Ludwig von Mises is My Homeboy or, Praxeology Today, Praxeology Tomorrow, Praxeology Forever!


Signs that libertarians are #WINNING even more than Charlie Sheen on a chandelier-bashing bender in midtown Manhattan: is attacking the Austrian school of economics and especially Ludwig von Mises, the economist whose magisterial Socialism turned F.A. Hayek and a generation of bright boys into fire-breathing libertarians and even postmodern economists (bonus points for doing it before modernism was even a spent force!).

Here's Andrew Leonard ragging on the real Ludwig von (Beethoven can suck it):

For Republicans like House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, the true standard-bearers of laissez faire purism can be found at tiny campuses such as Michigan's Northwood University, where followers of the Austrian economist and paleolibertarian heroLudwig von Mises eye any government intervention in the economy —any intervention at all — with baleful glares. Friedman? He's practically a socialist!…

When recession hits or a financial crisis threatens, Austrian theory demands, as summarized by the Financial Times' Martin Wolf, "that the right response is to let everything rotten be liquidated, while continuing to balance the budget as the economy implodes." Other elements of hardcore Austrian economics include a return to the gold standard, a free market in competitive currency creation (that is, no government monopoly over the printing press) and, of course, no central banking whatsoever. The core belief: Government creates the ups and downs of the business cycle….

Even Milton Friedman, in an interview with Reason, recalled being somewhat annoyed when Mises stormed out of a meeting of economists who had been talking about the proper levels of taxation with the angry declaration that "you are all socialists."

Whole thing here.

That meeting, by the way, was no small thing: As Friedman tells it, it was the first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, the group of classical liberal intellectuals formed in 1947 (original members included such right-wing freaks as Karl Popper, the intellectual hero of George Soros). And Friedman goes on to note that he attributed Mises' irascible nature to the level of persecution the guy had encountered during his life. As a Jew living in Europe in the early part of the 20th century, Mises faced anti-semitism and decamped from Switzerland to the United States in 1940 out of fear of Nazism. He might not have been the best guy to invite to a beer summit, but fwiw, he kept teaching until he was 87 years old. And whatever "paleolibertarians" are into, there's no question that Mises was an archetypal citizen of the world, the type of fella who loved the pleasures of the world and eschewed theories of blood and soil for a truly cosmopolitan outlook.

Anyhoo, there was a time when Salon mentioned Mises in more friendly terms. Here's an article from 2000 about the great "Pokimon" (?) craze:

Stripped to its essentials, of course, this means simply that despite the cornucopia of things and choices around us, we still face that most basic human conundrum: How to square unlimited desires with limited resources? This is a question that wanders far beyond economics and into territory first mapped by existentialist philosophers.

"Choosing determines all human action," wrote the eminent Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises more than 50 years ago, sounding more like Jean-Paul Sartre than Adam Smith. "In making his choice, man chooses not only between various materials and services. All human values are offered for option. All ends and all means, both material and ideal issues, the sublime and the base, the noble and the ignoble, are ranged in a single row and subjected to a decision which picks out one thing and sets aside another."

If that's crazy, sign me up for the rubber room now!

Read the whole thing here.

Don't just sit there—read about praxeology or the science of human action.

Hat tip: Alan Vanneman!

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  1. Andrew Leonard’s “How The World Works” column is a litany of unintentional hilarity.

    Really, he approvingly quotes Paul Krugman, like, alla time. I wish they’d just get a room together.

    1. Can anyone tell me what, exactly, Salon is? Is it like a beauty shop magazine or something?

      1. Back when the web was a lot smaller and a lot of the boys writing here had jobs working for Louis Rossetto’s Suck, there was a fantastic parody site of Slate called Stale. They let the domain lapse years ago and it’s now owned by some parking service, but it’s the kind of thing you used to be able to do before all that.

        1. So Salon is a parody of well-written journalism? I can see that.

  2. It’s this line of thinking that’s truly a menace to human society. If we don’t sacrifice money on the altar of the Animal Spirits, they’ll eat the entire stock market as well as the Pacific Coast. Is that you want, Mises? Is it?

    1. Is this a spoof?

      1. I gotta say, I kinda love that it is impossible to tell with posts from Tony.

  3. “Even Milton Friedman, in an interview with Reason, recalled being somewhat annoyed when Mises stormed out of a meeting of economists who had been talking about the proper levels of taxation with the angry declaration that ‘you are all socialists.'”

    Awesome. But he should have stayed and fought for zero.

    1. To this day the hardcore Rockwellites still call Friedman a socialist. Mises said so, so it is gospel. The level of invective the LRC crowd expends on Friedman you would think he was the worst thing that ever happened to libertarianism. Getting rid of the draft? Why that was just an accident!

      1. Maybe not a socialist, but certainly an apologist for thieves.

        1. Ah, the factionalism and absolutism that dooms libertarians to the margins of politics. If Milton Fargin’ Friedman doesn’t count as a libertarian, your standards are way too high.

