DAVID M. HART (PhD Cantab, M.A. Stanford, B.A. (Hons) Macquarie)




The origins of liberal anti-statism go back at least to the radical dissent of the Levellers in the English Revolution of the seventeenth century. Their efforts to defend themselves against the power of the state, which wanted to control or prohibit their religious practices, resulted in some of the earliest liberal defenses of property rights and the natural right of the individual to enjoy his liberty. One of the most thoroughgoing statements of the Leveller defense of natural rights in property and liberty is Richard Overton's "An Arrow Against All Tyrants," written from prison in 1646. In this tract, Overton was able to abstract the principles of natural rights from the more general question of religious liberty and was thus able to develop a secular theory of rights as a basis for political rights. He began his pamphlet with the following paragraph:

To every individuall in nature is given an individuall property by nature, not to be invaded or usurped by any: for every one as he is himselfe, so he hath a selfe propriety, else could he not be himselfe, and on this no second may presume to deprive any of, without manifest violation and affront to the very principles of nature, and of the Rules of equity and Justice between man and man; mine and thine cannot be, except this be: No man hath power over my rights and liberties, and I over no man's; I may be but an Individuall, enjoy my selfe and my selfe propriety, and may write my selfe no more [than] my selfe, or presume any further; if I doe, I am an encroacher and an invader upon another man s Right, to which I have no Right. For by naturall birth, all men are equally and alike borne to like propriety, liberty and freedome, and as we are delivered of God by the hand of nature into this world, every one with a naturall, innate freedome and propriety (as it were writ in the table of every man's heart, never to be obliterated) even so are we to live, every one equally and alike to enjoy his Birthright and privilege; even all whereof God by nature hath made him free.[2]

However, it was not until the eighteenth century that these liberal ideas of liberty and property were developed into a more comprehensive theory of the state. The young Edmund Burke, for example, in his Vindication of Natural Society written in 1756, extended the religious dissenter's criticism of "artificial," imposed religion to the institutions of government.[3] In what is probably the first individualist, liberal anarchist tract ever written, Burke condemned all forms of political society for being the main cause of war, suffering and misfortune.[4] Making a distinction common to many anti-statist liberals, Burke divided society into two types. Natural society, "founded in natural appetites and instincts, and not in any positive institution," was not based on force and allowed individuals to freely exercise their God-given natural rights as their individual consciences directed. Artificial or political society, on the other hand, was based on the imposition of "artificial" laws and regulations, thus usurping the proper function of the individual to deter mine his own peaceful behavior.[5] Immediately, conflict arises from the division of society into two classes, the governed and the governors, the latter seeking to increase its power and wealth at the expense of the former. After cataloguing the political history of the world, a "history dyed in blood, and blotted and confounded by tumults, rebellions, massacres, assassinations, proscriptions,"[6] Burke squarely places the blame on political society of whatever kind.[7] He accused all states of being essentially the same, in that they are based on force and exist for the benefit of those privileged minorities who are powerful or influential enough to control them. He wrote:

we have shown them [the three simple forms of artificial society: democracy, monarchy and aristocracy], however they may differ in name or in some slight circumstances, to be all alike in effect; in effect to be all tyrannies... In vain you tell me that artificial government is good, but that I fall out onlv with the abuse. The thing! the thing itself is the abuse![8]

Burke recognized that even in "natural society" there would still exist the need for the protection of life, liberty and property because "[it] was observed that men had ungovernable passions, which made it necessary to guard against the violence they might offer to each other."[9] As Molinari was to argue later,[10] the "grand error"[11] that men made in attempting to solve this problem of how to protect themselves from aggression was to establish or accept a monopoly government with the powers to provide this service. Men now found themselves worse off than when they were without the state[12] because they now faced a nationally organized engine of oppression, whereas before they had faced only disorganized bandits or, at most, local feudal lords and their mercenaries. The perennial problem arose of who was to guard against the guardians.[13]

Burkés failure was in not being able to provide a positive view of the form his "natural society" would take. He limited himself to a brilliant criticism of the basis of all political institutions from a natural rights' perspective and did not elaborate on "natural society" save for the assertion that "[in] a state of nature it is an inevitable law that a man's acquisitions are in proportion to his labours"[14] and that each individual would have the right to defend his person and property as he saw fit.[15] Burke did not have the tools at hand which were necessary to explain how an anarchist[16] society would function. He lacked the Smithian free-market economics that Molinari later used to explain how society could provide itself with defense services without resorting to the coercive monopoly of the state. A similar problem was faced by William Godwin. Like Burke, he defended individualism and the right to property,[17] drawing corsiderably, in fact, from Burkés Vindication for his criticism of the state,[18] and he concluded that the state was an evil which had to be reduced in power if not eliminated completely.

Above all we should not forget that government is, abstractly taken, an evil, an usurpation upon the private judgement and individual conscience of mankind; and that, however, we may be obliged to admit it as a necessary evil for the present, it behoves us, as the friends of reason and the human species, to admit as little of it as possible, and carefully to observe, whether, in the consequence of the gradual elimination of the human mind, that little may not hereafter be diminished.[19]

Godwin looked forward to the day when the entire state could be done away with completely.

With what delight must every well-informed friend of mankind look forward to the auspicious period, the dissolution of political government, of that brute engine which has been the only perennial cause of the vices of mankind, and which, as has abundantly appeared in the present work, has mischiefs of various sorts incorporated with its substance, and no otherwise removable than by its utter annihilation![20]

But he still faced the difficult problem of adequately explaining how the stateless society which he envisioned could work in practice. Godwin's stateless society presupposed a sudden change in the behavior of the individuals comprising that society. He was convinced of the essential goodness of uncorrupted men and believed that when political institutions disappeared men would become "reasonable and virtuous."

Simplify the social system in the manner which every motive but those of usurpation and ambition powerfully recommends; render the plain dictates of justice level to every capacity; remove the necessity of implicit faith; and we may expect the whole species to become reason able and virtuous.[21]

Godwin's solution to the problem of aggression involved the use of juries which would act as advisory bodies in "adjusting controversies." These juries would reason with the offender, urging him to forsake his errors, and if this failed, could subject the offender to the criticism and ostracism of his peers.[22] But it is difficult to see how these juries could exercise this function without using force to capture criminals and, as Molinari was at pains to argue in Les Soirees de la rue Saint-Lazare, how they could recompense the victims for any losses caused by the crime. Godwin's unreasonable optimism about the unaggressive nature of man in a stateless society unfortunately was common to many other anarchists, especially communist anarchist thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.[23]

It is quite probable that Molinari was well aware of William Godwin's and, through him, Edmund Burkés anti-statism. Godwin's ideas were brought to France by Benjamin Constant among others. Constant had studied at the University of Edinburgh from 1783 to 1784 and was aware of English political thinking of this entire period. He corresponded with Godwin in 1795 and 1796 and expressed his desire to translate Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice into French. Godwin had even sent a copy to the French National Convention via John Fenwick on February 15, 1793, and his novel, Caleb Williams, had been reviewed in La Decade in January, 1796. In 1799, Constant announced his forthcoming translation of the Enquiry but it never appeared due to the "political events then and in the future" which "caused the indefinite postponement of its publication."[24] However, Constant was able to popularize many of Godwin's anti-statist ideas through his writings and his speeches at the Tribunate. Only with the publication of Constant's Oeuvres manuscrites de 1810 did 576 pages of translation appear, along with an essay on Godwin and his ideas.[25] Constant was influenced by Godwin to reject state intervention and coercion and to support all forms of voluntary and peaceful activity and he, in turn, influenced many of the laissez-faire liberals who worked with and influenced Molinari.[26]


The other major intellectual current that influenced the anti-statism of the French laissez-faire liberals, and Molinari in particular, was the economic ideas of Adam Smith and Jean-Baptiste Say. Both these theorists described how society would operate in the absence of government control and intervention in the economy. Smith argued that government intervention was immoral, because it violated individuals' natural rights to property, and that it was generally inefficient. The selfish actions of individuals in the unhampered market promoted the general interest in spite of having no explicit intention of doing so:

every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it ... and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of society more effectively than when he really intends to promote it.[27]

In the stateless economy "the simple system of natural liberty" would prevail and this "spontaneous order"[28] of the market, rather than the imposed order of the state, would maximize wealth and ensure the uninterrupted use of each individual's justly acquired (whether by first use or by peaceful exchange) property. Thus:

All systems of preference or restraint therefore being completely taken away, the obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord. Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men. The sovereign is completely discharged from a duty, in the attempting to perform which he must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, and for the proper performance of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient; the duty of superintending the industry of private people, and of directing it towards the employments most suitable to the interest of the society.[29]

Molinari was to use Smith's two concepts--the spontaneous order of the market and the system of natural liberty--to build his theory of extreme liberal anti-statism. Jean-Baptiste Say popularized and extended Smith's ideas of the free market. He defended the right to property more rigorously than Smith and his conclusions had a greater influence on the anti-statism of Molinari. Say considered any barrier to the free use or abuse of property a violation of the individual's rights.[30] He condemned slavery and military conscription[31] and argued against taxes for the same reasons,[32] especially if they were in excess of the "minimum" necessary to protect the public. In that case

it would be difficult indeed not to view this excess as a theft, a gratuitous sacrifice seized from individuals by force. I say "seized by force" even under representative governments, because even their authority may be so great as to brook no refusal.[33]

To a liberal like Say, force could never legitimize the activity of the state, even in so important a matter as taxation. Say, like Molinari, went to great pains to denounce the use of force in all human affairs, especially when used by the state or the privileged political classes.[34] The state was nothing more than a tool used by the politically privileged to maintain an "artificial order" which "endures only through force, and which can never be reestablished without injustice and violence."[35] It was because the state was an artificial body that it had to be limited in scope as much as possible. Say concluded that it must "never meddle in production" and, as a general principle, "[if] government intervention is an evil, a good government makes itself as unobtrusive as possible" because government "can unfortunately always rely upon the negligence, incompetence and odious condescensions of its own agents."[36]

The greatest enemies of the laissez-faire liberals were the monopolies, whether granted to privileged individuals or exercised by the state itself. Consistent with his defense of property rights and his general disdain for the state, Say made an initial attack on all government monopolies which Molinari was later to develop into his theory of free-market anarchism. Say argued:

The government violates the property of each in his own person and faculties when it monopolizes certain professions such as those of bankers and brokers and sells to privileged elites these exclusive rights. It violates property even more seriously when, under the pretext of public security or simply that of the security of the state, it prevents a man from traveling or authorizes an officer or commissioner of police or judge to arrest him, so that no man is ever completely certain of the disposition of his time and faculties or of his ability to complete any enterprise. Could the public safety be any more effectively threatened by a criminal whom everyone is against and who is always so quickly caught?[37]

Not only was monopoly a violation of individual property rights but it was also inefficient. No central authority could know the needs of all consumers because this information was dispersed throughout the economy.[38] Say even made a tentative step towards Molinari's anarchism when he suggested that public services should be made competitive by having their coercive monopoly destroyed. His scheme was to "open all public services to free competition" in order to make them as cheap and efficient as other industries whose activities were regulated by the market.

While recognizing the extreme difficulty involved in allowing the payment of public services to be regulated by the same principle of free competition which presides over the majority of all other social transactions, we must agree that the more this principle is applied to the administration of States, the better managed will be their interests.[39]

Like Molinari, Say quotes the important passage from Smith's Wealth of Nations which argues that the reason justice was so cheap in England was that the separate courts competed for clients by offering them the speediest service at the lowest price.[40] As a principle of justice, Say argued that those who consume a good or service should be the ones to pay for it.[41] When the production of security is monopolized by the state, the purchaser's rights are violated because the range of choice has been artificially limited and he thus is forced to pay a monopoly price. The excess of the monopoly price over the "necessary" or free-market price is equivalent to the theft of that amount of property from the consumer.[42] To overcome this problem, Say proposed to follow Smith's example in Wealth of Nations and allow competition in the pricing of court services. Each litigant would be free to choose the court and judge that best suited him. Fees would be made up of three components: a levy set by the province, a premium paid to the particular judge, and an honorarium proportional to the "values under litigation" which would be payable after the judgment had been given. In some cases, for example in criminal trials, the costs would be borne by the losing party.[43]

Anticipating Molinari by some twenty years, Say argued that only the competition provided by the free market could give the consumers of security a service that was "prompt, equitable and of reasonable cost." The market would encourage the courts and tne judges to recognize the interests of the consumers since it would be their voluntary patronage that paid their salaries. In order to attract as many clients to their court as they could, the judges would be

interested in being honest in order to garner a wide reputation for equity and be frequently called to sit in judgment. They would be motivated to end trials promptly in order to expedite the greatest number. Finally, the cost of litigation would not be out of proportion to the interests in question and there would be no useless costs.[44]

Molinari later added considerably to Say's early formulation of free-market anarchism by introducing the idea of paying for police services and protection by contracting individually with insurance companies. He was even to argue that national defense could be better supplied by competing companies on the free market and that small proprietary communities would gradually replace the leviathan state. It was with Molinari that the two different currents of anarchist thought converged: he combined the political anarchism of Burke and Godwin with the nascent economic anarchism of Adam Smith and Say to create a new form of anarchism that has been var ously described as individualist anarchism, anarcho-capitalism, or free market anarchism.


Both Comte and Dunoyer were influenced by the economic liberalism of Say. Together with Saint-Simon they developed the doctrine of Industrielisme based on their class analysis of society in which the warrior class, with political privilege, and the industrial class, the result of the unhampered market, were in constant conflict. In their economic theories Comte and Dunoyer argued that the market, with all the voluntary exchanges that took place in it, was the antithesis of force. Thus the market, identified with society, was completely separate from the state and antagonistic towards it. As the historian Albert Schatz argued:

Liberalism thus tends to create a fundamental antagonism between the individual and the State--an antagonism which does not exist in classical doctrine, one which views the individual and the State as two forces inversely proportional to one another. Consequently, there is a tendency in liberalism, at first potential, later active, to strip the State of any role in the economy. We will see this originate in Dunoyer's extension of classical doctrine and later result in a more or less disguised form of anarchism.[45]

There can be no question about the implicit anarchism of Comtés and Dunoyer's liberalism. Dunoyer, for example, thought that in the future the state would merely be an appendage of the market and would gradually wither and die as the market expanded.[46] Perfection would be reached when "everyone works and no one governs,"[47] and "the maintenance of public safety would no longer demand the intervention of a permanent, special force, the government to this extent disappears."[48] A colleague and fellow liberal, Augustin Thierry, echoed Dunoyer's sentiments when he wrote that "it was in losing their powers that the actions of governments [have] ameliorate[d]" and that, if given a choice between an oppressive state apparatus and "anarchy," he believed that "the excesses of the police are far more fatal than the absence of the police."[49] In Comtés words: "the less [government] makes itself felt, the more the people prosper."[50]

The anarchism of Comte and Dunoyer was dependent on their view of the evolution of societies. Like Molinari, they believed that "as we become more civilized, there is less need for police and courts."[51] The advance of industrielisme would dissolve the state until there was complete freedom to trade and move across national borders.

These monstrous aggregations were formed and made necessary by the spirit of domination. The spirit of industry will dissolve them. One of its last, greatest and most salutary effects will be to municipalize the world....centers of actions will multiply and ultimately the vastest regions will contain but a single people composed of an infinite number of homogeneous groups bound together without confusion and without violence by the most complex and simplest of ties, the most peaceful and the most profitable of relationships.[52]

J. L. Talmon described the final stage of this gradual evolution of the industrial society of the liberals as a community where

among themselves they would settle matters by way of contract, warranted by their own corporations and their laws and customs. Since the feudal-military-clerical State was in no position to render real assistance, but only to do harm, or worse--to extort ransom, the industrial classes developed almost a religion of non-interference by the State. Liberty became identified with the absence of government, individual freedom with isolationism. The experience of feudal-clerical rule was universalised into a philosophy teaching that government as such is a natural enemy. (Emphasis added)[53]

Comte and Dunoyer contributed to the Journal des Économistes (Dunoyer was in fact one of the founders of the Societe d'Économie Politique in 1842), so the writings of these two theorists were well known in free trade liberal circles.[54] Molinari acknowledged his debt to Comte in the Dictionnaire biography and admitted that he owed his insights into the application of economic analysis of state functions to Dunoyer.[55] A closer examination of Molinari's views will show how he adapted the insights of the political and economic anarchists to forge a new and ultimately more devastating critique of the state and its coercive monopolization of the production of security.

The above summary has attempted to show that Molinari was working within a tradition of liberal anti-statism that stretched back at least as far as the seventeenth century. The influence of Molinari's anti-statist ideas will be briefly examined in the discussion of the influence of Molinari's ideas, where it will be argued that a continuous thread of liberal anti-statist thought has existed until the present day, largely due to the pioneering work of Gustave de Molinari.[56]




Man appropriates to himself the sum total of elements and powers, both physical and moral, which make up his being. This appropriation is the result of an effort in discovering and recognizing these elements and powers and in their application for the satisfaction of his needs, in other words their utilization. This is self-ownership. Man appropriates andpossesses himself. He also appropriates, by another effort in discovering and occupying, transforming and adapting, the earth, the material and powers of his immediate surroundings, as much as they can be appropriated. This is real and personal property. Man continually acts, under the impetus of his self-interest, to conserve and increase these elements and agents which he has appropriated in his person and in his immediate surroundings and which constitute values. He fashions them, transforms them, modifies them or exchanges them at will, as he deems it beneficial. This is liberty. Property and liberty are the two factors or components of sovereignty. What is the self-interest of the individual? It is to have absolute ownership of his person and the things that he has appropriated outside of his person, and to be able to dispose of them as he wishes. It is to be able to work alone or to freely combine his powers and other property, either wholly or in part, with that of others. It is to be able to exchange the products that he gets from the use of his private property, whether personal or real, or even to consume or conserve them. In one word, it is to possess in all its fullness "individual sovereignty." Molinari[57]


Of medium height, with abundant hair, short-sighted, but able to read without spectacles, wearing a moustache and impériale, with only a slight hardness of hearing, he [G. de Molinari] remained until quite lately physically fit and intellectually vigorous to such an extent as to excite the admiration of all who saw him. Struck down by hemiplegia, he had retained all his lucidity of mind, and when death sought him out, he was still pondering over the great questions which had filled his life, and their relations to contemporaneous events.[58]

With these words, a close friend and colleague marked the end of Gustave de Molinari's long and active life as a political economist, a life which had coincided with a broad and eventful period in French history from the constitutional monarchy of Louis Philippe to the mid-years of the Third Republic. Yet Molinari was not French by birth, for he was the son of Baron de Molinari, a former officier supérieur in Napoleon's Empire, who had subsequently settled in Liège as a physician. From the time of his birth on March 3, 1819, until he left Belgium for Paris in 1840, little is known of Molinari's life and upbringing. Like many others who wished to follow a carrière de lettres, he was attracted to Paris, the political and cultural center of the French-speaking world. As he hoped to establish himself in journalism, particularly in the new field of "economic propagandism," it is possible that he became associated with the Société d'Économie Politique which had been established in 1842 and included in its membership some of the most active political economists in France. Like Michel Chevalier, who had already established himself as a political economist as Rossi's successor at the Collège de France in 1840[59] Molinari took an early interest in the effect of railways on the industrialization which Europe was undergoing, and his first published essay dealt with that question.[60] In 1846 he became involved in the Association pour la liberté des échanges following a meeting of distinguished liberals in Paris at which he was invited to join the board of the newly formed association and be the secrétaire adjoint. Indeed, it is likely that Molinari had helped found the Paris free-trade association as it was only the second of its kind in France after Bordeaux. In addition, he became one of the editors of the association's journal, Libre-Échange.

In the mid-1840's, Molinari became increasingly active in the free-trade press in Paris, defending his ideas in the Courrier français (1846-47), the Revue nouvelle, Commerce (1848), the Journal des Économistes (of which he became an editor in 1847), and La Patrie (1849-51). He also published the first of his many books on economic and political themes. In 1846 appeared his Études économiques: sur l'Organisation de la Liberté industrielle et l'abolition de l'esclavage and, in the following year, the Histoire du tarif: I. Les fers et les huiles; II. Les céréales. [61] In 1848, he was commissioned to edit and annotate volume two of the Mélanges d'Économie politique in the Collection des Principaux Économistes. Molinari's most famous work appeared in 1849, Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare, entretiens sur les lois économiques et defense de la propriété, in which he pushed to its ultimate limits his opposition to all state invervention in the economy. Arguing that the market could better satisfy the public's need for security than could the compulsory monopoly of the state, Molinari became the most consistent of the French free-trade liberal school, with his insistence that all spheres of human activity could be described and explained by economic law.

Molinari continued his argument in the October 1849 issue of the Journal des Économistes in the essay "De la Production de la Sécurité" which sparked a lively debate in the Société d'Économie Politique. Although his colleagues could not agree with his foray into economic anarchism, Molinari continued to elaborate his thesis on free-market security for fifty years until old age and pessimism overtook him. Nevertheless, Molinari must be credited with being the first person to solve the anti statists' problem of how to explain the functioning of a fully free society. Previously, anarchist or near-anarchist theorists had preferred to leave unexplained how their utopia would operate. They had simply asserted that the future society would not require a police force since mankind would no longer need protection; either there would no longer be property to steal or men would no longer want to steal, for public pressure would deter the criminal. Molinari was the first "free market proprietary anarchist''[62] who, working within the tradition of Adam Smith and the early nineteenth century French liberals Constant, Say, Comte and Dunoyer, combined anti statism with the political economist's understanding of the market and how it operated to satisfy the needs of consumers.

During the 1848 revolution, Molinari had been active in trying to counter the propaganda of the socialists and the "conservatives of the status quo." He and some other "friends of economic freedom" had started the Club de la liberté du travail for that very purpose but failed because the provisional government did not or would not protect their right of freedom of association. The club was "invaded and dissolved by a mob of communists" and the members, not wishing to use violence, were dispersed by the crowd.[63] After failing to get Charles Coquelin elected to the Constituent Assembly of April 1848, and after the collapse of their short-lived "popular journal," Jacques Bonhomme (edited by Molinari and Coquelin), the five "friends of liberty," Bastiat, Coquelin, Fonteyraud, Garnier and Molinari, could do little more in such an inhospitable climate.

The club and the magazine were not the only casualties of the revolu tion. The Association pour la liberté des échanges was dissolved in April or May of 1848, because "the association finally despaired of making itself heard amidst the political tumult" and the events of the revolution had dispersed the principal members so that they could no longer meet.[64] Soon afterwards, three of the five "friends" died. Fonteyraud, "that lively and charming intellect, one of the dearest hopes of political economy" died in 1849. Bastiat, "the most able popularizer of economic truths" followed in December 1850,[65] as did Charles Coquelin, "one of the ablest pens, one of the most eloquent voices," in August 1852. Molinari summed up the period with considerable understatement when he described it as a time when "liberal doctrines were decidedly not in favor." One can imagine the disappointment that Molinari must have felt with the failure of all his attempts to popularize his free-trade liberal ideas. It must have been with a feeling of despair that Molinari ended the obituary of his friend Coquelin with the plea that "some day, when this noble cause has triumphed for the happiness of the human race" someone might remember them.[66]

Despite the fact that Bastiat had been elected to both the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies during the period 1848 to 1850 and had been appointed Acting President of the Finance Committee, the 1848 revolution was ultimately a serious setback to the free-trade liberal cause.[67] The Provisional government had been severely criticized by the économistes: Leon Faucher in the Revue de Deux Mondes, Blanqui and Wolowski at the Conservatoire, and Michel Chevalier in Les Débats and in his lectures at the College de France. The result was the resolution of April 7, 1848, which suppressed five chairs (one of which was the Chair of Political Economy held by Chevalier) and reorganized the College to remove the source of criticism.[68] This maneuver was countered by the Société d'Économie Politique, which sent a delegation to talk to Lamartine. Headed by Leon Faucher and comprising de Tracy, Horace Say, Dussard, Garnier, Renouard and Molinari, the delegation was able to influence the Assembly to reverse the law of April 7th, and the Chairs were reestablished by a law of December 24th.[69] It was also during the period of the provisional government that the Club de la liberté du travail was both begun by Garnier and then suppressed by violence. It is no wonder that the liberals felt that "socialism declared war on political economy."[70]

Another result of the 1848 revolution in France was the publication of the famous Dictionnaire de l'économie politique in 1852. The liberals associated with the Journal des Économistes and the Société d'Économie Politique were concerned that the ideas of the économistes were not more widely known. With the industrial revolution beginning in earnest and promising to be "far more vast and more profound than any political revolution," the government's and the working peoplés ignorance of the operation of the market threatened to "derail" the engine of progress. The revolution had proved to the économistes what "chasms of ignorance both people and governments have placed in the path of social progress." Because they mis understood the market, the workers formed "coalitions, riots and revolutions to improve their lot." They had been fooled by the false claims of the utopian socialists and their actions could only lead to a worsening of their condition. The liberals felt compelled to popularize their theories to prevent this from happening and to apply pressure on governments to reform their outmoded and restrictive laws. The remnants of the old regime[71] were just as harmful as the attempts of the socialists to "remake society." Since the time of the French Revolution, wrote Molinari, the governments of Europe,

whose resources the progress of production and credit continually increased, have decided finally that these resources are without limit and they have increased their expenditures in ever greater proportion. For half a century they have used and abused their borrowing powers. They have exhausted the blood of the living and borrowed against the resources of the unborn to satisfy their evil appetites for conquest and domination.[72]

The liberals were convinced that the teaching of the principles of political economy was more necessary then, than at any other period in history. Taking their example from the success of the English free-traders and their Anti-Corn Law League, the French economistes planned to distribute elementary treatises, catechisms, pamphlets, tracts, and journals to as many people as would listen to them.[73] In addition, societies and associations would be created to discuss the finer points of economic theory and to lobby the legislature to repeal or reform the custom and tariff laws.

