Who is Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard was an economist who was a proponent and advocate for the Austrian School of economic theories.

BREAKING DOWN Murray N. Rothbard

Murray N. Rothbard was a natural-law libertarian and ardent proponent of Austrian economics, which is viewed by many to be an unorthodox view of economic principles. The Austrian School is said to date back several hundred years, with some economic historians citing the work of scholars at the University of Salamanca in Spain who observed and studied the workings of economic principles such as the law of supply and demand.

He is said to be the father of anarcho-capitalism, which is both an economic and philosophical belief that individual responsibility and self-ownership is preferable to state control. Rothbard was and remains a controversial figure for his belief that the free market should provide even those services that are considered traditional functions of a limited government. He opposed taxation, considering it a form of slavery; espoused self-ownership; and supported the idea of an anarcho-capitalist system that would end the government monopoly on force.

Murray N. Rothbard Background and Accomplishments

Rothbard was born in New York City in 1926, and earned a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University. During his academic journey, he is said to have clashed politically with both his professors and fellow students, most of whom he considered to be “leftists.”

In his formative years he was influenced by Ludwig von Mises, and Rothbard attended a seminar Mises gave at New York University in the early 1950s, which likely had a lasting impact. Rothbard would go on to write a textbook that examines and extrapolates on Human Action, a book about economic theories authored by Mises.

Rothbard taught economics part-time at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute for roughly 20 years, despite continuing his pattern of clashing with fellow teachers and administrators. In 1986, he would depart that position to become an economics professor at Lee Business School at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a position he held until the time of his death. 

Rothbard would emerge as a prominent and influential figure in the libertarianism movement in America in the 20th century. He was specifically aligned with right-libertarianism, which is known for strong political ideologies such as the elimination of a welfare state approach. He was the founder of both the Center for Libertarian Studies and the Journal of Libertarian Studies. In what he likely considered one of his greatest professional achievements, he co-founded the Ludwig von Mises Institute in 1982.

Rothbard died in January 1995.