The Evil of Egalitarianism

Murray N. Rothbard delivered what is now a very famous essay at a conference on human differentiation held by the Institute for Humane Studies at Gstaad, Switzerland, in the summer of 1972.  It began thus:

Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature

For well over a century, the Left has generally been conceded to have morality, justice, and “idealism” on its side; the conservative opposition to the Left has largely been confined to the “impracticality” of its ideals. A common view, for example, is that socialism is splendid “in theory,” but that it cannot “work” in practical life. What the conservatives failed to see is that while short-run gains can indeed be made by appealing to the impracticality of radical departures from the status quo, that by conceding the ethical and the “ideal” to the Left they were doomed to long-run defeat. For if one side is granted ethics and the “ideal” from the start, then that side will be able to effect gradual but sure changes in its own direction; and as these changes accumulate, the stigma of “impracticality” becomes less and less directly relevant. The conservative opposition, having staked its all on the seemingly firm ground of the “practical” (that is, the status quo) is doomed to lose as thestatus quo moves further in the left direction. The fact that the unreconstructed Stalinists are universally considered to be the “conservatives” in the Soviet Union is a happy logical joke upon conservatism; for in Russia the unrepentant statists are indeed the repositories of at least a superficial “practicality” and of a clinging to the existing status quo.

Never has the virus of “practicality” been more widespread than in the United States, for Americans consider themselves a “practical” people, and hence, the opposition to the Left, while originally stronger than elsewhere, has been perhaps the least firm at its foundation. It is now the advocates of the free market and the free society who have to meet the common charge of “impracticality.”

In no area has the Left been granted justice and morality as extensively and almost universally as in its espousal of massive equality. It is rare indeed in the United States to find anyone, especially any intellectual, challenging the beauty and goodness of the egalitarian ideal. So committed is everyone to this ideal that “impracticality” — that is, the weakening of economic incentives — has been virtually the only criticism against even the most bizarre egalitarian programs. The inexorable march of egalitarianism is indication enough of the impossibility of avoiding ethical commitments; the fiercely “practical” Americans, in attempting to avoid ethical doctrines, cannot help setting forth such doctrines, but they can now only do so in unconscious, ad hoc, and unsystematic fashion. Keynes’s famous insight that “practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist” — is true all the more of ethical judgments and ethical theory.  ~ M. N. Rothbard (1972)

The central concept of egalitarianism is that all people should be the same. Not only should they be treated the same and have the same opportunities as everyone else, there should be equal outcomes. The socialist-leftists among us believe that the very fact that there are more male plumbers than female plumbers proves that there is discrimination against females in the plumbing business. Now normally the egalitarians do not mention plumbing as the job has its off-putting aspects. No, they would rather say that the prevalence of males running international corporations proves that the business world discriminates against females since we all can imagine ourselves enjoying running a large corporation and traveling about in private jets to wonderful areas of the world.

Egalitarianism leads to collectivism or socialism of course, and that leads to impoverishing the masses. The Pope of the Roman Catholic Church is coming to visit the President of the United States. Both of these men are committed socialists even if neither care to admit it. Some argue that the egalitarian or the socialist has his “heart in the right place” or that he is working for the “good of all people”. It always turns out that there is some “elite” that has to “live large” and live well so they can enforce their supposedly beatific vision of life upon the rest of us. If egalitarianism was so wonderful it would not take armies of police and mountains of rules to accomplish.

I have been a close observer of education in America for decades. I have seen thousands of children who all exhibit great diversity in interest, ability, preparation, home life, and all sorts of other factors. I have watched as the educrats have decreed that “every child can go to college” and that teachers only need a great lesson plan to make sure that all children are working their way up to being proficient at calculus. Well, I am here to tell you that teaching even Algebra to a child who has very low cognitive ability is not possible. Trying is very painful to both child and teacher. It is also true that the teacher will not have much luck with the child that refuses to learn. We used to say that you could lead a horse to water but you could not make him drink it. The modern educrat says that better lesson plans will cure the problem — even if the kid’s home-life is horrible, his IQ substandard and he is drug addicted; such is the intelligence level of the people who are said to be “experts” in modern education.

