Frank Chodorov

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Frank Chodorov (February 15, 1887 – December 28, 1966) was an American member of the Old Right, a group of libertarian thinkers who were non-interventionist in foreign policy and opposed to both the American entry into World War II and the New Deal.


  • There cannot be a good tax nor a just one; every tax rests its case on compulsion.
    • “Taxation is Robbery,” Chicago: Human Events Associates (1947) [1]
  • Private Capitalism makes a steam engine; State Capitalism makes pyramids."
    • As quoted in “Frank Chodorov: Champion of Liberty,” Aaron Steelman, FEE, (Foundation for Economic Education), (December 1, 1996) [2]
  • The ultimate of taxation-for-social-purposes is absolutism, not only because the growing fiscal power carries an equal increase in political power, but because the investment of revenue in the individual by the State gives it a pecuniary interest in him. If the State supplies him with all his needs and keeps him in health and a degree of comfort, it must account him a valuable asset, a piece of capital. Any claim to individual rights is liquidated by society's cash investment. The State undertakes to protect society's investment, as to reimbursement and profit, by way of taxation. The motor power lodged in the individual must be put to the best use so that the yield will further social ends, as foreseen by the management. Thus, the fiscal scheme which begins with distribution is forced by the logic of events into control of production. And the concept of natural rights is inconsistent with the social obligation of the individual. He lives for the State which nurtured him. He belongs to the State by right of purchase.
    • “Taxation is Robbery,” Chicago: Human Events Associates (1947)

The Economics of Society, Government, and State (1946)


New York; NY, Analysis Associates, 1946

  • Taxation is nothing but organized robbery, and there the subject should be dropped.
    • p. 116.

One is A Crowd: Reflections of An Individualist (1952)


New York: NY, Devin-Adair Company, 1952, introduction by John Chamberlain [3]

  • The purpose of teaching individualism, then, is not to make individualists but to find them. Rather, to help them find themselves. If a student takes readily to such values as the primacy of the individual, the free market place, or the immorality of taxation, he is an individualist; if he swallows hard, he must be counted a recruit for the other side.
    • p. 3
  • Communism, they will admit, is Socialism gone hog-wild, but they do not seem capable of recognizing this as an inevitable consequence. Their hatred of Communism does not make them individualists. This is not to question the sincerity of those who have hit the sawdust trail. Far from it. The individualist, who accepts as basic the right of every man to make a fool of himself—provided he does not infringe the equal rights of others—is quick to accept the repentance at face value. But, repentance is not conversion; there is reason to believe that conversion is impossible.
    • pp. 3-4
  • For, it must be kept in mind that individualism is the modern radicalism. In the true sense of the word, individualism is always radical, for it rests its case on root ideas; I delves into the nature of things for basic causes; it rejects the idea that man is best served by a series of expedients.
    • p. 6
  • No sooner do men settle down to a given set of ideas, a pat-tern of living and of thinking, than fault-finding begins, and fault-finding is the tap-root of revolutions.
    • p. 34
  • That is the central idea of our current tradition. It is the idealization of the mass and the negation of the individual; its panacea, its method of realization, is political direction; its goal, as always, is the undefined Good Society… The aim of pedagogy today is not to prepare the individual for his own enjoyment of life, but to enable him to better serve the mass machine; the psychologist makes adjustment to mass-thought the measure of healthy thinking and living; jurisprudence puts social responsibility ahead of individual responsibility; the concern of the scientist in the discovery of principles is secondary to his preoccupation with mass production; the economist studies institutions, not people; and philosophy rejects speculation as to the nature of man or the purpose of life as effort that might better be put to the practical problems of society. Ours is the culture of ‘the all,’ rather than ‘the one.’
    • pp. 36-37
  • The income tax completely destroys the immunity of property. It flatly declares a prior right of the State to all things produced. What it permits the individual to retain is a concession to expediency, not by any means a right; for the State retains the liberty to set rates and to fix exemptions from year to year, as its convenience dictates. Thus, the sacred right of private property is violated, and the fact that it is done pro forma makes the violation no less real than when it is done arbitrarily by an autocrat.
    • p. 47
  • The right to own is the mark of a free man. The slave is a slave simply because he is denied that right. And because the free man is secure in the possession and enjoyment of what he produces, and the slave is not, the spur to production is in one and not in the other.
    • p. 47
  • The most irritating thing about Jehovah was His insistence on principles. He would have no truck with expediency, was constantly bringing up long-run consequences, and scolded unmercifully when a fellow gave way to some momentary inclination of the flesh. He enjoined you to keep your eyes off the neighbor's wife and property, gave you no peace when you indulged your appetite for homicide, perjury or adultery.
    • p. 53
  • When the privacy of property is denied the privacy of conscience cannot be tolerated. Ideals which do not conform with the prescribed "social good" are obviously a threat to it and must be obliterated.
    • p. 122
  • A politicalized monopoly, however, is absolute. Every competitive influence is removed by force. Even abstinence on the part of the public is no threat, since every drop in revenue can be offset by a tax levy. The power of taxation removes the necessity of rendering service.
    • p. 149

