Are libertarians "anarchists"?

Murray Rothbard, writing in the 1950s under the name “Aubrey Herbert,” offered a profound reflection on a core dilemma of libertarianism — whether the state can be justified at all:

The libertarian who is happily engaged expounding his political philosophy in the full glory of his convictions is almost sure to be brought short by one unfailing gambit of the statist. As the libertarian is denouncing public education or the Post Office, or refers to taxation as legalized robbery, the statist invariably challenges. “Well, then are you an anarchist?”

The libertarian is reduced to sputtering “No, no, of course I’m not an anarchist.”

“Well, then, what governmental measures do you favor? What type of taxes do you wish to impose?” The statist has irretrievably gained the offensive, and, having no answer to the first question, the libertarian finds himself surrendering his case.

Rothbard would later embrace the A-word. I find this very thorough article a fascinating exploration of the topic by a man on the precipice.


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