Rothbard: My conversion to anarchism was a simple exercise in logic. I had engaged continually in friendly arguments about laissez-faire with liberal friends from graduate school. While condemning taxation, I had still felt that taxation was required for the provision of police and judicial protection and for that only. One night two friends and I had one of our usual lengthy discussions, seemingly unprofitable; but this time when they’d left, I felt that for once something vital had actually been said. As I thought back on the discussion, I realised that my friends, as liberals, had posed the following challenge to my laissez-faire position:
They: What is the legitimate basis for your laissez-faire government, for this political entity confined solely to defending person and property?
Rothbard: Well, the people get together and decide to establish such a government.
They: But if “the people” can do that, why can’t they do exactly the same thing and get together to choose a government that will build steel plants, dams, etc.?
Rothbard: I realised in a flash that their logic was impeccable, that laissez-faire was logically untenable, and that either I had to become a liberal, or move onward into anarchism. I became an anarchist.