The Dictionnaire was a valiant effort to condense the theory of political economy into a simplified encyclopaedic form which would enable the intelligent layman to apprise himself of the latest theories and publications in virtually every field of economics and politics. The Dictionnaire was conceived by Ambroise Clément in 1850 and continued by Charles Coquelin until his death. Guillaumin took over the project after Coquelin's death and, with the assistance of Horace Say, Courcelle-Seneuil, Molinari and Garnier, was able to complete the dictionary in 1852 after two years' preparation. This "bazaar of political economy" aimed at combining the theory of political economy with its practical application by using academics, journalists, government inspectors, industrialists and politicians as its contributors. Molinari's contribution was considerable, comprising twenty-five articles--some with considerable bibliographies--and five biographical sketches. It is likely that this was the last activity of the Paris liberal movement in which Molinari was engaged before he left for Belgium.


After the coup d'etat of December 1851, Molinari returned to Belgium because, as Guyot put it, "The dictatorial regime...offended the liberal opinions of M. De Molinari."[74] There he published a small volume on revolution entitled, Les Révolutions et le despotisme envisagés au point de vue des intérets matériels (1852), in which he condemned both revolution and despotism as being destructive of life and property. Molinari extended his dislike of the 1848 revolution to the French Revolution, and a theme to which he constantly returned was the massive expansion in the size and power of the state which had followed the revolution.[75] Although he associated demagogy with revolution and reaction with despotism, he did not condemn the French Revolution out of hand. He admired the "generous spirit which gave birth to it" and the "noble principles of tolerance and liberty which it proclaimed to the world."[76] But these noble principles were betrayed by the revolutionary excesses which had resulted in an increase in state power rather than its much needed reduction which liberals such as Turgot[77] had tried to achieve fully two decades before the Revolution. The inevitable result was the "scaffold at home and bayonets abroad"[78]; barbarism rather than progress.

Molinari was fortunate enough to have been appointed professor of political economy at the Musée royal de l'industrie belge and also at the Institute supérieur du commerce in Antwerp. He was thus able to escape the stifling atmosphere of Paris under Napoleon III and devoted himself to a serious study of the theory of political economy and to the propagation of those ideas through the press. The result of his lectures at the Musée royal was his major theoretical economic treatise, Cours d'économie polilique. The lectures upon which this work was based had been started at the Athénée royal de Paris in 1847 but were interrupted by the revolution. Thanks to the intervention of Charles de Brouckere, Burgomaster of Brussels and president of the Association belge pour la liberté des échanges, Molinari had been able to secure the position at the Musée royal and complete his theoretical work by 1854.[79] The Cours aimed at filling a lacuna which Molinari felt existed in the main body of political economic scholarship, viz.:

the absence of a sufficiently clear demonstration of the general law which, by establishing a just and necessary balance among the various branches of production as well as among the various remunerations of productive agents, creates order in the economic world.[80]

The founders of the science of political economy had only to fight "the privileges of corporations and castes and the abuses of monopolies and prohibitions." By mid-century, however, the socialists' "anti-liberal and neo mercantilist reaction" had turned the working classes, who would have benefited most from the "demolition of the old established regime," against the political economists, and the liberals now had to fight against the "beneficiaries of the abuses of the old regime" from above as well as the socialists from below. It was also necessary to defend the market system from the socialists' criticism that the market was "anarchic."[81] Molinari was to spend his life attempting to show how the market, by the operation of known natural laws, established an ORDER which was just and necessary and that any attempt to interfere created the very "anarchy" that so concerned the socialists. This "regulatory principle" worked automatically and thus did not require an overseer to direct it or tinker with it. The Revolution of 1848 had affected Molinari personally and he feared the consequences of the socialists' "futile utopian vision of social reconstruction" which would disrupt the market order and bring about the "anarchy" or chaos resulting from an imposed order and which imprisoned society in an "artificial organization."

Molinari continued to write articles and reviews for the Journal des Économistes while in Belgium as part of his "strategy" of popularizing the ideas of political economy by means of journalism. For this reason, he began the Économiste belge on January 1, 1855, and remained with it until 1868. An interesting statement in the Journal des Économistes, which often reprinted extracts from Molinari's contributions to the Économiste belge, reveals that he had in no way compromised his anti-statist indictment of government intervention. He described it as "abusive intervention of government into the domain of private activity." When offered a position in the Belgian branch of the Société d'Économie Politique he had refused because, as a commentator in the Journal des Économistes put it,

he feared that his name might alienate from the Société those who rejected the radicalism of the Économiste belge on the subject of government intervention; and, also, he wanted the journal and the Société to remain independent while lending each other mutual support.[82]

During the fifties, Molinari continued to oppose protectionism, and he published a series of popular essays on the grain trade: "Le Commerce des Grains: Dialogues entre un emeutier, un economiste et un prohibitioniste."[83] He then turned to the problem of war, a question which was to dominate his thought in the latter part of the century as the European powers drifted steadily towards some form of military confrontation. He had written a biographical sketch of the Abbé de Saint-Pierre, an eighteenth-century advocate of "Perpetual Peace," for the Dictionnaire and was to write a fuller biography in 1857 which included extracts on peace by Saint-Pierre, Emeric de Lacroix (Crucé), Rousseau, Necker, Kant, Bentham, de Maistre and the several Congresses of Peace.[84]

Another issue which attracted Molinari's attention was that of state education. He argued that the state had no business providing education, which could be left to private enterprise, but that it should compel parents to provide some kind of education for their children. Molinari viewed this obligation of parents as a form of debt which the state was forced to collect on behalf of the children. He was severely criticized by Frédéric Passy for letting the state get a foot in the door by admitting that the state had any role whatsoever to play in education. As far as Passy was concerned, if state intervention was harmful in the form of trade regulation, then it would be equally harmful in the case of education. The reason for Molinari's concession to the state, in his otherwise thoroughly anti-statist philosophy, was his concept of "tutelage," a form of benign paternalism which he reserved for those who had not yet developed the capacity to look after themselves in the rigors of a free society (children, slaves, imprudent workers, women and prisoners).[85]


In 1860, Molinari returned to Paris, for reasons that are not clear, and in 1867 joined the Journal des Débats, becoming chief editor under the direction of M. Bapst from 1871 to 1876. Molinari was present in Paris during the siege and attended many public meetings, the proceedings of which he recorded in two volumes, Les Clubs rouges pendant le sège de Paris and Le Mouvement socialiste et les réunions publiques avant le révolution du 4 septembre 1870.[86] His aim in doing so was to show that "freedom of speech and free assembly are not so well established in France that it is superfluous to demonstrate their utility,"[87] and he defended the clubs from the charge that they had fomented the Commune by saying that they had helped maintain morale during the siege. Rather, he claimed, the suppression of the clubs and free speech had done much to bring on the Commune. "The communist insurrection was organized in secret cabals. I might add that this revolution had twice failed under the regime of unlimited free speech and assembly, and that it succeeded only after the revolutionary clubs and journals had been suppressed."[88] The government had made a terrible mistake by trying to forestall the possibility of revolution by muzzling the press and banning the clubs. Freedom of speech was a"necessary freedom" and the government had no right to prevent the expression of new ideas and any attempt to experiment with new forms of business organization. Even if the government had had the competence to determine which ideas were right and which were wrong, "it ought in the very interest of science and progress avoid using it."[89] The individual had to decide for himself whether a new idea or social organization should be adopted.

[Intelligence] must be left unencumbered to sort through and refine things by its own unique devices, examination, discussion and experience. It must be free if it is to preserve all of its power and productivity. No domain open to it should be closed off in advance on the pretext that its researches would be in vain, that there is nothing more to be discovered or that any discoveries would not be worth the effort. Who knows? Who could know? Ultimately we must resign ourselves to the upheavals brought about by the new discoveries of intellect. It is an evil perhaps, but it is the price of progress![90]

Molinari realized that it had been the challenge of socialism which had awakened political economy out of its lethargy in 1848 and had prompted it to defend itself against socialist attacks on the rights of property, capital and wage labor. More importantly, it had encouraged the économistes to popularize their doctrines and, as a result, in the three years from 1848 to 1851 there had been "more done to popularize these doctrines than in the last fifty years."[91] But the coup d'etat of 1851 had put an end to the socialists' agitation and, in spite of the fact that their intellectual opposition had been crippled, the économistes had not been able to "win away the followers" of the socialists. They could not "substitute their ideas for those of socialism and protectionism--which is the socialism of the great industrial ists,"[92] because the économistes had become complacent after the forced removal of their opponents. Molinari described the period between 1851 and 1868 as

the most sterile and vacuous period since the repression of socialist agi tation. Alas! monopoly is as fatal to science as it is to industry. Compe tition is as necessary a stimulant to economists as it is to the spinners of wool and cotton. In a word, socialist agitation must be given free reign if the French are to learn political economy.[93]

In addition, the actions of Napoleon III's government had provided ammunition for the socialist cause by regulating industry so that new and better forms of "the organization of the production and distribution of products"[94] could not be tried, and by severely controlling workers' organizations in a clumsy effort to prevent workers from improving their conditions.

The law on commercial organization has protected existing enterprises against the competition of new forms, while the laws on the registration of workers and against unions and "combinations" aim to control the price of labor and to render permanent the present means of recruiting labor and the present level of its remuneration. It is thought that this is the way to assure forever the security of industry and the peace and discipline of the workshop.[95]

The result of the regulation had been to achieve the direct opposite. The injustices that were frozen into the existing structure of industry were rightly criticized by the socialists, and the workers who chaffed under the regulations were ready to accept the remedies of the socialists as a viable solution. The tragedy was that, in looking for the causes of the evils, the socialists had not distinguished between industrialization and its regulation. Capital had been criticized instead of political privileges, and the wage system had been condemned along with the unjust regulations that prevented the workers from organizing peacefully to improve their conditions.

We have provoked a violent reaction against the very organization of industry we had hoped to fortify. Inevitably, this reaction has attributed to those economic organizations protected by the law far more vices than they actually have and to other forms virtues which they do not possess. Businesses have been held responsible for all of the evils of industry and society while the organization of labor has been exalted with out measure. Because the legal regulation of the relationship between entrepreneurs and workers has locked in a vicious and inequitable situation, it has fomented a civil war between capital and labor in each workshop and has rendered odious the regime of salaried labor.[96]

To counter the privileges of the politically powerful and the misplaced criticism by the workers, Molinari and the free-trade liberals wanted complete freedom for all to think and act as they saw fit provided, of course, that the right of others to life, liberty and property was respected. Thus they defended the right of the socialists, their mortal intellectual enemies, to agitate, publish and organize to promote their own interests and ideas in the Clubs. Molinari clearly recognized the harmful effect of the socialists' ideas and their propensity to engage in violent action; but he felt that the benefits of allowing them the freedom to protest outweighed the possible harmful effects of their activity.

Despite the disorders which their agitation engenders, despite the temporary damage which they cause, despite the concern which they cause the government, they ought to be left entirely free, for that is a precondition of the necessary progress of ideas and facts.[97] Excuses for limiting the press have been invoked by every government, often to defend the most hideous institutions. Without denying the disturbances caused by liberty, we declare that this necessary evil is a small thing compared to the good which results. And no exception to this rule is made for public or socialist agitation which, apparently in the interests of public order, the government is often requested to restrain.[98]


Between 1878 and 1883, Molinari published in the Journal des Économistes, in serial form, two of his major works of historical synthesis: L'Évolution économique du dix-neuvième siècle: Théorie du progres (1880) and L'Évolution politique et la révolution (1884). Like Marx, Molinari developed a systematic theory to account for the rise of modern industrial society. He examined the economic and political developments that had taken place in ancient and feudal societies, the beginnings of the market economy and the rise of the state and organized warfare. He then turned to the French Revolution and its effects on the course of industrial development and the increase in liberty caused by the market as it broke down the restrictions of the old regime. One of Molinari's major themes in these two works was the gradual evolution from slavery to the "self-government" of the individual, with "tutelage" being an intermediary stage between them. He concluded the Évolution politique with an examination of the possible forms future society might assume under a "regime of full liberty." Molinari's theory of the evolution of free society will be dealt with in great detail in Part II of this paper, but it is perhaps worth noting here that he still maintained that a free society would dissolve the state's monopoly over the "pr duction of security" and that an era of "freedom of government" would then begin.[99]

In 1881, after the death of Joseph Garnier, Molinari was appointed editor of the prestigious Journal des Économistes. [100] It was a fitting tribute to one of the leaders of the free-trade liberal school to be given editorship of the main organ for the dissemination of laissez-faire ideas in the French speaking world.[101] The Journal des Économistes had been preceded by the short-lived Revue mensuelle d'Économie politique, edited by Theodore Fix from July 1833 to 1836, and by a dinner club which had met in the "Jardin turc" during the years 1843-37. Both the Journal des Économistes and the Société d'Économie Politique had their origins there and were supported by the same small group of dedicated individuals.[102] The Journal had been founded by the indefatigable publisher Guillaumin and the first issue appeared on December 15, 1841. Its aim was summarized by Garnier in 1848 as,

[to make] war on ignorance, monopoly, regimentation, protectionism, exaggerated centralization, bureaucracy, militarism, artificial systems, unintelligent laws, privilege, and abuses. Later, they [the economists] resolved to continue the fight against all obstacles, old and new, which hindered the production, circulation, distribution and consumption of both public and private wealth.[103]

It also printed the minutes of the meetings on the Société d'Économie Politique, official documents and laws, essays on nearly every topic of interest concerned with economics, politics, and social issues, and summaries of the sessions of the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques. Many free-trade liberals wrote for the Journal at one time or another, among them being: Frédéric Bastiat, Cherbuliez, Adolphe Blaise, Blanqui, Michel Chevalier, Ambroise Clément, Charles Coquelin, Eugene Daire, Charles Dunoyer, Dussard, Léon Faucher, Fix, Garnier, Molinari, Monjean, H. Passy, Reybaud, Rossi, Horace Say, V. de Tracy, Wolowski and Richard Cobden.[104] From 1881 until November 1909, Molinari devoted himself to the Journal des Économistes, bringing to it his considerable talent as a writer and his experience and widespread knowledge of economic and political affairs. Around him he gathered a group of contributors "whom he animated with his own zeal and enthusiasm, and of whom he made real friends."[105] He also continued to publish a considerable amount of his own, and this period was in fact his most prolific.

Soon after he became editor, he continued his work on the evolution of industrial societies and on labor exchanges for workers.[106] Just as industry had its exchanges to assist in the movement of capital and the dissemination of price information, so the working classes needed to pool their resources to confront big business. The Bourse du Travail (Labor Exchange) would be the meeting ground for buyers and sellers of labor, to the advantage of both parties. In 1857 Molinari and his brother Eugene had founded a journal, La Bourse du Travail, in Brussels, in an attempt to reconcile what they regarded as the false antagonisms that existed between workers and employers. Although the magazine did not last more than a few months, Molinari did not lose interest in the problem. In June 1882 the Société d'Économie Politique devoted one of its sessions to the Bourse and its possible influence on strikes and Molinari continued to write on this question for the next decade.[107] Although, as Guyot claimed, Molinari invented the term and the concept of the labor exchange, the exchanges that appeared in France in the last decades of the century were corrupted forms since the buyers of labor were excluded and the exchanges were used as a weapon in the class war rather than as a means of eliminating it.[108]

The other major works of his which appeared in this period dealt with the very intimate connection between morality and the market system. Property, peace and freedom were all defended on moral, and not just on utilitarian grounds, and the natural laws which governed the operation of the market had their origin, Molinari argued, in the divine law that governed human behavior.[109]

In July 1887 the London Times had published his scheme to eliminate war by organizing a "Ligue des neutres" (League of Neutrals). This league had as its aim the combination of the armies of the smaller, neutral nations of Europe in order to discourage the larger, more warlike nations from threatening them with invasion or attack. His hope was that "the more aggressive powers would ultimately disarm if, every time they menaced the peace, they were confronted by a greater force determined to defend it,"[110] but he was under no illusion that this utopian scheme had much chance of being realized. He knew too much about the "interests" who benefited from war and the threat of war to expect them to act in the interests of the people whose lives they threatened. Thus, the seed of his later pessimism was sown when he admitted of his peace plan "which I hoped to sketch out in this project without otherwise deceiving myself that there was any chance of realizing it in the present intellecutal climate.[111] It was later, in his Ultima Verba, that he revealed that

My final work concerned those principles which had absorbed my life: free trade and peace .... These fundamental ideas were its basis ..., [112]

and again in his Théorie de l'évolution:

We may hope that one day public opinion will be intelligent enough to understand that the existence of society can be guaranteed at a cheaper cost, and powerful enough to liberate the State from the special interests which now fight to control it--not to simplify and lighten its ancient and heavy apparatus, but to complicate and expand it evermore.[113]

Gone was the certainty of two decades earlier that the ever-advancing market would inevitably bring to an end all the government intervention which hampered its progress. Neither politicians, nor businessmen, nor workers had given up their faith in the power of the government to improve their standard of living, in spite of the free-trade liberals' arguments to the contrary. Molinari had well understood the fact that these groups which controlled or had access to the state, comprised a class which would not willingly give up the privileges that power bestowed. Unfortunately, he had badly over-estimated the readiness of the exploited classes, the workers, the consumers and the industrialists who did not seek state privileges, to identify government intervention as the enemy of progress. Ultimately, his efforts at popularizing free-trade ideas had failed to win a large enough audience to influence the course of events. The result was a growing sense of pessimism in the last decades of his life as he observed the rise of statism socialism, militarism and colonialism--forces which he had opposed throughout his long and active life. Consequently, from 1893 onwards, he began to compromise his anti-statist views, gradually abandoning his belief that competition amongst defense agencies is the best and most moral method of defending property rights. Molinari came to adopt the position of his opponents, that a single defense agency, the state, should have a monopoly on defense services within a given geographical area. In spite of this compromise in his later years, Molinari had made a major contribution to the development of anti-statist liberal ideas, being the first free-trade liberal to argue for the complete dismantling of the state, even including the "night watchman" functions that most other classical liberals defended.

Molinari retired at the end of 1909 at the age of ninety after having spent twenty-eight years as the editor of the Journal des Économistes. He was highly regarded by Guyot for "the elegance of his literary style, his strength and delicacy of expression, the appositeness of all terms employed... [and as] one of the masters of the French language.[114] A close family friend, A. Raffalovich, revealed to Guyot after Molinari's death that he had often given to charity.[115] Such acts of kindness had gone unnoticed by his critics who persisted in describing him as one of "the group of the intransigents, stalwarts, and the orthodox.[116]

Molinari died at Adinkerque on January 28, 1912, leaving behind no school of eager followers to develop his economic and political ideas. He had been the last of the great nineteenth-century French laissez-faire liberals and when he died, so did that tradition, an anachronism in the rampant statism of the twentieth century. The development of the extreme antistatism which made Molinari's liberalism so unique will be examined in Part II.




Therefore I claim that if a community gave notice, after a certain interval--a year for example, that it would cease the payment of judges, soldiers and gendarmes, at the end of the year this community would not have fewer courts and governments ready to function. And I add that if, under this new regime, each person retained the right to freely engage in these two industries and to freely buy these services, security would be produced most economically and would be the best possible. Since the need for security is still very strong in our society, it would be profitable to found government enterprises. One would be assured of covering costs. How would these enterprises be founded? Separate individuals would not be able to do it, anymore than they can construct railroads, docks, etc. Vast companies would thus be established to produce security; they would procure the material and the workers that they would need. As soon as they were ready to function, these property insurance companies would call for clients. Each person would contract with the company which inspired in him the greatest confldence and whose conditions appeared the most favorable. Molinari[117]


Molinari's most original contribution to political and economic thought is his thesis that the market can provide more cheaply and more efficiently the service of police protection of life, liberty and property. Hitherto, this had been considered to be the monopoly of the state, and it was Molinari's insight that the laws of political economy could and should be applied to the management of state functions.[118] His attempt to apply economic laws to the state led him to conclude that the market could in fact replace the state monopoly of police as well as the provision of roads, lighting, garbage collection, sewerage and education. Molinari argued, in summary, that if the market was more efficient in providing people with shoes or bread then, for exactly the same reasons, it would be better to hand over all monopoly state functions to the market. Thus the argument is tacitly made that "proprietary anarchism"[119] is inherent in the logic of the free market and that consistency requires that one pursue the minimization of state power to its logical conclusion, i.e., no government at all.

As far as it can be determined, Molinari's first efforts in applying the laws of political economy to the state were made in a short essay printed in the Courrier français in July 1846,[120] in which he likened the state to a "grand mutual insurance company." In his ideal state, individuals would only form a society in order to guarantee their security from outside threats. Only those who consent to "take part in a society"[121] would become members of the association. Only those who realized the benefits of organized society would be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to sustain it. The individual members of the society would be required to "contribute to the maintenance of the government charged by society with the maintenance of security for the profit of all [its members]."[122] However, it is unclear whether Molinari accepted the idea that consent should be available to individuals who now compose the society (one of the major arguments of the anarchists) or whether this "act of incorporation" had taken place at one time in the past and was somehow binding on those living in the present. The latter thought seems to be implicit in this early essay, and it would not be until he published his essay "De la production de la sécurité" in 1849 that he would take the major step of abandoning the binding nature of the original social contract .

In Molinari's future society "where nothing would interfere with the free use of human faculties,"[123] each citizen would have an equal right to equal protection by the state but their contributions to the maintenance of the state would necessarily be unequal. Since each person's attributes and skills were naturally different, the rewards that would come to them as a result of their labor would also be different. Each person would acquire differing quantities of property which the state would have to protect. Molinari hought that the expense of protecting property was proportional to the amount or value of the property to be protected: "to protect each property owner, it expends a sum proportional to the value it is protecting or insuring."[124] The problem that he faced was in determining how much each citizen should pay the state to protect him and his property given that each had an equal right to equal protection and given the differing costs of providing the protection . It was in order to solve this problem that Molinari compared the state to a mutual insurance company and the taxpaying citizens to "stockholders." Thus, as with any insurance company, each should contribute "to the maintenance of society in proportion to the value of his investment, in proportion to the tax that he pays."[125] The rights of the shareholder should be proportional to the amount of his initial capital investment and should include the right to exercise some control over its use:

In every well organized association, the rights of the stockholder are proportional to the value of his investment. An investment, in effect. represents a certain quantity of labor voluntarily alienated by the investor on the condition that he is able to direct and watch over itc employment. If this power of direction and oversight does not correspond to the sacrifice of each member--if, for example, an investor had only as much power as someone who had invested one-half as much--we have a dear injustice, an inequality. In one case there is a diminution and in another an irrational augmentation of rights.'[126]

Molinari concluded that electoral rights, "the right to take part in the management of this great mutual insurance company which we call society,"[127] must also be proportional to property owned and taxes paid. The alternatives to this "equitable and necessary"[128] property requirement for participation in governing the state were two. Either the lesser property owners were excluded from their fair (proportional) share in the management of the state, thus allowing the rich to concentrate political power in their hands to the detriment of the weak; or if electoral rights were equal for all propertv owners, such as was the case in the United States, the more industrious would be "at the mercy of the mass of lazy and incompetent men" and there would be "no respect for earned rights, no effective protection of life and property of each."[129] His scheme was designed to secure the "equality of protection" from threats from above and below, a common theme of the free-trade liberals who feared the oligarchy of the rich and powerful just as much as the unrestricted democracy of the mob.

What distinguished Molinari's criticism of democracy, the typical fear of the "displeasure of the people [which would paralyse] the free exercise of individual rights,"[130] from that of a conservative, was his uncompromising defense of the liberty of the individual.[131] In Molinari's eyes, the form of the government was not essential; rather it was the amount of liberty and the security of a person and property that a political system guaranteed that determined how it should be judged.[132] Without liberty for all, including the weak and poor, the powerful would seize the state for their own narrow interests and the result would be the perpetuation of inequality and the destruction of the equal right to proteetion.

