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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11362/the-rothbard-of-the-1990s/

The Rothbard of the 1990s

January 1, 2010 by

Today, Mises.org posts yet another excerpt from Murray Rothbard’s magisterial History of Economic Thought. It is the sixth excerpt that Mises.org has published, and there are many more to come.

Consider that this is only possible due to negotiations that the Mises Institute made with the original publisher, who had locked up this important set of books behind the prison of intellectual property. The book could not appear online, and could not even be published at a reasonable price. We managed to break through one barrier at a time, and only with the help of a generous donor, and now you see the fruits, which are hard won.

My own impression is that the previous prison-like state of this book ended up distorting people’s impressions of what Rothbard was doing in his last decade, so that his public and popular writings ended up overshadowing the serious work – simply for the reason that the popular material has been accessible whereas the research in the history of ideas has not been accessible. We can hope that the wide distribution of this writing and so much more that is coming out in the future will help to balance out the scales. Encyclopedia entries of the future might read differently after this series is completed.

If you have never done HTML work on these kinds of articles, it is good to consider just how much time and energy is associated with the initial appearance of these articles online. The text has to be scanned and then exported to text and fully proofed against the original. Then to create the gorgeous display here, complete with working footnotes and callouts and images, takes both time and talent on the part of editors and code workers. Even then, there are always later corrections and tweaks necessary to create these canonical versions.

I mention this because sometimes it is all-too-easy to look at the final product and think, “great, what’s next?” rather than reflect on the huge investment of resources that are necessary to make this all happen. There is Rothbard’s massive program of reading and writing, there was the initial publication, then the rights negotiations and expenditures, the scanning, the preparation, and all the way to the end. It is a very long structure of production here. The result is magnificent but extremely costly. Let us be appreciative of everyone involved at every step and especially of Rothbard’s own intellectual work here that now achieves universal distribution for the ages.

{ 8 comments }

Alberto January 1, 2010 at 9:07 am

Bravo! This is wonderful news.

Bruce Koerber January 1, 2010 at 10:23 am

Dear Jeffrey,

Thank you for uncovering all the steps involved and the sacrifices and efforts made for each step to be completed.

The Mises Institute has to be one of the greatest benefactors in human history, since it is establishing a vastly rich foundation of classical liberalism, and since classical liberalism will be the basis of human civilization for the rest of human history.

It is a good time for us to make a contribution to the Mises Institute to honor the work done and to help to advance civilization.

DG Lesvic January 1, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Without denying the greatness of Rothbard’s overall work, there was one great flaw in it. While denouncing the mathematical method in economics, he used it. While he disliked geometric diagrams, the geometry itself was alright so long as it was verbally expressed.

But it was wrong for economics whether in pictures or in words.

Alexander January 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm

DG Lesvic is an idiot. Please send him back to the Boettke blog where he belongs.

DG Lesvic January 1, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Can’t do it, I’ve been banished from it, not by Boettke, but Horwitz.

So I guess you’re stuck with me.

Sorry.

Bruce Koerber January 2, 2010 at 7:00 am

Dear DG Lesvic,

Please give the reference for: “But even with the best theory, real scientists never rest content. For, as Mises explained, “The most elaborate theory that seems to satisfy completely our thirst for knowledge may one day be amended or supplanted by a new theory. Science does not give us absolute and final certainty.”

I assume that you are able to state clearly and succinctly the essence of your theory of redistribution. What is it?

Bruce Corbusier January 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

Does ‘magisterial’ mean ‘got everything wrong’?

Russ January 4, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I read on SK’s site somewhere that Rothbard’s taped notes for a third volume of “History of Economic Thought” exist. Are there any plans for these to ever be turned into a book, for those of us who learn best by reading?

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