But even worse, we no longer honor the many trades that an industrial society needs. Try telling an educrat that some kids will be great carpenters and they will seek to have you fired, and that includes the Catholic Schools where the object of their religion, Jesus, was himself a carpenter. Besides the fact that we no longer teach or honor the trades, we have laws preventing young people from getting a job and learning many life skills that having a job will teach. We have minimum wage laws that make it impossible for the young to get a job as they often are not worth the hourly minimum wage. We also have laws preventing children under a certain age from working period. The result is widespread unemployment of most of our youth. Some would say that is egalitarianism at its best.

The egalitarians have also pushed us toward an ever more generous welfare state. The idea is that since we are all equal but some of us are in poverty then it must be the fault of the society that these poor people have not succeeded in life and need help. At some point there may be arguments that we need a national wage where every single American gets the same pay. With the generous welfare state in place for decades we see horrific and dysfunctional lifestyles among the poor. We see generation after generation trapped in low income and living in crime ridden areas. One wonders if leftists really hate the poor or if they are merely blinded by their collectivist ideology.


Many people wonder why so many come here illegally. The welfare state is an obvious draw to people in other countries. You can deal with the illegal immigration in whatever way you want; but the central reason and draw is the welfare state. Let us not refrain from discussing the issue just because it hurts the egalitarian’s feelings.

The biggest problem with the idiotic idea of egalitarianism is that the government has tried to force equality of outcomes in all areas even though the people have natural differences in interest and ability. This has led to politics that deals mainly in groups. This has led to and increase in one group hating another. It is almost as if the government was running a “divide and conquer” operation.

The egalitarians may claim high moral ground, but the fact is that they are among humanities worst enemies. They seek to have everyone, but not themselves of course, live in equal misery. I consider that evil and not moral.

Selling Freedom to the Indoctrinated?

I began this blog years ago to be able to answer people that I encounter on Twitter. After all, Twitter is hard to use for any real debate as you only get a few words per tweet. On Twitter it is sometimes easy to be misunderstood or not be able be get your point across with all the nuances and caveats that any realistic position entails. For a long time now I have not had the time to engage people on Twitter along with the time to write about it. Well, today I have both.

The debate that prompted this post was among libertarians and/or anarchists. We find the state to be tyrannical, brutal, unnecessary, and evil. There are many ways to say this, but we did not talk about the nature of the state, what liberty is, our interpretation of the non-aggression principle, or how people would live in a world without the state (government) ruling us. We talked about “normal people”; those that don’t hate the state. Why the hell can’t the man in the street see that it is the state itself that causes most of our problems?

It was asserted that those who could not see that the state is evil and should be done away with were “willfully ignorant” of the truth. I took exception to that statement. It is not that I have never said words similar to that myself — we all get irritated at the statists and their state-worship; but I don’t think it is right to blame the victim of the massive pro-state propaganda that we live in for the outcome of so many thinking the state is the “protector” of all that is good and decent.

It is my opinion that the state and all its paid minions have used massive propaganda to sell the idea that the state is necessary to civilization. The state has deluded the populous into believing that mankind’s biggest enemy is the entity that brings him the benefits of modern civilization. I will delve into how this came to be in another post, but today I only assert that the state has, in fact, been very successful in making the average citizen believe that the state is benevolent, necessary, and inevitable. And for those who don’t buy all three of those things — the idea that the state is inevitable, evil or not, is almost universal in the world today.

I assert that we can not blame the victim of this near universal delusion. A modern man is born into a society that overwhelmingly believes in the inevitability of the state. A young person is more apt to question gravity itself than to question the state. A young person is apt to know no one at all who questions the state. He is apt to go though school without being exposed to the ideas of anarchism: real anarchism based on the non-aggression principle. A person is apt to have little exposure to the ideas of the principled radical anarchist. Many are ignorant of the truth of our enemy the state, but I don’t buy that they are “willfully” ignorant. I believe that most people are programed by society to believe the big lie that we need the state and so must put up with it.

