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    Concepts of the Role ofIntellectuals in Social ChangeToward Laissez Faire*by Murray N . Rothbard

    Th e creed of laissez faire-individual liberty, inviolate rights of prop erty, freemarkets, and minimal govem ment-is virtually bound to be a radical one . Thatis, this libertarian creed is necessarily set in profound conflict with existing formsof polity, which have generally been one or another variety of statism. In thispaper, we concentrate, not on examining o r justifying the laissez-faire doctrinesof various thinkers, but, given those doctrines, how these writers and theoristsproposed to try to bring about their ideal polity. In short, having adopted a pro-foundly radical creed at odds with the ruling dogmas of their day, what, if anyth ing,did these theorists offer a s a strategy for social change in the direction o f liberty?We are familiar with how Marx and the Marxists met this challenge of how toproceed in the direction of a radical ideal. How did laissez-faire thinkers meettheir own particular challenge, in som e ways similar and in some ways quite dif-ferent? In this paper, we do not presume to be comprehensive; we select severalimportant laissez-faire intellectuals and groups of intellecluals, over the centuries,and see what solutions thev could offer to the oroblem of libertarian social chanee.-

    To their credit, the Marxists have spent an enormous amount of their time andenergy g rappling with problems of strategy and tactics, much mo re so than have~laissez-faire thinkers. o n the other hand, the libertarians have not enjoyed theluxury of having a readily identifiable social class to ordain as the preferred agent

    of change (the "proletariat" for classical Marxists; the peasantry fo r Leninists-Maoists, and the lumpen proletariat and the "student class" fo r the short-livedNew Left in the United States of the late 196 0s.) Neither did the libertarians havethe com fort of knowing that their triumph has been made inevitable by the "scien-

    * An earlier version of this paper was delivered at a Conference on Economics and Social Changeheld by the London Academic and Culhlral Resources Fund and Ihe lnstimte for Sociology at theUniversity of Warsaw, at Mmgowo, Poland, March 14-18, 1986.

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    44 THE JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES Falltific laws of history," and by the irresistible if murky work ings of the materialistdialectic.

    All new, radical ideas and ideologies begin necessarily with one or a handfulof lone intellectuals, and so through history such intellectuals, finding themselvesin possession of a radical political creed, have realized that, if social change isever to occur, the process must begin with themselves. Most classical liberal orlaissez-faire activists have adopted, perhaps w ithout much though tful considera-tion, a simple strategy that we may call "educationism." Roughly: W e havearrived a t the truth, but most people are still deluded believers in erro r; therefore,we must educate these people-via lectures, discussions, books, pam phlets,newspapers, o r whatever-until they become converted to the correct point ofview. F or a m inority to become a m ajority, a process of persuasion and conv er-sion must take place-in a wo rd, education.

    T o be sure, there is nothing wrong with this strategy so far as it goes. A ll newtruths or creeds, be they scientific, artistic, religious, or political, must proceedin roughly this way: the new truth rippling out from the initial discoverers todisciples and proteges, to writers and journalists, to intellectuals and the lay pub lic.'By itself, however, pure educationism is a naive strategy because it avoids ponder-ing some difficult problems, e.g., how a re we to confron t the problem of power?Do we have to convert a large majority, a narrow one, o r merely a critical m assof an articulate and dedicated minority? And if we perform such a conversion,y h a t will happen to the State? Will it wither away (o r wither to an ultraminimalnugget) by itself, automatically, as it were? And are there one o r more groupsthat we should concentrate on in ou r agitation? Should we invest ou r necessarilyscarce resources on o ne more likely group of converts rather than another? Shouldwe be consistent and overt in our ag itation, or should we practice thearts of decep-tion until we are ready to strike? Are we most likely to make gains during onestate of affairs in society rather than another? Will econom ic, m ilitary, o r socialcrisis benefit our movem ent or hurt it? None of these problems is an easy one,and unfortunately the general run of laissez-faire thinkers and activists has devotedvery little time to considering, let alone solving, them.

    In this essay, we consider some outstanding laissez-faire intellectuals of thepast, and how they went about pondering the problems of social change. And,in particular, as intellectuals, what they thought the role of intellectuals (perhapsincluding themselves) should be in fostering such change.

    1. Retreatism: Taoism in Ancient ChinaThe first libertarian intellectual was Lao-tzu, the founder of Taoism. Little isknow n about his life, but apparently he was a personal acquaintance of Confucius

    in the late sixth century B.C. and like the latter came from the state of Sun g andwas descended from the lower aristocracy of the Yin dynasty. Unlike the notable

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    1993 45MURRAY N. ROTHBARD-ROLE OF INTELLECTUALSapologist for the rule of philosopher-bureaucrats, however, Lao-tzu developeda radical libertarian c reed. Fo r Lao-tzu the individual and h is happiness was thekey unit and goal of socie ty. If social institutions ham pered the individual's flower-ing and his happiness, then those institutions should be reduced or abolishedaltogether. T o the individualist Lao-tzu, government, w ith its "laws and regula-tions more numerous than the hairs of an ox," was a vicious oppressor of theindividual, and "m ore to be feared than fierce tigers." Gov ernm ent, in sum,must be limited to the smallest possible minimum ; "inaction" was the prope rfunction of government, since only inaction can permit the individual to flourishand achieve happiness. Any intervention by government, Lao-tzu declared, wouldbe counterproductive, and would lead to confusion and turmoil. After referringto the common experience of mankind with government, Lao-tzu came to thisincisive conclusion: "The mo re artificial taboos and restrictions there are in theworld, the m ore the people are impoverished. . . .Th e more that laws and regula-tions are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers there will be."

    The wisest course, then, is to keep the government simple and for it to takeno action, for then the world "stabilizes itself." As Lao-tzu put it, "Thereforethe Sage says: I take no action yet the people transform themselves, I favorquiescence and the peop le right themselves, I take no action and the people enrichthemselves. . . ."

    Lao-tzu arrived at his challenging and radical new insights in a world dominatedby the power of Oriental despotism. What strategy to pursue for social change?It surely was unthinkable for Lao-tzu, with no available historical or contem-porary example of libertarian social chang e, to set forth any optimistic strategy,let alone contemplate forming a m ass movemen t to overthrow the State. And soLao-tzu took the only strategic way out that seemed open to him, counseling thefamiliar Taoist path of withdrawal from society and the world, of retreat and innercontemplation.I submit that while contemporary T aoists advocate retreat from the world asa matter of religious o r ideological principle, it is very possible that Lao-tzu calledfor retreat not as ap rinc iple , but as the only strategy that in his despair seemedopen to him . If it was hopeless to try to disentangle society from the oppressivecoils of the State, then he perhaps assumed that the proper cou rse was to counselwithdrawal from society and the world as the only way to escape State t y ~ a n n y . ~That retreat from the State was a dominant Taoist objective may be seen inthe views of the great Taoist Chuang-tzu (369-c. 286 B.c.) who, two centuriesafter Lao -tzu, pushed the m aster's ideas of laissez faire to their logical conclu-sion: individualist anarchism. Th e influential Chuang-tzu, a notable stylist whowrote in allegorical parables, was a highly learned man in the state of Meng,and also descended from the old aristocracy. A minor official in his native state,Chuang-tzu's fame as a writer spread far and wide throughout C hina, so muchso that King Wei of the Ch'u kingdom sent an emissary to Chuang bearing g reat

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    4 6 THE JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES Fallgifts and urging him to become Wei's chief minister of state. Chuang-tzu 's scornfulrejection of the king's offer is one of the great declarations in history on the evilsunderlying the glittering trappings of State power; it was a fitting declaration fromthe man who was perhaps the world's first anarchist:

    A thousand ounces of eold is indeed a ereat reward. and the office of chiefminister is truly an elevated position. But have you, sir, not seen the sacrificialox awaitine the sacrifices at the roval shrine of state? It is well cared foru and fed for a few years, caparisoned with rich brocades, so that it will beready to be led into the Great Temple. At that moment, even though it wouldgladly change places with any solitary pig, can it do so? So, quick and beoff with you! Don't sully me, I would rather roam and idle about in a muddyditch, at my own amusement, than to be put under the restraints that the rulerwould impose. I will never take any official service, and thereby I will satisfymy own purposes.

