Murray Rothbard was a famous American economist who also made contributions towards the disciplines of history, political philosophy and law. He is particularly credited for pioneering the creation and dissemination of modern libertarianism in America.
Rothbard was born on 2nd March, 1926, in Bronx, New York. After attending Birch Wathen, a private school, during his early childhood, he obtained higher education from Columbia University, where he completed his Bachelors of Arts degree in Mathematics in 1945. Rothbard then sought to pursue his PhD from the university, a feat he achieved eleven years down the due to a rejection of his dissertation as well as a strained relationship with his advisor.
Soon after completing his education, Rothbard received funding from the Volker Fund to write on ‘right wing’ ideologies, a school of political thought, after he attended a few seminars of renowned Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises. Rothbard started off by writing a book which served as a guide to understanding one of Mises’ former works. He did so to make Mises’ views more attractive and comprehensible to aspiring undergraduates so that they could subscribe to these teachings. After receiving positive feedback of his initial sample, Rothbard was employed the Volker Fund in a more permanent capacity, assigning him the status of ‘senior analyst’. He worked with the organization for ten years, in which he gradually increased the volume of his works. His book ‘Man, Economy, and State’, was published in 1962 and was lauded by Mises.
After the Volker Fund shut down in 1962, Rothbard sought employment at various education and academic institutes across New York City. This led to him landing a job at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in 1966, where he assumed the role of an economics teacher. Despite some reservations of the schooling system in place, Rothbard was content with his job as he was only required to teach two days a week. He put his spare time to productive use, developing the field of libertarian politics. Such endeavors lead to the creation of the Center for Libertarian Studies and the Journal of Libertarian Studies, in the years 1976 and 1977 respectively, both founded by him.
After twenty years at the institute, Rothbard decided it was time to move on. In 1986, he joined the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, whereas a year later founded the popular Austrian journal, namely the ‘Quaterly Journal of Austrian Economics’. He landed the honor of being the S.J. Hall Distinguished Professor of Economics during his time at the university, where he remained until his passing away in 1995.
Murray Rothbard, in essence a heterodox economist, was able to attract large followings via his writings, especially students. Interestingly however, he opposed the idea of publishing in academic journals, and thus founded the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama to launch his works. He was a firm believer in the anarcho-capitalist economic system, preferring individual sovereignty in decision making over influence by the State. Rothbard believed that the goods and services provided by the State could just as easily be produced by the private sector and in a more efficient manner. His other strong opinions included opposition towards the central banking system, fractional reserve banking, as well as intrusion of any kind in to the affairs of other countries. In sum, he wrote more than 20 books on a multitude of economic and historical topics over the course of his professional life.