by Benjamin Marks, editor-in-chief

“[G]overnment is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”
~ H.L. Mencken

Praxeology (the economic and legal analysis of the fact that individual act) identifies what an action is rather than what subjective value individuals attach to it. By contrasting words with positive/legal connotations, with words with negative/illegal connotations in general usage, the praxeologically synonymous nature of certain acts becomes evident. This is a very effective technique in highlighting the contradictory positions and tastelessness of certain theories. Erich Fromm has given us a beautiful example:

The fact that, in the case of child sacrifice, the father kills the child directly, while in the case of war, both sides have an arrangement to kill each other’s children makes little difference. In the case of war, those who are responsible for it know what is going to happen, yet the power of the idols is greater than the power of love for their children.1

The praxeologist does not stop by equating war with child sacrifice. We say that war is mass murder, conscription is slavery and that it is funded through taxation and inflation, in other words, theft and, as explained below, counterfeit. It is strange that many people claiming to be for freedom abroad advocate abandoning freedom at home to get their way.

Government schooling, with its compulsory attendance, curriculum and financing does not fare very well when you consider the praxeologically synonyms: abduction, kidnapping and compulsory attendance; brainwashing, indoctrination and compulsory curriculum; and robbery, theft and compulsory financing.

For argument’s sake, we can admit that education is useful and everyone needs it. For argument’s sake, we can admit that government can do a good job of it. For argument’s sake, we can even say that government can do a better job than the market in providing it. But given all these compromises, if praxeological synonyms with negative connotations are used, it will not get much support. One can take the praxeological synonyms even further.

Sexual relations, for example, are necessary for society. Many sexual relations fail, turn out miserably, result in diseases that education relations will not give you, etc. So, perhaps this means there is more reason to want government control and interference with sexual relations than with educational relations. Mencken ignored the issue of consent when he said, “Adultery is the application of democracy to love.”2 As John Zube said, “It is something like rape, in education, when one is forced to learn something one does not want to learn, from someone one does not like, at a place and time not of one’s choosing.”3 Since the students are young and immature, the word pedophilia also comes to mind.

Government control of money is shown to be criminal as well. When it abandoned the gold standard, it did not do so with the consent of the people. Government began with fractional-reserve banking: printing more receipts than they had gold in storage. This is counterfeit. This increase in the quantity of money used to be called inflation, but now its defenders have corrupted the term, as Mises explained:

Inflation, as this term was always used everywhere and especially in this country, means increasing the quantity of money and bank notes in circulation and the quantity of bank deposits subject to check. But people today use the term “inflation” to refer to the phenomenon that is an inevitable consequence of inflation, that is the tendency of all prices and wage rates to rise. The result of this deplorable confusion is that there is no term left to signify the cause of this rise in prices and wages. There is no longer any word available to signify the phenomenon that has been, up to now, called inflation. It follows that nobody cares about inflation in the traditional sense of the term. As you cannot talk about something that has no name, you cannot fight it. Those who pretend to fight inflation are in fact only fighting what is the inevitable consequence of inflation, rising prices. Their ventures are doomed to failure because they do not attack the root of the evil. They try to keep prices low while firmly committed to a policy of increasing the quantity of money that must necessarily make them soar. As long as this technological confusion is not entirely wiped out, there cannot be any question of stopping inflation.

… There is no such thing as an “inflationary pressure.” There is inflation or there is the absence of inflation. If there is no increase in the quantity of money and if there is no credit expansion, the average height of prices will by and large remain unchanged.4

So we see the importance of going beyond the current use and connotation of words when determining what they mean.

It should now be clear that justice should not be used in association with government, no matter how large or popular, except in negative light, as Saint Augustine said:

Justice removed, then, what are kingdoms but great bands of robbers? What are bands of robbers themselves but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is governed by the authority of a ruler; it is bound together by a pact of association; and the loot is divided according to an agreed law. If, by the constant addition of desperate men, this scourge grows to such a size that it acquires territory, establishes a seat of government, occupies cities and subjugates people, it assumes the name of kingdom more openly. For this name is now manifestly conferred upon it not by the removal of greed, but by the addition of impunity. It was a pertinent and true answer that was made to Alexander the Great by a pirate whom he had seized. When the king asked him what he meant by infesting the sea, the pirate defiantly replied: “The same as you do when you infest the whole world; but because I do it with a little ship I am called a robber, and because you do it with a great fleet, you are an emperor.”5

Robert Higgs has a nice list of praxeological synonyms here.

