Thursday, 28 July 2016

In Presence of Intellectual Giants: Gary North

Little under three years ago, I stumbled upon the vast resource known among reasonably intelligent people as (check it out!). Great, provocative, insightful and educating articles on every topic related to political economy and the study of economics gathered in abundance - not to mention the pdf-versions. Somehow, working on some assignment for my first class in economic history at the University of Glasgow, I found a lecture on the MisesMedia YouTube-channel by some well-dressed, gray-haired man called Gary North. The title of his talk drew me in, capturing my curious mind, recently extremely hungry for knowledge:  How Come We're So Rich?

His talk blew me away. Utterly. The story was remarkably more convincing than the semi-exploitation garbage I was taught in class. His words were enchanting, his evidence considerable, and I first heard the name ‘Deirdre McCloskey’. Needless to say, my life would forever change.

On a warm Alabama summer's day, when I had had the great fortune of attending Mises University of 2014, still fresh to Austrian economics and still clinging to some minarchist beliefs, I stepped outside to get some refreshment. In front of me stands Gary North – and he wasn’t even on the schedule! The utopian dream that I would get to listen to this great historian and incredible scholar, let alone be fortunate enough to speak to him, never even struck me. So I awkwardly asked for a picture and complemented him on his lectures and how much they had meant to me.

Many thing have changed over the two years since; my hair looks better, my sense of fashion more elegant (except on this day, of course), my knowledge of (Austrian) economics and history vastly larger, my intellectual and financial debts much larger, my close friends more scattered across the world, my dreams and desires bigger, better & cooler.

Dr. North's lecture this morning, simply titled "Ludwig von Mises", was adjective-defyingly great - as always. He spoke of the life and work of Mises, most of which I was fairly aware of from Hülsmann's great biography. 3 things stood out for me this morning, the most important of which is always present when talking about the life of this incredible scholar. Apart from the anecdote where Mises angrily opposed a description of himself as "Orthodox", and the conversation Dr. North had with him over the value-free quality of economic science, the determination and discipline of Mises is always awe-inspiring. Mises was hands-down the best economist of the 20th century, and he managed to produce his masterpieces in the midst of hardships I can't even imagine; a war-torn Europe, having his library stolen and burned down by the Nazis, fleeing his home - not once, but twice - avoiding Nazi troops through backroads in France, arriving as an old man in the States, with very limited command of the English language and basically no academic readership - yet he kept at it. North gave a story from Mises' wife's memoirs, illustrating his determination and discipline; "He did not quit. He would not quit." and the words sent a chill down my spine, the likes of which Judge Napolitano is known for.

Evidently, Mises U continues to deliver.

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