Ludwig von Mises Archives

Liberty and Property

Ludwig von Mises Archives
Ludwig von Mises

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.