Friday, October 20, 2006


Excerpts from "Ethics of Liberty" by Rothbard Murray.



22. The Nature of the State

So far in this book, we have developed a theory of liberty and property
rights, and have outlined the legal code that would be necessary to
defend those rights. What of government, the State? What is its
proper role, if any? Most people, including most political theorists, believe
that once one concedes the importance, or even the vital necessity, of
some particular activity of the State-such as the provision of a legal code-
that one has ipso facto conceded the necessity of the State itself. The State
indeed performs many important and necessary functions: from provision
of law to the supply of police and fire fighters, to building and maintaining
the streets, to delivery of the mail. But this in no way demonstrates that
only the State can perform such functions, or, indeed, that it performs
them even passably well.

Suppose, for example, that there are many competing cantaloupe
stores in a particular neighborhood. One of the cantaloupe dealers, Smith,
then uses violence to drive all of his competitors out of the neighborhood;
he has thereby employed violence to establish a coerced monopoly over
the sale of cantaloupes in a given territorial area. Does that mean that
Smith's use of violence to establish and maintain his monopoly was
essential to the provision of cantaloupes in the neighborhood? Certainly
not, for there were existing competitors as well as potential rivals should
Smith ever relax his use and threat of violence; moreover, economics demon-
strates that Smith, as a coercive monopolist will tend to perform his service
badly and inefficiently. Protected from competition by the use of force, Smith
can afford to provide his service in a costly and inefficient manner, since
the consumers are deprived of any possible range of alternative choice.'

Furthermore, should a group arise to call for the abolition of Smith's coercive
monopoly there would be very few protesters with the temerity to accuse
these "abolitionists" of wishing to deprive the consumers of their much
desired cantaloupes.
And yet, the State is only our hypothetical Smith on a gigantic and
all-encompassing scale. Throughout history groups of men calling them-
selves "the government" or "the State" have attempted-usually success-
fully-to gain a compulsory monopoly of the commanding heights of
the economy and the society. In particular, the State has arrogated to
itself a compulsory monopoly over police and military services, the provi-
sion of law, judicial decision-making, the mint and the power to create money
unused land ("the public domain"), streets and highways, rivers and coastal
waters, and the means of delivering mail. Control of land and transpor-
tation has long been an excellent method of assuring overall control of a
society; in many countries, highways began as a means of allowing the
government to move its troops conveniently throughout its subject
country. Control of the money supply is a way to assure the State an easy
and rapid revenue, and the State makes sure that no private competitors
are allowed to invade its self-arrogated monopoly of the power to counter-
feit (i.e. create) new money. Monopoly of the postal service has long been
a convenient method for the State to keep an eye on possibly unruly and
subversive opposition to its rule. In most historical epochs, the State has
also kept a tight control over religion, usually cementing a comfortable,
mutually-supportive alliance with an Established Church: with the State
granting the priests power and wealth, and the Church in turn teaching
the subject population their divinely proclaimed duty to obey Caesar. But
now that religion has lost much of its persuasive power in society, the
State is often willing to let religion alone, and to concentrate on similar if
looser alliances with more secular intellectuals. In either case, the State re-
lies on control of the levers of propaganda to persuade its subjects to
obey or even exalt their rulers.

But, above all, the crucial monopoly is the State's control of the use
of violence: of the police and armed services, and of the courts-the locus
of ultimate decision-making power in disputes over crimes and contracts.
Control of the police and the army is particularly important in enforcing
and assuring all of the State's other powers, including the all-important
power to extract its revenue by coercion.

For there is one crucially important power inherent in the nature of
the State apparatus. All other persons and groups in society (except for
acknowledged and sporadic criminals such as thieves and bank robbers)
obtain their income voluntarily: either by selling goods and services to
the consuming public, or by voluntary gft (e.g., membership in a club or
association, bequest, or inheritance). Only the State obtains its revenue
by coercion, by threatening dire penalties should the income not be forth-
coming. That coercion is known as "taxation," although in less regularized
epochs it was often known as "tribute." Taxation is theft, purely and simply
even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknow-
ledged criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the
property of the State's inhabitants, or subjects.

