Rothbard and Withdrawing Consent

Many Ron Paul followers and Austrian school followers are big fans of Murray Rothbard.  I suppose most of the new and young Ron Paul followers are not as familiar with Rothbard, but many of them turn to Rothbard to expand their knowledge from what they’ve learned from Ron Paul.

I can’t say that Rothbard has been a big influence on me directly.  The people who have been a big influence on me (Harry Browne, Lew Rockwell, Richard Maybury, Ron Paul, just to name a few) were influenced by Rothbard (some more than others).

I have actually had a few disagreements in Rothbard’s writings.  I differ on his position of fractional reserve banking, just to name one.  But I still find it hard to believe that Rothbard would have advocated a law against consenting adults engaging in fractional reserve lending and borrowing.

I have not fully immersed myself in Rothbard.  I have read a couple of his shorter books and I have read many of his articles.  I always find his articles discussing politics informative and interesting.  His writings on Reagan and Clinton are really fascinating.  I also agreed with his writings on being involved in politics (endorsing candidates, forming coalitions, voting, etc.).  Some people think it is a contradiction for an anarcho-capitalist to be involved in politics at all.  I think Rothbard showed the benefits of political alliances and he was right that it wasn’t a contradiction.

It really is too bad that Rothbard passed away at a relatively young age (68 years old) in 1995.  It definitely would have been interesting to get his take on September 11, 2001 and the Bush Junior presidency.

If there is one thing in particular that I can say I really learned from Rothbard, it is his writings on consent.  He expounded on what de la Boetie said over 400 years ago.  He pointed out that a government does not have to be overthrown using violence.  All that has to happen is for a large percentage of the population to withdraw their consent.  When the government no longer has the consent of a large portion of the populace, it will collapse from its own weight.

The Soviet Union collapsed and there was virtually no bloodshed.  It is not because Gorbachev was a really great guy when he was in charge.  It is because he no longer had consent from the people.  The whole system was a joke and it was unsustainable.  The system collapsed without violence.

The message we can take here is that this is an intellectual battle.  We don’t need to elect the right politicians.  We don’t need to pass the right laws.  We don’t need term limits on politicians.  We don’t need to convince the politicians who are currently in office.  All we need to do is educate others on the benefits of liberty.  When a large portion of the populace no longer consents to government force, then that in itself will reduce the power of the politicians.

Ron Paul has had virtually no success in passing legislation.  His success has been one of education.  He has spread the word to millions of people.  He has changed hearts and minds.

It is too bad that some great libertarians like Rothbard and Harry Browne are not alive today to see the success that Ron Paul has had in educating millions of people.  These men were quite optimistic about the future, but I think even they would be surprised at how far we’ve come so fast.

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