I’ve always loved Murray Rothbard’s exploration of Ireland…in honor of St Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share it…


“For a thousand years, then, ancient Celtic Ireland had no State or anything like it. As the leading authority on ancient Irish law has writ­ten: “There was no legislature, no bailiffs, no police, no public enforce­ment of justice…. There was no trace of State-administered justice.”9

How then was justice secured? The basic political unit of ancient Ireland was the tuath. All “freemen” who owned land, all professionals, and all craftsmen, were entitled to become members of a tuath. Each tuath’s members formed an annual assembly which decided all common policies, declared war or peace on other tuatha, and elected or deposed their “kings.” An important point is that, in contrast to primitive tribes, no one was stuck or bound to a given tuath, either because of kinship or of geographical location. Individual members were free to, and often did, secede from a tuath and join a competing tuath. Often, two or more tuatha decided to merge into a single, more efficient unit. As Professor Peden states, “the tuath is thus a body of persons voluntarily united for socially beneficial purposes and the sum total of the landed properties of its members constituted its territorial dimension.”10 In short, they did not have the modern State with its claim to sovereignty over a given (usually expanding) territorial area, divorced from the landed prop­erty rights of its subjects; on the contrary, tuatha were voluntary associa­tions which only comprised the landed properties of its voluntary mem­bers. Historically, about 80 to 100 tuatha coexisted at any time throughout Ireland. (continue reading)

Comments (5)

No large standing army. This is why the Irish were overtaken and oppressed. This is one aspect of libertarianism that I do not understand.

Christianity had similar consequences – England had similar problems fending off invasions after being converted. Militias like Switzerland has would work, I think.

While the absence of a standing army seems the only cause of weakness, there are other possible reasons. One that seems more likely to me is the technology gap between the two. In places where individuals have prosperity and modern technology, It would be much more difficult. It would be nigh impossible to conquer a population that is well-armed and free.

The weakness that conquered the USA was/is our fundamentalist religiosity especially the religion of patriotism. Ruthless people have used it for centuries to excuse criminal actions against us and others – to garner support for wars, prohibitions, taxes, and stifle discussion and dissent. A recent example of this in action is the response to the Seal Team 6 murder of people in Yemen, a war crime if committed by any country not protected by the USA and a crime if committed by any individual human. Yet, everyone has to call these cold blooded murderers heroes!?

Let me explain it. They lived free and lawfully and fell victim to criminals as opposed to giving up their freedom in the hope of living longer as slaves. It’s the freedom vs security conundrum that has been used to subject people for millenia.

Arguably, with good intel, they could have prepared for the invasion and possibly delayed the inevitable but the only way to preserve freedom is to spread it so that the weeds of despotism can’t thrive.

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