All Commentary
Wednesday, April 1, 1981

Book Review: Fugitive Essays: Selected Writings of Frank Chodorov Compiled, edited, and with an introduction by Charles H. Hamilton

(LibertyPress, 7440 North Shadeland, Indianapolis, Indiana 46250), 1980
416 pages • $9.00 cloth; $4.00 paperback

I never sat in a class under Frank Chodorov, but he was nevertheless one of my more memorable teachers. It began in 1947 with the Nock Memorial issue of analysis, given to me by a friend who knew of my interest in A.J.N. I subscribed to the paper, a monthly four page broadsheet written, edited, and published by one Frank Chodorov. Each issue contained a lead essay in prose as cerebral as Arnold’s, but more visceral, pungent commentary on passing political foibles, a book review or two, occasional letters to the editor. I was hooked.

Frank was a man with a cause, as dedicated as any prophet of old to the ideal of individual liberty and the free economy. Reading and experience had stocked his mind, teaching and debate had honed his rhetorical skills, his prose was polished, and his go-for-broke commitment to his beliefs energized his words.

He called himself an Individualist, for every person in his eyes possessed a supreme worth no group could diminish. “One is a crowd,” he would say, and thus he entitled one of his books. He appealed to all kinds of audiences, enjoying especially the give and take he had with students. Speaking to clergymen, he came on like an Old Testament prophet. He charmed them by his salty account of Joseph as the Pharaoh’s secretary of agriculture; he gave them a lesson in political philosophy by retelling the story of Saul’s anointing as king of Israel. We shall not see his like again.

It is too late to meet Frank in person, but the reader will get to know the man in the pages of this book. The editor has selected wisely and virtually every theme of Chodorov’s work is represented; God and natural law, the economic origin of the state, the erosion of social power by political power, the importance of private education, the evils of the progressive income tax, the insanity of war, the idiocy of socialism, the fundamentals of economics, the exhilaration of joining the fight for freedom. And there is a fine introductory essay by Mr. Hamilton.

Chodorov reads well and, as I will attest, he rereads Well. This collection will be welcomed by Frank’s old friends, and I predict it will make new ones.

  • The Rev. Edmund A. Opitz (1914-2006) was a Congregationalist minister, a FEE staff member, who for decades championed the cause of a free society and the need to anchor that society in a transcendent morality. A man of wide reading and high culture, Opitz was for many years on the staff of the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York. He was one of the few voices in the 1950s through the 1990s calling for an integrated understanding between economic liberty and religious sensibility. He was the founder and coordinator of the Remnant, a fellowship of conservative and libertarian ministers.