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    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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Murray Rothbard: Society, Freedom, & Inequality

Posted by Orrin Woodward on July 19, 2013

The Essential Rothbard

The Essential Rothbard

I finished reading David Gordon’s book The Essential Rothbard several days ago and I am simply blown away. I have read and enjoyed at least ten Murray Rothbard books, but his depth, range, and insights keep me coming back for more. Indeed, there are few authors who have read as much on diverse subjects such as economics, sociology, history, politics, and law among others! Nonetheless, to me, what’s more amazing, is his ability to tie it all together in a comprehendible and systematic framework.

In fact, outside of his agnosticism, Rothbard’s research has led him down a similar path on society, freedom, and man, as my research and leadership has led me. And, even in the Christian area, Rothbard’s Thomistic philosophy centered around natural law is about as close to a Christian mindset as a person can go without the work of God’s grace. Simply put, Rothbard is a genius of the highest magnitude.

Unfortunately, in today’s society, true genius is rarely welcomed or recognized. Let me provide just one example of Rothbard’s insights from his penetrating book Freedom, Inequality, Primitivism and the Division of LaborImagine if enough people in LIFE Leadership understand these principles and apply them in their daily lives. I truly believe a LeaderShift would result.


Orrin Woodward

On the other hand, the more despotic the society, the more restrictions on the freedom of the individual, the more uniformity there will be among men and the less the diversity, and the less developed will be the unique personality of each and every man. In a profound sense, then, a despotic society prevents its members from being fully human.

If freedom is a necessary condition for the full development of the individual, it is by no means the only requirement. Society itself must be sufficiently developed. No one, for example, can become a creative physicist on a desert island or in a primitive society. For, as an economy grows, the range of choice open to the producer and to the consumer proceeds to multiply greatly. Furthermore, only a society with a standard of living considerably higher than subsistence can afford to devote much of its resources to improving knowledge and to developing a myriad of goods and services above the level of brute subsistence. But there is another reason that full development of the creative powers of each individual cannot occur in a primitive or undeveloped society, and that is the necessity for a wide-ranging division of labor.

“The freer the society, then, the greater will be the variety and the diversity among men, for the more fully developed will be every man’s uniquely individual personality.”

No one can fully develop his powers in any direction without engaging in specialization. The primitive tribesman or peasant, bound to an endless round of different tasks in order to maintain himself, could have no time or resources available to pursue any particular interest to the full. He had no room to specialize, to develop whatever field he was best at or in which he was most interested. Two hundred years ago, Adam Smith pointed out that the developing division of labor is a key to the advance of any economy above the most primitive level. A necessary condition for any sort of developed economy, the division of labor is also requisite to the development of any sort of civilized society. The philosopher, the scientist, the builder, the merchant — none could develop these skills or functions if he had had no scope for specialization. Furthermore, no individual who does not live in a society enjoying a wide range of division of labor can possibly employ his powers to the fullest. He cannot concentrate his powers in a field or discipline and advance that discipline and his own mental faculties. Without the opportunity to specialize in whatever he can do best, no person can develop his powers to the full; no man, then, could be fully human.

While a continuing and advancing division of labor is needed for a developed economy and society, the extent of such development at any given time limits the degree of specialization that any given economy can have. There is, therefore, no room for a physicist or a computer engineer on a primitive island; these skills would be premature within the context of that existing economy. As Adam Smith put it, “the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market.” Economic and social development is therefore a mutually reinforcing process: the development of the market permits a wider division of labor, which in turn enables of further extension of the market.

If the scope of the market and the extent of the division of labor are mutually reinforcing, so too are the division of labor and the diversity of individual interests and abilities among men. For just as an ever-greater division of labor is needed to give full scope to the abilities and powers of each individual, so does the existence of that very division depend upon the innate diversity of men. For there would be no scope at all for a division of labor if every person were uniform and interchangeable. (A further condition of the emergence of a division of labor is the variety of natural resources; specific land areas on the earth are also not interchangeable.) Furthermore, it soon became evident in the history of man that the market economy based on a division of labor was profoundly cooperative, and that such division enormously multiplied the productivity and hence the wealth of every person participating in the society. The economist Ludwig von Mises put the matter very clearly:

Historically division of labor originates in two facts of nature: the inequality of human abilities and the variety of the external conditions of human life on the earth. These two facts are really one: the diversity of Nature, which does not repeat itself but creates the universe in infinite, inexhaustible variety….

