Nanny State: Lao Tzu - Libertarian

20 September 2009

Lao Tzu - Libertarian

Was Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who was born as early as 600 B.C., the world's first libertarian? He very well might have been, according to libertarian scholar Murray Rothbard.

In an essay in The Journal of Libertarian Studies (Fall 1990), Rothbard wrote: "The first libertarian intellectual was Lao-tzu, the founder of Taoism... For Lao-tzu the individual and his happiness was the key unit and goal of society. If social institutions hampered the individual's flowering and his happiness, then those institutions should be reduced or abolished altogether. To the individualist Lao-tzu, government, with its 'laws and regulations more numerous than the hairs of an ox,' was a vicious oppressor of the individual, and 'more to be feared than fierce tigers.'"

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When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.
When the government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.

Act for the people's benefit.
Trust them; leave them alone.


The Rambling Taoist said...

Are there libertarian strands throughout the Tao Te Ching? Yes, there certainly are.

However, as with all texts, it would be better to read the whole thing -- it's only 81 pages -- because it's easy to take things out of context.

Robert said...

Thank you for your comment. Taking things out of context from inspired writings is an old habit, practiced by many.
Good advice from you. I have ordered the book.