Murray Rothbard is a famous economist and political thinker. He is most widely known for his contributions to libertarianism, and the anarcho-capitalist movement. Rothbard opposed the government’s monopoly on violence and preferred systems based on consensual and voluntary interactions.
Outside of writing almost two dozen books, Rotherbard also aided in the creation of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. This think tank promotes the views of Ludwin von Mises, especially his philosophy of Austrian Economics
Murray Rothbard passed away in January of 1995. He was age 68 at the time. However, his legacy lives on the minds of economists, philosophers, and politicians.
Murray Rothbard Quotes
Here are some of my favorite Murray Rothbard Quotes that are applicable to virtue and morality.
1. “It is clearly absurd to limit the term ‘education’ to a person’s formal schooling.”
I think Rothbard hit the nail on the head here. Our intellect has a much wider scope than formal education. It is a combination of our experiences, virtues, and abilities. Formal schooling is just one piece of the puzzle.
2. “It is easy to be conspicuously ‘compassionate’ if others are being forced to pay the cost.”
The idea of political or legislative compassion is a tricky one, especially in the modern United States. We have both of the major political parties (Democrats and Republicans) calling for people to pass laws that are compassionate and empathetic. However, every law is enforced by police. It is very difficult to make a claim of empathy when you support kidnapping, imprisonment, and violence toward peaceful people.
3. “No action can be virtuous unless it is freely chosen.”
When it comes to libertarian and anarchist philosophy, consent is the name of the game. It is not moral to force or coerce someone into make a decision. The decider must be free of coercion and manipulation in order to enact their virtues.
4. “I think that the people who are always attacking greed would be more consistent with their position if they refused their next salary increase.”
I feel as though this quote is even more applicable in today’s society. A large portion of our politics is dedicated to the denouncement of large companies. The owners of these companies are seen as greedy and are accused of taking advantage of the population. However, those pointing the finger at large companies also have their own desires for wealth and property.
5. “The concept of life and perfection is incompatible, but so is death and perfection.”
Perfection is a funny concept. Much like unicorns, perfection doesn’t exist (at least when it comes to human thinking and behavior). As humans, we all come equipped our own flaws, faults and blind spots. We also tend to idolize those who have passed away, even though they had problems like the rest of us.
6. “To be moral, an act must be free.”
Similar to a previous quote in this article, moral actions require consent and a lack of coercion. It is incredibly difficult to make a moral claim when your decision is being forced by others.
7. “War is mass murder, conscription is slavery, taxation is robbery.”
The majority of people follow basic moral principals. We don’t steal, hurt or manipulate others. Some call this The Gold Rule. Others call this The Ten Commandments. Most of us probably call it common sense.
However, the majority of Americans make one big exception to this rule. This exception is known as government. They are okay with the government using violence to manipulate people and rearrange what should be private property. We believe this so much that we come up with our own words for these state-sanctioned activities.
8. “While liberals are in favor of any sexual activity engaged in by two consenting adults, when these consenting adults engage in trade or exchange, the liberals step in to harass, cripple, restrict, or prohibit that trade. And yet both the consenting sexual activity and the trade are similar expressions of liberty in action.”
I couldn’t agree more with Rothbard about this topic. However, I believe that both sides of the American political spectrum are guilty of this flawed thinking. Both Democrats and Republicans have moral issues surrounding consent. In our era, those on the left want the freedom to make their own sexual choices. This can be seen in the LGBT movement as well as the backlash against traditional religious values.
On the right you see this same logic applied to topics such as the purchase of firearms and private healthcare. The irony that is lost on both parties is that they are attempting to achieve freedom and equality through the use of force. They want those who agree with them to have the ability to give consent and be free from coersion. Those who disagree are not given the same option.
What Do You Think?
How do you feel about these Rothbard quotes? Do you seem to agree or disagree on his views of morality and economics? Let’s discuss!
Have you read any of Rothbard’s works? What are some of your favorite Rothbard quotes? Let me know on social media!