Murray Newton Rothbard (March 2, 1926 – January 7, 1995) was an American author and economist of the Austrian School who helped define capitalistlibertarianism and popularized a form of free-market anarchism he termed “anarcho-capitalism.” Rothbard wrote over twenty books and is considered a centrally important figure in the American libertarian movement.
Building on the Austrian School’s concept of spontaneous order, support for a free market in money production and condemnation of central planning, Rothbard advocated abolition of coercive government control of society and the economy. He considered the monopoly force of government the greatest danger to liberty and the long-term well-being of the populace, labeling the State as nothing but a “gang of thieves writ large”—the locus of the most immoral, grasping and unscrupulous individuals in any society.
Rothbard concluded that all services provided by monopoly governments could be provided more efficiently by the private sector. He viewed many regulations and laws ostensibly promulgated for the “public interest” as self-interested power grabs by scheming government bureaucrats engaging in dangerously unfettered self-aggrandizement, as they were not subject to market disciplines. Rothbard held that there were inefficiencies involved with government services and asserted that market disciplines would eliminate them, if the services could be provided by competition in the private sector.
Rothbard was equally condemning of state corporatism. He criticized many instances where business elites co-opted government’s monopoly power so as to influence laws and regulatory policy in a manner benefiting them at the expense of their competitive rivals.
He argued that taxation represents coercive theft on a grand scale, and “a compulsory monopoly of force” prohibiting the more efficient voluntary procurement of defense and judicial services from competing suppliers. He also considered central banking and fractional reserve banking under a monopoly fiat moneysystem a form of state-sponsored, legalized financial fraud, antithetical to libertarian principles and ethics. Rothbard opposed military, political, andeconomic interventionism in the affairs of other nations.