Who Are The Top Hayekian Public Intellectuals in America?


Let me jump right in with the answer.  The top Hayekian public intellectuals in America are:

  1. Thomas Sowell — book author, syndicated columnist.  Introduced to Hayek by Milton Friedman at the U. of Chicago, but mostly self taught.
  2. John Stossel — TV personality, syndicated columnist, book author.  Self taught.
  3. Walter Williams — book author, radio personality, syndicated columnist.  Learned Hayek at UCLA.
  4. George Will — syndicated columnist, TV personality, book author.  Introduced to Hayek at Oxford & through the IEA in London, but mostly self taught.
  5. Mark Levin — book author, radio personality & legal foundation president.   Self taught.
  6. Russ Roberts — podcaster, book author & blogger.  U. of Chicago and self taught.
  7. Rush Limbaugh — radio personality, magazine publisher, book author.  Self taught.
  8. Thomas Woods, Jr. — book author.   Self taught.
  9. Robert Higgs — book author, blogger, journal editor.  Self taught.
  10. Ed Feulner — think tank president, book author, newspaper commentary.
  11. Peter Schiff — podcaster, TV personality, YouTube sensation, book author.   Self taught.
  12. Jeffrey Tucker — web site guru.  Self taught.
  13. Steve Forbes — magazine publisher, book author.   Self taught.
  14. Gerald O’Driscoll, Jr. — think tank economist.  Learned Hayek at UCLA.
  15. Robert Murphy — book author, think tank economist, blogger.  Learned Hayek at Hillsdale College and NY University.
  16. Don Boudreaux — blogger, newspaper columnist.  Learned Hayek at Auburn University.
  17. Newt Gingrich — political activist, TV personality, book author.  Self taught.
  18. Richard Ebeling — columnist, book editor.
  19. Lawrence White — think tank economist, bloggerLearned Hayek at UCLA.  Self taught.
  20. Stacy McCain — blogger, book author, magazine writer.  Self taught.
  21. Jonah Goldberg — book author, blogger, syndicated columnist.  Self taught.
  22. Virginia Postrel — book author, blogger.  Self taught.
  23. Richard Eptstein — book author, commentary.
  24. Mike Shedlock — blogger.
  25. Steve Horwitz — blogger.  Learned Hayek at George Mason University.
  26. Frank Shostak — think tank economist.
  27. Mario Rizzo — blogger.  Learned Hayek at the U. of Chicago.
  28. David Boaz — book author, think tank official, commentary.  Self taught.
  29. Peter Boettke — journal editor, blogger.  Learned Hayek at Grove City College and George Mason University.
  30. George Selgin — book author, commentary.  Learned Hayek at NY University.

So that’s my top 30.  My rankings are based on an intuitive weighting of all sorts of different factors:  breadth of reach, depth of understanding, soundness of thought, common touch, ability to engage other intellectuals, intellectual creativity, mastery of the ideas at hand, etc.

I’ve made my stab at it.  But I’m just one guy.  Together, we could to better.  So, who’d I leave out?  Who should have been left out?  Who’s underrated — and who’s underrated?  If I extended the list to the top 50, who should be added?  Comments are open.

ADDED:  Here are 30 more:

  1. Randy Barnett — book author, blogger, commentary.
  2. William Easterly — book author, commentary.
  3. Roger Garrison — book author, commentary.
  4. Deepak Lal — book author, commentary.
  5. Michael Novak — book author, commentary.
  6. Jason Lewis — radio personality.
  7. Mark Skousen — book author.
  8. Ron Paul — book author
  9. Cass Sunstein — book author
  10. Edward Crane — think tank president.
  11. Will Wilkinson — blogger.
  12. Sheldon Richman — editor, blogger, commentary.
  13. Lew Rockwell — research institute president, book author, blogger, commentary.
  14. Tom Palmer — blogger, free trade activist.
  15. Gerald Edelman — book author.
  16. Ronald Hamowy — book author.
  17. James Dorn — editor, commentary.
  18. Larry Reed — think tank president.
  19. Richard McKenzie — book author.
  20. James Grant — book author, investment analysis, commentary.
  21. Bruce Caldwell — book author, book editor.
  22. Roger Pilon — commentary.
  23. Michelle Malkin — blogger, commentary.
  24. Nassim Taleb — book author.
  25. D. W. Mackenzie — Amazon book reviewer.
  26. Leonard Liggio — think tank vice president.
  27. Ayaan Hirsi Ali — book author, public intellectual.
  28. Todd Zywikki — blogger.
  29. Steve Hanke — commentary.
  30. Joaquin Fuster — book author, lecturer.

