The Little Guide to Henry Hazlitt

Little Guides to Big Ideas is an SFL educational series introducing important libertarian thinkers

Each post is written to give liberty-minded students a starting point to learn from the great movers and shakers who have contributed to the ideas of liberty. The entire Little Guide to Big Ideas series can be foundhere.

“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”-Henry Hazlitt

Who: Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993) was an American journalist who wrote about business and economics for The Wall Street JournalThe NationThe American MercuryNewsweek, and The New York Times. He was widely known and recognized in libertarian and conservative circles.

Why he matters: Hazlitt’s major contribution to the libertarian movement are his writings on economics; through them, he introduced a vast range of people to libertarian ideas. In his major work, Economics in One Lesson (1946), he explains bluntly what economics is, and throughout the book he repeats the one lesson that everyone is failing to understand (which is quoted above). Several libertarians praised Hazlitt for his remarkable work explaining economics, including Ayn Rand, F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises. In a dinner honoring Hazlitt, Mises said to him: “In this age of the great struggle in favor of freedom and the social system in which men can live as free men, you are our leader. You have indefatigably fought against the step-by-step advance of the powers anxious to destroy everything that human civilization has created over a long period of centuries… You are theeconomic conscienceof our country and of our nation”.  Hazlitt also helped the libertarian circle stay alive; he would introduce people and help start long-lasting relationships among free-market minded people.

If you only read one thing:Economics in One Lesson (1946).