    Chuang-tzu reiterated and embellished Lao-tzu's devotion to laissez faire andopposition to state rule: "There has been such a thing as letting mank ind alone ;the re has never been such a thing as governing mankind [with success]." In fact,the world simply "does not need governing; in fact it should not be governed."Chuang-tzu was also the first to work out the idea of "spontaneous orde r,"developed particularly by Proudhon in the nineteenth and by F. A. Hayek of theAustrian School in the twentieth CenNry: "Good orde r results spontaneously whenthings are let alone."Chuang-tzu, moreover, was perhaps the first theorist to see the State as a brigandwrit large: "A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes a ruler of aState." Thus the only difference between State rulers and out-and-out robber chief-tains is the size of their depreda tions. This them e of ruler-as-robber was to berepeated, independently of cou rse, by C icero and then by S t. Augustine and otherChristian thinkers in the Middle Ages.'

    2. La Boetie: Philosopher and Strategist of Civil DisobedienceTh e first modem libertarian political philosopher was a young French aristocratof the mid-sixteenth century, ~ t i e n n ede La Bo itie (1530-1563). La Bo6tie3sfatherwas a royal official in the Perigord region in southwestern France; his motherwas the sister of the president of the Bordeaux Parlement. Orphaned at an earlya g e , ~ t i e n n ewas brought up by his uncle and namesake, the curate of Bouil-

    honnas. Receiving his law degree from the University of Orleans in 1553, LaBoktie promptly gained a royal appointment to the Bordeaux Parlem ent, w herehe pursued a distinguished care er as judge and diplom at until his untimely deathin 1563 at the age of thirty-two. La Bodtie was also known as a distinguishedpoet and humanist, translating Xenophon and Plutarch, and closely connectedwith the Pleia.de, the leading group of young poets in France.

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    The re was nothing libertarian about La Bk ti e 's public care er. Indeed, shortlybefore he died, he wrote but did not publish a manuscript, a "Mem oir Concern-ing the Edict of January , 1562," in which L a Bo itie urged the Fren ch state topunish Protestant leaders as rebels and enforce Catholicism on France.'La Boitie's great contribution to libertarian thought came while he was anunhappy law student, going through the sixteenth-century equivalent of a mod ernbohemian o r "hippie" period of discontented youth. In addition, the Universityof Orleans was going through an intellectually exciting era of free inquiry andreligious ferment. La Boitie's major men tor at the university was the fiery An nedu Bo urg, n ot yet a Protestant but tending rapidly in that direction; on ly six yea rsafter La Bk tie 's graduation, du Bourg was to become a Huguenot martyr, burnedat the stake for heresy. It was in this period of ferme nt that La Bo itie com posedhis brief, but scintillating, profoun d, and deeply radical Disco urs e of VoluntaryServitude (Discours d e la Servitude Voluntaire.) T he Disco urse was never pub-lished by La Boitie, but circulated widely in manuscript, samizdat-style form,and gained con side rable fam e in Pe rigordian intellectual circle^.^In the first place, a century before Hob bes and Lock e, La B oh ie used abstract,dedu ctive reasonin g to argu e for the absolute, un iversal natural rights of libertyfor every individual. W herea s the later radical H uguenot m onarchomachs of the1570s and 1580s used narrowly legal and historical argum ents on behalf of Frenchliberties, LaBoitie dealt in timeless and general principles discoverable by reason,taking his historical examples solely from classical antiquity.Secondly, La B o b ie widened the classical and medieval concept of "tyranny"from vaguely defined one-man misrule to any State that violated the natural rightsof the individual. Moreov er, in anothe r outstanding contribution, "tyranny" wasbroadened from the misrule of one despot to a State apparatus that serves thedespot and shares in the privileges and exactions of State rule.

    Third and most significant, La Boitie, two centuries before David H ume, sawthat all tyranny, regardless how co ercive o r despo tic, must rest in the long runon the consent of the majority o f the people, since neither one man nor e ven aminority constituting the State apparatus can physically coerce the majority forvery long. W hile, as La B oitie pointed o ut, every State rule originated in coe r-cion and conquest, for the ruler to remain in power there must be consent bythe general public.If, then, State tyranny is kept in power by popular co nsent, the way to get ridof that po we r, the strategy f or the achievement of liberty, beco mes crystal clear .For the first time in the history of political thought, La Bohie concluded thatthe way to get rid of State tyranny is simple: a mass refusal to obey the ordersof the State, especially the payment of the State's coerced taxes and exactions.Th ere is no need to overthrow tyrants by forc e, La Bo itie pointed out: "Obviouslythere is no need of fighting to overc om e this single tyrant, for h e is automaticallydefeated if the country refuses consent to its ow n enslave men t." All that need

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    48 THE JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES Fall

    happen is for the tyrants to be deprived of the public's continuing supply o f fundsan d resources. If they "are simply not obeye d," the tyrants become "u ndoneand as nothing." La Boetie stirringly exhorts the "poor, wretched, and stupidpeoples", blind to their own good , deprived and plundered of their propertiesan d homes, to cast off their chains by refusing to supply the tyrants any fu rtherwith the instruments of their own oppression. The tyrant, he points out, has

    nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Wherehas he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide themyourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he doesnot borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, wheredoes he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any powerover you except through you?T he answ er, then, is not upheaval and bloodshed, but merely "willing to be

    free." In sho rt,Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that youplace hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you supporthim no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestalhas been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in p i e ~ e s . ~

    But if tyranny necessarily rests on popular con sent, why d o the masses custom-arily give such consent, and thereby support their own misery and destruction?Logically, then, La Bodtie was led to what he considered the central problemof political theory, w hat we might call "the mystery of civil obedience." O r ,why in the world do people continue to consent to their ow n enslavement? Wh yd o people, in all times and places, obey the comm ands of a sm all minority ofsociety that constitutes the government? Why, La Bodtie cries out in anguish,why, when reason teaches us the justice of natural rights and equal liberty forall, why, when even animals display a natural instinct to be free, is man, "theonly crea ture really born to be free, [lacking] the mem ory of his original condi-tion and the desire to return to it?"' W hy , in sho rt, a re people steeped in sucha "vile" and "monstrou s vice" as consenting to their ow n subjection?

    La Boktie answers, first, that the difficult act of initially establishing tyran-nical State pow er is accomplished through som e form of conquest, either by aforeign pow er, a n internal co up, o r by the use of a wartime emergency a s anexcuse to fasten a perman ent despotism upon the public. And why then d o peoplecontinue to consent?

    In the first place, explains La Boitie, there is the insidious power of habit,which quickly accustoms and inures the public to any institution, including itsown enslavement.

