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Journalist, broadcaster, columnist, former executive editor of The Libertarian Review
Jeff Riggenbach

Images - Jeff Riggenbach
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12 Jan 1947, Frank Jeffrey Riggenbach, in Detroit, Michigan


24 Jan 2021, in Houston, Texas


The Bear's Lair
Personal website, includes biographical summary and pages on Riggenbach's In Praise of Decadence, his Master's thesis and a picture memorial to some of his friends

Web Pages

Jeff Riggenbach - Libertarian, by Bill Winter
Profile page; Includes picture, biographical summary and quote
In high school, Jeff Riggenbach took his "first steps" towards becoming a libertarian when he read books by Ayn Rand and Frederic Bastiat, and subscribed to The Freeman magazine. He didn't know it at the time, but those chance philosophical encounters would lead to a multifaceted career in journalism, broadcasting, audio book narration, and editing that would span more than three decades ... Since 1992, he has co-hosted "The Beer Bust," a downtown San Francisco social event for local and "visiting libertarians, Objectivists, and other free-thinking individuals" that pays tribute to dark beer, mostly stouts and porters.
Related Topic: Libertarianism


Review of Persuaded by Reason — Foreword Reviews, by Sara Budzik, 6 Oct 2014
Review of Riggenbach's Persuaded by Reason: Joan Kennedy Taylor and the Rebirth of American Individualism (2014)
Author, editor, journalist, and libertarian Jeff Riggenbach is probably the most likely person to weave the biography of Joan Kennedy Taylor into an authoritative and thorough history of American individualism in the twentieth century ... Riggenbach is nothing short of brilliant in his choice to tell the story of American individualism by stringing key players, movements, and philosophies together through the central character of Joan Kennedy Taylor. ... Throughout the book, there is a hypnotic tension between the telling of Joan's story and the dense historical context Riggenbach creates.
Related Topic: Joan Kennedy Taylor