Under sucn a systern, we know what would result. The large shareholders and those property owners in possession of the franchise would govern society for their own profit. The law which should protect all citizens equally would serve to increase the property of the strong shareholders at the expense of the weak. Political equality would be destroyed.[133]

Few, if any, conservatives would be as concerned as Molinari for the protection of the property of the weak from the attacks of the rich. Such was his faith in the justice of the market that he even believed that only under a system of full liberty for all would the inequalities of nature begin to dis appear and the condition of the masses improve:

Whatever inequalities might have existed, inequalities which the extension of liberty would quickly tend to diminish, the rights of the masses would inevitably gain an immediate and serious satisfaction without any threat to the rights of the heretofore privileged minority.[134]

The inevitable consequence of subjecting state monopolies to the close scrutiny of political economy was to question the state's very right to have monopolies, and even to question the right of the state to exist at all. Between 1846, when he wrote "Le droit electoral," and 1849, when the result of his inquiries into the nature of the state monopoly of protection was published in the Journal des Économistes, Molinari had been undergoing this revolution in his thought. Unfortunately, little is known about his activities during this period except for the fact that he had been giving some lectures at the Athénée royal de Paris in 1847 which were published in 1855 as his Cours d'économie politique. In the Cours, Molinari deals at length with the problem of state monopolies, and it is possible that he felt compelled to push political economy to its logical, anarchist limits as he organized his material for the introductory lectures at the Athénée royal. As he rethought the role of competition in the free market and the acknowledged weaknesses of state-run enterprises, perhaps he was struck by the compelling logic that these universal, natural laws governing economic behavior should also apply to the state and its activities. The result was the historic 1849 essay"De la production de la sécurité."

So radical was Molinari's proposal that private, competitive insurance companies could and should replace the state for the provision of police protection of life and property, that the editor of the Journal des Économistes, Joseph Garnier, felt obliged to write a short defense of his decision to print the article. Although he criticized the article for "smacking of utopia in its conclusions," he praised the attempt to delineate more clearly the true function of the state, which "up till now has been treated in a haphazard manner."[135] Few political theorists then, as now, were prepared to analyze the assumptions upon which their defense of the state rested. It is to the credit of the économistes that at least some of them were willing to do just that and this was recognized by Garnier. Those who "exaggerated the essence and properties of government"[136] had been challenged by Molinari to justify and defend their position, and it is indeed unfortunate that more did not come to adopt his position. The reasons they gave for rejecting Molinari's views will be examined in more detail below, but it should be noted here that they did not squarely face the questions posed by Molinari's radical challenge nor did they do justice to their own ideology.

Molinari opened his essay with the bold and radical division of soclety into "natural" and "artificial" components. Following in the tradition of the young Edmund Burke, William Godwin, and the early nineteenth-century French liberals Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer,[137] Molinari viewed the state, or "political society," as "organized in a purely factitious way by primitive lawgivers." Once created, it could also be "amended by other law makers" as society progressed.[138] The distinguishing feature of this society is that

the government enjoys a considerable role because, as the repository of social authority, the task of modifying and reforming society on a day-to-day basis falls to government.[139]

This form of society is strikingly contrasted with "natural society" which is "a purely natural fact; like the earth which supports it, it lives and dies by virtue of pre-existent, general laws." These laws of society required no other science than political economy to be explained, and it was the task of the économistes to describe the operation of this "natural, social organism."[140]

Unlike "political society", "natural society" arose spontaneously from the needs of individuals, which could be better satisfied by combining into groups. Once in a group, the law of the division of labor began to operate as individuals chose tasks they were better able to fulfill than others. Exchanges of goods immediately followed and a network of voluntary reiations was established as each individual pursued his self-interest. Man is "fundamentally sociable"[141] because he realizes that only in a group can he best satisfy some of his most pressing needs. One of these is the need for security, both from wild animals and from other human beings, and in response to this need came the "beginning of establishments for the purposes of guaranteeing to each the peaceful possession of his person and his goods,"[142] to which is given the name of government. It was the fear of attack on their person or property that led men to organize themselves into societies and then to establish a government. Unfortunately, men erred when they allowed (either from ignorance of political economy or from physical weakness in the face of stronger, better-organized groups) the security business to be monopolized by one group or class. Men have suffered the consequences of this monopoly of government and, lacking a clear alternative, they "resign themselves to the harshest sacrifices rather than do without government, and thus security, never realizing the error of this calculation."[143]

Molinari believed that political economy provided an alternative to the sacrifices that men suffer under the expensive, inefficient and coercive government monopoly of security. He proceeded by stating two "truths" that had been established by political economy and deducing from them two conclusions about the function of government in a free society. If his conclusions followed from his "truths," then his fellow économistes would be forced to accept his anarchism or reject two fundamental premises of their philosophy. The two truths were:

In all things--for all the commodities which satisfy man's material and immaterial needs--it is to the benefit of the consumer that labor and trade remain free, for free labor and free trade mean a necessary and permanent reduction in the price of all goods. The interests of the consumer with regard to any commodity ought to takc precedence over the intcrests of the producer.[144]

And from this he concluded that:

In the interests of those who consume this service, the production of security ought to remain subject to the law of the free market. No government ought to have the right to prevent another government from setting up in competition with it, or to impose a monopoly of its services upon consumers.[145]

The first conclusion can be reduced to the statement that all "immaterial," or intangible commodities[146] should be subjected to the law of free competition. This is true because all so-called intangible commodities require the use of tangible objects for their production or maintenance. For example, although the feeling of security is certainly intangible, the production of security requires physical obiects such as vehicles, buildings, uniforms, weapons and the feeding and clothing of the men employed in its provision. All of these commodities have a price on the free market and, as Molinari would argue, these can be provided at the lowest price and highest quality only in a society with free competition. Similarly, in the twentieth century, the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, has argued that whenever the state monopolizes an industry or even an entire economy (i.e., socialism) it destroys pricing arrangements and creates pockets of chaos. Prices indicate to the entrepreneur the state of supply and the intensity of consumer demand, information which no number of advisers, planning authorities and experts can satisfactorily supply. To the extent that the state blocks competition and pricing agreements from being freely reached, it prevents the rational allocation of resources and keeps the desires of consumers from being met.[147]

The second conclusion can be reduced to the statement that the government does not have the right to prevent any individuals from making any peaceful trade on the free market; nor should any individual be forced to deal with that government or with anyone else not freely chosen by that individual. This is based on the belief that each individual has a natural right to the free use of his person and justly acquired property.[148] No group or individual, therefore, can interfere in anyone's uncoercive activity nor can they deprive him of property unless he has committed a crime against the person or property of another individual. If a group of individuals wlsh to associate for some purpose (for example, for the provision of security), the government has no right to prevent them from doing so until such time as that group aggresses against the person or property of another.

Such were the startling conclusions that Molinari's rigorous logic reached. He even surprised himself and admitted that,

I must say that until now I have recoiled from this rigorous consequence of the principle of free competition.[149]

Molinari refused to accept any exceptions to the law of free competition and freedom to work and trade, which he considered to be a "complete and absolute" right of the individual.[150] If his colleagues refused to see the consistency of his position, then they were not "pure economists"[151]; it was their responsibility to demonstrate why the production of security should be the sole exception to their dearly held economic principles. Laissez faire led a priori[152] to anarchism, Molinari claimed, and if this was to be rejected then some other method of organizing the production of security would have to be found. The only two possible alternatives, in Molinari's view, were monopoiy or communism.

There is nowhere in this world a single enterprise for the production of security, a single government, which is not based upon either monopoly or communism.[153]

Monopoly led inevitably to "an abusive surtax" and all monopolies, being maintained "necessarily by force,"[154] were therefore abhorrent to those who wished to see force reduced to a minimum in all human relations.[155] When a single commodity was monopolized, whether by a privileged individual or group or by the community itself, partial communism was the result. If all commodities were monopolized, then complete communism was the result.[156] Initially the government had been seized by "the strongest, most bellicose races" and monopolized for their benefit. The only way they could expand their profits from this monopoly was to expand their market by conquest, and seize more "coerced consumers."[157] Thus:

War is the necessary, inevitable consequence of a monopoly or security... [and] this monopoly must give birth to all others.[158]

Security had begun as the preserve of a privileged minority, "a caste,"[159] but under the pressure of the oppressed masses' demand for freedom, this monopoly was transformed into partial communism, a new monopoly ruled in the name of the masses. Thus gradually, with this important command post of the economy in the hands of vested interests, other sections of the economy became monopolized and communized by those who had the ear of the government. The monopoly of the use of force by the state is the means by which the other monopolies are maintained.[160] The people, then, are faced with two choices, to move towards "total communism or total liberty."[161] If communistic methods of production are more efficient than those of the market, then all production, not just security, should be organized communally. If, on the other hand, the free market is better, then it is better in all areas of production and should be extended to police, law courts and defense.[162] As far as Molinari was concerned "progress will inevitably consist in the replacement of communist production by free production."[163]

Another problem for those who would like the government to maintain its monopoly is that of legitimacy. If people cannot conceive of how the market could provide security services, it is because they view society as an "artifice"[164] in which the government must constantly "change and reform society."[165] In order to do this, the government must have more power than other groups in that society, and this power is based on authority. The two most common ways of justifying this authority of the government have been the appeal to God and to the majority of the people. The former has suffered because of demystification. The people,

simple mortals without the ear of Providence though they be, discover on examination and reflection that their rulers have govcrned them no better than they could have done themselves.[166]

Popular sovereignty is questionable because it can "legally" deprive a minority of its justly acquired property and so, in Molinari's eyes, it loses its moral claim to legitimacy.[167] He concluded that in all regimes "men obey the wielders of authority only insofar as they believe themselves to have an interest in obedience,"[168] and since in all regimes the interests of the governed are constantly being harmed by the privileges of the ruling caste, the governors must ultimately resort to the hangman and to terror. In fact, it makes no difference whether a government is based on a simple monopoly of security or is organized along communist principles:

Both schools, which are founded upon this artificial organization, necessarily conclude at the same point. TERROR [169]

For Molinari, and all other anarchist theorists, the only legitimate form of authority is that which is based on the consent of all individuals.[170]This form of consensual authority arises "naturally" from society.

A natural instinct teaches men that their person, the land which they occupy and cultivate, and the fruits of their labor are their property and that no one other than themselves has the right to dispose of it or even touch it.[171]

From this natural instinct arises the necessity of an "industry which prevents and represses these abusive aggressions of force and fraud."[172] Thus, a man or a group of men, would form a business which would seek customers willing to pay for the protection of their person and property. This would occur for two reasons. Firstly, property ownership is a natural instinct of man, and because its protection is one of man's greatest needs, people would be willing to pay for it. Secondly, the self-interest of the businessman who sees a profit opportunity in the provision of security would take steps to attract customers by offering the best possible service for the lowest price.[173]

Once established, these defense agencies would compete for customers, and before any agreement is reached the potential customer would do the following things. He would determine whether the "producer of security"[174] had the ability to provide the services wanted by the consumers; he would seek guarantees that the business was reputable and that it would not aggress against him instead of defending him against aggression; he would examine the offers of other defense agencies to see whether they offered the same service at a better price or whether they offered a better service at the same price. Molinari believed that the terms offered by the various defense agencies would probably include the following conditions

to guarantee to consumers complete security for their persons and property and, in case of damage, to pay thern an amount proportional to the loss suffered; That the producer would establish certaln penalties for offenses against persons and property and that consumers would agree to submit to these same penalties if they were to commit some crime agains persons or property; That they would impose certain constraints upon their consumers to facilitate the discovery of wrongdoers; That, to cover the costs of their production and the natural profit of their industry, they regularly charge a premium which varies according to the condition of the consumer, his occupation, and the extent, value and nature of his property.[175]

Therefore, in Molinari's future society, the defense agency takes on some of the functions of an insurance company.[176] It levies a premium determined by the value of the property to be insured, recompenses the person insured for any possible loss, and takes steps to ensure that its insurance payments are kept to a minimum. The latter is a police and security guard function which flows naturally from the business of insurance. To reduce payments for stolen or damaged property, the insurance company would ensure that regular patrols be made by security guards to discourage thieves and that every effort be made to catch thieves in order to recover stolen property.

Unlike the monopoly of the state which forces consumers to pay for police protection whether they want to or not, the contracts agreed upon by the individual defense agencies and their clients would be voluntary and would not involve the use of force or the threat of its use. Like any other business, the consumer would have the right to patronize or not to patronize any defense agency as he saw fit.

If the conditions necessary for the exercise of this industry are agreeable to consumers, the transaction will occur; if not, consumers will do with out security or go to another producer.[177]

If the defense agency raises its prices or does not provide adequate service, the disappointed consumers "will always have the ability to give their business to a new or competing entrepreneur."[178] Competition between the agencies to increase or maintain the number of their clients would ensure protection "at a good price with the promptest justice,"[179] thus avoiding the evils of the state monopoly, viz. arbitrary justice and bad management, high prices for poor service, and the constant battle of factions to secure the privileges that the state has at its disposal.

With the pouer of the state dissolved, there would be no mechanism for the central control of the economy, no "broker of privilege and monopoly," and hence no need for war. War is an activity that takes place between states, with their organized armies, conscripted troops, and tax-supported military expenditure. Where there is "freedom of government,"[180] there is no defense agency with a monopoly of power to provoke war. War in fact would become unprofitable because no agency would want to risk the heavy insurance payments that the destruction of property in a war would cause.[181] lf a renegade defense agency tried to seek a monopoly, and thus become a state, the consumers "would quickly call to their aid all the free consumers similarly menaced, and they would have justice."[182] The renegade agency would have to conquer each separate company that was in the protection industry. Whereas in warfare between states, the take-over of a nation can be accomplished by seizing a single institution, any attempt to monopolize competing protection companies would be prohibitively expensive. The consumers would benefit from the fact that the security industry was decentralized because it would be more responsible to local and individual needs and because this decentralization would be a considerable barrier to any attempt to reestablish the state. Complete liberty to compete in the protection industry would be the precondition for peace[183] and when this has been achieved "the condition of the different members of society would be the best possible."[184]

Molinari believed that the defense agencies would limit themselves to a particular geographic area in order to provide the best service to their clients. This did not mean that each company would have a monopoly within a given area, but it rather reflected the problems of transportation and communication in mid-nineteenth-century Europe. As railways, telegraphs and roads improved, there was no theoretical reason why the clients of any ccmpany could not be quite widely dispersed geographically.[185] If such a wide geographical spread were possible, then the market would find the most efficient and profitable way of accomplishing it,[186] provided of course that all artificial restrictions were eliminated.

These ideas were expanded into a chapter in Molinari's remarkable book Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare which was published in 1849. He revealed later that his reason for writing the book and for founding the Économiste belge was to demonstrate "the nuisance of government intervention."[187] In the "Onzième Soiree" he endeavored to explain how his system of "absolute property and complete economic liberty"[188] would operate. Although he repeated his main arguments from "De la production de la sécurité," he also added some important new material on compulsory jury service, how private competitive defense agencies might operate, how foreign invasions might be dealt with, how the government debt might be reduced, and whether nationalism would survive the transition to anarchism.

Molinari condemned the jury system for three reasons: it was compulsory and hence violated the individual's right to liberty; it was inefficient because it used amateurs when full-time professionals were required; and it was likely to be biased politically.

In effect, we not only force taxpayers to support the cost of justice, we oblige them as well to perform the duties of judges. This is pure communism.... In political cases, are not juries more likely to judge according to the color of their opinions, be they red or white. than according to justice?[189]

In the market, on the other hand, the division of labor and the law of competition would ensure that only those most capable succeeded. He thought that it was inevitable that competent individuals would emerge to act as judges, lawyers and policemen if competition was substituted for the state's, or any other institution's, use of the lottery in the jury system:

within society [there are] some men particularly able to arbitrate the differences that arise among property-holders and to judge crimes against property, others best able to defend persons and property against the assaults of violence and fraud...and others, still, whose natural aptitudes are to be magistrates, policemen and soldiers.[190]

To assume the contrary would imply that the market could not provlde skilled bakers, cobblers, grocers or doctors, an assumption no laissez-faire économiste was prepared to make.

A major problem faced by the political economist is that he cannot predict with certainty the shape or composition of the future free society. Since men would be free to act in any nonaggressive manner they chose, the économiste cannot know beforehand what these free entities would do. Unlike the socialist, who can guarantee that the government or the community would "plan," "organize" and "control" the economy, the économiste has no blueprint for the future. All that he can do is to describe the laws governing human economic behavior and leave open the question of what specific institutions might arise to satisfy the needs of consumers. Molinari was well aware of the limitation this placed on the political economist, but he was confident that he had understood the natural laws of the market correctly and that his broad projections into the future were fundarnentally correct.

Political economy can say "If such a need exists, it will be satisfied, and it will be better satisfied under a regime of complete liberty than under the other." To this principle there is no exception! Nevertheless, political economy can never say how such an industry will be organized and what its technical procedures will be.[191]

He believed that even with just one year's preparation the market would be able to provide a full range of services such as judges, soldiers and police.[192] To those who would scoff at the possibility of this revolution being achieved at all, let alone in one year, Molinari compared the present with the tightly controlled economy of the medieval community. If one had described to a medieval guildsman the massive growth in industry, the cheapening of prices and the increase in the number and quality of goods available on the market which would occur once the medieval restrictions had been cast aside by the industrial revolution, his response would have been one of disbelief. Such a concept would be beyond his understanding. Similarly with the production of security: what is inconceivable today, the market, if left alone, would supply tomorrow.[193]

Molinari also expanded his description of how an insurance company might operate in a totally free and competitive society. To ensure the security of the entire community, it is most likely that the various companies would cooperate in a manner similar to that of the various contemporary security forces. Just as local, provincial, and national forces cooperate to catch criminals, private companies would do likewise because it would be in their economic interest to do so. They would set up common facilities and perhaps share information on criminals because this would lower their costs and provide better security, thus attracting more customers to their businesses.[194]

If a country were threatened with an external invasion, it would be the companies and their clients who were directly threatened with the destruction of their property and the loss of their lives. Thus, they would again cooperate in the defense of their mutual interests. Molinari suggested that he companies would ask their clients for an additional premium to cover he costs of the extraordinary defense measures. If their clients refused, this would indicate that they would prefer to run the risk of the invasion than pay the extra premium. They would be exercising their rights as free individuals to determine in what manner their property was to be used and what risks they were prepared to accept--rights which were not granted in a society where a military and political elite determine how taxpayers' money is spent. If those insured, however, considered the risks great enough to pose a threat, they would willingly pay the additional amount necessary to allow the companies to take extra precautions. In the fully free society of the future, however, Molinari believed that the risks of interstate war would no longer exist because the leviathan state monopolies would gradually dissolve into competing, free-market insurance companies. Standing armies would also disappear because they would be too expensive to maintain without conscription and taxation. War, as we know it, would no longer exist.[195]

As for the problems of the transition period from "monopolist or communist governments [to] free governments,"[196] many of these could be solved by the sale of government property such as roads, canals, rivers forests, buildings and equipment from public services. For example, the public debt could be completely paid off, Molinari believed, because the assessed value of all publicly owned property in France was greater than the value of the debt. The sale of this property would not only help to transfer it to private ownership, but would also pay off the state's financial liabilities in an orderly fashion.[197]

Furthermore, state coercion prevents formation of a true feeling of national identity. Most nations are "incoherent agglomerations of peoples formed by violence and most often maintained solely by violence,"[198] and are torn apart by the legitimate efforts of these suppressed groups to form their own governments and determine their own futures, free from the political intervention of a ruling class, often of a different nationality.The concepts of "nation" and "government," Molinari warned, should not be confused. A nation can exist because of common customs, language, heritage and civilization, and it is irrelevant how many "governments" or defense companies there are within this nation. As long as these companies do not erect artificial barriers that restrict trade or the movement of people and do not engage in hostilities with each other, the people of this nation would be free to enjoy their common heritage or customs. Monopoly governments, on the contrary, divide national groups in order to more easily rule them, using the principle of "divide and conquer."[199] In a society where there is "freedom of government" a nation would willingly accept a plurality of defense agencies just as it accepts the usefulness of more than one bank, one school system, one church and one grocer's shop.[200] Such a system would also see the multiplication of voluntary ties connecting all national groups and would do much to reduce international tension and misunderstanding.



Molinari's radical extension of the liberal philosophy was not well received by his colleagues in the Société d'Économie Politique. Its meeting of October 10, 1849, was devoted to an examination and discussion of the ideas contained in Molinari's essay on the "production of security." More specifically they were concerned with the question of whether "government can be subject to the principle of free competition."[201] The general consensus was that Molinari had gone to extremes in subjecting the state to such a rigorous economic analysis and that the state had to have unquestioned "supreme authority,"[202] as Charles Coquelin put it, in order to provide justice and security. Bastiat also believed that only a "supreme power" had a right to use force, and thus only a state with a monopoly of this power had the right to enforce the laws.[203] He could not conceive of any system without a single and superior body which had a monopoly of the use of force. Charles Dunoyer, who thought that Molinari "had been led astray by the illusions of logic,"[204] believed that competing defense agencies would only lead to "violent struggles." To avoid this it would be more prudent to "leave coercion where civilization placed it, in the state,"[205] a truly amazing statement from an économiste supposedly devoted to reducing the power of the state and eliminating the injustices of economic privilege. He further argued that political competition already existed in France in the form of competing political parties and the voting system:

In France, all the parties truly compete, each offering its services to the public, which actually chooses everytime it votes.[206]

This was by no means the competition that Molinarl envisaged: for, in fact, the state still levied compulsory taxes, prohibited any real "competition" with its monopoly, and disposed of stolen "tax" money and privileges through the voting system. In another context, the individualist anarchist, Lysander Spooner, criticized the false freedom offered by the voting system:

In truth, in the case of individuais, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a governmem that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights; under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, 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 consent, 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 the 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. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defense offered, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him. Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot, would use it, if they could see any chance of thereby meliorating their condition. 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 to.[207]

Molinari's great insight was to see that only on the free and competitive market could the individual enter into arrangements that were truly contractual and to which he gave his uncoerced consent. Free-market insurance companies were the only means of providing security that depended on the completely uncoerced consent of all parties concerned; that did not rest on exploitive taxation or the lottery of the voting process.

Molinari's critics in the Société did not deal with the problem of consent nor with the consistency with which he used the principles of political economy. Instead they feared that his radical ideas would become propaganda in the hands of the socialists and thus be used eventually against the more moderate liberals in the Société. Bastiat quite openly said Molinari's ideas would be

a useful and effective propaganda considering the ubiquitous spirit of socialism which infects even those opposed to it.[208]

Charles Coquelin was equally concerned that these "eccentric opinions" would be seen to be the opinions of all the économistes, especially since Molinari used the dialogue form in Les Soirées in which the Éconorniste argued for Molinari's ideas against his antagonists, the Socialiste and the Conservateur.[209]

The more moderate économistes such as Coquelin, Bastiat, and Dunoyer,[210] conceived of a more active role for the state in the economy than Molinari was prepared to grant it. For example, Dunoyer, in his article on government in the Dictionnaire, which was compiled soon after the Société debate on Molinari's ideas, attributed a major positive role to the state. Basing his ideas on those of Adam Smith, he attributed to the state the task of providing internal and external security as well as all those

public works and certain public institutions, which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain; because the proft could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a great society.[211]

Dunoyer's view of the state, as a "producer of sociability,"[212] gave it virtually unlimited powers to interfere in the economy and in the private lives of individuals. For him,

fundamentally, government is among the arts which act directly on men, rather than upon material nature, and which develop in them the numerous and diverse sentiments, strengths, abilities, talents, aptitudes and customs which are indispensible in determining each man's destiny and without which no production would be possible. Its special task, in thls common work, is to teach men to live together and to bring restraint and justice into their most important relationships. I would go so far to say, if you allow me, that government is the producer of sociability and good civil habits. This is the unique fruit of its art and labor. It cooperates in the industria1 production of society by introducing into the great social laboratory the precious ingredients of good relations and justice. Without this no production is possible, everything would come to a halt. It is perhaps the most important art of all those encompassed by the economy of society.[213]

Without a powerful central state, this production of "sociability" would be impossible to achieve and individuals would be free instead to pursue their own, perhaps "antisocial," self-interest;[214] thus Molinari's views seemed to the moderate liberals in the Société to be closer to socialism or anarchism than to the liberalism with which they were familiar. Only A. Clement was prepared to support Molinari's radical anti-statism in his article on security in the Dictionnaire. Although finally siding with the state monopolists, he agreed with Molinari that the "parasitic classes" had been able to seize political power:

Violence and fraud were most commonly the first basis of their power, and for a long time their domination has not aimed at the protection of all the rights founded upon work and savings but rather at the exploitation of the workers for the profit of the ruling classes.[215]

Molinari was able to reply to his critics in his article "Nations" in the Dictionnaire. He again criticized the économistes who continued to exaggerate the size and power of the state, calling this an "immensely disastrous error,"[216] and he described Governments which did more than provide security as "ulcers." To counter the charge of being an anarchist, he claimed that "wisely understood, political economy leads to the suppression of governments no more than it leads to the destruction of nationalities."[217] Only if men were angels would the need for some form of government disappear entirely, he argued. Precisely because of the acute need for protection, the "government" should do nothing else but protect life, liberty, and property and refrain from any other activity completely. It should also be subject to "the same practice of scrupulous economy which is the rule in private industry."[218]

Much of the disagreement between Molinari and the moderates in the Société came from a confusion over the use of the concepts "anarchism" and "government." As Molinari explained in his article on "Nations," he distinguished between governments which overstep their limits and governments which fulfill their natural function of providing security. To the former, he gave the name "state" and, to the latter "government."[219] Molinari wished to eliminate the state and to remove the monopoly of the existing government by allowing competing insurance companies to supply this need on the free market. He called these insurance companies "governments" even though they did not have a monopoly within a given geographical area. Thus confusion arose over the ambiguous use of "state" and "government." To anarchists such as Proudhon, the state and the government were distinguished by their monopoly of force within a given area, whereas anarchy "is the absence of a ruler or a sovereign"[220] and a situation of "NO MORE GOVERNMENT."[221] Molinari would have agreed with Proudhon's view that the ideal political formation would be one of "self-government," (a term that Molinari was to adopt in his Cours):

I have already mentioned ANARCHY, or the governmem of each man by himself--or, as the English say, self-government--as being one example of the liberal regime. Since the expression "anarchial government" is a contradiction in terms, the system itself seems to be impossible and the idea absurd. However, it is only language that needs to be criticized. The notion of anarchy in politics is just as rational and positive as any other. It means that once industrial functions have taken over from political functions, then business transactions and exchange alone produce the social order. In these conditions each man could call himself his own master, which is the very opposite of constitutional monarchy.[222]

In this respect Molinari was just as much an anarchist as Proudhon. Both wanted to see an end to all government monopolies; both wanted to see men become self-governing; both wanted the market to take over all government functions. Their differences in these matters were merely semantic.

