Gustave de Molinari

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Gustave de Molinari (March 3, 1819, Liège – January 28, 1912, Adinkerke) was an economist born in Belgium associated with French laissez-faire liberal economists such as Frédéric Bastiat and Hippolyte Castille. Living in Paris, in the 1840s, he took part in the "Ligue pour la Liberté des Échanges" (Free Trade League), animated by Frédéric Bastiat. On his death bed in 1850, Bastiat described Molinari as the continuator of his works. In 1849, shortly after the revolutions of the previous year, Molinari published two works: an essay, "The Production of Security", and a book, Les Soirées de la Rue Saint-Lazare, describing how a market in justice and protection could advantageously replace the state.

In the 1850s, Molinari fled to Belgium to escape threats from France's Emperor Napoleon III. He returned to Paris in the 1860s to work on the influential newspaper, Le Journal des Debats, which he edited from 1871 to 1876. Molinari went on to edit the Journal des Économistes, the publication of the French Political Economy Society, from 1881 until 1909. In his 1899 book, The Society of Tomorrow, he proposed a federated system of collective security, and reiterated his support for private competing defense agencies.

Molinari's grave is located at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France.


Some anarcho-capitalists consider Molinari to be the first proponent of anarcho-capitalism. In the preface to the 1977 English translation Murray Rothbard called The Production of Security the "first presentation anywhere in human history of what is now called anarcho-capitalism" though admitting that "Molinari did not use the terminology, and probably would have balked at the name." Austrian School economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe says that "the 1849 article The Production of Security is probably the single most important contribution to the modern theory of anarcho-capitalism."[1] In the past, Molinari influenced some of the political thoughts of market anarchist Benjamin Tucker and the Liberty circle.[2]

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