Mises weekend

I’d love to claim that this was all planned and coordinated, but really, the scheduling of this weekend edition and the publishing of this book review just happened to coincide:

The Laissez-Faire Radical: A Quest for the Historical Mises by Murray N. Rothbard

[This article originally appeared in the Journal of Libertarian Studies. You can listen (MP3) to Murray Rothbard presenting the paper on Friday, 16 October 1981, at the monthly Libertarian Heritage Series, hosted by the Center for Libertarian Studies.]

That Ludwig von Mises was the outstanding champion of laissez-faire and the free-market economy in this century is well known and needs no documentation. But in the course of refining and codifying his political views, Mises’s followers have unwittingly distorted them and made them seem at one with the modern conservative movement in the United States. Mises is made to appear a sort of National Review intellectual concentrating on the free-market aspects of conservatism. While the image of Mises as an essential conservative is scarcely made up of the whole cloth, it totally overlooks rich strains of Misesian thought that can be described only as "laissez-faire radical." Unfortunately, these strands of Misesian thought have been all but lost. Perhaps this essay will help to right the balance.

There is no need here to try to define and distinguish laissez-faire "conservatism" from "radicalism." A setting forth of various radical positions taken by Mises should make the distinction clear enough.

Some anti-conservative aspects of Misesian thought are, again, too well known to require discussion. Thus, for Mises, personal liberty was required by logical consistency; for, if the government began to restrict or suppress one or a few consumption goods, why should they stop at regulating all? As a champion of consumer sovereignty and the consumer society, Mises also had no patience with aristocratic conservatives who scorned mass consumption or the rule of production by consumer demand.

[Continue reading this article at Mises.org.]


Life of a Hero by Warren Gibson

If you’re going to write a biography of Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973), you have your work cut out for you.

You face a mountain of books, articles, speeches, and correspondence by and about the great libertarian economist and his forebears, contemporaries, disciples, and critics, much of it in German. Because his productive career lasted from the 1880s into the 1960s, you have to be thoroughly grounded in the intellectual and political history of that time, sweeping all the way from Marxism, historicism, and fascism, through Keynesianism, and into the beginnings of monetarism. You must be conversant not just with economics, but with history, sociology, and philosophy, since Mises ranged over all these subjects. You must focus on the political and military events that shaped Austria and its neighbors in the early 20th century, because Mises was personally involved in many of them. You must come to grips with terms and concepts that are central to Mises but unknown outside the Austrian School of economics, of which he was a part — terms such as praxeology, catallactics, thymology, etatism, and Verstehen.

Your own prejudices will likely be activated either by Mises’ extreme positions or by an occasional belief that he failed to follow through on his own principles. You must try to divine the mental and emotional life of a man who kept his feelings to himself and whose devoted wife very likely took a number of his personal secrets to her grave. Lastly, you must condense and shape your work into something people will want to read.

[Continue reading this book review at LibertyUnbound.com.]

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