Gerard Casey against the state

David Gordon at the Mises Institute introduced me to a new philosopher recently by doing a book review on an Irish philosopher named Gerard Casey.

Gerard Casey is a distinguished Irish philosopher who has written a book to present his case for Libertarian Anarchy which is also the title of his new book (not yet available as a e-book). Mr. Casey considers the state a criminal organization on its face just as Murray Rothbard did.  The state by its very nature violates essential human rights.

Casey’s attitude towards the state:

States are criminal organizations. All states, not just the obviously totalitarian or repressive ones.… I intend this statement to be understood literally and not as some form of rhetorical exaggeration. The argument is simple. Theft, robbery, kidnapping and murder are all crimes. Those who engage in such activities, whether on their own behalf or on behalf of others are, by definition, criminals. In taxing the people of a country, the state engages in an activity that is morally equivalent to theft or robbery; in putting some people in prison, especially those who are convicted of so-called victimless crimes or when it drafts people into the armed services, the state is guilty of kidnapping or false imprisonment; in engaging in wars that are other than purely defensive, or, even if defensive, when the means of defence employed are disproportionate and indiscriminate, the state is guilty of manslaughter or murder.

But why do the vast majority of people not see this? Why do people still see lawlessness of the state as an aberration? If only we could get rid of the few bad apples! Mr. Casey answers thusly:

In order for the state to function, the mass of the people has to believe in its legitimacy. To that end, the state employs a class of professional apologists and controls the means of propaganda, often through dominance of the education system.… We are brought up to believe in the legitimacy of the state: our state-sponsored education confirms us in this belief and nothing appears to count against it.

Not only the education system, of course, but the press and all the other opinion makers of society work to keep the masses believing in the legitimacy of the state. We live in a veritable cesspool of propaganda that glorifies the state and tells us that all blessing flow from its kindness and mercy. And people really believe that codswallop!

Does the state protect our rights? Of course not, it violates our rights at every turn just as one would expect out of a criminal gang writ large. But what rights does Mr. Casey claim we have? He writes:

There is something startlingly obvious about the non-aggression principle … we are taught as children not to hit other children and not to take what belongs to them … we do not perhaps normally think of ourselves as something that can be owned but the libertarian self-ownership claim is, at the very least, a rejection of the idea that anyone else owns us.

This is a straight Murray Rothbard viewpoint. We start with the non-aggression principle and then say we own ourselves. Self ownership is the springboard of the natural rights view of our human condition.

Who in the world is this Irish philosopher? Gerard Casey is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin, Ireland, Adjunct Professor at the Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, UK, and Adjunct Scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Alabama, USA. His webpage is here. He is associalted with the Mises Institute and in Volume 15 in the Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers series he wrote on Murray Rothbard. So we have another in a long line of thinkers from around the globe who have been influenced by the Rothbardian branch of libertarian anarchy.

With men like Gerard Casey we have hope that libertarian political philosophers will be able to make headway in the battle against the state.


3 thoughts on “Gerard Casey against the state

  1. [2] Aeon Skoble argues that this is fundamental motive for libertarians who accept the state. See his Deleting the State (Open Court, 2008) and my review in the Mises Review , spring 2009, and Mises Daily , April 21, 2009.

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