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!