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Ralph Raico



Articles by Ralph Raico

FDR and the Collectivist Wave

9 days ago

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

14 days ago

[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

15 days ago

[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

22 days ago

[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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Revisionist Historian Ralph Raico

October 19, 2018

The European Miracle was one in which humans achieved sustained growth for the first time on earth. Why Europe? Because of European decentralization and private enterprise. Property rights were well-defined and well-defended. Feudalism was of the contract variety. City states and chartered towns arose. The freedoms that people fought for were primarily economic freedoms. Political freedoms followed. The middle ages were not the dark ages they were portrayed to be. The rule of law required little or no involvement of the state. The ruler was under the law. The West even held a social taboo on the expression of envy.
Historian Ralph Raico explains why all of this contributed to the rise of human rights and economic prosperity in

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Audio: Historian Ralph Raico on the Rise of the West

October 17, 2018

The European Miracle was one in which humans achieved sustained growth for the first time on earth. Why Europe? Because of European decentralization and private enterprise. Property rights were well-defined and well-defended. Feudalism was of the contract variety. City states and chartered towns arose. The freedoms that people fought for were primarily economic freedoms. Political …

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The European Miracle

July 26, 2018

[This essay originally appeared as “The Theory of Economic Development and the European Miracle” in The Collapse of Development Planning, edited by Peter J. Boettke.] Among writers on economic development, P.T. Bauer is noted both for the depth of his historical knowledge, and for his insistence on the indispensability of historical studies in understanding the …

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John Stuart Mill and the New Liberalism

February 15, 2018

Reprinted from Mises.org
Much of the confusion prevailing in the historical study of liberalism can be traced to John Stuart Mill, who occupies a vastly inflated position in the conception of liberalism entertained by English-speaking peoples.1 This “saint of rationalism” is responsible for key distortions in the liberal doctrine on a number of fronts.2 In economics, Mill’s opinion that “the principle of individual liberty is not involved in the doctrine of free trade,” provided ammunition for the protectionist arsenal, and accepted and even elaborated socialist arguments (Mill 1977: p. 293; Mises 1978a: p. 195; Raeder 2002: p. 357 n. 76 and p. 374 n. 23; and especially Rothbard 1995 2: pp. 277–85).3
Mill rejected the liberal notion of the long-run harmony of the interests of all social

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The Trouble With John Stuart Mill

January 29, 2018

Much of the confusion prevailing in the historical study of liberalism can be traced to John Stuart Mill, who occupies a vastly inflated position in the conception of liberalism entertained by English-speaking peoples.1 This “saint of rationalism” is responsible for key distortions in the liberal doctrine on a number of fronts.2 In economics, Mill’s opinion that “the principle of individual liberty is not involved in the doctrine of free trade,” provided ammunition for the protectionist arsenal, and accepted and even elaborated socialist arguments (Mill 1977: p. 293; Mises 1978a: p. 195; Raeder 2002: p. 357 n. 76 and p. 374 n. 23; and especially Rothbard 1995 2: pp. 277–85).3
Mill rejected the liberal notion of the long-run harmony of

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John Prince Smith and the German Free-Trade Movement

December 6, 2017

8 hours agoRalph RaicoJohn Prince Smith was the creator of the German free trade movement and its leader from the 1840s until his death in 1874.1 He was born in London in 1809, and, after leaving Eton prematurely, on account of the death of his father, began working at the age of thirteen for a London commercial firm, later turning to journalism. His journalistic activity brought him to Germany, where in 1831 he took a position as a teacher of English and French at the Gymnasium in Elbing, in East Prussia. It was in these years that he acquired fluency in the German language, to the point where he was later able to earn a living as a writer on economics and politics.It appears likely that Prince Smith’s acquaintance with economic literature, while still a young man in

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Harry Truman and the Atomic Bomb

November 28, 2017

[Excerpted from “Harry S. Truman: Advancing the Revolution,” in Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom, John Denson, ed.] Reprinted from Mises.org
The most spectacular episode of Harry Truman’s presidency will never be forgotten but will be forever linked to his name: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later. Probably around two hundred thousand persons were killed in the attacks and through radiation poisoning; the vast majority were civilians, including several thousand Korean workers. Twelve US Navy fliers incarcerated in a Hiroshima jail were also among the dead.1
Great controversy has always surrounded the bombings. One thing Truman insisted on from the start was that the decision to use the

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FDR and the Collectivist Wave

September 21, 2017

This article is excerpted from “FDR — The Man, the Leader, the Legacy,” The Future of Freedom Foundation, 1998–2001.
“The grotesque double standard in judging Communist and Nazi atrocities originated with the administration of Franklin Roosevelt.”
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 — the US government did not concern itself with the morality, or, often, rank immorality, of foreign states. That a regime was in effective control of a country was sufficient grounds for acknowledging it

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Harry Truman’s Atomic Bombs

August 12, 2017

[Excerpted from “Harry S. Truman: Advancing the Revolution,” in Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom, John Denson, ed.]
The most spectacular episode of Harry Truman’s presidency will never be forgotten but will be forever linked to his name: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later. Probably around two hundred thousand persons were killed in the attacks and through radiation poisoning; the vast majority were civilians, including several thousand Korean workers. Twelve US Navy fliers incarcerated in a Hiroshima jail were also among the dead.1
Great controversy has always surrounded the bombings. One thing Truman insisted on from the start was that the decision to use

Read More »

Harry Truman and the Atomic Bomb

August 10, 2017

[Excerpted from "Harry S. Truman: Advancing the Revolution," in Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom, John Denson, ed.]The most spectacular episode of Harry Truman’s presidency will never be forgotten but will be forever linked to his name: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later. Probably around two hundred thousand persons were killed in the attacks and through radiation poisoning; the vast majority were civilians, including several thousand Korean workers. Twelve US Navy fliers incarcerated in a Hiroshima jail were also among the dead.1Great controversy has always surrounded the bombings. One thing Truman insisted on from the start was that the decision to use the bombs, and

Read More »