There are always a few, better endowed than others, who feel the weightof the yoke and cannot restrain themselves from attempting to shake itoff…. These are in fact the men who, possessed of clear minds andfar-sighted spirit, are not satisfied, like the brutish mass, to seeonly what is at their feet, but rather look about them, behind andbefore, and even recall the things of the past in order to judge thoseof the future, and compare both with their present condition.
These arethe ones who, having good minds of their own, have further trained themby study and learning. Even if liberty had entirely perished from theearth, such men would reinvent it. For them slavery has nosatisfactions, no matter how well disguised. –Etienne de la Boetie _The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude_I can think of no words more appropriate to mark the loss of MurrayRothbard than this passage. The revival of interest in la Boetie’sthought is but one tiny piece of Rothbard’s contribution to the heory of libertarianism.
Much as I disagreed with some of his recentpositions on current events, in all honesty I owe him a profoundintellectual debt which I can never truly repay. In the end, I think that Rothbard will be most remembered for hisringing defense of the free-market anarchist position. Manylibertarians came to this view via the writings of David Friedman;but the earliest realization of the economic feasibility and moralnecessity of the abolition of even the nightwatchman state must beattributed to Rothbard.
And if I understand matters correctly,it was only after developing the anarcho-capitalist position thatRothbard uncovered such proto-anarcho-capitalists as Gustave deMolinari and Benjamin Tucker. )Rothbard’s early death is a loss to all libertarians. A great voicefor liberty has been quelled. It is my deepest hope that his workwill now be studied on its own merits, and that the lingering bitternessthat Rothbard’s strong personality often provoked will be forgotten whenseen in the full context of his immense intellectual contribution tohuman freedom.