However, their differences in economic theory were considerable, and it is probably for this reason that Molinari refused to call himself an anarchist in spite of their many similarities in political theory. Molinari refused to accept the socialist economic ideas of Proudhon, especially his support for the right to work, the right to revolt, the illegitimacy of lending at interest and the centralization of credit.[223] Thus, in Molinari's mind, the term "anarchist" was intimately linked with socialist and statist economic views. The left-wing anarchists, Molinari believed, were mistaken not only in their economic views but also in their understanding of human nature. A common belief of the communist anarchists was that in the future stateless society police or protection agencies would become unnecessary. This would happen for two reasons. Firstly, the disappearance of private property would make crimes against property impossible. Secondly, the conditions of a fully free society would induce development of public opinion and public pressure which would replace the need for police, prisons and courts. For example, Proudhon explained:

Anarchy is, if I may be permitted to put it this way, a form of government or constitution in which public and private consciousness, formed through the development of science and law, is alone sufficient to maintain order and guarantee all liberties. In it, as a consequence, the instilutions of the police, preventive and repressive methods, officialdom, taxation, etc., are reduced to a minimum. In it, more especialiy, the forms of monarchy and intensive centralisation disappear, to be replaced by federal institutions and a pattern of life based on the commune.[224]

These ideas were foreign to a thinker who believed that only angels could live without a "government" and that property was a natural right of all individuals. Molinari had, in fact, vastly improved the power of the anarchist argument by using the theory of political economy to describe how free-market "governments" could work. Instead of lamely arguing, as did Proudhon, Bakhunin and Kropotkin, that there would no longer be any need for police, Molinari was the first to develop a theory of free-market, proprietary anarchism that extended the laws of the market and a rigorous defense of property to its logical extreme, thus explaining how such a society could function by extrapolating from economic phenomena which were occurring in the present.

In spite of his protestations to the contrary, Molinari should be considered an anarchist thinker. His attack on the state's monopoly of defense must surely warrant the description of anarchism. His reluctance to accept this label stemmed from the fact that the socialists had used it first to describe a form of non-statist society which Molinari definitely opposed. Like many original thinkers, Molinari had to use the concepts developed by others to describe his theories. In his case, he had come to the same political conclusions as the communist anarchists although he had been working within the liberal tradition, and it is therefore not surprising that the terms uscd by the two schools were not compatible. It would not be until the latter half of the twentieth century that radical, free-trade liberals would use the word "anarchist" to describe their beliefs.[225]


Molinari returned to the idea of the "production of security" in his book based on his lectures at the Musée royal. The final chapter was devoted to an examination of "Les Consommations publiques" in which he introduced for the first time two ideas which he was to study at length in his later works: the notions of "tutelage," and that of the history of society as divided into three stages through which it must pass as it evolves into its final form--"the regimes of community, monopoly and competition." It was his desire to explain the "divergence which has emerged in our time between the state of government and that of the other branches of social endeavor"[226] that led him to examine the stages through which society had progressed.

The first stage, that of "the community," had been the coming together of groups of families to provide for their common defense and other "public services" such as roads, bridges, wells. Organized as a tribe or a commune, in this early stage of society's history, the government's function had been quite extensive. It had prevented "social nuisances" from harming the community by enforcing custom. Thus,

the purpose of government is to enforce the observation of those cus toms which are indispensible to the maintenance and progress of the community.[227]

As this society expanded in size, the services exercised in common became more complex and numerous. This resulted eventually in the "specialization" of each function which was controlled by a "group of families."[228] These families passed these particular skills from one generation to another, gradually forming a monopoly and thus entering the second stage in the history of societies.

Molinari believed that "each industry [passes] necessarily through a monopolistic phase on leaving its embryonic form."[229] This monopoly may be only transitory as the forces of competition gradually come into play, or it may become permanent if artificial barriers are erected to prevent this competition from being felt. These artificial monopolies were purely "acts of human will,"[230] being nothing more than forms of political privilege granted to some at the expense of others, and which had gradually weakened and then destroyed ancient society. In this second phase of society

the properties or functions of government necessarily increase in number and importance in step with the specialization of industry and the commerce which flows from this supplants embryonic production.[231]

One of these new attributes had been the creation of a special organization for the protection of property. This had involved the regulation of the market, the verification of weights and measures to prevent fraud, the control of money, and the regulation of monopolies in an attempt to eliminate some of their harmful effects. Both government and society had been organized into corporations or monopolies having

their commanding entrepreneurs and their armies of workers for whom an exclusive clientel, forbidden to those outside of the corporation, furnished an assured livelihood.[232]

In this corporatist society, the government was nothing more than a

corporation or assembly of corporations superimposed on those enterprises which had monopolized the other branches of industry,[233]

and as this government became more "specialized," it became increasingly monopolized by either a family (becoming a royal family) or a group of families (becoming a oligarchy).

The motivating force which propelled society from one stage to the next was the market,[234] and this force was gradually extended as the harmful effects of monopoly were felt and removed, in spite of the "desperate resistance of the monopolists."[235] When the freedom to trade was combined with the freedom to engage in industry, society entered the third stage, the "era of competition." In this stage society became so complex that the old methods of protecting property were obsolete and inadequate. Long-term contracts, copyright laws, and the need to adjudicate contract disputes necessitated a corresponding expansion in the scope of the "production of security" which the antiquated government monopoly system could not provide. Only the market could respond to the rapidly changing needs of society in this new "regime of open competition,"[236] and only it could ensure that the production of security would correspond to the new needs for protection that arose.[237] Since, Molinari argued, society had quite recently entered the third and final stage of society's development, the era of competition, the government must cease intervening in the economy to support artificial monopolies and allow the market to determine what is produced and how wealth is distributed. Only when this was achieved would "the production and distribution of wealth tend by themselves to operate in the most useful manner."[238]

In this third and final stage of society, the government could sometimes be justified in acting as a "guardian of the incapable,"[239] those people who were more or less incapable of governing themselves. This included those who could not wisely control their consumption, those who caused injury to others because they could not govern themselves properly and the "men children" whose physical maturity did not correspond to their "intellectual state."[240] Molinari warned that individuals, however, must not be prevented from exercising their right to self-government if they wised to.

If not, it would prevent the moral forces necessary for good self government from developing through a constant practice.[241]

However, given the considerable complexity of the affairs that the government should be engaged in, i.e., the production of security, it was impossible for the government to exercise both functions adequately. Thus, "a special enterprise" would arise on the market to look after those who could not adequately look after themselves:

This is why in all probability the guardianship of individuals incapable of self-government is bound to become the object of a branch of industry which will sooner or later be born out of the progressive transformation of servitude.[242]

In the two previous stages of society, the government had been "in harmony with the other enterprises." In the age of primitive communism, the government had been organized and run by the community. In the age of monopoly, the government had been monopolized. Now in the age of competition, there had appeared an anomaly: the rest of society had become free of monopolistic restrictions but the government remained "retarded in the old regime of monopoly." There was no longer "unity in the political and economic constitution of society,"[243] and a dissonance was thus created between these two sections of society.[244] The result was that, just as the communal government was "anti-économique"[245] in the monopoly stage of the government, this monopoly government had become "anti-écon ornique" in the age of full competition and therefore suffered all the vices of monopoly--high prices, poor service and structural rigidities, because it could not adapt to changing conditions. This had become most noticeable since the French revolution of 1789, which had reversed the tendency of the market to break up and separate industries left from the era of monopoly.[246] A new class had arisen to manage this "consolidated monopoly" which had become a "veritable monster" under their management.[247]

Molinari continued with a lengthy analysis of government monopolies in an attempt to answer his critics in the Société who had argued that certain government monopolies should remain in the government's hands. He concluded this analysis with the following four observations on governments. Firstly, they "transgressed" against the law of "unified operations" and the division of labor. By this he meant that the government tried to do too many things and did not become skilled in any one field, thus providing a bad service at a high price. Secondly, governments transgressed against the law of "natural limits," i.e., each enterprise had an optimum size at which it was most profitable and provided the best possible service to consumers. Because governments did not act according to market demand, they grew too big and inefficient to respond to the individual requirements of its customers. Thirdly, governments transgressed against the law of competition either by prohibiting enterprises from starting up or by preventing foreign businesses from selling their goods and services within their borders. For example:

Truly, no public service is produced and distributed under conditions of open competition, which is to say, giving a free field to rival enterprises obliged to cover the cost of production with the ordinary remuneration of the capital engaged.[248]

Fourthly, the government transgressed against the principles of specialization and free exchange of goods. In the free market, businesses responded to the individual needs of the consumers and payment was made only after the price had been agreed upon. Governments, on the other hand, found this impossible to achieve because of their size and the lethargy that monopoly caused. Any exchange that occurred between a consumer and the government was "common and coercive, rather than being specialized and free,"[249] and furthermore, payment was not made freely between producer and consumer but was levied indiscriminately on all taxpayers.

The combined result of the actions of monopolized government services was to increase the tension that existed between it and those industries which had entered the final stage of society's evolution towards complete economic and political liberty. This was the clash that had to occur between any two aspects of a society which were not operating by the same principles, in this case those of monopoly and free competition. Since government and its monopolies lagged behind the rest of the community in its evolution towards competition, it had become an "ulcer" that hampered the further development of industry.[250] Because of its actions

an increasing portion of society's vital forces are siphoned away by taxes and pubiic borrowing to underwrite the expense of producing public services, or to put it better, to maintain and enrich the class which possesses the monopoly on the production of those services.[251]

The remedy that Molinari proposed to rid society of this ulcerous growth was radical in the extreme.[252] He proposed to transform the "anti-economic constitution" of government by forcing it to obey economic laws. To make government economic it would be necessary

to strip governments of all the power which have been added to their natural function, the production of security, to return education, religion, coinage and transportation to private enterprise, and to subject governments. like all other enterprises to the law of competition.[253]

The first part of his program was definitely acceptable to his fellow free trade liberals in the Société. The "simplification" of the state was accepted in theory even if it had a long way to go before it would be put into practice, given the power of the vested interests which opposed free trade and competition. On the other hand, there were still very few indeed who would accept his views on political competition, but he was hopeful that circumstances would become increasingly favorable for the adoption of his ideas. The American Civil War he considered to be an important step towards the realization of the right to secede and the right to freely choose one's government or at least to withdraw from one that was not to one's liking.[254]

At this point in his life Molinari was quite optimistic about the possibilities of complete liberty becoming a reality. He did not believe that the reforms he thought necessary would come quickly, but he thought the pressure of economic reality would finally prove too much for the forces working to preserve the reconstituted oid regime intact.

This progress wiil doubtless be slow. But it is this way with all progress. If we considered the mass of prejudice and interest which opposes it, we might despair of ever seeing any progress at all.[255]

Taking heart from Adam Smith, who despaired of seeing free trade in his lifetime,[256] Molinari unrealistically predicted that within one hundred years protection would only be a bad memory and that political monopolies would soon follow the disappearance of industrial and commercial monopolies.[257] He concluded his two-volume textbook on political economy with the following optimistic declaration, thus bringing to an end his first efforts in forming a theory of radical anti-statism, a subject he was not to return to until the 1880's:

Their [free industry's] triumphal hour will come and "Economic Unity" will be established in the phase of competition as it had been established in the preceding phases of community and monopoly. Then, production and distribution, finally and fully subject in all branches of human endeavor to the government of economic law, will operate in the most useful manner.[258]


Molinari did not return to his theory of the production of security until 1884, nearly thirty years after the publication of the Cours. In that year, he published a series of essays which had initially been written for the Journal des Économistes, one of which dealt with the form that a government of the future might have. He had lost none of his faith in the power of the market to overcome the political restrictions that were placed in its path and thus to complete the processes which had been set in motion with the onset of the era of competition.

A day will nevertheless come, and perhaps this day will not be put off as long as one might believe considering the retrograde movement imposed upon civilized societies by the revolution; a day will come, we assert, when "political servitude" will lose all reason for existence and liberty of government, otherwise known as political liberty, will be added to the framework of other liberties.[259]

He was still convinced that governments of the future free society would take the form of insurance companies that would compete for customers on the market.[260]

What was new in his discussion was an argument that entire villages, suburbs or quartiers could be built and owned by private bodies, thus permitting competition in the provision of "public goods" such as lighting, roads, public works, sanitation, etc. Molinari envisaged farsighted entrepreneurs who would purchase property in an area in which they thought people would want to live. They would choose land which was suitable because of its situation, accessibility and healthy condition and then design appropriate buildings, roads, schools, churches, theaters and meeting halls. This "proprietary company"[261] would also provide well-paved and lit roads, drainage, water, public transport, water, gas and electricity to all the homes and, most importantly, security of property and person in order to attract as many people as possible to come and live in their city. These services could be provided by the company itself or by subcontractors specializing in the various fields of transport, public utilities and sanitation. All services would be paid for by rents levied by the company on the inhabitants, and the administration of the community would be either left in the hands of the company itself or handled by special organizations be set up for this purpose.[262]

If there were several such realty companies within a single city, their rational self-interest would ensure that their roads, drainage, gas, electricity and public transport were compatible in order to lower costs and improve service. Most likely some form of permanent organization would be established to solve difficulties as they arose and to coordinate future planning. If problems remained or if serious disputes occurred between the property holders, then mutually agreed upon arbiters or tribunals would be turned to for a decision.[263] Whether a city was owned by a company, by shareholders or by individuals, some form of organization would arise which would be able to make decisions on matters of common interest.[264] As with his plan for an ideal electoral system which he published in 1846,[265] Molinari thought that any common body would be arranged so that those who had the most property had proportionally the greater say in matters which affected the community. It was his intention that property owners should have a means of protecting their property from those who had no property or who wished to increase their property at the expense of others. Thus he wished to model his "city governments" on the limited liability and joint stock companies that had revolutionized business practices. If there were any fear that the larger property owners would use their wealth to exploit the poorer or smaller property owners, the latter could withdraw at any time and "secede" from the organization. They could annex themselves to neighboring cities or villages or even form a smaller "city" of their own.

These unions would always be free to dissolve themselves or annex themselves to others. They would naturally be interested in forming the most economic groupings to provide for the inherent necessities of their industry.[266]

Large property owners would be safe from the "mob" and the smaller property owners would have a means of avoiding the exploitation of the powerful, Molinari believed, only in a system where all property was defended and where individuals had the right to organize their affairs in whatever manner suited them. This was possible in a society where the state did not have a monopoly on essential services and where individuals were free to form governments of their own choosing.

Molinari distinguished between the forms of the state suggested by the socialists and the anarchists and that which would be possible in a regime of full competition:

The future will bring neither the absorption of society by the state, as the communists and collectivists believe, nor the suppression of the state which is the dream of the anarchists and nihilists. It will bring the diffusion of the state within society. That is, to recall a well-known phrase, "a free state in a free society."[267]

As competition became more widespread, consumers would begin to realize how expensive and inefficient the old system of state monopolies had be come and eventually

public opinion. . . would rise up against a system with illusory benefits for one class and crushing burdens for others. It would immolate the idol of the state which it today adores, and it would take up once more the work, interrupted by the revolution, of the reform and simplification of the machinery of government.[268]

Under the pressure of growing competition and the increasing economic burden of the monopoly state, the era of full competition would at last be completed, with competition in both the economic and the political spheres.

Molinari concluded L'Évolution politique with some extremely optimistic remarks about the necessity of society's progress. Although couched in Spencerian and religious terms, he merely repeated his conclusions which he had first put forward in Cours d'économie politique in 1855, that society had reached its final stage with the era of competition.[269] Molinari was so convinced of the inevitability of the market's ultimate success that he felt that no liberal propaganda could equal the effect of the "omnipotent state" itself in convincing people of its harmful consequences. In fact, liberals could fold their arms and let the workings of natural law bring about the society they desired. All they needed to do was to act occasionally to hasten the transformation. They could "level obstacles, accelerate or retard the march of humanity, diminish or increase the sum of powers which lead to the mysterious goal which has been assigned to it."[270]

This belief in inevitable progress is the key to the failure of the free-trade liberals in general and Molinari in particular to realize their aims. Without engaging in concerted political activity, the free-trade liberals had little chance of influencing political events. Too many were content to wait for the "inevitable" or to devote their lives to journalism, speaking to an ever diminishing number of supporters. For too long, Molinari and the anti-statist liberals had remained at the level of well-meaning amateurs in their attempts to bring about lasting political and economic changes. Their activities remained at the level of "study circles" when, as Lenin said in another context,

We were acting as amateurs at a moment in history when we might have been able to say, varying a well known statement: "Give us an organisation of revolutionaries, and we will overturn Russia."[271]


In spite of the lack of support for his anti-statist ideas, Molinari continued to espouse them as late as 1893.[272] It was not until 1899 that he withdrew from his position of fully competitive insurance companies and adopted a more moderate, semi-monopolistic view. In the Esquisse, Molinari still believed that the right of secession from a state was important in reducing the threat of war and revolution. Disaffected groups could form their own communities or even their own states, and inter-state problems could be solved by courts and tribunals applying the same principles of law that were used to settle disagreements between individuals.[273] Molinari continued to describe the functions and duties of the "producers of security" as he had in his first essay on this question,[274] but a qualification had now bcen introduced which had not been present in his earlier works. This qualification concerned the consumers of security. Originally, Molinari had believed that each individual had the right to exercise his natural right to defend his own life and property from attack. Since the market had allowed the division of labor to operate, it was likely that individuals would decide not to exercise this right but delegate it to a company which would specialize in this business. At no time, Molinari argued in 1884, did this delegation of rights mean that the individual had given up any of his rights, as some "social contract" theorists claimed. Comparing the production of bread to that of security, Molinari had argued thus:

I no longer exercise my right to produce bread, but I continue to possess it. In fact, that right is more extensive than before. To the right, which I cominue to exercise, of making bread for my own consumption, is joined the right to make it for others, to open a bakery or participate in its establishment through my labor or my capital. My right as a consumer is equally extended, since I can obtain my bread from two producers in place of one, from the baker and from myself. If I buy it from the baker, it is because his bread is better and less costly than the bread I would make myself.[275]

In the Esquisse, Molinari retreated somewhat from this position by suggesting that the nation rather than individual would contract with the competing security companies. These "judicial companies" would remain "completely independent and competitive,"[276] but it would now be the nation or "collective" which would

contract preferably, through an agent or some other means, with the firm or company which offered the most advantageous conditions and the surest guarantees of the delivery of this naturally collective article of consumption.[277]

Individuals would still be completely free to engage in production or to trade all goods which were "naturally individual," i.e., those goods and services which could be purchased or contracted for individually. Molinari had made a distinction between public goods, such as security, and other goods before, but had never argued that individuals were incapable of paying for these public goods by contracting for them individually. In "La production de la sécurité" and Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare, he had argued that within a given geographical area individuals would be free to contract for security services with any number of competing companies. Like churches or bakeries, there could be many businesses providing the same or similar services within the same city or province, limited only by the size of the market and the efficiency and profitability of each enterprise. In the Esquisse these "competing governments" had given way to communes or provinces which had a monopoly in the provision of security within their geographic borders. Individuals would not make their own arrangements for security but would appoint delegates or "mandataires" to act on their behalf.[278] Once the contract had been concluded, whether for a short or long period, the mandate of the people's representatives would end and then only a small committee of consumers or their representatives would be necessary to oversee the fulfillment of the contract until its expiration. In some cases even this "rump" would not be necessary if the press and other consumer groups were active.[279] So, even though individuals or groups retained their right to secede from the larger administrative units, they would, in turn, set up monopolistic defense services within their borders. These states would not be very different from existing state monopolies, Molinari believed, because they would retain the most important characteristic of a state--the monopoly of the use of force in a given geographical area. In a society as Molinari described it in the Esquisse, states would be more numerous and their services would be cheaper and more efficient because of the competition of "sub-contractors"[280] but the state would still remain a monolithic entity from which the only escape would be to persuade a town or commune to secede. Molinari seemed to have forgotten his earlier insights into the nature of the state monopoly and how it arose. If minorities were unable to convince enough people to join them in seceding from the larger state or if the monopoly states grew too powerful and prevented them from exercising this right, the benefits of what little competition remained in the provision of security would be lost. With each area monopolized by a single defense agency, it would be easy for this company to establish itself as a permanent monopoly and prevent the consumers from taking their business elsewhere. Molinari had argued in "La production de la sécurité" that one of the major benefits of competing defense agencies within the same city or commune was that none would be able to become a monopoly and exclude others from offering their services to the community. Molinari seemed also to have forgotten his arguments directed against government by representation. Only by exercising their rights directly could individuals ensure that their interests were protected. This included the right of each individual to determine for himself how his property should be protected and how much he was willing to spend to secure it. If the costs of paying a company were too high, then the individual had the right to decide to do without security or provide it himself. This right was now denied citizens of the commune or city who would be forced to pay for public goods by rents or taxes rather than by paying separate insurance premiums to the company of their choice.

The reason for Molinari's departure from his earlier, more radical position was his increasing emphasis on the spurious distinction between those goods and services which could be satisfied individually and those which were by nature of benefit to the entire community. In "La production de la sécurité" this distinction had been made, but it was argued that the market could provide so-called public goods because the same economic laws were at work. No monopolies were considered necessary, and the monopoly of security was considered both dangerous and inefficient. By 1899 Molinari abandoned this view of monopolies and accepted the need for certain geographic monopolies for the provision of such public goods as street lighting, roads, drainage and security but not, surprisingly, for money or the postal service.[281] He made a distinction between industries which could be provided competitively and natural monopolies, and, although he admitted that these monopolies were harmful to consumers, his only concession to his earlier views on competition was to allow indirect competition.[282] Molinari now argued in Économie de l'histoire that the state itself would contract with companies for the provision of security. Through their "mandataires" consumers would not even have direct control of the price or the terms of the contract, and the state itself would ensure that the contract was fulfilied. Thus Molinari fell into the trap of thinking that it was possible to simulate competition, in order to have its benefits, without having it in fact.[283] The result was that Molinari had abandoned his theoretical distrust of all government monopoly and had capitulated to the position of his early opponents in the Société d'Économie politique debate of 1849. Gone were thc competing defense agencies and the state monopolies. Gone was the emphasis on the absolute right of each individual consumer to freely choose the company which would protect his or her own person and property from harm. Thus, Molinari had returned to the "night watchman" state of the classical liberals while still believing that "competition" within the government would stop the abuses of this monopoly.



As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state--to relinquish its protection and to refuse paying towards its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others, for his position is a passive one, and while passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally self-evident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man's property against his will is an infringement of his rights.... Government being simply an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not. If any one of them determines to ignore this mutual-safety confederation, nothing can be said except that he loses all claim to its good offices and exposes himself to the danger of maltreatment--a thing he is quite at liberty to do if he likes. He cannot be coerced into political combination without a breach of the law of equal freedom; he can withdraw from it without committing any such breach; and he has therefore a right so to withdraw. Herbert Spencer[284]


Two years after Molinari had first proposed his theory of the "production of security," the English political philosopher, Herbert Spencer, independently pushed free-market liberalism to its anarchist limits in his book Social Statics. Spencer argued that the state was not an "essential" institution and that it would not necessarily last forever.[285] As society progressed, government would inevitably become smaller and "decay" as voluntary market organizations replaced the coercive political institutions of the state. Using arguments that Molinari was to borrow for his later works (especially his double work on the evolution of societies; L'Évolution politique et la révolution [1884] and L'Évolution économique du XIXè siècle [1880)], Spencer asserted that this evolution "always [tended] towards perfection.... towards a complete development and a more unmixed good, subordinating in its universality all petty irregularities and fallings back, as the curvature of the earth subordinates mountains and valleys."[286]

Spencer deduced from the principle of equal liberty the individual's "right to ignore the state." In a chapter with the same name, which was deleted in later editions of Social Statics as Spencer drifted away from his radical anti-statism, he advocated the right of the individual to refuse to pay taxes to the state for the protection of his life and property. Spencer compared this right with the right claimed by the Dissenters to refuse to pay dues to the church and argued that if religious separation and independence was just, then this, "if consistently maintained, implies a right to ignore the state entirely."[287] By exercising their natural rights to property and uncoerced activity, the political protestant who refused to pay taxes to the state became a "voluntary outlaw" who merely had exercised his right to "drop connection with the state--to relinquish its protection and to refuse paying towards its support."[288] If the state refused to recognize this right to peacefully withdraw from the state, then "its acts must be essentially criminal."[289]

Spencer's alternative to the coercive monopoly of the state was to convert it into a "mutual-safety confederation"[290] which would provide protection to all who paid its "taxes." Those who decided to secede would be free to make their own arrangements for defense, but Spencer did not go as far as Molinari in arguing that "competing governments" would spring up to provide the security of those who withdrew. He did, however, hint that this would be the case with the statement that

if, as was shown, every man has a right to secede from the state, and if, as a consequence, the state must be regarded as a body of men voluntarily associated, there remains nothing to dis\tinguish it in the abstract from any other incorporated body.[291]

Spencer also hinted that this voluntary defense organization would be run on business principles. On several occasions he described it as a "mutual assurance," "insurance" or "joint-stock protection society confine[d] guaranteeing the rights of its members."[292] From Spencer's position it would be only a small step to the full free-market competing defense agencies as described by Molinari.

