At the end of the century, a great struggle is taking place concerning who should and who should not be considered an intellectual hero. The partisans of government have offered up the usual litany of names, including the most statist (and destructive) of intellectuals and political figures.
But this century, more than any other in history, has put the destructive power of the state on display. A minimum requirement of a 20th century hero, then, is that he had to have fought the march of state power and celebrated the alternative of human freedom.
By this standard, Austrian economist Wilhelm Röpke should rank very high on the list. He was an early debunker of socialist theory, and fought the rise of fascism and national socialism in Europe before the Second World War. After the war, his ideas influenced the restructuring of the Germany economy. He turned his attention to battling the rise of Keynesianism, welfarism, and inflationism in the United States.
It's no surprise, then, to discover that he was profoundly influenced by the work of Ludwig von Mises.
To celebrate the centenary of Wilhelm Röpke's birth, we have added a permanent link to an eloquent discussion of his ideas by Shawn Ritenour. Click to read Wilhelm Röpke: A Humane Economist.