The Brilliant but Confused Radicalism of George Orwell, 24 Jun 2010
Transcript of the Libertarian Tradition podcast of 16 Jun 2010; biographical essay examining the argument that 1984 derives in large part from Orwell's experiences at St Cyprian's, an English boarding school
Eric Arthur Blair, who is best known under his pseudonym, George Orwell, was born 107 years ago this month in India, where his father was a British civil servant. His father's job, according to Orwell biographer Gordon Bowker, 'was to oversee the growing of opium, mainly for export to China.' ... He was the kind of modern leftist few modern-day libertarians would have any trouble getting along with George Orwell presents us with yet another case of a writer who was not himself a libertarian as we understand the term today, but whose last two novels ... have earned him a place in the libertarian tradition.
Henry David Thoreau: Founding Father of American Libertarian Thought, 15 Jul 2010
Biographical essay, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 8 July 2010
Henry David Thoreau was born David Henry Thoreau on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts, a small country town about 20 miles northwest of Boston ... [Y]oung David Henry ... went off to Harvard in 1833 at the age of 16. He graduated four years later ... having taken a year off to teach grammar school ...
[His political writing] has assured that generations of American students have known that the great writer, great naturalist, and great advocate of self-reliant individualism, Henry David Thoreau, is also one of the founding fathers of American libertarian thought.
In Memoriam [PDF], ALF News, 2006
Biographical and memorial essay covering Joan Kennedy Taylor's varied career
Joan Kennedy Taylor died on Saturday, October 29, 2005 in New York City. Taylor was born on Manhattan island 21 December 1926, the daughter of composer, music critic, and radio personality Deems Taylor and Mary Kennedy, an actress and poet. ... During the last fifteen years of her life, in addition to her writing and lecturing, [she] devoted much of her time to volunteer work for feminist organizations. From 1989 to 2005 she was National Coordinator of the Association of Libertarian Feminists, and throughout the 1990s she served as a vice president and member of the board of directors of Feminists for Free Expression.
Jeff Riggenbach on Samuel Edward Konkin III, Freedom Network News, 2004
Lengthy biographical and memorial essay
Make no mistake about it: we have lost a great libertarian, and we will probably not see his like again. Make no mistake about it: we have lost a great libertarian, and we will probably not see his like again. Samuel Edward Konkin III was born in Saskatchewan, Canada on July 8, 1947 ... What he leaves behind is his legacy as the premier libertarian journalist of his era ... It is to be hoped that a similar posthumous collection will be made of the writings of Samuel Edward Konkin III, who died on February 23, 2004, the better to extend his legacy to the next generation of libertarians, and the next.
Joan Kennedy Taylor, 14 Jan 2011
Biographical essay, including a review of Taylor's book Reclaiming the Mainstream: Individualist Feminism Rediscovered; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcasts of 28 Dec 2010 and 12 Jan 2011
Joan Kennedy Taylor first became involved in the libertarian movement in the early 1960s, when she was a student at the Nathaniel Branden Institute ... As a student of Objectivism, she espoused the political views of Ayn Rand: the nonaggression principle, natural rights, a free market, and a state so minimal that it had no power to tax ...
Not long before the cancer [diagnosis], she managed to complete one more book ... At the time of her death, as a pioneer in the definition and promotion of individualist or libertarian feminism, Joan had earned an honored place in the libertarian tradition.
Karl Hess and the Death of Politics, 13 May 2010
Transcript of the 6 May 2010 "Libertarian Tradition" podcast; includes a trove of biographical information
Karl Hess was born Carl Hess III in Washington DC, 87 years ago this month—on May 25, 1923, to be exact ... Hess was the son of Carl Hess Jr., a wealthy Filipino tennis champion of mixed Spanish and German ancestry who had come through Washington DC on a tour ... When he started writing his autobiography in the late '80s and early '90s, he chose to portray himself ... as a lifelong libertarian who had ... spent most of his life wandering around searching for his true political identity and his true ideological home. It's good to know that, before his premature death from heart failure in 1994, he finally found both of them.
The Libertarian Legacy of Rose Wilder Lane, 14 Apr 2010
Biographical essay on both Rose Wilder Lane and Roger MacBride, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 30 Mar 2010 titled "Roger MacBride and Rose Wilder Lane: A Libertarian Legacy"
Roger MacBride died 15 years ago, on March 4, 1995, only about eight weeks after the death, on January 7, 1995, of Murray N. Rothbard. Yet contrast their post mortem careers — Rothbard is, if anything, bigger today than he was in 1995. Roger MacBride, by comparison, seems to have been virtually forgotten ... In any case, Roger MacBride should be remembered and paid a debt of gratitude by all libertarians who want the movement to grow and attract public attention. For, at a time when he was in a position to do a lot for the public image of the libertarian movement, Roger MacBride came forward and did it.
Meeting Murray Rothbard On the Road to Libertarianism, 4 Jan 2003
Riggenbach recounts his path from advocate of Ayn Rand, to reading Robert LeFevre to reading and eventually meeting Murray Rothbard; revised version printed in Walter Block's I Chose Liberty (2010), chapter 61
I took my first steps down the road to libertarianism during my junior year in high school (1962–1963), when, within about one month's time, I read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and subscribed to The Freeman–the latter in hopes of reading more ... Bastiat ...
Looking back, I realize now that my earlier enthusiasms ... were really just way stations along a road that would eventually lead to a fully coherent and systematic grasp of both libertarianism itself and its implications ... The thinker who finally provided me with the basic elements of that sort of understanding ... was Murray N. Rothbard.
The Power of Persuasion, Mises Daily, 20 May 2011
Historical account of the Persuasion magazine, edited by Joan Kennedy Taylor between Sept 1964 and May 1968
Joan Kennedy Taylor told interviewer Duncan Scott in 2004 that during the Barry Goldwater for President campaign of 40 years earlier,
my husband, David Dawson, and I were two of twenty-five students of Objectivism who went down to Republican Headquarters ... and petitioned to form a Young Republican Club ...
... In the end, though, it was that understanding about the possibility of being publicly denounced by Ayn Rand that came to seem too high a price to pay for a thousand subscriptions. In the end it was Joan's agreement to be denounced by Ayn Rand that led to the closing of Persuasion.
Robert Anton Wilson, 15 Aug 2011
Biographical essay, including a lengthy digression on the thought of Ralph Borsodi, founder of the publisher of a magazine co-edited by Wilson in the early 1960's; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 4 Aug 2011
Robert Anton Wilson was born January 18, 1932 in Brooklyn. He grew up in the section of Brooklyn known as Flatbush and, later, after his father lost his job on the waterfront, in a much poorer section of Brooklyn known as Gerritsen Beach ... Illuminatus! won the Libertarian Futurist Society's Hall of Fame Award ... Winning the Hall of Fame Award amounts to a kind of official recognition: this work is a true classic of libertarian science fiction or fantasy. Robert Anton Wilson was never much for official recognition, of course. But I have every reason to believe that he was pleased by this particular instance of it.
Samuel Edward Konkin III, 29 Jul 2010
Biographical essay, including examination of Konkin's ideas on the Counter-Economy; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 20 July 2010
A few weeks ago, in remembering the libertarian career of Vince Miller, I called my readers' attention to a particular group of libertarians—those born between the late 1930s and the mid-1950s—libertarians who now range in age from around 55 to around 72 ...
It's good to know that Sam's vision still excites interest, comment, and criticism, so long after his heyday—the '70s and '80s—has faded ... It would be good to see even more attention being paid to his ideas. It would be good to see them playing a larger part in the emergence of whatever turns out to be our future.
The Story of Roy A. Childs Jr. (1949–1992), 21 Jan 2011
Biographical essay; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 12 Jan 2011
Roy Alan Childs Jr. was born January 4, 1949, in Buffalo, New York ... He once told his close friend Joan Kennedy Taylor that he first became interested in political issues at the age of 9. And by the time he entered high school in 1962, he had begun reading some of the classics of libertarian and individualist thought ... he was, as Doherty puts it, "the most consistent personal inspiration and support to a rising generation of young libertarians." Roy Childs was one of the handful of people of whom it might be said that had he not lived, had he not done what he did, the libertarian movement as we know it today would not exist.
Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862), The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
Henry David Thoreau was an American naturalist, a lecturer, and an abolitionist. Thoreau was the author of perhaps the most radical and influential essay in the history of American political philosophy, "Civil Disobedience." ...
Leo Tolstoy and Emma Goldman, learned much from Thoreau's brief excursion into political philosophy. Still others were forced to acknowledge the power of his ideas after Mohandas K. Gandhi used them to bring the British Empire to its knees and after Martin Luther King, Jr. used them to effect a civil rights revolution in Thoreau's native land.
Vince Miller and the International Libertarian Movement, 1 Jul 2010
Biographical essay; including background information on the libertarian movement of the 20th century; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 23 June 2010
When the libertarian movement we know today was launched during and just after World War II, the founders were men and women who ranged in age from their 30s to their 60s. They represented, really, two different generations. The first group, born in the 1880s ... Vince Miller was, after all, one of the most notable of those who have worked over the past 60-odd years to maintain and extend the institutional infrastructure of libertarianism that was first built in the 1940s. Those of us who are glad there is a libertarian movement and are glad to be a part of it—we owe people like Vince Miller a debt of gratitude.
Voltairine de Cleyre: Penitent Priestess of Anarchism, 17 Jun 2010
Biographical essay, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 8 June 2010
The libertarian movement of today dates from the early 1940s, the period of US participation in World War II. It underwent a very sudden and very substantial spurt of growth during the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has grown steadily ever since. There was an earlier libertarian movement in the United States, however ...
The fact that, nearly a hundred years after her untimely death, Voltairine de Cleyre should have a full-length biography devoted to her ..., suggests that she may have already achieved a degree of immortality never realized by most of her fellow intellectuals.
Was Robert A. Heinlein a Libertarian?, 2 Jun 2010
Biographical essay, focused on attempting to answer the title question; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" of 18 May 2010
When Robert Anson Heinlein died ... in Carmel, California, at the age of 80, the wonder of it all was that he had managed to live as long as he did. Heinlein ... had been in poor health for most of his adult life ...
[B]ecause of his interaction with Robert LeFevre ..., libertarian ideas were among those he toyed with and dramatized in certain of his stories. Whether he was personally a libertarian or not, all those of us who are libertarians owe him a profound debt for writing The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. For that book alone, Robert A. Heinlein has earned a place in the libertarian tradition.