The Income Tax: Root of All Evil (1954)


New York: NY, Devin-Adair Company, 1954. Foreword by J. Bracken Lee [4]

  • Income and inheritance taxes imply the denial of private property, and in that are different in principle from all other taxes. The government says to the citizen: "Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide.
    • p. 8
  • When the individual says he has a valid title to life, he means that all that is he, is his own; his body, his mind, his faculties. Maybe there is something else to life, such as a soul, but without going into that realm, he is willing to settle on what he knows about himself—his consciousness.
    • p. 12
  • The Constitution did not give Americans freedom; they had been free long before it was written, and when it was put up for ratification they eyed it suspiciously, lest it infringe their freedom. The Federalists, the advocates of ratification, went to great pains to assure the people that under the Constitution they would be just as free as they ever were.
    • p. 16
  • Income taxation appeals to the governing class because in its everlasting urgency for power it needs money. Income taxation appeals to the mass of people because it gives expression to their envy; it salves their sense of hurt. The only beneficiaries of income taxation are the politicians, for it not only gives them the means by which they can increase their emoluments but it also enables them to improve their importance. The have-nots who support the politicians in the demand for income taxation do so only because they hate the haves; although they delude themselves with the thought that they might get some of the pelt the fact is that the taxing of incomes cannot in any way improve their economic condition. So that, the sum of all the arguments for income taxation comes to political ambition and the sin of covetousness.
    • p. 27
  • It is interesting to note that in nearly all the economics courses it is taught that the income tax is the proper instrument for the regulation of the country’s economy; that private property is not an inalienable right (in fact, there are no inalienable rights); that the economic ills of the country are traceable to the remnants of free enterprise; that the economy of the nation can be sound only when the government manages prices, controls wages, and regulates operations. This was not taught in the colleges before 1913.
    • p. 34
  • There is now a strong movement in this country to bring the public school system under federal domination. The movement could not have been thought of before the government had the means for carrying out the idea; that is, before income taxation. The question is, have those who plug for nationalization of the schools come to the idea by independent thought, or have they been influenced by the bureaucrats who see in nationalization a wider opportunity for themselves? We must lean to the latter conclusion, because among the leaders of the movement are many bureaucrats. However, if the movement is successful, if the schools are brought under the watching eye of the federal government, it is a certainty that the curriculum will conform to the ideals of Big Government. The child’s mind will never be exposed to the idea that the individual is the one big thing in the world, that he has rights which come from a higher source than the bureaucracy.
    • pp. 34-35
  • The freedoms won by Americans in 1776 were lost in the revolution of 1913.
    • p. 35
  • Men live by production, but the State lives by appropriation. While the haves and the have-nots struggle over the division of existing wealth, it is the business of the State to improve itself at the expense of both; it picks up the marbles while the boys are fighting. That has been the story of men in organized society since the beginning.
    • p. 36
  • At first it was the incomes of corporations, then of rich citizens, then of well-provided widows and opulent workers, and finally the wealth of housemaids and the tips of waitresses. This is all in line with the ability to pay doctrine. The poor, simply because there are more of them, have more ability to pay than the rich.
    • pp. 36-37
  • When the individual is relieved of the obligation of self-respect, he acquires the habits of helplessness; he is inclined to retreat to the security of the prenatal state. The more he is taken care of the more he wants care.
    • p. 41
  • The real reason for withholding taxes is the unwillingness of workers to share their incomes with the government and the consequent difficulties of collection. To overcome this handicap, the government has simply impressed employers into its service as involuntary and unpaid tax collectors. It is a form of conscription. Disregarding the right of privacy, which is an essential of liberty, the government’s agents may, under the law, invade the employer’s office, demand his accounts, and punish him for any infraction which they believe he has committed; they can impound his property and inflict a penalty for not having collected taxes for the government.
    • p. 43
  • The corruption of freedom is in proportion to the moral deterioration of the people. For a people who have lost their sense of self-respect have no need for freedom. And the income tax, by transferring the property of earners to the State, has disintegrated the moral fiber of Americans to such a degree that they do not even recognize the fact.
    • p. 52
  • Compulsion means force; there must be a policeman to see that the individual does not follow his own inclinations. But policemen must live. Since they do not produce a thing by which they can live, others must support them. Hence, the planners must have the means of getting at the production of the very people who are to be improved by the policeman. That means taxes, and the more taxes the greater the number of enforcement agents, and therefore the more comprehensive the plan. No plan can be bigger than its bureaucracy. The income tax is the ideal instrument for the planner.
    • p. 54
  • Popular suffrage is in itself no guarantee of freedom. People can vote themselves into slavery.
    • p. 61

