Woods in February 2011
Thomas Ernest Woods Jr.
August 1, 1972
Melrose, Massachusetts, United States
|Alma mater||Harvard University (A.B., 1994)|
Columbia University (M.Phil., Ph.D.)
|Influences||Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek, Ralph Raico, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, H. L. Mencken, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Walter Block, Robert Nisbet, Gene Epstein, Andrew Napolitano|
Thomas Ernest Woods Jr. (born August 1, 1972) is an American author, historian and libertarian who is currently a senior fellow at the Mises Institute. Woods is a New York Times Best-Selling author and has published twelve books. He has written extensively on subjects including the history of the United States, Catholicism, contemporary politics, and economics. Although not an economist himself, Woods is a proponent of the Austrian School of economics. He hosts a daily podcast, The Tom Woods Show, and he formerly co-hosted the now defunct Contra Krugman.
Since completing his doctorate in history from Columbia University in 2000, Woods has mostly written for political and popular audiences. He first received media attention for writing the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History in 2004, which promoted a libertarian interpretation of American history and was a New York Times bestseller. His subsequent writing has focused on promoting libertarian economics and political philosophy, and libertarian political figures such as former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul. His 2009 book Meltdown, which attempted to exonerate free markets from blame in the 2008 economic crisis, also became a New York Times bestseller.
Woods holds a B.A. from Harvard University, and both a M.Phil. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, all in history. He is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama and a member of the editorial board for the institute's Libertarian Papers. Woods was an ISI Richard M. Weaver Fellow in 1995 and 1996. He received the 2004 O.P. Alford III Prize for Libertarian Scholarship and an Olive W. Garvey Fellowship from the Independent Institute in 2003. Woods received the 2019 Hayek lifetime achievement award from the Austrian Economics Center. He has additionally been awarded two Humane Studies Fellowships and a Claude R. Lambe Fellowship from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. His 2005 book, The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, won the $50,000 first prize in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards.
Woods is the author of twelve books. His book The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History was on The New York Times Best Seller list for paperbacks in 2005. His 2009 book Meltdown also made the bestseller list in 2009. His writing has been published in numerous popular and scholarly periodicals, including the American Historical Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Investor's Business Daily, Modern Age, American Studies, Journal of Markets & Morality, New Oxford Review, The Freeman, Independent Review, Journal des Économistes et des Études Humaines, AD2000, Crisis, Human Rights Review, Catholic Historical Review, the Catholic Social Science Review and The American Conservative.
Woods co-authored Who Killed the Constitution? with Kevin Gutzman, Professor of History at Western Connecticut State University. Woods and Gutzman criticize what they view as unconstitutional political overreach spanning from World War I to the Obama Administration. Woods takes a strict constructionist view of the U.S. Constitution insofar as it limits the power of the Federal Government. Woods echoes the views individualist anarchist Lysander Spooner set forth in a set of essays, No Treason, in which Spooner argues that the Constitution holds no authority because the public has not explicitly consented to it and because the Federal Government in his view has not followed its obligations and limits.
Woods advocates the compact theory theory of the Union which was espoused by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. The resolutions argue that states are duty-bound to resist unconstitutional federal acts. In his book Nullification, he details the history of and justification for nullification and its adoption by various political movements including abolitionists, slave holders, and those opposed to tariffs. He goes on to suggest nullification as a tool that states can use to check the powers of the federal government. As such, Woods is a supporter of the Tenth Amendment Center, which aims to resist what it views as federal overreach through state action. On the other hand, Woods does not view the Bill of Rights as a limitation on the power of the states but rather a limitation solely on the power of the federal government. In an article for the Southern Partisan magazine in 1997 Woods writes: "The Bill of Rights, moreover, erroneously invoked by modern Civil Libertarians, was never intended to protect individuals from the state governments. Jefferson is far from alone in insisting that only the federal government is restricted from regulating the press, church-state relations, and so forth. The states may do as they wish in these areas."
Woods was received into the Roman Catholic Church from Lutheranism. He wrote How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. For eleven years, he was associate editor of the Latin Mass Magazine, which advocates traditional Catholicism. As a traditionalist Catholic, Woods is also recognized for his books attacking the post-Vatican II church. Woods advocates what he calls the Old Latin Mass and cultural conservatism.
Woods makes a sharp distinction between paleoconservative thinkers, with whom he sympathizes, and neoconservative thinkers. In articles, lectures and interviews Woods traces the intellectual and political distinction between the older conservative, or paleoconservative, school of thought and the neoconservative school of thought.
