History: The Struggle for Liberty

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7. The Anti-Capitalists

  • History the Struggle for Liberty 2003

Tags World HistoryPhilosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory

09/03/2004Ralph Raico

Humans are prone to envy, writes Helmut Schoeck in Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior. Humans try to set up a society in which none is envious of another. George Stigler of the Chicago School saw man as always a utility maximizer.

Robert Higgs disagreed with Stigler’s position. Higgs presents that the kind of person one becomes confirms a self-image. When acting politically, people are often concerned about what might be right or wrong.

Russia was fertile grounds for socialist ideas. European intellectuals had made capitalism an object of horror. The Marxist dream was to be obtained by abolishing private property. One prevailing historical myth has been part of socialist pseudo-history. Did German big business play an essential role in the rise of Hitler? No, finds Henry Ashby Turner, but historians keep repeating this story.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was not a socialist, but was an enemy of capitalism. His views and his activities were destructive. Rousseau and Voltaire hated each other. Rousseau’s famous book is The Social Contract. It is very different from Locke’s. Rousseau should not be put into the liberal camp. Raico calls Rousseau historical rubbish.

Robespierre was one of the most influential figures of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Surprising to Marx, socialism arose in Paris not in London. The best book on socialism is by Alexander Gray –The Socialist Tradition: Moses to Lenin. Gray was Rothbard’s favorite historian of economic thought.


Lecture 7 of 10 from Ralph Raico's History: The Struggle for Liberty.


Ralph Raico

Ralph Raico (1936–2016) was professor emeritus in European history at Buffalo State College and a senior fellow of the Mises Institute. He was a specialist on the history of liberty, the liberal tradition in Europe, and the relationship between war and the rise of the state. He is the author of The Place of Religion in the Liberal Philosophy of Constant, Tocqueville, and Lord Acton.

A bibliography of Ralph Raico's work, compiled by Tyler Kubik, is found here.

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