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Rothbard's Dream in Salamanca

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It's 2009 and 14 years after Murray N. Rothbard died, and one of his last plans that he had talked about with Jesus Huerta de Soto was an international conference in Salamanca, Spain, the birthplace of economics,

Gabriel Calzada, head of the Juan de Mariana Institute in Spain, pushed for this to happen this year, the 400th anniversary of Mariana's treatise on money. And here we are today, preparing for a slew of papers on the topic of the School of Salamanca as the originator of economic theory and the precursor to the Austrian tradition. The set up so far has been marvelous. One almost can't take it all in. Too much history. Too much tradition. I come from a country where the Alamo is considered old. This place, in contrast, is the place where one discovers the very roots of modernity.

Gabriel gave a short talk about the origin of this conference and what it means, how Rothbard's dream is being carried out here. Recall that the most extensive treatment of the Salamanca School appear in his last book, the History of Economic Thought, 2 volumes that were unaffordable when published but now absurdly affordable.

Somehow I sense Rothbard's presence everywhere, and also Mariana, Vitoria, Medina, and also legions of amazing thinkers who studied and theorized and cobbled together the very discipline of economics as a science. I stood in the plaza where they walked and talked. In terms of the long line of history, economics is a new science, as Mises said. But being here, you realize that the battle for freedom is steeped in history, and it is exactly as Rothbard said: the state vs the market, in every generation and in every place. In the end, nothing has changed.

But thank goodness for them. Without the liberals, the state might have strangled it all long ago. We all stand in a long line.

Jeffrey Tucker is Editorial Director of the American Institute for Economic Research. He is author of It's a Jetsons World: Private Miracles and Public Crimes and Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo. Send him mail.

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