These two conditions … are indeed such as almost to force the division of labor on mankind. Old and young, men and women cooperate by making appropriate use of their various abilities. Here also is the germ of the geographical division of labor; man goes to the hunt and woman to the spring to fetch water. Had the strength and abilities of all individuals and the external conditions of production been everywhere equal the idea of division of labor could never have arisen … No social life could have arisen among men of equal natural capacity in a world which was geographically uniform….

Once labor has been divided, the division itself exercises a differentiating influence. The fact that labor is divided makes possible further cultivation of individual talent and thus cooperation becomes more and more productive. Through cooperation men are able to achieve what would have been beyond them as individuals….

The greater productivity of work under the division of labor is a unifying influence. It leads men to regard each other as comrades in a joint struggle for welfare, rather than as competitors in a struggle for existence.

Freedom, then, is needed for the development of the individual, and such development also depends upon the extent of the division of labor and the height of the standard of living. The developed economy makes room for, and encourages, an enormously greater specialization and flowering of the powers of the individual than can a primitive economy, and the greater the degree of such development, the greater the scope for each individual.

“No one can fully develop his powers in any direction without engaging in specialization.”

If freedom and the growth of the market are each important for the development of each individual and, therefore, to the flowering of diversity and individual differences, then so is there a casual connection between freedom and economic growth. For it is precisely freedom, the absence or limitation of interpersonal restrictions or interference, that sets the stage for economic growth and hence of the market economy and the developed division of labor.

25 Responses to “Murray Rothbard: Society, Freedom, & Inequality”

  1. Steve Sager said

    Amazing how all that is intertwined together!

    Steve Sager
    Stealth UF

  2. Rebecca Crook said

    This post really struck me… Our contracting economy is clear evidence that freedoms are being taken from the people. As citizens depend more and more on government to merely exist, specialization diminishes, and creativity and productivity decline. Only freedom can reverse this course – not regulation. If our very God-given design was wrapped in the embrace of freedom, then to suppress man’s economic freedom is to wage war again his very nature. Only when man is fully free – economically as well as spiritually – is he capable of pursuing his God-given potential.

    Thank for the fantastic, thought-provoking read!


    Stealth United Forces

  3. Clint Fix said

    Fantastic article! I love Rothbard and many other Austrian economists because they don’t look at economics in a bubble, but instead take a wider view of economics and how it integrates with freedom, social issues, and human nature. I was bored to death of economics in school because at the time no one explained why it mattered or how it connected with our everyday life. Now I love learning economics because authors like Rothbard, Hayek, Hazlitt and others bring it to life and illustrate exactly why it matters and how economic policy directly impacts my family and our freedoms.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Jason Dames said

    Thanks Orrin.. This is very thought provoking. I pray for a leadershift and like you said that God would be behind it.. God bless

  5. Olivier Jean-Baptiste said

    Hi Orrin
    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Freedom therefore, is not an end but a necessary mean to an end.

    Ralhp Raico in his book entitled ‘The Place of Religion in the Liberal Philosophy of Constant, Tocqueville, and Lord Acton’ nailed it when he share with the readers Constant’s point of view which identifies “…the value of liberty as the indispensable means for the attainment of the chief end of man, the perfectioning of the individual…” No wonder that God saw it necessary for the Israelite to leave the land of bondage in Egypt so that His people could make Him a feast in the wilderness. may God bless those that are fighting to keep freedom alive because they view it rightfully as a sacred gift.


    • J & P Harteis said

      Well said, Olivier! Freedom is a truth that is God inspired & given to those brave enough to fight for it!

  6. Joe McGuire said

    M. Rothbard is truly a genius. I read 4 of his books back in late 97′ and early 98′. What a pleasure it is for an average Joe to be able to tap into the minds of great thinkers like those of the Austrian school. Thank you Life Leadership!