        2. zoltan = my new hero

      2. He didn’t forge the chains of payroll deduction, he just thought them up.

      3. They do indeed go overboard with the Friedman bashing. But they’ve got a point: of all Friedman’s ideas, his monetary theories have gained the most traction in the halls of power. And those theories are exactly where the Austrians have massive, irreconcilable differences with him. That needs to be pointed out, especially when Friedman’s strange belief that an entity with monopoly control over the money supply can be relied on to guarantee price/currency stability is looking less likely than ever. Free-market economics does exist beyond the Chicago School.

  4. Club AV had to tip you to this? You don’t regularly trawl Salon yourselves?

    1. One can only waste so much of one’s life looking at ads.

  5. The servile boot lickers in the comment section made me chuckle. They’re really starting to worry.

    1. Hopefully, they have something to worry about.

      The other day I was on Facebook reading a Yalie Law tut-tutting of the constitutional attacks on Obamacare that didn’t even mention District of Columbia v. Heller. The idea that the Constitution limits government regulation of commerce — or of anything, really — scares the bejeesus out of them.

    2. Good. Their cries of despair will make me more powerful than they can possibly imagine.

      1. Spew alert! Warn people not to drink anything before reading that.

  6. As for Salon’s quoting of Mises during the Pokemon craze, I suppose there was a time when even socialists and libertarians could ally to fight that fucking nonsense.

    1. You talk tough, but I herd you liek Mudkip.

      1. Somebody didn’t get a holographic Charizard in his last pack of Pokemon cards!

        1. The Gameboy link-up cable was the closest an entire generation boys would ever get to sexual intercourse.

          1. Gameboy link-up cable

            Is that what kids are calling it these days?

        2. Sold a Charizard for 35 dollars when I was in 8th grade. Meh, I’d rather have a Black Lotus.

      2. I have Digimon and Shoe!

    2. And they failed. AFAIK Pokemon is still going strong.

      1. The market can stay irrational longer than gaspers can stay indignant.

    3. Seriously, once I saw what Salonite wrote that Pokimon twaddle, I didn’t even bother reading the article.

  7. von Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard are the three guiding lights of my life over the past few years. Even in writing a supposed smear piece about him, some readers may decide to investigate him further, and be able to reach their own conclusions.

  8. From the comments :
    “If their ideas were valid, places like Somalia would develop into economic powerhouses”

    Sound familiar?

      1. Dammit, just finished one and now I have to fix another.

        … (hic) Hobbit

    1. The existence of liberal memes is just a conservative meme.

      1. The existence of liberal memes is just a conservative meme is a liberal meme.

        TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE memes are like the chicken and the egg. Which came first?

        1. It’s memes all the way down.

        2. pokemon blue was better. the science is settled.

          1. You would be a Pokemon partisan, you being an egg partisan.

            1. No, I’m Tim Pawlenty.

              1. as anyone w/ a modicum of taste or discretion will tell you, Digimon are the champions

    2. They never talk about British Hong Kong.

      1. The first rule in British Hong Kong:

        There is no British Hong Kong.

    3. <blink>ROADS!!11!!!one!1!!eleven!!!!!!</blink>

      1. See? The blink tag does have legitimate uses!

        1. The only way I’d support the blink tag is if there were a compulsory licensing program which detailed its proper use.

          1. Well, right, naturally. With an enforcement agency.

            1. And means-testing.

              1. And CBE (“Continuing Blinking Education”) requirements.

    4. “”If their ideas were valid, places like Somalia would develop into economic powerhouses”

      What is the role of war lords in Hayek’s and Mises’s work?

  9. Also, threadjack, but a nice one (unless you’re an LA fan):

  10. “(that is, no government monopoly over the printing press)”


  11. that dude in the pic is never getting laid

  12. What is this,

  13. The Mises Institute has a better Mises t-shirt.…..03C43.aspx

    1. Aren’t there any shirts with images of Mises as a young revolutionary?

      1. How about one with Hayek and Mises sipping tea?

  14. “eye any government intervention in the economy — any intervention at all — with baleful glares.”


  15. I guess Vanneman tipped you at 9:09 AM, cause I posted that article in “Morning Links” at 9:10 AM.

  16. I looked at the Salon article, and I think that you may have missed an opportunity with one of their quotes: “But the correctness of Austrian theory is beside the point.”

    This sounds entirely insane to me.

  17. the right response is to let everything rotten be liquidated,

    It will be liquidated sooner or later. Liquidating it sooner is also known as “creative destruction” or “capital reallocation”. Which are good.

    while continuing to balance the budget

    Indeed. Why should the government act as a greater drag on the economy when it is weak?

    as the economy implodes.

    Needless tendentious twaddle.

  18. Ludwig Van Beethoven, not Von Beethoven. One is German and means nobility, the other’s Dutch and means nothing.

  19. The comments on the Salon piece are just hilarious! One of my favs.

    “I’ve found that Austrians in aggregate are like more disciplined Germans and quite willing to live in a social democracy with many, many regulations concerning social behavior.”

    Yeah, and the Vienna Circle is like a more disiplined London roundabout.

  20. And the author gives up the whole charade when he states:

    “But the correctness of Austrian theory is beside the point.”

    Game. Set. Match.

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