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December 17, 2008

Tags Austrian Economics Overview

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You have helped this site soar to the top in terms of traffic, not only beating out other economics sites and most every nonprofit but also most every cause-related site you can think of.

Mises.org represents a fundamental challenge to socialism and Keynesianism, the greatest political and economic failures in world history. Tragically, they are both not only fashionable among the elites but more so than freedom.

The most recent financial meltdown — entirely a result of the Fed and predicted by scholars of the Mises Institute — has unleashed a fury of socialistic blather and Keynesian central-planning mythology.

We have politicians and central bankers telling us that more paper money and bank nationalization will save us. Others say that capitalism has completely failed so we need to try socialism.

You would swear that these people were born yesterday, had never read a lick of history, and were wholly ignorant of economic logic. All of that is probably true. But here is what people don't entirely understand: it is in the interest of our rulers to promote bad ideology.

Who wins from bailouts, regulations, and inflation? It's not the middle class, taxpayers, or the businesses we know and love. It is the state, the bureaucrats, the megabankers, and the entire crew of connected interest groups who live at our expense.

This is the real basis of socialism and Keynesianism: ideologies that benefit the elites at the expense of everyone else.

The Mises Institute is dedicated to crushing these systems of thought, showing who benefits from them, and replacing them with a beautiful understanding of how liberty works.

To this end, we've worked for more than a quarter century to publish the greatest books, hold the best conferences, teach the most promising students, and run the best media service anywhere. Has it been effective? Massively so, and this financial crisis visited upon the country in 2008 showed exactly how.

You see, there was a long track record of Mises Institute books, articles, and speeches that had warned about every single aspect of what took place. Our first conference in 1982 warned of the instability of the banking system under fiat money. We've published dozens of books on monetary policy. We've warned of the dangers of artificial credit expansion.

And even specifically on the housing bubble, the Mises Institute has been the source for many years for understanding what was taking place. So when the train wreck happened, all this material came to the fore. We were inundated with inquiries. Our website was slammed with hits from people downloading articles, books, audio. They were seeking to understand, and we found ourselves in the spotlight.

"It is in the interest of our rulers to promote bad ideology."

Now, keep in mind that this is not something we can generate overnight. It takes years of preparation. By supporting our work, you have helped make it possible. Can you imagine what would have happened had the Mises Institute point of view not been available? There would have been virtually no intellectual opposition to the bailout, to the inflation, and to everything else. There would have been no voice that had been warning all along.

This is why it is absolutely critical that the work of the Mises Institute continue and expand. Without it, the socialists and Keynesians will have free reign of the world.

But because of your support, publications, students, scholars, conferences, seminars, media exposure, new professorships all are soaring to new heights. Despite so many trends in the world, there's great cause for optimism about the future of liberty.

Great numbers from all over the world have been drawn to a school of thought — a cause, really — that was in the process of dying 25 years ago. Today, the name of Mises is known throughout the world, and his books sell more than ever before.

All the students, the influential journals, the marvelous website, the conferences that attract attendees from around the world, the unrelenting discussion of the libertarian tradition in colleges and universities, the videos and podcasts, the thousands upon thousands of spinoff reading groups and blogs, and all the books, including a glorious biography of Mises himself — all combine to make up the most implausible revolution in ideas.

Academics had written off these ideas in the 1930s, not just in the United States but around the world. The future, they said, belonged to socialism, fascism, and central planning. Mises was considered a has-been. And now? The statists don't have an easy time of it.

No, our ideas are not victorious, but we have the bad guys on the run. There is opposition — passionate, intellectually robust, active opposition. Without this, there truly would be no hope for liberty. With it, we can beat back those who want to stamp out the lights of liberty.

Nearly every day, the financial press references the Austrians, particularly in our precarious financial world. Central bankers find that when they promise utopia through lower interest rates, journalists ask them to deal with the view of the Misesians that this only creates false prosperity.

Mises wrote his book on money nearly 100 years ago, but it's all back in a big way. And so are the dozens of other books we've published in this tradition.

What we offer is logical, liberating, and truthful. It conforms to the reality all around us, the reality in which the state is constantly failing while the market is performing miracles. What is needed is a structure of ideas that makes sense of this, and points to a way forward.

Then the next step is to change the world as we know it. That comes when we least expect it, and only once all the philosophical and ideological groundwork has been laid. A people that believes in statism will never restore liberty. A people that believes in liberty will never be lorded over by a cruel state.

What makes the difference is entirely due to the world of ideas. As Mises said, ideas are real. They control the past, present, and future. Good ideas build up civilization, while bad ones destroy it.

As we've seen this year, a dramatic change in the political and social landscape can happen nearly overnight: when the ideological conditions are right. As Mises said, at that point, no power on earth can stop the change. Then, we will see revolution, and our years of preparation will pay off.

Think of the collapse of socialism. State power was useless to stop it. History turned on a dime. The enforcers lost conviction, and the rebels won. What preceded this was decades of intellectual change. Essentially, eventually, the people stopped believing the lie.

We are starting to see this happen here. Fiat money is failing. Central banking is failing. Wars are failing. Everything the state is doing is failing. What is necessary is an intellectual force to explain how and why — and what to do about it. This is why, with the work of the Mises Institute, there is a bigger cause for hope than ever before.

Mises lived through much worse. He was born in an age of peace and prosperity. Then he witnessed Progressivism, World War I, Communism, Nazism, Depression, New Dealism, World War II, and the Cold War. He saw statism sweep America. Yet he never knew despair. He knew that the right ideas could prevail under the right conditions.

