The Great Rothbardian

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Mises Faculty Spotlight: David Gordon by David Gordon Recently by David Gordon: What Is Libertarianism?

David Gordon covers new books in economics, politics, philosophy, and law for The Mises Review, the quarterly review of literature in the social sciences, published since 1995 by the Mises Institute. He is author of The Essential Rothbard, Resurrecting Marx, and The Philosophical Origins of Austrian Economics. He has also edited Secession, State and Liberty and Strictly Confidential.

If you were not a scholar then what do you think you would be doing now? Do you have any hobbies?

I’d probably be in some menial job. I’m really not much good for anything else besides reading and studying. On hobbies, I like Crossword and Sudoku puzzles.

What drew you to the Austrian school?

When I was in junior high school, I used to go to Poor Richard’s Bookshop in Los Angeles, which featured a large variety of classical liberal books. Man, Economy, and State and Human Action influenced me the most.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

Definitely Murray Rothbard. His intelligence and vast range of knowledge were amazing.

You’ve written or edited several books on Murray Rothbard including a new work concerning Murray Rothbard’s memos at the Volker fund. You have also been called a great friend of Dr. Rothbard. What was the personal Murray Rothbard like and will readers get a newfound sense of him in your recent work?

He was a very warm and friendly person; whatever your mood when you started to talk to him, you would soon be laughing. He was interested in everything and no matter what the topic, you would always learn something new from him. One thing that especially impressed me was his quickness in argument. Readers of the collection Strictly Confidential that I edited will get a good idea of his breadth of learning and his commitment to liberty.

Do you have any new works on the way?

I’m working on an article with my friend Ronald Hamowy on Nozick’s derivation of the minimal state, and preparting a collection of Murray Rothbard’s letters.

How do you think history will see you and your efforts in life?

I don’t think that history will remember me at all. I hope that I’ve encouraged a few students to study libertarian and Austrian ideas, especially as taught by Rothbard.

Are there any words of wisdom you wish to pass onto the next generation of Austrian scholars?

Try to do as much reading as you can. Also, remember that coming up with a good philosophical argument is difficult: don’t assume that there is some quick and easy way to prove libertarianism and refute its critics.

Reprinted from

September 4, 2010

David Gordon [send him mail] is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and a columnist for LRC. He is, most recently, the author of The Essential Rothbard and editor of Strictly Confidential: the Private Volker Fund Memos of Murray N. Rothbard. See his Books on Liberty. See also his Books on War.

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