Bryan Caplan did yet another commendable thing: He made two lectures by Ralph Raico available online. You can find them, together with Bryan’s recollections of Ralph, here.

The lectures are splendid.

In the first, to sketch an outline of classical liberalism, Raico brilliantly digs into the state’s mystique, including how support for the arts plays with the legitimization of the mercantile system. He provides a wonderful sketch of the Levellers and explains why the idea of natural, unalienable rights reversed the common thinking on men and state, putting the latter at the service of the first, plays sword with the phantom of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (a man who erupted in moral outrage for things he was doing any other day of the week). Interestingly enough, to explain the importance of history, Raico begins by quoting Thomas Szasz, a scholar he greatly admired.

In the second, Raico describes a classical liberalism which was upfront, not on the defensive. The classical liberals’ emphasis on harmonious interests presupposes a society in which coercion and privileges have been seized and limited: it is not a way of justifying the status quo. Raico remembers how liberals fought against plunder, exploitation by the ruling class at the expense of the productive classes.

Ralph Raico was a great scholar and a wonderfully idiosyncratic man. He was also a great teacher, as you would immediately understand listening to his lectures. Bryan complains that Raico didn’t write that much – but his archive page at Mises.org is still a treasure trove you can dig into.