The news you're not supposed to know...

An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
Article posted Sep 12 2012, 2:28 AM Category: General Source: Robert Higgs Print

Thomas S. Szasz (1920-2012)

By Robert Higgs

With great sadness, I note the passing on September 8 of the man I have long described as the greatest living libertarian. Thomas Szasz was, among other things, a powerful influence on the movement to release people who were being held in prisons on "psychiatric" grounds, even though they had not been convicted of any crime. Virtually single-handedly, he waged a half-century war against the use of psychiatric excuses to punish innocent people or to relieve people who had committed crimes of responsibility for their actions. He exposed in countless ways the unholy alliance of the state and the psychiatric profession, and he laid bare the bogus foundation on which this alliance rests. He was one of the greatest humanitarians of the twentieth century, a man of incisive mind, unflagging determination, and tremendous energy. He died at 92, only a year after the publication of the latest of his many books. His curriculum vitae is a stunning testament of his intellectual breadth and depth and of his unyielding devotion to human freedom.

I got to know Tom in my capacity as editor of The Independent Review, and over the years I was proud to have placed several of his articles in the journal. As a friend and as a supporter of his work, I would send him little notes or news items occasionally. He was always prompt and gracious in his replies. From time to time he would send me items he thought might interest me. In this way, I got to know him better and greatly enjoyed his private, frank expressions of opinion about events and persons.

When I sent him one of my little messages on August 31, 2012, he replied quickly, as usual, thanking me, asking about my personal situation after Hurricane Isaac, and adding some unexpected personal information about himself. "Good to hear from you," he said. "I am ok. Have stopped writing. I have had my say. Enough is enough." I immediately wrote back to him: "You surprise me. I thought you would continue to write as long as you continued to breathe. But if ever a writer gave an account of himself, you are the one. Your lifetime's work is a monument that will instruct and inspire people forever."

To my statement that I had expected him to continue writing as long as he lived, he responded: "I thought so too, but I didn't expect to live this long (92.5). Writing was—is—very much a part of my being. I feel that I have lost a large part of myself, but so have I also parts of my body—strength, mobility, hearing, etc. But I have enough left to carry on: I live alone, drive, walk with a cane (not far or long), etc., and am blessed with two wonderful daughters, very independent (a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic and a university librarian in Va.), fine sons-in-law, and great grandson (senior at Carleton College, linguistics + premed). So no one needs me. A good feeling in old age. (But dangerous earlier.)" I was glad to know that he was still getting along fairly well, notwithstanding his limitations. Eight days later, he died.

In 2006, I was extremely honored to receive from the Center for Independent Thought one of its Thomas S. Szasz Awards for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties. On the occasion of this award, Tom made his way to Oakland, where The Independent Institute hosted a presentation program at which he and I spoke to a full house. This unforgettable occasion was the first and only time I ever had the pleasure of Tom's company in person. As always, he was extremely gracious.

Tom was unique, and he is utterly irreplaceable. Throughout his long life, he did not simply fight the good fight; he fought a truly magnificent fight, nearly alone against the hostile ranks of his own profession and the world at large, notwithstanding the ridicule and dishonor he so often received from people more interested in pelf and self-deception than in the plain truth. Tom's arguments were not technical or difficult to follow; many required only the precise, correct use of language. Someday, one fervently hopes, the world will look back in astonishment that such a battle ever needed to be waged, and will honor Tom's memory as we now honor the memory of those who fought against the entrenched institution of slavery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Tom fought to free our minds from fundamental misunderstandings, warning us against the perils of submission to the superstition, deliberate deception, and fraud that prop up the therapeutic state and its countless self-interested operatives.

RIP, dear friend. It is one of my life's greatest honors to have known you and to have called you a friend, and I shall always esteem your memory.

Latest General
- Obama Commutes Sentences for Eight Drug Offenders
- Despite This 87-yo Woman Crashing Into A Cop Car, Police Still Escorted Her To See Sick Son
- Watch What Happened When Two Thugs Started a Gunfight With a 74-Year-Old Woman
- Employee Fired After Posting Pictures Of DHS Vehicles Parked In Hotel Parking Lot
- Ottawa Shooter Was Crack Addict Who Repeatedly Tried To Get Arrested: Report
- Officer Pulls Woman Over. Instead of a Ticket, He Showed His Humanity
- Ferguson: A Libertarian Look -- Will Grigg on the Tom Woods Show
- New York Times: End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

No Comments Posted Add Comment

Add Comment


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below

Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy

Advanced Search


Remember Me
Forgot Password?

Psychotic Vegas Cop Filmed Beating Man For Filming In Viral Video Queitly Hired By Another Dept. - 12/17Cops Called For Wellness Check Beat Innocent Man, Pile On False Charges; Jury Exonerates, Twice - 12/17Cop Was Not Fired Despite 75 Counts of Stalking and Harassment -- Now He Just Shot a Mother and Her Daughter - 12/17Ontario Cop Sucker-Punched Good Samaritan Grandmother & Broke Her Leg With Karate Kick - 12/17Florida Cop Gets Schooled in Law After Harassing Man for Playing Rap Song, "F**k tha Police" - 12/16Ignorance Is No Excuse for Wrongdoing, Unless You're a Cop - 12/17Police Using Social Media Posts to Determine "Threat Score" of Suspects - 12/16High Profile Witness In Alleged Excessive Force Case Records His Own Stop And Arrest - 12/16

Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-ThirdsCop Who Karate Chopped NY Judge In Throat Gets Off Scot-FreeFlorida Cop Smashes Compliant Woman's Face Into Car -- "Maybe Now You Can Understand Simple Instructions"VIDEO: Lapel Cam Reveals A Day In The Life Of A U.S. Police Officer (Tasing, Beating, Breaking & Entering, Stomping On Heads... and Laughing About It)Caught On Tape: Officer Sucker Punches Inmate In Face, Files Report Claiming 'Self Defense'Insult Person On Twitter, Go To JailSWAT Team Brings TV Crew To Film Raid Against Threatening Internet Critic -- Raids Innocent Grandma InsteadCop Karate Chops NY Judge In The Throat