How Lew Rockwell Copied Leonard E. Read and Took Over the Libertarian Movement

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Lew Rockwell asked Jeffrey Tucker to run www.Mises.org in 1995. Tucker is a genius. Why do I think he is a genius? Because he knows how to borrow and then implement other people’s great ideas. This is a sign of genius. “Steal from the best!”

Tucker has written about Read’s policy here. He wrote this as an introduction to his posting of all original copies of The Freeman. You can access them here.

But wait! Aren’t these also on FEE’s website? Not in their original form.

You mean FEE sat on this collection of articles for 14 years, not posting this treasure? Yes. But isn’t the Web Leonard Read’s dream come true — a way to give away ideas, because digits are free? Yes.

FEE’s presidents from 1995 to 2008 never really understood the power of the World Wide Web. Lew Rockwell did. So did Jeff Tucker. This is why LewRockwell.com and Mises.org have a large traffic, and FEE.org doesn’t. Rockwell got there first and captured the libertarian market by giving away everything. You can buy printed copies of the books Mises.org gives away. Result: Mises Institute sells more libertarian books than any other organization.

You mean that giving away a download of a book sells the book? Yes. But why? Because most book lovers suffer from what I call Picard’s syndrome. Like Jean-Luc, they want to hold a book in their laps. They don’t like to read a book in a 3-ring binder. They can read a chapter on-line. Then they say, “Nuts to this. I’ll click a link and buy it.” Print-on-demand technology lets the Mises Institute list hundreds of books in its on-line catalogue (free). Inventory problems? Nothing to speak of.

Want to test drive any book it sells? Go to the Literature section of the site.

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Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com. He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

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