This is a page with blurbs on some of the people who shaped the movement.

Murray Rothbard

Perhaps the best known promoter of anarcho-capitalism (in fact the one who coined the phrase), Murray Rothbard, is certainly one of the most central figures to the anarchist movement. Rothbard is also perhaps the most famous proponent of Austrian Economics, which strongly influenced his anarchist beliefs. In his book, The Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard defends his anarchist position with some of the strongest arguments ever devised for anarchy.

Rothbard was also a historian, and researched some potential historical examples of anarchist societies, especially in colonial America. His article Pennsylvania’s Anarchist Experiment is a profound look into how for approximately a decade Pennsylvania was without a government, and functioned just fine.

He considered the state to be a “gang of thieves writ large” a powerful statement which has been used increasingly as an anarchist slogan. Rothbard is considered to be affiliated probably more strongly with the tradition of the Right, though at times he did seek to build coalitions with those on the left. See Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty.

Lots of information on Rothbard can be found at the Mises Institute Website, and at For a good bibliography podcast listen to Jeff Riggenbach’s Libertarian Tradition Podcast on Rothbard.

Karl Hess

Perhaps amongst some of the great anarchist thinkers some might overlook Karl Hess, after all he came to his anarchism fairly late in life, and previously had supported the Republican Party. I would argue though that Hess’ ideas are some of the most powerful, and his actions some of the most radical in the cause for a free society.

Hess decided after his stint with the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign, that he would go into welding and attempt to avoid the state at any cost. The IRS put a 100% lean on all his future earnings because of his refusal to pay federal income taxes. His extremely brave move, in refusing to pay taxes, left him in a great position to develop his ideas on society.

He argued for a more leftward evolution of Murray Rothbard’s anarchism, an extension that opposed all imposed authority. Hess said that he thought people function best in an environment that is not hierarchical, and if it does have hierarchy that it be rather limited. He himself attempted to practice this through developing alternative technologies for living in a self-sufficient independent way. Hess favored bringing anarchists together under one tent as voluntarists, because that anti-authoritarian bent is presumably what is the common thread among the various anarchist styles.

I myself envy the way in which Hess conduced his life, and I think that it would be something for anarchists to consider if they are in a position to attempt to break off from the state more completely. I think Hess would have approved of the ideas of creating libertarian communities in order to try and bring like minded people together in an area where they can try to use their collective strength to reject state authority.

An Academy award-winning documentary was made about Hess and his philosophy, it is available on Google Video here. A Libertarian Tradition Podcast on the life and work of Karl Hess by Jeff Riggenbach can be found here with transcript here.

Penn Jillette

Magician and public personality Penn Jillette has expressed anarchist leaning positions. Penn’s strong libertarian position was extremely influential to me personally. From watching his TV show Bullshit! to videos on Youtube his clear and direct arguments for libertarianism are some of the most convincing out there.

Here is a video where Penn is interviewed by the Cato Institute (non-anachist) on his views. As far as I can tell Penn is one of the most sincere libertarians out there, he really is trying to promote the cause out of the goodness of his heart and his love for humanity.

One of my favorite quotes from Penn follows:

“It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.” – Penn Jillette

Penn also has an active internet presence in his various podcasts. He hosted both PennSays and Penn Point previously, and now is starting Penn Sunday School.

Here is a video of Penn where he was interviewed on The Big Think on why mistrust for government is a beautiful thing. Best quote from the video: “I will help you build a library, but I am not willing to put a gun to someones head to make them do it.”

Lysander Spooner

Samuel Edward Konkin III (SEK III)

Ron Paul

The only non-anarchist on the list…

Walter Block

Hans Hermann Hoppe

Stefan Molyneux

Doug Casey

David Friedman

Henry David Thoreau

Frederick Bastiat

Gustave de Molinari



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