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Let's Abolish Government

  • Let's Abolish Government by Lysander Spooner
February 26, 2008

Tags Political Theory

Lysander Spooner (1808–1887) is the American individualist anarchist and legal theorist known mainly for setting up a commercial post office in competition with the government and thereby being shut down. But he was also the author of some of the most radical political and economic writings of the 19th century, and continues to have a huge influence on libertarian thinkers today. He was a dedicated opponent of slavery in all its forms — even advocating guerrilla war to stop it — but also a dedicated opponent of the federal invasion of the South and its postwar reconstruction.

This collection was selected personally by Murray Rothbard as his best work. It includes "Trial by Jury," which argues for the idea of jury nullification, that is, the right of the jury to reject the law under which a defendant is tried. It also includes his "Letter to Grover Cleveland," which remains one of the most rigorous pieces of political argument ever penned. Finally, it includes his classic work "No Treason," which argues that the U.S. Constitution is not a social contract at all and that it cannot bind the current generation.

Spooner was obviously a great dissident — and one of the most brilliant thinkers of the 19th century and an American original. His influence has been quiet but very long and pervasive.

The title here is of Rothbard's own choosing, it sums up the theme of his best work.

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References

Arno Press and The New York Times, 1972