There is no evidence to connect the very similar views of the young Molinari and the young Spencer on the right of the individual to either compete with or withdraw from the monopoly of the state. In the absence of such evidence, it must be assumed that the two thinkers arrived at their positions independently of one another, suggesting that anti-statism is inherent in the logic of the free market. Both men were prepared to push their liberal ideas to their furthest logical extent, so long as they were consistent with the natural right of the individual to act freely and to enjoy the uncoerced use of his property.

Another "liberty philosopher" who was struck with the internal logic of liberty was a disciple of Herbert Spencer. Auberon Herbert was drawn to a similar anti-statist position. As he argued in 1885,

They are...the necessary deductions from the great principle that a man has inalienable rights over himself, over his own faculties and possessions--and those, who having once accepted this princlple, who having once offered their allegiance to liberty, are prepared lto follow her frankly and faithfully wherever she leads, will find, unless I am mistaken, that they are irresistibly drawn step by step to the same or to very similar conclusions.[293]

He was aware that there were few men who were prepared to "loyally submit themselves to a great principle" and accept the conclusion that "if the great principle justifies itself anywhere, it justifies itself everywhere."[294] Herbert, however, was such a man and he was prepared to go even further than Spencer in defending the right of the individual to refuse to pay taxes to a coercive government.

Like Molinari, Herbert believed that, if the market were given a chance to operate free from the restrictions of the state, "every want that we have will be satisfied by means of a voluntary combination."[295] He extended Spencer's idea of the joint-stock protection society and argued that a "system of insurance" would develop on the free market whereby "voluntary protective associations of every kind and form" would replace the monopoly of the state.[296] These protective associations would be financed by "voluntary taxes"--insurance premiums in Molinari's system--paid by those individuals who voluntarily placed themselves under the jurisdiction of each association. In this "deofficialized" fully voluntary society.[297]

the state should compel no services and exact no payments by force, but should depend entirely upon voluntary services and voluntary payments... it should be free to conduct many useful undertakings. . .but that it should do so in competition with all voluntary agencies, without employment of force, in dependence on voluntary payments, and acting with the consent of those concerned, simply as their friend and their adviser.[298]

The similarity of Herbert's ideas to those of Molinari is quite striking and, again, there is no evidence suggesting that he had ever read or even heard of Molinari. Neither Spencer nor Herbert went as far as Molinari's suggestion that these voluntary defense agencies would be fully professional business organizations whose prices would be determined on the market by competition. They merely limited themselves to criticizing the monopoly of the state and arguing that the individual had the right to organize freely.

Herbert faced the same problem that Molinari had with labelling his philosophy. Like Molinari, he rejected the term "anarchism," which he associated with the socialism of Proudhon and the terrorism of the "detestable bomb," even though he was quite tolerant of Tolstoy's and Benjamin Tucker's "most peaceful and reasonable forms.[299] Herbert argued that the "sane, peaceful and reasonable section of anarchists," Tucker for example, were mistaken in their rejection of "government." He argued, like Molinari, that even in a fully free society there would exist a need for protection from aggression. Any organization which provided this service was called a "government," even if it did not have monopoly; thus the protective associations of the anarchists merely provided a government decentralized "to the furthest point, [split] up into minute fragments of all sizes and shapes."[300] In Herbert's mind, a true "anarchist" wished to do away with all organized forms of protection and, since this was impossible given human nature, "anarchy, or 'no government,' is founded on a fatal mistake." Thus

by the necessity of things, we are obliged to choose between regularly constituted government, generally accepted by all citizens for the protection of the individual, and irregularly constituted government, irregularly accepted, and taking its shape just according to the pattern of each group. Neither in the one case nor in the other case is government got rid of.[301]

However, unlike Molinari and Herbert, it has been argued in this paper that the second form of "government," the "irregularly constituted government" of Herbert and the "competitive governments" of Molinari, is in fact a new form of anarchism, since the most important aspect of the modern state, the monopoly of the use of force in a given area, is rejected in no uncertain terms by both men.


An (admittedly minor) figure who was probably influenced by Molinari was P. E. De Puydt. De Puydt wrote an essay in 1860 extolling the virtues of "Panarchy", a system very similar to Molinari's, where "governmental competition" would permit "as many regularly competing governments as have ever been conceived and will ever be invented" to exist simultaneously.[302] Governments would become political churches, only having jurisdiction over their congregations who had elected to become members of that particular denomination. Disputes between "governments" would be settled by "international" courts and an individual could change from one government to another, without leaving his home, by registering his decision, for a small fee, with a "Bureau of Political Membership."[303] De Puydt described his "panacea" as

simply free competition in the business of government. Everyone has the right to look after his own welfare as he sees it, and to obtain security under his own conditions. On the other hand, this means progress through contest between governments forced to compete for followers. True, worldwide liberty is that which is not forced on anyone, being to each just what he wants for it; it neither suppresses nor deceives, and is always subject to a right of appeal. To bring about such a liberty, there would be no need to give up either national traditions or family ties, no need to learn to think in a new language, no need at all to cross rivers or seas, carrying the bones of one's ancestors. It is simply a matter of declaring before one's local political commission, for one to move from republic to monarchy, from representative government to autocracy, from oligarchy to democracy, or even to Mr. Proudhon's anarchy, with out so much as removing one's dressing gown and slippers.[304]

Given the similarity of De Puydt's ideas to those of Molinari's and given the fact that De Puydt was familiar with the writings of the political economists,[305] it would be reasonable to conclude that De Puydt was influenced by Molinari's anti-statism, although giving it a new twist with his concept of "panarchy".

Benjamin Tucker, the American individualist anarchist, was not reluctant to call his own laissez faire liberalism a variant of anarchism. In fact, Tucker argued that "the only true believers in laissez faire are the Anarchists"[306] and hailed Auberon Herbert as "a true anarchist in everything but name."[307] Tucker was definitely aware of Molinari's work and at least one of Molinari's books was reviewed in Tucker's magazine.[308] He shared Molinari's view that the production of security was an economic commodity which could be better supplied by the free and unhampered market, thus going beyond the criticism of Herbert and Spencer and, arguing with Molinari, that the market could offer a positive and practical alternative to state monopoly defense. These "political abolitionists"[309] argued that

defense is a service like any other service; that it is labor both useful and desired, and therefore an economic commodity subject to the law of supply and demand; that in a free market this commodity would be furnished at the cost of production; that, competition prevailing, patronage would go to those who furnished the best article at the lowest price; that the production and sale of this commodity are now monopolized by the State; and that the State, like almost all monopolists, charges exorbitant prices;... and, finally, that the State exceeds all its fellow-monopolists in the extent of its villainy because it enjoys the unique privilege of compellhlg all people to buy its product whether they want it or not.[310]


After the death of Molinari in 1912 and the political retirement of Tucker in 1908 when a fire destroyed his bookshop and publication office,[311] liberal anti-statism virtually disappeared until it was rediscovered by the economist Murray Rothbard in the late 1950's. As a political philosophy, it had led a precarious existence, emerging in seventeenth century England; mixing with Smithian economic ideas in France in the early nineteenth century, and coming to an unsteady maturity simultaneously in mid-century England and France. Molinari was its most radical and original expositor and, for nearly fifty years, he defended and elaborated these ideas without assistance or support. Liberal anti-statism died out in both France and England during the twentieth century, but it was revived in the United States by a group of laissez faire economists, Rothbard in particular,[312] who have combined a natural-law defense of property and the liberty of the individual with economic theory drawn from the Austrian rather than the classical school of economics.[313] A leading member of the Austrian school, Friedrich Hayek, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1974, has stated as recently as October 1976, in terms reminiscent of Molinari, that

regional and local governments, limited by the same uniform laws with regard to the manner in which they could make their individual inhabitants contribute to their revenue, would develop into business-like corporations. They would compete with each other for citizens, who could "vote with their feet" for that corporation which offered the highest benefits compared with the price charged.[314]

Thus liberal anti-statism, seemingly an aberration in the develoment of laissez faire and liberal ideas, has in fact been an adjunct of mainstream liberalism from its origin in the seventeenth century to the present. It is a tradition of thought which many adherents have claimed to be a logical extension of the classical liberal notions of the right to property and the freedom to exchange on the market. The importance of Molinari's contribution to this tradition was to put forward, for the first time, a theory of how the market could replace the state's monopoly of police, law courts and defense. He therefore deserves attention from scholars interested in the development of classical liberal as well as anarchist thought in order to explain, firstly, the inter-connection between these two streams of thought and the rise of the modern nation-state, and, secondly, the continued interest expressed in these ideas in the present.



Les Soirees de la rue Saint-Lazare, "Eleventh Lecture"[315]

SUMMARY: On government and its function.[316] Monopoly governments and communist governments--On freedom of government. --On divine right.--The divine right is identical to the right to work.--Vices of monopoly government.--War is the inevitable consequence of this system. --On the sovereignty of the people. --How sovereignty is lost. --How it is recovered. --Liberal solution. --Communist solution. --Communist governments. --Their vices. --Centralization and decentralization. --On the administration of justice.--Its ancient organization. --Its present organization. --Deficiency of the jury system. --Advantages of free government. --What is meant by nationality.

Conservative (C): In your system of absolute property and full economic liberty, what is the function of government?

Economist (E). The function of government consists solely in assuring to each the preservation of his property.

Socialist (S): Good, it is the "night watchman's state" of J. B. Say. Now, I have a question to put to you: Today there are two kinds of governments in the world; one traces its origin back to a fictitious divine right.

C.: Fictitious! Fictitious! It is debatable!

S.: The others arise from the sovereignty of the people. What do you prefer?

E.: I wish neither one nor the other. The first are monopoly governments, the second are communist governments. I demand free governments in the name of the principle of property and in the name of the right that I possess to provide security myself or to buy it from whomever I please.

C.: What do you mean?

E.: I mean governments whose services I can accept or refuse according to my free will .

C.: Are you serious?

E.: You are going to see how serious. Isn't it true that you favor divine right?

C.: I admit I am somewhat inclined to it since we have lived in a republic.

E.: And so you imagine yourself to be an adversary of the right to work?

C.: If I imagine it? But I am sure of it. I swear...

E.: Don't swear because you are an avowed supporter of the right to work.

C.: Just one moment, I...

E.: You are a supporter of divine right. Now the principle of divine right is absolutely identical to the principle of the right to work. What is divine right? It is the right that certain families possess to govern the people. Who gives them this right? God himself. Just read the Considérations sur la France, and the pamphlet on the Principe générateur des Constitutions politiques of Joseph de Maistre. "Man cannot make himself sovereign," says M. de Maistre. "At most he can serve as an instrument to dispossess a sovereign and to hand over his dominions to another sovereign who is already a prince. However, there has never existed a sovereign family to which one can assign a plebeian origin. If this phenomenon occurred, it would herald a new era. ". . . It is said that: It is I who make sovereigns. This is not a saying of the Church, a metaphor of the preacher; it is the literal truth, pure and simple. It is a law of the political world. God makes kings, literally. He prepared the royal lines, he fosters them behind a cloud which obscures their origin. They then appear crowned with glory and honor, they then take their seats."[317] This means that God has invested certain families with the right to govern men, and that no one can deprive them of the exercise of this right. Now, if you recognize certain families as having the exclusive right to exercise this particular kind of industry called government, and if, moreover, you believe, along with the majority of divine right theorists, that the people have to give themselves up, as they have for centuries, as subjects or as a source ol income, like unemployment benefits paid to the members of these families, haven't you good grounds for rejecting the right to work? Between the improper claim of compelling society to provide workers with work which suits them or with sufficient compensation, and this other improper claim of compelling society to provide the workers of the royal families either with work appropriate to their power and dignity, namely the work of governing, or with a minimum income, what is the difference?

S.: In truth, there is none.

C.. Doesn't it matter if the recognition of divine right is indispensable for the preservation of society?

E.: Couldn't the socialists reply that the recognition of the right to work is no less necessary to the preservation of society? If you admit the right to work for some, shouldn't you admit it for all? Isn't the right to work nothing more than an extension of divine right? You say that the recognition of divine right is indispensable for the preservation of society. Then why do the people want to rid themselves of divine right monarchies? Why is it that the old monopoly governments are the ones ruined, the others on the verge of being ruined?

C.: The people are stricken with madness.

E.: That's a very widespread madness! But believe me, the people have goodreasons for ridding themselves of their old rulers. The monopoly of government is no better than any other. One does not govern well and, especially not cheaply, when one has no competition to fear, when the ruled are deprived of the right of freely choosing their rulers. Grant a grocer the exclusive right to supply a neighborhood, prevent the inhabitants of this neighborhood from buying any goods from other grocers in the vicinity, or even from supplying their own groceries, and you will see what detestable rubbish the privileged grocer will end up selling and at what prices! You will see how he will grow rich at the expense of the unfortunate consumers, what royal pomp tle will display for the greater glory of the neighborhood. Well! What is true for the lowliest services is no less true for the loftiest. The monopoly of government is worth no more than that of a grocer's shop. The production of security inevitably becomes costly and bad when it is organized as a monopoly. It is in the monopoly of security that lies the principal cause of wars which have laid waste humanity.

C.: How is that?

E.: What is the tendency of all producers, privileged or not? It is to increase the number of their clients in order to increase their profit. Now, under a monopoly regime, what means can the producers of security use to increase their clientele? The people are not considered under this regime and they form the legitimate domain of the Seigneur's[318] anointed. No one can invoke their will to acquire the right of governing them! The sovereigns are thus obliged to resort to the following processes to increase the number of their subjects : 1) to purchase kingdoms or provinces; 2) to marry heiresses who bring with them dominions as dowry or who are certain to inherit them later; 3) to conquer by force the domains of their neighbors. This is the first cause of war! On the other hand, sometimes when the people are revolting against their legitimate sovereigns, as recently happened in Italy and Hungary,[319] the Seigneur's anointed are forced to make these insubordinate cattle obey them once again. To achieve this end, they form a holy alliance and they inflict great carnage on their revolutionary subjects until they have pacified their rebellion. But if the rebels are in communication with other people, the latter join in the struggle and the conflagration becomes widespread. This is the second cause of war! I have no need to add that the consumers of security, the object of the war, also pay the expenses. Such are the advantages of monopoly governments.

S.: So you prefer governments which spring from the sovereignty of the people. You place democratic republics above monarchies and aristocracies. Well done!

E.: Let us make a distinction, I beg of you. I prefer governments which have arisen from the sovereignty of the people. But the republics that you call democratic are not the least in the world the true expression of the people's sovereignty. These governments are extended monopolies, communism. Now, the sovereignty of the people is incompatible with monopoly and communism.

S.: What then, in your eyes, is the sovereignty of the people?

E.: It is the right that all men possess to freely dispose of their person and goods and to govern themselves. If, like a master sovereign, man has the right to dispose of his person and goods, he also naturally has the right to defend them. He possesses the right to free defense. But can each person exercise this right separately? Can each person be his own gendarme and soldier? No! No more than the same man can be his own laborer, his own barber, his own tailor, his own grocer, his own doctor, his own priest. It is an economic law that man cannot profitably engage in several professions at the same time. Also one sees, from the beginning of societies, that all industries become specialized and different members of society turn to occupations suited to their natural aptitudes. They live by exchanging the products of their business for the many objects necessary for the satisfaction of their needs. Isolated man indisputably enjoys all his sovereignty. Only this sovereign, being forced to engage by himself in all the industries which provide the necessities of his life, finds himself in quite a miserable condition. When man lives in society, he can preserve his sovereignty or he can lose it. How can he lose his sovereignty? He loses it either totally or partially, directly or indirectly when he ceases to be able to dispose of his person and his goods. Man remains completely sovereign only under a regime of full liberty. All monopoly, all privilege, is an attack on his sovereignty. Under the ancien regime, where no one had the right to freely dispose of his person and goods, where no one had the right to freely engage in all industry, sovereignty is narrowly limited. Under the present regime, the attack on the free activity of individuals by a multitude of monopolies, privileges and restrictions has not ceased. Man has not yet fully recovered his sovereignty. How can he recover it? Two schools of thought exist, which give completely opposite solutions to this problem: the liberal school and the communist school. The liberal school says: Destroy monopolies and privilege, give man back his natural right to freely engage in all industry and he will fully enjoy his sovereignty . The communist school says, on the contrary: Beware of giving each person the right of freely producing everything. This would be oppression and anarchy! Give the right to the community, to the exclusion of individuals. Everyone shall be united to organize all industry in common. The state shall be the sole producer and the sole distributor of wealth. What is the basis of this doctrine? It is often said to be slavery, to be the absorption and annulment of the individual will in the general will, to be the destruction of individual sovereignty. In the first rank of industries organized en commun appear those which have as their object the production and defense of the property of persons and things from all aggression. How are the communities which engage in this industry, the nation and the commune, organized? The majority of nations have been successively put together by alliances of the owners of slaves or serfs and by their conquests. France, for example, is a product of alliances and conquests. By marriages, by force or deceit, the sovereigns of the Île de France successively extended their authority over the different parts of ancient Gaul. A single monopoly government succeeded twenty monopoly governments which occupied the present surface of France. The kings of Provence, the dukes of Aquitaine, Brittany, Burgundy, Lorraine, the counts of Flanders, etc., gave way to the king of France. The king of France was entrusted with looking after the internal and external defense of the State. However, he did not manage defense or internal police alone. Each Lord of the Manor originally policed his domain; each commune, freed from the force or the money payments of the Seigneur's onerous tutellage, policed its recognized region. Communes and Seigneurs contributed to the common defense to a certain degree . One could say that the King of France had the monopoly of general defense and that the lords of the manors and the bourgeoisie of the communes had that of local defense. In certain communes, the police were under the direction of an administration elected by tne city bourgeoisie, in the principal communes in Flanders, for example. Elsewhere, the police were formed into corporations like the bakers, butchers, cobblers, in other words, like all other industries. In England, this latter form of the production of security continued until our time. In the city of London, the police were, until recently, in the hands of a privileged corporation. And strangely, this corporation refused to cooperate with police of other areas, so much so that the City had become a veritable refuge for malefactors. This anomaly disappeared only in the period of Robert Peel's reform.[320] What did the French Revolution do? It divested the king of France of the monopoly of general defense, but it did not destroy this monopoly; it handed it back to the nation, organized hereafter as an immense commune. The small communes, into which the territory of the ancient Kingdom of France was divided, continued to exist: The number even increased considerably. The government of the large commune had the monopoly of general defense, the government of the small communes exercised, under the surveillance of the central power, the monopoly of local defense. But, it did not stop there. Other industries, notably education, religion, transportation, etc., were also organized by the general commune and by the individual communes, and many taxes were imposed on the citizens in order to cover the costs of those industries organized in common in this way. Later, the socialists, poor observers if ever they were, did not notice that these industries which were organized by the general commune or by the individual communes, were operated more dearly and not as well as those industries left free. They demanded the organization in common of all branches of production. They wanted the general commune and the individual communes not to restrict themselves to providing police, building schools and roads, paying for religion, opening libraries, subsidizing theaters, undertaking stud breeding, making tobacco, carpets, porcelain, etc., but to set about producing all things. The good sense of the public revolted against the false utopia, but it did not go any further. It well understood that it would be ruinous to produce every thing in common. It did not understand that it was ruinous to produce certain things in common. So it continued to practice partial communism while spurning the socialists who loudly called for complete communism. However, the conservatives, supporters of partial communism and adversaries of complete communism, are today divided on an important point. Some wish that partial communism continue to be practiced in the general communes; they defend centralization. The others demand, on the contrary, a larger share of powers for the small communes. They wish that the latter could engage in many industries, found schools, construct roads, build churches, subsidize theaters, etc., without needing the authorization of the central government. They demand decentralization. Experience has shown the vices of centralization. Experience has proven that industries engaged in by the large communes, by the State, supply products which are more expensive and worse than those of free industry. But is this to say that decentralization is better? Is it to say that it is more useful to emancipate the communes or, which comes to the same thing, to allow them to freely establish schools and welfare institutions, build theaters, subsidize religion, or even to freely engage in other industries? What do the communes need in order to cover the costs of the services which they undertake? They need capital. Where can they get this capital? From the pockets of individuals, nowhere else. They are compelled, therefore, to levy different taxes on the inhabitants of the commune. These taxes today generally consist in additional amounts added to the taxes paid to the State. However, certain communes have also obtained authorization to establish a small customs duty around their borders, under the name of town dues (octroi). This customs duty, which injures the majority of the remaining free industries, naturally considerably increases the resources of the commune. Also the authorizations to establish a town duty are often asked of the central government. The latter does not agree to them and, in doing that, it acts wisely; in return, it quite often allows the communes to impose extra ordinary taxes, in other words, it allows the majority of commune administrators to establish an extraordinary tax that all who are governed are forced to pay. Let the communes be emancipated, let the majority of inhabitants in each locality have the right to establish as many industries as it wishes and force the minority to contribute to the expenses of these industries which are organized in common, let the majority be authorized to freely establish all kinds of local taxes and you will very quickly see established in France as many different and separate States as there are communes. Successively, you will see spring up 44,000 [i.e., innumerable] internal customs under the name of town duties, in order to meet local taxes; you will see, when all is said and done, the reconstruction of the middle ages. Under this regime, the freedom to work and exchange will be harmed by the monopolies that the communes will confer on certain branches of production and, by the taxes that they will levy on other branches, to support the industries carried on in common. The property of all will be at the mercy of the majorities. In the communes where socialist opinion predominates, I ask you, what will become of property? The majority will not only levy taxes to cover the expenses of the police, public roads, religion, welfare institutions, schools, etc., but it will also levy them to establish common workshops, common shops, common banks, etc. Will the non-socialist minority be forced to pay these local taxes? Under such a regime, what then becomes of the sovereignty of the people? Doesn't it disappear under the tyranny of the greatest number? More directly still than centralization, decentralization leads to complete communism, that is to say, to the complete destruction of sovereignty. What then is necessary to restore this sovereignty that monopoly has stolen from mankind in the past; and that communism, this extended monopoly, threatens to take away from them in the future? Quite simply, it is necessary to make free the different industries which have hitherto been monopolized, and presently exercised in common. It is necessary to leave to the free activity of individuals the industries which are still performed or regulated by the State or by the commune. When man possesses the right to freely apply his talents in all kinds of work, as he did before the establishment of societies, without any fetter or tax, then he will again fully enjoy his sovereignty.

C.: You have surveyed the different industries which are still monopolized, privileged or regulated, and you have proved to us, more or less successfully, that the industries ought to be left free for the common good. So be it ! I do not wish to return to an exhausted topic. But is it possible to take away from the State and the communes the responsibility of general and local defense?

S.: And therefore the administration of justice?

C.: Yes, and the administration of justice. Is it possible that these industries, to use your own word, could be supplied other than in common, by the nation and the commune?

E.: I would perhaps make little of these two communisms if you would quite freely consent to give up all the others; if you would force the State to be from now on only a gendarme, a soldier and a judge. However, no! . . . because the communism of security is the keystone of the old edifice of servitude. Besides, I see no reason to grant you that one rather than the others. In fact, there are two choices: Either communism is better than liberty and, in this case, all industries should be organized in common, by the State or by the commune. Or liberty is preferable to communism and, in this case, all industry still organized in common should be made free, and indeed justice, police, as well as education, religion, transportation, the making of tobacco, etc.

S.: That is logical.

C.. But is it possible?

E.. Let's see! What about justice? Under the ancien regime, the administration of justice was not organized and paid for in common, it was organized as a monopoly and paid for by those who made use of it. For several centuries, there was no industry more independent. It formed a privileged corporation, like all the other branches of tangible or intangible production. The members of this corporation could bequeath their office or mastership to their children or even sell it. Enjoying these offices in perpetuity, the judges became known for their independence and integrity. Unfortunately, this regime had, on the other hand, all the vices inherent in monopoly. Monopolized justice is dearly paid for.

S.: And God knows how many complaints and objections the judges' fees stirred up. Witness these small verses which were scrawled on the door of the Palais de Justice after a fire:

One fine day Lady Justice put the Palais completely to the flames for having eaten too many spices.[321]

Shouldn't justice be essentially free? Now, wouldn't gratuitous fees lead to organization in common?

