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

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Jeff Riggenbach - Libertarian
Advocates for Self-Government


Book Review: Persuaded by Reason: Joan Kennedy Taylor and the Rebirth of American Individualism, by Sara Budzik, 6 Oct 2014
"Throughout the book, there is a hypnotic tension between the telling of Joan’s story and the dense historical context Riggenbach creates. Particularly during Joan's younger years, before her contributions began to be recognized, Riggenbach takes the opportunity to flash back and develop an entire history of individualism in American, beginning with the divide of the independent and Eurocentric settlers in the first colonies. He touches on Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, and the American identity of self-reliance."
Related Topic: Joan Kennedy Taylor


Henry David Thoreau: Founding Father of American Libertarian Thought, 15 Jul 2010
Biographical essay, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast
"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. ... His published work mostly reflects his interest in nature and natural history and his tendency to reflect on the larger implications of everyday rural life. His body of writing on political matters makes up a relatively small portion of his total production. But, arguably, it is that political writing that is primarily responsible for his enduring reputation."
In Memoriam [PDF], ALF News, 2006
Biographical essay covering Joan Kennedy Taylor's varied career
"And all along, she was writing – for the Wall Street Journal, for the Washington Times, for Reason and Inquiry and Success and American Enterprise, and for scholarly publications like the Stanford Law & Policy Review, the CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy, and the Journal of Information Ethics."
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. ... By the time he reached the University of Wisconsin later that same year to begin graduate studies in chemistry, he was a confirmed science fiction fan and was particularly enamored of the works of Robert A. Heinlein."
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 in New York City. 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 and had to raise its revenues by charging fees for its services or, perhaps, running a national lottery. ... She did show distinct signs of a strong interest in individualism when she was in her teens and twenties ..."
Meeting Murray Rothbard On the Road to Libertarianism, 4 Jan 2003
Riggenbach recounts his path from an advocate of Ayn Rand's objectivism, later reading LeFevre and attending his lectures to reading Rothbard's "The Anatomy of the State" and eventually meeting and being able to have many conversations with him
"I took my first steps down the road to libertarianism during my junior year in high school (1962–1963), when ... I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged ... A few months later, the first issue of my Freeman subscription arrived, and in it I found a definition ... of a word that was also new to me: the word libertarian. With something of a start, I realized that this word described me. I was a 'libertarian' – and not, as I had thought, a conservative."
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. ... From Brooklyn Tech he went, in 1952, after a couple of years of working and saving his money, to the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn ... As the early sixties became the midsixties, he moved on to Ralph Ginzburg's Fact back in New York, and then to Hugh Hefner's Playboy in Chicago. He stayed there seven years ... The biggest success of his subsequent freelance career was Illuminatus!, a three-volume satirical novel written in collaboration with fellow late-sixties Playboy editor Robert Shea."
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
"Yet there were those who chose to try to make such careers for themselves, even if they were unable to find institutional support for their efforts. One such was a young man from ... the westernmost of what Canadians call the prairie provinces. His name was Samuel Edward Konkin III. He was born in Saskatchewan 63 years ago this month, on July 8, 1947. He grew up in Edmonton, in the neighboring prairie province of Alberta and got his undergraduate education at the University of Alberta, where he first became involved in political activism, serving as head of the Young Social Credit League on campus."
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
"One doesn't have to read far into the works of George Orwell to discover that he had no understanding of economics whatsoever and was not personally a libertarian in the sense we have in mind when we use that word today. He was a permanently confused but authentically and radically antiauthoritarian democratic socialist. ... 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, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-four, have earned him a place in the libertarian tradition."
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"
"Rose Wilder Lane ... was the daughter of Almanzo Wilder and Laura Ingalls, who had moved from the Great Lakes region into the Dakota Territory in the late 1870s, determined to get for themselves some of the 'free land' offered to new settlers who would homestead a claim and work it and live on it for a minimum period of time. ... What was needed, Rose believed, was a political movement, which would unite writers, activists, teachers, propagandists, and politicians in favor of individual liberty. A 'libertarian movement' — that was her phrase."
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
"Sometime during the first year of the magazine's publication, Rand let Joan know that she admired her work on Persuasion. As Joan later recalled, 'She told me, "You're a good editor. ... I can tell that because [an editor of a small publication like Persuasion] might have just one or maybe two good writers, but all of your writers are good and that means the editor's good."' ... This was an opportunity. Joan saw it and took it. She established an independent corporation, Persuasion, Inc., and took over the magazine from the Metropolitan Young Republican Club."
The Story of Roy A. Childs Jr. (1949–1992), 21 Jan 2011
Biographical essay; transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 12 Jan 2011
"Eventually, what he had been working toward did come to pass. He managed to bring himself to the attention of Charles Koch, a wealthy Kansas oilman who had previously provided much of the financial support for Robert LeFevre's Freedom School. And he managed to persuade Koch to buy Libertarian Review from Bob Kephart and turn it into a monthly magazine to be edited by Roy Childs. He wanted the new Libertarian Review to reflect a broadly ecumenical frame of mind toward libertarianism; it wouldn't be a magazine just for Objectivists or just for Rothbardians ..."
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.' ... Two of the most important figures in the history of philosophical anarchism, 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
"Meanwhile, up in Canada, another story was unfolding. Vincent H. Miller had been born in suburban Toronto late in 1938. ... Then, in 1971, at the age of 32, he met an actor and former high-school English teacher named Marshall Bruce Evoy. Evoy had been the Nathaniel Branden Institute's official business representative in Toronto in the '60s. ... Add in his 9 years as president of the Libertarian International, and you see that Vince devoted 28 years, more than half his adult life, to the task of promoting libertarianism to an international audience."
Voltairine de Cleyre: Penitent Priestess of Anarchism, 17 Jun 2010
Biographical essay, transcript of "The Libertarian Tradition" podcast of 8 June 2010
"Voltairine de Cleyre was born November 17, 1866, just after the end of the American Civil War, in a town called Leslie, in rural Central Michigan, about 20 miles south of Lansing. ... Voltairine never wrote a book, but certain of her essays are really neglected classics. Her essay 'Anarchism and American Traditions,' for example, appeared originally in 1908 and 1909 in the pages of Mother Earth, Emma Goldman's anarchist magazine. It is a true gem."
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
"Heinlein, who was born in 1907 in Butler, Missouri, a small town about 65 miles south of Kansas City, had been in poor health for most of his adult life. ... Isaac Asimov, who knew Heinlein from the mid-'30s on, was convinced that his personal political views were largely a function of the woman he was married to at the time. ... 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
"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."
Related Topic: Murray Rothbard

Books Authored

In Praise of Decadence, Nov 1998
Persuaded by Reason: Joan Kennedy Taylor and the Rebirth of American Individualism, 2014
Related Topic: Joan Kennedy Taylor


Karl Hess and the Death of Politics, 13 May 2010
Transcript of the 6 May 2010 "Libertarian Tradition" podcast with a wealth 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 ... the awakening began in the early 1960s, when he was 40 years old ... it was then that he began reading Ayn Rand. ... When he started writing his autobiography ... he chose to portray himself ... as a lifelong libertarian who had, somewhat ironically, spent most of his life wandering around searching for his true political identity and his true ideological home."
Related Topic: Karl Hess
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