In this course, we will study a vital period in the history of economics, using Murray Rothbard’s Classical Economics as the text. Austrian economics can’t be fully understood without knowledge of its main rival, the classical economics developed by David Ricardo. Rothbard gives a devastating analysis of Ricardo’s system, and we will see how some of its mistakes survive in contemporary non-Austrian economics. One of the most important of these is what Rothbard calls “verbal mathematics”. We will compare Ricardo’s approach with the causal realist method of J.B. Say, which prefigured the Austrian method.
Among libertarians, fractional reserve banking has been one of the most debated issues. Anyone interested in this topic will find the course of value. Rothbard gives a detailed account of the bullionistcontroversy, involving the Bank of England, and an analysis of the Banking and Currency Schools. This is an indispensable background to understanding the Austrian theory of the business cycle.
One of the highlights of the book is Rothbard’s analysis of Marxism. He not only provides a thorough account of the fallacies of Marxist economics but gives a full treatment of the philosophical basis of Marxism in messianic speculation as well.
We will also cover Rothbard’s criticism of Jeremy Bentham, which provides his most detailed discussion of utilitarianism. Students will learn why Rothbard rejected this influential system.
One of the funniest parts of the book is Rothbard’s discussion of John Stuart Mill, who, to say the least was not his favorite person. We’ll see what Rothbard found wrong in Mill’s economics and political philosophy.
As will be apparent, the course will be of interest not only to students of economics but also to those interested in philosophy, politics, and history. The course continues my course on Volume 1 of Rothbard’s history, but that course is not a prerequisite for this one, and no material from it is presupposed.
The course consists of six weekly lectures, followed by class discussion. Weekly quizzes will be available for those who wish to take the course for credit.
The video lectures are online. Lectures will be Tuesday evenings, 6:30 – 8:00 pm Eastern Time. They will be recorded and made available for enrolled students to download.
All readings for the course will be free and available online.
Grades and Certificates
The final grade will depend on quizzes. Taking the course for a grade is optional. This course is worth 3 credits in our own internal system. Feel free to ask your school to accept Mises Academy credits. You will receive a digital Certificate of Completion for this course if you take it for a grade, and a Certificate of Participation if you take it on a paid-audit basis.
If you drop the course during its first week (7 calendar days), you will receive a full refund, minus a $25 processing fee. If you drop the course during its second week, you will receive a half refund. No refunds will be granted following the second week.