For a New Liberty By Murray N. Rothbard


In For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, Rothbard proposes a once-and-for-all escape from the two major political parties, the ideologies they embrace, and their central plans for using state power against people. Libertarianism is Rothbard’s radical alternative that says state power is unworkable and immoral and ought to be curbed and finally abolished.

To make his case, Rothbard deploys his entire system of thought: natural law, natural rights, Austrian economics, American history, the theory of the state, and more.

It is relentless, scientific, analytical, and morally energetic — a book that makes an overwhelming case. Indeed, it gave an entire movement its intellectual consciousness and earned Rothbard the titles “Mr. Libertarian” and “The State’s Greatest Living Enemy.”

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  • Stephen Ayer

    For a New Liberty & Rand Paul

    In chapter 15 of For A New Liberty, Rothbard discusses two extremes that can lead to defection from the libertarian movement: 1. gradualism of the the utilitarians 2. extremism of the sectarians. The gradualist loses sight of the goal of ‘no state’ by conceding that some state is needed in the here and now. The extremist or purist rejects any attempts to move toward the goal that are not complete and immediate. The correct path, according to Rothbard, is to always keep sight on the goal and to not compromise in its attainment but to recognize that it will not likely be reached in a single bound. When I read the following I couldn’t help think of the discussions surrounding Rand Paul’s announcement that he is running for president. “For while libertarians have too often been opportunists who lose sight of or undercut their ultimate goal, some have erred in the opposite direction: fearing and condemning any advances toward the idea as necessarily selling out the goal itself. The tragedy is that these sectarians, in condemning all advances that fall short of the goal, serve to render vain and futile the cherished goal itself. For much as all of us would be overjoyed to arrive at total liberty at a single bound, the realistic prospects for such a mighty leap are limited. If social change is not always tiny and gradual, neither does it usually occur in a single leap. In rejecting any transitional approaches to the goal, then, these sectarian libertarians make it impossible for the goal itself ever to be reached. Thus, the sectarians can eventually be as fully “liquidationist” of the pure goal as the opportunists themselves.” Will Rand Paul’s candidacy be good for the cause of libertarianism or will it have no effect or worse, set the movement back? In many ways Rand appears to be the utilitarian gradualist, but could he just be a stepping stone on the path to the true libertarian goal of a stateless society?

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  • Jeffrey Tucker

    My Morning with Murray Rothbard

    I’m just giddy today and I think it traces to how I spent my morning yesterday from 6-8am. I re-read the first three chapters of Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty. The vision, the sweep, the love of life and liberty, the deep and radical and revolutionary passion that was so anchored in a burning desire for all of humanity to be freed from all oppression — you can feel it on every page. This book came out in 1973 and serves as a kind of core of his life work. The first chapter is a close recall and near reprint of one of my fav monograph-essays called “Left, Right, and the Prospects,” and the very next chapter is a foreshadowing, and near duplication, of his chapter on property and aggression from his 1983 book Ethics of Liberty. So you can see that this book spreads out in both directions over a large swath of his life and career. I’m dazzled by his close argument against conservatism as a political force, his description of socialism as a confused middle group (libertarian ends with conservative means) and the only real path forward as full freedom. His tracing of this history from the early modern period through the 20th century — embracing every movement against elites and entrenched establishments — causes a complete rethinking of conventional historiography. His telling of the story of human liberty encompasses a vast range of life and consistently champions the longings of the poor and average people against privilege and aristocracy. He moves effortlessly from this breathtaking history to a crystallization of the theory of liberty itself, which went through so many iterations until it finally lands in his hands where he gives the most precise rendering up to that point in history, all summed up in the primacy of non-aggression as a political idea. You can feel his optimism, the sense that we were on the verge of something great. He sensed that the old order of command and control was under strain and that a new age was dawning. He was exactly right and he was one of the few people in the world to see it. At this VERY time in history, the right was wallowing in Cold War dreariness and trying to blow up the world, and the left was caught up in some managerial dream of running the planet from the top down. He on the other hand dreamed of a beautiful anarchy, and he had every confidence that it was coming if not already here. I highly recommend that you spend some time with this book, and catch his spirit. It’s for the ages.

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  • Jp Cortez

    For a New Liberty

    For a New Liberty Kick off the discussion! Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_For a New Liberty

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