    It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force;but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willinglywhat their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born

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    under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, withoutfurther effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other stateor right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they a reborn. . . .Th us humanity's natural drive for liberty is overpowered by the force of custom,

    "for the reason that native endow ment, n o matter how go od, is dissipated unlessencouraged, whereas environment always shapes us in its own w ay. . . ." Hence,people will

    grou accuwmed to the idea thdt they hsve always bwn in .uhlcction. thattheir tarhers i w d i n the same wa,; thcv will think they arc t~hliardto s~ l l e r. .this evil, and will persuade themselves by example a id imitation of others,finally investing those who order them around with proprietary rights, basedon the idea that it has always been that way.8

    And so consent of the public need not be eag er or enthusiastic, but rather of theresigned "death and taxes" variety. But seco nd, the State apparatus need notwait for the slow w orkings of custom; consent can also be engineered. La B oh ieproceeds to discuss the various devices by w hich rulers engineer such con sent.One time-honored device is circuses, for the entertainment of the masses:

    Plavs. farces. snectacles. eladiators. stranee beasts. medals. oictures and other, . . - . .

    such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery, the priceof their libe m. the insuurnents of tvrannv. Bv these oractices and enticementsthe ancient di&tors so successfull; lu~lehtheir subjects . . .that the stupifiedoenrrles. fascinated bv the oastimes and vain oleasures. . . .learned subser-biedce as naively, bit notso creditably, as little children learn to read bylooking at bright pictureAn othe r important device for gaining the consent of the public is duping them

    into believing that the rule of the tyrant is wise, just, and benevolent. In m od erntimes, La B ob ie notes, rulers "never undertake an unjust policy, even one ofsom e importance, without prefacing it with som e pretty speech concerning publicwelfare and com mo n good." Reinforcing ideological propaganda is deliberatemystification. Th us the ancient kings set up the idea in !he minds of the publicthat they w ere above ordinary humans an d close to gods. Symbols of mysteryand magic were woven around the Cro wn , so that "by doing this they inspiredtheir subjects with reverence and admiration." Som etimes tyrants have gone sofar as to im pute to themselves the very status of divinity. In this way, "tyrants,in order to strengthen their pow er, have m ade every effort to train their peoplenot only in obedien ce and servility toward th em selves, bu t also in adoration."'O

    Circuses, specious ideology, mystery-in addition to these purely propagan-distic devices, rulers have used another strategem to obtain the consent of theirsubjects: purchase by m aterial benefits, bread as well as circuses. Th e distribu-tion of largesse to the people is a particularly cunning m ethod of dup ing theminto believing that they benefit from tyrannical rule. For

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    50 THE JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES Fall

    the fools did not realize that they were merely recovering a portion of theirown property, and that their ruler could not have given them what they werereceiving without having first taken it from them. . . . The mob has alwaysbehaved in this way-eagerly open to bribes."Finally, La BoLtie com es to another highly important and original contribution

    to political theory: the broadening of the concept of tyranny from one man toan entire State apparatus. This is the establishment, as it were, by permanentand continuing purchase, of a stable hierarchy of subordinate allies, a loyal bandof retainers, praetorians, and bureaucrats. La Boitie considers this factor "themainspring and secret of domination, the support and foundation of tyranny."For here is a large sector of society that is not merely duped with occasionalnegligible handouts from the State; but who make a handsome and permanentliving out of the proceeds of despotism. Hence, their stake in despotism is notdependent on illusion, habit, o r mystery, but is all too great and real. In this way ,an elabo rate hierarchy of patronage from the fruits of plunder is created and main-tained. A large number of men thus permeate down through the ranks of society,and "cling to the tyrant by this cord to wh ich they are tied." In short, "a ll thosewho are corrupted by burning ambition or extraordinary avarice, these gatheraround him and suppon him in order to have a share in the booty and to con-stitute themselves petty chiefs under the big tyrant." It is true that they, too, a resubjects and suffer at their leader's hands, but in return fo r that subjection, thesesubordinates are permitted to oppress the remainder of the public.'Z

    On de eper reflection, then, the strategy for the achievement of liberty is notso simple; fo r even though mass civil disobedience is the master key, how is thepublic to be brought to such an action, blinded as they ar e by a netw ork of habit,propaganda, and special privilege? But La B ob ie does not despair. Fo r one thing,no t all the public is deluded o r sunk into habitual submission. Environment mayinfluence, but it does not determine; for, in con trast to "the brutish mass," thereis always a more percipient remnant, an elite who will understand the reality ofthe situation: "There ar e always a few , better endowed than others, who feelthe w eight of the yoke and cannot restrain themselves from anem pting to shakeit off." These are people who possess clear and far-sighted minds, w ho will neverdisappear from the earth: "Even if liberty had entirely perished from the earth,such men would invent it." It is true that rulers invariably attempt to controland suppress genuine education in their realms, depriving the elite of freedomof speech and action, and thereby of making converts. But still, there are alwaysheroic leaders who can arise from the mass, leaders who will not fail "to delivertheir country from evil hands." This knowledgeable and valiant elite, then, willform the vanguard of the revolutionary resistance movement. Through a proce ssof educating and rousing the public to the truth, they will give back to the peopleknow ledge of the blessings of liberty and exp ose the m yths and illusions fosteredby the State. Furthermore, they will be helped, as La Boetie indicates, by the

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    fact that even the privileged courtiers and favorites lead miserable, c ringing livesand that therefore at least some of them will join the popular resistance and therebysplit the ruling elite.')~ t i e n n ede La Boiti e was therefore the first modern libertarian theorist, whoalso-and remarkably-offered a strategic theory that stemm ed logically fromhis analysis of the groundwork of State power. But what did he personally doabout it? Did be, to use Marxian jargon, unite theory and praxis in his own life?Certainly not; ironically, La Boetie demonstrated that he may have been amember of a knowledgeable elite but scarcely a valiant one. Not publishing theDiscourse, he took his appointed place in the ruling elite; and as Professor Keohanestates, "W hether he ever mused on the irony of finding himself a prominen t partof the network he had once condemned so scathingly, we cannot know.""It is not uncomm on, of course, for ardently radical university students to settlequickly into a comfortable and respectable conservatism, once entrenched in theprivileges and emoluments of the status quo. But there is a bit more here thanthat. For even the brilliantly radical argument of the Discourse contained the seedsof its own decay. The very abstractness and universality of its methodology, thefailure to apply the doctrine to concrete conditions of sixteenth-century France,meant that when La Bobtie's own interests shifted inevitably from the abstractto the concrete in his busy adult career, it was a ll too easy for him to dro p hisyouthful and abstract radicalism. His original failure to integrate theory and prac-tice, general doctrine and concrete application, paved the way for the theory'sdemise, at least in La Boetie's own life.But the ultimate fate of the Discourse furnished a counter-irony. For if hisabstract method permitted La B oh ie to abandon his radicalism swiftly in the realwo rld, it had an opposite effect on later readers. Its very timelessness makes thework eternally available-to be applied concretely in a radical manner to laterinstitutions and generations. Thus the Discourse was first published, not by LaBoetie or his heirs or assigns, but anonymously and incompletely in the radicalHuguenot pamphlet Le Reveille-Matin des Fr an ~o is(1574) probably written bya member of the late Admiral Coligny's staff with the collaboration of the greatCalvinist Theodore Beza. The full text of the Discourse, this time with the author'sname included, appeared for the first time tw o years later, in a collection of radicalHugenot essays compiled by a Calvinist minister at Geneva, Simon G ~ u l a r t . ' ~La Boetie's close friend, the essayist Michel de Montaigne, who had intendedto publish the Discourse himself, was furious at its appropriation by the radicalHuguenots. Montaigne now refused to carry on his project, and, to counter theHuguenots, launched a d isinformation campaign, claiming that his friend had onlybeen eighteen, and then finally sixteen, years old when he wrote the essay. Inthat way, Montaigne could defuse the embarrassing radicalism of the Discourseby passing it off as a juvenile, though precocious, flight of rhetorical fancy, m ean-ingless in content. And even the Huguenots used the radical pamphlet somew hat

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    52 TH E JOURNAL O F LIBERTARIAN STUDIES Fallginge rly. It is true that the Huguenot pamphlet Lo Fra nce Turquie (1575) pickedup La Boetie's call for mass civil disobedience by advocating an association oftowns and provinces to refuse to pay all taxes to the State. Bu t, overall, as Laskiwittily wrote, "Attractive as was the spirit of La Boetie's essay, avowed andacademic republicanism was meat too strong for the digestion of the time. Notthat La Boetie was entirely without influence; but he was used as cautiously asan Anglican bishop might, in the [eighteen]-sixties, have an interest in Dar-winism."'6

