“Leonard Read himself was another great emulator of Bastiat. His classic essay I, Pencil could be considered a modernization and distillation of some of the main themes in Bastiat’s unfinished treatise Economic Harmonies.
Like Bastiat, Read was both a great organizer and a great author for liberty. In addition to founding and serving as president of the Foundation for Economic Education, he gave innumerable lectures and wrote 34 books. He also was a prolific correspondent and kept a detailed daily journal for more than 10,000 consecutive days.
Read also shared tips on the creative process in “Aids to Leadership,” a chapter in Elements of Libertarian Leadership (1962).
Below, I’ve organized some of Hazlitt and Read’s gems of wisdom by theme.”
Study to Create
Hazlitt wrote of “the need of extensive reading and study before the reader can profitably launch on “thinking for himself or arriving at ‘independent conclusions.’” He warned that “no man can hope to do original work or even profitable thinking in any science or branch of knowledge until he has gone to the trouble to learn what has already been discovered in that branch of knowledge. He must know the previous state of the question. Then he will see whether he can make any contribution of his own.”
Hazlitt also celebrated the joy of immersing yourself in a topic that fascinates you:
“No practice excels that of browsing along a library shelf containing books on the subject that has awakened your interest, and sampling them. If I may be permitted a personal note, it seems to me, looking back, that the hours of purest happiness in my own youth were spent in just this way. I would avidly sample one book after another, and when the bell rang, and the library closed for the night, and I was forced to leave, I would leave in a state of mental intoxication, with my new-found knowledge and ideas whirling in my head.”
In fact, Hazlitt’s path to becoming one of history’s greatest expositors of economics began in this way. Coming across Philip Wicksteed’s The Common Sense of Political Economy on a library shelf was the beginning of his self-taught journey through the rabbit hole of sound economics that ultimately led him to Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian School.