It would be an instructive exercise for the skeptical reader to try to
frame a definition of taxation which does not also include theft. Like the
robber, the State demands money at the equivalent of gunpoint; if the
taxpayer refuses to pay his assets are seized by force, and if he should
resist such depredation, he will be arrested or shot if he should continue
to resist. It is true that State apologists maintain that taxation is "really"
voluntary; one simple but instructive refutation of this claim is to ponder
what would happen if the government were to abolish taxation, and to
confine itself to simple requests for voluntary contributions. Does anyone
really believe that anytlung comparable to the current vast revenues of the
State would continue to pour into its coffers? It is likely that even those
theorists who claim that punishment never deters action would balk at
such a claim. The great economist Joseph Schumpeter was correct when
he acidly wrote that "the theory which construes taxes on the analogy of
club dues or of the purchase of the services of, say, a doctor only proves
how far removed this part of the social sciences is from scientific habits
of mind.

It has been recently maintained by economists that taxation is
"really" voluntary because it is a method for everyone to make sure that
everyone else pays for a unanimously desired project. Everyone in an
area, for example, is assumed to desire the government to build a dam;
but if A and B contribute voluntarily to the project, they cannot be sure
that C and D will not "shirk" their similar responsibilities. Therefore, all
of the individuals, A, B, C, D, etc., each of whom wish to contribute to
building the dam, agree to coerce each other through taxation. Hence, the
tax is not really coercion. There are, however, a great many flaws in this

First is the inner contradiction between voluntarism and coercion;
a coercion of all-against-all does not make any of this coercion "volun-
tary." Secondly, even if we assume for the moment that each individual
would like to contribute to the dam, there is no way of assuring that the
tax levied on each person is no more than he would be willing to pay vol-
untarily even if everyone else contributed. The government may levy
$1000 on Jones even though he might have been willing to pay no more
than $500. The point is that precisely because taxation is compulsory, there
is no way to assure (as is done automatically on the free market) that the
amount any person contributes is what he would "really" be willing to
pay. In the free society, a consumer who voluntarily buys a TV set for $200
demonstrates by his freely chosen action that the TV set is worth more to
him than the $200 he surrenders; in short, he demonstrates that the $200
is a voluntary payment. Or, a club member in the free society, by paying
amual dues of $200, demonstrates that he considers the benefits of club
membership worth at least $200. But, in the case of taxation, a man's sur-
render to the threat of coercion demonstrates no voluntary preference what-
soever for any alleged benefits he receives.

Thirdly, the argument proves far too much. For the supply of any
service, not only dams, can be expanded by the use of the tax-financing
arm. Suppose, for example, that the Catholic Church were established in
a country through taxation; the Catholic Church would undoubtedly be
larger than if it relied on voluntary contributions; but can it therefore be
argued that such Establishment is "really" voluntary because everyone
wants to coerce everyone else into paying into the Church, in order to
make sure that no one shirks this "duty"?

And fourthly, the argument is simply a mystical one. How can any-
one know that everyone is "really" paying his taxes voluntarily on the
strength of this sophistical argument? What of those people- environ-
mentalists, say-who are opposed to dams per se? Is their payment "real-
ly" voluntary? Would the coerced payment of taxes to a Catholic Church
by Protestants or atheists also be "voluntary"? And what of the growing body
of libertarians in our society, who oppose all action by the government
on principle? In what way can this argument hold that their tax payments
are "really voluntary"? In fact, the existence of at least one libertarian or
anarchist in a country is enough by itseIfto demolish the "really voluntary"
argument for taxation.

