Anatomy of the State

Murray Rothbard (1926-1995) — Austrian school American economist, economic historian and political theorist — was committed to individual liberty. He was dedicated to analysing the nature of the state and why it is always an enemy of freedom. His book Anatomy of the State (free download at is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how the state functions and why. About the book:

[It] gives a succinct account of Rothbard’s view of the state. Following Franz Oppenheimer and Albert Jay Nock, Rothbard regards the state as a predatory entity. It does not produce anything but rather steals resources from those engaged in production. … How can an organization of this type sustain itself? It must engage in propaganda to induce popular support for its policies. …

Most of us have been trained to think that the state is benevolent and that we owe thanks to it for many of the good things of life, and therefore our allegiance. But the true nature of the state is quite the opposite. We realize if we care to investigate the matter that the state is our enemy. All states are not the same, of course. The North Korean state, for instance, is not the same as the US state. But it is only a difference in degree, not in kind. The differences are significant but at its core, all states are predatory.

This position is not popular. People instinctively reject it because they have been conditioned since birth to revere the state. Two common devices the state uses for the indoctrination are nationalism and patriotism. It is anti-nationalist to oppose the state, the conditioning goes.

We must understand the natue of the state if we value freedom. But if we don’t mind being enslaved (to whaterver extent, large and small), then we can go on believing in the benevolence of the state and its functionaries.

This video highlights the core ideas in the book.

Author: Atanu Dey


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