    Almost completely forgotten in the mo re peaceful days of seventeenth centuryFrance, the Discourse became known, though not very influential, in the eigh-teenth century by being printed as a supplement to Mo ntaigne's e ssays. U nsur-prisingly, how ever, the Discourse found its audience in the stormy times of theFrench Revolution, when it was twice reprinted. Th e fiery Abb6 de Lamennaislater reprinted the Discourse with a "violent" preface of his own , and the samewas done by another writer in 1852 to strike back against the coup d'itat ofNapoleon m.Later in the nineteenth century, La Boetie's essay inspired the non-violent wing of the anarchist movement. Indeed, Leo Tolstoy, in setting forthhis doc trine of civil disobedience and nonviolent anarchism, cited a lengthy passagefrom the Discourse a s the source for the development of his argument. Further-more, Tolstoy's Letter to a Hindu, which played a central role in shaping Gandhi'sthinking toward m ass nonviolent action , was heavily influenced by La Bo6tie.17In the early twentieth century, the leading German anarchist Gustav L andau er,after becoming converted to a pacifist approach , made a rousing summary of LaBoetie's Discourse the central core of his wo rk, D ie Revolution (1919). A nd theleading Dutch pacifist-anarchist of the twentieth century, Bartelemy de Ligt,devo ted several pages of his Conquest of Violence to discussion and pra ise oftheD isco urse and translated it into Dutch in 1933.18Thus, as the centuries wenton , the specu lative doctrines of the young Orleans law student were able to takeposthumous revenge on the respectable and eminent official of the BordeauxParlement.I9

    3. Converting the Monarch: Revolution from the Top,.

    Retreatism was a counsel of despair rather than a strategy, while mass civildisobedience seemed to appeal only to a heroic minority. Neither appeared tobe a viable strategy for social change toward liberty and laissez faire. The vic-tory of the centrist politiques at the end of the sixteenth century in Fran ce pavedthe way for a growing and centralizing royal absolutism. And that absolutismgrew apace with the crushing of the Fronde and other popular rebellions duringthe mid-seventeenth centu ry. Finally, abso lutism reached its apogee in the reignof the Sun King, Louis XIV. Ho wev er, opposition to royal absolutism and mer-cantilist statism began to grow in the 1680s and 1690s among merchants andaristocrats, and some leading bureaucrats, churchman, and theorists.

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    A new and m ore pragmatic viewpoint began to develop. Why not abandon thefruitless idea of organizing mass opposition to the king? Why not short-circuitthe problem of social change by converting the king and have him impose libertyfrom the top down, thus avoiding any radical change in the nation's politicalinstitutions? To effect this strategy, the new oppositionists and libertarians hadto employ basically utilitarian arguments. Even proponents of natural rights, suchas the Physiocrats in the mid- and later eighteenth century , em ployed utilitarianarguments to convince the king and the ruling aristocracy of the overridingimportance of such rights. Basically, the theme, employing both natural rightsand free-market approaches, was that property rights and laissez faire would benefitthe entire nation, would advance the happiness and prosperity of everyon e. Andif the nation would benefit, so too would the king.

    a . Archbishop Finelon and the Burgundy CircleOne of the most influential centers of libertarian opposition to the absolutismof Louis XIV was headed by the highly devout F r a n ~ o isde Salignac de la Mothe,Archbishop F enelon of Cambrai (1651-1715). Fdnelon was a friend and studentof Ab be Claude Fleury (1640-1723) who, as a young theologian, had launchedthe anti-statist opposition in the early 1670s. Young Fdnelon found that he couldexercise maximal influence on the Court by getting appointed to the post ofreligious confessor and instructor to the king's mistress, the Madam e Franqoised'Anbignd, the Marquise de Maintenon (1635-1719). From this position duringthe 1680s Fdnelon got himself appointed in 1689 as preceptor to the royal children,in particular the young Duke of Burgundy, grandson of Louis XIV, who seemeddestined one day to be king.Finelon 's strategy to achieve liberty, then, was to organize a group of tutors

    to the young dauphin, to convert the future king to the libertarian creed, and,then , when he assumed power, to achieve the libertarian revolution from the topdow n. Assisted by Fleury, Fine lon indeed succeeded in making a disciple of theDuke of Burgundy, and his Burgundy Circle became an active and knowledgeablefocus of opposition to the statism and mercantilism of Louis XIV. Fenelon wasparticularly incensed at the continuing wars and their attendant crushing burdenof taxation and ruin of trade. In an anonymous letter to the king in 1693, whichh e probably sent only to Madame d e Maintenon, F6nelon denounced the unen-ding "bloody" wars, which with their taxes have destroyed trade and crippledthe poor, driving the people to desperation, "by exacting from them for yourwars, the bread which they have endeavored to earn with the sweat from theirbrows."In his political novel, Aventures de T&maque, written for the instruction ofthe young duke, Fenelon spoke through M entor, a wise man among the Phoeni-cians, w ho explained to young prince Telemaque how the Phoenicians were ableto flourish so remarkably in world trade:

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    54 THE JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUD IES FallAbove all never do anything to interfere with trade in order to turn it to yourviews. The Prince must not concern himself with trade for fear of hinderingit. He must leave all profits to his subjects who earned them, otherwise theywill become discouraged . . .2 0

    Th e Burgundy Circ le seemed close to the achievement of their cherished goalswhen the Grand Dauphin, son of L ouis XIV, died in 1711 and the Duke of Bur-gundy becam e first in line for the thron e. But tragedy struck again the followingyear, when the duke, his wife, and eldest son died of measles. In despair, F h e lo nwrote to a friend , "Men work by their education to form a subject full of courageand ornamented by knowledge; then God comes along to destroy this house ofcards . . ."

    The sudden and tragic end of the Burgundy Circle illuminates one problemwith the idea of converting a king (in this case a future king): If that one persondies or disappears, the entire strategy for liberty disappears with it.?'

    b . Quesnay, Physiocracy, and TurgorSome fifty years after Finelon's attempt, Francois Quesnay (1694-1774)

    organized a movem ent to convert the existing Fren ch king (as well as all others)and not merely a future one . In contrast to FAnelon's search fo r special influenceat cou rt, Quesnay had achieved his influence before becoming interested in socialo r economic ideas. A distinguished surgeon and physician, Quesnay had writtenwidely on medicine as well as agricultural technology, his celebrity in medicineearn ing him the post in 174 9 of personal physician to the mistress of King LouisXV, the Madame d e Pompadour. A few years later, Quesnay became personalphysician to the king himself.It was in the late 1750's, when he was in his mid-sixties, that the court physi-cian began to dabble in econom ic topics. Th e founding of Quesnay's physiocraticmovem ent m ay be dated precisely at the moment in July 1757 that the gu m m etthe man who would becom e his chief adept and propagandist, the restless, flighty,enthusiastic and slightly crackpot Victor Riquetti, Marquis de Mirabeau(1715-1789). Mirabeau had just ach ieved fame by pub lishing the first severalparts of a mu lti-pan w ork, that promptly became a best seller, the flamboyant,unsystematic and grandiloquently entitled The Friend ofMan (L'ami des hommes).The fateful meeting of the two meant that the seemingly harmless rum inationsof the court physician became physiocracy, a school of thought. Bolstered byQuesnay's crucial place at court and by Mirabeau 's fame and energy, physiocracysoon became a formidable and influential school, conducting ope rations througha succession of journals, as well as by regular Tuesday evening sem inars, or salons,held at the hom e of Mirabeau. The physiocrats favored an absolute monarch whowould install and enforce a system of absolute and natural property rights forall, as w ell as its corollary , a laissez-faire econom ic system. The physiocrats also

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    had a special concern for agriculture, reflecting the interests of their founder,including the view that only land was productive.In many ways, the physiocratic school became a personality cult for Quesnay .His followers claimed, with little evidence, that Quesnay looked like Socrates,and they habitually referred to him as the "Confucius of Europe." Indeed ,Mirabeau went so far as to proclaim that the three greatest inventions in the historyof mankind had been writing, money, and Quesnay 's famous diagram, The tableaueconomique.Most physiocratic hopes in politics rested on the formidable figure of AnneRobert Jacques Turgot, the Baron de I'Aulne (1727-1781). But while he was apolitical ally of the physiocrats in their drive toward free trade and laissez faire,

