David J. Theroux

From LPedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
David J. Theroux
Theroux david 1500x2270.jpg
Founder, CEO, and President
The Independent Institute
Predecessor: Inaugural
Successor: As CEO: Mary Theroux / As President: Graham Walker
Pacific Research Institute
Predecessor: Inaugural
Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs
Cato Institute
Predecessor: Inaugural
Personal Details
Birth: May 25, 1949
Death: April 23, 2022(2022-04-23) (aged 72)
Education: University of California, Berkeley (BS, AB, MS) / University of Chicago (MBA)
Occupation: Think Tank Executive, Academic
Residence: Northern California (at time of death)
Website: The Independent Institute
Twitter: Twitter
view image gallery

David J. Theroux (May 25, 1949 - April 23, 2022) was an American think tank executive and academic who made significant contributions to the development of libertarian thought. He held founding executive roles with both the Cato Institute and the Pacific Research Institute, and was the founder and leader of The Independent Institute. [1]

Theroux was a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party. [2] He passed away on April 23, 2022, due to an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm. [3]

Early Career Path & Education

As a teenager, Theroux was given a copy of Barry Goldwater's famous book, The Conscience of a Conservative, by his mother. He would later become an Eagle Scout, and also obtained a commission to the U.S. Air Force Academy during the Vietnam War. During the Academy's famous Vietcong prison simulations, Theroux was a rare exception among cadets in that did not sign the forced confession. During this time, he began to understand that the war ran contrary to the founding principles of American freedom. At the conclusion of his third year, he resigned from the Academy without graduating. [4]

Still under contract for two years of military service and not wanting to go to Vietnam, Theroux obtained a domestic assignment at a little-known base in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he spent most of his time in the base's library and eventually came across FA Hayek's essay "Why I am Not a Conservative." Starting from Hayek's sources in that essay, Theroux embarked on an extensive journey of study across topics related to liberty. [4]

After completing his Air Force contract, Theroux attended the University of California, Berkeley, studying math and engineering, where he was shocked by his encounters with communists on campus upon learning of their political intentions. Around this time he attended a conference at Stanford University where he was introduced to C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man, which further set him on a learning path towards a philosophical framework for opposing the communist agenda. [4] With his credits transferring from the Air Force Academy, Theroux graduated from Berkeley after only one year with dual Bachelor's degrees in math and engineering. One year later he obtained a Master's degree. [4] [5]

Engineering Career & Later Education

Theroux then worked as a petroleum engineer in both Texas and Louisiana. Meanwhile, he continued his studies and came across both the Foundation for Economic Education and the Institute for Humane Studies, becoming friends with both of their respective founders, Leonard Read and F. A. "Baldy" Harper. [4] He was introduced to the Mont Pelerin Society in 1975 by Roger MacBride, who became the Libertarian Party nominee for President of the United States the following year. [4] [6] Theroux met Milton Friedman at the Mount Pelerin meeting, who encouraged him to apply to graduate school at the University of Chicago. He did, was accepted into the PhD program in Economics. [4]

At the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, Theroux organized a lecture series on the Austrian School of Economics which featured Israel Kirzner, Murray Rothbard, and FA Hayek. [4] [7] Around 1977, he was approached about joining the newly-forming Cato Institute in San Francisco, California. He resigned from the PhD program early and was granted an MBA, then moved back to Northern California to work with Cato. [4]

Think Tank Leadership

Theroux was in charge of academic programs at Cato, including oversight of the Cato Policy Report and other publications and initiatives. [4] [8] [9]

When Cato moved from Northern California to Washington, DC, Theroux was hired by Antony Fisher to serve as the first president of what is now known as the Pacific Research Institute. While there, he oversaw the publication of about 30 books. A few weeks before a dinner he organized honoring Hayek, Theroux found out that Hayek was sick in Japan and had been given a doctor's order to not travel. Theroux instead arranged for Thomas Sowell to speak at the dinner about Hayek's work, and also for Hayek to phone in to the conference's loudspeaker from Japan (which was an uncertain feat given the technology of the time). [4]

Theroux founded The Independent Institute in 1986. He had difficulty getting funding because potential donors told him that with Ronald Reagan in the White House, 'the battle of ideas had already been won.' To save on costs, he would use the offices of Grocery Express, a company run by one of Independent's board members, Mary (who he later married). [4] [10] He also ran operations from his home garage. [3] [11] In order to help stabilize the finances, Theroux learned about how to run a direct mail catalog in order to create the Liberty Tree Review, which sold liberty-oriented items. [4] [12] This helped sustain Independent until a good donor base was established. [4]

While at Independent, Theroux focused on popularizing, promoting, and improving the work of others in the liberty movement. He oversaw the publication of a multitude of award-winning books. During the institute's summer seminars, he would personally host multiple students at his home, where they engaged in broad philosophical discussions. He also served as an advisor to the institute's scholarly Fellows, frequently offering them insights for their research based on his decades of extensive study. [4]

Writing & Speaking

Under Theroux's leadership, The Independent Institute produced over 140 books that won more than 50 awards. He also personally wrote dozens of scholarly articles and popular commentaries. In collaboration with Robert Higgs, Theroux also launched the influential scholarly journal, The Independent Review. [3] Just a few days before his death, he engaged with Jordan Peterson to write the forward to a new Independent Institute book, Is Social Justice Just? [4] [13]

Theroux frequently appeared in various media outlets discussing libertarian ideas. He was referenced in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Times (among many others), and appeared on outlets such as ABC, MSNBC, Fox Business Network, CNN, C-SPAN, and NPR. [3]

Response to 9/11

After 9/11, Theroux immediately led The Independent Institute to take a strong public stance against potential government power grabs. In the face of calls for war, he boldly defended the sanctity of every human life and championed the values of liberty and justice. As a result, he then founded the C.S. Lewis Society of California to promote Lewis' thinking, emphasizing natural law in topics of political economy. [4]

LoveGov Video Series

Theroux's entrepreneurial spirit led to the creation of the YouTube video series "Love Gov" in collaboration with Emergent Order. This series aimed to satirize and critique the intrusiveness and cost of big government, targeting mainstream Millennials. The series gained significant popularity and received numerous awards.

Personal Life & Death

Theroux was born in East Lansing, Michigan, on May 25, 1949, and his family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, a few weeks later. [4]

In 1976, shortly before starting his program at the University of Chicago, Theroux married his first wife, Elaine Shipp (correct spelling of last name unknown), who he had earlier met in Shreveport. They had two sons, Paul and Drake. [3] [4]

Mary Theroux, who later became his second wife, was first introduced to him as a result of her family's ownership of a cattle ranch in Northern Nevada. [4] At the time, Theroux was working on federal land policy at the Pacific Research Institute, and Mary's father asked to go by the Pacific Research Institute to meet him while visiting Mary in Northern California. [4] [14] Mary later became one of Theroux's early board members at The Independent Institute and helped him bootstrap the organization. They married in 1991. [4]

Theroux was deeply committed to his family and loved to spend time with his grandchildren. [4]

On April 23, 2023 Theroux had a seizure due to an undetected aortic aneurysm and passed away, constituting a great loss to the libertarian community. [3] [4]