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Statism is the belief that the state should control either economic or social policy, or both, to some degree. Statism is effectively the opposite of anarchism. While the term "statism" has been in use since the 1850s, it gained significant usage in American political discourse throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Ayn Rand made frequent use of it in a series of articles in 1962.

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  • The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavours to live at the expense of everyone else.
  • The policy of seeking values from human beings by means of force, when practiced by an individual, is called crime. When practiced by a government, it is called statism—or totalitarianism or collectivism or communism or socialism or nazism or fascism or the welfare state.
    • Nathaniel Branden, Honoring the Self: Self-Esteem and Personal Transformation, New York: NY, Bantam Books, 1985, p. 228
  • Statism—the subordination of the individual to the state—leads inevitably to the most hideous oppression.
    • Andrew Bernstein, The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire, UPA, (2005) pp. 10–11
  • Government is the only form in which we can envisage the State, but it is by no means identical with it. That the State is a mystical conception is something that must never be forgotten.
    • Randolph Bourne, The State, Tucson, Arizona, Sharp Press (1998), p. 7, first published in 1918.
  • In short, the difference between Communism, fascism, and democracy and all other statist systems, are of degree, not principle. The principle is that the state owns everything (including you), and you can use property only if the state allows it.
    • Alan Burris, A Liberty Primer, Rochester: NY, Society for Individual Liberty (Genesse Valley chapter), 2nd edition (1983) p. 392


  • It is important to remember in this context that statism exists whenever there is a government which initiates force. The degree of statism, once the government has done so, is all that is in question. Once the principle of the initiation of force has been accepted, we have granted the premise of statists of all breeds, and the rest, as you have said so eloquently, is just a matter of time.
    • Roy A. Childs, Jr., “Objectivism and the State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand,” The Rational Individualist, vol. 1, no. 10 (August 1969)
  • To a large degree it has been and remains big businessmen who are the fountainheads of American statism.
    • Roy A. Childs, Jr., Liberty Against Power, San Francisco: CA, Fox & Wilkes (1994) p. 45, chap: “Big Business and the Rise of American Statism,” Child’s speech at first convention of Society for Individual Liberty, held November 15-16, 1969
  • 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.
    • Frank Chodorov, “Freedom Is Better,” “Freedom Is Better,” Plain Talk (November 1949)
  • The fact is—and this is something the state worshippers are prone to overlook—that the comforts, emoluments, and adulation that go with political office have great influence on political policy; for the state consists of men, and men are, unfortunately, always human. And so, liberalism mutated into its exact opposite by the end of the nineteenth century. Today it is the synonym of statism.
    • Frank Chodorov, “About Revolution,” analysis (January 1951). It was reprinted in “One Is a Crowd”.
  • The State acquires power at the expense of freedom, and because of its insatiable lust for power it is incapable of giving up any of it. The State never abdicates.
  • This is the fulfillment of statism. It is a state of mind that does not recognize any ego but that of the collective. For analogy one must go to the pagan practice of human sacrifice: when the gods called for it, when the medicine man so insisted, as a condition for prospering the clan, it was incumbent on the individual to throw himself into the sacrificial fire. In point of fact, statism is a form of paganism, for it is worship of an idol, something made by man. Its base is pure dogma.
  • Statism is not a modern invention. Even before Plato, political philosophy concerned itself with the nature, origin, and justification of the state… It is only within recent times… that the mass of people has consciously or implicitly accepted the Hegelian dictum that ‘the state is the general substance, whereof individuals are but the accidents.’
    • Frank Chodorov, Fugitive Essays, Indianapolis, IN, Liberty Press (1980), p. 41, chap. “The Dogma of Our Times,” The Freeman (June 1956)


  • The state represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The Individual has a soul, but as the state is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Modern Review (October, 1935) p. 412. Interview with Nirmal Kumar Bose (9/10 November 1934)
  • I look upon an increase in the power of the State with the greatest fear because, although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality, which lies at the root of the progress. We know of so many cases where men have adopted trusteeship, but none where the State has really lived for the poor.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, Modern Review (October, 1935) p. 412. Interview with Nirmal Kumar Bose (9/10 November 1934)
  • Passionate nationalists, like passionate socialists, ultimately believe that the State can love you, and if the right people take it over, the divisions that are inevitable in a free society will be knitted together by some government initiative. But that is not love, it is lust. It is a lust for power and victory for your vision over all others.


