Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wilhelm Röpke, Libertarian Traditionalist

John Zmirak, who wrote a book on the great economist, has penned an informative article on him — Imagining a Future for Conservatism. The second paragraph provides a biographical sketch:
    Röpke grew up in a rural environment marked by traditional forms of community, small-scale farming and business, and intellectual freedom within a Christian framework. It was against this background that he viewed the deformations of the 20th century, and grew into one of the period’s most perceptive economists and social critics. He combined the insightful critiques of tyrannical and bureaucratic government we find among the libertarians with a deep, traditionalist attachment to Western culture and the Faith that formed it. He was one of the earliest German critics of the Nazis (apart from the far Left), and was the first professor in Germany fired by the Nazis for his ideas. He sought exile in Turkey and then Switzerland, from which he issued a flurry of articles and books critiquing in detail the moral, social, and economic catastrophe that had overtaken Germany on the one hand, and Russia on the other. Röpke’s books, banned by the Gestapo, helped form the intellectual underpinnings of the Christian Democratic movement that would emerge after the war, in the administration of Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard. [emphasis mine]
And later: "Röpke’s concern for preserving social values such as community, family, and tradition set him apart from strict libertarians such as Hayek and Mises—who were nevertheless close friends of his."

My previous posts on the great man — Wilhelm Röpke, An Austrian School Distributivist?, Röpke on Centrism and Decentrism, A Humane Austrian, A Call for Peace Between Paleo-libertarians and Neo-distributists. About that last post, is it too much to hope for a pax roepkiana?

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