Economic Freedom and Interventionism
Ludwig von Mises
When Mises was 81 years old, he was invited to address a student rally at Madison Square Garden that was sponsored by the Young Americans for Freedom. He readily accepted. He prepared an address that those in attendance would never forget.
He looked out over the sea of young people who had rejected the socialistic propaganda then common on college campuses, and with a smile on his face and determination in his voice, he said:
"The spell of the dreadful conformity that threatened to convert our country into a spiritual desert is broken. There are again young men and women eager to think over the fundamental problems of life and action. This is a genuine moral and intellectual resurrection, a movement that will prevents us from falling prey to the arbitrary tyranny of dictators. As an old man I am greeting the young generation of liberators."
The audience roared in applause. Here was the world's greatest economist, a legend in his time, telling them that the future of freedom was in their hands. Clearly the rally brought joy to his heart.
Where can you find this remarkable speech? In this thrilling collection of essays newly published as Economic Freedom and Interventionism. This volume publishes 47 of the most difficult to find speeches, small essays, and reviews by Mises, all written for a popular audience during his American years. Here we see Mises bringing the results of a lifetime of teaching and research to engage the ideas of his time, during the height of the great battle of the 20th century between freedom and collectivism.
The rally at Madison Square Garden gave him the boost he needed. For in the previous year, the American Economic Association and the Committee for Economic Development released a task force report designed to teach high schoolers about economics. The report sought to explain that the choice between capitalism and communism was mostly a toss up. But take note that communism offers the special merit of "avoiding the instability of profit-motivated investment which characterizes private enterprise economies."
Who would give the AEA the rebuke it deserved? Mises again stepped forward and wrote a crushing attack. His essay called this report a "dangerous recommendation" and said that "a sensible boy or girl will certainly not put up with the confused and contradictory observations that a teacher, imbued with the philosophy of the report, may bring forward."
This important essay is also included here. Also there is his 1959 declaration that the Soviet system has been a complete economic failure, from the start--an essay he wrote even as famed economist Paul Samuelson kept predicting its success.
Mises was astoundingly prescient: "The Soviet system would collapse if its victims were to get reliable information about the normal life of the common man in Western Europe and this country."
Also you will find essays on why he wrote Human Action, the outlook for investment, how capitalism turns luxuries into necessities, how it is that the market turn the saver into a voter of sorts, and how citizens are harmed by inflation.
The section compiling Mises's essays on other economists is tremendously revealing. He writes on Murray Rothbard, Adam Smith, W.H. Hutt, Israel Kirzner, Sennholz, Greaves, and Keynes ("he was highly renowned, famous, and popular in a age of decay and disintegration, but his writings were the cause of these disasters: they were only symptoms") . He also discusses a late work by Hayek, and not favorably ("the third part of Professor Hayek's book is rather disappointing").
There are also academic papers here, such as those delivered at the Mont Pelerin Society and at the Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion. There are interviews and answers to questionnaires.
What a busy man was Mises! And thanks to this book, we have access to material that would have otherwise been lost. You could scour the Library of Congress for months and not find the material that has been so nicely collected in this book, which is edited by Bettina Bien Greaves.
Section one includes nine essays on particular aspects of economic freedom, among which are "The Elite Under Capitalism," "The Market and the State," and "Inequality of Wealth and Incomes." Section two covers interventionism with 13 essays on topics such as welfare, unions, inflation, and business forecasting.
Because Mises was writing mostly for popular audiences in these essays, the essays are highly accessible. At 290 pages, this hardbound book is an outstanding value.
Foreword by Bettina B. Greaves
1. The Economic Foundations of Freedom
2. The Individual in Society
3. The Elite under Capitalism
4. The Economic Role of Saving and Capital Goods
5. Luxuries into Necessities
6. The Saver as a Voter
7. The Market and the State
8. The Outlook for Saving and Investment
9. Inequality of Wealth and Incomes
10. The Why of Human Action
11. Deception of Government Intervention
12. The Agony of the Welfare State
13. Wage Interference by Government
14. Unemployment and the Height of Wage Rates
15. Wage Earners and Employers
16. Full Employment and Monetary Policy
17. Gold versus Paper
18. Inflation and You
20. Inflation: An Unworkable Fiscal Policy
21. Socialism, Inflation, and the Thrifty Householder
22. Inflation Must End in a Slump
23. The Plight of Business Forecasting
24. Why Read Adam Smith Today?
25. The Marxian Class Conflict Doctrine
26. The Marxian Theory of Wage Rates
27. The Soviet System’s Economic Failure
28. On Some Atavistic Economic Ideas
29. Capital and Interest: Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk and the Discriminating Reader
30. The Symptomatic Keynes
31. Professor Hun on Keynesianism
32. The Trade Cycle
33. How Can Europe Survive?
34. The Economic Point of View
35. Liberty and Its Antithesis
36. Man, Economy and State: A New Treatise on Economics
37. Understanding the Dollar Crisis
38. The Secret of American Prosperity
39. A Dangerous Recommendation for High School Economics
40. Foreign Spokesmen for Freedom
41. Freedom Has Made a Comeback
42. The Objectives of Economic Education
43. On Current Monetary Problems
44. On the International Monetary Problem
45. Small and Big Business
46. Economics as a Bridge for Interhuman Understanding
47. Economic Freedom in the Present-Day World
(1990) Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Foundation for Economic Education.