UPDATE:  Lots of feedback is coming in.  Stacy McCain suggests adding Michelle Malkin.  Many in the comments section wonder why Ron Paul was left off the list.  An error on my part, likely.  Does Rush Limbaugh belong on the list?  You tell me.  A student of Richard Ebeling and Bob Murphy suggests adding not only Ron Paul, but also Israel Kirzner, Bruce Caldwell, Doug Bandow, Ivan Pongracic, Paul Cwik, and Larry Reed.  Jonah Goldberg believes Virginia Postrel belongs much higher on the list.  He’s probably right.

UPDATE II:  Many more comments on my list over at the Mises Blog.

UPDATE III:   Should Newt be voted off the Hayek island?  A sentiment for taking Newt off the list builds.

Van Eswara writes:  “Prof Edmund Phelps needs to be included. He has started a whole research center around Capitalism, gives much praise to the Hayekian insights, and in fact spends a lot of time talking up Hayek in his Nobel speech.”

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60 Responses to Who Are The Top Hayekian Public Intellectuals in America?

  1. Matt. C says:

    I don’t know that I can agree with all of this, but I think the list is good.

    I would definately rank Profs. Horwitz and Rizzo higher and Rush Limbaugh much, much, much…much lower.

  2. Bud Hammons says:

    It is interesting to note the preponderance of “self-taught” Hayekian public intellectuals, according to this list. On reflection that should not be a surprise.

  3. shq says:

    I love the list, but many of these people don’t seem to understand (or care about) the business cycle theory for which Hayek won his nobel prize. Where is Ron Paul? Mark Sanford? I realize they are politicians, but they are clearly Austrian economists/intellectuals.

  4. Sidney says:

    Ron Paul should be on the list, and Newt Gingrich should not. Ron Paul articulates the Austrian position repeatedly and publicly, and Hayek was Mises’ disciple. Hayek’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech was about the presumption of knowledge. Newt presumes he has much knowledge, in great detail about every single thing. Newt is a tinkerer, and Hayek and the other Austrians would warn of the danger of tinkering even with good intentions.

  5. Greg Ransom says:

    I think you’re right. Ron Paul should be on the list.

    I was thinking of Paul as belonging on a list of the top Hayekian politicians, but you are right. He belongs on the list of “public intellectuals” as well.

  6. Kevin says:

    Jerry Gaus

  7. Jennie says:

    Is this an April Fools Joke? See “Why I am not a Conservative” http://www.fahayek.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=46

    Remove: Gingrich, Limbaugh, Feulner, Goldberg and Forbes. Move George Will, Stossel and Levin down.

    Richard Ebeling should be much, much higher, well above Bob Murphy. (I was a student of both) Horwitz, Boettke, Boaz and Rizzo should also be higher.

    You are missing Israel Kirzner, Bruce Caldwell, Doug Bandow, Ivan Pongracic, Paul Cwik, Ron Paul, Larry Reed. I am tempted to add all of Ebelings students as they understand Hayekian principles much better than some on your list.

  8. shq says:

    Newt thinks government should be active. Not sure he belongs.

  9. R. Danneskjold says:

    Actually, Limbaugh definitely belongs on this list, maybe even higher than his current placing.

    Gingrich, however, does not.

  10. shq says:

    Another thought….Jason Lewis is a Hayek and Mises disciple, and explains the concepts extremely well on his radio show.

  11. Pingback: Kicking Over My Traces: Top Hayekian Public Intellectuals

  12. And how about our favorite defender of “undefendable” markets, Prof. Walter Block? But I suppose some may consider that Rothbardians are not Hayekians?

  13. JasonC- PA says:

    Perhaps it would help the debate if there were some guidleines for the rankings. For instance, should the rank be based more on the amount of publicity the person gets or their knowledge and understanding of Hayek’s work. When I saw John Stossel with that high of a ranking I wondered what the heck you were thinking, but if you were basing your rankings on publicity, then it would make some sense. But then again, Sowell does not get much publicity. I am having trouble thinking of how you went about the rankings. Nevertheless, there are some great Hayekian’s on here.

  14. Ron Bales says:

    Rush is a conservative and not nearly as economically laissez faire as a proper Hayekian should be.

  15. Of course we can all take our shot at the list – but in the first place I appreciate at having a target! No – really, thanks for putting your brain in gear to get us all started.

  16. Matthew says:

    Roger Garrison seems like a particularly glaring omission.

  17. Jeff says:

    P. J. O’Rourke

  18. jp says:

    no need to place crackpot conspiracy minded loons on the list(Ron Paul).

