking over one "essential industry"after another, managing them with ever-increasing corruption, inefficiency and prodigality, and finally resorting to a system of forced labour. Then at some point in this progress, a collision of State interests, at least as general and as violent as that which occurred in 1914, will result in an industrial and financial dislocation too severe for the asthenic social structure to bear; and from this the State will be left to "the rusty death of machinery,"and the casual anonymous forces of dissolution will be supreme."

The Peculiar Institution
by Jacob Halbrooks
"People who wish for liberty should not waste effort in discussing the various merits of different governments, for all rest on the fundamental lie of government. It can only be when the people with the majority of force in society recognize that there is no such thing as a common will, that only an individual person has a will, that lasting progress toward liberty will be made. Until then, the peculiar institution of government will continue to result in products, programs, and laws that do not agree with the wishes of the people."

Politics as Theft, or Politics as Justice?
by Michael S. Rozeff
"In the past two years, theft through politics for bailouts has risen to a minimum of $13 trillion in the U.S. This does not include the Obama spending bill ($700 billion). By comparison, the largest estimate of private crime I have found is $1.7 trillion annually (double earlier estimates.)"

The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude
by Etienne de la Boetie
"In short, when the point is reached, through big favors or little ones, that large profits or small are obtained under a tyrant, there are found almost as many people to whom tyranny seems advantageous as those to whom liberty would seem desirable."

Public Choice and Political Leadership
by Robert Higgs
"That individuals act the same in public and private life is a useful assumption in public choice analysis, but it shouldn’t blind us to the basic truth that decent people do not seek political power over others."

Rothbard and the Nature of the State
April 5, 2010
by Matt Palmer
"The Rothbardian perspective is distinctive because he refuses to interpret the actions of states as belonging to a special class of human action. Rothbard holds all people to the same standard of conduct, whereas others give the actions of states special moral considerations."

Savings and Growth
by Jacob Halbrooks
"The apparatus that once ensured that people who infringe upon others’ rights are punished or removed eventually degenerates into an apparatus that routinely infringes upon those rights itself. Consequently, present administrators of the government rely upon the power that the past administrators wrestled from the people, and the government savings of the past directly influences the its present size and power."

The State
by Frédéric Bastiat
"The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."

The State
by Randolph Bourne
"War is the health of the State."

The State
by Anthony de Jasay
"Its central theme—how state and society interact to disappoint and render each other miserable—may concern a rather wide public among both governors and governed."

The State as an Organization: Part I, Part II, Part III
by Michael S. Rozeff
"Franz Oppenheimer called the state the "organization of the political means," and Murray Rothbard defined it as "that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area." Both are right. The state is an organization, which means we can analyze it as such."

The State: Its Historic Role
by Piotr Kropotkin
"History is not an uninterrupted natural development. Again and again development has stopped in one particular territory only to emerge somewhere else. Egypt, the Near East, the Mediterranean shores and Central Europe have all in turn been centres of historical development. But every time the pattern has been the same: beginning with the phase of the primitive tribe followed by the village commune; then by the free city, finally to die with the advent of the State."

The State versus Liberty
by Murray N. Rothbard
"The State indeed performs many important and necessary functions: from provision of law to the supply of police and fire fighters, to building and maintaining the streets, to delivery of the mail. But this in no way demonstrates that only the State can perform such functions, or, indeed, that it performs them even passably well."

Thank God for the Nation State?
March 15, 2002
by Robert Higgs
"The governments of the United States undoubtedly seize more wealth in a day than all the sneak thieves, pickpockets, con men, and muggers in all the world have taken since the dawn of recorded time."

Wake Up to the Law of the Ratchet
November 26, 2001
by Robert Higgs and Steve H. Hanke
"Much of the growth of government in the US and elsewhere occurs as a direct or indirect result of national emergencies such as wars and economic depressions."

When Will They Figure It Out?
January 11, 2011
by Butler Shaffer
"The reality to which increasing numbers of people are becoming aware, is that politics is a violent and corrupt racket that functions on generating fears among those to be ruled. Politicians and other government officials are attracted to political careers not because they want to serve others, but because they have their own visions of what would be "good" for such others, and desire the power to enforce by violence – which is the essence of every government – their expectations."

Why Government Doesn't Work by Harry Brown
reviewed by Marc D. Joffe
This book does an excellent job of explaining libertarian ideas to newcomers. It will also appeal to libertarian activists, whether they are advocates of pragmatism or consistency.