  7. I love this post Orrin. It seems like such an obvious concept and yet I think there is one very inportant piece missing which you briefly inferred… the inescapable hand of God’s blessing (or not). I think of the Ethiopian nation who at one time was a very rich and thriving nation. A nation who turns it’s back to the creator (like Ethiopia did and as the US is doing in greater numbers every year) finds itself less diverse with less economic freedom. Would you agree?

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Amen Phillip. Without absolute values that all society accepts, chaos ensues. thanks, Orrin

  8. Richard Kroll Jr. said

    …”a despotic society prevents its members from being fully human.” Orrin, thank you for continually providing proof that society impacts individuals as much, if not more in some cases, as individuals impact our society! For people to truly be “fully human” they must exist in a free society that encourages their individuality and their interdependence. As this message gains acceptance and understanding, more and more people will strive for a LeaderShift!

  9. Maura said

    Great post. Thought proving and insightful. And … READING is CRUCIAL, a MUST! Thank you LIFE for re-awakening my passion for reading, and for getting me onto a path of self-directed education! 🙂

  10. Matt Moser said

    This article was great timing as I just listened to your “Leadershift and the Power Pendulum” talk in the Freedom Series this morning. I heard you mention the “division of labor” and wanted to dig in on that topic to understand that more…and voila! You posted an article on it! Thanks for spearheading such an incredible education model!

  11. Martha said

    This is proof that if anyone observes, analyzes and really is truthful about natural laws, they will in time come to the same conclusion we a Christians come to, minus the work of God’s grace and if these observers are true to their findings they will in time also find the God and Creator of the Universe, great post Orrin!

  12. I love the science of freedom! Mises and Rothbard have done such an incredible job explaining the beautiful cooperation of economics and liberty. Thanks for this great post!

  13. Kevin Hamm said

    This is a great example of what keeps me coming back for more. Thank you for all of your inspiring work Orrin. In particular this article caused me to think of the systems of operation and production that rise out of freedom compared to the limiting shackles of Government regulation attempting to create equality. Oh, the examples we have to observe currently on the regulation side. May God grant the Team and LIFE systems play a great counter balancing role.

  14. KellyJack Nelson said

    I love these responses! The depth and range of their perspectives are living proof of the quality of our product. Thanks Orrin for adding everything you do, to that product. And thank you all for standing up and leading!

  15. Elizabeth Sieracki said

    There was so much to learn in thia article. What an awesome community we have. The depth of responses with regard to insight and interest was inspiring. Lots to think about it.

  16. Ben Zeier said

    Thank you for sharing this great article about Murray Rothbard! It is truly amazing what our Creator has provided and enabled us as His creation to be capable of when freedom prevails! The interconnections between all parts of our society could have only been developed by an all powerful, all knowing Creator! I for one will continue to educate myself from the writings and teachings of great minds.

    God Bless,

  17. Aaron Crim said

    Wow this is Genius! How does the other side argue with this?

  18. Tony Matteo said

    I preface this by saying I agree with the Austrian School and the division of labor. And ‘Leadershift’ addresses the following concerns. And I’m sure Mises witnessed the following in Austria. So I know I’m missing something.
    But is specialization the very thing that led our citizenry to abdicate the governing of society to career politicians?
    Are there any areas where specialization leads society away from freedom?

  19. jammie said

    I had not thought through this topic in such depth ever. The layers of understanding I have learned by studying your information and those who you study has intensified my hunger to continue being a student. I love actively sharing where people who want to play their part but lack knowledge or process to do so can come and begin the journey of learning. The connection between freedom, specialization and the pursuit of human production is amazing to think through. What crisis could we have or will we be able to prevent by restoring freedom. What problems or diseases that are plaguing our world will be solved because you have shared this? It is so exciting. Thank you

  20. Chad Waters said

    Hi Orrin

    Great blog!

    We have one set of rules to obey and first we need to understand them.

    Thanks for the article!

  21. Steve Meixner said

    Orrin, Another great post and more books for me to read! Thanks and keep them coming, Steve

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