Historical Setting of the Austrian School of Economics

Ludwig von Mises

This essay offers something spectacular: an intellectual history of Mises’s own tradition, with first person accounts of conversations with the greats. And truly, Mises turns out to have written the best single account of the origin and early growth of the Austrian School.

Mises discusses the intellectual milieu in which the Austrian School began, and recalls a conversation he had with Carl Menger. He writes about it with vivid recall, as if were only yesterday.

He tells how the enemies of the Austrians gave it the label, and how it came to backfire on the historical school. He shows that Austrian economists have always been “independent economists,” unconnected with the leviathan state and its approved institutions.

The essay was first published in 1969--one of his last pieces of writing--and remains a crucial text for understanding the history of a tradition.

Historical Setting of the Austrian School of Economics by Mises
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Ludwig von Mises
Ludwig von Mises

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.

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There is only one way that leads to an improvement of the standard of living for the wage-earning masses, viz., the increase in the amount of capital invested. All other methods, however popular they may be, are not only futile, but are actually detrimental to the well-being of those they allegedly want to benefit.
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Copyright © 1984 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. [1969] by Arlington House.