Unfortunately, several untrue things have been said in print about Galambos.  And once something makes it into print, it can take on a life of its own, be repeated, and taken as fact.  These are the things I know about:

 

Stephan Kinsella in Against Intellectual Property

 

“[Galambos'] own theories bizarrely restrict the ability of his supporters to disseminate them.”  The facts as stated are true, but the characterization of them as “bizarre” reflects Kinsella’s lack of understanding of what Galambos taught and what his policies were.  Simply put, Galambos required students to sign what is called a non-disclosure agreement that required permission for use or dissemination. Galambos' goal was for his ideas to be used and disseminated, but under controlled conditions consistent with the theory he taught. Such agreements are commonplace throughout the world and have a variety of uses. Galambos’ use, and the agreement itself, are discussed in my book, For Intellectual Property.

 

Galambos dropped a nickel in a fund box every time he used the word “liberty” as a royalty to the descendants of Thomas Paine because Paine had allegedly invented the word. I have questioned two of Galambos’ closest associates, whose relationship with Galambos spanned decades, and neither of them ever observed any such behavior, nor did they ever hear Galambos credit Paine with inventing the word “liberty.” My own observation is that in spending about 1000 hours in the classroom with Galambos, despite frequent references to Paine and the nine-hour Course V-76 that he gave on Paine, I never saw or heard any such thing.  However, Galambos did advocate paying royalities to the estates of people from whom he had gotten value. Because he credited Paine with being the driving force behind the American Revolution he may very well have put money into an account with Paine's name on it. 

Galambos changed his name from Joseph Andrew Galambos to Andrew Joseph Galambos to avoid infringing his identically-named father’s rights to the name. As a patent attorney, it’s not surprising that he sees this in terms of “infringement of rights.”The reality is that Galambos revered his father, an architect, calling him the model for the concept of integrity. Realizing that he might become a person of some historical significance himself, he made the name change so that there would never be any confusion. Of the books that Galambos pre-sold to his students, only one was completed. It was More Lasting than Bronze, a biography of his father, and the name change is fully discussed in the book.

 

Brian Doherty in Radicals for Capitalism

 

This "Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement" is an outstanding book. Unfortunately, in the chapter on Galambos Mr. Doherty was forced to depend on just a couple of sources of information. I hold him harmless for what I believe are these mischaracterizations.

Galambos kept his overhead and advertising costs low. His students’ comfort meant little to him. Like virtually every small business, Galambos started with a small budget, so overhead had to be kept low. I don't know if he ever spent any money on advertising other than a simple brochure and a course catalog. But even in the earliest days I believe he used acceptably comfortable lecture facilities. By the time I enrolled in 1975 the Free Enterprise Institute had its own modern, comfortable classroom, capable of seating hundreds in interlocking upholstered chairs in rows, like many hotel meeting rooms where I have attended seminars. 

 

He was a terrible lecturer—incoherent, rambling, sucking on ice while he talked—but the strength and peculiarity of his ideas got him across.  I thought that Galambos was a good, and sometimes brilliant, lecturer. I don’t think it would be possible for someone to be a “terrible” lecturer and manage to hold an audience of hundreds for three hours at a time, and see those people come back week after week. Given the fact that his lectures were unscripted and he only gave them once, no one could have expected a rehearsed and polished presentation. He did ramble. But “incoherent?” Never. His best presentation was probably V-50, which he had given many times. I still get a thrill from listening to it. And I never saw any ice.

 

There was little in him (besides the ideas as primary property stuff) that wasn’t also in Rothbard or LeFevre. You would have to take Galambos’ classes or read his book to determine whether this statement is true.  I have done both, and believe that it is not. As truly great as those men were, I believe that Galambos’ contribution was superior in many, many ways.  Putting it another way, if I had to choose an educational program for people who sought freedom, I’d pick Galambos over Rothbard and LeFevre. That said, I’d encourage students to also study the work of those two men.  Galambos didn’t think of everything.

ANDREW GALAMBOS