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Harry C. Veryser

Murray Rothbard: In Memoriam

With the passing of Dr. Murray Rothbard on January 7, 1995, the country lost an indefatigable champion of individual lib- erty and a profound conscience of the po- litical arena. As with anyone who vigor- ously defends a principled position, Rothbard generated controversy among adherents of all political and philosophical positions. Never a blind follower of any party line, he was a man a deep integrity who said things and did things because he thought them to be true. If any tribute could be given to Murray Rothbard, it would be that he was a man who was dedicated to the pursuit of truth, and committed to seeing that truth carried out no matter where it led him.

Dr. Rothbard will be remembered in the short run for his criticism of the present political order. In the long term, however, he will be recognized for his innovative, significant, and lasting scholarly contribu- tions to the field of economics, particularly economic history, the history of economic ideas, and economic theory.

To the understanding of economic his- tory, Rothbard added a richness that few economic historians ever achieve. Most economic history is written from the view- point of analyzing the various operations of government or movements of productive

resources. These histories are interested in the growth of industries or trade, and in the development of government economic policy. Other economists and economic his- torians, such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, or even John Maynard Keynes, stressed instead the intellectual component, the role of ideas—believing economic “ideas” to be paramount in the develop- ment of economic history.

What Dr. Rothbard added to our under- standing of economic history is the analysis of the role of religion and politics on the development of the economic order. His inclusion of the religious factor is notable since most economists analyze history from a purely materialistic basis. But in explain- ing the development of the United States economy throughout the 1900s, Rothbard continually stresses the influences of the various church groups. He points out that the more libertarian, more free trade, more gold standard policies were championed by what he calls the “liturgical” churches, by which he meant the Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopalian churches. These churches saw their ultimate goal as beyond this life. Not inclined toward building earthly utopias,

Harry C. Veryser is chairman of the department of economics and finance at Walsh College in Troy, Michigan.



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