Gustave de Molinari

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Gustave de Molinari
Born3 March 1819
Died28 January 1912(1912-01-28) (aged 92)
School or
French Liberal School
InfluencesFrédéric Bastiat · Hippolyte Castille

Gustave de Molinari (French: [də mɔlinari]; 3 March 1819 – 28 January 1912) was a Belgian political economist and French Liberal School theorist associated with French laissez-faire economists such as Frédéric Bastiat and Hippolyte Castille.


Born in Liège, Wallonia, Molinari's critique of the state sometimes resulted in his opposing causes and events which might seemingly be aligned with his overall critique of power and privilege. An example of this was the American Civil War which Molinari believed to be far more about the trade interests of Northern industrialists than about slavery, although he did not deny that abolitionism was a part of the picture.[1] According to Ralph Raico, Molinari never relented in his last work published a year before his death in 1912, writing:

The American Civil War had not been simply a humanitarian crusade to free the slaves. The war "ruined the conquered provinces," but the Northern plutocrats pulling the strings achieved their aim: the imposition of a vicious protectionism that led ultimately "to the regime of trusts and produced the billionaires."[1]


Some anarcho-capitalists consider Molinari to be the first proponent of anarcho-capitalism.[1] In the preface to the 1977 English translation by Murray Rothbard called The Production of Security the "first presentation anywhere in human history of what is now called anarcho-capitalism", although admitting that "Molinari did not use the terminology, and probably would have balked at the name". [2] Austrian School economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe says that "the 1849 article 'The Production of Security' is probably the single most important contribution to the modern theory of anarcho-capitalism".[3] In the past, Molinari influenced some of the political thoughts of individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker and the Liberty circle.[4] The Molinari Institute directed by philosopher Roderick T. Long is named after him, whom it terms the "originator of the theory of Market Anarchism".[5]


  1. ^ a b c Raico, Ralph (29 March 2011) "Neither the Wars Nor the Leaders Were Great". Mises Institute.
  2. ^ Molinari, Gustave; Ebeling, Richard M., ed. (1977). The Production of Security. "Preface". Translated by McCulloch, J. Huston. Occasional Papers Series (2). New York: The Center for Libertarian Studies.
  3. ^ Hoppe, Hans-Hermann (31 December 2001). "Anarcho-Capitalism: An Annotated Bibliography".
  4. ^ Hart, David (1981). "Gustave De Molinari And The Anti-Statist Liberal Tradition" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Molinari Institute". Molinari Institute. "The Institute takes its name from Gustave de Molinari (1819–1912), originator of the theory of Market Anarchism".

Further reading[edit]

  • Hart, David (2008). "Molinari, Gustave de (1819–1912)". In Hamowy, Ronald (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 336–337. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n206. ISBN 978-1412965804. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024.

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