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Gustave de Molinari

Gustave de Molinari (March 3, 1819 - January 28, 1912) was a Belgian-born economist associated with the French "économistes", a group of laissez-faire liberals.

Throughout his life, together with the other économistes, Molinari defended peace, free trade, freedom of speech, freedom of association (including into voluntary trade unions), and liberty in all its forms, and opposed slavery, colonialism, mercantilism, protectionism, imperialism, nationalism, corporatism, economic interventionism, government control of arts and education, and all restraints on liberty. Living in Paris, in the 1840s, he took part in the "Ligue pour la Liberté des Échanges" (Free Trade League), animated by Frederic Bastiat. On his death bed in 1850, Bastiat described Molinari as the continuator of his works.

In 1849, shortly after the 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 free market in justice and protection could advantageously replace the state. Some feel this work makes him effectively the first theorist of anarcho-capitalism. Others disagree with this interpretation and argue that it is anachronistic to speak of anarcho-capitalists prior to the theory condensing around that name nearly fifty years after Molinari's death.

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 the Future, he moderated his position on defense slightly, calling for private regional monopolies rather than competing defense agencies.

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Last updated: 11-07-2004 20:53:10