Power & Market

Austrian Economics vs. CBDC, ESG, UBI, and Other Newfangled Socioeconomic Gimmicks

The Austrian school – on account of the logical, deductive character of its theories and their realistic applicability to the actual economy – is the only economic tradition that consciously aspires to the discovery of timeless, universally relevant truths that govern the realm of human action. Thus, it should come as no surprise that its analytical apparatus is naturally suitable for the evaluation of all the recent newfangled socioeconomic phenomena.

For example, in view of its reflection about the logical essence of the sound means of exchange, the Austrian school sends serious warning signals regarding the notorious concept of CBDCs (central bank digital currencies). More specifically, it points out that CBDC is nothing else but fiat money on steroids, which allows for an unprecedented redistribution of monetary purchasing power in the direction of special interest groups, as well as for immediate monetization of public debt. Worse still, the establishment of a global CBDC platform would be a major step in the direction of eliminating currency competition, which, as the Austrians suggest, is the best among imperfect anti-inflationary buffers in a world deprived of market-chosen money.

Successful implementation of CBCDs would lethally infect the lifeblood of the global economy, causing unprecedentedly ruinous business cycles, endlessly distorted monetary calculation, and eventually a worldwide disintegration of indirect exchange. Nothing should be less surprising, especially to the Austrians, since the abovementioned situation would be the exact opposite of the monetary stability and predictability afforded by the classical gold standard.

Similarly, in light of its considerations on the crucial role of economic calculation in the process of rational allocation of resources, the Austrians are naturally wary of the aggressively pushed “ESG standards”. This is because these standards, while parading around in the costume of “good business practices” are a major factor that disrupts business calculation with arbitrary, ideologically charged obstructions manufactured by the global bureaucratic-corporate oligarchy. As such, far from being a form of genuine social capital that builds trust on the part of customers, they are a potent source of ideological confusion and bureaucratic uniformization that hamper the process of generating authentic goodwill by socially proactive companies.

Nevertheless, the ubiquity of such arbitrary pseudo-market standards can plunge the economy into an abyss of legal uncertainty, especially if some political regimes decide to enforce them as part of their “sustainable development” agenda. And it is precisely in such scenarios, as the Austrian school stresses repeatedly, that the entrepreneurial capacity for long-term planning becomes particularly hobbled.

Finally, so-called UBI (“universal basic income”) is easily identified by the Austrians as the most comprehensive and audacious form of Frederic Bastiat’s “great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody” - i.e., the ultimate incarnation of universal parasitism. More specifically, given their sound reflection on the logic of human action and the resulting incentive structure, the Austrians realize full well that large-scale introduction of UBI would result in immediate capital consumption and catapult the global economy back to at least the preindustrial stage.

In other words, the Austrian school is uniquely positioned to point out that UBI-ism would be a singularly destructive form of communism, since classical Soviet-style communism, even though supremely wasteful, was at least committed to diligence rather than idleness. Thus, it unwittingly nourished the spirit of dedication which, when combined with the spirit of defiance, brought about its eventual collapse. However, nothing similar can be said about UBI-ism, which eliminates the spirit of defiance by promoting universal shiftlessness and indolence.

In view of all the preceding remarks, it becomes obvious that the convergence of all the abovementioned phenomena would be particularly capable of sealing the fate of the world economy. More specifically, what I mean here is a situation in which UBI would be paid out in CBDC to those who qualify in virtue of their total acceptance of the ESG agenda. Or, to put matters somewhat differently, a situation in which universal parasitism converges with completely cashless monetary totalitarianism and complete submission to contrived ideological whims.

It goes without saying that such a scenario would be utterly dysfunctional on so many levels and in so many aspects that it would descend into total economic and social chaos in a very short time. However, even if we can rightly regard it as a highly unrealistic or indeed outright absurd contingency, we might at the same time treat it as a hypothetical anti-ideal against which all conceivable forces of resistance – conceptual and practical, academic, and entrepreneurial, and individual and collective – should be proactively rallied. And when it comes to coordinating such forces of resistance and serving as their fail-safe intellectual guide, there is no better candidate than the scholarly edifice of the Austrian school.

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