Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War
Ludwig von Mises
At the close of the Second World War, Mises saw the destruction of the old world and the beginnings of a new one that did not look promising, especially for European politics. Socialism appeared to sweep all before it, and the social democratic variety in the West was not much of an improvement. Mises set out to explain and bitterly denounce the trends toward the total state, and demonstrate that Communism and Nazism were both species of interventionism.
In some ways, this might be the most bitterly anti-Nazi book ever written, especially powerful because it reaches to the very core of the Nazi doctrine and its economic implications for national policy. The awesome reasoning power on display here is made all the more effective with Mises's rhetorical fury. Mises never wrote a more emotionally charged work. The Hitler regime was, after all, the country that invaded his beloved Austria and sent him into flight to Geneva and then finally America.
Though Hayek's book The Road to Serfdom was more widely promoted, and achieved a far greater fame, this Mises work, which appeared in the same year, offers a more consistent critique of industrial central planning, warfare, and the welfare state. There are no concessions to the prevailing social democratic consensus, and Mises is no less harsh on interventionism of the democratic form. The last chapter is a prescient critique of the idea of world government, including world trade agreements.