Written nearly fifty years ago, at a time when the world was still wrestling with the concepts of Marx and Lenin, The Illusion of the Epoch is the perfect resource for understanding the roots of...
Robert A. Sirico
An interview with Robert A. Sirico regarding the synthesis between religion and liberty. Questions and issues addressed include: What is the origin of the idea that the State has no claim on the...
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Автор(и) : Ludwig von Mises
Издател : Ludwig von Mises Institute
Място на издаване : Auburn, Alabama, USA
Година на издаване : 2009
ISBN : 978-1-933550-54-1
Брой страници : 51
Език : английски
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In 1956, the Mont Pelerin Society was entering a difficult period in which its intellectual lights were drifting away from liberalism of the old school. Ludwig von Mises used his speech that year to explain why this was a terrible trend. He didn't rebuke anyone. What he did was back away from the events of the day to provide a sweeping reconstruction of economic history from the ancient world to the present. He provided a model of how to think outside one's own generation to understand the really big issues and the moral and practical urgency of embracing total freedom.
The result is an essay for the ages. It is profound, visionary, and compelling beyond belief. Would that every undergraduate, or even citizen, read this piece. In here, Mises describes the revolutionary meaning of capitalism in human history, and how it was responsible for the most spectacular increases in the standard of living of the common man ever. It was mass production that lead people to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
Contemporary reports from the event in which he delivered this paper suggest that the people there were uninterested in Mises's point of view, but this is much to their shame. For what he left us with remains one of the most dazzling presentations of the case for economic liberty ever written. It is the perfect combination of high intelligence, vast historical understanding, and moral passion.
“It has been observed by eminent economists, I think first by the late Frank A. Fetter, that the market is a democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote. It would be more correct to say that representative government by the people is an attempt to arrange constitutional affairs according to the model of the market, but this design can never be fully achieved. In the political field it is always the will of the majority that prevails, and the minorities must yield to it. It serves also minorities, provided they are not so insignificant in number as to become negligible. The garment industry produces clothes not only for normal people, but also for the stout, and the publishing trade publishes not only westerns and detective stories for the crowd, but also books for discriminating readers. There is a second important difference. In the political sphere, there is no means for an individual or a small group of individuals to disobey the will of the majority. But in the intellectual field private property makes rebellion possible. The rebel has to pay a price for his independence; there are in this universe no prizes that can be won without sacrifices. But if a man is willing to pay the price, he is free to deviate from the ruling orthodoxy or neo-orthodoxy. What would conditions have been in the socialist commonwealth for heretics like Kierkegaard, Schopenauer, Veblen, or Freud? For Monet, Courbet, Walt Whitman, Rilke, or Kafka? In all ages, pioneers of new ways of thinking and acting could work only because private property made contempt of the majority’s ways possible. Only a few of these separatists were themselves economically independent enough to defy the government into the opinions of the majority. But they found in the climate of the free economy among the public people prepared to aid and support them. What would Marx have done without his patron, the manufacturer Friedrich Engels?”
Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (1881-1973) was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian School of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises’ writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science which Mises called “praxeology”. He taught at the University of Vienna and later at New York University. Mises wrote many works on two related economic themes: 1. monetary economics, inflation, and the role of government, and 2. the differences between government-controlled economies and free trade. His influential work on economic freedoms, their causes and consequences, brought him to highlight the interrelationships between economic and non-economic freedoms in societies, and the appropriate role for government.
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