  • Statism is the Utopian ideal that just the right amount of violence used by just the right people in just the right direction can perfect society.
    • Keith Hamburger, as quoted in “The Myth of Limited Government: Anarchy Vs. Minarchy”, Jon Torres, Logical Anarchy, (August 12, 2014) [1]
  • There can be no socialism without a state, and as long as there is a state there is socialism. The state, then, is the very institution that puts socialism into action; and as socialism rests on aggressive violence directed against innocent victims, aggressive violence is the nature of any state.
    • Hans-Hermann Hoppe, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism: Economics, Politics, and Ethics, Ludwig von Mises Institute (2007) pp. 148-49
  • Most of the governments of the world today are, as they have been throughout history, of a totalitarian (statist) variety to varying degrees. These governments have gone by a variety of names: fascist, communist, socialist. They are totalitarian to the extent that the state governs the individual’s life; the more sectors of life in the hands of the government (and correspondingly, the less left to the individual liberty), the more totalitarian or statist that government is.
    • John Hospers, Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow, Los Angeles: CA, Nash Publishing (1971) p. 36


  • I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.
  • …the State is in essence the result of the successes achieved by a band of brigands who superimpose themselves on small, distinct societies.


  • Anarcho-libertarians denounced any form of statism, treated much of the history of the American republic—from the sanctioning of slavery and the theft of Indian land to the growth of the corporate state—as one long litany of abuses of liberty, and reveled in the findings of revisionist historiography on the Cold War and the origins of the American empire.
    • John L. Kelley, Bringing the Market Back In: The Political Revitalization of Market Liberalism, New York: NY, New York University Press (1997) p. 106


  • Statism is a pathology of human thought and behavior that causes people to passively and obediently lie on the ground while the rulers and their obedient servants walk all over the people, and enslave their labor and torture them with impunity.
    • Scott Lazarowitz, “Statism Is a Sickness,” (August 13, 2011) [2]
  • And thus we see the government is at once both protector and predator. It is not that governments begin in virtue only to end in sin. Government begins by protecting some against others and ends up protecting itself against everyone.
    • Robert LeFevre , Nature of Man and His Government, Caldwell: Idaho, Caxton Printers, Ltd (1991) p. 73
  • Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.
    • Robert LeFevre , as quoted in “Covert Operation”, Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, (Aug. 30, 2010)
  • In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.