Faculty Spotlight Interview: Jeff Riggenbach, 18 Mar 2010
Topics discussed include Austrian economics, the Mises Institute, the people who inspired Riggenbach, alternate career paths, hobbies, his book Why American History is Not What They Say and revisionist history
What drew you to the Austrian school and the Ludwig von Mises institute?
I began reading works by the Austrian masters–first Rothbard, then Hayek, then Mises–back in the 1970s, because my close friend Roy A. Childs, Jr. was relentlessly talking them up and recommending them. Once I got started, I required no further persuading. They made sense of things in a way few other writers had done ...
How important do you think revisionist history is in terms of progressing libertarian theory?
Murray Rothbard addressed this question back in 1976, in the pages of his monthly movement newsletter, the Libertarian Forum.

Books Authored

In Praise of Decadence, Nov 1998
Partial contents: The Legacy of the Sixties - The Baby Boomers - Left, Right, or Libertarian? - Anarchists and Minarchists - The American Libertarian Tradition - Who Was Ayn Rand? - The Nonvoters - The Decay of Authority - A Tale of Three Decades
Persuaded by Reason: Joan Kennedy Taylor and the Rebirth of American Individualism, 2014
Partial contents: Births and Rebirths - Marriage, Motherhood, and Individualism in the Arts - Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and Individualism in Politics - Libertarianism: Yet More Individualism in Politics - Feminism: Individualism between the Sexes
Related Topic: Joan Kennedy Taylor


The Libertarian Tradition: Karl Hess and the Death of Politics, 6 May 2010
Detailed biography of Hess, beginning with how his parents met and ending with his activities in the late 1980's and early 1990's before his death
Related Topic: Karl Hess