    Turgot was by no means a physiocrat in economic theory. Believing neither inland as the only productive factor nor in the proto-Keynesian tableau economique,Turgo t was in fact a brilliant and creative pioneer in what later would becomethe Austrian school of economics."A. R. J. Turgo t was born to a distinguished Norman family of royal officialsand administrators, and then took his own place in the top levels of the royalbureaucracy. He learned administration as well as devotion to laissez faire fromhis great friend and mentor, Jacques Claude Marie Vincent, the Marquis deGournay (1712-1759), a successfiil merchant who then became a royal inspectorand minister of commerce. In addition, Turgot reported a family tradition thatthe phrase "laissez faire" had been invented by the wealthy Norman merchant,Thomas Le Gendre, a close friend of Turgot's grandparents. When asked howColbert could best help trade, Le Gendre had replied, "laissez-nous faire."Turgot's strategy was to rise in the French bureaucracy, and then to effectlaissez-faire reforms when he became Controller-General (finance minister). Whilethis depended on the conversion of the king, Turgot did not really share thephysiocrats' enthusiasm for an absolutist king who could establish their reforms.One of Turgot's most incisive epigrams, delivered to a friend, revealed both hispolitical and religious views: "I am not an Encyclopkdiste because I believe inGod ; I am not an economiste [physiocrat] because I would have no king." Turgo thad concluded that the best form of government, and the one most likely to leadto laissez faire and the protection of property rights, was a constitutional republic"in which all property owners have an equal right to participate in legislation."But, in common with his young friend and disciple, the mathematician andphilosophe Marie Jean Antoine Nicholas de Caritat, the Marquis de Condorcet(1743-1794). Turgot was willing to settle for influencing and converting an existentmonarch. As Condorcet's biographer writes, "the monarchical regime had thegreat advantage of offering a clear locus of power to be captured for the publicgood by men of reason and goodw ill." The biographer aptly calls this creed a"view of the redemption of monarchical power by reason, this eighteenth-centuryversion of the withering away of the state."z)

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    The laissez-fairists finally got the chance for their noble experiment in 1774,when Tu rgot was named Controller-General. Turg ot gathered about him as topaides a galaxy of ideologues of the movement, including Condorcet and theyoungest and last of the major physiocrats, Pie rre Samuel Dupont de N emours(1739-1817). The f irst act of the new adm inistration w as the edict of September13, decreeing the freedom of import and export, internal and external, of all grain.The preamble of the edict, drawn up by Dupont, was designed to educate thepublic on the reasons for this crucial measure. Th e new free tsade policy, declaredthe preamble, was designed

    to animate and extend the cultivation of the land . . to remove monopoly byshutting out private license in favor of free and full competition, and by main-taining among different countries that communication of exchange ofsuperfluities for necessities which is conformable to the order established byDivine Providence."Free trade in grain, however, ran into a storm of protest, from bureaucrats,restrictionists, and the masses of people who clam ored fo r artificially cheap bread

    and failed to understand that these p rice controls brought about the very sho rtageof bread that drove them to riot and looting.

    Th e undaunted Turgot pressed on, however, w ith his policy of sweep ing laissez-faire reform. Egged on by the eager Condorc et, Turgo t presented his Six Edicts,which included the abolition of the infamous corvies-the system of forced laboron the S tate roads. Since the replacem ent of forced by f ree labor meant an increasein property taxes, the aristocracy bitterly fought the abolition of the corvbes. M oreom inously, this libertarian reform was resisted and intrigued against by none otherthan T rudaine de Montigny, head of the Department of Bridges and Roads, andTurgot's old friend and fellow laissez-faire reformer. Once Trudaine enteredoffice, he began to feel the tug of bureau cratic interest more than what he adm ittedwas the call of justice: employing forced and therefore cheap labor was veryconvenient to the M inistry, making it virtually independent of the limitations ofthe State's budgetary process.After a month of fierce debate within the royal council, the Six Edicts weresubmitted to the Parlement of Paris in early Febru ary, 1776. The re the edicts,in particular the abolition of the corvies and the guilds, ran into fierce opposi-tion, scarcely mollified by anonymous (but transparent) and fiery pamphletspublished by Cond orcet, bitterly attacking the c o r v h and raising the explosivequestion of abolishing the feudal dues. The Parlement defended the existing orderin the way that conservatives have traditionally argued against proposals for anysubstantive radical change, whether coming from libertarians or socialists.Invoking divine sanction and historical precedent, the Parlement denounced "aproject stemming from an inadmissible system of equality" and the "uniformyoke of a land tax."" It makes a great deal of difference, of course, w hether

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    the equality sought is of rights or taxation, on the one hand, or of income orwealth on the other.

    Fo r a fleeting mom ent, the king insisted on imposing the Six Edicts by his ownabsolute authority over the Parlement. But a combination of parlementaryresistance and ministerial intrigue at last did Turgot in, and he was forced to resignin mid-May , 1776. The Turgot reforms were promptly quashed by the exuberantdefenders of the old statist order. Th e noble experiment in laissez-faire reform ,the "reign of philosophy ," was over. F rom now on there was no drive for reformuntil the advent of the French Revolution.The last hope of the philosophes and of the physiocrats was now shattered.Turgo t's reign was their last flourish. Already, they had begun to slip in influencewith Quesnay's loss of interest in physiocracy in the early 1770s, his restlessmind m oving on to works on mathem atics, w here he claimed to have solved theage-old problem of squaring the circle. Q uesnay's death in 1776 together withthe public smear campaign heaped upon Mirabeau by his wife and children ina bitter family quarrel around the sam e time as Turgo t's ouster, helped shatterthe physiocratic movement.

    As for the philosophes, the head of their main salon (and the mistress to thegreat d'Alembert), Mlle. Julie de Lespinasse, warned Condorcet at the begin-ning of the experim ent that "if it is impossible for him [Turgot] to do good weshall be a thousand times m ore miserable than w e were before, because we sha llhave lost the hope that alone sustain the wretched." And indeed when Turgotfell, Condorcet wrote in despair to his master, Voltaire, "This event has changedthe whole of nature for me. I no longer take the sam e pleasure in this beautifulcountryside, where he would have brough t forth happiness. . . . How far we havefallen, my dear and illustrious master, and from such a height." And s o bothTurgot and Condorcet retired from public life, T urgot contentedly to his study,and the younger Condorcet reluctantly to the world of academia. As Cond orcetremarked to Voltaire, "We have had a fine dream but it was too short. I am goingto apply m yself again to mathematics and philosophy. But it is comfortless onlyto be able to work fo r one's own petty glory, w hen one has imagined for a whilethat on e was working for the public good."26 Condo rcet, of course, returned tothe political sphere upon the onset of the French Revolution, w ith disastrous con-sequences to himself.

    Th e repeated failures of a centuly of attempts to conve rt the absolute monarchof France to laissez faire indicates a fundamental flaw of this seemingly simplestrategy. For is it really true that it is to the king's personal interest to protectthe natural rights and freedom of his subjects? Certainly in the short run, andperhaps even in the long run, the king's revenue (to say nothing of his power)may well be maximized by tyrannically sweating his subjects to attain the greatestpossible income for himself and his political favorites and allies. In the finalanalysis, reliance on the altruism of a n absolute monarch seems a highly shaky

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    ticon scheme , in which a major portion of the British population-the po or,schoolchildren, and prisoners, among others-would be incarcerated in "scien-tifically" designed concentration and slav e labor cam ps, all for the proprietaryprofit of Bentham himself.27 Bentham was therefore ripe for conversion todemocracy, where his scheme could do no worse, and might do better.

