A Rara Avis – The World Is Poorer Without Him In It

Our friend Dr. Tibor Machan, a greatly valued contributor to this site, has passed away on March 24.


Tibor 2Dr. Tibor Machan, libertarian philosopher


Unfortunately, we haven’t known Tibor for very long. We got into touch with him after reading some of his work at Mises.org and the Daily Bell, and asked him if he would like to occasionally publish articles on Acting Man as well. To our delight, he immediately agreed. In the time we were in regular contact with him, he not only proved to be a kindred soul philosophically, but always had words of encouragement for us and graciously provided us with his outstanding work without expecting anything in return. Tibor also liked to send us brief emails with recommendations and critiques of recent movies he had seen and books he had read, as well as brief but always incisive comments on current affairs, which we always looked forward to.  From feedback we have received from our readers, we know that many of you greatly enjoyed his work as well.

Among US philosophers, Tibor was what the Romans used to call a rara avis – a “rare bird”. A great many of the best-known US philosophers of the 20th century are de facto Marxists, forever arguing in favor of Marxist economic goals under the pretext that forcible wealth redistribution and the repudiation of property rights by the State and the associated destruction of the economy will somehow serve “justice”. It seems obvious that they know little about economics, given they dependend on the wealth produced by the system they denounce. If the market economy were destroyed, they would no longer have the leisure to write books about the evils of capitalism, since they would presumably be too busy scrounging for food and firewood.

Tibor was extremely critical of these philosophers, having had up-close and personal experience with communism. Readers may for instance want to revisit his excellent article “Some Reflections on the Right to Private Property “ in this context. As a teenager, Tibor fled from then communist Hungary (he was actually smuggled out), after having become a bit notorious at his school for expressing doubts about the blessings of socialism. Here is a video in which he relates his story of living as a child and teenager under communism and how he eventually managed to get out. Unfortunately it is not entirely complete, but it is still quite an interesting document, not least because it was filmed in an informal setting:


Tibor Machan tells the story of his youth in communist Hungary and how he fled in 1953 with the help of a smuggler hired by his father


In our experience people who were forced to live under the tender mercies of “real” socialism are as a rule its most vociferous critics. In that sense, Tibor was no exception, even though he escaped from the clutches of communism relatively early. Nevertheless, he certainly stood out in the academic world for his commitment to liberty, minimal government interference and his strict anti-Marxist stance.

For a more in-depth portrait of Tibor, his personal history and his philosophy, we recommend the following lengthy video from C-Span 2 (Book-TV) from 2011:


An in-depth portrait of Tibor Machan


Here is a link to Tibor’s Wikipedia entry, where you can find more details on his remarkable life and career.


For readers who want to revisit some of his work that has been published on Acting Man, here is the complete list of Tibor’s articles archived on this site (newest first) – enjoy:

Some Reflections on the Right to Private Property

Taxation as a Severe Insult

Revisiting and Expanding the Laffer Curve

Bernie Sanders, Don’t Kid Yourself!

The Forgotten Ninth Amendment

Rights and Government

Reflections on Modern Democracy

A Fallacy of Collectivism

Impractical Pragmatism

The Trump Idiocy

Against Fairness

Agent Causation Defended: Theorists v. their Theories

Peddling the Corruption of Liberty

What you “Owe to Society”

The Logic of Equalization

Egalitarian Nightmares

The Worst of the State of the Union Address

The New York Times is Wrong Again

Consumerism and Christmas

Involuntary Servitude

Some Pros and Cons of a Syrian Attack

Once Again, Freedom is at Fault

Coping with Smoking

Governor Christie’s Demagoguery

Policy Sans Ethics

Shopping in Communism versus Capitalism

Too Many Un-American Americans

A Precis on Public Finance

My Rich Society: Novels, etc.

How to Secure a Free Country

A Friend’s Zimmerman/Martin Reflections

Without a Proper Plan

Ethnicity is Obsolete


Tibor may be gone, but he lives on through his excellent work and will forever be in our hearts.

May he rest in peace.




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4 Responses to “In Memoriam: Dr. Tibor Machan”

  • HitTheFan:

    What a sad loss to the world, I will read all of those links and watch the videos.
    Marxist/socialism always bankrupts itself eventually, as the state collects more and more, distributing it to the
    non-productive, creaming off a nice slice for itself of course.
    We look forward to the day when laissez-faire returns, lead there by the BIS and the ECB, barring revolutions of course, these Marxists are generally violent nihilists.

  • No6:

    Have been reading his works since I discovered him in 1995.
    I will miss his insights.

  • woodsbp:

    “A great many of the best-known US philosophers of the 20th century are de facto Marxists …”

    If you are going to place a blanket assertion …. some identies might be useful. There are certainly ‘some’ US philosophers who are Marxist – but “a great many”. Unlikely. And there are different strands of Marxism. Marxism is not a one-size-fits-all type of philosophy.

    “It seems obvious that they know little about economics, given they dependend on the wealth produced by the system they denounce.”

    Really? How can you sustain these assertions? Marx actually praised Capitalism. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the technological advances of the time (the mid 1800s). He, and some other social commentators (eg: Charles Dickens) drew attention to the dreadful industrial and social conditions of their time and argued for a more equitable distribution of the ‘surplus’ (not the financial profit) being produced. To lable this demand as being equal to the forcible expropriation of private property is simply wrong. I’m not aware that Marx ever made such a bald demand. He certainly argued for a more equitable re-distribution of the newly created wealth. But confiscation?

    “In our experience people who were forced to live under the tender mercies of “real” socialism are as a rule its most vociferous critics …”

    Millions of folk are currently forced to live under the tender mercies of neo-liberal economic programmes. Or have you failed to notice that. Chile was a ‘big success’? Indonesia? The current US, UK and EU economies?

    Marx recognized a broad range of economies; ancient, feudal and productive capitalism. He had no prior knowledge of Neo-classical nor Keynsian nor Neo-liberal economics. He only experienced a particular, rapidly advancing and expanding Production/Consumption variant of capitalism; not our current stagnating financialized (FIRE) variant. Commun(e)ism, Pol Potism, Maoism and Kim Yungism are all extreme, ideological political abberations of Marx’s economic concepts. But so too would be a unfettered, free-market economy. All are at the outer edges of the economic see-saw. Marx, I believe, argued for a economy much closer to the fulcrum.

  • bart:

    R.I.P Doctor, what a great legacy you’ve left!

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