These views have provoked a strong response from some conservatives. On the release of Woods' Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, the book was scathingly reviewed by Max Boot of The Weekly Standard. Boot accused Woods of being overly sympathetic with Southerners such as John C. Calhoun for his thoughts on a state's right to secede and state nullification (though northern politicians also advocated for nullification), while exaggerating the militarism of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Bill Clinton. James Haley's Weekly Standard review of the book, in contrast, stated that it "provides a compelling rebuttal to the liberal sentiment encrusted upon current history texts..." the book is "ultimately about truth" and "[t]his is a book everyone interested in American history should have in his library". Woods concluded his reply to Boot's review by saying "[s]ince in my judgment Max Boot embodies everything that is wrong with modern conservatism, his opposition is about the best endorsement I could have asked for".
Woods has been highly critical of Keynesian economics, which he claims is at odds with historical examples. While not formally trained in the field of Economics, Woods, who studies economics in his spare time, formerly co-hosted the Contra Krugman podcast with economist Robert P. Murphy. The podcast analyzed and critiqued the writings of Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. While Woods and Murphy share many policy prescriptions with certain Chicago school of economists such as Milton Friedman, they generally disagree with the Chicago School methodology. Woods has been an advocate of hard money and has shown interest in alternative currencies such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As with many other members of the Austrian School of thought, Woods is critical of the Federal Reserve and other central banks which he views as responsible for unnatural inflation and the business cycle.
As a proponent of anarcho-capitalism, Woods is a critic of government control of education. In his podcast, Woods discusses alternatives to government-run education such as private religious and nonreligious schools,homeschooling, and unschooling. He has created a libertarian-infused history and economics education platform called Liberty Classroom with courses taught by historians, economists, and professors including Gerard Casey, Robert P. Murphy, Brion McClanahan, Kevin Gutzman, and Bradley Birzer. In recent years, Woods has become increasingly critical of administrators and faculty at universities both public and private, because he perceives a trend of decreasing quality, lessening diversity of thought, and little resistance to demonstrations that disrupt or "no-platform" traditionally open discussion and debate. He has interviewed several high-profile academics who have been rebuked by university faculty and administrations due to non-left wing stances including notable examples such as Jordan Peterson,Anthony Esolen, Thaddeus Russell, and Stephen Hsu.
In 1994, Woods was a founding member of the League of the South for which he has been criticized. Woods has argued that the League has changed its politics and was not racist or anti-semitic in 1994.
A 2005 article in Reason Magazine called out Woods for his background in the neo-Confederate organization, stating his views meant he was not a libertarian. The author also noted his frequent writing in the group's magazine, The Southern Patriot, up through 1997 and received a quote from Woods stating that he didn't disagree with most of the views he made in said publications. An article in the same year by a member of the League of the South published in The American Conservative praised Woods' background in the group, his book, and the views expressed within, especially those concerning the Confederacy and how its defeat was the "defining moment when the United States took its steps towards the abyss of the monstrous centralised state, rootless society and decadent culture that we have today."
In 2013, an article by the non-profit Political Research Associates, which studies right-wing white supremacist and extremist groups, noted that Woods was a frequent speaker at neo-confederate events throughout the 1990s and since then, along with contributing to the American Secession Project started in 2000. The authors noted that a 1997 article written by Woods in the neo-confederate Southern Partisan magazine had him include in the author byline that he was a "founding member of the League of the South." An article from 2014 in Alan Keyes' Renew America organization criticized Woods for his "secessionist libertarianism" and his ongoing involvement with members of "the white supremacist League of the South", though pointed out that it was likely he was naive in his viewpoints, but not racist.
Since September 2013, Woods has delivered a daily podcast, The Tom Woods Show, originally hosted on investment broker Peter Schiff's website. On the podcasts, which are now archived on Woods' own website, Woods conducts interviews on economic topics, foreign policy, and history.
In September 2015, Woods began Contra Krugman, a weekly podcast, with economist Robert P. Murphy that critiques The New York Times columns of economist Paul Krugman by analyzing Krugman's viewpoints through the lens of free market Austrian economics. The podcast sought to teach economics "by uncovering and dissecting the errors of Krugman." The podcast released its final episode on June 11, 2020.
My personal favorite in this list is Martin Luther because I, myself, am a former Lutheran.