    On Ricardo, recen t research is making it clear that M ill was the youngish retiredstockbroker's mentor and master, not only in general intellectual but also ineconomic maners. And so Mill happily organized his good friend, hectored,cajoled, prodded, and bullied him into becoming the "Marx," the great economistthat M ill for some reason did not propose to be. H e pestered Richardo into writingand finishing his Principles of Political Economy and Taration (1817), lookingov er, editing, and probably adding to many drafts of this work. After that, M illpressed Ricardo into entering Parliament to take an active role am ong the Radicals.It also turns out that Mill, not Ricardo, was probably responsible for much ofthe Ricardian system itself, including the justly famous Law of Comparative Ad-vantage.28

    It is possible that James Mill's excess of humility was caused, not bypsychological traits, hut by his financial position vis-a-vis his mentors. It mayhave been economically prudent for the free-lance Scottish imm igrant on the brinkof poverty to flatter his wealthy friends, Bentham and Ricardo, and to subor-dinate himself to their (alleged) overriding greatness.While, as a high official of the East India Com pany, he could not run fo r Parlia-ment himself, Mill was the unquestioned cad re leader of the small but importantgroup of from ten to twenty Philosophic Radicals who enjoyed a brief day inthe sun in Parliament during the 1830s. Although the Radicals proclaimedthemselves Bentham ites, the aging Bentham had little to do personally with thegroup . M ost of the parliamentary Philosophic Radicals had been converted per-sonally by M ill, beginning with R icardo over a decad e earlier, and including hisson John S tuart, who, after Mill's death in 1836, succeeded his father as Radicalleader. James M ill had also convened the official leader of the Radicals in Parlia-ment, the banker and historian of ancient Greece, George Grote (1794-1871).Grote, a largely self-educated and hum orless man, soon becam e an abject discipleof James Mill. For Grote, in the words of Professor Joseph Hamburger, all ofMill's dicta "assumed the force and sanction of duties."Charismatic, humorless, and didactic, Mill had all the strengths and weaknessesof the mode m L eninist cadre type. Th e Millian circle also included a fiery cadrewom an, M rs. Harriet Lewin Grote (1792-1873), an imperious and assertive mili-tant whose home became the salon and social center for the parliamentary Radicals.She was widely known as the "Queen of the Radicals," and it was of her thatCobden wrote, "had she been a man, she would have been the leader of a party."Harriet Gro te testified to M ill's eloquence and charismatic effect on his youngdisciples, most of whom were brought into the Millian circle by his son, John

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    60 THE JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES FallStuart. A typical testimony w as that of William Ellis, a young friend of Joh n's,who wrote in later years of his experience of James M ill: "He worked a com-plete change in me. He taught me how to think and what to live for."W e can now place in better perspective Mill's famo us quasi-brainwashing educa-tion of his son, for which the bright young lad turned out not to be suitedpsychologically. T he point is that Mill's fierce and fervent education of John Stuartwas not simply the cro tchet of an intellectual father hying out his theories of educa-tion; the education was specifically designed to train John for his presumptivelyvital and w orld-historical role as James's heir and successor as leader of the Radicalcad re, the hoped for new "Lenin." The re was considerable method in themadness.

    James Mill's evangelical Calvinist spirit was tailor-made for his cadre role.During his days as a literary man in London, Mill lost his Christian faith andbecame an athe ist, but, as in the case of many la ter Calvinist-trained athetist andagnostic intellectuals, he retained the grim, puritanical, crusading habit of mindof the prototypical Calvinist firebrand.lg Mill's Calvinism was evident in his con-viction that reason must keep stern control ove r the passions-a conviction thathardly fitted well with Benthamite hedonism. Ca dre men ar e notorious puritans,and Mill puritanically disliked and distrusted drama or art; the actor, he com-plained, is "the slave of the most irregular appetites and passions of his species."M oreo ver, painting and sculpture were scorned by Mill-as by centuries ofCalvinists-as the lowest of the arts, only sew ing to gratify a frivolous love ofostentation.James Mill's passion for democracy stemmed from his libertarian theory ofclass analysis and class conflict, an ancestor, in a twisted way, of the more famo usbut hopelessly inconsistent Marxian one. Mill's theory, developed in the 1820sand 1830s, was either arrived at independently or was influenced by the earlynineteenth-century theory of two French intellectuals, Charles Comte (son-in-law of J. B. Say and no relation to Auguste) and Charles Dunoyer. It is essen-tially a "two-class" theory of class con flict: Th e "ruling class" at any particulartime is whatever grou p has managed to obtain control of S tate pow er; the "ruledclass" ar e those groups who are taxed, regulated, and controlled by the rulers.Class interest, then, is defined by any group's relation to the State. All classesar e harmonious and none conflict within the free market and free society; con-flicts arise only in relation to w ho co ntrols, o r who is controlled by , the State.Whether independent or not, Mill's analysis was devoid of the rich applica-tions to the history of Western Europe that Comte, Dunoyer, and their youngassociate , the his torian Augustin Thierry, had d e v e l ~ p e d . ~ ~Mill was interestedonly in the general theory and in current applications.

    Nevertheless, James Mill expressed libertarian class theory with great forceand lucidity. All governm ent, h e pointed out, is run by a ruling class , necessarilythe few, who dominate and exploit the ruled, the many. There ar e two conflicting

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    classes, he declared: "The first class, those who plunder, a re the small num ber.They are the ruling Few. The second class, those who are plundered, are thegreat number. T hey are the subject Many." O r, as Professor Ham burger sum sup M ill's position: "Politics was a struggle between two classes-the avariciousrulers and their intended victim^."^'The great problem of government, then, is how to eliminate this system ofplunder, to end the pow er "by which the class that plunder succeed in carryingon their vocation."All groups, Mill contended, tend to act for their selfish interest, so that it isabsurd to expect the ruling clique to ac t altruistically for the public good. Instead,they will use their opportunities for their own gain, which means to loot the Manyand to favor their own o r allied special interests against that of the public. HenceM ill's habitual use of the term "sinister" interests as against the public good.Hence, too, M ill's use of the term "the people" to characterize "the subjectMany", since the people have become a ruled class with a common interest inremoving oppression by the sinister interests of the rulers. It should he noted,too, that for M ill and the Radicals the public good meant laissez faire, govern-ment confined to the minimal functions of police, defense, and the administra-tion of justice.

    How then to arr ive at the great desideratum: to curb o r eliminate the plunderof the ruling class? Mill thought he saw the answer:The people must appoint watchmen. Who are to watch the watchmen? [Theclassic problem of political theory.] The people themselves. There is no otherresource; and without this ultimate safeguard, the ling few will be foreverthe scourge and oppression of the subject many.

    But how are the people themse lves to be the watchmen? T o this ancient problemMill provided what is by now a standard answer in the Western world, but stilla not very satisfactory one: by all the people electing representatives to do thewatching. Hence Mill's passion for universal suffrage in frequent elections bysecret ballot to put an end to the rule of the few, the aristoc racy , the ruling elite.Granted that the reign of The People would displace aristocratic rule, whatreason did Mill have for thinking that they would exert their will on behalf oflaissez faire? Here his reasoning was ingenious: While the ruling class enjoy incomm on the fruits of their exploitative rule, Th e People are a different kind ofclass, for their only interest in common is getting rid of the rule of special privilege.Apart from that, the m ass of the people have no comm on class interest they couldactively pursue by using the State. The interest of the people in ending the ruleof sinister interests and insuring liberty is the universal interest of all.

    How then accoun t for the fact that no one can claim that the masses have alwayschampioned laissez faire? And, in fact, that the masses have often loyally sup-ported the exploitative rule of the few? Clearly, because the people , in the complexfield of public policy, have suffered from w hat the Marxists would later call "false

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    consciousness," an ignorance of where their interests truly lie. It was thereforeup to the intellectual vangu ard, to Mill and his Philosophic Radicals, to educateand org anize the masses so that their consciousness would becom e correct andthey would then exert their irresistible strength to bring about democracy andlaissez faire.