Is that non-exposure their fault? No, it is the fault of the state and its minions — and those of us who know the truth. We must work harder to get the word out. One reason that I was in favor of Ron Paul’s message candidacy for the presidency was that he talked to a lot of young people about freedom and liberty. He planted seeds that have grown and will continue to bear fruit. I can’t hope to equal Ron Paul’s impact. I can only hope to enlighten my readers and my students. Regardless, I will continue to work for the demise of the state. I will re-dedicate myself to write more; even when so few read these posts. After all, I can only do what I can.


Can we be optimistic given that the state has such power? After all, they “school” the child in state worship in the “public” schools. The state has great allies in the main stream media, corporations, academia, and the churches.

Can we be optimistic? To answer, I note that a couple of years ago I mentioned that Murray Rothbard pointed out that before the 18th century in Western Europe there existed an identifiable Old Order called the Ancien Régime. It was feudalism marked by “tyranny, exploitation, stagnation, fixed caste, and hopelessness and starvation for the bulk of the population.” The ruling classes governed by conquest and tricking the masses into believing that it was “divine will” that the Kings should rule, plunder, and enslave. The Old Order was the great and mighty enemy of liberty and for century after century it appeared that the Ancien Régime  could never be defeated.

We know better now. The Ancien Régime is dead and gone and no one claims that God gave Kings the divine right to rule over others. The classical liberal revolution that triumphed in the 18th century (in the West at least) overthrew the Old Order. Well, we can win again and next time we will know not to allow even the seed of the old order to remain. We must root out the idea of the old order root and branch. We don’t face as hard a task as the original classical liberals did in the 1700s for we now know that it can be done.

I think we have reason to be optimistic. We know that the American Empire can not last and that it is so over extended that the end will come soon. We must do our best to educate the “common man” on the type of society that should replace the present evil. That is our job.

Democracy is a Fraud

The founders of the U.S. were clear that they did not believe in “democracy”. In our modern system of “democratic” government you are allowed to vote but it does not make any real difference. No matter the outcome of the election, the power elites will get their way. Everyone gets to vote but all that does is to help ensure the compliance of the populace who are enslaved but think themselves free.

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…”
H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series

The modern American democracy is dangerous to personal freedom. American democracy erodes the people’s understanding of natural rights and freedoms. I have seen every presidential race since Nixon and the winner does not make any real change in the course of the state. There has been no abatement in the growth of tyranny and cruelty by the state.

The State in the US has convinced almost the whole of the population that organized theft is the way to go rather than voluntary economic actions. The very idea of the non-aggression principle now seems foreign to most Americans.The government in America has merged the bureaucratic state with the large corporations; and that was called corporatism by Benito Mussolini. In other words, the American State is a fascist state. The corporate State will always end up enslaving its people. A small example is that a mother was recently arrested for allowing her children to play in a park across the street from her house by themselves. The State asserted its ownership of the children.

It is often claimed that governments (states) were originally established to protect the people’s freedoms. But it always turns out that the state works to gain ever more control over their citizens. The state becomes an overbearing tyrant. This is always true, but we never seem to learn from history. The whole idea that we need a government to take care of us is a false notion and a delusion. These supposed “protectors” have led to nothing but death, destruction, slavery, misery, and all the other evils the state brings.

In the United States, the instrument that controls almost everything, or at least tries to do so, is the State (the central government mostly). This power of the state is acknowledged even by those who love democracy, and they mistakenly believe (or falsely claim) that this great power is somehow controlled or at least shared by “the people”. The main way that “the people” are supposed to control the power of the state is by one of the two main political parties in the United States. One party is the Democratic Party which is the party of socialists. The other party is the Republican Party which is the party of fascists. Note that there is very little difference between socialism and fascism which may explain the old line that “there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties”. The two parties agree on virtually all of the fundamentals of totalitarianism starting with the belief in the supremacy of politicians, bureaucrats, and “experts” over the “the people”; and that the only good citizen is the obedient citizen. This is today’s  American Democracy.

