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Anatomy of the State

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,527 ratings  ·  308 reviews
This gives a succinct account of Rothbard’s view of the state. Following Franz Oppenheimer and Albert Jay Nock, Rothbard regards the state as a predatory entity. It does not produce anything but rather steals resources from those engaged in production. In applying this view to American history, Rothbard makes use of the work of John C. Calhoun.

How can an organization of th
Paperback, 60 pages
Published January 8th 2009 by Ludwig von Mises Institute (first published 1974)
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Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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It's more of an essay than a book but once your done, you'll never look at the "State" the same again.
May 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
Hasty Evisceration of the State

Topics :

Indefinite extension of the powers of the State (unproductive, enjoys monopoly of legitimate violence, fraudulent, predatory).

Lack of counter-powers to government and Parliament majority in the U.S. in particular (some form 'unanimity' should be required. How to implement it, however?)

'For one thing, just as the right of nullification for a state logically implies its right of secession, so a right of individual nullification would imply the right of any in
Douglass Gaking
Yesterday, I reviewed Frederick Bastiat's The Law, which is very similar to this text in its message, but Murray Rothbard's writing is, in my opinion, far superior to Bastiat's and many others in this genre. I mean no disrespect to those writers' excellent contributions, but when you read Rothbard after reading other libertarian and Austrian school texts, I think you will see what I mean. Rothbard is skilled at making concise points that are backed by intelligent thought and research. There are ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The raw, good and old truth.
James Last
Jun 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
A review of Anatomy of the State by Murray Rothbard

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Ok I've read "the anatomy of the state". It's provocative and fails to address the good things a state does. I don't think the name is correct, it should be "a cynic's anatomy of the state". When it does get to the good things like a police force, the view is combative:

"For the State, to preserve its own monopoly of predation, did indeed see to it that private and unsystematic crime was kept t
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wrongthink
This is a very concise statement of the world's foremost anarcho-capitalist, Murray Rothbard's, view of the state. It's pretty dense and not particularly suited to the audiobook format, although the argument doesn't rely on weird redefinitions or anything else -- more, that the impact of relatively simple statements takes some reflection to consider. Probably better as a print book, although the narration was technically fine.

Rothbard's beliefs are certainly extreme, but even if you don't agree
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In recent years I have been dissatisfied with the state apparatus and frankly lost hope in governance and justice, this book gives voice to my thoughts and fears. The author dissects the role of state and it's intended purposes. It was interesting to read about what crimes the state punish in earnest and was pretty surprised by the answers . I have never considered the role of the state from the author's perspective.

Even what I think the author is very rational for the major part if the book ,
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Anatomy of the State probes into the structure and legitimacy of government where it exposes the true predatory nature of government. Preserving the government apparatus is paramount to the continuation of plunder in a colluded alliance of the rulers, operators and intellectuals.
Defining what the state is or not is critically important. The State is not us or the people, it doesn’t represent the majority, and when it does, it is a tyranny of the majority. The State is a organization whose only a
Jun 23, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pure-ideology
Libertarianism has always felt suspect to me. For all its grand claims of breaking free from ideology, it seems mired in a Romanticist framework that elevates the individual above the totality of the culture that raised and reared them. Here, Rothbard provides a critique of state ideology, not unlike those raised by thinkers such as Gramsci and Chomsky; however, he appears blind to the historical position of his own subject, and how this subject (supposedly) pierces through the miasma of ideolog ...more
Al Lock
I have a number of problems with this book.
First of all, Rothbard defines the state in a manner that is inaccurate - but rather in a manner that allows him to make his arguments. He says "in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion". Now, that is true of many states, but the existence, anywhere in history, of any state that is not true of makes the statement false - not part of the
Pedro Jorge
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
While it may be a little too extreme for most readers, this small book is an interesting essay on the organics and nature of the State, what is is, what it is not, and how it survives. Rothbard claims that all States begin with a bunch of thugs gaining control over a territory and then trying to find a way to make their subjects feed them without causing a revolution. He adds many quotations from previous authors and points to some historical facts that question our current idea that 'we are all ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
If the state is so bad why not just take power and make a cooler state. You're never gonna just magically make all the state power disappear so why not put someone in charge who is a really cool guy and will let us trade GameStop stonks? ...more
Jeremy Randall
Apr 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Short and sweet. But packed. I love solutions. I love hope. And I love this book even tho it has neither of those. This guy quickly got my attention by clearly setting out the basics. what is a state, why is a state, how does a state interact with other states at little tea parties and such.
I want to read it again. and probably track a bunch of the footnotes. but... liked it.
Evan Dewangga
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politik
" the State claims and exercises the monopoly of crime. . . . 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 of alien"

One of the most powerful quotation in this book, that gives me chill and sympathy to anarchy. To be honest, I don't quite agree with all Rothbard's notion of State skepticism, as behavioral economics suggested that individual is emoti
Ryan Phung
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
The author presented a passionate argument against governments. The biggest problem I have with this argument is that it's entirely one-sided, without even considering the benefits of government. A non-trivial portion of the arguments are also not supported by facts and there are many leaps to conclusion.

Nevertheless, the book gives me interesting insights about how "parasitic" governments may work.
Dec 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An Absolute Cracker. An essential for a Libertarian Philosopher. Much Needed for days like today.
May 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Murray Rothbard is one of my favorite political and economic philosophers, along with the others from the Austrian School of economics such as Ludwig Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and I even like the Chicago school (Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman). I must admit, I have a bias towards this work, because I am a libertarian with anarcho-capitalist leanings. I think of any of Rothbard, Mises, and Hayeks work as the gospel for my economic and political beliefs, like I view the Bible and teachings of Jes ...more
Paul Taske
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
I view this book as similar to Machiavelli’s “The Prince” but worse. Where Machiavelli examines political power of a ruler, Rothbard presents his examination of what a state is and hints at his answer to whether a state is legitimate or not.

