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Was Mises Bankrolled by the Financial Elite?


I know I am spending too much time on these crazy LaRouchian claims — see my post on the argument that Austrian economics benefits the plutocrats, and therefore has been promoted by them. You will hear it mentioned that the Rockefeller Foundation funded Ludwig von Mises, and that this proves Austrian economics is supported by the elites, even though (1) the elites went to a lot of trouble to establish the world’s central banks, which the Austrian School opposes, and (2) if the elites are that powerful, why is the Austrian School so little known after all their alleged efforts to promote it?

I asked Mises biographer Guido Hülsmann to comment on this. Here’s his reply:

The crucial evidence against this interpretation is twofold:
(a) The RF stopped funding Mises when he needed it most, and did not help him get a prestigious position in a US university, which they did for all true hacks. If he was truly in their pocket this was a very stupid thing to do.
(b) AFTER he was off RF money, Mises continued to profess and develop exactly the same views that he had already professed and developed BEFORE he got to meet any RF people. That’s not the behaviour of an intellectual prostitute. You would rather expect him to change his tune to the likings of his sponsors.
This leaves only one viable interpretation: The RF started funding Mises because he was already a major representative of Viennese intellectual life. Mises was part of the European intellectual establishment before he received financial support from US financial aristocracy. Like all new private research institutions, the RF first tried to hop into bed with the already existing scientific establishment to prop up its own reputation. Only in a second step did the RF (and similar organisations) try to steer the scientific agenda according to its own political and philosophical prejudices. When they proceeded from Step One to Step Two, there was no more place for Mises precisely because his views were unacceptable to RF.

Tom Woods, a senior fellow of the Mises Institute, is the author of a dozen books, most recently Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card of Allowable Opinion. Tom's articles have appeared in dozens of popular and scholarly periodicals, and his books have been translated into a dozen languages. Tom hosts the Tom Woods Show, a libertarian podcast that releases a new episode every weekday. With Bob Murphy, he co-hosts Contra Krugman, a weekly podcast that refutes Paul Krugman's New York Times column.

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