Stateless- Not Lawless. The Myth of the Violent Wild Wild West

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Here's an interview with economic historian Thomas DiLorenzo. DiLorenzo is the author of a couple of books shattering the Lincoln myth.

An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild Wild West,

TheFirstLeftist's picture
Mar. 23, 2012 1:33 pm


In case anyone is in doubt about this guy's credentials and about ideological basis of his particular narrative:

The Ideologues

DiLorenzo is also a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a hard-right libertarian foundation in Alabama, and teaches at the League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, a South Carolina school established by the League of the South to teach its unusual views of history (see also Little Men).

In 2003,, a Web site run by Von Mises Institute President Llewellyn Rockwell that includes a "King Lincoln" section, hosted a "Lincoln Reconsidered" conference in Richmond, Va., starring DiLorenzo. The conference has since become a bit of a road show, reappearing around the South and headlined by DiLorenzo.

Nothing new. Tiresome.

.ren's picture
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

The "law of the jungle" is not pure carnage either. Lots of money coming in from Europe. Law for sale. Fortunes made and lost. Real Estate sales and frauds. Land grabs. genocide. "Stealing it fair and square." Triumphalism marching on and strip mining nature and whatever got in the way.

Extension of "civilization" with lots of speculation in infrastructure and land titles. Towns founded and commerce institutionalized with an eventual entry of "law and order" and courts. Schools, churches and respectables against the saloons.

There is a legendary quality to "the West" beyond its reality. "Reality" was also a fiction about a wild and unpopulated country to be "settled," so the social destruction and crimes against humanity can be ignored. What would you expect in such a frame other than a whole lot of speculative investments being made without much regulation or concern about consequences? Were the frame correct, there is no question that throwing a lot of money down can cover a lot of losses with a few big wins. If there is an escape valve to the West, some social realities can be finessed. The losers just magically reinvent themselves elsewhere.

I can find lots of examples of "natural cooperation" in the West as neighbors depend upon neighbors and commerce appreciates its stakes in the community and its people. I think it is far more profound in the "law of the West" than any rugged individualistic moralism or dog eat dog ruthlessness. But there was plenty of that too. And, I wonder how the Anarcho-Capitalists could be so nasty to the anarcho-unionists of labor? Weren't they both separate from "the state?"

Social and human realities matter to economic theories. The Myth of the Wild West belongs to the dime novels, but the Myth of its history as Capitalism free to do its thing belongs to the ideologues.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

How many men did John Wesley Hardin gun down?
How many stage coach and train robberies were there?

I have lived in Phoenix, Prescott and Tucson most of my life, I know between the Cowboys/ Clantlon gang, the Blevins gang, some others, the rate of murder and mayhem was quite high.

Add in the hill billy feuds from West Virginia down to Arkansas, and the lack of law is obviously a factor.

Phaedrus76's picture
Sep. 14, 2010 7:21 pm

And they had serious gun control in Dodge City.

DRC's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

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