Liberty or freedom was generally restricted to a minority of elites while ordinary people were serfs or slaves during pre-capitalistic systems. The capitalist way to wealth was to serve the consumer with better and cheaper products and services. Private property of the factors of production was the foundation of wealth creation. Production, saving, and investment were the keys to prosperity. The economic power of the buying public trumped the political power of the elites.
Under socialism, freedom meant the elimination of any dissent. The socialist goal was bondage, not liberty. Society was the mutual exchange of services. Government is the negation of liberty. All government action is based upon the extraction of funds by force. The socialist regime is totalitarianism.
In laissez-faire systems, market exchanges are based on voluntary actions by individuals, based upon private governing power rather than public government power. The case for capitalism and private property speaks for itself with improving standards of living.
Delivered at the ninth meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society; Princeton, New Jersey; 9 September 1958.
Ludwig von Mises was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian school of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises's writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science that he called praxeology.