    Rothbardian Anarcho-Capitalist aren’t really Hayek so much anyway, overlaps for sure, but not Hayek(or Von Mises for that matter).

    glad to see the ally in that group, Lew Rockwell, also not on the list. complete disgrace.

  19. jp says:

    In short, lets leave the Birch society loons(Paul) where WFB and Goldwater placed them long ago: outside of polite society, the gutter does not need to become mainstream.

  20. Joe says:

    Newt?! Seriously?!

  21. Bob D says:

    I like Mark Levin and agree with him in many areas, but he ridiculed Ron Paul during the 2008 Presidential campaign. So for that I feel that Levin should be taken off the list!

  22. Bob D says:

    Hey J P,
    There is no way that you are a Libertarian if you read Ron Paul’s work. If you like Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul is featured on Rockwell website and has written for the Mises Institute. I believed Paul was on the fringe until I read his writings. He is as Libertarian as they come.

  23. jp says:

    quit spinning for Paul, he’s wrote alot of Fringe stuff and sided with many idiotic conspiracy theories. There’s a reason he’s speaking at Birch Society functions.

    He pushes, as a useful idiot, far-left(anti-GOP) conspiracy theories irresponsibly, debunked conspiracies like the NAU, claiming Afghanistan is about building Oil Pipelines, that the Bush family and CIA are drug dealers(when he ran in LP)….the guy is a joke. If he ever got challenged, rather than ignored, he’d be torn to shreds.

    His crackpot and racist newsletters he profited from for over a decade, along with his wife and daughter, are as low as it gets

  24. S Andrews says:

    If he ever got challenged, rather than ignored, he’d be torn to shreds.

    If he is such a nasty person, why don’t you challenge him? It is as easy as defeating him in the GOP primary, he usually wins the actual election without opposition. BTW, he supported going into Afghanistan back in 2001.

    Cato institute was started by the same Koch family that started the Birch society.

  25. Chicago says:

    Completely missed George Reisman, who should be in the top ten.

  26. Ken says:

    JP, please cite your sources for the allegations — if you have any.

    How can Ron Paul not be on this list?

    Ron Paul was how I found the Austrian school and no doubt how the masses continue to find it AND Hayek’s work.

    As for the question of Paul being fringe, the guy campaigned for Reagan’s presidential run in the early eighties. I believe he parted company when Ronnie failed to follow through on his promises to significantly shrink government.

    Ron Paul no doubt has a greater understanding of Hayekian theory than most if not all on the list.

    I’d bet $1,000 fiat FRN’s that he could eat JP’s lunch on the topic.

  27. Eric Auld says:

    Will Wilkinson has a very thorough understanding of Hayek, moreso than some on the list (esp. Limbaugh and even George Will), who seem to have quite a shallow, politicized understanding of Hayek.

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  29. John says:

    you mention adding MALKIN?

    These are glaring warmongers and big government interventionists….

    This list is a complete joke.

    I’m not sure how this crap ended up on lewrockwell.com blog. It surely doesn’t belong.

  30. Mario Rizzo says:

    As much as I appreciate my education at the University of Chicago, I did not learn about Hayek there. I knew Hayek’s work as early as high school. My knowledge was deepened by study at Fordham University and through the help of such people as Murray Rothbard and Israel Kirzner before I went to Chicago.

  31. Rightwatcher says:


    The Rothbardians are pissed because the list isn’t Rothbardian.

    Hmmm, maybe because it was about HAYEK?

    Rothbardian: I hate Hayek!

    Non-Rothbardian: I like Hayek….

    Rothbardian: Liar! Liar! Neocon! Imperialist! Zionist!

  32. Tom says:

    Well, given that the Mises Institute just published a handsome volume by Hayek Called Prices and Production and Other Essays, a tiny book with Hayek’s essay on money production and his Nobel speech, and are about to release Sudha Shenoy’s collection of his writings on inflation called A Tiger by the Tail, I’d say the Rothbardians DO kind of like Hayek. What they generally like, though, is his early writing, when he was focused on economics.

  33. Tushar says:

    This is an April 1st joke, right? Limbaugh? Gingrich? REALLY? IF this isnt a joke, its damaging to the Hayek Center.

  34. John Pertz says:

    All of the conservatives need to be taken off the list. They cant use Hayek for political purposes and then be pro war at the same time.

    Also, many of these people view the free movement of peoples across boards as a disgrace.

    Get Limbaugh, Malkin, Forbes and the rest of the republican establishment off of there.

    They are just as evil as the left. While you are at it, why not put George W. in there for heck sake, I mean if we are gonna include Malkin and Gingrich.