While various minions of the state exercise their power over individuals like a school bully, they do not control the ship of state. Only a handful of the most powerful private citizens have any real say-so in respect to the large issues. These very rich and powerful men and women run the “democracy” and it is but illusion that “the people” control the state. Ordinary citizens naively believe they can fight the status quo though various action groups or getting involved in politics but they only contribute to the show that fools the populous into thinking that they are free when, in fact, they are slaves to the state. Some groups, giving the appearance of serious dissent, give “the people” hope that progress toward a more just society is possible and they thereby help the ruling elite even as they appear to be fighting them.

H.L. Mencken observed that the best teacher is not the one who knows most but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and wonderful. I believe that “best teacher” in my lifetime was Murray Rothbard. Read Rothbard and grow wise as to the nature of the state.

The Crucial Question of Liberty

Murray N. Rothbard was one of the finest minds of the 20th century and helped to resurrect the freedom movement seemingly single-handedly. He wrote in 1977:

I have been ruminating recently on what are the crucial questions that divide libertarians. Some that have received a lot of attention in the last few years are: anarcho-capitalism vs. limited government, abolitionism vs. gradualism, natural rights vs. utilitarianism, and war vs. peace. But I have concluded that as important as these questions are, they don’t really cut to the nub of the issue, of the crucial dividing line between us. …

And what did he come up with as the crucial question that we must ask of ourselves and of those who claim to be our allies? His answer was this: “Do you hate the State?”.

There runs through the works of Rothbard a deep and pervasive hatred of the State and all of its works. He saw, as I do, that the State is the enemy of all mankind. Everywhere I look I see problems caused or made worse by the State. I view myself as a “radical” in the same way that Rothbard viewed himself and the reliable members of our liberty movement as radicals.

… Radical in the sense of being in total, root-and-branch opposition to the existing political system and to the State itself. Radical in the sense of having integrated intellectual opposition to the State with a gut hatred of its pervasive and organized system of crime and injustice. Radical in the sense of a deep commitment to the spirit of liberty and anti-statism that integrates reason and emotion, heart and soul. …

The sense of being in total and absolute opposition to mankind’s greatest enemy, The State, is a defining characteristic of my worldview. Anyone can see that means that I was truly a big fan of Rothbard back when he was alive and writing.

For those of us who have seen that the State is our enemy, the question naturally arises as to what are we to do about it. The radical libertarian thinks of abolishing the State just as the State is always thinking of us as slaves to be used and abused. We do not think in terms of “making it a little bit better” as that just does not work. We don’t think in terms of “Ron Paul as president would fix everything!” as it is no use to use evil to attempt to do good. As radical libertarians we must take every opportunity to cut back the size and scope of the State in whatever way we can. And we must never, ever look to the State to solve our problems — that is to deal with the Devil.

We must try to convince our minarchist friends that there is no way to constrain a State. If you allow a weak, laissez-faire State then sooner or later it will become a tyranny. Want proof? Look at the history of the United States starting with the Articles of Confederation up until the present day. It is the story of a weak, laissez-faire central state becoming a tyranny.

Rothbard once asked:

Why should there be any important political disputes between anarcho-capitalists and minarchists now? In this world of statism, where there is so much common ground, why can’t the two groups work in complete harmony until we shall have reached a Cobdenite world, after which we can air our disagreements? Why quarrel over courts, etc. now?

The answer is that if they were radicals and were fighting the State as the mortal enemy of mankind then we could work with them, but in the end they support the existence of the State and only disagree with Statists over the size of the beast.

murray-rothbard-enemy-stateNothing has changed since the 70s other than the State has continued to grow in size, scope, and intrusiveness. We are spied upon to a degree that would have astounded even George Orwell. We are subject to all manner of impoverishing rules, mandates, laws, taxes, and threats from the power mad ruling class and their puppet masters behind the scenes.

George Orwell painted a picture of a State that seeks the total and absolute exercise of raw power. The State demands blind, unquestioning obedience and allegiance to the all mighty central government. All independent or skeptical ideas are treason and subversion. This picture that Orwell painted in his novel 1984 is being played out to some degree or the other in every country on the planet Earth. Why? Because mankind is trapped in the fallacy that the State is a necessary evil. It is not necessary at all — but it is evil.

