Laissez Faire Books (LFB) is a seminal libertarian institution that dates back to 1972, six years before I was born. In its heyday, it played a central role in the libertarian movement as the largest libertarian bookseller, a publisher of libertarian books, and an old-school social network, hosting social gatherings and other events. This was before my time.
I’d never bought a book from LFB until yesterday (the 19th). By the time I became a libertarian in my undergraduate years at Louisiana State University, after reading the work of Ayn Rand (starting with The Fountainhead) at the urging of a friend, I was able to learn about libertarianism and Austrian economics from a large and growing sea of resources online. I bought books from Amazon and the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI), read online articles and blogs, and took advantage of the growing library of digitized books and other media put online and hosted by the LvMI.
Laizzez Faire Books was fading into irrelevancy and, I think, in danger of being shuttered for good as it was passed from new owner to new owner. Enter Agora Financial, the latest owner of LFB, and hopefully the organization that will oversee its resuscitation and return to relevancy. With Jeffrey Tucker at the helm as executive editor, the prospects for profitability, innovation, and spreading the message of liberty are exciting indeed.
Many, if not most, of you know Jeffrey Tucker as the editorial vice president who led the LvMI into the digital age, building it into the open-source juggernaut with a vast online and free library of liberty and a thriving community that it is today. We were sad to see him leave that beloved institution, but eager to see what he would do in charge of a for-profit publisher and bookstore. Now we’ve been given the first taste.
Over on the Mises Blog, my friend Peter Klein has posted its last post … ever. It’s being shut down. As Peter notes, “it went live on May 5, 2003. Since then, it has hosted 16,647 posts and 234,839 comments and become one of the highest-ranked economics blogs on the internet …” I authored 826 of those 16,647 blog posts. The blog is being replaced by a new “streamlined opinion blog, the Circle Bastiat,” which David Gordon explains here. Goodbye, Mises Blog! Welcome and good luck, Circle Bastiat!
The Mises Blog went live on May 5, 2003. Since then, it has hosted 16,647 posts and 234,839 comments and become one of the highest-ranked economics blogs on the internet, thanks to a fantastic slate of authors and an eager, informed, and intelligent community of readers, commentators, and friends. Thanks so much to all of you for making this possible.
As use of the blogosphere, Facebook, Twitter, and similar tools has exploded in the last few years, the need for a large, diverse, and busy group blog hosted at mises.org has diminished. We all have many channels for sharing news and views, and the formal, “traditional” organizational blog has become a little old fashioned. Therefore we’ve decided to close the Mises blog and replace it with smaller, lighter, more focused, streams — a news feed and a streamlined opinion blog, the Circle Bastiat. The Mises blog archives will remain on the site now and forever.
Thanks again for being part of the Mises community!
The Circle Bastiat, which flourished from 1953-1959, was a group of Murray Rothbard’s closest friends and disciples. Ralph Raico and George Reisman, while still in high school, began to attend Ludwig von Mises’s famous seminar at New York University. There they met Murray Rothbard, then working on his doctoral dissertation at Columbia, who had been an active member of the seminar for several years.
Raico and Reisman, impressed by Rothbard’s intellect, learning, and personality, soon became fast friends with him. They met him for long conversations, which ranged widely over economics, history, politics, and philosophy, after the seminar.
They were joined within about a year by Leonard Liggio, who had worked with Raico in the Robert Taft presidential campaign, and a little later by Ronald Hamowy, who had been friends since elementary school with Reisman. Robert Hessen also became part of the group, and sometimes Raico brought his friend, the philosopher Bruce Goldberg, to the discussions. (A couple of less well-known people also participated.) The friends met regularly at Rothbard’s Manhattan apartment and called themselves the Circle Bastiat, after the great nineteenth-century French classical liberal and economist. The Circle came to an end after Raico departed for graduate study at the University of Chicago in 1959; Reisman and Hessen had left the previous year.
The Circle was notable not only for high intellectual quality but also for the remarkable good humor and camaraderie of the members. We have decided to name this blog after the Circle, both as a tribute and to set an ideal for participants to emulate.