Edmund Burke's A Vindication of Natural Society is a satire, intending to ridicule Bolingbroke's deism with what Burke thought would be a great reductio: "Bolingbroke, if your right, then we should get rid of government as well!"
But then William Godwin decided to read Burke's satire at face value, and thus anarchism was born from a joke taken seriously.
Joe Sobran tried to explain this away: "[Burke's] argument for anarchy was too powerful, passionate, and cogent to be a joke." Sobran contends that "many" have doubted the satirical intention of Burke's work. By "many" he means... Murray Rothbard.
But as John Weston noted, not a single Burke scholar agrees with Rothbard, who notably was not a Burke scholar. The evidence against Rothbard is overwhelming: Burke himself declared the work a satire, and he was already expressing his typically conservative views at roughly the same time as the pamphlet's publication.
Why did Rothbard attempt this claim, in the face of all Burke scholarship? I think the reason is pretty obvious: The alternative to this ahistorical conclusion is that the most powerful, passionate, and cogent arguments for anarchism are... a joke.
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Is shaping up nicely .
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