Economics/Class Relations

Big Business, War, and Rothbard’s Class Analysis

By Justin Raimondo Mises Institue

This selection is from Justin Raimondo’s 1995 introduction to Rothbard’s monograph Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy, in which Rothbard further develops libertarian class analysis in an examination of how “big business” and other monied elites have consistently controlled American domestic and foreign policy to the detriment of free markets.

Rothbard eagerly reclaimed the concept of class analysis from the Marxists, who expropriated it from the French theorists of laissez-faire. Marx authored a plagiarized, distorted, and vulgarized version of the theory based on the Ricardian labor theory of value. Given this premise, he came up with a class analysis pitting workers against owners.

One of Rothbard’s many great contributions to the cause of liberty was to restore the original theory, which pitted the people against the State. In the Rothbardian theory of class struggle, the government, including its clients and enforcers, exploits and enslaves the productive classes through taxation, regulation, and perpetual war. Government is an incubus, a parasite, incapable of producing anything in its own right, and instead feeds off the vital energies and productive ability of the producers.

This is the first step of a fully-developed libertarian class analysis. Unfortunately, this is where the thought processes of all too many alleged libertarians come to a grinding halt. It is enough, for them, to know the State is the Enemy, as if it were an irreducible primary.

As William Pitt put it in 1770, “There is something behind the throne greater than the king himself.”

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