E.: They complained that justice ate too many spices. They did not complain that it ate them. If justice had not been monopolized; if consequently, the judges had been able to demand only the legitimate remuneration of their industry, they would not have complained of the judges' fees. In certain countries, where those under the jurisdiction of a court had the right to choose their judges, the vices of monopoly were particularly weakened. Competition, which was then established among the different courts, improved justice and made it cheaper. Adam Smith attributes the progress in the administration of justice in England to this cause. The passage is rather interesting and I hope that it will remove your doubts:

The fees of court seem originally to have been the principal support of the different courts of justice in England. Each court endeavoured to draw to itself as much business as it could, and was, upon that account, willing to take cognisance of many suits which were not originally intended to fall under its jurisdiction. The court of king's bench, instituted for the trial of criminal causes only, took cognisance of civil suits; the plaintiff pretending that the defendant, in not doing him justice, had been guilty of some trespass or misdemeanour. The court of exchequer, instituted for the levying of the king's revenue, and for enforcing the payment of such debts only as were due to the king, took cognisance of all other contract debts; the plaintiff alleging that he could not pay the king because the defendant would not pay him. In consequence of such fictions it came, in many cases, to depend altogether upon the parties before what court they would choose to have their cause tried; and each court endeavoured, by superior dispatch and impartiality, to draw to itself as many cases as it could. The present admirable constitution of the courts of justice in England was, perhaps, originally in a great measure formed by this emulation which anciently took place between their respective judges; each judge endeavouring to give, in his own court, the speediest and mos effectual remedy which the law would admit for every sort of injustice.

S.: But, once again, aren't gratuitous fees preferable?

E.: Don't tell me that you have returned again to the illusion of gratuitous fees. Do I have to prove to you that free justice is more expensive than the other kind of justice, in order to subsidize the free courts and pay the salaries of the free judges out of the sum total of taxes levied? Do I need to show you again that free justice is necessarily iniquitous, because everybody does not equally make use of justice, everyone does not equally have a litiginous spirit? As for the rest, justice is far from being free under the present regime, don't forget. Law suits are ruinous. However, can we complain of the present administra tion of justice? Isn't the organization of our courts irreprochable?

S.: Oh! Oh! Irreprochable? An Englishman whom I accompanied one day to the jury court, left the hearing quite indignant. He could not conceive how a civilized people could permit an agent of the king or of the republic indulge in rhetoric while giving a death sentence. This eloquence, supplier to the hang man, horrified him. In England, one is satisfied to expose the prosecution; one does not prejudice it.

E.: Add to that the proverbial slowness of our courts of justice, the suffering of the unfortunates who await their judgment for months and sometimes for years while the preliminary proceedings could be completed in a few days; the costs and enormous delays cause, and you will be convinced that the administration of justice has not progressed at all in France.

S.: However, let us not exaggerate anything. Today, thank God, we possess the jury system.

E.: Indeed, we are not satisfied in forcing taxpayers to pay the costs of justice, we also force them to perform the functions of judges. This is pure communism: ab uno disce omnes. [322] As far as I am concerned, I don't think that the jury is better at judging than the national guard (another communist system!) in order to make war.

S.: Why not?

E.: Because one can do well only one's profession, one's specialty, and the profession, the specialty of a jury is not that of a judge.

C.: Also it merely has to state the offense and to assess the circumstances in which the offense was committed.

E.: That is to perform the most difficult, the most troublesome function of the judge. It is this very delicate function that requires a judgment so sound, so trained, a spirit so calm, so cool, so impartial, that is left to the hazards of the lottery. It is just as if one drew lots for the names of the citizens who would be entrusted each year, to make boots or to write tragedies for the community.

C.. The comparison is forced.

E.. It is more difficult, in my opinion, to make a good judgment than to make a good pair of boots or to properly write a few lines of Alexandrines.[323] A perfectly judicious and impartial judge is rarer than a clever cobbler or a poet capable of writing for the Théâtre-Français. In criminal trials, the unfitness of the jury is shown up every day. But one, alas, only gives indifferent attention to the errors committed in the jury courts. What can I say? One almost regards it as an offense to criticize a judgment which has been delivered. In political trials, isn't the jury accustomed to pronouncing according to the color of its opinion, white or red, rather than according to justice? Any man who is condemned by a white jury wouldn't he be absolved by a red jury, and vice versa?

S.: Alas!

E.: Already minorities are very tired of being judged by juries belonging to the majority. You can guess what happens... What about industry which provides internal and external defense? Do you think that it would be much better than that of justice? Don't our police and especially our army cost us very dearly for the actual service they give us? Finally, is there any disadvantage to this public defense industry being in the hands of a majority? Let us examine it. In a system where the majority establishes the assessment of taxes and directs the use of public funds, mustn't the tax weigh more or less heavily on certain sections of society, according to the predominant influences? Under monarchy, when the majority was purely imaginary, when the upper class assumed the right of governing the country to the exclusion of the rest of the nation, didn't the tax weigh principally on the consumption of the lower classes, on salt, wines, meat, etc.? Without doubt, the bourgeoisie paid its share of taxes, but the sphere of its consumption being infinitely larger than that of the lower class, much less of its revenue was seized. As the lower class becomes aware of this, it will acquire more influence in the State and you will see an opposite tendency produced. You will see progressive taxes, which are today turned against the lower class, turned against the upper class. The latter will without doubt resist this new tendency with all its might; it will cry out against spoliation and theft; but if the communal institution of universal suffrage is main tained, if the vicissitudes of violence do not return, once again, the government of society into the hands of the rich classes to the exclusion of the poor classes, the will of the majority will prevail and progressive taxes will be established. A part of the property of the rich will then be confiscated to lighten the burden of the poor, just as a part of the property of the poor has, for a long time, been confiscated to lighten the burden of the rich. But there is still worse to come. Not only can the majority of a communal government establish, as it wishes, the assessment of taxes, but it can, in addition, put this tax to whatever use it judges suitable, without taking the will of the minority into account. In certain countries, the government of the majority uses part of public funds to protect property which is essentially illegitimate and immoral. In the United States, for example, the government guarantees Southern planters their property in slaves. However, there are, in the United States, abolitionists who rightly consider slavery as theft. No matter! the communal mechanism forces them to contribute their money to the maintenance of this kind of theft. If one day the slaves attempt to free themselves from this iniquitous yoke, the abolitonists will be forced to go to the defense of the planters, arms in hand. This is the law of majorities! Elsewhere, it happens that the majority, driven by political intrigues or by religious fanaticism, declares war on a foreign people. Although the minority is horrified at this war and curses it, it is forced to contribute its own blood and money. Again, this is the law of the majorities! So what happens? The majority and the minority are perpetually at war and that war sometimes descends to the parliamentary arena in the street. Today, it is the red minority which is rising up in rebellion. If this minority becomes the majority, and if, by using its rights as a majority, it altered the constitution as it saw fit, if it decreed progressive taxes, compulsory loans, and paper money, what assurance do you have that the white minority would not rise up in rebeltion tomorrow? There is no lasting security in this system. And do you know why? Because it threatens property directly; because it puts at the mercy of a minority, blind or enlightened, moral or immoral, the person and goods of everyone. If the communal regime, instead of being adapted to a multitude of aims, as in France, was narrowly restricted as in the United States, the causes for dissent being less numerous, the disadvantages of this system would be less. However, they would not disappear entirely. In certain circumstances, the acknowledged right of the greatest number of tyrannize the will of the smallest number would still generate a civil war.

C: But, once again, it is inconceivable how the industry that provides the security of person and property could be organized if it were made free. Your logic leads you to dreams worthy of Charenton.[324]

E.: Let's see! don't get angry. I suppose that after having just found out that the partial communism of the State and commune is positively wrong, you would leave free all branches of production except for justice and public defense. So far, there is no objection. But a radical economist, a dreamer, comes and says: Why then, after having freed the different uses of property, won't you also free that which insures the preservation of property? Won't these industries, like the others, be exercised more equitably and more usefully if they are made free? You claim that this is impracticable. Why? On the one hand, aren't there, in the heart of society, men who are specially qualified to judge the disputes which arise among property owners, and to assess the crimes against property, and others who can defend the property of persons and things from the aggression of violence and deceit? Aren't there men whose natural aptitudes make them specially suited to be judges, gendarmes and soldiers? On the other hand, don't all property owners without exception have need of security and justice? Aren't they all prepared, therefore, to impose sacrifices on themselves in order to satisfy this urgent need, especially if they are unable to satisfy it themselves or if they can't do it without a greater expenditure of time and money? Now, if there are, on the one hand, men able to provide a need of society, and on the other hand, men prepared to suffer sacrifices in order to satisfy this need, isn't it enough to leave each one of them alone so that the goods demanded, tangible or intangible, are produced and that the need is satisfied? Doesn't this economic phenomenon happen irresistibly, fatally, like the physical phenomenon of the fall of bodies? Am I then not justified in saying that, if a society gives up the provision of public security, then this particular industry would nevertheless be provided? Am I not justified in adding that it would be better under the regime of liberty that it was under the regime of the community?

C.. In what way?

E.: That is of no concern to economists. Political economy can say: if such a need exists, it will be satisfied, and it will be better under a regime of total liberty than under all others. This rule has no exception! but how this industry will be organized, is a technical matter about which political economy cannot speak. Thus I can maintain that if the need to be fed is manifest in the heart of society, this need will be satisfied, and that the freer each person is to produce food or buy it from whoever he wishes, the better it will be. I can maintain further that things would happen in exactly the same way if, instead of food, it was a matter of security. Therefore, I claim that if a community gave notice that after a certain interval, a year for example, it would cease the payment of judges, soldiers and gendarmes, at the end of the year this community would not have fewer courts and governments ready to function. And I add that if, under this new regime, each person retained the right to freely engage in these two industries and to freely buy these services, security would be produced most economically and would be the best possible.

C.: I always reply that it is inconceivable.

E.: In the period when the established regime held industry prisoner in the confines of the communes, and when each corporation was the exclusive ruler of the communal market, it was said that society was threatened each time an audacious innovator tried to challenge this monopoly. If someone had come and said then that instead of the weak and wretched industries of the corporations, liberty would one day set up immense factories supplying products less dearly and more perfectly, this dreamer would have been treated in la belle manière. The conservatives of the time would have sworn by the gods that this was inconceivable.

S.: But let's see! How can one imagine that each individual has the right to govern himself or to choose his government, or even to not choose it.... What would happen in France if, after having made all other industries free, French citizens announced with one voice that they would cease supporting the government of the community at the end of a year?

E.: In this respect, I can only conjecture. However, this is pretty nearly how things would happen. Since the need for security is still very strong in our society, it would be profitable to found government enterprises. One would be assured of covering costs. How would these enterprises be founded? Separate individuals would not be able to do it any more than they can construct railroads, docks, etc. Vast companies would thus be established to produce security; they would procure the material and the workers that they would need. As soon as they were ready to function, these property insurance companies would call for clients. Each person would contract with the company which inspired in him the greatest confidence and whose conditions appeared the most favorable.

C.: We would line up to subscribe. We would surely line up!

E.: Since this industry is free, one would see established as many companies as could be usefully formed. If there were too few, if, consequently, the price of security was raised, it would be profitable to form new ones; if there were too many, the excessive companies would not be long in being dissolved. In this way, the price of security would always be reduced to the level of the costs of production.

C.: How would these free companies cooperate to provide general security?

E.: They would cooperate just as the monopoly and communist governments cooperate today, because it would be in their interest to cooperate. Indeed, the more they established common facilities for the capture of thieves and assassins, the more they would lower their costs. By the very nature of their industry, the property insurance companies would not be able to overstep certain limits: they would make a loss supplying police in places where they would only have a small clientele. Nevertheless, within their limits they could neither oppress or exploit their clients, on pain of seeing competitors instantly spring up.

S.: And if the existing company wanted to prevent competition from being established?

E.: In short, if it attacked the property of its competitors and the sovereignty of everyone. .. Well then, all those whose property and independence would be threatened by the monopolists, would rise up and punish them.

S.: And if all the companies cooperated in establishing monopolies. If they formed a holy alliance to force themselves upon the people, and so strengthened by this coalition, they exploited the unfortunate consumers of security without mercy, if, by heavy taxes, they took for themselves the better part of the fruits of the people's labor?

E.: If, when all is said and done, they began to do what the old aristocracies have done until the present... well then, the people would follow the advice of Béranger: "People, form a Holy Alliance and help each other." This time, they would be united, and since they have the means of communication that their ancestors did not have, and since they are a hundred times more numerous than their old rulers, the holy alliance of the aristocracies would soon be destroyed. I swear that no one would be tempted to establish a monopoly any longer.

C.: Under this regime, how would a foreign invasion be repelled?

E.:[325] What would the companies' interest be? It would be to drive back the invaders because they would be the first victims of invasion. They would therefore cooperate in repelling them and would ask their clients for a supplementary premium to protect them from this new danger. If those insured preferred to run the risks of invasion, they would refuse to pay this supplementary premium; otherwise they would pay it, and thus they would enable the companies to ward off the danger of the invasion. But just as war is inevitable under a regime of monopoly, peace is inevitable under a regime of free government. Under this regime, governments can win nothing by war, they can, on the contrary, lose everything. What interest would they have in undertaking a war? Would it be to increase the number of their clientele? But since the consumers of security are free to govern themselves as they wish, they would get away from the conquerors. If the latter wanted to impose their rule on them, after having destroyed the existing government, the oppressed would immediately call for the help of all people.... The wars of company against company, moreover, would occur only as long as the shareholders wished to advance the costs. As war is now no longer able to bring anyone an increase in clientele since the consumers would no longer allow themselves to be conquered, the costs of war would obviously no longer be covered. Then who would want to advance them?

C.: What conditions would a property insurance company impose on its clients?

E.: These conditions would be of several kinds. In order to be in a position to guarantee full security of person and property to those insured, it would be necessary:

  • That the insurance companies establish certain penalties against offenders of person and property; that those insured agree to submit to these penalties in the event that they themselves commit crimes against person or property.
  • That they impose on those insured certain restrictions with the aim of facilitating the detection of the perpetrators of the crime.
  • That, in order to cover their costs, they regularly charge a certain premium which will vary according to the situation of those insured, their particular occupation, the extent, nature and value of the property to be protected.

If these stipulated conditions were agreeable to the consumers of security, the contract would be concluded; otherwise the consumers would turn to other companies or provide their own security. Follow this hypothesis in all its details and you will be convinced, I think, of the possibility of transforming monopoly or communist governments into free governments .

C.: I still see a great many difficulties. Who would pay the debt?

E.: Don't you think that by selling all property which is today held in common, roads, canals, rivers, forests, buildings used by all the commune administrations, equipment from all the public services, we could easily manage to repay the capital of the debt? This capital does not exceed six billion. The value of common property in France surely is much more than that.

S.: Wouldn't this system mean the destruction of all nationality? If several property insurance companies were established in a country, wouldn't National Unity be destroyed?

E.: In the first place, National Unity would have to exist before it could be destroyed. Now, I cannot see a national unity in these shapeless agglomerations of people that violence has shaped and that most frequently violence alone maintains. It is wrong then to confuse these two things which are naturally quite distinct: the nation and the government. A nation is one when the individuals which comprise it have the same mores, the same language, the same civilization; when they form a distinct and original variety of the human race. Whether this nation has two governments or whether it has only one does not matter very much. Unless each government surrounds the areas under its domination with an artificial barrier and engages in incessant hostilities with its neighbors. In this latter eventuality, the instinct of nationality will react against this barbaric dismembering and this artificial antagonism imposed on the same people, and the disunited parts of this people will be irnmediately drawn back together. Until the present time, governments have divided the people in order to more easily keep them obedient; divide in order to rule, this has been the fundamental maxim of their policy in all ages. Men of the same race, to whom the community of language gives an easy means of communication, have energetically reacted against the practice of this maxim; in all ages, they have tried to destroy the artificial barriers which separate them. Finally, when they have succeeded, they have wanted a single government so that they will not be disunited again. But note well that they have never asked this government to separate them from other people.... The instinct of nationalities is thus not selfish, as has so often been claimed; on the contrary, it is essentially sympathetic. If the diversity of governments stops causing the separation, the dismembering of peoples, you will see the same nationality willingly accept several of them. A single government is no more necessary to establish the unity of a people than a single bank, a single educational institution, a single religion, a single grocer's store, etc.

S.: Truly, that is quite a strange solution to the problem of government.

E.: It is the only solution which conforms to the nature of things.


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[1]This article first appeared as an Honours thesis presented as part of an Honours degree at Macquarie University in 1979. It was subsequently published in three parts in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 5, nos. 3 and 4 and Vol. 6, no. 1. Thanks are extended above all to Leonard Liggio, then at the Institute for Humane Studies, Menlo Park; Murray Rothbard, editor of the JLS; and Mark Weinburg, Senior Research Associate, H. C. Wainwright & Co., Economics, for his assistance in the translation of quoted passages from their original French. The author would also like to thank the Cato Institute for a grant which enabled him to research this essay.

[2]Richard Overton, "An Arrow Against All Tyrants and Tyranny, Shot from the Prison of Newgate into the Prerogative Bowels of the Arbitrary House of Lords, and all other Usurpers and Tyrants Whatsoever," in G. E. Aylmer, ed., The Levellers in the English Revolution (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1975), pp. 68-69. See also C. B. MacPherson, "The Levellers: Franchise and Freedom," The Political Theory of Progressive Individualism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), pp. 107-59.

[3]Burke wrote: "the cause of artificial society is more defenceless even than that of artificial religion .... the design [of this work] was to show that, without the exertion of any considerable forces, the same engines which were employed for the destruction of religion might be employed with equal success for the subversion of government.... If you say that natural religion is a sufficient guide without the foreign aid or revelation, on what principle should political laws become necessary? Is not the same reason available in theology and in politics? If the laws of nature are the laws of God, is it consistent with the divine wisdom to prescribe rules to us, and leave the enforcement of them to the folly of human institutions? Will you follow truth but to a certain point?" (Edmund Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society: Or a View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind from every Species of Artificial Society. In a Letter to Lord--by a late Nobel Writer, in The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke [1756; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1906-1907], 1:53, 4, 53).

[4]For the view that Burkés Vindication of Natural Society was not written as a satire, as is commonly believed, see Murray N. Rothbard, "A Note on Burke's Vindication of Natural Society, " Journal of the History of Ideas (1958), pp. 114-18; Elie Halevy, The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism (London: Faber and Faber, 1952); and Isaac Kramnick, "Vindicating Burke's Vindication," The Rage of Edmund Burke: Portrait of an Ambivalent Conservative (New York: Basic Books, 1977), pp. 88-93. The internal evidence suggests that Burke did not believe that he was able to state his real opinions openly because of the dangers faced by radical political theorists and other dissenting authors. "I have defended natural religion against a confederacy of atheists and divines. I now plead for natural society against politicians, and for natural reason against all three. When the world is in a fitter temper than it is at present to hear truth, or when I shall be more indifferent about its temper, my thoughts may become more public. In the meantime, let them repose in my own bosom, and in the bosoms of such men as are fit to be initiated in the sober mysteries of truth and reason.... A man is allowed sufficient freedom of thought, provided he knows how to choose his subject properly. You may criticize freely upon the Chinese constitution, and observe with as much severity as you please upon the absurd tricks or destructive bigotry of the bonzees. But the scene is changed as you come home ward, and atheism or treason may be the names given in Britain to what would be reason and truth if asserted of China" (Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society, pp. 37, 40-41).

[5]Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society, p. 9. Political society he defined as "the usurpation of man" (ibid., p. 46).

[6]Ibid., p. 16.

[7]"I charge the whole of these effects on political society....political society is justly chargeable with much the greatest part of this destruction of the species.... I still insist in charging it to political regulations that these broils are so frequent, so cruel, and attended with consequences so deplorable" (ibid., pp. 20-21).

[8]Ibid., pp. 35, 37.

[9]Ibid., p. 37.

[10]See the discussion of Molinari's "Production of Security" in Part II of the present essay, in the Journal of Libertarian Studies , 5, no. 4, forthcoming.

[11]Burke, A Vindication of Natural Society, p. 37.

[12]Burke writes: "the greatest part of the governments on earth must be concluded tyrannies, impostures, violations of the natural rights of mankind, and worse than the most disorderly anarchies" (ibid., p. 28).

[13]"They appointed governors over them for this reason (to defend themselves)! but a worse and more perplexing difficulty arises, how to be defended against the governors? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (ibid., p. 37).

[14]Ibid., p. 47.

[15]"I am at full liberty to defend myself, or make reprisal by surprise or by cunning, or by any other way in which I may be superior to him" (ibid., p. 46).

[16]"Anarchy" and "anarchic" are used in this paper in the sense of chaos, disorder and law lessness. "Anarchism" or "anarchist," on the other hand, are used in the sense of a political theory which advocates the maximum amount of individual liberty, a necessary condition of which is the elimination of governmental or other organized force. The kind of anarchism developed by Molinari and others is not lawless or chaotic but depends on the observance of natural law and the market for the establishment of a just and peaceful economic order.

[17]"I ought to appropriate such part of the fruits of the earth as by any accident comes into my possession, and is not necessary to my benefit, to the use of others; but they must obtain it from me by argument and expostulation, not by violence. It is in this principle that what is commonly called the right of property is founded. Whatever then comes into my possession, without violence to any other man, or to the institutions of society, is my property" (William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Poliical Justice and Its Influence on Modern Morals and Happiness, ed. Isaac Kramnick [Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1976], p. 199).

[18]Godwin's footnote acknowledging his debt to Burke is in ibid., p. 88. See also F. E. L. Priestley's edition of Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969), 3:39, 117, 125-26. Remaining references in this essay, however, are to the Kramnick edition.

[19]Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, p. 408.

[20]Ibid., p. 554.

[21]Ibid., p. 553.

[22]"It might then be sufficient for juries to recommend a certain mode of adjusting controversies, without assuming the prerogative of dictating that adjustment. It might then be sufficient for them to invite offenders to forsake their errors. If their expostulations proved, in a few instances, ineffectual, the evils arising out of this circumstance would be of less importance than those which proceed from the perpetual violation of the exercise of private judgement. But, in reality, no evils would arise: for, where the empire of reason was so universally acknowledged, the offender would either readily yield to the expostulations of authority; or, if he resisted, though suffering no personal molestation, he would feel so uneasy, under the equivocal disapprobation, and observant eye, of public judgement, as willingly to remove to a society more congenial to his errors" (ibid., pp. 553-54). On juries and the division of society into "parishes," exercising this function of social control by "banishment," see ibid., pp. 545-46.

[23]George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (New York: Meridian, 1971), p. 92.

[24]Leonard P. Liggio, "Charles Dunoyer and French Classical Liberalism," Journal of Libertarian Studies 1, no. 3 (Summer 1977): 173. See also Elizabeth W. Schermerhorn, Benjamin Constant: His private life and his contribution to the cause of liberal government in France, 1767-1830 (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1924), pp. 179, 188.

[25]Benjamin Constant, Écrits et Discours politiques, ed. O. Pozzo di Borgo (Paris: Chez Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1964), 1:234-35; and idem, "De Godwin et de son ouvrage sur la justice politique," Recueil d'Articles: Le Mercure et la Renommée, ed. Ephraim Harpaz (Geneva: Droz, 1972), 1:214-26.

[26]A short biographical sketch of Godwin was done for the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (ed. Coquelin and Guillaumin, 2 vols. [Paris: Guillaumin, 1852], 1:933), by Joseph Garnier, a friend and colleague of Molinari, which suggests the ideas of Godwin were known to the économistes.

[27]Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1933), vol. 1, bk. 4, chap. 2, p. 400.

[28]Adam Ferguson explained "spontaneous order" as "the result of human actions but not of human design," as quoted in F. A. Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty, 3 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973-79), 1:20.

[29]Smith, Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, bk. 4, chap. 9, p. 180.

[30]"I will say that we can violate a man's property rights not only by seizing the products of his lands, capital and industry, but also by hindering him in the free use of these means of production. For the right to property as it is defined by the jurisconsults is the right to use, and even to abuse" (Jean-Baptiste Say, Traité d'économie politique, vol. 9, Collections des Principaux Économistes, ed. Horace Say (1841; reprint ed., Onsbruck: Otto Zeller, 1966), p. 134.

[31]J.-B. Say describes slavery as that "which thus violates the most indisputable of properties" (ibid., p. 13). On conscription: "It is the most scandalous violation of property and of all natural rights" (Cours d'économie politique, vols. 10 and 11, Collections des Principaux Économistes, 11 :64).

[32]"Taxes, even when authorized by the public, are a violation of property ... a theft" (J .-B. Say, Traité d'économie politique, p. 136).

[33]J.-B. Say, Cours d'économie politique, 11:514.

[34]J.-B. Say: "force never constitutes a right, even when it commands obedience" (ibid., 11 :273).

[35]Ibid., 10:555.

[36]J.-B. Say, Traité d'économie politique, p. 198.

[37]Ibid., p. 135.

[38]"Under free competition, the better an industrious man defends his own interests, the better he serves the national wealth. The meddling interference of authority cannot comprehend these interests any better than the individual. Each regulation is fatal, because it can never take the place of the intelligence of producers and it hinders their actions, the principal means of their successes" (J.-B. Say, Cours d'économie politique, 10:555). For a modern statement of this argument, see Hayek, "Economics and Knowledge," Individualism and Economic Order (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1972).

