By Murray N. Rothbard
[The Standard, April 1963, pp. 2-5; 15-16, and Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against
Nature and Other Essays, R.A. Child, Jr., Ed., Washington: Libertarian Review
Press, 1974; 2nd edition, Auburn, Alabama: Mises Institute, 2000, pp. 115-132.]
The libertarian movement has been chided by William F. Buckley, Jr., for failing to use
its “strategic intelligence” in facing the major problems of our time. We have, indeed,
been too often prone to “pursue our busy little seminars on whether or not to
demunicipalize the garbage collectors” (as Buckley has contemptuously written), while
ignoring and failing to apply libertarian theory to the most vital problem of our time: war
and peace. There is a sense in which libertarians have been utopian rather than strategic
in their thinking, with a tendency to divorce the ideal system which we envisage from the
realities of the world in which we live. In short, too many of us have divorced theory
from practice, and have then been content to hold the pure libertarian society as an
abstract ideal for some remotely future time, while in the concrete world of today we
follow unthinkingly the orthodox “conservative” line. To live liberty, to begin the hard
but essential strategic struggle of changing the unsatisfactory world of today in the
direction of our ideals, we must realize and demonstrate to the world that libertarian
theory can be brought sharply to bear upon all of the world’s crucial problems. By
coming to grips with these problems, we can demonstrate that libertarianism is not just a
beautiful ideal somewhere on Cloud Nine, but a tough-minded body of truths that enables
us to take our stand and to cope with the whole host of issues of our day.
Let us then, by all means, use our strategic intelligence. Although, when he sees the
result, Mr. Buckley might well wish that we had stayed in the realm of garbage
collection. Let us construct a libertarian theory of war and peace.
The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit
violence (“aggress”) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be
employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively
against the aggressive violence of another.
In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor. Here is the fundamental
rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.
read more… http://mises.org/rothbard/warpeace.pdf