It is also contended that, in democratic governments, the act of voting
makes the government and all its works and powers truly "voluntary."
Again, there are many fallacies with this popular argument. In the first
place, even if the majority of the public specifically endorsed each and
every particular act of the government, this would simply be majority tyr-
anny rather than a voluntary act undergone by every person in the coun-
try. Murder is murder, theft is theft, whether undertaken by one man against
another, or by a group, or even by the majority of people within a given
territorial area. The fact that a majority might support or condone an act
of theft does not diminish the criminal essence of the act or its grave in-
justice. Otherwise, we would have to say, for example, that any Jews mur-
dered by the democratically elected Nazi government were not murdered,
but only "voluntarily committed suiciden--surely, the grotesque but log-
ical implication of the "democracy as voluntary" doctrine. Secondly, in a
republic as contrasted to a direct democracy, people vote not for specific
measures but for "representatives" in a package deal; the representatives
then wreak their will for a fixed length of time. In no legal sense, of course,
are they truly "representatives" since, in a free society, the principal hires
his agent or representative individually and can fire him at will. As the great
anarchist political theorist and constitutional lawyer, Lysander Spooner,

they [the elected government officials] are neither our servants,
agents, attorneys, nor representatives. . . [for] we do not make
ourselves responsible for their acts. If a man is my servant,
agent, or attorney, I necessarily make myself responsible for
all his acts done within the limits of the power I have intrusted
to him. If I have intrusted him, as my agent, with either absolute
power, or any power at all, over the persons or properties of
other men than myself, I thereby necessarily make myself
responsible to those other persons for any injuries he may do
them, so long as he acts within the limits of the power I have
granted him. But no individual who may be injured in his
person or property, by acts of Congress, can come to the
individual electors, and hold them responsible for these acts
of their so-called agents or representatives. This fact proves
that these pretended agents of the people, of everybody, are
really the agents of n~body.~

Furthermore, even on its own terms, voting can hardly establish
"majority" rule, much less of voluntary endorsement of government. In
the United States, for example, less than 40 percent of eligible voters bother
to vote at all; of these, 21 percent may vote for one candidate and 19 percent
for another. 21 percent scarcely establishes even majority rule, much less
the voluntary consent of all. (In one sense, and quite apart from democracy
or voting, the "majority" always supports any existing government; this
will be treated below.) And finally how is it that taxes are levied on one
and all, regardless of whether they voted or not, or, more particularly,
whether they voted for the winning candidate? How can either nonvoting
or voting for the loser indicate any sort of endorsement of the actions of
the elected government?

Neither does voting establish any sort of voluntary consent even by
the voters themselves to the government. As Spooner trenchantly pointed out:
In truth, in the case of individuals their actual voting is not to
be taken as proof of consent. . . . On the contrary, it is to be
considered that, without his consent having even been asked
a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot
resist; a government that forces him to pay money render ser-
vice, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under
peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other menprac-
tice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees fur-
ther, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance
of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting
them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his con-
sent, so situated that, if he uses the ballot, he may become a
master, if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And
he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defense, he
attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man
who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill
others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in
battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it
is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing.
Neither in contests with the ballot-which is a mere substitute
for a bullet-because, as his only chance of self-preservation,
a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is
one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily
set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of
others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. . . .
Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most op-
pressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot would
use it, if they could see any chance of meliorating their con-
dition. But it would not, therefore, be a legitimate inference
that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which
they had voluntarily set up, or even consented
If, then, taxation is compulsory, and is therefore indistinguishable
from theft, it follows that the State, which subsists on taxation, is a vast
criminal organization far more formidable and successful than any
"private" Mafia in history. Furthermore, it should be considered criminal
not only according to the theory of crime and property rights as set forth
in this book, but even according to the common apprehension of mankind,
which always considers theft to be a crime. As we have seen above, the
nineteenth-century German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer put the
matter succinctly when he pointed out that there are two and only two
ways of attaining wealth in society: (a) by production and voluntary
exchange with others-the method of the free market; and (b) by violent
expropriation of the wealth produced by others. The latter is the method
of violence and theft. The former benefits all parties involved; the latter
parasitically benefits the looting group or class at the expense of the looted.
Oppenheimer trenchantly termed the former method of obtaining wealth,
"the economic means," and the latter "the political means." Oppenheimer
then went on brilliantly to define the State as "the organization of the political

