OPINIONSrnRothbard Against the Dismalistsrnby Justin Raimondorn”Wisdom is neither inheritance nor legacy.”rn—Thomas FullerrnMan, Economy, and State: A Treatisernon Economic Principlesrnby Murray N. RothbardrnAuburn, Alabama: Ludwig von MisesrnInstitute; 987 pp., $25.00rnIn his keynote speech to a meeting ofrnthe John Randolph Club, Murray N.rnRothbard exhorted his colleagues to takernup the task he sees as central to the successrnof their movement: nothing lessrnthan the repeal of the 20th century. Thernpublication of a new edition of Rothbard’srnMan, Economy, and State underscoresrnthe author’s hostility to modernity.rnAs is apparent from the opening pagesrnof this monumental work, thev don’trnwrite ’em like this anymore. In the presentrnday and age, economists, as a rule,rnrarely bother with writing books. Todav,rnthe frontiers of economic knowledgernare explored in the pages of specializedrnacademic journals and in brief, highlyrntechnical articles and notes, hi a fieldrnthat really ought to be “English only,” thernlanguage of this priesthood of specialistsrnis abstract mathematics, hiscrutable tornoutsiders, the literature of modern economicsrnis read only by those fellow specialistsrnwho inhabit a particular subfield.rnLike every other field of human knowledge,rneconomics is fractured intornnumerous subcategories, none of whichrnappears to have much connection withrnthe other. Thus it is possible, in thisrnWonderland we live in, for a distin-rn]ustin Raimondo is the author ofrnReclaiming the American Right:rnThe Lost Legacy of the ConservativernMovement (Center for LibertarianrnStudies).rnguished scholar in the field to knowrneverything about the wage patterns ofrn19th-century Appalachian coal minersrnand nothing about the most basic principlesrnof economics. Incredibly, withrnthe exception of textbooks for undergraduates,rnvery little discussion of economicrntheory and empirical work is writtenrnin English.rnThe sheer breathtaking scope of Rothbard’srnvision is enough to spark an idealist’srninterest in the “dismal” science.rnHere is economics for living, breathingrnhuman beings; not statistics, computerrnmodels, and arcane mathematical symbols.rnFirst published in 1962, Man,rnEconomy, and State is something veryrndifferent from the narrow worm’s-eyernview of the field afforded by modernrneconomics texts: a systematic treatise, arncomprehensive synthesis of economicrnthought, a majestic overview of basicrnprinciples and their application. Exceptrnfor Ludwig von Mises’ monumental HumanrnAction (1949), Rothbard’s book isrnthe only such treatise published sincernthe early 20th century, when the “principles”rnbook was the standard form inrnwhich economists presented their ideas.rnDesigned to be accessible to any interestedrnreader, and presupposing no formalrntraining in economics, mathematics, orrnstatistics, the book covers nearly all of basicrneconomic theory, from barter and indirectrnexchange to competition and monopoly,rnpublic expenditures, money andrninterest, and inflation and the businessrncycle.rnAs the heir and champion of the greatrnLudwig von Mises, Rothbard is the leadingrnfigure in the so-called “Austrian”rnSchool of economics. Founded in thern1870’s by the Viennese economist CarlrnMenger and his successors, the Austriansrnemphasize the human aspect of economicrnbehavior. This reverses the modernrntrend, which reduces human beingsrnto a series of numbers in some planner’srngrand design. The economists of thern20th century, always eager to appear “scientific”rnand up-to-date, adopted the outlookrnand methods of experimentalrnphysics. The Austrians, in contrast,rnmaintain that the social sciences, andrneconomics in particular, require arnmethod closer to logic. Thus, Austriansrnfavor verbal reasoning over mathematics,rncausal explanations over formal descriptionsrnof “equilibrium,” and an emphasisrnon the subjective nature of economicrnNOVEMBER 1994/33rnrnrn