  • The state — or, to make the matter more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.
    • H.L. Mencken, as quoted in Charting the Candidates ‘72, Ronald Van Doren, Pinnacle Books (1972) p. 7
  • All government is, in its essence, organized exploitation, and in virtually all of its existing forms it is the implacable enemy of every industrious and well-disposed man." (cannot find source)
    • H.L. Mencken, “The Constitution,” Baltimore Evening Sun, (August 19, 1935)
  • The State is not force alone. It depends upon the credulity of man quite as much as upon his docility. Its aim is not merely to make him obey, but also to make him want to obey.
    • H.L. Mencken, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks, New York: NY, Knopf (1956) p. 217-218
  • Within classical liberalism, two theories of the origin of the State have struggled for domination: the naturalistic theory by which the State evolves from Society; and, the external conflict one by which the State may be considered to be a continuing act of war committed against Society by a separate group. The former is called the consent theory of the State. The latter is known as the conquest theory of the State. These are not merely historical suppositions. They are analytical approaches intended to call into question or to confirm whether the State can ever claim legitimacy. If the State in its very genesis requires the mass violation of human rights, it becomes far more difficult to ethically justify the institution than if it arose from mass agreement.
    • Wendy McElroy, “Defining the State and Society,” The Freeman, (April 1, 1998) Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 223-227 [3]
  • In short, the State is not a physical entity that exists independently. It is an abstraction that has emerged many times and in many forms throughout human history. Sometimes it has been lauded as the ideal expression of Society, as in Plato's The Republic. At other times, it has been excoriated as a vicious parasite riding on the back of Society…
    • Wendy McElroy, “Defining the State and Society,” The Freeman, (April 1, 1998) Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 223-227 [4]
  • We should never doubt that nationalizing the moral life is the first step toward totalitarianism.
    • Kenneth Minogue, The Servile Mind, How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life (2010), Encounter Books, pp. 2-3
  • A new type of superstition has got hold of people’s minds, the worship of the state. People demand the exercise of the methods of coercion and compulsion, of violence and threat. Woe to anybody who does not bend his knee to the fashionable idols!
    • Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, Auburn: Alabama, Ludwig von Mises Institute (2010) p. 11, (first published by Yale 1944)
  • The most important event in the history of the last hundred years is the displacement of liberalism by etatism. Etatism appears in two forms: socialism and interventionism. Both have in common the goal of subordinating the individual unconditionally to the state, the social apparatus of compulsion and coercion.
    • Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, Auburn: Alabama, Ludwig von Mises Institute (2010) p. 44, (first published by Yale 1944)
  • The state is essentially an apparatus of compulsion and coercion. The characteristic feature of its activities is to compel people through the application or the threat of force to behave otherwise than they would like to behave… A gang of robbers, which because of the comparative weakness of its forces has no prospect of successfully resisting for any length of time the forces of another organization, is not entitled to be called a state... The pogrom gangs in imperial Russia were not a state because they could kill and plunder only thanks to the connivance of the government.
    • Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, Auburn: Alabama, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2010, p. 46, (first published by Yale 1944)
  • The worship of the state is the worship of force. There is no more dangerous menace to civilization than a government of incompetent, corrupt, or vile men. The worst evils which mankind ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments. The state can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief and disaster… The Führers and the Duces are neither God nor God’s vicars.
    • Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, Auburn: Alabama, Ludwig von Mises Institute (2010) p. 47, (first published by Yale 1944)
  • Etatism is the occupational disease of rulers, warriors, and civil servants. Governments become liberal only when forced to by the citizens.
    • Ludwig von Mises, “Tragedy in the Language of Political Economy”, American Affairs, 1945, Volume 7, number 1, pp. 47–49 (“etatism” is French for statism)
  • The idea that The State is capable of solving social problems is now viewed with great skepticism—which foretells a coming change. As soon as skepticism is applied to the State, the State falls, since it fails at everything except increasing its power, and so can only survive on propaganda, which relies on unquestioning faith.
    • Stefan Molyneux , “The Stateless Society: An Examination of Alternatives,” (The Ludwig Von Mises institute of Canada), (January 6, 2011) [5]


  • State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: 'I, the state, am the people’.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. Kaufmann, New York: NY, Modern Library (1995) p. 48, 1.11: “On the New Idol”
  • State I call it where all drink poison, the good and the wicked; state, where all lose themselves, the good and the wicked; state, where the slow suicide of all is called “life.”
    • Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. Kaufmann, New York: NY, Modern Library, (1995) p. 50, 1.11: “On the New Idol”
  • Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators, and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class.
    • Albert Jay Nock, from C. Hamilton's introduction to Oppenheimer's The State, New York: Free Life Editions, 1975, p. xii.
  • The State is all about taxation: a monopoly over violence that is funded by the compulsory collection of revenues. Who receives what portion of these revenues, and who pays what portion, are the continuing twin themes of politics down through the ages.
    • Gary North, Hierarchy and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on First Timothy, Dallas: GA, Point Five Press (2012) p. 310
  • [T]he State claims and exercises the monopoly of crime. . . . It forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants, whether the property of citizen or of alien.
    • Albert Jay Nock , On Doing the Right Thing, and Other Essays, New York: NY, Harper and Bros. (1929), p. 143