Nowhere has the essence of the State as a criminal organization been
put as forcefully or as brilliantly as in this passage from Lysander Spooner:
It is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes
are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insur-
ance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with
each other. . . .
But this theory of our government is wholly different from
the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a high-
wayman, says to a man: "Your money, or your life." And many,
if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.
The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely
place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol
to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is
none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more das-
tardly and shameful.
The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility,
danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he
has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use
it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but
a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to
be merely a "protector," and that he takes men's money against
their will, merely to enable him to "protect" those infatuated
travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do
not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sen-
sible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, hav-
ing taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do.
He does not persist in following you on the road, against your
will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign," on account of
the "protection" he affords you. He does not keep "protecting"
you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by
requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by
robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest
or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor,
and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without
mercy if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He
is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and
insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition
to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.
It is instructive to inquire why it is that the State, in contrast to the
highwayman, invariably surrounds itself with an ideology of legitimacy,
why it must indulge in all the hypocrisies that Spooner outlines. The
reason is that the highwayman is not a visible, permanent, legal, or legit-
imate member of society, let alone a member with exalted status. He is
always on the run from his victims or from the State itself. But the State,
in contrast to a band of highwaymen, is not considered a criminal organi-
zation; on the contrary, its minions have generally held the positions of
highest status in society. It is a status that allows the State to feed off its
victims while making at least most of them support, or at least be resigned
to, this exploitative process. In fact, it is precisely the function of the State's
ideological minions and allies to explain to the public that the Emperor
does indeed have a fine set of clothes. In brief, the ideologists must explain
that, while theft by one or more persons or groups is bad and criminal,
that when the State engages in such acts, it is not theft but the legitimate
and even sanctified act called "taxation." The ideologists must explain
that murder by one or more persons or groups is bad and must be
punished, but that when the State kills it is not murder but an exalted act
known as "war" or "repression of internal subversion." They must explain
that while kidnapping or slavery is bad and must be outlawed when done
by private individuals or groups, that when the State commits such acts
it is not kidnapping or slavery but "conscription"-an act necessary to
the public weal and even to the requirements of morality itself. The
function of the statist ideologists is to weave the false set of Emperor's
clothes, to convince the public of a massive double standard: that when
the State commits the gravest of high crimes it is really not doing so, but
doing something else that is necessary, proper, vital, and even-in former
ages-by divine command. The age-old success of the ideologists of the
State is perhaps the most gigantic hoax in the history of mankind.
Ideology has always been vital to the continued existence of the
State, as attested by the systematic use of ideology since the ancient
Oriental empires. The specific content of the ideology has, of course,
changed over time, in accordance with changing conditions and cultures.
In the Oriental despotisms, the Emperor was often held by the Church to
be himself divine; in our more secular age, the argument runs more to
"the public good" and the "general welfare." But the purpose is always
the same: to convince the public that what the State does is not, as one
might think, crime on a gigantic scale, but something necessary and vital
that must be supported and obeyed. The reason that ideology is so vital
to the State is that it always rests, in essence, on the support of the majority
of the public. This support obtains whether the State is a "democracy," a
dictatorship, or an absolute monarchy. For the support rests in the
willingness of the majority (not, to repeat, of eve y individual) to go along
with the system: to pay the taxes, to go without much complaint to fight
the State's wars, to obey the State's rules and decrees. This support need
not be active enthusiasm to be effective; it can just as well be passive
resignation. But support there must be. For if the bulk of the public were
really convinced of the illegitimacy of the State, if it were convinced that
the State is nothing more nor less than a bandit gang writ large, then the
State would soon collapse to take on no more status or breadth of existence
than another Mafia gang. Hence the necessity of the State's employment
of ideologists; and hence the necessity of the State's age-old alliance with
the Court Intellectuals who weave the apologia for State rule.

The first modern political theorist who saw that all States rest on
majority opinion was the sixteenth-century libertarian French writer,
Etienne de la Boetie. In his Discourse on Volunta y Servitude, de la Boetie
saw that the tyrannical State is always a minority of the population, and
that therefore its continued despotic rule must rest on its legitimacy in
the eyes of the exploited majority, on what would later come to be called
"the engineering of consent." Two hundred years later, David Hum-
though scarcely a libertarian-set forth a similar analysis.