  35. Rightwatcher says:

    Based on the commentators here, Hayek himself would be considered a “neocon” as he isn’t “pure” enough for their tastes.

    I don’t believe Hayek was anti-war and explicitly anti-Zionist. So it’s likely Hayek himself couldn’t make his own list based on the of insane standards of the commentators here.

    Perhaps you should just delete this whole list, and replace with “Top Rothbardian Intellectuals In America”? And please note how “intellectuals” is within quotation marks in the preceding sentence.

  36. I agree with the comment that Roger Garrison is a glaring omission. John Blundell of IEA is another: about as much clout as Ed Feulner, and much more Hayekian.

    Like Mario Rizzo, I began reading Hayek’s work before I got to graduate school. I wrote “Methodology of the Austrian School” as a college term paper, after all. Heck, I had met and talked with Hayek himself in the summer before I got to UCLA.

    Rush Limbaugh, for what it’s worth, is not entirely self-taught. Back in his Sacramento days he was tutored in economics by my erstwhile UCLA classmate Tom Hazlett, who was then teaching at UC Davis.

  37. John Emerson says:

    Half the people on the list embarrass Hayek. Not just the racist McCain.

  38. Jonathan says:

    I like seeing Thomas Sowell on the top. Great man.

    I love that Rush Limbaugh is on here too. Obviously the ones bashing him on here never listen to his show. Especially the one who said he was for big government. Rush is completely Hayekian. He doesn’t talk about it EVERYDAY but he is running a show here. He talks about all sorts of stuff.

    Gingric? Yeah not too sure about him especially when he said that the era of Reagan was over.

    And RON PAUL fans… just because Levin has gone after Paul does not make him anti-Hayek. If you believe that Ron Paul is everything Hayek then you are going to be fooled very easily.

    Good list.

  39. Edwin van de Haar says:

    Including Ayaan Hirsi Ali (on the second list) is a huge mistake. She may have a kind of liberal Hayekian agenda when it comes to women rights, but her solutions are all completely state-led (for example: how Hayekian is her idea to have the state decide where migrants must live?). This is not surprsing as she worked at the think tank of the Dutch Labour party and after becoming MP for the liveral party still admiringly cited leftwing philosophers like Brian Barry. I guess her earlier work is not translated from Dutch into English, so not all people in the US are aware of this side of her. She is a liberal false guide and no doubt Hayek would have recognised her as a true social constructivist.

  40. Greg Ransom says:

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali seems to have renounced many of her earlier statist and social democratic views — enough so that most of her old leftist friends have de-friended here (how nice of them). See Ali’s recent Mont Pelerin speech, linked earlier on “Taking Hayek Seriously”.

    Edwin van de Haar wrote:

    “Including Ayaan Hirsi Ali (on the second list) is a huge mistake.”

  41. I would certainly add Peter Klein to the list of Hayekian public intellectuals. He’s one of the best and most knowlegeable Hayekian scholars out there. And his birthday is the same as Hayek’s!

  42. JP liked the idea that WFB denounced The John Birch Society. He did the same to the Randians, the Von Mises people and all other paleo-cons. There was nothing polite about Buckley’s back-stabing of his friends. Buckley was a neo-con who did his utmost to destroy legitimate conservastive opposition.

    The John Birch Society has done much to teach free market and constitutonal principles. It sounds like JP gets his info from the SPLC.

  43. Jack Parsons says:

    Salma Von Hayek definitely should be on the list.

  44. Austrian Me says:

    Doesn’t this just serve to further the argument that Austrian economists (not Austrian economics) are nothing more than religious idol worshippers?

  45. Dan Clementi says:

    How about Jim Rogers? Not sure what the criteria are, but if Schiff is on the list, seems like Rogers should be.

  46. Jeff Harding says:

    I think we need to distinguish between conservatives that are supportive of free markets, but tend to advocate statist solutions and true libertarians. Rush is very good on some things, but is a conservative. Ditto for Sowell, Gingrich, Malkin, and Forbes. I can’t see that supporting Austrian economic principles and also advocating big government controls on things conservatives don’t like, as being consistent.

  47. Ed says:

    Richard Sirico should be #1 on your list
    His website is http://www.acton.org

  48. D.W. MacKenzie says:

    I have over a hundred real publications, yet I am listed here as an “amazon.con reviewer”! Life isnt fair sometimes…

  49. Greg Ransom says:

    D.W. — you are the top reviewer at Amazon of one of the most influential books ever. That puts a lot of “public” in public intellectual. Academic publications — not so much.

  50. D.W. MacKenzie says:

    Fair enough, but I have a pretty long list of pubs through Mises.org too.

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