The reason I view this as worse than “The Prince” is because this book is, in my view, fundamentally dishonest. Rothbard incorrectly identifies several key aspects of government in his book. Notably, these include the formation of the state (his omission of
The Anatomy of the State - also known as The Book of Footnotes.

Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed this book, if mostly for its comedic value.
While I understand - and even agree with - some of the arguments Rothbard lays out (such as the issue posed by the judiciary, or the fact that most wars serve only the State, and never its people),
most of what is written here is just him asserting that the existence of the State does not serve the individual in any way whatsoever, which is decidedly untrue.

I d
Terrence D.
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a book and felt like I was cheering on a sporting event until I read this one. I guess because it's rare to read a book these days where someone actually understands and cogently describes the nature and history of the State without idolizing and lauding its paternal — or rather, authoritarian — attributes. This short work is something I wish my family and friends would take the time to read, especially those with such forthright opinions, but something tells me you won't. There' ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
There is certainly a place for essays and shorter works, but this is not one of Rothbard's better contributions.

Essentially a theory of the State as predator. While a useful theory, this pamphlet doesn't do it justice. I found that it presents minimal evidence, hefty speculation, and overall the idea is presented in spurts. Obviously in a short work an idea can't be thoroughly developed, but I find this essay unreasonably jarring and ill-conceived.
Adam Calvert
Dec 19, 2018 added it
Shelves: economics
There is much good in such a short book. Rothbard does an excellent job of deconstructing the State and its unlawful coercive power to "bully" the citizens.

However, there didn't seem to be a solution provided. So in that regard (and its clear lack of a foundation in the Lord for its criticisms), I'm finding it hard to know how to rate it.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the first books I read of this sort so can't really say much since I have nothing to compare it to. It's a long essay which makes for a short book. I expected it to be boring but it was surprisingly refreshing and eye opening. ...more
Dec 22, 2019 marked it as stricken
ancaps are literally the funniest political group of all time. talk about the libertarian right wing
Apr 01, 2021 rated it did not like it
Immediately Murray Rothbard begins his Anatomy of the State with a strawman: "Some theorists venerate the State as the apotheosis of society; others regard it as an amiable though often inefficient, organization for achieving social ends; but almost all regard it as a necessary means for achieving the goals of mankind, a means to be ranged against the 'private sector' and often winning in this competition of resources." I'm certain there are patriotic theorists, and theorists who consider the st ...more
Aug 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Want a simple guide to explain Anarchist reason?
This is your book.
Agree with it or not, it’s a great introduction to one of the pillars of their theory, why the state sucks.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This debunks popular ideas about the state and provides the reader with a perspective you will rarely get a chance to hear: that the standard arguments for the legitimacy of the state are incoherent. For example, arguments from the 'consent of the governed' break down when the question is asked: 'What if someone in the territory governed by a particular state does not consent to be governed?' If the answer is, 'They must be forced to comply with the state's laws' (including paying taxes, etc.), ...more
Komal Mahmood
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
The basic argument is this: state is the only organization that has a monopoly on the use of force and violence, the only organization that obtains its revenue through coercion instead of production of goods or services rendered.

He cites Franz Oppenheimer, the German sociologist who explains the two ways of wealth production:

1)Economic means of production and exchange which is natural to man.

2)Political means of confiscation and theft of another man’s property which is contrary to natural law a
Shane Hawk
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a succinct essay only expanding to about sixty pages. It can be read in 30-40 minutes easily. It’s offered for free on

The synopsis is already a letter-perfect summary of what Rothbard’s essay is on. All I can add is I quite enjoyed it because he explains the (USA) government’s predation over time and calls back a few different and interesting historical parallels to further his arguments. From other sources, I’ve seen this to be an introduction to the “anarcho-capitalist” view
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We're a messy lot

Rothbard writes, "Of all the numerous forms that governments have taken over the centuries, of all the concepts and institutions that have been tried, none has succeeded in keeping the State in check. The problem of the State is evidently as far from solution as ever."

The state has no real substance in itself. It is a collection of people, and people are basically self serving. To be other serving requires intentionality borne of discipline and love for fellow man, or at the ver
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Murray Newton Rothbard was an influential American historian, natural law theorist and economist of the Austrian School who helped define modern libertarianism. Rothbard took the Austrian School's emphasis on spontaneous order and condemnation of central planning to an individualist anarchist conclusion, which he termed "anarcho-capitalism".

In the 1970s, he assisted Charles Koch and Ed Crane to fo

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68 likes · 6 comments
“A robber who justified his theft by saying that he really helped his victims, by his spending giving a boost to retail trade, would find few converts; but when this theory is clothed in Keynesian equations and impressive references to the “multiplier effect,” it unfortunately carries more conviction.” 27 likes
“We may test the hypothesis that the State is largely interested in protecting itself rather than its subjects by asking: which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely—those against private citizens or those against itself?

The gravest crimes in the State’s lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax.

Or compare the degree of zeal devoted to pursuing the man who assaults a policeman, with the attention that the State pays to the assault of an ordinary citizen. Yet, curiously, the State’s openly assigned priority to its own defense against the public strikes few people as inconsistent with its presumed raison d’etre.”
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