Murray Rothbard


Murray Rothbard : biography

March 2, 1926 – January 7, 1995

Rothbard enjoyed action movies such as The Fugitive and Hollywood films of the 1930s and 1940s, and praised Woody Allen’s wit. He disliked Star Wars, "such a silly, cartoony, comic-strip movie that no one can possibly take it seriously," and 2001: A Space Odyssey, a "pretentious, mystical, boring, plotless piece of claptrap," calling for a return to science fiction films like It Came from Outer Space and "the incomparable Invasion of the Body Snatchers."


Ethical and political views

In Man, Economy, and State Rothbard divides the various kinds of state intervention in three categories: "autistic intervention", which is interference with private non-economic activities; "binary intervention", which is forced exchange between individuals and the state; and "triangular intervention", which is state-mandated exchange between individuals. According to Sanford Ikeda, Rothbard’s typology "eliminates the gaps and inconsistencies that appear in Mises’s original formulation."Ikeda, Sanford, Dyamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism, Routledge UK, 1997, 245.Murray Rothbard, from Man, Economy and State, Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Rothbard writes in Power and Market that the role of the economist in a free market is limited but is much larger in a government that solicits economic policy recommendations. Rothbard argues that self-interest therefore prejudices the views of many economists in favor of increased government intervention.Peter G. Klein, , Ludwig von Mises Institute, November 15, 2006, Ludwig Von Mises Institute.

In the late 1940s Rothbard questioned why under laissez-faire economics private police protection could not replace government protective services and in 1949 came to the conclusion it could. He was influenced by nineteenth-century American individualist anarchists like Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker and the Belgian economist Gustave de Molinari who wrote about how such a system could work.Gordon, David. The Essential Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1st edition. 2007. ISBN 1-933550-10-4 Thus he "combined the laissez-faire economics of Mises with the absolutist views of human rights and rejection of the state" from individualist anarchists.

Rothbard parted with Mises on the issue of ethics, since Mises preferred to avoid ethical arguments and show that interventionist economic laws failed to achieve their goals. Rothbard held that interventionist laws did in fact benefit some, including even people who might be destructive, and therefore an ethical basis for the free market was necessary. His principle was "self-ownership". Applying this to contract law, he wrote that it was not ethical for people to contract themselves into slavery. Rothbard’s ethical views also were influenced by classical liberalism and the anti-imperialism of the Old Right.

In 1954, Rothbard, along with several other students of Ludwig von Mises, such as George Reisman and Ralph Raico, associated with novelist Ayn Rand the founder of Objectivism. He soon parted from her, writing, among other things, that her ideas were not as original as she proclaimed but similar to those of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and Herbert Spencer. In 1958, after the publication of her novel Atlas Shrugged, Rothbard wrote a "fan letter" to Rand, calling her book "an infinite treasure house," and "not merely the greatest novel ever written, it is one of the very greatest books ever written, fiction or nonfiction." He also wrote that "you introduced me to the whole field of natural rights and natural law philosophy," prompting him to learn "the glorious natural rights tradition.", Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 21, No. 4 (Winter 2007): 11–16. He rejoined her circle for a few months, but soon broke with Rand over various differences including his defense of anarchism. Later, Rothbard lampooned Rand’s circle in his play Mozart Was a Red and essay, "The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult."Murray Rothbard play , early 1960s, at Rothbard, , 1972, at].