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A David Gordon Anthology

December 22, 2017 in Economics

By Paul Gottfried


By: Paul Gottfried

I recently ordered and am now eagerly devouring the anthology of David Gordon’s reviews and essays An Austro-Libertarian View published by the Mises Institute. Gordon belongs in more than one way to the institute that brought out this volume. Indeed in his Foreword he lets the reader know that when he first read Man, Economy and the State in 1962, he became a “convinced Rothbardian,” and “it is from this standpoint that I have written my articles.” This may understate the relation described. David was a close friend as well as disciple of Murray, who returned David’s admiration by describing him as a “universal genius unequalled in my experience.” Following what David characterizes as Murray’s “lamented death” in January 1995, he founded The Mises Review, at least partly to perpetuate the legacy of the thinker who influenced him the most profoundly. As someone who speaks to David with some regularity, I can testify to the fact that he often begins his sentences with the phrase “Murray would say.” That is meant to seal his argument in the same way that a medieval thinker might invoke Aristotle as a text proof.

None of this is meant to suggest that David writes as a slavish follower of anyone. Although many of the reviews in his anthology undoubtedly point back to Rothbard as an economist and critic of the state, there is something unique to David in all his sparkling essays. His predilections might often leave a conventional libertarian scratching his head, for example as when in a study of Patrick Allitt’s book Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985, he expresses his preference for the very right-wing Catholic authors, Thomas Molnar and Frederick Wilhelmsen as against the Catholic leftist Gary Will and the neocon celebrity Michael Novak. The reason given for this judgment is that the first set of Catholic intellectuals write with “intellectual power,” while the other two are mere celebrities attached to the American political establishment.

There is always a certain ambivalence in David’s assessments. Like Murray Rothbard, he prefers those who make coherent arguments to those who play to the crowd. He also prefers those who are true to themselves as opposed to those who seek social acceptance. Whence David’s generous judgment of the Southern traditionalist, M.E. Bradford, whose life and career were destroyed by the neocon press and whom he …read more


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