An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, 2 Volumes

This is one of Rothbard’s most important scholarly works. In the first volume, Rothbard traces the history of economics from the ancient Greeks to Adam Smith; and in the second volume, he discusses British classical economics, the French school of classical liberalism, and Marxism.

In volume one, Murray Rothbard traces economic ideas from ancient sources to show that laissez-faire liberalism and economic thought itself began with the Spanish Scholastics and early Roman, Greek, and canon law. Unfortunately, Adam Smith’s labor cost theories became the dominant view, especially in Britain. Rothbard regards Smith as largely a retrograde influence on economic theory. Narrated by Jeff Riggenbach.

The second volume contains an enlightening critique of Ricardian economics, showing the constraints on theory entailed by Ricardo’s static and pseudo-mathematical method. Ricardo’s successor John Stuart Mill is the object of a devastating intellectual portrait. Marxism is subjected to a merciless demolition, and Rothbard shows the roots of this system in metaphysical speculation. The French classical liberals such as Bastiat, on the other hand, contributed to the subjectivist school. A further highlight of this volume is a discussion of the bullionist controversy: the views of the Banking and Currency Schools receive extensive analysis.