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Mondays with Murray: Rothbard on Lysander Spooner

The Rand Paul filibuster, while it accomplished nothing in the way of policy changes and was clearly a politically calculated maneuver, did make for some excellent political theater. For starters, if nothing else, it did bring to the forefront the issues of Presidential assassinations and the ongoing, unchecked drone war. While those of us mired in the internetverse are well aware of these issues, the vast majority of mainstream Americans are still relatively unaware or unconcerned about these topics, and the fact that Senator Paul’s theatrics have thrust the issue into the national spotlight is certainly something to celebrate.

The best part about Rand Paul’s filibuster were the various references he cited throughout the 13-hour ordeal. From Lewis Carroll to F.A. Hayek to Glenn Greenwald, Senator Paul had a cornucopia of authors and philosophers on the ready when he walked to the Senate floor last week. To this anarcho-capitalist however, Paul’s filibuster will always be known as “That Time Lysander Spooner Was Referenced On The Senate Floor”. Spooner is one of the great anarchist philosophers of all-time, and his brief reference in Paul’s filibuster perked my ears up a bit.

Lysander Spooner is just plain awesome for several reasons. One is that he was an outspoken abolitionist long before it was cool. Not only did he advocate against the institution of slavery, he was also consistent in his opposition to the State and was able to separate the political issue of slavery from the Civil War. This led him, despite his virulent opposition to slavery, to defend the South in the Civil War 150 years before a bunch of “impressionable libertarian kids” would start doing the same.

Another awesomely anarchist thing Lysander Spooner did was start a mail service company intended to compete with the U.S. government’s claimed monopoly on mail service. In 1844 he founded the American Letter Mail Company. Legal challenges and harassment from the U.S. government would eventually force the American Letter Mail Company into bankruptcy.
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So Much Finger Pointing

Blame for Fed and STATE govs getting to their current corrupt dysfunctional condition can not be placed with the Constitution. The Ideals are succinct with terms and conditions readily discernible and balanced. However, as an inanimate piece of paper, it cannot enforce or defend itself. All sides just pay Lip Service. Very few put Principals into

Fault / Blame initially lies with those responsible for enacting and following the prescribed Ideals, terms and conditions. Your "Elected" representatives, otherwise known as "Appointed Trustees".

From there the chains of responsibility fall on those charged with Trustee appointment and attendant liability for subsequent behaviour of said Trustees.

Lastly, responsibility falls upon those generally or directly affected by actions of the Trustees.

It's a battle for Property and Right of Use.

The Constitution is a Trust : http://www.The-Legacy.Info

"Actually, though I'm

"Actually, though I'm personally very fond of von Mises, and economically count myself a disciple of his and the Austrian tradition, the political differences between myself and the other Misesians are so enormous that relations are getting pretty strained all around."

Rothbard 1964,
the time Rothbard was campaigning against Barry Goldwater and for a socialist party "New Left."

Selective quoting is fine, but anarchism sucks

Wikipedia: Spooner also believed that government restrictions on issuance of private money made it inordinately difficult for individuals to obtain the capital on credit to start their own businesses, thereby putting them in a situation where "a very large portion of them, to save themselves from starvation, have no alternative but to sell their labor to others" and those who do employ others are only able to afford to pay "far below what the laborers could produce, [than] if they themselves had the necessary capital to work with."

Spooner had no clue how capital is formed. He was not fond of separation of labor but rather for each individual to be a business owner.


From what I gather, of the text you have displayed from Wikipedia, it seems to me that Spooner was indicating that the government had been interfering with the issuance of private credit, a largely free market mechanism, by either limiting the supply of capitol or altering its value in some way as to obtain control over its use.

So, if we are to believe that the government created rules and regulations to control money, and/or credit markets, then it would follow that it did so to either protect itself from competition, in the private markets obviously, or needed to open reserves for access to such wealth, taxation comes to mind.

It appears to me that Spooner was simply pointing out that this sort of regulatory activity by the government was not typical of the freemarket and could only lead to a dependent class which, with separation of labor, would entail differing classes of wealth, in ex; upper, middle, and lower income households.

Just an observation.

I'm not sure what your points here are

That Rothbard supported Johnson over Goldwater? That many who Rothbard agreed with on free market economics, also happened to be the biggest warmongers?

Or that Spooner perhaps wasn't as sound in economics as you like? And yet upon the morals and principles of liberty he was as solid as anyone.

Or is your point just that "anarchism sucks"?

Please, enlighten me.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

My opinion

is that anarchism sucks because it is a false dogma - unworkable fantasy. Many people make such a mistake because they put anarchism and communism on a political paradigm map. Communism is the ultimate feedom of the collective where government disappears. No coercion, no force. Placing such a fantasy (communism) as "far left" is a mistake. Likewise, placing another unworkable fantacy (anarchism) as "far right" only confuses minds of average folks.

I don't believe

I ever associated "anarchism" with "far right", and as demonstrated by Rothbard NOT blindly supporting the right, he clearly didn't believe so either.

Do you have any further thoughts on why a society not based on collective use of force "sucks"?

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

The Spooner quote of a lifetime:

"But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist."

Lysander Spooner
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/lysandersp136255....

That is some food for thought, for those still able to think.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.


I used this exact quote elsewhere on another post to help create a larger discussion on the topic of the Constitution.

However inconceivable it may have been to suggest such a thought, it strikes at the root of all causes underlying the current system of government, both at the Federal and State levels.

I, fortunately, agree with the entirety of that quote.

Everyones Favorite Spooner Quote :

I take exception with his assessment the Constitution is merely a contract between the signatories.

Despite his ( over vaunted ) legal background and other noteworthy accomplishments, his statement "it is unfit to exist" is just personal opinion based on incomplete subjective understanding and sour grapes from my point of view.

The Constitution is a Trust : http://www.The-Legacy.Info

The Trouble with The Constitution

I wrote an article about making Constitutional arguments a while back. Seems fitting here.


*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

"Consent of the governed" ring any bells?

I never consented to be governed, by the Constitution or anything else. How am I forced to be a party to this document? Am I like that 16 year old Obama droned, should have picked a better father who would understand that getting me a birth certificate would subject me to tyranny? Or a better mother who would have had me in that mysterious land where I was born free? What gives a bunch of dead men the right to force a government on me?

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

You're right about one thing

It is his opinion, certainly and not a legal viewpoint per se.

But if the Constitution created the Federal Government, and the government has grown so huge and abusive either because of that , or in spite of the clearly punchless "limitations" placed upon it in the Constitution, then exactly what good does the Constitution do?

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Haha love it

Committing that quote to memory.


One of many, many awesome Spooner quotes

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*


Is a great quote. Truth