Thursday, August 31, 2023

Atomistic Individual Curation


I have received a few replies to my post, Where is Murray Rothbard?   I will interact with a summary of these, but first a short summary of the purpose of that post: Rothbard wrote about and integrated several disciplines in order to come to a complete understanding of liberty.  Beyond even economics and political philosophy, he would write about natural law, revisionist (honest) history, the corruption inherent in the modern state, an appreciation of the western civilization that gave birth to our notions of liberty, and entrepreneurship. 

The purpose behind my question was to search for anyone or any group continuing this work:

While I admittedly am not familiar with everyone doing any work along the lines that Rothbard describes in this work, I am not familiar with any meaningful individual, group, or institution that is carrying it out.

This, other than Hans Hoppe, who stands singularly tall in this work…in my opinion.

As to the comments, several individual names were mentioned.  Of course, Hans Hoppe, but in addition: David Gordon, Gerard Casey, Ryan McMaken, Jorge Guido Hulsmann, Jeff Deist, Tom Woods, Bob Murphy, Lew Rockwell, Dave Smith, CJ Engel, Pete Quinones, and Gary North. 

This listing points to the reason for the title of this post.  Are we left individually to curate our own content?  This is no way to sustain and build a movement.  Individuals create, but it is institutions that sustain and build.

Yes, I did ask for individuals as well as groups or institutions.  I received many of the former, but only a couple of the latter.  As far as institutions, the Mises Institute was offered; as far as groups, “the Mises Caucus guys.” 

As for the individuals, there are some fine names offered.  There are also some that, for one reason or another, I have stayed away from.  For example, one of these, a few years ago, physically demonstrated the highest hypocrisy on an issue he loudly spoke against.  Another I have found unsteady, unwilling or unable to follow through on commitments.  No, I won't name names.

As for the institution and the group, I know little about the Mises Caucus.  For the Mises Institute, it will be nice seeing who replaces Jeff Deist.  Under Deist’s leadership, many of these various disciplines were pursued.  From where I stand, it is only this Institute that has the potential, currently, to continue this work. I don’t know if this will continue, and have seen some evidence via an article posted at the site and also some oddities about a couple of upcoming conferences that this may not be the case going forward. 


Having said this, there is enough from the list to do something with.  A conference with a few of those mentioned as speakers, focusing on the integration of two or more of these topics, or a listing of relevant work – some form of site that brings together the writing and podcasts from a few of these individuals that also address specifically the integration of two or more of these disciplines.

It is quite unfortunate.  Rothbard’s multi-discipline legacy is everywhere in all of these names.  But it is to be seen if it will be found under any institutional umbrella.


  1. I don't read it like I do the Mises Institute. But you could also look into the Libertarian Institute. They are gathering up writers and several have put books out recently. Scott Horton is writing one on the history, start of the Ukraine/Russia war.

    Also, I think Ryan McMaken is running the Mises Institute now. Not sure if they will replace Deist with a new President.

  2. If there will be future historians (given the politicization of the liberal arts, who knows?), and if some of them find libertarianism interesting, the late 60's will be, I believe, a treasure trove for them. Some remnants of the Old Right were still around then, and Murray Rothbard was a link between them and the new libertarianism. Think tanks, such as the Institute for Humane Studies generously paid for conferences centered upon the study of the liberal economic and political order. That stopped, I think, when the Koch brothers stopped contributing to such affairs. The Koch brothers had subscribed to a cyclical theory of history, and since, from their perspective, society was headed in a downward spiral away from liberty, they were saving their intellectual investments until classical liberalism was, again, in the ascent. One institute that maintained funding interdisciplinary collaboration (and still does, I believe) is Liberty Fund, Indianapolis. Founded by Pierre Goodrich (no relationship to the tire folks), the fund paid for scholars from various academic fields to read a book and come prepared to discuss it over a several day seminar. The fund did not insist upon ideological purity, but only required that the conversation centered upon that book. I participated in at least three such seminars that focused upon Hayek's Constitution of Liberty. I was also invited to participate in seminars as diverse as The Federalist Papers and John C, Calhoun, Shakespeare's Henry plays, and Al Ghazi's Incoherence of the Philosophers. The Liberty Fund was a source for younger libertarians to get beyond Austrian economics and to explore moral theory and revisionist history.
    Those who participated in the Fund's conferences (good food also) enjoyed a relaxed interlude from the orthodoxies of academia. Today, I regret, bad things are happening so quickly and so unexpectedly, that there is little room for leisurely reflections. Additionally, the school system, up to academia, has successfully impeded critical thinking. Giants such as Mises, Rothbard, Harry Elmer Barnes: they are not around in the number they used to be in the academic disciplines, no? Well before Rothbard, F A von Hayek was a template for the accomplished discipline based scholar equipped to speak competently across disciplinary boundaries. When the modern academy fosters interdisciplinary studies, it really means empowering illiterates in one very narrow subject to foist their ignorance upon another field and to subject the the poor student to the narrowness of their instructors in name of DEI.

  3. I know you didn't like the late Robert Wenzel of Economic Policy Journal (may he RIP), but one thing I didn't like about him was not naming names. I wish you would, or explain further at least.

    1. One spoke very strongly and effectively regarding the nonsense behind the government and medical reaction to the scam of the last few years. Then I saw him wearing a mask, in an uncrowded space (no one else in sight), in an establishment that was not requiring masks to be worn by anyone anywhere.

      The other let some people down hard after taking money to complete certain projects.

    2. Thank you. Too bad on both.

  4. I don't necessarily expect anyone to see this comment on an old post. Nevertheless, I'd like to state that as of October 2023, the Mises Institute is in very good hands. I of course must remain anonymous, but let's say I'm closely affiliated without being an employee per se.

    Lew Rockwell has been the acting president of late, and a new president with great credentials, and a familiar name, should be forthcoming. The mission is definitely not changing; if anything, they are doubling down. And for those that loved Jeff (including myself), Ryan McMaken is very much steeped in the same tradition and worldview and will continue as the executive editor (and frankly, expected promotion to the top when the time is right).

    With Ryan's direction, the MI will basically continue to evince the "bionicmosquito" worldview when not directly addressing Austrian economics; i.e., the same path that works to bring together and harmonize the natural law, PPS libertarian logic and the history and necessity of Christian unity. It's the Rothbardian project - marrying the classical liberalism of say, Benjamin Constant or Molinari, with deductions on human nature and the natural law.

    1. Perry, as you seem to have some familiarity with the inner workings of the Institute, can you point me to any public comment, blog post, etc., by any meaningful leader at the Institute regarding Walter Block's horrendous and pro-genocidal editorial at the Wall Street Journal? Especially by Lew Rockwell or Ryan McMaken, as you have highlighted in your comment?