Thus, as Hume stated:

Nothing appears more surprising . . . than the easiness with which the many are
governed by the few and the implicit submission with which men resign their own
sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we inquire by what means
this wonder is effected, we shall find, that, as Force is always on the side of the
governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is, therefore,
on opinion that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic
and most military governments.
David Hume, Essays: Litera y, Moral and Political (London: Ward, Locke, and Taylor, n.d.),
p. 23; also see, Etienne de la Boetie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary
Servitude (New York: Free Life Editions, 1975); and Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
(New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1949), pp. 188ff.

The counter-
argument that, with modern weapons, a minority force can permanently
cow a hostile majority ignores the fact that these weapons can be held
by the majority and that the armed force of the minority can mutiny or
defect to the side of the populace. Hence, the permanent need for per-
suasive ideology has always led the State to bring into its rubric the nation's
opinion-moulding intellectuals. In former days, the intellectuals were
invariably the priests, and hence, as we have pointed out, the age-old
alliance between Church-and-State, Throne-and-Altar. Nowadays, "sci-
entific" and "value-free" economists and "national security managers,"
among others, perform a similar ideological function in behalf of State

Particularly important in the modern world-now that an Estab-
lished Church is often no longer feasible-is for the State to assume control
over education, and thereby to mould the minds of its subjects. In addition
to influencing the universities through all manner of financial subven-
tions, and through state-owned universities directly, the State controls edu-
cation on the lower levels through the universal institutions of the public
school, through certification requirements for private schools, and through
compulsory attendance laws. Add to this a virtually total control over
radio and television-either through outright State ownership, as in most
countries-or, as in the United States, by the nationalization of the air-
waves, and by the power of a federal commission to license the right of
stations to use those frequencies and channels.*

Thus, the State, by its very nature, must violate the generally accepted
moral laws to which most people adhere. Most people are agreed on the
injustice and criminality of murder and theft. The customs, rules, and
laws of all societies condemn these actions. The State, then, is always in
a vulnerable position, despite its seeming age-old might. What partic-
ularly needs to be done is to enlighten the public on the State's true nature,
so that they can see that the State habitually violates the generally
accepted injunctions against robbery and murder, that the State is the
necessary violator of the commonly accepted moral and criminal law.
We have seen clearly why the State needs the intellectuals; but why
do the intellectuals need the State? Put simply, it is because intellectuals,
whose services are often not very intensively desired by the mass of consum-
ers, can find a more secure "market" for their abilities in the arms of the
State. The State can provide them with a power, status, and wealth which
they often cannot obtain in voluntary exchange. For centuries, many
(though, of course, not all) intellectuals have sought the goal of Power,
the realization of the Platonic ideal of the "philosopher-king." Consider,
for example, the cry from the heart by the distinguished Marxist scholar,
Professor Needham, in protest against the acidulous critique by Karl
Wittfogel of the alliance of State-and-intellectuals in Oriental despotisms:

"The civilization which Professor Wittfogel is so bitterly attacking was
one which could make poets and scholars into officials." Needham adds
that "the successive [Chinese] emperors were served in all ages by a great
company of profoundly humane and disinterested scholar^."^ Presum-
ably, for Professor Needham, this is enough to j u s w the grinding despot-
isms of the ancient Orient.

But we need not go back as far as the ancient Orient or even as far
as the proclaimed goal of the professors at the University of Berlin, in
the nineteenth century, to form themselves into "the intellectual body-
guard of the House of Hohenzollern." In contemporary America, we have
the eminent political scientist, Professor Richard Neustadt, hailing the Pres-
ident as the "sole crownlike symbol of the Union." We have national security
manager Townsend Hoopes writing that "under our system the people
can look only to the President to define the nature of our foreign policy
problem and the national programs and sacrifices required to meet it with
effectiveness. " And, in response, we have Richard Nixon, on the eve of his
election as President, defining his role as follows: "He [the President] must
articulate the nation's values, define its goals and marshal1 its will."
Nixon's conception of his role is hauntingly similar to the scholar Ernst
Huber's articulation, in the Germany of the 1930s, of the Constitutional
Law of the Greater Gemzan Reich. Huber wrote that the head of State "sets
up the great ends which are to be attained and draws up the plans for
the utilization of all national powers in the achievement of the common
goals . . . he gives the national life its true purpose and value."

