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"The Most Distinctly Libertarian of the Libertarians"

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03/16/2007

Of the big five of the libertarian movement — Von Mises, Hayek, Rand, Rothbard and Friedman — who is your favorite?

Doherty: Murray Rothbard, and I'll tell you why. Rothbard, in one way, was the most distinctly libertarian of the libertarians. He was influenced a lot by both Mises and Rand, not so much by Hayek and Friedman. He brought together Mises' deep economist's understanding of why government economic intervention tends to fail and Ayn Rand's sort of natural rights-based philosophy that argued that it is morally wrong for government to do certain things, whether or not it worked better — even though it didn't work better.

Rothbard also took them to sort of the most colorful and radical extremes. He actually was a complete anarchist. Unlike Rand and Mises, he didn't believe there was any role for government. He wrote so well and was so impassionedly in so many fields — philosophy, economics and history — and was so intimately involved at an organizational level with lots of great libertarian institutions, from the Cato Institute to the Institute for Humane Studies to the Foundation of Economic Education. He really had his hands in every aspect of the story, was such a colorful and fun writer, and was so bracing in his radicalism, that I found him the most fun to contemplate of all those figures.

Read more of the interview with Brian Doherty on his book "Radicals for Capitalism" here.

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