The State By Franz Oppenheimer

  • Author: Franz Oppenheimer
  • Published: 1908
  • ISBN: 9781630690717

Description

This is the 1908 book that started it all in the 20th century, the book that kicked off a century of anti-state, pro-property writing. This was the prototype for Nock’s writing, for Chodorov’s work, and even the theoretical edifice that later became Rothbardianism.

Indeed, Franz Oppenheimer wrote what remains one of the most bracing and stimulating volumes in the history of political philosophy. The author sought to overthrow centuries of fallacious thinking on the subject of the state’s origin, nature, and purpose, put its it place a view of the state that constitutes a foundational attack on the structure of modern society.

He utterly demolishes the social-contract view of the state as it had been advanced by most thinkers since the Enlightenment. He seeks to replace that view with a realistic assessment of the state, one that can only make anyone with statist leanings squirm: he sees the state as composed of a victorious group of bandits who rule over the defeated group with the purpose of domination and exploitation. It achieves its status through a form of conquest, secures its power through relentless aggression, and sees its main function is to secure its status and power.

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Discussions

  •  B.K. Marcus

    Whence the State?

    I’m just reading Clarence Darrow’s 1902 book Resist Not Evil for the first time. The first chapter is a powerful opening, but Darrow seems to imagine a different origin for the state than we learn from the tradition of Oppenheimer, Nock, Chodorov, and Rothbard. For Darrow, the state begins when a local thug takes over his tribe. Whereas, if I recall correctly, for Oppenheimer, et al., the state begins when a tribe of nomads has been raiding a settled group for a while, then decides to settle in with them and become a ruling class over the conquered people. (This, by the way, is also the version of events described by the socialist utopian H.G. Wells in his Short History of the World (1922) — where, a little surprisingly, he sees the invaders as injecting some virility into the stagnant culture of the conquered people. An unexpected interpretation from a pacifist. Is Darrow just speculating, or were there competing theories at the time? And are there competing theories now? In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond describes states as beginning when a settled group has a centralized and unmovable source of surplus wealth, making it easier for a “kleptocratic” takeover. I can’t recall however if he distinguishes between local thugs and outside invaders becoming the kleptocratic class. Anyone able to update us on current theories of the state’s origins? @lawrencereed @srichman @berserkrl @bobhiggs @anthonygregory @riggenbach @jacobhuebert @albertlu @thomasmichie @mattgilliland (Who am I forgetting to ask?)

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  •  Jp Cortez

    The State

    The State Kick off the discussion! Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_The State

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