  • What, then, is the State as a sociological concept? The State, completely in its genesis . . . is a social institution, forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group of men on a defeated group, and securing itself against revolt from within and attacks from abroad. Teleologically, this dominion had no other purpose than the economic exploitation of the vanquished by the victors.
  • I mean by [the “State”] that summation of privileges and dominating positions which are brought into being by extra economic power. And in contrast to this, I mean by Society, the totality of concepts of all purely natural relations and institutions between man and man….


  • Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one:.... Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
  • War breeds collectivism and statism.
    • Tom G. Palmer, Self-Control or State Control? You Decide, Ottawa: Illinois, Jameson Books, Inc., chap. 1 “The Great Choice”, (2016) p. 13
  • States originate in conquest and flourish through war.
    • Tom G. Palmer, The Libertarian Reader, David Boaz, edit., chap: “The Literature of Liberty” New York: NY, The Free Press (1997), p. 440
  • ‘Statism' means any system that concentrates power in the state at the expense of individual freedom. Among other variants, the term subsumes theocracy, absolute monarchy, Nazism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, and plain, unadorned dictatorship. Such variants differ on matters of form, tactics, and/or ideology... Some statists nationalize the means of production; others allow the facade of private ownership but give the state control over the use and disposal of property. Some righteously practice a caste system; others, who also practice it, deny that they do… Whatever the point of entry of such governments, the essence of their policy is the same: war against man - against his mind, body, and property alike.
    • Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, New York: NY, A Meridian Book (1993) p. 369


  • Statism is a system of institutionalized violence and perpetual civil war. It leaves men no choice but to fight to seize political power—to rob or be robbed, to kill or be killed.
    • Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, chap. “The Roots of War,” New York: NY, A Signet Book (1967) p. 36
  • Statism—in fact and in principle—is nothing more than gang rule. A dictatorship is a gang devoted to looting the effort of the productive citizens of its own country. When a statist ruler exhausts his own country's economy, he attacks his neighbors. It is his only means of postponing internal collapse and prolonging his rule. A country that violates the rights of its own citizens, will not respect the rights of its neighbors. Those who do not recognize individual rights, will not recognize the rights of nations.
    • Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, chap. “The Roots of War,” New York: NY, A Signet Book (1967) p. 37
  • Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production.
    • Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, chap. “The Roots of War,” New York: NY, A Signet Book (1967) p. 37
  • If men want to oppose war, it is statism that they must oppose. So long as they hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged 'good' can justify it—there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations."
    • Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, chap. “The Roots of War,” New York: NY, A Signet Book (1967) p. 42
  • A statist system—whether of a communist, fascist, Nazi, socialist or “welfare” type—is based on the . . . government’s unlimited power, which means: on the rule of brute force. The differences among statist systems are only a matter of time and degree; the principle is the same. Under statism, the government is not a policeman, but a legalized criminal that holds the power to use physical force in any manner and for any purpose it pleases against legally disarmed, defenseless victims.
    • Ayn Rand, “War and Peace,” The Objectivist Newsletter, (Oct. 1962) p. 44
  • Nothing can ever justify so monstrously evil a theory. Nothing can justify the horror, the brutality, the plunder, the destruction, the starvation, the slave-labor camps, the torture chambers, the wholesale slaughter of statist dictatorships.
    • Ayn Rand, “War and Peace,” The Objectivist Newsletter, (Oct. 1962) p. 44
  • What, actually, is the difference between communism and fascism? Both are forms of statism, authoritarianism. The only difference between Stalin’s communism and Mussolini’s fascism is an insignificant detail in organizational structure.
  • It is the state that is robbing all classes, rich and poor, black and white alike; it is the state that is ripping us all off; it is the state that is the common enemy of mankind.
    • Murray Rothbard, “The Noblest Cause of All,” Address to the Libertarian Party Convention (1977), [6]
  • Briefly, the State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion…. The state has never been created by a ‘social contract’; it has always been born in conquest and exploitation.
    • Murray Rothbard, The Anatomy of the State, Auburn, Alabama, Mises Institute (2009) p.11, first published in 1974 [7]
  • Religion in pagan antiquity was a department of the state, and its function was to provide the rationale for the law order of the society and insurance for individuals. The state was seen as the supreme and primary organization of life in developed paganism, so that the essence of religious life was man's relationship to the state, or to its ruler. The gods acted through the state, and all institutions were comprehended in the state and its life.
    • Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law: Law and Society, Volume Two, Ross House Books, Vallecito, chap. “Theology and the State” (2001) p. 110
  • The state, rather, is a parasitic institution that lives off the wealth of its subjects, concealing its anti-social, predatory nature beneath a public interest veneer.


