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Ralph Raico



Articles by Ralph Raico

The “Old” vs. the “New” Liberalism

26 days ago

The enemies of the system of free enterprise paid liberalism an unintended compliment when they applied the name “liberal” to their own creed, historically the opposite of what liberalism stood for from the start. This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Millian Quinteros. Original Article: “The “Old” vs. the “New” …

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How Historians Changed the Meaning of “Liberalism”

29 days ago

Liberalism was the most popular and influential ideology during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. So, every new socialist and authoritarian movement defined itself as “liberal” to capitalize on liberalism’s popularity and importance. This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Millian Quinteros. Original Article: “How Historians Changed the Meaning of …

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The “Old” vs. the “New” Liberalism

July 8, 2020

It is not disputed that the popular meaning of liberal has changed drastically over time. It is a well-known story how, around 1900, in English-speaking countries and elsewhere, the term was captured by writers who were essentially social democrats. Joseph Schumpeter (1954: p. 394) ironically observed that the enemies of the system of free enterprise …

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How Historians Changed the Meaning of “Liberalism”

July 2, 2020

Understandably enough, the current disfavor into which socialism has fallen has spurred what Raimondo Cubeddu (1997: 138) refers to as “the frenzy to proclaim oneself a liberal.” Many writers today have recourse to the stratagem of “inventing for oneself a ‘liberalism’ according to one’s own tastes” and passing it off as an “evolution” from past …

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The Rise, Fall, and Renaissance of Classical Liberalism

June 24, 2020

[This article appeared in the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Freedom Daily, August 1992]
Classical liberalism—or simply liberalism, as it was called until around the turn of the century—is the signature political philosophy of Western civilization. Hints and suggestions of the liberal idea can be found in other great cultures. But it was the distinctive society produced in Europe—and in the outposts of Europe, and above all America—that served as the seedbed of liberalism. In turn, that society was decisively shaped by the liberal movement.
Decentralization and the division of power have been the hallmarks of the history of Europe. After the fall of Rome, no empire was ever able to dominate the continent. Instead, Europe became a

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The Rise, Fall, and Renaissance of Classical Liberalism

June 23, 2020

[This article appeared in the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Freedom Daily, August 1992] Classical liberalism—or simply liberalism, as it was called until around the turn of the century—is the signature political philosophy of Western civilization. Hints and suggestions of the liberal idea can be found in other great cultures. But it was the distinctive society produced …

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Marxist Dreams and Soviet Realities

February 20, 2020

The sharp contrast that Alexis de Tocqueville drew in 1835 between the United States and Tsarist Russia—”the principle of the former is freedom; of the latter, servitude”1—became much sharper after 1917, when the Russian Empire was transformed into the Soviet Union. Like the United States, the Soviet Union is a nation founded on a distinct …

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The Conquest of the US by Spain

February 15, 2020

The year 1898 was a landmark in American history. It was the year America went to war with Spain — our first engagement with a foreign enemy in the dawning age of modern warfare. Aside from a few scant periods of retrenchment, we have been embroiled in foreign politics ever since. Starting in the 1880s, …

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Liberalism and Peace

January 15, 2020

Recorded at the 2003 Supporters Summit: Prosperty, War, and Depression. Ralph Raico discusses how from Jefferson to Madison, and on to Bastiat, Molinari, and Spencer, the “classical” liberals routinely denounced war as the enemy of freedom, prudence, and natural rights. Instead, militarism and imperialism have long been the domain of the enemies of private property and …

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The Taboo Against Truth

December 10, 2019

[First published as “The Taboo Against Truth: Holocausts and the Historians,” Liberty, September 1989.]
Speaking truth to power” is not easy when you support that power. Perhaps this is the reason why so few Western historians are willing to tell the whole truth about state crimes during this century.
Last fall [1988 —Ed.] the Moscow News reported the discovery by two archaeologist-historians of mass graves at Kuropaty, near Minsk, in the Soviet republic of Byelorussia.1 The scholars at first estimated that the victims numbered around 102,000, a figure that was later revised to 250–300,000.2 Interviews with older inhabitants of the village revealed that, from 1937 until June 1941, when the Germans invaded, the killings never

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FDR and the Collectivist Wave

November 8, 2019

In granting official diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union in November 1933 Franklin Roosevelt was “unintentionally,” of course, returning to the traditions of American foreign policy. From the early days of the Republic, throughout the 19th century and into the 20th — in the days, that is, of the doctrine of neutrality and nonintervention — …

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Trotsky: The Ignorance and the Evil

November 4, 2019

[Leon Trotsky • By Irving Howe • Viking Press, 1978 &bull 214 pages. This review originally appeared in Libertarian Review, March 1979.]
Leon Trotsky has always had a certain appeal for intellectuals that the other Bolshevik leaders lacked. The reasons for this are clear enough. He was a writer, an occasional literary critic — according to Irving Howe, a very good one — and an historian (of the revolutions of 1905 and 1917). He had an interest in psychoanalysis and modern developments in physics, and, even when in power, suggested that the new Communist thought-controllers shouldn’t be too harsh on writers with such ideas — not exactly a Nat Hentoff position on freedom of expression, but about as good as one can expect among

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Trotsky: The Ignorance and the Evil

November 2, 2019

[Leon Trotsky • By Irving Howe • Viking Press, 1978 &bull 214 pages. This review originally appeared in Libertarian Review, March 1979.] Leon Trotsky has always had a certain appeal for intellectuals that the other Bolshevik leaders lacked. The reasons for this are clear enough. He was a writer, an occasional literary critic — according …

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Why Austrian-School Economists Tend To Be Libertarians

October 26, 2019

[From the introduction to Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School.] There is a sense in which economic theory per se, any analytical economics, can be said to favor the market. As Hayek (1933) remarked, regarding the attack on economics in the 19th century, The existence of a body of reasoning which prevented people from following …

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The Influence and Origins of FDR

October 17, 2019

In the two centuries or so of our history, it has happened that a few of our leaders — a very few — became symbols of some powerful idea, one that left a permanent imprint on the life of our country. Thomas Jefferson is one such symbol. With Jefferson, it is the idea of a …

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Was Keynes a Liberal?