Purge from your mind any idea that the State can be tamed or put to good use. It is evil.


The Classic Liberals and their mistake

In his book “For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto” Murray N. Rothbard gives us a little history of the Classical Liberals of the 17th and 18th century. He wrote the following:

The libertarian creed emerged from the “classical liberal” movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Western world, specifically, from the English Revolution of the seventeenth century. This radical libertarian movement, even though only partially successful in its birthplace, Great Britain, was still able to usher in the Industrial Revolution there by freeing industry and production from the strangling restrictions of State control and urban government-supported guilds. For the classical liberal movement was, throughout the Western world, a mighty libertarian “revolution” against what we might call the Old Order — the ancien régime — which had dominated its subjects for centuries. This regime had, in the early modern period beginning in the sixteenth century, imposed an absolute central State and a king ruling by divine right on top of an older, restrictive web of feudal land monopolies and urban guild controls and restrictions. The result was a Europe stagnating under a crippling web of controls, taxes, and monopoly privileges to produce and sell conferred by central (and local) governments upon their favorite producers. This alliance of the new bureaucratic, war-making central State with privileged merchants — an alliance to be called “mercantilism” by later historians — and with a class of ruling feudal landlords constituted the Old Order against which the new movement of classical liberals and radicals arose and rebelled in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The Classical Liberals sought to overturn the Old Order and level the playing field for all people to the extent that they could, which meant that the State was to be kept extremely small and its tax revenues were to be kept as small as possible. The classical liberals saw that taxes enabled the State and gave it power over the people and they knew that power corrupts.

I once saw a list of beliefs of those of us who urge voluntary cooperation. This list is also a fairly good description of what the Classical Liberals were urging in the 17th and 18th century.

  1. Private ownership of property; not only of personal possessions but also of land, homes, natural resources, tools, and capital goods;
  2. Contracts and voluntary exchange of goods and services, by individuals or groups, on the expectation of mutual benefit;
  3. Totally free competition among all buyers and sellers — in price, quality, and all other aspects of exchange — without ex ante restraints or burdensome barriers to entry;
  4. Entrepreneurial discovery, undertaken not only to compete in existing markets but also in order to discover and develop new opportunities for economic or social benefit; and
  5. Spontaneous order, recognized as a significant and positive coordinating force — in which decentralized negotiations, exchanges, and entrepreneurship converge to produce large-scale coordination without, or beyond the capacity of, any deliberate plans or explicit common blueprints for social or economic development.

The above list is essentially the Classical Liberal vision of laissez-faire capitalism and it is essentially the librarian view as well. The problem is that the list allows for the State in the view of a Classical Liberal. This is the idea of a “night watchman” state where the government is constrained to a few well defined and necessary duties. The government of the US started out just that way under the Articles of Confederation but look at how short a time it took to see power accumulate at the center. After just nine years of the Articles of Confederation we saw the enactment of the present Constitution and then centralized power really took off. From a “night watchman” start, we now have a central government with seemingly unlimited power to do as it pleases. Many recognize that we live in a police state now.


I have seen many people try to put a date on where America really went wrong. A favorite is the war between the states which meant that no state could secede from the union and “vote with its feet” any longer. Others say that it was WWI and the emergence of Empire by the US. Still others blame the reaction to the great depression by Franklin D. Roosevelt. I reject all the various guesses as to where we went wrong. I think that the new nation went wrong by forming a government in the first place. There was no way to write down some rules on a piece of paper that would constrain power-seeking men over time. Sooner or later the new government would grow teeth and bite the people. History is a testament to my view.

After centuries of experience most people continue to believe that “all good things flow from the compassionate nature of government.” Has the record of the actions of governments in the 20th century not shown us the true nature of the beast?

I am convinced that the Classic Liberals have been on the right path, but they need to recognize that the state is far too dangerous to ever make use of. We need to let people interact via mutual free-will consent. People will need protection since men are not Angels, and so private companies will arise to offer that protection to their customers. The free market can provide anything that the state claims to provide — and without pointing a gun at your head to make you buy it.