  • The legacy of the Soviet colossus is replete with nightmarish ordeals that only a killjoy could appreciate. With its total dependency on statism, the Soviet system dehumanized individuals as if they were interchangeable parts of a machine, insignificant and ephemeral. Stalin’s ‘revolution from above’ crafted a totalitarian archetype so finely carved that it marred every fragment of society.
    • L.K. Samuels, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, Cobden Press, 2013, p. 203
  • If any man's money can be taken by a so-called government, without his own personal consent, all his other rights are taken with it; for with his money the government can, and will, hire soldiers to stand over him, compel him to submit to its arbitrary will, and kill him if he resists.
    • Lysander Spooner, A Letter to Grover Cleveland, Boston: MA, Benj. R. Tucker (1886) p. 10, originally published in installments in Liberty, June 20, 1885 to May 22, 1886
  • A good government, no more than a bad one, has any right to live by robbery, murder, or any other crime.
    • Lysander Spooner, A Letter to Grover Cleveland, Boston: MA, Benj. R. Tucker (1886) p. 71, originally published in installments in Liberty, June 20, 1885 to May 22, 1886


  • If a thousand [citizens] were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood.
  • War made the state, and the state made war.
    • Charles Tilly, The Formation of National States in Western Europe, edit., Chap 1: “Reflections on the History of European State Making,” Princeton: Princeton University Press (1975) p. 42
  • It protection rackets represent organized crime at its smoothest, then war risking and state making – quintessential protection rackets with the advantage of legitimacy – qualify as our largest examples of organized crime.
    • Charles Tilly, “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime,” published in Bringing the State Back In, edit., Peter Evans, Dietrich, Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1985) p. 169
  • Government is a chameleon, pleased to wear any cultural or ideological cloak to blend in with its social and cultural surroundings. In a wrangling, struggling, grasping, dog-eat-dog democracy like ours, there are fifty shades of government, each suitable for a particular time and place, each adapted to purposes of the moment, all with the interest of firming up control by the ruling class.
  • It is a system of governance that was developed to give the people more direct control over the government; in fact, it has given the government more direct control over the people.
    • Jeffrey Tucker, A Beautiful Anarchy: How to Create Your Own Civilization in the Digital Age, Baltimore: MD, Laissez Faire Books, (2012) p. 320


  • The state is a criminal and anti-social institution because its agents must initiate violence against peaceful people, and confiscate their property, and/or place them in jail for refusal to acknowledge its jurisdiction.
    • Carl Watner, I Must Speak Out: The Best of The Voluntaryist 1982-1999, San Francisco: CA, Fox & Wilkes (1999) p. 173
  • If we are enslaved, what difference does it make who is our master? A State is a State is a State, regardless by whom, or where, or how its decisions are made and enforced.
    • Carl Watner, I Must Speak Out: The Best of The Voluntaryist 1982-1999, San Francisco: CA, Fox & Wilkes (1999) p. 17

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