My good friend Bob Wenzel passed away a few days ago, peacefully, in his sleep. Rest in peace, my good friend.
Many people knew Bob as the creative, informative, inspiring author of his two blogs, Economic Policy Journal and Target Liberty. I knew him in that way too, of course, since my morning would not be complete if is did not “rev up” each day by a perusal of these brilliant offerings of his. On more than one occasion I was delighted to find that he had mentioned me in one or the other or both of these. And on many more occasions I was inspired by his thoughts to write articles and op eds of my own on topics he had raised. My one regret about him is that he and I never co-authored any publication.
I won’t say that these contributions of his were the tip of the iceberg in terms of his support for liberty and good (Austrian) economics. They were much more than that. But, perhaps lesser known to people outside of his home in San Francisco, he did much more than that. He started up the San Francisco Circle Rothbard (that name tells you where Bob’s heart was at), which featured regular meetings of a group of local Austro-libertarians; I attended several of these gatherings, in my semi-regular visits to that city and I was most impressed by the intellectual level and the passion of these discussions. Bob was a mainstay of the anarcho-capitalist movement in that important area of our country.
He was an inveterate debater. I was one of his many debating partners, on more than just several occasions. (He and I only agreed on 99.9% of all issues in political economy). That was an experience and a half. Bob was always exceedingly polite in our debates, and friendly, as would be appropriate given our relationship (I say “debating partners,” not debating opponents because of this), but when push came to shove, when we got “down and dirty” in the trenches, I realized I was in for a real tussle.
In this appreciation of him and his life, I wanted to give readers a sense of what he was like. So I used word search for “Wenzel” in my file that lists all of my books, articles, op eds, other publications, speeches, debates, interviews, etc. Guess how many hits I obtained? You’ll never guess! The number was 122. That is not a typo. Until I did that, I knew I was heavily involved in his life, and he in mine, but I didn’t realize just how much of my life was intertwined with his. I’m not going to list any of these, let alone all of them. The former would require that I pick and choose between them, something I am loathe to do, and the latter would be too over the top. Let me just say that a lot of my spiritual and intellectual input came from this good friend of mine.
Nor did I quite realize how much of an impact he had on many other people in the Austro-libertarian movement. But based on the number of RIPs I have seen, the concern dozens of his other friends evinced when he didn’t publish his two blogs for one day, and the outpourings of affection aimed in his direction upon his demise, that impact, too, was quite powerful.
Lew Rockwell is the grand old man of Austro-libertarian blogging; he started many years before Bob did; he is far more well known. One of the highest compliments I ever gave to Bob was to suggest to Lew that if and when he ever thought of retiring from these efforts of his and was looking around for a successor, Bob Wenzel would be an excellent candidate. I really can’t think of a better compliment than that.
Bob died at the tender age of 63. He was just a baby. But he was an enfent terrible, as the French would say. He was a man whose accomplishments were outstanding. The Austro-libertarian movement has just lost a great leader, and I have lost a good friend. RIP, Bob.
Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
2:17 am on June 1, 2021 Email Walter E. Block