    W ith radical democracy and universal suffrage set as his long-term goal, M ill,in true Leninist fashion, was willing to settle for a far less but still substantiallyradical "transition dem and" as a way station: the Reform Bill of 18 32, whichgreatly w idened the suffrage to the middle class. T o Mill, extension of democracywas more important than laissez faire, since the latter was supposed to be asemiautomatic consequence of the truly fundamental process of dethroning theruling class and substituting rule by all the people. Indeed, their concentrationon dem ocracy led the Rad icals, in the 1840s aft er Mill's death to refuse collabora-tion with the Anti-Corn L aw League, despite their agreement on free trad e andlaissez-faire. T o the Radicals, free trade was too much a middle-class m ovementthat detracted From the overriding importance of democratic reform. Ironically,by rejecting this middle-class movem ent, they rebuffed a successful one , and thisrefusal to support the Anti-Corn L aw L eague in the 1840s helped eliminateRadicalism as a powerful force in British politics.A tactically brilliant, if morally dubious, example of Mill as successful cadre

    organ izer and maker of history was his role as the major force in driving throughthe Reform Bill of 1832. Mill was the behind-the-scenes Lenin and mastermanipulator of the drive for the Reform Bill. His strategy was to play on thefears of the timorous and centrist W hig government by spreading the myth thatthe masses were ready to erupt in violent revolution if the bill were not passed.(An early example of what Tom Wolfe would recently call "Mau-M auing theFlak C atchers.") Mill and the Radicals knew full well that no such revolutionwas in the offing, but Mill, through friends and allies placed strategically in thepress, was able to orchestrate a deliberate campaign of deception that fooled andpanicked the Whigs into passing the bill. The campaign of lies was waged byimportant sectors of the press: by the Examiner, a leading weekly owned andedited by the Benthamite Radical Albany Fonblanque; by the widely read Mom-ing Chronicle, a Whig daily edited by Mill's old friend John Black, who madethe paper a vehicle for the Radicals; and by the Spectator, edited by the Bentha-mite S. Rintoul. The Times was also friendly to the Radicals at this point, andthe leading B i i g b a m Radical, Joseph Parkes, owned and edited theBim'nghamJournal. Not only that: Parkes was able to have his mendacious stories on allegedlyrevolutionary public opinion in Birmingham printed as factual reports in bothth e Morning Chronicle and the Times.

    A decade and a half after passage of the bill, John Arthur Roebuck, one ofMill's top aides in the campaign and later a Radical M.P. and historian of thedrive for reform, admitted that:

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    to attain our end, much was said that no one really believed; much was donethat no one would like to own . . .often, when there was no danger, the cryof alarm was raised to keep the House of Lords and the aristocracy generallyin what was termed a state of wholesome terror.In contrast to the "noisy orato rs who appeared important" in the campaign,Roebuck recalled, we re the "cool-headed, retiring, sagacious determinedmen . . .who pulled the strings in this strange puppet-show.' ' "One o r two rulingminds, to the public unknow n," man ipulated and stage-managed the entire move-ment. They "use(d) the others as their instruments. . . ." And the most cool-headed, sagacious, and determined puppet master of all was James Mill."

    Ever the unifier of theory and praxis , Jam es Mill paved the way fo r the organ izedcampaign of disinformation by writing in justification o f lying for a worthy end .W hile truth was important, M ill conceded, there a re special circumstances "inwhich anothe r man is not entitled to the truth." M en, he wrote, should not betold the truth "when they would make a bad use of it." Ever the utilitarian! Ofcourse, as usual, it was the Utilitarian who was to decide on the goodness orbadness of the other man's expected use of the knowledge.

    Applying his doctrine to politics, Mill escalated his defense of lying. In politics,he asserted that deliberately disseminating "wrong information" is "not a breachof morality, but on the contrary a meritorious act . . .when it is conducive tothe preven tion of misrule. In no instance is any man less entitled to right infor-mation, than when he would employ it for the perpetuation of misrule."In the late years of the twentieth century it is impossible to assemble muchfervor for a Millian faith in radical democracy and the rule of the masses as avirtually automatic highroad to laissez faire. There is simply too much evidenceto the contrary. A grave problem is that the very existence of the democraticinstitutions exacerbates the false consciousness of the masses in identifyingthemselves with the government in all of its actions. The concept "we a re thegovernm ent" is far more likely to arise in a democracy than in a monarchy oroligarchy, for all the manifold sins of these other form s of government. Further-more, the Millian analysis ignores the difference made by the Iron Law of Oli-garchy and by the coercive nature of government itself. A ruling class is stillbound to emerge even if sanctified by the form of the democratic process thatleads people to blur the crucial distinction between state and society.

    As for the Radicals themselves, they cam e to a speedy end in the early 1840s.In addition to failure to latch on to the free trade m ovement, a split among theformerly anti-imperialist Radicals on cracking down on dissent and rebellion inCanada, put an end to Radicalism in politics-especially since John Stuar t M ill,his father now safely interred, led the desertion from the Radical cause. Iron-ically enough, while proclaiming their weariness w ith po lit ics pe rse and a returnto the pursuits of theory and the academy , such R adical leaders as John M ill andthe Grotes in reality gravitated with astonishing rapidity toward the cozy Whig

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    64 THE JOURN AL O F LIBERTARIAN STUDIES Fallcenter that they had formerly scorned. Their proclaim ed loss of interest in politicswas only a loss of interest in politics as an arena fo r changing the world in thedirection of a principled ideal. Perhap s, in the final analysis, the Radical cadrecould not long survive the death of its great founder.

    5 . Epilogue: Lessons for Strategy?W e have described in this paper several important libertarian intellectuals andtheir vary ing ideas of strategy fo r realizing the soc ial ideal of liberty and laissez

    faire . Can we say that any insights o r lessons have been obtained for a strategyfor social change beyond simply spread the word and hope fo r the best? Withoutbeing dogmatic about strategy, I think we can. Apart from the various insightsof these thinkers and w riters about the nature of the State and of liberty, w e cansurely conclude that retreatism, whatever its other consolations, provides nostrategy whatever for successful change. And neither, except in special circum-stances, does the idea of mass civil disobedience. T he only revolutions I can thinkof that largely succeeded by a tactic and strategy of m ass civil disohedicnce w asthe Gandhi movement in India and the general strike of 1979 that toppled theShah of Iran. In both cases the motivation and direction were sectarian andreligious, and in neither case was the result of the revolution in any conceivablesense either nonviolent or libertarian.

    Th e seemingly easy route of converting an absolute m onarch (or m odern dic-tator) seems fraught with too much potential for disaster. The underlying flawis that only royal opinion, or at best the opinion of the top ranks of the elite,has been won over, without in any sense convincing the public or the masses.A revolution from the top seems doomed as a long-run strategy.

    Th e M illian cadre concept seems the most promising of these strategic lines,hut here again considerable caution is in order. Apart from the error of Mill'shyperoptimism on democracy, all movement cadre seem to fall prey to unplea-sant and even counter-productive personality types and actions. There seems tobe something in cadre work that attracts or nurtures humorless and puritanicalfanatics. Perhaps that could be tempered by conscious efforts to cultivate hum orand perspective and associate with well-rounded colleagues who appreciate sense-enjoyment a s part of the truly good life. Even libertarian ideological movementsin recent years have fallen prey to a cult of personality, of abject surrender tothe whims and dictates of a leader, and to a willingness to comm lt patently imm oralacts-such as systematic deception-to adv ance the cause. And even tiny liber-tarian ideological mo vements have sanctioned gross violations of libertarian prin-ciple as a method of advancing or maintaining their own wealth or power.W e ar e left with the basic strategic problem: How can a libertarian movem entdevelop effective cohesion and leadership withou t falling prey to abject intellec-tual surrend er to a glorified elite? How can we preserv e a lifelong comm itment

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    1990 MURRAY N. ROTHBARD-ROLE O F INTELLECTU ALS 65and a sense of "protracted struggle" while avoiding single-minded fanaticismand neglect of personal goals? How can w e build institutions without losing sightof the libertarian principles and goals for which we build them?Whiie such problems are ex traordinarily difficult to solve, they clearly can neverbe solved unless they are thought about. W hile Marxists devote about 90 percentof their energies to thinking about strategy and only 10 percent to their basictheories, for libertarians the reverse is true. Little thought o r discussion has beendevoted to strategic o r tactical problems. Perhaps this paper will stimulate thinkingin this vital field.

