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Why Tenure-Seeking Non-Keynesian Economists Hate Rothbard

Written by Gary North on May 14, 2014

In a recent article, I described the tenure-seeking and tenured university economists’ attacks on Murray Rothbard.

There is a reason for this hostility: Rothbard embarrasses them. He wrote things like this:

The intellectual arguments used by the State throughout history to “engineer consent” by the public can be classified into two parts: 1) that rule by the existing government is inevitable, absolutely necessary, and far better than the indescribable evils that would ensue upon its downfall; and 2) that the State rulers are especially great, wise and altruistic men – far greater, wiser and better than their simple subjects.

In modern times, this argument stresses rule by a wise guild of “scientific experts” especially endowed in knowledge of statesmanship and the arcane facts of the world. The increasing use of scientific jargon, especially in the social sciences, has permitted intellectuals to weave apologia for State rule which rival the ancient priestcraft in obscurantism. For example, a thief who presumed to justify his theft by saying that he was really helping his victims by his spending, thus giving retail trade a needed boost, would be hooted down without delay. But when this same theory is clothed in Keynesian mathematical equations and impressive references to the “multiplier effect,” it carries far more conviction with a bamboozled public.

He wrote this in For a New Liberty back in in 1978. This is an uncompromising attack on Keynesianism. It is as accurate today as it was then. (You can download it for free here.)

Until they gain tenure, academic economists hold their positions at the mercy of Keynesians. To be associated with Rothbard is to be associated with someone who revealed that the emperor has no clothes, only jargon and empty equations. Anyone in a university economics department who does not repeatedly say things like this, and who then proves his case by quoting from Keynesians, is academically impotent. But no one is allowed to say things like this until he has tenure.

By they time they gain tenure, they have been neutered.

Most economists just do not have the stomach for this kind of academic risk. But they want to justify their silence. So, they blame Rothbard for being a self-promoter and cult figure.

My recommendation: begin your economic studies with Rothbard’s books.

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19 thoughts on “Why Tenure-Seeking Non-Keynesian Economists Hate Rothbard

  1. WhiteFalcon says:

    I have thought for many years that the defunct theories of Keynes should be outlawed. They are theories, and like most theories, they have proved to be inaccurate and unworkable in the real world, and they should be used only as a great example of theories that don't pan out and are therefore useless.

  2. Keynes is popular in the elite class because they get to spend other people money, with the happy idea they are doing a great service to the nation as they spend, spend and spend. The fact that this idea has failed over and over again shocks one with half a mind or more. Nevertheless as long as politicians can spend to their hearts content Keynes will be the law.
    The problem is like the tax code. Those that benefit the most from the twisted convoluted system are those charged with fixing it. At most they will tinker around the edge and claim victory, then go back to enjoying the benefits and the hell with the nation or people.
    With as much money at stake as we have with Keynes and the tax code the defenders will show passion in their defense. No tactic is too low or immoral. Quickly moving up the list of funding goals is Man Made Climate Change. The trillions involved will insure that those charged with protecting us will be the ones most likely to abuse us.

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