Thomas Woods

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Tom Woods
Tom Woods by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg
Woods in February 2011
Thomas Ernest Woods Jr.

(1972-08-01) August 1, 1972 (age 49)
Melrose, Massachusetts, United States
School or
Austrian School
Alma mater Harvard University (A.B., 1994)
Columbia University (M.Phil., Ph.D.)
Alan Brinkley [1]

Thomas Ernest Woods Jr. (born August 1, 1972) is an American author and libertarian commentator who is currently a senior fellow at the Mises Institute. [2] [3] [4] Woods is a proponent of the Austrian School of economics. [5] He hosts a daily podcast, The Tom Woods Show, and he formerly co-hosted the now defunct Contra Krugman . [4] [6] [7]


Woods completed his doctorate in history from Columbia University in 2000. 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. [8] His subsequent writing has focused on promoting libertarianism and libertarian leaning 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 financial crisis of 2007-2008, also became a The New York Times bestseller. [9]

Education and affiliations

Woods holds a A.B. 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 . [10] Woods was an ISI Richard M. Weaver Fellow in 1995 and 1996. [11] He received awards from the Independent Institute, Austrian Economics Center, and Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. [12] [13] His book The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (2005) won the $50,000 first prize in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards. [14]


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. [15] His 2009 book Meltdown also made the bestseller list in 2009. [16] 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 . [17]


Woods is a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist and libertarian. [18]

U.S. Constitution

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. [19] Woods has promoted the views of Lysander Spooner, who argued 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. [20] [21] [22] [23]

Woods advocates the compact theory theory of the Union and promotes the legal theory of nullification, [24] [25] 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, [26] [27] which aims to resist what it views as federal overreach through state action.

Woods views the Bill of Rights as a limitation solely on federal power, and not on the power of the states. 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." [28]


Woods was received into the Roman Catholic Church from Lutheranism. [29] 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, [30] Woods is also recognized for his books attacking the post-Vatican II church. [31] [32] Woods advocates what he calls the Old Latin Mass [33] and cultural conservatism. [34] [35]


Tom Woods at CPAC in February 2010. Tom Woods by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Tom Woods at CPAC in February 2010.

In a 2011 interview, Woods said that he entered Harvard as a "middle-of-the-road Republican, the very thing that drives me most berserk today" and then later became a "fully-fledged libertarian." [3] He has criticized those he deems "neoconservative" and has identified as a traditional conservative. [36]

Woods' Politically Incorrect Guide to American History was scathingly reviewed by commentator Max Boot [37] of The Weekly Standard . Boot accused Woods of being overly sympathetic with Southerners such as John C. Calhoun and their belief in a state's right to secede and in state nullification, while exaggerating the militarism of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Bill Clinton. [37] James Haley, by contrast, praised the book in the conservative Weekly Standard as "a compelling rebuttal to the liberal sentiment encrusted upon current history texts." [38] Woods responded by criticizing Boot as an embodiment of "everything that is wrong with modern conservatism." [39]


Woods has been highly critical of Keynesian economics. [40] Woods formerly co-hosted the Contra Krugman podcast with economist Robert P. Murphy; the podcast critiqued the writings of Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman. [7] Woods has been an advocate of hard money, [41] and is critical of the Federal Reserve and other central banks which he views as responsible for unnatural inflation and the business cycle. [42]

Woods was the 2019 winner of the Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award, given in Vienna by the Hayek Institute and the Austrian Economics Center. [43]

Affiliation with League of the South

In 1994, Woods was a founding member of the League of the South for which he has been criticized. [37] [44] Woods has argued that the League has changed its politics and was not racist or anti-semitic in 1994. [45] 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. [46] 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." [47]

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 1990's 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." [48] 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. [49]

Woods contended in 2018 that the League was founded as a "decentralist" organization and then later took a "dramatic" and "vicious" turn toward racism and anti-semitism. Woods argued: "To show that the organization has undergone a dramatic change, I don’t exactly need to hire a private detective. The League’s president himself wrote of having made a 'conscious change' to the League, such that 'we have radicalized by openly and directly addressing the Negro Question and the Jew Question.' Here is express admission of what was already obvious to anyone of good will: this is not the League Jeffrey Tucker and I joined in 1994. Anyone who says otherwise has no idea what he’s talking about. This in fact is why all the PhDs present at the League’s founding, including one of the world’s top David Hume scholars, by all accounts, are long gone — as even the Southern Poverty Law Center now concedes." [50] In an interview with Reason TV's Matt Welch, Woods stated, “Anyone who knows or listens to me, knows I would not be involved with anything sinister. The problem is I will not apologize because the group I joined were a bunch of nerdy academics like me and there was nothing wrong with that group. I could save myself an enormous amount of grief if I would apologize but I will not apologize for this because I am sick and tired of cowards who give in to this type of pressure.” [51]