States Are Not Necessary

Aggression Is a Luxury, Not a Necessity
by Mary J. Ruwart
Aggression and the state are neither necessary nor inevitable.

Anarchy, Order, and Functions Performed by Government
by Richard O. Hammer
Contains a list of human needs that can be provided by the state. Different people think government should fill different needs from the list, so they support the state. But all of these needs could be provided voluntarily. We can have order without the state.

Do we ever really get out of anarchy?
by Alfred G. Cuzan
Argues that anarchy still exists between those who run the state.

Do We Need a Government?
by David Friedman
"The private market will not produce perfectly efficient law, but it is hard to see why the public market will come even close--and there is little evidence that it does."

Do We Need a Government?
by Tom Palmer
He notes that geography plays a role in determining whether a state is necessary.

The Economics of Violent Intervention in the Market
by Murray N. Rothbard
Chapter 12 of Man, Economy and State.

Fallacies of Public Goods Theory and the Production of Security
by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable
by Randall G. Holcombe
"Governments are formed not to create goods and services for their citizens but to impose force on people. This truth may seem elementary, but its full implications are sufficiently subtle to have eluded the miscast debate over limited government versus orderly anarchy."

Has the State Always Been There? How Tribal Anarchy Works
by Stefan Blankertz
"The intention of my speech is to rectify the false assumptions about the origins of human society. My intention is not to advertise the tribal organization as the model for modern societies. But to know that the root of all our societies is a well functioning, self-conscious anarchy changes the question whether anarchy is possible to the question how anarchy is possible."

If Hobbes is Right, Then he is Wrong: Why Social Order Can Arise Without a State Amongst Hobbesian People
by Richard A. Garner
". . . if Hobbes is right (about human nature) then he is wrong (about the need for strong political authority). Government can be done without."

If Men Were Angels
October 16, 2010
by Robert Higgs
"The lesson of the precautionary principle is plain: Because people are vile and corruptible, the state, which holds by far the greatest potential for harm and tends to be captured by the worst of the worst, is much too risky for anyone to justify its continuation. To tolerate it is not simply to play with fire, but to chance the total destruction of the human race."

Is Government Necessary?
by Dr. Mary Ruwart
The good doctor says no.

Justice and Its Surroundings by Anthony de Jasay
reviewed by Roderick T. Long
"In response to the claim that the state is a precondition of social order, de Jasay points out that, on the contrary, the rise and perpetuation of the state presuppose social order. Either a society, considered apart from the state, can afford to protect property rights by paying the relevant exclusion costs, or it cannot. If it can, the state is not needed. If it cannot, the society must lack the socioeconomic infrastructure needed to set up and maintain a state in the first place. Hence, in any given context, the state is either unnecessary or impossible."

Networks, Anarcho-Capitalism, and the Paradox of Cooperation
by Bryan Caplan and Edward Stringham
This paper provides reasons to believe that a cartel of free-market defense firms would not be likely to form or undermine an anarcho-capitalist society.

Practical Problems with the Power Principle
by Randy E. Barnett
"Those in power are thought to have qualitatively different rights than those who are not-that is, rulers have rights that subjects may never possess. By virtue of their monopoly status, at the very least they allegedly have the right to put competitors out of business, a right that is denied to other so-called "private" citizens. And most power schemes accord them the right to collect "taxes" to fund their activity-that is, to seize the property of others by force without the others' prior consent or wrongdoing-another right that is denied all people."

Protection and Social Order
by Allen Wilhite

Society without a State
by Murray N. Rothbard
Murray Rothbard delivered this talk at the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (ASPLP), Washington, DC: December 28, 1974. It was first published in The Libertarian Forum, volume 7.1, January 1975.

Stateless Dictatorships: How a Free Society Prevents the Re-emergence of a Government
by Stefan Molyneux
"When we look at a series of steps required to make the creation of a private "rogue" army economically profitable, we can see that it becomes so unlikely as to be functionally impossible."

The Stateless Society: An Examination of Alternatives
by Stephan Molyneux
This article deals with the allegations that the state in necessary to (1) settle disputes, (2) provide public goods, and (3) fight pollution.

Tacit Consent: A Quiet Tyranny
January 1995
by Bowen H. Greenwood
"In the end, the doctrine of tacit consent cannot be supported while placing any value at all on actual consent."

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This page was last updated on June 12, 2012.