Friday, January 07, 2005

Remembering the "Old Curmudgeon"

Ten years ago, this very day, the great Murray Rothbard died suddenly of cardiac arrest. Within a week, I was one of several featured speakers (including John Hospers and Samuel Edward Konkin III) honoring Murray at a meeting of the Karl Hess (Supper) Club in Los Angeles. Within two weeks, I'd written this about Murray in my broadsheet out of step (January 20, 1995):
"I've been inspired and influenced by many, but none more so than Murray Rothbard. It was his 1969 article 'Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal,' appearing in Ramparts, the Left magazine of its time, that introduced me to laissez-faire economics and genuine libertarian thought. I first met him in late 1970, while still a high school kid, at a Right-Left Conference in Los Angeles. But it was another 23 years before I saw Dr. Rothbard again, at Ludwig von Mises University (Claremont College, 1993) here in California. And I spoke with him briefly twice more, at the last two annual gatherings of the John Randolph Club.

"I've felt no greater loss in recent years than I did upon hearing of Dr. Rothbard's death. My last memory of him is from last October's JRC meeting, held just outside the very belly of the Beast, Washington, D.C. After dinner on Saturday night, drinks in hand, members stood around a piano and sang songs to the new populist revolution. Many of the songs were old left-wing and union organizing tunes, with new lyrics by Rothbard and others. And none sang with more vigor than Dr. Rothbard himself.

"Murray Rothbard used to refer to himself as the 'Old Curmudgeon.' More appropriately, I think, he was the 'Joyful Curmudgeon.' He was the eternal optimist. A gracious, warm conversationalist. A tremendous champion of liberty. And among the most principled men I've ever met."
I've heard a few people argue -- regrettably, some from the Libertarian Movement itself -- that Murray Rothbard has lost much influence in the Movement since his death. Phooey. Take a look at what exists of his legacy just online (,, not to mention in the academic community. And right here, you'll find a wonderful testimony to how Murray still inspires this movement, even ten years after his death.

I still miss you, Murray.


At 11:57 AM, Blogger bkmarcus said...

"Many of the songs were old left-wing and union organizing tunes, with new lyrics by Rothbard and others."--

Are these available anywhere?

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

I sure hope they are. We were given mimeographed song books at that LRC meeting, and I still have mine filed away in a box somewhere in the garage (I've moved since then). One of these days, I'm sure I'll come across it and will certainly post some of the lyrics then. In the meantime, perhaps Lew Rockwell would have a handle on some of these paleo-right tunes.

At 4:26 PM, Blogger Aakash said...

I just published a little entry about this - for now - and saved other entries as drafts, which I hope to publish soon. (It sucks being in this situation...)

I had thought that, when this anniversary comes, I should post something about it, and about Professor Rothbard, who I discovered a few years ago. I would have forgotten about the anniversary for today, however, if I hadn't checked

I'll have more material up soon.

Thanks for posting this entry, to remember this fascinating man.

At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't actually read anywhere where people are claiming that Rothbard's influence has faded since his passing - but I'm angered by the prospect of anybody making such a claim.

If anybody who believes this were to spend a single hour speaking with students at a session of Mises University they would no doubt spend the rest of the week apologizing for saying such a thing. I attended this program last August, and was one of many students who would have never been there (or even had any interest in economics!) if it were not for Murray's writings. We learned Austrian economics of the feet of other professors inspired by Murray. It would be hard to claim that Rothbard's influence has done anything but grow these past ten years.



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