Economics of Liberty
Publisher: Ludwig Von Mises Institute | Pages: 392 | Date: 1990-06 | ISBN: 0945466080 | PDF |14MB
Today, the whole world knows about the socialist fiasco. But in 1920, when Ludwig von Mises’s journal article on “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth” was published, he was a lone voice of truth.“Socialism,” he wrote in the book that followed two years later, “is the watchword and the catchword of our day.” It “dominates the modern spirit” and “has set its seal upon our time. When history comes to tell our story it will write above the chapter ‘The Epoch of Socialism.’” Until the glorious year of 1989, almost everyone seemed to agree that history was indeed on the side of socialism.The only question was the pace of the transition. The Marxists and Nazis wanted immediate revolution; the Fabians and New Dealers wanted gradualism. But for all of them, laissez-faire capitalism was the enemy.
Yet no socialist had ever written a scientific defense of socialism, nor a blueprint for exactly how the economy would function when the means of production were collectively owned. According to Karl Marx’s doctrine, anyone questioning the socialist scheme lacked class consciousness. Bourgeois values prevented an understanding of the logic of history. Because “people were not allowed to talk or to think about the nature of the socialist community,” Mises notes, socialism became “the dominant political movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” But Mises refused to play by the socialist rules, and he challenged left-Wing intellectuals with questions they were unable to answer. If there is no private ownership of the factors of production, and thus no market prices for them, how can we calculate profit and loss? Without the ability to make
profit and loss calculations, how can we judge the value of resources. determine the correctness of various methods of production, or tell whether time and resources are being wasted or put to good use? In a market economy, prices tell us the needs of society and the best ways to meet those needs. Without prices, economic decision must be arbitrary. Mises criticized socialism on other grounds-that it politicizes society. fosters laziness, and relies on violence. for example-but his calculation argument is the most important. With it, he showed that socialism is inherently irrational and uneconomic, as the wreckage of the East Bloc and the Third World demonstrates today.
Summary: The best anthology since A Mencken Chestomathy
For paleolibertarians, the Ludwig von Mises Institute is the intellectual fountainhead. Included in this volume is what comes out of the fountainhead: a delightful spray of right-on critiques of statism. This book is useful to bring along on long trips when you have hours on planes or trains and need to keep your brain cells in use.
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