Gustave de Molinari

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Gustave de Molinari
Born3 March 1819
Liège, United Kingdom of the Netherlands
Died28 January 1912(1912-01-28) (aged 92)
Adinkerke, Belgium
School or
Classical liberalism
InfluencesFrédéric Bastiat

Gustave de Molinari (French: [də mɔlinari]; 3 March 1819 – 28 January 1912) was a political economist and classical liberal theorist born in Liège, in the Walloon region of Belgium, and was associated with French laissez-faire economists such as Frédéric Bastiat and Hippolyte Castille.


Molinari's critique of the state sometimes resulted in him 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 (though he did not deny that abolitionism was a part of the picture). "In his last work, published a year before his death in 1912, Molinari never relented:[1]

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."


Some anarcho-capitalists consider Molinari to be the first proponent of anarcho-capitalism.[1] In the preface to the 1977 English translation Murray Rothbard called "The Production of Security" the "first presentation anywhere in human history of what is now called anarcho-capitalism" though admitting that "Molinari did not use the terminology, and probably would have balked at the name." 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."[2] In the past, Molinari influenced some of the political thoughts of individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker and the Liberty circle.[3]

The market anarchist Molinari Institute, directed by philosopher Roderick Long, is named after Molinari, whom it terms the "originator of the theory of Market Anarchism."[4]


Further reading[edit]

  • Hart, David (2008). "Molinari, Gustave de (1819–1912)". In Hamowy, Ronald. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 336–37. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n206. ISBN 978-1412965804. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024.

External links[edit]