Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rothbard, Murray (1995): An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Volume 2: Classical Economics

What is it about?

This book basically continues where the Volume 1 (see below) left off - in a chronological sense, that is.

Simplifying a bit, the book has two big themes: money and banking, and Marxism. Not surprisingly, coming from a strong libertarian tradition, Rothbard quite straightforwardly attacks fractional reserve banking, fiat currency, and Marxism.

Was it good?

The book was equally good as the Volume 1. For me, the inherent agenda embedded in the text was a slight concern throughout the book, because it gives the historical account a distinct flavour, and most likely also has influenced Rothbard concerning what to include and what to exclude.

But again, the Rothbardian style has its upside as well - the book is quite enjoyable to read. Consider, for instance the following assessment of Marx:

"An insatiable spender of other people's money, Marx continually complained about a shortage of financial means...As in the case of many other spongers and cadgers throughout history, Marx affected a hatred and contempt for the very material resource he was so anxious to cadge and use so recklessly...Marx' personal taste for the aristrocracy was lifelong." (pp. 340-341).

The main take-away for me?

Having ploughed through already quite a stack of books on Austrian economics and Rothbard in particular, it is difficult to think of any major let alone specific take-away from the book. Indeed, the book is very true to the Austrian economics heritage - and especially the libertarian branch within it.

Who should read the book?

I would say that the book is worth reading if one absolutely loves Voume 1 and craves for more. Otherwise another more than 500 pages of economic history with a distinct libertarian flavour can be a bit taxing.

The book freely available at Ludwig von Mises Institute: An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Volume 2

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