Public Choice

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 143–154 | Cite as

The public choice theory of murray N. Rothbard, a modern anarchist

  • H. E. FrechIII
Review Article

Summary and Conclusions

The case against the State presented by Rothbard is very disquieting. His frustrating misunderstanding of the problems of monopoly and externalities weakens the argument, but one can easily reformulate it in a more elegant way: The costs of State action are so great that they outweigh any possible improvement of efficiency from reducing monpoly or internalizing externalities.

Clearly the mass murders and wars and enslavements which have been carried out throughout history by States exceed by a wide margin the ill effects of private enterprise crime. And if we look at government activities within a relatively civilized democracy like the U.S., we see that most government action benefits a small group at the expense of a larger group (e.g. tariffs, subsidies, occupational licensure). The assertion that the net benefits of many government activities are negative is not an easy one to reject, however radical it may sound. However, Rothbard has not demonstrated the possibility of a stateless society.


Small Group State Action Public Finance Public Choice Choice Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Baumol, William J.,Welfare Economics and the Theory of the State, 2nd edition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, (1965).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Buchanan, James M.,Cost and Choice: An Inquiry in Economic Theory Markham, Chicago, (1969).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Buchanan, James M. and Gordon Tullock,The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, (1962).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Downs, Anthony,An Economic Theory of Democracy, Harper & Row, New York, (1957).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hayek, Friedrich A.,The Road to Serfdom, University of Chicago Press, (1944).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    --,The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press, (1960).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Olson, Jr., Mancur,The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups, Revised edition, Schocken, New York, (1971).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rothbard, Murray N., “Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics,” inOn Freedom and Free Enterprise, Mary Sennholtz, editor, D. Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, (1956), pp. 224–262.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    ——, “The Mantle of Science,” inScientism and Values, Helmut, Schoeck and James W. Wiggins, editors, D. Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, (1960), pp. 159–180.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    ——,Power and Market: Government and the Economy, Institute for Humane Studies, Palo Alto, California, (1970a).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    ——,Man, Economy, and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles, 2nd edition, Nash, Los Angeles, (1970b).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Stigler, George T., “The Theory of Economic Regulation,”Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science, Vol. II, No. 1, Spring 1971, pp. 3–21.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tullock, Gordon, “The Welfare Costs of Tariffs, Monopolies and Theft,”Western Economic Journal, Vol. V, No. 3, (June 1967), pp. 224–232.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    ——, “The Cost of Transfers,”Kyklos, XXIV (fasc. 4, 1971), 629–643.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    ——, “The Paradox of Revolution,”Public Choice, Volume XI, (Fall 1971), pp. 89–99.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    von Mises, Ludwig,Human Action, 3rd edition, Henry Regnery, Chicago, (1966).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Center for Study of Public Choice Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. E. FrechIII

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations