Celebrating the Bicentennial of the birth of Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912)

3 March 2019 will be the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Gustave de Molinari, the “founding father” of anarcho-capitalism. To celebrate this event I have put together an anthology of his key writings on the state which will be published by Institut Coppet (Paris) next year. A draft of the book is online and contains a detailed biographical essay on his life and work (in English), 24 extracts from his writings between 1846-1911 (en français) with brief introductions to each one (in English) , and an updated bibibliography of all his works (still a work in progress).

For more information about Molinari see the updated main Molinari page.

The table of contents of the the anthology:

I. Molinari’s Political Credo: “la Liberté, la Propriété, et la Paix” (Liberty, Property, Peace)

  1. His “Spartacus speech” (1849). [Les Soirées, 1849, S12 pp. 348–63.]
  2. Molinari’s Credo: “la Liberté et la Paix” (1861). [“Introduction”, Questions d’économie politique et de droit public (1861), vol. 1, pp. v-xxxi. ]
  3. “Programme économique” (1891). [Notions fondamentales d’Économie politique (1891), pp. 381–96.]

II. The First Formulation of the Theory of Anarcho-Capitalism (1846–1849)

  1. “Le droit électoral” (1846). [Courrier français, 23 July 1846; reprinted in Questions d’économie politique (1861), T. 2, pp. 271–275.]
  2. ”La Production de la sécurité” (1849). [JDE, T. XXII, no. 95, 15 fév., 1849, pp. 277–90.]
  3. “On Government and its Function” (1849). [Les Soirées, S11, pp. 303–337.]

III. Molinari’s Theory of the State I

  1. “Le Despotisme et les mangeurs des taxes” (1852). [Les Révolutions et le despotisme envisagés au point de vue des intérêts matériel (1852), pp. 81–152.]
  2. “Nations” (1853). [Dictionnaire de l’économie politique, T. 2, pp. 259–62.]

IV. The Further Development of Molinari’s Theory of Pure Anarcho-capitalism (1852–1863)

  1. “Les consommations publiques” (1855, 1863). [Cours d’économie politique (1855, 1863), T. 2, pp. 480–534.]
  2. ”De l’administration de la Justice” (1855). [L’économiste belge No. 11, 5 Juin 1855, pp. 1–3.]

V. Molinari’s Theory of the State II: The “Tempered” (strengthened, hardened) Republic (1873)

  1. “La République tempérée” (1873). [La République tempérée (1873), I, pp. 5–14; II pp. 15–25; V, pp. 59–77; VI. pp. 79–90.]

VI. Molinari’s Gradual Retreat from Strict Anarcho-Capitalism (1880–1908)

  1. ”La théorie du progrès et l’évolution économique” (1880). [L’Évolution économique du dix-neuvième siècle (1880), “Conclusion,” pp. 439–69.]
  2. ”Les gouvernements de l’avenir” (1884). [L’Évolution politique et la Révolution (1884), Chap. X “Les gouvernements de l’avenir,” pp. 351–423.]
  3. ”La liberté de gouvernement” (1887). [Les Lois naturelles de l’économie politique (1887), pp. 238–77.]
  4. ”Projet d’Association pour l’établissement d’une Ligue des neutres” (1887). [The Times, 28 juillet 1887. Republished in La morale économique (1888), pp. 431–38).]
  5. “La décadence de la guerre” (1898). [La Grandeur et decadence de la guerre (1898), selections from pp. 113–72.]
  6. ”La constitution libre” (1899). [Esquisse de l’organisation politique et économique de la société future (1899), pp.69–93.]
  7. “Le problème du gouvernement individuel” (1900). [JDE, S. 5, T. 44, N° 3, décembre 1900, pp. 321–39.]

VII. Last Words on the Matter (1901–1911)

  1. Summing up the liberal successes and failures of the 19th Century (January, 1901). [“Le XIXe siècle”, JDE, Jan.1901), pp. 5–19.]
  2. Predicting the Catastrophes of the 20th Century (January, 1902). [“Le XXe siècle,” JDE, Jan. 1902), pp. 5–14.]
  3. “Où est l’Utopie?” (1906). [JDE, S. 6, T. 3, N° 2, août 1904.]
  4. “Le vol et l’échange” (1908). [JDE, S. 6, T. 19, N° 1, juillet 1908.]
  5. “La crise et la décadence” (1908). [Économie de l’histoire. Théorie de l’évolution (1908), pp. 219–257.]
  6. Molinari’s “Last Words” (1911). [Ultima Verba: Mon dernier ouvrage (1911), “Préface,” pp. i-xvii.]

Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) and Rethinking Classical Economics in the mid-19th Century


Talk given to a Conference on “A Brief History of Economic Thought,”
Institute for Liberal Studies, The University of Toronto, Bahen Centre
Friday 29 September, 2012

Online here

Abstract: The decade or so 1845-1856 saw a major re-thinking taking place in the nature of classical economic thought in France. The first generation of 19th century French political economy had built upon the legacy left by the Physiocrats of the 18thC (Quesnay, Turgot, et al.), and was comprised of Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832), Charles Comte (1782-1837), Charles Dunoyer (1786-1862). They were active in the period between the appearance of Say’s Treatise in 1803 and the appearance of Dunoyer’s magnum opus De la Liberté du travail which appeared in 1845. A new second generation of French political economists emerged in the early 1840s under the umbrella provided by the Guillaumin publishing firm and the founding of the Political Economy Society and the Journal des Économistes in 1841-42. This younger generation was made up by Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), Charles Coquelin (1802-1852), Jean-Gustave Courcelle-Seneuil (1813-1892), and Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912). They made important contributions in the ten years between 1846-1856 which transformed the way economics was thought and done. Some of their innovations included the following: the appearance of a more radical radical libertarianism view of political economy in the areas of free banking (Coquelin), and the theory of plunder, subjective value theory, free trade and peace (Bastiat). They also began to challenge some of the key principles of the orthodox classical school of Ricardo, Malthus, and Smith, with new ideas about rent, value theory, and Malthusianism (Bastiat) and the private provision of public goods ( Molinari), and also free competitive banking (Coquelin). Some of these new directions in French political economy are discussed, with an emphasis on the work of Bastiat.

Gustave de Molinari and the Future of Liberty in 1901: ‘Fin de Siècle, Fin de la Liberté’?


Online here

Abstract: This paper examines Molinari’s assessment in two articles he wrote at the turn of the 20th century of the achievements of liberty in the 19th century and his prognosis for liberty in the coming 20th century. Concerning the latter, he successfully predicted two related things: firstly, that anti-liberal policies being introduced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries would inevitably lead to a long period of economic crisis and political oppression brought about by war, imperialism, socialist revolution and government intervention in the economy; and secondly, that once this dark period of “statism” had run its course, the benefits of individual liberty and the free market would be rediscovered and the classical liberal reforms the classical liberals had advocated in the 19th century would be introduced once again. His successful predictions need to be seen against the unsuccessful predictions of socialists of all kinds made in the same period. Whether democratic socialist or revolutionary (Marxist) socialist, the predictions of inevitable socialist revolution bringing about peace, prosperity and freedom for the mass of people have been proven to be hopelessly wrong by the extraordinary events of the 20th century. The paper also includes three appendices of Molinari’s writings (in French) from this period.

Gustave de Molinari and the Seven Musketeers of French Political Economy


See the full paper at my main website.

This is part of a book-length “introduction” (300 pp.) I have written to the translation of Molinari’s Les Soirées de la rue Saint-Lazare (1849). It includes a brief biography of Molinari; a discussion of the struggle against protection in France from the 1820s to the late 1840s; the socialist attack on private property and the legitimacy of profit, interest and rent in the 1840s; a brief history of the popularisation of economic theory and the role played by the “conversation” format; Molinari’s and the economists’ activities during the 1848 Revolution; and Molinari’s theory of liberty and the “natural laws” of political economy which he presents in Les Soirées.

Abstract: In Paris in the 1840s there emerged a very special and unique collection of individuals who came together to promote classical liberal and free market thought and to fight socialism and interventionism. I call them “the Seven Musketeers” of French political economy. The term “Musketeer” comes from Gérard Minart’s new biography of Gustave de Molinari (2012) in which he described Frédéric Bastiat, Molinari, and 2 other colleagues (Guillaumin, Coquelin) as “The Four Musketeers”. This is quite appropriate as Dumas’ popular novel came out in 1844 [it was serialised in Le Siècle] and Bastiat, like D’Artagnan, came from the south-west province of Gascony. These economists formed a close band of liberal intellectuals and activists in Paris who were fighting protectionism and socialism not the Protestant enemies of the King of France as the original Musketeers were. My research has revealed that 7 individuals actually fit this description. They are made up of two generations who were key figures in the classical liberal and political economy movement. The 1st were born around 1800 and were in their mid to late 40s in 1848; the 2nd were born around 1820 and were in their late 20s in 1848.

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Molinari’s “Eleventh Soirée” on the private provision of security

Date: 6 April, 2015


A revised translation of Molinari’s “Eleventh Soirée” on the private provision of police and defence will be published in an anthology on Panarchy: Political Theories of Non-Territorial States edited by Aviezer Tucker and Gian Piero de Bellis for Routledge (2016). I updated the translation and added many footnotes.

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