He wrote,

Prophets who in their heart know themselves to be false cannot prevail against those filled with the power of sincere conviction. Nothing can corrupt ideas. Neither by money nor by other rewards can one hire men for the fight against ideas… What is needed to stop the trend towards socialism and despotism is common sense and moral courage.

That is why he longed for an institute to be founded that would carry on his work. That happened in 1982. Today the Mises Institute is leading the national and international fight for liberty through teaching programs, books, journals, and scholarships for students.

How? It all comes down to your support. Freedom can prevail. Statist ideology can be overcome. Even the state itself can be beaten back. Oppression is not a permanent condition.

When we look at each case in history when revolutions happened, we find something in common to all of them. Intellectuals dedicated to liberty were out front and ready to make the case. They took risks. They told the truth without fear. They were uncompromising. They worked to see their visions realized in their lifetimes.

The Mises Institute is the home of such people. Just this year, we've put out a stack of books, published scholarly journals, held conferences in Auburn and around the country, taught hosts of students about capitalism and freedom, expanded our campus with student and visiting faculty apartments, made available a thousand hours of media, and welcomed scholars from around the world to our seminars, archives, and library.

Of course, our work is hardly done. The ideals of liberty require a culturewide commitment, even on a worldwide scale. That is why we work to develop an intellectual machine based on scholarship, but which also uses the tactics of intellectual guerilla warfare. No wonder that students, faculty, and researchers from all over the world see the Mises Institute as their alma mater, a true home for liberty, a model of genuine learning in an age of official lies.

If you would enable us, we want to continue to keep the great literature of freedom available — we now have 250 books in print, and many more that must be made available. We now host the largest audio collection on liberty anywhere in the world, so that all these great minds can speak to us again. Our research resources, already huge, are increasing by the day. And they must grow more quickly, in volume and variety, in different languages.

We've been using the newest technologies in the service of freedom for 25 years, and particularly since the development of the Internet. Students and leaders for liberty benefit the world over.

The inspiration for this work comes from two sources: the confidence that supporters like you have shown in us, and the example of freedom fighters like Mises and Rothbard. They spoke boldly and truthfully, and when they were threatened and ordered to shut up, they refused. They paid a high professional price, but their influence is for the ages.

These men are our examples. They did not lobby for new government programs, hold cocktail soirées for the central bank, shine the shoes of bureaucrats, curry favor with powerful politicians, seek grants from the Department of Looting and Pillaging, loiter outside the executive mansion, nor call for a new cabinet seat in economics. Government is not what they were about. It is not what we are about.

Mises taught that no government is for freedom by nature. They all want maximum power and wealth, which they can only obtain at the expense of the people. And it is only the public belief in liberty — originating with the intellectuals — that can ultimately restrain the state's ambitions.

If the population is passive and uninformed by contrary voices, the state can succeed. If convictions are intolerant of power, and embrace the inviolable rights to person and property, liberty can prevail. That's why the most important work for liberty involves ideas.

But an ideological resistance must thrive and have a voice. Intellectuals committed to liberty must be supported. They must have the freedom to write and speak and research. There must be the means to disseminate their ideas, influence people widely, and attract young thinkers.

Murray Rothbard always looked to the new generation as the source of intellectual fire. And through the work of the Mises Institute, the new generation is prepared to look at the world in a new way. The yearning for freedom — implanted in their hearts — makes them open to libertarian ideas. It makes them first skeptical and then critical of the apparatus of statism into which they are born. And that is where the Mises Institute comes in.

Our experience suggests that people who encounter the Mises Institute for the first time are drawn in out of curiosity and then stay with our program of learning because of its explanatory power and its vision of a prosperous, peaceful world.

You share this vision with us: an economy unencumbered by government controls, a society permitted to live and thrive in freedom, a money untainted by central banking, true scholars who appreciate the workings of liberty, and individuals who are educated in the truth of freedom.

We believe that this vision can be the future, for ourselves and for our descendents. The message of free markets, sound money, peace, and libertarian scholarship is getting a hearing on campus and in public life as never before.

The main lesson they learn is this: whereas government wrecks all it touches, freedom breeds prosperity and civilization. Whatever is glorious in the world today comes from the private sector, while the government and its interests give us evil.

How thrilled Mises would have been. When we started, his widow Margit von Mises was our chairman. Murray Rothbard, F.A. Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Hans Sennholz, and Ron Paul were founding advisors. Professors from around the world joined the Mises Institute faculty as adjunct scholars.

Yet there is another essential ingredient: supporters like you, who have made it possible for our ideas to make such great strides. But we need your help now more than ever. The times are right. People are listening. They are demanding to know who is looting them and why, and what to do about it.

What we need are the financial means for a dramatic expansion to become an institution for the ages — one that will protect a future of liberty from all onslaughts.

Join the Fight!

This requires a solid capital base on which to build a permanent series of programs: more student scholarships, more faculty positions, more publications, and more communications networks with even greater reach.

There are a hundred more books to publish and distribute. We need to build an infrastructure of liberty that is impenetrable to attack by the state and its friends.

We are a privately funded institute with no connections to powerful elites. That means that you are our only hope and our best foundation for future growth. I believe that the Mises Institute is the greatest hope for liberty in our time.

Won't you join us in this fight? Now is the time to prepare for the exciting days to come.

Please help us with your most generous contribution. We have a monstrous theory of the state to beat back, a world to win for liberty.

Speaking of Liberty

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of LewRockwell.com, and author of Speaking of Liberty. Comment on the blog.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.

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