Author Archives: rothbarddotcom

Review of Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

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Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do by Michael J. Sandel

Michael J. Sandel‘s book Justice, is a worthwhile read for anarcho-capitalists who have already read the greats in their own tradition: Murray Rothbard, David Friedman, etc., and are ready to hone their thinking by exploring some different viewpoints. Sandel’s book is especially good for this purpose because he tries to find a theory of justice by contrasting three different perspectives: libertarianism, utilitarianism, and virtue ethics. Not only does libertarianism feature prominently in the book, it is portrayed in a reasonable way.

Sandel also makes good use of both hypotheticals and real-life examples to explore the idea of justice. Familiar ones like the Trolley Problem get a standard treatment, but less common examples like invitro fertilization and surrogacy are also explored. The real world problems are taken from present day as well as centuries ago when, for example, people who were drafted into the military could hire someone to take their place. These analyses are deep enough to be interesting, but do not drag on so long that they become a waste of time.

Although Sandel’s approach is good, he ends up with a rather confused notion of justice. This is partially due to the fact that he conflates ethics with morality. He is not simply trying to define justice as a core ethical concept, but also bolt on moral ideas about how a person should live their life. This leads him to choose virtue ethics from the three options he explores. Thus the ideas of honor and living a good life get mixed up with his view of justice, when a more focused approach would have served better.

So what is justice? Libertarians think of it like this. If someone commits a crime, the world is altered from what it would have been if everyone had lived together peacefully. Justice is getting the world back to what it would have been, had no aggression occurred. If a thief steals your money, part of justice is returning the money. Part of justice is also getting extra money from the thief that would have been earned if the money were never stolen, but instead placed in a bank account (or whatever the money would have been used for). Part of justice is making sure that the victim does not have to live in fear of being robbed again. And so on.

So justice is simple idea. When aggression pulls the world away from the libertarian ideal, justice is bringing it back in whatever way necessary. Other moral notions are important as well, but should be explored on their own, lest young, impressionable people get the wrong idea.

A book that confuses ethics and morality, but contains interesting ethical problems and a good discussion of different alternatives, including libertarianism. Three Murrays.

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Less Common Photos of Murray Rothbard

Here are some less common photographs of Murray Rothbard along with some other paragons of libertarianism. If anyone has higher resolution versions, please let us know.

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Ron Paul, Henry Hazlitt, Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell

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Unknown, Lew Rockwell, David Gordon, Murray N. Rothbard

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Julian Lincoln Simon

Julian L. Simon was an economist who showed how capitalism and population growth have been hugely beneficial for the standard of living of people all over the world. His book The Ultimate Resource is highly recommended for all anarcho-capitalists. For those who have not read it and would like to hear the main ideas from the man himself, check out the following video interview:

For a more detailed introduction see:

Review of The New Right by Michael Malice

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The New Right by Michael Malice

The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics  looks at the recent evolution of political discourse in America from the unclouded perspective of celebrated anarcho-capitalist Michael Malice. Specifically, Malice traces the origins of anti-progressive ideas and organizations from the various 20th century intellectuals who instigated them and the 21st century activists who made them into a force to be reckoned with. Though the topics are serious, Malice uses his irreverent and jolting style to beat humor out of them like candy from a piñata.

Malice opens The New Right with a devastating quote by Murray Rothbard and only waits until the second page to break it to the reader that he is an anarchist and this is not going to be a typical book about politics. Instead, he lays out his definition of the New Right and begins an unwavering survey of the key people and ideas, saying that they are:

A loosely connected group of individuals united by their opposition to progressivism, which they perceive to be a thinly veiled fundamentalist religion dedicated to egalitarian principles and intent on totalitarian world domination via globalist hegemony.

Malice is fair, but not always kind, to current members of the New Right, including Mencius Moldbug, Mike Cernovich, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Anne Coulter, Jared Taylor, Chris Cantwell, and others. Malice never hesitates to point out the flaws in any person’s perspective, but he also makes sure to credit the reasonable ideas therein.

Especially interesting to ancaps is the origin story of the New Right. Malice traces the history of the movement back to Murray Rothbard and Pat Buchanan: Continue reading

Review of Liberty: A Path to its Recovery

liberty_aptirF. A. Harper’s book Liberty: A Path to its Recovery is an attempt to define liberty and a call to reverse the growth of government. Published in 1949, the evils of the state that Harper refers to may seem quaint compared to the economic havoc wreaked by modern governments, but the general principles still apply.

Harper says that, “Liberty exists when a person is free to do whatever he desires, according to his wisdom and conscience.” This is a good definition for freedom, which is often conflated with liberty. Actually, Harper’s discussion of liberty is much more instructive than his actual definition, as he digs into the fact that liberty is related to how people interact and that people who live in solitude have complete liberty:

“If he is prohibited from doing this, by another person or by any combination of persons who are not direct parties to the deal, his liberty is thereby transgressed. And further, it makes no difference, so far as liberty is concerned, under what name the act of prohibition is paraded; or whether it is by a corporation, a cooperative, a labor union, a trade union, the government, or what not.”

Despite the flavor of anarchy in the above quote, Harper explicitly calls for limited government. He simply assumes that limited government produces the “optimal” level of liberty without Continue reading

Murray Rothbard: Dragon Slayer

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Murray Rothbard depicted as a dragon slayer in the April 18th, 1993 edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal

After reading about this image in Joseph Becker’s article, “Memories of Rothbard at UNLV“, I really wanted to see it. First I looked for it on search engines, but it was nowhere to be found. After that I tried to find a copy of the newspaper that Becker cited in online databases, but all I found was the text of the articles. Frustrated, I checked the LVRJ website, which said to look for copies in the Clark County Library. Their website referred me to another online database that I could not access remotely.

Fortunately, a friend came to the rescue. She volunteered to go to Nevada and manually search through the library’s microfiche archive. She found the original newspaper images and sent them along. Thanks to her, now ancaps everywhere can enjoy this piece of anarcho-capitalist history.

The full text of the related article is below. Continue reading