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Exploring Libertarian Class Theory

May 14, 2014 in Economics

By Walter Block


I run an Austro-libertarian seminar at Loyola University. We meet on Friday afternoons usually twice a month during the academic year (if you want to be notified of these events, e mail me at wblock@loyno.edu, and I’ll put you on my list). At a past meeting I happened to mention libertarian ruling class theory. Many of my students were appalled at me, some of the more brazen ones even accused me of going over to Marxism. Yes, of course, we libertarians reject Marxian ruling class theory, based on the exploitation of labor in the free enterprise system. Silly. Read Mises, Rothbard and Bohm-Bawerk on this. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is also such a thing as libertarian class theory. In sharp contrast, it is based on the exploitation of innocent people by those who violate the libertarian non aggression principle (NAP). I think most readers of this blog are a bit more sophisticated about this issue. However, even those might appreciate this bibliography I have put together on this subject:

Block, 2006; Domhoff, 1967, 1971, 1998; Donaldson and Poynting, 2007 ; Hoppe, 1990; Hughes, 1977; Kolko, 1963; Mises, 1978; Oppenheimer, 1975; Raico, 1977; Rockwell, 2001

Block, Walter E. 2006. “Radical Libertarianism: Applying Libertarian Principles to Dealing with the Unjust Government, Part II” Reason Papers, Vol. 28, Spring, pp. 85-109; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf; http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block_radical-libertarianism-rp.pdf

Domhoff, G. William. 1967. Who Rules America? Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Domhoff, G. William. 1971. The Higher Circles: The Governing Class in America. New York: Vintage Books

Domhoff, G. William. 1998. Who Rules America? Power and Politics in the Year 2000, Third Edition, Santa Cruz: University of California

Donaldson, Mike and Scott Poynting. 2007. Ruling Class Men: Money, Sex, Power. Peter Lang.


Hoppe, Hans-Hermann. 1990. “Marxist and Austrian Class Analysis,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall, pp. 79-94; http://mises.org/journals/jls/9_2/9_2_5.pdf,%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

Hughes, Jonathan R.T. 1977. The Governmental Habit: Economic Controls from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Basic Books,

Kolko, Gabriel. 1963. Triumph of Conservatism, Chicago: Quadrangle Books

Mises, Ludwig von. 1978. The Clash of Group Interests and Other Essays. New York: Center for Libertarian Studies. http://www.mises.org/etexts/mises/clash/clash.asp

Oppenheimer, Franz. [1914] 1975. The State, New York: Free Life Editions

Raico, Ralph. 1977. “Classical Liberal exploitation theory: a comment on Professor Liggio’s paper,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3, Summer, pp. 179-184; http://mises.org/daily/4567/; http://mises.org/document/1641/Classical-Liberal-Exploitation-Theory-A-Comment-on-Professor-Liggios-Paper

Rockwell, Jr. Llewellyn H. 2001. “Liberty and the Common Good” December 31;


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