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A question about Libertarianism, need help!

I am reading For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, by Murray Rothbard and this book is taking a toll on my life. I cannot stop reading it! I am up until about 3:00 am each night reading this and have to force myself to stop and get some sleep. I can honestly say that no book has ever captivated me quite like this one. This book makes complete sense to me in a nonsensical world. I have to thank Ron Paul for opening my eyes and giving me a path to a whole new train of thought that is based on common sense and truth. I will forever be grateful to him for this.
However, I do have a question that is nagging at me like a fly buzzing around my soul. I do disagree with having a standing army and I have been made aware of the dangers of standing armies by Rothbard but in modern times what can we do to remedy this? If the U.S. did not have a standing army wouldn’t the standing army of another centralized government take advantage of this and walk right in? I disagree with our government but there are far more tyrannical governments sitting on the sidelines rubbing their hands together and licking their lips just waiting for the slightest opportunity to come and impose their own will upon us. How does the libertarian thought process address this issue keeping in mind modern warfare and technology?
Rothbard explains that throughout history governments had difficulties conquering libertarian societies due to the fact that it is easier to conquer people with a centralized government but we live in a vastly different world with new technologies never dreamed of. How could this be addressed? If we didn’t have a standing army to defend against other tyrannical governments of this time period we would in a sense be almost welcoming them, wouldn’t we?

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You have a coast guard

You have a navy and coast guard, possibly marines

These protect you. Armies are for offense

Free people defend

Free people defend themselves.
Slaves need protection.

Technology makes it easier for free people to defend themselves, if we were free, we'd be fine.

Cyril's picture

+1 Q.E.D



"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

I am so happy for you

Everyone should read "For a New Liberty."

As to your question, for starters, there are many countries without standing armies, such as Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Switzerland. I don't know what the current stats are, but I read that Switzerland has an army of only like 3,000, but they can mobilize 650,000 in an emergency by calling on the citizenry. A foreign invader would be even less of a problem in the US, which is the most heavily armed country in the world in terms of the citizens. I seriously would not be worried about anyone trying to invade the US. Think about how quickly people would mobilize to repel an invasion. There are way too many gun nuts in the US for that to ever threaten us.

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu

There are works dedicated to this subject

I would refer you to Hans-Hermann Hoppe, probably to the dismay of anti-fairtax, for I take it, if he is familiar with Rothbard then he likely knows of Hoppe. Nevertheless, Hoppe is perhaps the most consistent philosophical libertarian/anarchist writing today. I recommend his works 'The Myth of National Defense,' and 'The Private Production of Defense.' The first one is a little over 400 pages, and it contains 'essays on the theory and history of security production,' by Hoppe himself, Rothbard, Walter Block and others. The latter work is a 50 page booklet discounting the legitmacy of collective security. "Private-property owners, cooperation based on the division of labor, and market competition can and should provide defense from aggression."

"The rich man writes the book of laws the poor man must defend, but the highest laws are written on the hearts of honest men."

I agree

Hoppe is brilliant. I would also suggest looking at some of the work from Robert Murphy on this. He holds classes on this very topic at the Mises Academy online.

Here is a link to a good interview between Walter Block and Lew Rockwell on anarcho-capitalism. They link to a lot of great material on the topic. http://www.lewrockwell.com/lewrockwell-show/2009/07/29/126-w...

You would like the article titled But Wouldn't Warlords Take Over by Robert Murphy. It is one of the things linked to from that interview I linked above.

Also check out Robert Murphy's Chaos Theory. It's a short book that deals with your concern. http://mises.org/document/3088/Chaos-Theory


check out "Chaos Theory" by Bob Murphy

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu


Just added Chaos Theory to my AMZ shopping cart. Haven't gotten around to reading him before, so thanks to you and cotter for the suggestion.

"The rich man writes the book of laws the poor man must defend, but the highest laws are written on the hearts of honest men."

I would argue that the local

I would argue that the local police in America have morphed into the standing army that the founding fathers were worried about.

Standing Army (Promotes "Daddy State") Does More Harm Then Good

"If I Muslim army attacked the U.S., I should hope that every American would be out there every night trying to kill a Muslim soldier just like those people are out every night trying to kill an American soldier." --Doug Casey, Freedom Fest 2007


"Bipartisan: both parties acting in concert to put both of their hands in your pocket."-Rothbard

If Countries need a standing army to repell invaders...

then why has Afghanistan so successfully held off first the British, then the Russians, and now the United States of American? Does anyone doubt that Afghanistan would have easily fallen each and every time had it had a centralized state to overcome? Tribal cultures are a bitch to beat and to get them to then surrender.

Nevertheless, I agree, we need standing armies,... just significantly smaller ones with very well defined roles and purposes that do not include Reforming the Entire World in our Image. It is not possible to force virtue upon others and to have it stick. The rest of the World does not consist of our children! So long as their is Free Will there will always be evil and error. So long as we are imperfect beings there will always be honest errors made.

