The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude
States are more vulnerable than people think. They can collapse in an instant — when consent is withdrawn.
This is the thesis of this thrilling book: The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. Murray Rothbard writes a classic introduction to one of the great political essays in the history of ideas.
In times when dictators the world over are falling from pressure from their own people, this book, written nearly 500 years ago, is truly the prophetic tract of our times.
Étienne de La Boétie was born in Sarlat, in the Périgord region of southwest France, in 1530, to an aristocratic family, and became a dear friend of Michel de Montaigne. But he ought to be remembered for this astonishingly important essay, one of the greatest in the history of political thought. It will shake the way you think of the state. His thesis and argument amount to the best answer to Machiavelli ever penned as well as one of the seminal essays in defense of liberty.
La Boétie’s task is to investigate the nature of the state and its strange status as a tiny minority of the population that adheres to different rules from everyone else and claims the authority to rule everyone else, maintaining a monopoly on law. It strikes him as obviously implausible that such an institution has any staying power. It can be overthrown in an instant if people withdraw their consent.
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