[This is the preface for the Mises Institute’s new online book Anatomy of the Crash: The Financial Crisis of 2020.]
“End the Fed!” Three small words became one of the most improbable and powerful political chants in modern politics thanks to the presidential campaigns of Dr. Ron Paul. With the backdrop of a global financial crisis, the congressman from Texas was able to use the microphone of modern politics, forever changed by the internet and social media, to wake up a generation of Americans to the threat posed by central banks and fiat money. Ideological gatekeepers in Washington and the corporate press found themselves forced to recognize and attack a previously obscure school of economic thought that was now being talked about by college students, activists, and even the odd politician.
Of course, no such movements ever truly happen overnight. The seeds of the international Austrian revival were planted when Ludwig von Mises escaped World War II Europe and made a home for himself in America. With positions at New York University and the Foundation for Economic Education, Mises was able to develop a legion of followers in both academia and the public at large. Several students of his NYU seminar, such as Israel Kirzner, Hans Sennholz, and Ralph Raico, became important Austrian scholars in their own right. It was, however, Murray Rothbard who was perhaps Mises’s most significant mentee, with not only significant contributions to economics, history, and political philosophy, but popular writings aimed at energizing a grassroots Austro-libertarian movement far outside the restraints of the ivory tower.
Rothbard’s potent blend of serious scholarship and dynamic popularism became a model for the Mises Institute, which he helped found with Lew Rockwell in 1982. Since the beginning, the Institute has been both an incubator for new generations of Austrian scholars and a fount of education for the public at large.
Anyone who is familiar with the works of Mises, Rothbard, and the Austrian school understands how far removed they are from the progressive-dominated zeitgeist that has long controlled the most powerful microphones of the West. Although this carries with it the curse of limiting the influence that it could have with policymakers in government,