The Rise & Fall of Society (1959)


New York: NY, Devin-Adair Company, 1959. Foreword Frank S. Meyer [5]

  • Economics is not politics. One is a science, concerned with the immutable and constant laws of nature that determine the production and distribution of wealth; the other is the art of ruling.
    • p. 4
  • Perhaps the removal of trade restrictions throughout the world would do more for the cause of universal peace than can any political union of peoples separated by trade barriers.
    • p. 54
  • Society thrives on trade simply because trade makes specialization possible, and specialization increases output, and increased output reduces the cost in toil for the satisfactions men live by. That being so, the market place is a most humane institution.
    • p. 56
  • Since the State thrives on what it expropriates, the general decline in production that it induces by its avarice foretells its own doom. Its source of income dries up. Thus, in pulling Society down it pulls itself down. Its ultimate collapse is usually occasioned by a disastrous war, but preceding that event is a history of increasing and discouraging levies on the marketplace, causing a decline in the aspirations, hopes, and self-esteem of its victims.
    • p. 150

Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist (1962)


New York: NY, Devin-Adair Company, 1962, Introduction by E. Victor Milione [6]

  • The folks who get their rent cheap, at the expense of other taxpayers, acquire the notion that society is obligated to take care of them—good Freudianism and that these rooms are a down payment on that obligation.
    • p. 19
  • On the other hand, the State is an anti-social organization, originating in conquest and concerned only with the confiscation of property. The State began with the practice of nomadic tribes swooping down on some agricultural community, confiscating the movable wealth and, after slaying the less productive inhabitants, carrying off to slavery a number of others. Slavery is the first institution of the State.
    • p. 147
  • The State is that group of people who having got hold of the machinery of compulsion, legally or otherwise, use it to better their circumstances; that is, by use of the political means.
    • p. 147
  • Dependence on the State became a virtue; dependence on oneself was derided as ‘rugged individualism.’
    • p. 154

Fugitive Essays: Selected Writings of Frank Chodorov (1980)


Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, Indiana, ed., Charles H. Hamilton, 1980 [7]

  • The more subsidized it is, the less free it is. What is known as 'free education' is the least free of all, for it is a state-owned institution; it is socialized education—just like socialized medicine or the socialized post office—and cannot possibly be separated from political control.
    • p. 237, “Why Free Schools Are Not Free,” analysis, (October 1948)
  • There is no such thing as free schooling; it must be paid for and, taking the school system as a whole, its cost is defrayed by the toil of those who are under the delusion of ‘free’ education.
    • p. 246
  • All wars come to an end, at least temporarily. But the authority acquired by the state hangs on; political power never abdicates.
    • p. 363
  • The path of skullduggery is made easier with a coating of morality, which is aptly applied to an established custom, by the lawyer and the professor of economics. And so, the business of taking what does not belong to you has been well obfuscated by a ‘philosophy’ of taxation’.
    • p. 268
  • [E]very soak-the-rich tax must become in time a soak-the-poor tax.
    • p. 272
  • Neither thieves nor officials produce a marketable good to offset what they take; they contribute nothing to the purchasing power because they contribute nothing to the general fund of wealth.
    • p. 273
  • Taxes cannot be compared to dues paid to a voluntary organization for such services as one expects from membership, because the choice of withdrawal does not exist. In refusing to trade one may deny oneself a profit, but the only alternative to paying taxes is jail. The suggestion of equity in taxation is spurious. If we get anything for the taxes we pay it is not because we want it; it is forced on us.
    • p. 276
  • [When people] say ‘let's do something about it’, they mean ‘let's get hold of the political machinery so that we can do something to somebody else.’ And that somebody is invariably you.
    • p. 396, “Freedom is Better,” Plain Talk, (November 1949)
  • Freedom is essentially a condition of inequality, not equality. It recognizes as a fact of nature the structural differences inherent in man — in temperament, character, and capacity — and it respects those differences. We are not alike and no law can make us so.
    • p. 397, “Freedom Is Better,” Plain Talk, (November 1949)
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