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Yuri Maltsev, R.I.P.

As reported at Mises.org, Yuri Maltsev, the great anti-commie Soviet defector, libertarian and Austrian scholar, editor of Requiem for Marx, has passed away. David Gordon has some nice words about Yuri there. Other obituaries/comments:

I was friends with Yuri for years, since the mid 1990s from Mises Institute events. He also attended the first Property and Freedom Society Annual Meeting in 2006 and others as well, such as:

At the inaugural PFS meeting in 2006, I brought my sister, Crystal, and she delighted in meeting Yuri. I told my wife and son stories about Yuri and they laughed and laughed. He was really a joyous and life-loving man. Yuri regaled me with so many tales over the years. He became a legend in my family just from my stories about him. I recall my son clapping in glee at my re-telling of some stories from Yuri. He would have me repeat my imitations and mimicry of Yuri and his tales.

Yuri, Andy Duncan, and I were invited to speak at Mises Brasil in São Paolo in 2017, and we three had a great time together.1 I recall we spent one late night in my hotel room eating sardines of some kind from Yuri’s stash, with our fingers, since we had no utensils. Late at night, as we delved into “deep” matters like grad students in a dorm room, he told me one of his biggest philosophical influences was an obscure and eccentric Russian philosopher, Pyotr Chaadayev, in particular his Philosophical Letters & Apology of a Madman, which I did obtain, but have not yet found the stamina to dive into. Maybe it’s time I take the leap. At the same conference, Andy and I tried to talk Yuri into eating a bit healthier to lose weight, to as to live longer. Not that we were any models of physical fitness. But we wanted Yuri to slim down and get healthier, and to live longer. He listened to Andy’s hortations with patience and promised to look into it. But, … it was not to be.

He told us funny stories about how he would fly weekly from Wisconsin to DC on a Sunday or Monday to teach his weekly class at the US Naval Academy in Maryland, and he would often fly with then-Congressman Paul Ryan, whom he ended up getting to do an occasional lecture for some of his classes. He was always joyous and, like Ayn Rand, hated communism and what it had done to his country, Russia; he loved America, a bit too much, perhaps, but it’s understandable.

Andy, Yuri and I stayed an extra day after the conference to hang out, so on Sunday, when the main streets were closed to cars and a sort of carnival happens, we walked over to a modern arts museum. We were trying to find the elevator since there were several flights of stairs. I was about to give up and suggest we just climb the stairs, and Yuri, who was a bit heavy, says:

Stephan, in Africa, do you know how a lion kills an elephant? The elephant is too powerful for the lion to attack directly. So the lion chases the elephant up the hill. Eventually the elephant dies of a heart attack because he is carrying so much weight up hill. I do not want to be the elephant. We will find the elevator.

In the last several months Yuri and I had private conversations where he expressed dismay at some libertarians who were downplaying, or even trying to justify, the evil of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Yuri was a great defender of Austrian economics and political freedom. He had a great love of life, and of his family. He was wonderful. I will miss him.

With Yuri and Andy Duncan for a Mises Brasil conference in São Paolo in May 2017

With Yuri and Andy Duncan for a Mises Brasil conference in São Paolo in May 2017


At Bodrum Castle, at the first PFS meeting in 2006

At Bodrum Castle, PFS 2006

Yuri with Hans-Hermann Hoppe at PFS 2007

At PFS 2008

PFS 2008

PFS 2008, with Norman Stone and Paul Gottfried


From Tom Woods:

I’m sorry to have to report another death, but I wish to honor a good man who passed away this week.

That man is Yuri Maltsev, one of the last Soviet defectors. He escaped to the West in 1989.

Yuri had been an economic adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev — although, as you can imagine, his advice was not taken. When he settled in the United States he became an economics professor at Carthage College in Wisconsin, where he stayed for the rest of his career. He was also a senior fellow of the Mises Institute, an organization to which I myself am very much dedicated.

Thirteen years ago Yuri and I appeared for the full hour on Glenn Beck’s old FOX News television program for an episode dedicated to F.A. Hayek’s book The Road to Serfdom.

When the producers invited me to appear on the episode, they asked if I knew anyone else who would be a good fit. I suggested Yuri, since when he had read The Road to Serfdomat Moscow State University, he had had to do so in a special room, and after signing a document indicating that the book was necessary for his research and that he would not disclose its contents to anyone. So that seemed like a good fit.

A short while later, after they’d had a chance to talk to him, Beck’s people called back and said, “Glenn loves him!”

I knew he would.

After that single episode we did, The Road to Serfdom — a book released in 1944 — spent two weeks as the top-selling book in America, at least according to Amazon’s ranking.

I never had a dull conversation with Yuri, and I’m glad I recorded his defection story on episode #133 of the Tom Woods Show.

My friend Jason Jewell, who teaches a course on the crimes of communism (knowledge everyone should have, I might add, but almost nobody does) for my Liberty Classroom site, just shared this joke from Yuri that I remember well:

During perestroika in the late 1980s, a CIA agent went to Moscow on a reconnaissance mission.

First he went to a grocery store and found empty shelves and long lines. He pulled out his journal and wrote, “No food.”

Next he went to a clothing store. Again he found empty shelves and a lengthy waiting list for incoming inventory. He pulled out his journal and wrote, “No clothes.”

At this point, the KGB agent who had been following the CIA agent walked up behind him and said in his ear, “Ten years ago, we would have shot you for this.”

The CIA agent turned the page in his journal and wrote, “No bullets.”

Yuri Maltsev, RIP.

Tom Woods

  1. My talks there were: KOL222 | Mises Brasil: Intellectual Property Imperialism Versus Innovation and Freedom and KOL221 | Mises Brasil: State Legislation Versus Law and Liberty. []
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Patrick Peterson January 27, 2023, 10:08 am

    Well done. You captured a good bit of the essence of Yuri.
    The Elephant quote is about perfect.

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