The Essence of Liberty Volume III. Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic

A Condensed Version of: For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto

by Murray N. Rothbard

Compiled and Edited by Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume

National Defense

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)The final argument against a libertarian society that usually has to be made is how such a society could defend us against the Russians. (Rothbard was writing back in the days of the Cold War.)

This argument is based on several dubious assumptions. First is the assumption that the Russians are bent upon military invasion, which is doubtful at best. Then there is the assumption that such a desire would remain after the united States becomes a libertarian society. Again, this is highly unlikely because wars are a result of conflicts between nation-states. Nation-states are inherently threatening. Since America would no longer be a nation-state, it would be a threat to no one.

One of the greatest evils of the nation-state is that the State is able to identify all of its subjects with itself. This renders innocent civilians subject to enemy aggression in any inter-State war. In a libertarian society, there would be no such identification.

Furthermore, suppose for example, that the outlaw “Metropolitan Police Force” initiates aggression against Americans and Mexicans. If Mexico still had a government, it would know that Americans in general were not involved in the aggression and therefore would not likely go to war with Americans in general. In fact, it is likely that American forces would join the Mexicans in putting down the aggressor. In short, the idea of inter-State war would most likely disappear.

A libertarian society, once instituted, could work, be viable, more efficient, prosperous, moral, and free than any other social system. But we have said nothing about how to get from the present system to the ideal. The Russian question assumes that libertarianism has been established only in America and nowhere else. We should not assume that. The libertarian philosophy is eternal and universal—not bound by time or place. We advocate liberty for everyone everywhere. Let them join us in accepting liberty as our ideal goal, and then in the separate—and difficult—task of figuring out how to achieve this ideal.

So now let us move on to strategy. The larger an area in which liberty is established the better its chances for survival and resistance to violent overthrow. If liberty is established instantaneously all over the world, there would be no problem of “national defense.” All problems would be local police problems. But, if Deep Falls , Wyoming should secede, the chances are good that the uS government, considering its historical ferocity toward secessionists, would crush the new free society. Between these two polar cases, there is an infinite continuum of degrees and, as a matter of strategy, the larger the area the better..

Be all this as it may; let’s consider the Russian question anyway. Assume the Soviet Union is hell-bent on attacking our libertarian population. Since there would no longer be a uS government, the form of defense would be decided upon by consumers. Thus, various defense theories would be applied in proportion to those who support the different theories being offered. Furthermore, private, voluntary defense efforts would be far more efficient than government boondoggles and certainly more moral.

But, let’s assume the worst—that the Soviet Union invades and conquers our territory. The primary reason any conquering country can rule a defeated country is that “the latter has an existing State apparatus to transmit and enforce the victor’s orders onto a subject population.” In those cases in history where the conquered had no government, the conquerors found it very difficult to rule. For example, this is perhaps the main reason it took the English centuries to conquer ancient Ireland. They just could never seem to understand that the Irish warriors who concluded treaties with them only spoke for themselves. They had no State to speak for.

Furthermore, guerilla warfare by the American population would inevitably erupt. One of the lessons of the 20th is that no occupying force can long keep down a native population determined to resist. This was driven home when the giant uS attempted to invade the tiny and relatively unarmed Vietnamese. (Editor’s Note: The lesson is currently being re-learned by that same giant uS in Iraq and Afghanistan.) Guerrilla warfare is an irresistible force precisely because it does not stem from a dictatorial central government but from the people themselves.

To be continued

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The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3) Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View  


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The Essence of Liberty Volume I: Liberty and History chronicles the rise and fall of the noble experiment with constitutionally limited government. It features the ideas and opinions of some of the world’s foremost contemporary constitutional scholars. This is history that you were not taught at the mandatory government propaganda camps otherwise known as “public schools.” You will gain a clear understanding of how America’s decline and decay is really nothing new and how it began almost immediately with the constitution. Available in both paperback and Kindle versions.

You might be interested in the other two volumes of this three volume set: The Essence of Liberty Volume II: The Economics of Liberty and The Essence of Liberty Volume III: Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic. 


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Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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1 Response to The Essence of Liberty Volume III. Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic

  1. Reblogged this on Land & Livestock International, Inc. and commented:

    A Condensed Version of: For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto by Murray N. Rothbard

    Compiled and Edited by Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume

    National Defense


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