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The Great Ralph Raico

  • Ralph Raico 2005
10/23/2017

Today would have been the 81st birthday of Ralph Raico, who died last December 31. His intellectual brilliance was evident from an early age, and while still in high school, he attended Ludwig von Mises’s seminar at New York University. There he met Murray Rothbard, who became his lifelong friend. Ralph was one of the most brilliant members of Rothbard’s Circle Bastiat. He received a PhD from the University of Chicago, working under Friedrich Hayek. Ralph became the leading historian of classical liberalism and also a renowned authority on revisionist historyHis books Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School and Great Wars and Great Leaders show penetrating analytical skills, immense learning, and devotion to liberty. He lectured at the Mises University and other conferences of the Mises Institute for many years.

Ralph was one of my closest friends for over 35 years, and his sarcasm and wit often come back to me. When he worked as Book Review Editor at Inquiry magazine, he commissioned a review of Robert Nozick's Philosophical Explanations from the great British philosopher Peter Strawson. He had second thoughts about publishing it, fearing it was too specialized. I urged him to go ahead and stressed that Strawson was a "big name." "Yeah, yeah, I know," Ralph said, "he's the President of the World Philosophical Union." Another time, Ralph was being interviewed on a radio station in San Francisco. The interviewer was friendly but a conventional leftist. He said, "You criticize the government, but don't we live in a democracy? Isn't the government just us?". In his inimitable tone of voice, Ralph said, "Is that so."?

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David Gordon is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and editor of the Mises Review.

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