James Mill and Libertarian Class Analysis-Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard

“The ruling class is whichever group has managed to seize state power; the ruled are those groups who are taxed and regulated by those in command. Class interest, then, is defined as a group’s relation to the state. State rule, with its taxation and exercise of power, controls, and conferring of subsidies and privileges, is the instrument that creates conflicts between the rulers and the ruled. What we have, then, is a “two-class” theory of class conflict, based on whether a group rules or is ruled by the state. On the free market, on the other hand, there is no class conflict, but a harmony of interest between all individuals in society cooperating in and through production and exchange.

All government, Mill pointed out, was run by the ruling class, the few who dominated and exploited the ruled, the many. Since all groups tend to act for their selfish interests, he noted, it is absurd to expect the ruling clique to act altruistically for the “public good.” Like everyone else, they will use their opportunities for their own gain, which means to loot the many, and to favor their own or allied special interests as against those of the public. Hence Mill’s habitual use of the term “sinister” interests as against the good of the public. For Mill and the radicals, we should note, the public good meant specifically laissez-faire government confined to the minimal functions of police, defense and the administration of justice.”



All Human Beings — Not Just Capitalists — Are Self-Interested