October 7, 2019

[from The Independent Review, v. 13, n. 2, Fall 2008, pp. 165–188.]   Keynes and Neomercantilism It is now common practice to rank John Maynard Keynes as one of modern history’s outstanding liberals, perhaps the most recent “great” in the tradition of John Locke, Adam Smith, and Thomas Jefferson.1 Like these men, it is generally …

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Keynes and the Reds

August 30, 2019

The Free Market 15, no. 4 (April 1997) It is the widespread view in academia that John Maynard Keynes was a model classical liberal in the tradition of Locke, Jefferson, and Tocqueville. Like these men, it is commonly held, Keynes was a sincere, indeed, exemplary, believer in the free society. If he differed from the …

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The Social Philosophy of the Austrian Economists

August 10, 2019

[A selection from “Austrian Economics and Classical Liberalism.” See source for full list of citations and notes.] Erich Streissler (1987, p. 1) has maintained that what united the Austrian economists into a “school” was never any theoretical concept, such as marginal utility, but simply their liberal political ideas. While this may be an exaggerated, even …

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Liberation from the Parasite State

July 18, 2019

[Liberty Magazine, January 1991] There is no need to emphasize for this audience the world-historical significance of the changes that are taking place today in east-central Europe and, especially, in the Soviet Union. This great transformation has led many people to reconsider the merits of an ideology once thought to be obsolete — liberalism. Today …

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Is Libertarianism Amoral?

April 23, 2019

[This article appeared in the New Individualist Review, Volume 3, Number 3, Fall 1964, pp. 29-36, and is reprinted here as a prescient look at the errors of the old conservative critique of libertarianism and conservatism’s vulnerability to the statist temptation.] The publication of a symposium on the question, “What is conservatism?”1 provides us with an opportunity …

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Authentic German Liberalism of the 19th Century

April 2, 2019

In this essay, liberalism will be understood to mean the doctrine which holds that society — that is, the social order minus the state — more or less runs itself, within the bounds of assured individual rights. In the classical statement, these are the rights to life, liberty, and property.1 This is closer to the …

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Ludwig von Mises: An Appreciation

February 24, 2019

[This article appears online for the first time and is reprinted from The Alternative: An American Spectator (February 1975), where it appeared under the title “Ludwig von Mises.”] It is said that a number of years ago, when Bill Buckley was at the beginning of his career of college-speaking, he once wrote two names on …

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Our Greatest Presidents?

February 19, 2019

[First published as “Our Greatest Presidents?” in the Libertarian Review, 1977. An MP3 audio file of this article, read by Steven Ng, is available for download.]   It was as if, for 25 years, time had stopped. As if the author serenely expected that we would suddenly unlearn everything the past decade had taught us …

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Intellectuals and the Marketplace

January 10, 2019

[Chapter 3 of Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School. This chapter is adapted from a paper delivered at the general meeting of the Mont Pèlerin Society, in Cannes, September, 1994.] Bankrolling Adam Smith? Ronald Coase, Nobel Laureate in economics, relates an interesting incident highly revelatory of the state of mind of opinion moulders in the …

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The Classical-Liberal Roots of Marxist Class Analysis

December 7, 2018

Recorded 15 October 1988 at the Marx and Marxism Conference. The laissez-faire liberals understood that state violence is used by government agents, employees, and benefactors to exploit the rest of the population. Thus, the liberals understood the economic and political important of “class warfare.” Later, though, the Marxists twisted the idea to claim that capitalists …

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Mises on Fascism, Democracy, and Other Questions

December 1, 2018

No one could have admired and respected Ludwig von Mises more than did Murray Rothbard, who dedicated his magn1um opus in economic theory, Man, Economy, and State, to his great mentor. Yet Rothbard did not shy away from criticizing Mises when he believed such criticism to be called for. Thus, in The Ethics of Liberty, …

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America Goes to War

November 12, 2018

[Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal (2010)]
With the onset of war in Europe, hostilities began in the North Atlantic which eventually provided the context — or rather, pretext — for America’s participation. Immediately, questions of the rights of neutrals and belligerents leapt to the fore.
In 1909, an international conference had produced the Declaration of London, a statement of international law as it applied to war at sea. Since it was not ratified by all the signatories, the declaration never came into effect. However, once war started the United States inquired whether the belligerents were willing to abide by its stipulations. The Central Powers agreed, providing the entente did the same. The British

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America Goes to War

November 11, 2018

[Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal (2010)] With the onset of war in Europe, hostilities began in the North Atlantic which eventually provided the context — or rather, pretext — for America’s participation. Immediately, questions of the rights of neutrals and belligerents leapt to the fore. In 1909, an international conference had produced …

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What Is Classical Liberalism?

November 2, 2018

[American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia , 2006] “Classical liberalism” is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade. Up until around 1900, this ideology was generally known simply as …

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Audio: The Classical Liberal Theory of Empire

October 24, 2018

Ralph Raico examines the history and ideology of imperialism — and why the state loves war and empire so much.  From the 2006 Supporters Summit: Imperialism: Enemy of Freedom, 27-28 October 2006, Auburn, Alabama. [33 minutes.]

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