This is the end of the four part series designed to give readers the basic tools to be a libertarian:


  1. Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (New York: Owl Books, 1992), p. 206.
  2. H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (New York: Vintage, 1982), p. 621.
  3. John Zube, “Slogans for Liberty,” “E,” Panarchism and Free Banking CD, #89.
  4. Ludwig von Mises, Economic Freedom and Interventionism, ed. Bettina Bien Greaves (New York: Foundation for Economic Education, 1990), p. 99.
  5. Saint Augustine, The City of God Against the Pagans, ed. trans. R.W. Dyson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 147-48, bk. IV, ch. 4.
(in order of appearance on
  1. Acquiescence
  2. Why Sports Fans Should Be Libertarians
  3. Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures
  4. Government Schools Teach Fascism Perfectly
  5. Deport Government to Solve Immigration Problem
  6. The Drugs Problem Problem
  7. Self-Defeating Campaigning
  8. Gittinomics: Economics for Gits
  9. Exclusive Ross Gittins Interview on The Happy Economist
  10. Population Puzzle Solved
  11. An Open Letter to the CIS
  12. Principled Foreign Policy Options: Reinvade or Shut Up and Get Out
  13. WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Political Corruption Exposed!
  14. Feedback please: Is this worth doing?
  15. CIS and IPA Defend State Schooling
  16. A Thorough Review Without Spoilers of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  17. Dead Reckoning and Government: A Proposal for Electoral Reform
  18. Quadrant Defends State Schooling
  19. The MPS 2010 Consensus
  20. Slogans for Property Rights Funeral
  21. Government is Impossible: Introduction
  22. Government is Criminal: Part 1
  23. Exclusive John Howard Interview on Lazarus Rising
  24. Response to Senator Cory Bernardi and the IPA
  25. Earn $$$$$ by Justifying Government Against Anarchocapitalism: Survey
  26. Statism is Secrecy: WikiLeaks vs
  27. One question the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Greens, the CIS, the IPA, Ross Gittins, Ross Garnaut, Ken Henry, Gerard Henderson, John Quiggin, Clive Hamilton, Tim Flannery, Catallaxy Files, Club Troppo, Larvatus Prodeo, Phillip Adams, Robert Manne, Michael Stutchbury, Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt and Dick Smith are scared to answer
  28. Libertarian Philanthropists Should Exploit Tax Evasion Convictions
  29. Ronald Kitching Obituary
  30. The Minarchist Case for Anarchism
  31. Libertarianism in a 300-word rant
  32. in the news again
  33. Libertarianism In An Executive Summary
  34. The Banking Bubble Blow-by-Blow
  35. WARNING: Libertarianism Is NOT ...
  36. Would Anything Possibly Convince You that You Are Living Under a Protection Racket?
  37. An Open Letter to Dick Smith
  38. at 42
  39. "My boyfriend calls himself a Marxist and votes Labor, what should I do?"
  40. "He says if I leave him due to politics, I should leave the country too."
  41. No Booboisie at Gülçin’s Galt’s Gulch
  42. "Hey, Mr Anarchocapitalist, show me a society without government"
  43. The Three Epoch-Making Events of the Modern Libertarian Movement
  44. Government is Criminal: Part 2 - Methodological Individualism
  45. Government is Criminal: Part 3 - Subjective Utility
  46. Government is Criminal: Part 4 - Praxeological Synonyms
  47. Government is in a State of Anarchy
  48. Limited Government is Absolute Government
  49. Why the 2012 double Nobel laureate is coming to Sydney
  50. Exclusive Oliver Marc Hartwich Interview on Hans-Hermann Hoppe
  51. A Critique of the Opening Two Sentences of the "About CIS" Page on The Centre for Independent Studies' Website,
  52. An invitation for ANDEV members to the Mises Seminar
  53. Sell the ABC to Rupert Murdoch: Lid Blown on ABC Funding Disgrace!
  54., The Centre for Independent Studies new blog
  55. The Unconstitutionality of Government in Australia (demonstrated in under 300 words)
  56. The Best Libertarian Film Is ...
  57. Launch Southeast Asian Military Operations to Free Australian Drug Dealers and Consumers
  58. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  59. Hoppe's Inarticulate Australian Critics: The Hon Dr Peter Phelps, Dr Steven Kates and James Paterson
  60. Vice Magazine Westralian Secession Interview
  61. Sideshow to Dr Steven Kates' criticism of the Mises Seminar: Davidson vs Hoppe on Adam Smith
  62. The Best Australian Think Tank Is ...
  63. Announcing a new magazine to rival Time and The Economist
  64. The exciting new Australian Taxpayers' Alliance
  65. Neville Kennard Obituary
  66. Contrarian Conformism
  67. An invitation for Dick Smith, the IPA and other Walter Block fans to the 2nd Australian Mises Seminar
  68. Westralian mining legend Ron Manners of Mannkal belongs in The Property and Freedom Society
  69. What would Bert Kelly think of the Mises Seminar and Walter Block?
  70. Bad news about the Mises Seminar
  71. Gina Rinehart Fan Club gives big to Australian political education
  72. Sam Kennard wins North Sydney by-election by unanimous consent
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