Thus, the State is a coercive criminal organization that subsists by a
regularized large-scale system of taxation-theft, and which gets away with
it by engineering the support of the majority (not, again, of everyone)
through securing an alliance with a group of opinion-moulding
intellectuals whom it rewards with a share in its power and pelf. But there
is another vital aspect of the State that needs to be considered. There is
one critical argument for the State that now comes into view: namely, the
implicit argument that the State apparatus really and properly owns the
territorial area over which it claims jurisdiction. The State, in short, arro-
gates to itself a monopoly of force, of ultimate decision-making power, over
a given territorial area-larger or smaller depending on historical condi-
tions, and on how much it has been able to wrest from other States. the
State may be said to properly own its territory, then it is proper for it to
make rules for anyone who presumes to live in that area. It can legit-
imately seize or control private property because there is no private prop-
erty in its area, because it really owns the entire land surface. So long
as the State permits its subjects to leave its territory, then, it can be said
to act as does any other owner who sets down rules for people living
on his property. (This seems to be the only justification for the crude
slogan, "America, love it or leave it!," as well as the enormous emphasis
generally placed on an individual's right to emigrate from a country.)
In short, this theory makes the State, as well as the King in the Middle
Ages, a feudal overlord, who at least theoretically owned all the land
in his domain. The fact that new and unowned resources-whether
virgin land or lakes-are invariably claimed as owned by the State (its
"public domain") is an expression of this implicit theory.
But our homesteading theory, outlined above, suffices to demol-
ish any such pretensions by the State apparatus. For by what earthly
right do the criminals of the State lay claim to the ownership of its
land area? It is bad enough that they have seized control of ultimate
decision-making for that area; what criterion can possibly give them
the rightful ownership of the entire territory?

The State may therefore be defined as that organization which poss-
esses either or both (in actual fact, almost always both) of the following
characteristics: (a) it acquires its revenue by physical coercion (tax-
ation); and (b) it achieves a compulsory monopoly of force and of ultimate
decision-making power over a given territorial area. Both of these es-
sential activities of the State necessarily constitute criminal aggression
and depredation of the just rights of private property of its subjects
(including self-ownership). For the first constitutes and establishes
theft on a grand scale; while the second prohibits the free competition
of defense and decision-making agencies within a given territorial
area-prohibiting the voluntary purchase and sale of defense and judicial
services-l1 Hence the justice of the vivid critique of the State by the libertar-
ian theorist Albert Jay Nock: "The State claims and exercises the mono-
poly of crime" in a given territorial area. "It forbids private murder,
but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft,
but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants, whether the
property of citizen or alien."

It must be emphasized that the State does not merely use coercion
to acquire its own revenue, to hire propagandists to advance its power,
and to arrogate to itself and to enforce a compulsory monopoly of such
vital services as police protection, firefighting, transportation, and postal
service. For the State does many other things as well, none of which can
in any sense be said to serve the consuming public. It uses its monopoly
of force to achieve, as Nock puts it, a "monopoly of crimeu-to control,
regulate, and coerce its hapless subjects. Often it pushes its way into
controlling the morality and the very daily lives of its subjects. The state
uses its coerced revenue, not merely to monopolize and provide genuine
services inefficiently to the public, but also to build up its own power at
the expense of its exploited and harassed subjects: to redistribute income
and wealth from the public to itself and to its allies, and to control, com-
mand, and coerce the inhabitants of its territory. In a truly free society, a
society where individual rights of person and property are maintained, the
State, then, would necessarily cease to exist. Its myriad of invasive and
aggressive activities, its vast depredations on the rights of person and
property, would then disappear. At the same time, those genuine services
which it does manage badly to perform would be thrown open to free
competition, and to voluntarily chosen payments by individual con-

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