[39]J.-B. Say, Cours d'économie politique, 11 :62. "We see that it is not impossible to introduce into public service the principle of free competition from which we have reaped such happy consequences in productive activities" (ibid. 11:227).

[40]J.-B. Say, Traité d'économie politique, p. 222. The quote is from Smith, Wealth of Nations, vol. 2, bk. 4, chap. 7, p. 206ff., and can be found in the appendix to this essay, Journal of Libertarian Studies 6, no. l, forthcoming.

[41]"If equity commands that consumption be paid for by those who have enjoyed it, then in this respect the best administered countries are those where each class supports the cost of public expenses to the extent that they have benefited from them" (J.-B Say, Traité d'économie politique, p. 501).

[42]"The price of goods based upon a monopoly is, by virtue of this privilege, higher than its cost of production and is to that extent an assault upon the property of the buyer. A tax which is raised higher than the cost necessary to procure the taxpayer the security he desires is likewise an assault upon the property of the taxpayer" (J.-B. Say, Cours d'économie politique, l l: 389).

[43]"Smith wished to have civil suits paid for by the parties involved. This idea would be even more practical if judgments were made not by officially chosen tribunals but by arbiters chosen by the parties from among those men singled out by public confidence. If these arbiters, acting as a jury of equity, were paid in proportion to the sum in dispute without regard to the length of the proceeding, they would be motivated to simplify and shorten the procedure in order to save their own time and to judge fairly in order to assure their continued employment" (J . -B . Say, Traité d'économie politique, pp. 501 -502). "Arbiters would be paid by the parties, or perhaps by the losing party only, according to the importance of the interests in question not of the length of the trial. The parties would or would not employ the services of lawyers and advocates as they pleased.... Thus, the honorarium of the judge would be composed: (l) of a fixed sum for each province, a very moderate sum paid simply to have a man keep himself at the disposition of the public, (2) an ad hoc premium when he is called to be an arbiter, and (3) an honorarium proportional to the value in dispute, payable after judgment" (J.-B. Say, Cours d'économie politique, l l :267-77).

[44]Ibid., 11 :276.

[45]Albert Schatz, L'Individualisme économique et sociale: Ses origines, son évolution, ses formes contemporaines (Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1907), p. 197.

[46]"In a well ordered state, the government ought to be nothing more than an aid to production, a commission charged and paid for by producers to look after the safety of their persons and property while they work and to guard them against all parasites" (Charles Dunoyer, Censeur européen, 2: 102; quoted in Edgar Allix, "La Deformation de l'economie politique liberale apres J.-B. Say: Charles Dunoyer," Revue d'histoire des doctrines économiques et sociales [1911], p. 118). Schatz observed of Dunoyer's ideas: "In this view, the functions of government would require only a small number of agents. The mass of workers would remain available to increase the sum of social utilities other than security. It is appropriate therefore to reduce the number of both public functions and public functionaries, employing the only effective means which is the reduction of their profits or salaries. The title of the Company charged with the public safety is of little importance, be it monarchy or republic, provided that it costs little and does not interfere, and that it progressively realizes the ideal of a society so perfectly educated that the government might disappear altogether leaving the people to the full enjoyment of their time, their income and their liberty" (Schatz, L'Individualisme, pp. 210-11). Molinari was to show in Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849) that there was no need to assume that society or individuals would become progressively more educated before society could do without government monopoly security.

[47]Dunoyer, Censeur européen, 2: 102, quoted in Allix, "La Deformation de l'economie poli tique, p. 119.

[48]Ibid., 7:92, quoted in Allix, "La Deformation de l'economie politique," p. 119.

[49]Thierry, Censeur européen, 8:230, 241, quoted in Mark Weinburg, "The Social Analysis of Three Early 19th Century French liberals: Say, Comte, and Dunoyer," Journal of Libertarian Studies 2, no. I (Winter 1978): 54.

[50]Charles Comte, Traité de legislation, 1:448, quoted in Weinburg, "The Social Analysis," p. 57.

[51]Dunoyer, Oeuvres de Charles Dunoyer (Paris: Guillaumin, 1886), 1 :297, quoted in Allix, "La Deformation de l'economie politique," p. 131.

[52]Dunoyer, L'lndustrie ef la morale, considerées dans leurs rapports avec la liberté (Paris: A. Sautelet, 1825), pp. 366-67.

[53]J. L. Talmon, Political Messianism, The Romantic Phase (London: Secker & Warburg, 1960), pp. 48-50, quoted in Liggio, "Charles Dunoyer and French Classical Liberalism," p. 171.

[54]"Dunoyer," Supplement du Nouveau Dictionnaire de l'économie politique de M. Leon Say et Joseph Chailley-Bert (Paris: Guillaumin, 1897), pp. 142-44; Obituary of Dunoyer, Journal des Économistes, 2nd ser. 36 (October-December 1862): 442. Gustave de Molinari wrote the biographical study of Charles Comte for the Dictionnaire, I :446-47.

[55]Molinari, Cours d'économie politique, 2nd ed. rev. and enl., 2 vols. (1855; Paris, Guillaumin, 1863), 1: 186.

[56]See Part III of the present essay, in Journal of Libertarian Studies 6, no. I, forthcoming.

[57]Molinari, L'Évolution politique et la révolution (Paris: C. Reinwald, 1884), p. 394.

[58]Yves Guyot, "Obituary--Gustave de Molinari," The Economic Journal (March 1912), p. 155

[59]See Émile Levasseur's address to the "Quarantième anniversaire de la fondation de la Société d'Économie politique," Journal des Économistes, 4th ser. 20 (1882), p. 297.

[60]Molinari, "L'avenir des chemins de fer" (1843), first published in La Nation, then in La Gazette de France.

[61]This was the first of Molinari's books to be published by the great liberal publisher Guillaumin, who was to publish many of his later works and under whose impress appeared a large number of important and influential liberal works throughout the nineteenth century.

[62]See Laurence S. Moss, "Private Property Anarchism: An American Variant," in Further Explorations in the Theory of Anarchism (Blacksburg, Va.: University Publications, 1974).

[63]Molinari, "Notice sur la vie et les écrits de Charles Coquelin," Journal des Économistes 33 (1852):245.

[64]"It is not surprising that the members of the free-trade association did not succeed in exciting the masses in favor of tariff reform. They had the misfortune of being forestalled among the working classes by the socialists, while arrayed against them among the upper classes was the tenacious league of privileged interests. Faced with this alliance of socialism from below and protectionism from above, their propaganda, if not utterly paralyzed, was at least rendered singularly difficult" (Molinari, "Liberte des Echanges [Association pour la]," Dictionnaire, 2:48.

[65]Molinari, "Notice sur la vie et les travaux de Frédéric Bastist," Journal des Économistes 28 (1851): 23.

[66]Molinari, "Charles Coquelin," pp. 202, 247.

[67]See Dean Russell, "Bastiat as Legislator," Fredéric Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Irvington, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 1969). "The free trade movement as such had ceased to exist in France when Bastiat began his legislative career..." (ibid., p. 106).

[68]See "Quatrième anniversaire," Journal des Économistes 37 (1853): 299.

[69]Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was elected President on December 10, 1848, and the criticism of the free-trade liberals may not have been felt as acutely as in April.

[70]Molinari, Review of the Dictionnaire d'économie politique, Journal des Économistes 37 (1853): 420. Also see Leon Say's and Emile Lavasseur's address in "Quatrième anniversaire."

[71]Molinari believed that the early économistes had not been completely successful in removing all the old restrictions which hampered the development of the economy. He explained: "Our societies still bear numerous vestiges of the mercantilist regime. Nowhere has the freedom to work and trade completely found its place in the sun" (Cours d'économie politique, 1: 11).

[72]Molinari, Review of the Dictionnaire, pp. 421-422, 426.

[73]See Norman McCord, The Anti-Corn Law League, 1838-1846 (London: Unwin University Books, 1968).

[74]Guyot, "M. G. de Molinari," Journal des Économistes 33 (February 1912): p. 179.

[75]See especially Molinari, "La Révolution française," L'Évolution politique et la révolution, chap. 9. "How then did a revolution naively undertaken to establish a regime of liberty and prosperity for the benefit of humanity end in the reconstitution and aggravation of the old regime for the profit of a new governing class, in an increase in the servitude and burdens which weighed upon the 'political consumer' and in the recrudescence of the state of war?" (ibid., p . 291).

[76]Molinari, Les Révolutions et le despotisme envisagés au point de vue des intérêts materiels (Brussels: Meline, 1852), p. 90.

[77]See M. Monjean, "Turgot," Dictionnaire 2:777-87; and H. Baudrillart, "La Philosophie des Physiocrates," Journal des Économistes 29 (1851):224-34.

[78]Molinari, Les Révolutions et le despotisme, p. 91.

[79]Molinari's Cours d'économie politique is dedicated to Brouckere in thanks and it is here that Molinari explains how he came to be appointed to the Musee royal.

[80]Molinari, Cours d'économie politique, p. xi. Molinari commended his intellectual fore bears for helping to free industry from its political shackles under the ancien regime: "This task the founders have admirably accomplished" (ibid., p. xi). However, conditions had changed by mid-nineteenth century and a new approach was needed to defeat the remnants of the old restrictions and the new holders of privilege who had emerged since (and because of) the revolution of 1789.

[81]See note #15 supra on my distinction between "anarchy" and "anarchism."

[82]Molinari, "La Situation économique en Belgique," Journal des Économistes, 2nd ser. 9 (1856); and Journal des Économistes, 2nd ser. 8 (1856): 150.

[83]Molinari, "Le commerce des grains, dialogues entre un émeutier, un économiste et un prohibitioniste," part 1, Journal des Économistes, 2nd ser. 4 (1854); part 2, Journal des Économistes, 2nd ser. 6 (1855). Both were reprinted in Molinari, Questions d'économie politique et de droit public (Brussels: Lacroix; Paris: Guillaumin, 1861).

[84]Molinari, L'abbé de Saint-Pierre: Se vie et ses oeuvres (Paris: Guillaumin, 1857). See also Molinari, "Des Progres realisés dans les coutumes de la guerre," Journal des Économistes, 2nd ser. 3: 161, 321; and idem, "La paix perpetuelle est-elle une utopie?" Journal des Économistes, 2nd ser. 12 (1856): 33. Molinari, Frédéric Passy and Clavel had planned to publish a pacifist journal in neutral Belgium, provisionally entitled L'Européen, in 1859, but this attempt had not come to anything. See Frédéric Passy, Pour la Paix--notes et documents (Paris: Garland reprint, 1909), p. 7.

[85]The education debate was printed in: "Si l'éducation des enfants est obligatoire par le père de famille: discussion à la Société d'économie politique," Journal des Économistes, 2nd ser. 18 (1858): 476; De l'enseignement obligatoire: Discussion entre M. G. de Molinari et M. Frédéric Passy (Paris: Guillaumin, 1859); and Gaetan Pirou, Les Doctrines économiques en France depuis 1870 (Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1946), pp. 111-12. On tutelage, see Molinari, "Tutuelle et liberté," L'Évolution politique et la révolution, chap. 11, pp. 424-85. Discussion on tutelage will also be found in the section on "The Political Economy of 'Ulcerous' Government," in Part II of this paper.

[86]Molinari, Les Clubs rouges pendant le siège de Paris (Paris: Garnier Freres, 1871); idem, Le Mouvement socialiste et les réunions publiques avant la révolution du 4 septembre 1870 (Paris: Garnier Freres, 1872).

[87]Molinari, "Preface," Les Clubs rouges, p. vi. This was written May 15, 1871.


[89]Molinari, "Preface," Le Mouvement socialiste, p. xiii.

[90]Ibid., p. xiv.

[91]Ibid., p. xvi.


[93]Ibid., p. xviii.

[94]Ibid., p. xix.


[96]Ibid., p. xx.

[97]Ibid., p. xxi.

[98]Ibid., p. vii.

[99]See Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité," Journal des Économistes 21 (1849): 277; reprinted in Molinari, Questions d'économie polilique, 1:245; translated by J. Huston McCulloch, "The Production of Security," Occasional Paper Series #2 (New York: Center for Libertarian Studies, 1977). For additional discussion see Molinari, "Du governement et de sa fonction," Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare, "onzième soirée", p. 303; and idem, "Les consommations publiques," Cours de l'économie politique, 2:480. Also relevant are the following articles by Molinari in the Économiste belge: "Le sentiment et l'intérêt en matière de nationalité" (May 24, 1862); polemic with Hyac. Deheselle (July 4 and 21, and July 5 and 19, 1862); "Principe du secessionisme" (August 30, 1862); "Lettres à une Russe sur l'establissement d'une constitution en Russie," (August 2 and 30, and September 19, 1862); "La crise américaine" (January 17, 1863); "Un nouveau Credit Mobilier" (February 14, 1863); "Une solution pacifique de la question polonaise" (May 9, 1863); quoted in Cours d'économie politique, 2:532. Molinari's L'Évolution économique du dix-neuvième siècle. Théorie du progres (1880) and L'Évolution politique et la révolution (1884) were both published in Paris by C. Reinwald.

[100]Joseph Garnier, the man whom Molinari succeeded as editor of the Journal des Économistes, had been a leading activist in free-trade and pacifist circles. Born in 1813, in Beuil, Alpes-Maritimes, he came to Paris at the time of the 1830 revolution and studied political economy under Adolphe Blanqui at the École spéciale du Commerce. He was one of the five who founded the Société d'Économie Politique, he was editor and secretary of Le Libre-Échange and he lectured in political economy at the École Blanqui, the Athénée Royal (1842-43), the École des Ponts-et-Chaussées (1846-81) and occasionally at the École supérieure du Commerce and the College Chaptal. He also contributed to the founding of the Club de la liberté du travail and the popular journal Jacques Bonhomme. In 1873 he was elected a member of the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques to replace Charles Dupin and elected senator in 1876 for the department of Alpes-Maritimes. Garnier was also very active in the peace movement, being one of the organizers of the Congrès des amls de la paix for the meetings in Paris, Frankfurt and London in 1849, 1850, and 1851. Garnier was considered by his colleagues to have considerable talent for popularizing the ideas of peace and liberty, ideas which he considered to be inseparable both in theory and practice. Molinari wrote of him: "Political economy has been the passion and labor of his life. He regarded its principles as the best means to free society from the utopias of socialism and the alliances of special interests--the latter perhaps the more pernicious since utopias only threaten the future while special interests exploit the present. His entire life was devoted to spreading the tenets of this science of peace and liberty. He labored to popularize it in his speeches, his lectures, his articles and his books. He wrote the finest textbook on political economy which we possess--his Traité, which has become a classic and been translated into all languages. He was tireless" ("Obseques de Garnier," Journal des Économistes, 4th ser. 20 [1882]).

[101]The editors of the Journal des Économistes were: Adolphe Blanqui (1842), Hippolyte Dussard (1843-45), Joseph Garnier (1845-55), Henri Baudrillart (1855-65), Joseph Garnier (1865-81), Gustave de Molinari (1881-1909), and Yves Guyot (1909-?).

[102]For the early history of the Journal des Économistes and the Societé d'Économie Politique, see "Journal des Économistes," Dictionnaire; and Levasseur, "Quarantième anniversaire de la fondation." The Société had 50 members in 1847, 80 in 1849, 117 in 1859, 148 in 1864, 165 in 1868, 211 in 1874, and 227 in 1882. See also Michel Lutfalle, "Aux Origines du liberalisme economique en France: le Journal des Économistes; Analyse du contenu de la premiere serie, 1841-53," Revue d'histoire économique et sociale, no. 4 (1974).

[103]J. Garnier, quoted in "Journal des Économistes," Dictionnaire, from Journal des Économistes (March 1848).

[104]Listed in "Journal des Économistes," Dictionnaire.

[105]Guyot, "Obituary--Gustave de Molinari," The Economic Journal 22 (March 1912): pp. 154-55.

[106]Molinari had first written about how workers could improve their conditions in the Courrier français (July 1846).

[107]See Guyot, "G . de Molinari," pp. 186-87; Molinari, "Son Opinion, à la Société d'Économie Politique, sur les bourses du travail," Journal des Économistes, 4th ser. 18 (1882): 441; idem, "La Bourse du travail," Journal des Économistes, 4th ser. 44 (1888): 321; and idem, Les Bourses du Travail (Paris: Guillaumin, 1893).

[108]Cobban writes: "under the Marxist influence of Guesde, a Federation nationale des Syndicats was formed for political action in 1886. In opposition to this, Bourses du Travail, founded in 1887, as popularly controlled centres of mutual aid, workers' education, and employment exchanges, formed a national federation in 1892," (A. Cobban, A History of Modern France, vol. 3, 1871-1962, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), p. 46.

[109]Molinari developed these ideas in the following books: Les Lois naturelles de l'économie politique (Paris: Guillaumin, 1887); La Morale économique (Paris: Guillaumin, 1887); .Notions fondamentales d'économie politique et programme économique (Paris: Guillaumin, 1891); Religion, trans. Walter K. Firminger, 2nd enl. ed. (London: S. Sonnenschein; New York: Macmillan, 1894); Science et Réligion (1894); Comment se resoudra la question sociale? (Paris: Guillaumin, 1896); La Viriculture (Paris: Guillaumin, 1897); Grandeur et decadence de la guerre (Paris: Guillaumin, 1898); Esquisse de l'organisation politique et économique de la Société future (Paris: Guillaumin, 1889); Les Problèmes du XXe siècle (Paris: Guillaumin, 1901); Questions économiques a l'ordre du jour (Paris: Guillaumin, 1906); Théorie de l'évolution: Économie de l'histoire (Paris: F. Alcan, 1908); and Ultima Verba (Paris: V. Girard et E. Briere, 1911). In addition, he contributed to the second edition of the Dictionnaire de l'économie politique (1892).

[110]"Projet d'association pour l'etablissement d'une ligue des neutres," initially published by the Times (July 28, 1887), was reprinted in Molinari, La Morale économique, p. 438.

[111]Ibid., p. .431.

[112]Quoted in Guyot, "G. de Molinari," p. 194.

[113]Molinari, Théorie de l'évolution, p. 257.

[114]Guyot, "Obituary--Gustave de Molinari," p. 155.

[115]"He was a completely disinterested man.... What acts of charity his friends and intimates witnessed him perform without fanfare" (quoted in Guyot, "G. de Molinari," p. 183).

[116]Raymund de Waha, Die Nationalökonomie in Frankreich (Stuttgart, 1910), p. 71.

[117]Gustave de Molinari, Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare; entretiens sur les lois économiques et défense de la propriété (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849), pp. 20-21.

[118]"We have been accustomed to believing that government--charged with a sublime mission--has nothing in common in its establishment and functioning with the multitude of other enterprises. Similarly, no one has ever thought that the laws which apply to it are the same as those which apply to the others" (Molinari, Cours d'économie politique 2nd ed. rev. and enl., 2 vols. [1855; Paris: Guillaumin, 1863], 2:515, 521).

[119]It will be argued in section 2, which follows, that there are two main kinds of anarchist thought: "left-wing" communist anarchism which denies the right of an individual to seek profit, charge rent or interest and to own property, and "right-wing" proprietary anarchism, which vigorously defends these rights.

[120]Molinari, "Le droit electoral," Courrier français July 23, 1846, reprinted in "La liberté de gouvernement II," Questions d'économie politique et de droit public, 2 vols., (Brussels: Lacroix; Paris: Guillaumin, 1861), sec. 3.

[121]Ibid. p. 271.


[123] Ibid. p. 272.




[127]Ibid. p. 273.


[129]Ibid. p. 273-74.

[130]Ibid. p. 274.

[131]"The true remedy for most evils is none other than liberty, unlimited and complete liberty, liberty in every field of human endeavor" (Molinari, Journal des Éconornistes 21 [1848]: 64).

[132]"I prefer governments based upon popular sovereignty. But so-called democratic republics are not at all true expressions of popular sovereignty. These governments are extended monopolies--communisms. Popular sovereignty is incompatible with monopoly and communism.... [Popular sovereignty] is the right of each man to dispose freely of his person and his property and to govern himself". (Molinari, Les Soirées p. 310).

[133]Molinari. "Le droit electoral." p. 273.

[134]Ibid., p. 275.

[135]Molinari, "De la production de la securité," Journal des Économistes 21 (1849): 277, n. 1. Reprinted in Molinari, Questions d'économie politique 1 :245; translated by J. Huston McCulloch. "The Production of Security," Occasional Paper Series #2 (New York: Center for Libertarian Studies, 1977).


[137]Concerning the origins of Molinari's thought, see David M. Hart, "Gustave de Molinari and the Anti-statist Liberal Tradition, Part 1." Journal of Libertarian Studies 5, no. 3 (Summer 1981), sec. 1.

[138]Molinari, "De la production de la securité," p. 277, n. 1.

[139]Ibid. p. 277.


[141]Ibid. p. 278.


[143]Ibid. p. 279.


[145]Ibid. On the distinction between "matériel" and "immatériel" values, see Charles Dunoyer, "Production," Dictionnaire de l'économie politique ed. Coquelin and Guillaumin, 2 vols. (Paris: Guillaumin, 1852), pp. 439-50; Molinari, Cours d'économie politique 1: 186ff; and Dunoyer, De la liberté du travail vols. I and 2, in Oeuvres de Ch. Dunoyer (Paris: Guillaumin, 1886), 1 :592. "Immatériel" values did not have to be tangible objects; they could be services or skills. The advance made by Jean-Baptiste Say and Dunoyer was to break away from the physiocratic view that only solid objects could have value.

[146]This is how McCulloch translates "immatériel" (McCulloch. "The Production of Security. ")

[147]See Ludwig von Mises, "The Economics of a Socialist Community," Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis (London: Jonathan Cape, 1969),pp. 111ff. Also see Murray N. Rothbard, Man Economy and State (Los Angeles, Calif.: Nash, 1970), pp. 825ff.

[148]"If the sovereign individual possesses the absolute right to dispose of his person and his property as he sees fit, then he naturally possesses the right to defend them. He possesses the right of free defense" (Molinari, Les Soirées p. 310). Molinari explained what he meant by individual and property sovereignty in L'Évolution politique et la révolution (Paris: C. Reinwald, 1884): "The Individual appropriates the totality of the parts, including the physical and moral forces, which constitute his being. This appropriation is the result of a process of discovery and recognition of these elements and forces, and of their application to the satisfaction of personal needs--that is their utilization. This is property in one's person. The individual appropriates and possesses himself. He appropriates as well, through another process of discovery, occupation, transformation and adaptation, the soil, material and forces of his environment insofar as they are appropriable. This is both real and movable property. Driven by his interest, the individual acts continually to preserve and increase the elements and forccs--the values--which he has appropriated from his surroundings. He fashions, transforms, alters, and exchanges them as he sees fit. This is liberty. Property and liberty are the two aspects or two constituents of sovereignty.

"What is the interest of the individual? It is to remain the absolute proprietor of his person and property and to retain the power to dispose of them at will. It is the power to work alone or to freely associate his forces and other property, whether in whole or in part, with those of others. It is the power to exchange the products of his personal properties or to consume them or to save them. It is, in a word, to possess 'individual sovereignty' in the fullest.

"Nevertheless, the individual is not isolated. He is in constant contact and relationship with others. His property and liberty are limited by the property and liberty of others. Each individual sovereignty has its natural frontiers within which it may operate and out side of which it may not pass without violating other sovereignties. These natural limits must be recognized and guaranteed lest the weak be at the mercy of the strong and society be impossible. Such is the purpose of the industry I have called 'the production of security,' or to give it its common name, such is the purpose of 'government'" (ibid., pp. 394-95)

"Sovereignty rests in the property of the individual over his person and goods and in the liberty of disposing of them, which implies the right to protect his property and his liberty himself or to have them protected by others... If an individual or a group employ their sovereignty to establish an organization designed to satisfy any need, they have the right to exploit and direct it according to their interests as well as to fix as they see fit the price of its products or services. This is the sovereign right of the producer. However, this right is naturally limited by the rights of equally sovereign individuals in their dual character as producers and consumers" (ibid., pp. 410-11).

[149]Molinari, "De la production de la securité," p. 279.


[151]Ibid., p. 280.



[154]Ibid., p. 281.

[155]"The individual remains completely sovereign only under a regime of total liberty. Any monopoly, any privilege is an attack upon his sovereignty" (Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 311). "The liberal school teaches: Destroy monopoly and privilege, restore man to his natural right to freely exercise his industry and he will enjoy full sovereignty" (ibid.).

[156]Molinari, "De la production de la securité," p. 282.

[157] Ibid.

[158]Ibid., p. 282.

[159]Ibid., p. 284.

[160]"Communism of security is the keystone in the ancient edifice of slavery" (Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 318).

[161]Molinari, "De la production de la securité," p. 284. This dichotomy is also maintained by the modern Austrian laissez-faire liberal Ludwig von Mises in his A Critique of Interventionism. Inquiries into the Economic Policy and Economlc Ideology of the Present, trans. Hans F. Sennholz (1929; reprinted., New Rochelle, N. Y.: Arlington House, 1977).

[162]"Or liberty is preferable to communism and, if so, we should liberate all public industries including justice, the police, education, religion, transportation, the production of tobacco, etc." (Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 319).