    NOTESI. On this process, see the classic article by F. A. Hayek. "The intellectuals and Socialism," inStudies in Philosophy. Politics, andEconomics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967).178-94.2 . In sh on , mad em Taoists, neglecting the crucial libertarian content of the master's doctrine, mayhave mistakenly convened a desperate strategy into a matter of high principle.3 . The outstanding work on the Taoist as well as the Mher schools of ancient Chinese political thoughtis Kungi.huan Hsiao, A Hi st op ofChinese Politico1 l lwught, Vol. I (Princeton: Princeton Univer-sity Press, 1979). For more on Chuang-(zu, see Elben D. Thomas, Chinese Political Thought(New York: Prentice Hall. 1927); E. R. H ughes. Chinese Philosophy in Clossicol Times (1942,rev. ed., 1954); and Sebastiande Grazia, ed., Masters ofChinesePolitical7lwught (New York:Viking Press, 1973).4 . La Bdt ie ' s Memoir was long forgouen until recent years. See Donald Frame, Monroigne: ABiography (New York: Harcaurt Brace & World, 1965). 72-73, 345.5. Thus Michel de Montaigne had read the unpublished Discourse long before he met La BGtieas a fellow member of the B ordeaux Parlement in 1559. The date of writing the manuscript isnot precisely known, but it is most likely, and so accepted by recent authorities, that La BGtiewmte the Discourse in 1552 ar 1553, at the age of twentytwo. See Frame, Montaigne, p. 71:and Pierre Mesnard, L'Essor de lophilosophie politique ou XVIe s i d e (Paris: Boivin et Cie,1936). 390-391.6. Etienne de La B&tie, The Politics of Obedience: ?heDiscourse of Vo lun rop Servitude (NewYork: Free Life Editions, 1975), 51-53.7. La BGtie. Discourse. 58.8 . La BGtie. Discourse. 60-65. As David Hume was to out it two hundred wars later: "Habit.\ m n mn& ale\ uha t other prmciplci of human nature had imprfectl) founhed. and men. once'xcustomed I,,oohal~ence, ne\er thlnl of depanmg from that wUl. m uhwh Ule) a d the~rmic,tur$h3 \e con,tantl) trod " Humr.. ' O f the Ongm, of Go\muxcnt ." m b . ' s $ q s .Mcmrl. I'c,l,tit.dand Literary (Oxford University Press. 1963).9 . La B d t i e , Discourse, 69-70.10. La B d t i e , Discourse, 71-75.I I . La B d t i e , Discourse, 70 .12. La &tie, Discourse, 77-80. John Lew is considered this insight to be the most novel and importantfeature of the Discourse. John D. Lewis, "The Development of the Theory of Tyrannicide to1660," in Oscar Jaszi and Lew is, Against the Tyrant: The Tradition and &ory of Tyrannicide(Glencoe, Ill: the Free Press, 1957). 56-57.

    13. La BGtie, Discourse, 65-68, 79-86.14. Nannerl 0.Keohane, "The Radical Humanism of Etien nede La Bdt i e , " Joumol ofthe Historyo f l d e o s . 38 (January-March 1977): 129.15 . As the third volume of Ule Memoires de I'estat de Fronce (15761. See J. H. M. Salmon. lkeFrench Religiow Wors in English Political 7lwughr (o xf ai d: ciarendo n Press, 1959), 1'9 n. .corrected by Donald R. K elley, Francois Hotman: A Revolutionary's Ordeal (Princeton Univer-

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    6 6 TH E JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES Fall

    16. 'Harold I. Laski, "introduction,'; A Defense o f h q ~ p i n ; rTyrnnts (G~oucei ter ,Mass: PeterSmith, 1963), 24, 29.17. Leo Tolstoy, The Low ofLove and rhe Low of V iolence (New York: Rudolph Field, 1948), 4 2 4 5 ;Bartelemy de Ligt, The Conquesr of Violence (New York:E. P. Dutton & Co., 1938), 105-106.18. See De Ligt, Conquest of Violence, 104-106, 189. Also see George Woodcock, Alvrchism(Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Co., 1962), 432.19. For more on La &tie, see Murray N. Rothbard, "lntmduction: The Political Thought of Etiennede La BGtie," in La BGtie, Discourse, 9-42.20. Quoted in Lionel R o t h h g , Gpposirion to Louis XN. 7he Political and Social Origins ofrheFrench Enlighrenmenr (Princeton University Press. 1965). 270.2 1. For mare on the Burgundy Circle see, in addition to Rathknrg, Gpposirion;Nannerl 0. Keohane,Philosophy and rhe Slate in France: The Remissonce lo rhe Enlighfenment (Princeton Univer-sity Press, 1980). 332 If.22. See the collection of Turgot's economic writings, in addition to thorough introductions andannotations, in P. D. Groenewegen, ed., The Economics of A. R. J. Turgor (The Hague:Martinus Nijhoff, 1977).23. Keith Michael Baker, Condorcet: From NaturalPhilosophy to Social Marhemnrics (Universityof Chicago Press. 1975). 56. Condorcet himself oublished a life of Turaat in 1787.24. Quoted G ~ e n r ~Hig& Ihe~hysioernts(1897); rn;, New Yark: The ~an $a nd Press, 1952), 62.25. See Baker, Condorcet, 72.26. Baker, Condorcer, 80.27. The Panopticon, central to Benthamite pli ti ca l thought and understandably swept under the rugby B entham's apologists, was utilitarianism to the hilt and beyond, a genuine example of utilitariantrampling on the rights of the individual for the sake of an alleged social ulility. O n the Panop-tican, see the properly sardonic essay of Gertrude Himmelfarb, "The Haunted House af le re m yBentham," Vicrorian Minds (1968, mt., Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1975). 32-81; Him-melfa rb, "Bentham's Utopia: the National Charity Com pany ," Journol of British Studies, 10(November 1970): 80-125; and Douglas Long, Benlharn on L i b e q : Jeremy Bentham's Idea ofL i b e q in Relation 10 hir Ulilitnrinnism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977).28 . Far Mill's pervasive id ue nc eo n Ricardo andRicardianeconomics,seeT. W. H utchison, "lamesMill and Ricardian Ewnomics: A Melhodalagical Revolution?", On Revolutions and Progressin EconomicKnowledge (Cambridge: Cam bridge University Press, 1978). On Mill and the Lawof Comparative Advantage, also demonstrating Ricardo's lack of interest in this doctrine, se eWilliam 0.Thweatt, "James Mill and the Early Development of Com parative Advantage," Himryo f Polirical Econom y, 8 (Summer 1976): 207-234.

    29 . Professor Thomas perceptively writes: "T his is why M ill, a sceptic in later life, always got anwell with [Protestant] dissenters [from the Anglican Church]. . . . He may have come to rejectbelief in God.but some form of evaneelical zeal remained essential to him. Sceoticism in thehim. A placid scepticism which seemed to uphold the srarus quo was not an attitude of mindMill understood." William E. S. Thomas, Ihe Philosophic Radicals: Nine Studies in Theoryand Procrice, 1817-1841 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 100.30 . The French theorists developed the insight that Europe had originally been dominated by a rul-ing class of kings, or of feudal nobility. They believed that with the rise of capitalism and freemarkets, of "induslrielisme", there would be no ruling class, and the class-run State would witheraway, resulting in a "classless," Stateless, free society. Saint-Simon was originally a Cam te-Dunoyer libertarian, and then in later life he, and particularly his followers, changed the classanalysis while keeping the original categories, to maintain that employers somehow rule or exploitthe workers in a free-market wage relationship. M arx adopted the Saint-Simonian class analysisso that M an is m to this day maintains a totally inconsistent defmition of class: On Asiatic despotismand feudalism, the old libertarian concept of ruling class as wielder-of-State p w e r is maintlined;

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    1990 MURRAY N. ROTHBARD-ROLE OF INTELLEC TUALS 67then . uhcn c . i p~ u l~ rmir d ~ u r \ d,udJenl) the definition sh!itr I


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