Murray N. Rothbard

7 January 2010 at 12:18 pm 5 comments

| Peter Klein |

Jeff Tucker reminds me that Murray Rothbard passed away 15 years ago today. I remember the moment when I heard the news, from Parth Shah at a restaurant in DC, where we were attending the American Economic Association meeting. (This was before smartphones, Twitter, and the like, and news traveled more slowly.) I was stunned — Rothbard was not yet 70 — but my wife reminded us that he hadn’t looked well when we saw him the last time, the previous summer at the Mises Institute instructional conference in Claremont. (He died of congestive heart failure.) Check out the photo montage at Jeff’s post — see if you can identify younger versions of Ralph Raico, Roger Garrison, Bill Evers, George Reisman, Leonard Liggio, and others.

I consider Rothbard one of the great theorists of the twentieth century, and think his contributions to technical economics are greatly undervalued, even by many of his Austrian-school admirers. My own work has been heavily influenced by Rothbard (one of my most-cited papers is basically a gloss on a Rothbardian idea). Joe Salerno and I are working on a price-theory text (based on our lecture series) that builds heavily on Rothbard’s analysis in Man, Economy, and State. We hope it contributes to renewed interest in mundane Austrian economics.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Austrian Economics, People.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John Hagel  |  7 January 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Murray was indeed in a class by himself. I still treasure the memories of all-nighters spent in his living room in Manhattan – the energy was completely invigorating. He will be missed.

    PS – I was shocked to find myself in one of the photos along with Walter Grinder and Larry White

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  7 January 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Cool, John, I didn’t realize that was you!

  • 3. Nikolaj  |  9 January 2010 at 8:00 pm

    It is excellent news that you are preparing a Rothbardian price theory textbook. When could we expect the book to be published?

  • 4. Peter Klein  |  10 January 2010 at 12:37 am

    Thanks! Not sure on the timetable; late 2010, hopefully.

  • 5. Michael Marotta  |  12 January 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Superstition demands that we always speak well of the dead. I will placate the spirit of Dr. Rothbard by saying that as a young libertarian in the 1970s, I found his essays to be intellectually invigorating and I still stock some of those old newsletters and magazines. Last semester I had a class in “Technology and Society” and I drew on his criticism of Samuel Langley versus the Wrights.

    That said…

    The first part of his book on the history of American banking drew on a report about the “Suffolk System” published by that bank, but since buried in the archives. After finding a bad microfilm copy at my university library, I paid the Adam Smith Institute to send me a good one. (I also bought one of their neckties.) Rothbard plagiarized heavily from the original Suffolk Banking System and, worse, projected his own anarchist opinions on the facts of history. As a criminologist, I am fully sympathetic to a free market in protection and adjudication, but the fact is that the Suffolk System was not destroyed by the evil machinations of Salmon P. Chase’s Treasury Department.

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