What the heck does George Reisman have against Murray Rothbard? I started reading his book, "Capitalism", and in it he portrays Rothbard as a lesser light of Austrian Economics, marred by fatal inconsistencies.
"Much worse, Rothbard, who was widely regarded as the intellectual leader of the younger generation of the Austrian school and of the Libertarian Party as well, was a self-professed anarchist and believed that the United States was the aggressor against Soviet Russia in the so-called cold war."
Reisman quotes Rothbard's "For A New Liberty" on that. First of all, he is misstating Rothbard's position, which, as I recall, was more along the line of dealing specifically with foreign policy and American Imperialism, making an entirely different point than the one Reisman mentions. I can't help but see this as a personal issue between the two men, since Reisman mentions earlier that he and Rothbard had ended their friendship, but not why. Is this something to do with Reisman's infatuation with Ayn Rand? Having a difference of view between Rothbard's subjective view of value and Rand's objectivism hardly seems like sufficient grounds for ending a friendship and so blithely dismissing Rothbard's formidable scholarship. He claims that Rand's views on objective values utterly destroyed his view of values as subjective, and this seems to have been somewhat life-changing to him. I don't understand why. I've been through Rand's work pretty thoroughly, and I am an admirer of her, but I disagree with her mystical view of value as objective. A is A as she likes to say, and while a thing is objective, one's view of it is not. Even the values I hold most sacrosanct, life, liberty, and property, are subjective, though I think they come the closest to being objective reality of all values.
My point is not to argue with dead philosophers, though. I started reading Capitalism with relish after reading his very good article today, "Economic Recovery Requires Capital Accumulation, not Government "Stimulus Packages", but this kind of animosity toward Rothbard puts me off. I may be one of a small club in the Austrian world, but I revere Rothbard even higher than Mises. That is probably because I find him easier to understand and so it reflects a lack of sophistication on my part perhaps. Resiman's dismissal of Rothbard as almost irrelevant I find pretty hard to take, and his argument of Rothbard being an anarchist somehow reflecting some sort of inconsistency with Capitalism I find lacking in logical coherency. So I'm inclined to set Capitalism aside.
Any light that anyone can shed on this will be greatly appreciated.
I'm not familiar with Reisman's "Capitalism" so I wouldn't be able to say. All that I can point out is that Reisman is an Objectivist and Rothbard wasn't on the friendliest terms ever with Ayn Rand.
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I would say its just the antipathy that Objectivists sometimes have towards Rothbard, because of his personality clash with Rand and his split with Objectivism.
Market anarchist, Linux geek, aspiring Perl hacker, and student of the neo-Aristotelians, the classical individualist anarchists, and the Austrian school.
Also, as far as "objective" and "subjective" value go, it was pretty much Rand and Rothbard talking past each other. What they both meant is more properly called "agent-relative" value, but they were accenting different parts of that concept; Rothbard was putting himself in contrast to the "objective" labor theory of value, while Rand was seeking to seperate herself from ethical and epistemological subjectivism (while holding that the labor theory of value and the like were "intrisic", rather than objective). Basically, just another semantic argument.
Yay for the endless bitchfests in the libertarian movement!
Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...
If I remember correctly, Reisman was mad that Rothbard called the US the "most imperialist nation of our times" (I'm paraphrasing) or something.
It's true, though. The US is a violent, thuggish empire and an extreme danger to the entire world. Remember how that whiny conservative Farah complained about Rockwell calling a spade a spade? http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=61750 Seems like kind of the same thing at work here.
Reisman has always struck me as having semi-neocon views on foreign policy. It's a shame, because he's one of my favorite LvMI writers. Machan has been disappointing in this regard as well.
drobine: I may be one of a small club in the Austrian world, but I revere Rothbard even higher than Mises.
I don't know why.
As for Reisman, read the book. You're going to gain from it, like you will with most writers, from reading the book regardless of whether or not you agree with him. I've not read the book, however, David Gordon (a close associate of Rothbard) has reviewed it very favourably, especially his parts on the calculation debate. To be sure, it's different from the Mises-Rothbard-Hoppe line of thought, but Reisman too was a student of Mises.
"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"
Well, maybe so, it just seems like a relatively small difference to end a close friendship over.
sorry, I'm getting used to this board. I assumed it would carry the post I was responding to into my reply. That was directed at Wombatron's comment,
"I would say its just the antipathy that Objectivists sometimes have towards Rothbard, because of his personality clash with Rand and his split with Objectivism."
I have to admit, when I read that in "For A New Liberty", it surprised me as well. But, if you look at what the two nations actually did in foreign relations, as opposed to their rhetoric, then it's hard to disagree. Maybe it is a neo-con thing, but I have difficulty understanding how intelligent people can be neo-con, with the inherent contradictions in philosophy that entails. Oh well, not my problem!
Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.
i like rothbard and reisman, it doesnt bother me that they dont like each other. later on in the book reisman critiques specific points of rothbards economics in a more fleshed out manner, examples: The Productivity Theory of Wages versus the Marginal-Productivity Theory of Wages.
and his disagreement with Rothbard over whether Profits have a tendancy to Zero or to some positive amount above Zero. (his MacroTheory)
Reisman has objectivist roots, and certainly is wrong on IP (which almost spoils the book for me). He is certainly comfortable with 'Subjective Value Theory' and his arguments in that area seem Misesian to me.
Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid
Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring
What had Reisman against Rothbard?They were in extremely friendly terms in the 1950s and when as a young student George Reisman provided a pro-McCarthy speech honouring Roy M. Cohn the speech was written by Murray Rothbard.When Reisman became more affiliated with the randians and Rothbard wanted to disassociate himself from the randians, Rothbard wrote a paper which had many ideas similar to those written by Nathaniel Branden and Ayn Rand. There were accusations of plagiarisms and while Ralph Raico and Ludwig von Mises sided with Rothbard, the more pro-randian collegues of Rothbard, particularly Robert Hessen and George Reisman, had the opinion that Rothbard should mention Branden as the original author of those "plagiarised" ideas. That was the moment when their friendship was gone and it never fully recovered.
"What had Reisman against Rothbard?""They were in extremely friendly terms in the 1950s and when as a young student George Reisman provided a pro-McCarthy speech honouring Roy M. Cohn the speech was written by Murray Rothbard.When Reisman became more affiliated with the randians and Rothbard wanted to disassociate himself from the randians, Rothbard wrote a paper which had many ideas similar to those written by Nathaniel Branden and Ayn Rand. There were accusations of plagiarisms and while Ralph Raico and Ludwig von Mises sided with Rothbard, the more pro-randian collegues of Rothbard, particularly Robert Hessen and George Reisman, had the opinion that Rothbard should mention Branden as the original author of those "plagiarised" ideas. That was the moment when their friendship was gone and it never fully recovered."
Thank you, Aragon, that's exactly what I was looking for. It's too bad that these two geniuses with such similar views should be at odds.
drobine:It's too bad that these two geniuses with such similar views should be at odds.
The unfortunate bane of every radical group in history.
Just one more thing...
I just realised that Capitalism is in large part an edited compilation of earlier essays by Reisman and in the book there could be left some views that were held by Reisman only in the 1970s when even I think that Rothbard had some weird connections with the leftists and negative thoughts about senator McCarthy... maybe someone who know more about Reisman's writing could clarify this theory more.
crazy idea. Maybe intellectual jealousy. I mean, Rothbard pretty much ended economics and political philosophy. His voluminous works, Power&Market, MES, America's Great Depression, and Ethics of Liberty, are the greatest intellectual achievments of any free-market economist in history. Gary North, rhetorically has said that any young people should forget about writing any books, because Rothbard already wrote it.
do we get free cheezeburger in socielism?
i disagree that rothbard was 'perfect' and 'all encompassing'. but its sure a cute idea.
That may be true of economic theory (though perhaps not, as there is always room for refinement), but I would say that Konkin and his followers made a lot of advances in political philosophy, working from Rothbard's foundation laid out in Ethics of Liberty.
Pro Christo et Libertate integre!
I like them both, then again I also like some of Peikoff's works on ethics and the works of David Kelley (specifically, his work on logic) and those two also seem to have it out for each other in a similar fashion. So, I say let the intellectual 'giants' throw lightning. It's fun to watch, although I think they're more about distracting each other than doing any actual work. *shrugs*
"The power of liberty going forward is in decentralization. Not in leaders, but in decentralized activism. In a market process." -- liberty student
Kind of like people arguing here...
Kind of like people arguing here...
I do it for fun. Does that make a difference? :p
fezwhatley:crazy idea. Maybe intellectual jealousy. I mean, Rothbard pretty much ended economics and political philosophy. His voluminous works, Power&Market, MES, America's Great Depression, and Ethics of Liberty, are the greatest intellectual achievments of any free-market economist in history. Gary North, rhetorically has said that any young people should forget about writing any books, because Rothbard already wrote it.
Actually Jon Irenicus in another topic said he thought Reisman to be the better economist. He's certainly the more original and I'll reserve judgement in regards to who is better once I've read Capitalism. In any case Hoppe has already expanded upon Rothbardian economics significantly. As for political philosophy the same applies in regards to Hoppe and others. In fact the only significant economic contribution of Rothbard was his theory of competition. I'm not saying Rothbard was a bad economist, but he was mainly standing on the shoulders of Mises. His most important contributions were in political philosophy and in his role as a system builder (integrating AE and individualist anarchism).
Dragging up this old thread, I was suprised at the dishonesty of Reisman in taking those Rothbard quotes out of context. In fact, Reisman says that Rothbard became a 'supporter of the Soviet Union' !!
Like a lot of Objectivists, Reisman has philosophical statist leanings and is weak on foreign policy, so perhaps Rothbard's point about US military aggression was too much, or it could be the jealousy of Rothbard being regarded as Mises greatest student.
'Capitalism' is actually a great book, and I agree that Reisman is probably a better economist than Rothbard. His writing and economic examples seem to gel as good as anything in MES.
But the cheap shot against Rothbard shows intellectual dishonesty and makes me wonder about the rest of his work. Perhaps I am being unfair, as Rothbard also makes some cheap shots, but never so deliberate as this.
Reisman addressed this in a lecture that's actually on the site. He and Rothbard were friends, Ayn Rand ended up speaking at one of their circle meetings. Rothbard's wife was religious enough to not like Rand, Rothbard had his own poblems with Rand, and at one meeting their diverging ideologies lead Rothbard to kick Reisman out of his apartment. For some real or imagined slight to Rothbard's wife I believe.
Reisman definitely didn't sound bitter about it when he was speaking, but then again by the time of that lecture Rothbard had croaked so who knows what he was feeling when Murray was still alive.