During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Woods has been a vigorous voice of opposition to public health measures meant to control virus spread, questioning the efficacy and touting the dangers of social distancing, masking, and mandatory lockdowns. [52] The non-partisan, non-profit science education organization Health Feedback has labeled Woods's claims misleading and presented an evidence-based rebuttal to a video of a November 7, 2020 speech delivered by Woods, entitled "Dangers of the Covid Cult." [53] [54] In November 2020, the video was removed from Youtube for violation of its medical misinformation policy. [55]


The Tom Woods Show

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. [6]

Contra Krugman

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." [6] [7] The podcast released its final episode on June 11, 2020.


As author

As editor

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  16. New York Times "Bestseller List" (Paperback non-fiction), March 08, 2009
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  18. "Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State". 2014-03-14. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
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  21. "Ep. 323 Does the Constitution Bind Anyone? | Tom Woods". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  22. "Ep. 1086 Lysander Spooner: The Evolution of a Radical Libertarian | Tom Woods". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  23. "Ep. 1468 Spooner vs. Locke: Can Governments Rest on "Consent"? | Tom Woods". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
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  25. Sanford Levinson, The Twenty-First Century Rediscovery of Nullification and Secession in American Political Rhetoric: Frivolousness Incarnate or Serious Arguments to Be Wrestled With?, Vol. 67, No. 1, Arkansas Law Review (initially prepared for delivery as the Wylie H. Davis Distinguished Lecture, University of Arkansas School of Law, September 27, 2013).
  26. "Ep. 688 From Leftist to Nullification Champion: Michael Boldin and the Tenth Anniversary of the Tenth Amendment Center | Tom Woods". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  27. "Ep. 1431 The Mises Caucus and the Tenth Amendment Center, Teaming Up Against the Bad Guys | Tom Woods". Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  28. Thomas, Woods (1997). "Christendom's Last Stand". Southern Partisan. 17 (2nd Quarter 1997): 26–29.
  29. Woods, Thomas E. (Presenter) (2008). The Catholic Church: Builder of Civilization (Television production). Episode 8: "Catholic Charity". Eternal Word Television Network. ASIN   B00C30D3NG . Retrieved 2013-05-21. My personal favorite in this list is Martin Luther because I, myself, am a former Lutheran.
  30. "A Profound Philosophical Commonality by Anthony Flood". 1987-11-22. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  31. Beirich, Heidi. "Two Treatises: A pair of recent books attack the Vatican and its current policies form the core of radical traditionalist teachings". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  32. Woods, Thomas E.; Ferrara, Christopher A. (2002). The Great Façade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Catholic Church. The Remnant Press. ISBN   978-1890740108.
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  42. Woods, Thomas E. (2009). Meltdown : a free-market look at why the stock market collapsed, the economy tanked, and government bailouts will make things worse. Washington, DC: Regnery Pub. ISBN   978-1-59698-587-2. OCLC   276335198.
  44. "Review Essay of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas E. Woods, Jr". 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2016-09-28.
  45. "What's the Deal with Woods and the "League of the South"? | Tom Woods".
  46. Young, Cathy (June 2005). "Behind the Jeffersonian Veneer". Reason . Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  47. Larison, Daniel (March 1, 2005). "The Hegemonists, Thomas Woods And The League Of The South". The American Conservative . Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  48. Tabachnick, Rachel; Cocozzelli, Frank L. (November 22, 2013). "Nullification, Neo-Confederates, and the Revenge of the Old Right". Political Research Associates . Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  49. Jacobs, Jake (December 5, 2014). "Thomas Woods' 1861 "Secessionist-Libertarianism": a defense of a slave-civilization gone with the wind!". Renew America . Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  50. Tom Woods (May 10, 2018). "What's the Deal with Woods and the "League of the South"?".
  51. Tom Woods: The Making of an Anti-War Libertarian , retrieved 2021-07-03
  52. "Some COVID Resources | Tom Woods". Retrieved 2021-07-22.
  53. "Non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as lockdowns and wearing face masks, are effective measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission, contrary to claims in viral video". Health Feedback. 2020-11-19. Retrieved 2021-07-22.
  54. "Young Americans for Liberty - Dangers of the COVID Cult | Facebook". 2020-11-16. Retrieved 2021-07-22.
  55. Jeff (2020-11-25). "YouTube Attempts to Silence the Mises Institute". Mises Institute. Retrieved 2021-07-22.
  56. On Woods' association with Ferrara, see "On Chris Ferrara"
  57. Also on audio book Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine , as read by the author Thomas Woods.