[163]Molinari, "De la production de la securité," p. 284.

[164]Ibid., p. 287.

[165]Ibid., p. 284.

[166]Ibid., p. 286.

[167]"The majority of citizens has the right lo establish any industry they might wish and` oblige the minority to contribute to the upkeep of these public enterprises" (Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 316). "In some countries, the government of the majority spends part of the public wealth to protect fundamentaily illegitimate and immoral properties. For instance, in the United States, the government protects the property in slaves of southern planters. There are 'abolitionists' in the United States who rightly consider slavery to be a theft. What matter! The communal system forces them to contribute their goods to the maintenance of this theft" (ibid., pp. 32S-26).

[168]Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité." p. 287.


[170]Molinari wanted "governments whose services I might refuse or accept of my own free will" (Les Soirées, p. 30S).

[171]Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité," p. 288.


[173]"On the other hand, do not all property owners have the same need for justice and security? Consequently, would not everyone sacrifice to satisfy this urgent need, especially since they are incapable of satisfying it themselves or unable to spend a good deal of time and money?

"Yet, if there are, on the one hand, men prepared to provide for a social need and, on the other, men prepared to sacrifice to satisfy this need, doesn't it suffice to leave each alone so that the demanded good, be it material or immaterial, will be produced and the need satisfied?" (Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 328).

[174]Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité." p. 288.


[176]In Les Soirées Molinari speaks of "property insurance companies" (p. 331).

[177]Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité," p. 288. Molinari wrote elsewhere: "Competition among various courts improved justice and made it less costly. Adam Smith attributed the progress of the administration of justice in England to this cause" (Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 320). Molinari then quoted Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (London: J. M. Dent, 1933), bk. 5, chap. 1.

[178]Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité," p. 289. And, elsewhere, "[property insurance companiesl could neither exploit nor oppress their clients without seeing successful competitors instantly crop up all about them" (Molinari, Les Soirées, pp. 331-32).

[179]Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité," p. 289.

[180]Ibid., 290.

[181]"Under this regime, governments could gain nothing by war; on the contrary, they could lose everything. What interest would they have to undertake a war? To increase their clientele? But since consumers are free to be governed as they like, they would immediately slip away from the conquerors. If the conquerors wished to impose their rule, having destroyed the existing government, the oppressed would soon receive the aid of other peoples....

"Wars between companies can only take place if the stockholders are willing to pay the cost. Since war cannot increase a clientele where consumers will not allow themselves to be conquered, the cost of the war can never be covered. Who then would agree to pay for it?" (Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 333-34).

[182]Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité," p. 290. "They would unite in their turn and since they possess far greater means of communication than their masters and are one hundred times more numerous than their old oppressors, the holy alliance of aristocracy [the would-be monopolists] would be quickly annihilated. No one thereafter, I swear, would attempt to erect a monopoly" (Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 332).

[183]"As war is inevitable under a regime of monopoly [government], peace is inevitable under a regime of free government" (Ibid., p. 333).

[184]Molinari, "De la production de la sécurité," p. 290.

[185]In Les Soirées Molinari suggests that these companies might be quite large (p. 330).

[186]"If this industry were free, we would witness as many companies founded as could be usefully formed. Too few, and the high price of security would make the formation of more [companiesl profitable. Too many, and the superfluous ones would quickly dissolve. Thus the price of security would alwavs be held to the cost of production" (Ibid., p. 331).

[187]Molinari, Cours d'économie politique, 2:552.

[188]Molinari, Les Soirées, p. 303.

[189]Ibid., pp. 322-24.

[190]Ibid., pp. 327-28.

[191]Ibid., p. 329.

[192]"I assert that, if a community gave notice that at the end of a certain period, for example one year, it would no longer pay judges, soldiers and policemen, a year later this community would not have any fewer tribunals and governments ready to operate. And I add that if in this new regime each had the right to freely practice these professions and to freely purchase their services, then their security would be the best and the most economical possible" (Ibid.).

[193]"lf anyone had said that, in place of the mean and pitiful industries of the guilds, liberty would bring immense manufactures producing cheaper and more perfect goods, they would have given this dreamer short shrift. The conservatives of the day would have sworn to their gods that this was inconceivable" (Ibid., p. 330).

[194]"They would cooperate as monopolist and communist governments cooperate today, because they would have an interest in doing so. The greater the mutual assistance they lend one another in the capture of thieves and murderers, the more they lower their own costs" (Ibid., p. 331).

[195]"What would be in the best interests of these companies? It would be to repel invaders, for they would be the hrst victims of an invasion. They would, therefore, cooperate in this defense and they would charge their subscribers a premium to preserve them from this new danger. If these clients prefer to run the risks of an invasion, they would refuse to pay. If not, they would pay and thus provide the companies with the means to stave off the invasion" (Ibid., p. 333). "I conclude that war would be materially impossible under this regime, since no war can be made without an advance of money" (Ibid., p. 334).

[196]Ibid., p. 335.

[197]"Don't you think that by selling all of the property which is now public--roads, canals, rivers, forests, local administrative buildings, and public materials--we could successfully retire the public debt? This debt is no more than six billions. The value of the public property of France is far greater than that" (Ibid.).


[199]Ibid., p. 336.

[200]"The instinct of nationality will react against the barbarous divisions and artificial antagonisms imposed upon a single people and the disunited fractions of this people will tend incessantly to attract one another.... Let the diversity of governments cease to require the separation and division of peoples and you will witness the same nationality willingly governed by several. A single government is no more necessary for the unity of a people than a single bank, a single educational system, a single religion or a single grocery store, etc." (Ibid.).

[201]Molinari, JDE 24 (1849):315. A summary of the debate was printed with Molinari's essay, "De la production de la sécurité," in Questions d'économie politique, p. 269.

[202]Molinari, Questions d'économie politique, p. 269.


[204]Ibid., p. 270.


[206]Ibid. See also Edgar Allix ("La Déformation de l'économic politique libérale après J. B. Say: Charles Dunoyer," Revue d'histoire des doctrines économiques et sociales [1911] on the gradual compromises made by Dunoyer in his radical anti-statism of the Restoration period. Allix believed that Dunoyer's liberalism was formed in opposition and deformed once Dunoyer was elected to offlce.

[207]Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, no. 2 (1867), quoted in No Treason, Libertarian Broadsides, no. 5, ed. James J. Martin (1870; Colorado Springs, Colo: Ralph Myles, 1973), p. 15.

[208]Molinari, Questions d'économie polilique. p. 269.

[209]Extract of Coquelin's review of Les Soirées, initially printed in JDE and reprinted in Dictionnaire 2: 197.

[210]See Coquelin, "État," Dictionnaire 1: 733; and Bastiat, L'État (1849), a pamphlet from which Coquelin quotes extensively.

[211]Smith, Wealth of Nations, bk. 4, chap. 9.

[212]Dunoyer, "Gouvernement," Dictionnaire, 1:837.


[214]"A certain philosopher, to my mind a near parent to socialism, has often and bitterly observed that the desire to create and maintain security within society while otherwise respecting the liberty of individuals, a principle which political economy regards as the capital, if not the exclusive and unique duty of governments, is infinitely too restrictive a view of their powers" (Ibid., I :840).

[215]A. Clement, "Sécurité," Dictionnaire, 2:604.

[216]Molinari, "Nations," Dictionnaire, 2:261.



[219]A similar distinction was made by the twentieth-century anarchist thinker Albert Jay Nock in Our Enemy the State (1935; New York: Free Life Editions, 1973), p. 19.

[220]Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, "Memoir" (1940), in Selecled Writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, ed. Stewart Edwards, trans. Elizabeth Fraser (London. Macmillan. 1970), p. 89.

[221]Proudhon, "General Idea of Revolution in the 19th Century," in Ibid., p. 98.

[222]Proudhon, "The Federal Principle" (1863), in Ibid., p. 91.

[223]Molinari, "M. Proudhon et M. Thiers," JDE 21 (1848): 72.

[224]Proudhon, "Correspondence" (1864), in Selecled Writings, p. 92.

[225]See especially Murray N. Rothbard in his Power and Market: Governrnent and the Economy (Menlo Park, Calif.: Institute for Humane Studies, 1970); and idem, For a New Liberly: The Libertarian Manifesto (New York: Collier Macmillan, 1978). (See also the discussion on the "Modern Libertarian Movement," in Part III of the present essay, in the Journal of Libertarian Studies 6, no. I [forthcoming]). These "radical free-trade liberals" adopted the name "libertarian in order to escape the unfortunate connotations of the word "liberal," which had undergone a profound change in meaning in the twentieth century. It no longer meant a desire to considerably reduce the size and power of the state but now embraced a variant of welfare state socialism. The intellectual confusion caused by this fundamental change in meaning is revealed by the many attempts to qualify the term "liberal" with an appropriate adjective, such as "real" liberal, "radical" liberal, "classical" liberal, and, in this paper, "free-trade liberal." For a discussion of these problems, see F. A. Hayek's Postscript, "Why I Am Not a Conservative," in The Constitution of Liberty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972); Mises, Liberalism: A Socio-Economic Exposition (Kansas City: Sheed, Andrews and McMeel, 1978); and Rothbard, "Left and Right: The Prospects of Liberty," in Egalitarianism as a Revot against Nature and Other Essays (Washington, D.C.: Libertarian Review Press, 1974).

[226]Molinari, Cours d'économie politique, 2: 484.

[227]Ibid., p. 486.

[228]Ibid., p. 487.

[229]Ibid., p. 489.

[230]Ibid., p. 492. Later, in his Économie de l'histoire: Théorie de l'évolulion (Paris: F. Alcan, 1908), Molinari was to accept the necessity of certain "natural monopolies" such as defense, but in the 1850's Molinari was still optimistic that the market could eventually put an end to all monopolies, natural or "artificial."

[231]Molinari, Cours d'économie politique, 2: 493.

[232]Ibid., p. 495.

[233]Ibid., p. 497.

[234]"It is the growth of the marketplace which determines the movement of society from embryonic, communal production first to specialized, monopolisiic production and, finally, to competitive production" (Ibid., p. 499).

[235]Ibid., p. 500.

[236]Ibid., p. 504.

[237]"In this new phase of social development, the 'production of security' ought to develop and perfect itself to the extent that the need for it develops and is refined" (Ibid., p. 503).


[239]Ibid., p. 504.

[240]Ibid., pp. 505-506.


[242]Ibid., p. 506. See also, Molinari, Cours d'économic politique, vol. 1, lessons 9 and 10; and "Tutelle et liberté," L'Évolution politique, chap. 11, pp. 424-85.

[243]Molinari, Cours d'économie politique, 2:508-509.

[244]Ibid, p. 481.

[245]Ibid., p. 510.

[246]"Monopolistic government...regressed in holding together industries which progress under the monopolistic regime [in industry] had separated. It reassembled the special personnel necessary for the production of public services.... On the one hand, [monop olistic government] erected from the debris of ancient governing corporations a colossal corporation invested with a monopoly on the services most necessary to society. On the other hand, it dissolved all the lesser corporations, appropriate to the competitive regime and prevented their reconstitution in new forms. In so doing, it atomized the society governed and left the individualized consumers of public services at the discretion of this new and formidable monopoly" (Ibid., p. 518).

[247]"Constitutions have become all too often merely instruments of exploitation in the hands of the upper classes which have been clever enough to have the control of the government attributed to them as a monopoly" (Ibid., p. 519). And, "We saw a governing class resurrect itself in which the personnel of the old governing class were mixed with the new element thrown up by the revolution" (Ibid., p. 523).

[248]Ibid., p. 524.

[249]Ibid., p. 525.

[250]Molinari describes "this ulcer which devours the vital forces of society as rapidly as they are created by social progress" (Ibid., p. 531). See also the analysis of government intervention by Rothbard in "Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics," Occasional Paper Series, no. 3 (New York: Center for Libertarian Studies, 1977), where he writes: "no government interference with exchanges can ever increase social utility. . . no act of government whatever can increase social utility . a free and vohtntary market 'maximizes' social activity" (pp. 29-30).

[251]Molinari, Cours d'économie politique, 2 531.


[253]Ibid., p. 532. "We believe firmly in the duty of courageously claiming priority for this alleged chimera [political competition]" (Ibid.).

[254]"The notion of subjecting governments to the regime of competition is still generally regarded as chimerical. But the facts on the question are marching ahead of theory. The `right' of secession which is making some progress in today's world will necessarily establish 'liberty of government.' When this principle has been recognized and applied to its fullest natural extent, 'political competition' will act as a complement to competition in agriculture, industry and commerce" (ihid.).


[256]Molinari had a lengthy quote from Smith, Wealth of Nations, bk. 4, chap. 2 in Cours d'économle politique, 2:534.

[257]"Without abandoning ourselves to utopian dreams, we can today hope that in less than a century protectionism will exist only as a bad memory. Why then should political monopolies not disappear in their turn as industrial and commercial monopolies are doing? If they are powerful today, the interests which they harm are also growing day by day in numbers and strength" (Molinari, Cours d'économic politique, 2:534).


[259]Molinari, "La Liberté du gouvernement," in L'Évolution politique, chap. 10, sec. 5., p. 381. Elsewhere Molinari described "the liberty of government" as "a logical and necessary complement to the liberty of industry" (Les Lois naturelles de l'économie politique [Paris: Guillaumin, 1887], p. 260).

[260]"Government will be nothing more than free insurance corporations guarding life and property" (Molinari, L'Évolution politique, p. 381).

[261]Ibid., p. 398. See also Molinari, Les Lois naturelles, pt. 4, chap. 14, "La Constitution naturelle des gouvernements. La Commune. La Province. L'Etat."; and chap. 15. "La Liberté de gouvernement."

[262]Molinari suggested an "urban agency" or a "rent collector's office" to manage local affairs. (Molinari, L'Évolution politique, p. 391.)

[263]"There are necessary relationships of mutual interest for the joining of roads, sewers and gas lines, the establishment of trams, etc.; they would be consequently obliged to form a permanent union or syndicate to regulate the various questions and other affairs resulting from the juxtaposition of their property. Under the influence of the same necessities this union would extend to neighboring rural communes. Ultimately, any disputes among the individual members would have to be brought before arbitrators or tribunals for settlement" (Ibid., p. 392).

[264]Somewhat later (1887) Molinari considered some services as having a naturally collective character, such as roads, police, and sanitation, which could only be provided "communally" and not "individually" on the market. Nevertheless he still believed that competition between administrative areas would lower prices and ensure the best service to the citizens. (See Molinari, Les Lois naturelles, p. 246.)

[265]See Section 1, "The Production of Security--1849," supra.

[266]Molinari, L'Évolution politique, p. 393. Molinari explicitly endorsed secession as a means of exercising one's right to self-government: "if the community is a vast one, the inhabitants of a wealthy region, oppressively taxed for the benefit of others or vice versa, could separate themselves from the whole, an act forbidden in the present regime, either to form an independent community or to annex themselves to a neighboring community" (Molinari, Les Lois naturelles, p. 263). Molinari believed that left-wing anarchists would quickly learn by experience how necessary a police force and other services would be if they were permitted to form "states" of their own, provided they made some contribution to common defense. Molinari also believed that this right to secede was a "double" one: the commune had the right to secede from the province just as the province had the right to secede from the state. "Undoubtedly, local circumstances could render the right to secede impractical, but as long as we do not insist upon the contiguity of of territories as a necessity for the constitution of a state or province--and experience attests that a community or a province may exist as an enclave--then we can quickly convince ourselves that the right of a community or a province to secede will excite enough competition among provinces and states to improve the quality of their services and decrease their cost" (Les Lois naturelles, pp. 265-66).

[267]Molinari, L'Évolution politique, p. 393.

[268]Ibid., p. 500.

[269]"What should reassure us above all is the indestructibility and providential necessity of civilization" (Ibid., p. 504).

[270]Molinari, Les Lois naturelles, p. 276. "The friends of liberty could cross their arms and content themselves with allowing the free play of natural forces to assist the triumph of their doctrines" (L'Évolurion politique, p. 504).

[271]V. I. Lenin, "What is to be done?" Selected Works (Moscow Progress Publishers, 1976), 3: 441-42.

[272]"[The consumer] has the right to accept or refuse [the services of security], to haggle over the price and to demand certain quality, exactly as he would with all other merchandise... [and] to patronize any other producer of security" (Molinari, Précis d'économie politique et de morale [Paris: Guillaumin, 1893], pp. 206-208).

[273]Molinari, Esquisse de l'organisation politique et économique de la société.future (Paris Guillaumin, 1889), pp. 76-77.

[274]See Section I, "The Production of Security--1849," supra.

[275]Molinari, L'Évolution politique, p. 404.

[276]Molinari, Esquisse, p. 85. Molinari quotes Adam Smith again on the English court system .

[277]Ibid., p. 84.

[278]Individuals "associate and form a collective numerous enough to make the transaction in an economical and efficient manner. They choose delegates to deal competitively with an enterprise--a firm or corporation--combining the capital and abilities necessary for this protective service" (Ibid., p. 97).

[279]Ibid., pp. 98-99.

[280]"These conditions will not differ, theoretically at least, from those of the present regime for the provision of security except on one point, but it is an essential point: to wit, the provider [of security] will be obliged to pay to any insured who has been the victim of a crime against life or property an indemnity proportional to the damages suffered, less any restitution from the authors of the crime" (Ibid., p. 84).

[281]Molinari, Économie de l'histoire: Théorie de l'évolution, p. 218.

[282]"There exists only an ever decreasing number of natural monopolies. These monopolies, starting with the protection of individual life and property and the preservation of the national domain, are administered by the state, and the sub-states of provinces, depart ments and communities. This administration by the state engenders the same wasting of strengh which is in the nature of all monopolies. Nevertheless, it can be alleviated at least in part by an indirect recourse to competition" (Ibid., p. 250).

[283]"It could contract for this administration on a temporary or even unlimited basis with competitive firms or associations providing the necessary material and moral guarantees, limited only by a surveillance over the execution of the contract. In such a case, the price of the product or service could not rise above that of a competitive industry, although the stimulus to improve its tools and procedures would be weaker" (Ibid.)

[284]Herbert Spencer, Social Statics (1851; New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 1970), p. 185.

[285]Ibid., p. 13.

[286]Ibid., p. 263.

[287]Ibid., p. 191.

[288]Ibid., p. 185.

[289]Ibid., p. 189.

[290]Ibid., p. 185.

[291]Ibid., p. 224.

[292]Ibid., pp. 241, 247.

[293]Auberon Herbert, "The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State," in The Right and Wrong of Compulsion of the State, and Other Essays, ed. Eric Mack (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Classics, 1978), pp. 176-77. Molinari did become aware of Auberon Herbert's views well after he had developed his free-market anarchism. Herbert's book, A Politician in Trouble about His Soul, was reviewed by Yves Guyot in the Journal des Éonomistes, 4th ser. 30 (1885):246. In addition, many of Spencer's books were translated into French and reviewed in the Journal des Économistes, but, surprisingly, not Social Statics.

[294]Herbert, "The Right and Wrong," pp. 177, 178.

[295]Ibid., p. 185. Herbert argues for "Friendly voluntary cooperation as free men and women, for all public wants and services" ("Mr. Spencer and the Great Machine," in The Right and Wrong, p. 303).

[296]Herbert, "The Right and Wrong," pp. 186-88.

[297]Herbert, "The Principles of Voluntaryism and Free Life," in The Right and Wrong, p. 378.

[298]Ibid., p. 390.

[299]Herbert, "Mr. Spencer," p. 311.

[300]Herbert, "The Principles of Voluntaryism," p. 383.


[302]P. E. De Puydt, "Panarchy," trans. Adrian Falk, in An A.B.C. Against Nuclear War, ed. John Zube (Berrima, N.S.W.: Peace Plans, 1975), p. 229; reprinted from Revue Trimestrielle (Brussels, July 1860).

[303]"If a disagreement came about between subjects of different government, or between one government and a subject of another, it would simply be a matter of observing the principles heretofore observed between neighboring peaceful states.... Anything else would be the business of common courts of justice" (ibid., p. 227).


[305]"It is from the works of the economists that I have derived the principle whereof I propose a new application, still farther reaching and no less logical than all others" (ibid., p. 223). It is most likely that De Puydt was aware of Molinari because Molinari was at that time living and teaching in Belgium and De Puydt quotes from a work of Charles de Brouckere who had arranged for Molinari to teach at the Musée royal, the Principes généraux d'économie politique (1851). See also the obituary of de Brouckere, Journal des Econonmistes, 2nd ser. 26 (April-June 1860):265.

[306]Benjamin R. Tucker, Instead of a Book by a Man Too Busy to Write One: A Fragmentary Exposition of Philosiophical Anarchism (1897; New York: Haskell House, 1969), p. 371.

[307]Liberty 15 (December 1906):16; quoted in Mack, The Right and Wrong p. 20.

[308]Review of The Society of Tomorrow (1904), the English translation of Molinari's Esquisse de l'organisation politique et économique de société future (1899), in Liberty 14 (September 1904):2. Albert Schatz, the French historian of individualism, was struck by the similarity of Tucker's and Molinari's rejection of the state's monopoly of security. See his L'Individualisme économique et social: Ses origines, son évolution, ses formes contemporaines (Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1907), p. 514.

[309]Tucker, Instead of a Book p. 54.

[310]Ibid. pp. 32-33, 14.

[311]Jarnes J. Martin, Men Against the State. The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism in America, 1827-1846 (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Ralph Myles, 1970), p. 273.

[312]Murray N. Rothbard, Man, Economy and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles (Los Angeles: Nash Publishing, 1970), 2:884; idem, Power and Market: Government and the Economy (Menlo Park, Calif.: Institule for Humane Studies, 1970), esp. chap. I "Defense Services on the Free Market," pp. 1-7; and ,idem., For a New Liberty. The Libertarian Manifesto (rev. ed., New York: Collier Macmillan, 1978), esp. chap. 12, "The Public Sector, III: Police, Law and the Courts," pp. 215-41.

[313]See also Jarrett B. Wollstein, Society without Coercion: A New Concept of Social Organization (Society for Rational Individualism, 1969); reprinted in Society without Government: The Right Wing Individualist Tradition in America ed. Murray N. Rothbard and Jerome Tuccille (New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1972); Morris and Linda Tannehill, The Market for Liberty (Lansing, Mich.: n.p., 1970); and Richard and Ernestine Perkins, Precondition for Peace and Prosperitv. Rational Anarchy (Ontario: Phibbs, 1971). For a non-Austrian, neo-classical approach to the same concept, see David Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom: Cuide to a Radical Capitalism (New York: Harper Colophon, 1973). For a discussion of market orders, economic and legal, see F. A. Hayek's magnum Opus, Law Legislation and Liberty, vol. I Rules and Order (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973); Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law (Los Angeles: Nash Publislling, 1972); and Lon Fuller, The Morality of the Law (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964).

[314]Hayek, "Whither Democracy," lecture given before the Institute of Public Affairs, Sydney, October 8, 1976, in Social Justice, Socialism and Democracy: Three Australian Lectures (Sydney: Centre for Independent Studies, 1979).

[315]Gustave de Molinari, Les Soirées de la Rue Saint-Lazare; entretiens sur les lois économiques et defense de la propriété (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849), "Onzième Soirée," pp. 303-37.

[316](Note by Molinari: For a long time economists have refused to deal not only with government but with all purely intangible functions. J. B. Say was the first to introduce these kinds of services into the domain of political economy, giving them the general name of "intangible goods." By doing this, he has rendered a greater service to science than is generally recognized. "The industry of a doctor," he says, "and, if one wishes to multiply examples, of an administrator of the Commonwealth, of a lawyer, of a judge, which are of the same kind, satisfy needs so necessary that without their labor no society could exist. Isn't the fruit of their labors real? They are so real that they are procured for the price of another material good and, by these repeated exchanges, the producers of intangible goods acquire wealth. Thus the Comte de Verri is wrong in claiming that the employment of Princcs, magistrates, soldiers, priests, does not immediately fall into the group of objects with which political economy is concerned" (J. B. Say, Traité d'économie politique, bk. 1, chap.8.) [Emphasis added]

[317](Note by Molinari: Joseph de Maistre, Du principe générateur des constitutions politiques, Preface.)

[318]i.e., the lord of the manor.

[319]The 1848 Revolution.

[320](Note by Molinari: Léon Faucher, Études sur l'Angleterre.)

[321]This is a pun on épices, which means both "spices" and "judges' fees".

[322]From one, learn everything.

[323]Rhyming verse of twelve syllables so called from its usc in old French poems on Alexander the Great.

[324]French equivalent of "bedlam," a mad house.

[325]In Les Soirées this passage is attributed to the Socialist, but it is obviously the Economist who is speaking, and it continues the debate between the Economist and the Conservative.


This article first appeared as an Honours thesis presented as part of an Honours degree at Macquarie University in 1979. It was subsequently published in three parts in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 5, nos. 3 and 4 and Vol. 6, no. 1. Thanks are extended above all to Leonard Liggio, then at the Institute for Humane Studies, Menlo Park; Murray Rothbard, editor of the JLS; and Mark Weinburg, Senior Research Associate, H. C. Wainwright & Co., Economics, for his assistance in the translation of quoted passages from their original French. The author would also like to thank the Cato Institute for a grant which enabled him to research this essay.