Peace Requires Anarchy

War, Peace, and the State | Murray Rothbard

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All government wars are unjust.”
– Murray N. Rothbard

Anthony Gregory has said “Every libertarian should read this article once a year,” in reference to Murray N. Rothbard’s essay War, Peace, and the State.

While I did not find it as impressive as Rothbard’s essay The Anatomy of the State, it is definitely an important work.

In the essay, Rothbard agrees with a critic who says that the libertarian movement does not have its priorities right. Specifically, many libertarians spend a lot of time worrying about issues such as the “demunicipalization of garbage disposal” rather than the major problems of our time.

Rothbard then argues that the most significant issue of our time is war. He argues that all wars waged by states are aggressive and that states commit the worst crimes in wars. As Randolph Bourne realized, “War is the health of the State.”

In accordance with the objective of reducing the amount of aggression committed by the state, Rothbard calls for libertarians to make reducing the number of innocent people murdered by states in war their top priority. This is achieved first by pressuring states to not wage war:

The libertarian objective, then, should be, regardless of the specific causes of any conflict, to pressure States not to launch wars against other States and, should a war break out, to pressure them to sue for peace and negotiate a cease-fire and peace treaty as quickly as physically possible. [page 7]

Secondly, this is achieved by disarming states so that they are less capable of committing aggression in war:

Highest priority on any libertarian agenda, therefore, must be pressure on all States to agree to general and complete disarmament down to police levels, with particular stress on nuclear disarmament. In short, if we are to use our strategic intelligence, we must conclude that the dismantling of the greatest menace that has ever confronted the life and liberty of the human race is indeed far more important than demunicipalizing the garbage service. [page 9]

So go read antiwar.com and donate. War is indeed the worst part of the state. For those of you who wisely embrace a non-interventionist foreign policy and oppose war, but are not yet anarchists, please consider reading Roderick T. Long’s An Open Letter to the Peace Movement. Thank you.

UPDATE 03/11/2013: Tony Liberté just posted a comic called Ban Government Weapons on his Facebook page Libertarian Humor that I thought was very relevant to Rothbard’s message in this essay:

Tony wrote a note on his cartoon saying:

Unfortunately, not very funny, but so very true. Our priorities should be more on disarming our violent government, not leaving the citizens defenseless against it.

I definitely agree, as did Murray Rothbard.

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Author: PeaceRequiresAnarchy

“A consistent peace activist must be an anarchist.” – Roderick T. Long

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