"The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty, but to have a slave of his own."
Sir Richard Burton

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Don't take Rothbard too

Don't take Rothbard too seriously. This is the same guy who wants vigilante justice and says that babies in the womb have committed an act of aggression against the mother and thus the mother can abort, abandon at any time, etc. All of that is in For A New Liberty. It's inconsistent, disgusting, and the complete opposite of Ron Paul's worldview. The only real good thing about Rothbard is in the realm of economics/free-markets. That's the extent of Rothbard's influence on Paul, as I see it. Rothbard and Ayn Rand are similar in this regard: they are great when it comes to economics/free-markets, but on almost every other social issue they miss the mark completely. Paul would agree with me on that.

Ron Paul would disagree with

Ron Paul would disagree with you on this. Him and Rothbard line up on almost every social issue. Abortion would be an area of disagreement but that is one of the most debated topics in libertarianism. If you think there are large differences between guys like Murray Rothbard, Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods, Robert Murphy, Tom Dilorenzo, etc. and Ron Paul then you don't realize how hard core libertarian Dr. Paul actually is.

Here is a video where he talks very favorably about anarcho-capitalism. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdKlFtxbt9o&feature=youtube_g...

Can you provide some page numbers?

Let's have the page numbers from "For a New Liberty" for where Rothbard promotes vigilante justice or claims that babies in the womb have committed acts of aggression against the mother. It sounds like you are giving yourself quite the creative license with interpreting Rothbard's words. Oh, and on what other social issues does he miss the mark? Do tell.

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu

i'm feeling sick, but off of

i'm feeling sick, but off of memory vigilante justice is pretty much the norm in For a New Liberty. i believe, and maybe i am and maybe not mistaken, but Rothbard wrote that normal citizens made arrests, because there was no police force in the early days of the republic.

i do remember rothbard writing that about abortion. it is in there. it's near the end of the book.

i believe he did write as well about contractual agreements where duels could be fought.

i'm not against the duels, and really, vigilante justice is acceptable in my opinion. it will just be a form of lawlessnes that will have it's code in the end. It's a very crazy world Rothbard has enviioned, and he theorizes so much. Where Rothbard is coming from i believe is that no one will be above God's Law, even though the police state likes to think it is. They will be subject to God's Law in the universe of Rothbard.

You are right about abortion though. rothbard did write that as i recall. i don't have the book on me. i checked it out at the library. For a New Liberty does have a detailed index, you can check there for starters: Vigilantism is all over the book.. there are chapters dedicated to it. And i believe the abortion part is near the last quarter of the book.

Excellent reading Rothbard, I'm proud of you! others need to read him, push Rothbard on the sheeple while there is still a first amendment, before NDAA goes into full operation.


of course Rothbard does delve

of course Rothbard does delve further though, and recommends restitution, because the vigilante acts will have their own consequences.

It will be a muddled chaos, for sure. He just extomparizes (sic) so much in For a New Liberty.

Actions will have consequences. and Rothbard can only theorize about what the world will be like.

he does give examples though, of court systems that had his sort of vision of the world, like life in ancient Ireland when the high kings made their rulings. Their rulings were non-binding. people agreed to follow the king's advice, but they didn't have to. Rothbard at least cites ancient ireland has a society to mode off for it's anarchy. he mentions that there were no centralized powers to control the population,- there weren't any cities before the vikings invaded, and that's why it took so long for the English to conquer Ireland.

i'm sorry, i was going to ride something pertinent, but i forgot.

But i guess you can see where Rothbard is going as far as national defense goes as well, in respect to vigilantism, because the power structure would be so decentralized it would be nearl impossible to rule such a people.


Don't have to agree 100%

With Rothbard to be a libertarian/classical liberal. That's his opinion. I also think that the idea of not having a standing army is way out there. Government in classical liberalism is pretty much limited to a few basic things: protecting life, liberty and fruits of your labor - that's pretty much it. Standing army is just an extension of this right from the individual to the collective. There is no way a govt could fulfill it's mission to protect life/liberty of the collective from a hostile outside force if it didn't have the means for it (the army).
That said - I do believe that civilians should be able to have access to the same firearms and technology that the army has, with very few, if any limitations.

Nobody? :(

Nobody? :(

So Paul is not dangerous

Paul deviates from Libertarians then, because he even states that the major role of the federal government is national defense. In a perfect world, Rothbard could have his no standing army concept.

for a while i think even

for a while i think even Henry VIII of england had no standing army, he passed a law that every citizen in england had to have weapons in their house and they had to constantly be sharpend and cleaned, and he order the weapons inspected.

the further decentralized a country becomes, the harder it is for another country to conquer it.


i think ron paul just wants

i think ron paul just wants to begin with the constitution as a framework to return to.