Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was a preeminent philosopher and economist during the twentieth century. He shared an intellectual friendship with literary giant Ayn Rand, and his theorems and philosophies have continued to influence the careers and ideas of politicians and economists alike.

Articles by Ludwig von Mises

The Economic Foundations of Freedom

Ludwig von Mises

Animals are driven by instinctive urges. They yield to the impulse that prevails at the moment and peremptorily asks for satisfaction. They are the puppets of their appetites. Man’s eminence is to be seen in the fact that he chooses between alternatives. He regulates his behavior deliberatively.

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The Bureaucrat as a Voter

The bureaucrat is not only a government employee. He is, under a democratic constitution, at the same time a voter and as such a part of the sovereign, his employer. He is in a peculiar position: he is both employer and employee. And his pecuniary interest as employee towers above his interest as employer, as he gets much more from the public funds than he contributes to them.

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Money, Interest, and the Business Cycle

The banks very often expand credit for political reasons. There is an old saying that if prices are rising, if business is booming, the party in power has a better chance to succeed in an election campaign than it would otherwise. Thus the decision to expand credit is very often influenced by the government that wants to have “prosperity.” Therefore, governments all over the world are in favor of such a credit-expansion policy.

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Politics and Ideas

In the Age of Enlightenment, in the years in which the North Americans founded their independence, and a few years later, when the Spanish and Portuguese colonies were transformed into independent nations, the prevailing mood in Western civilization was optimistic.

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Understanding the Roots and Causes of Inflation

If the supply of caviar were as plentiful as the supply of potatoes, the price of caviar—that is, the exchange ratio between caviar and money or caviar and other commodities—would change considerably. In that case, one could obtain caviar at a much smaller sacrifice than is required today.

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Mises Explains the Santa Claus Principle

The idea underlying all interventionist policies is that the higher income and wealth of the more affluent part of the population is a fund which can be freely used for the improvement of the conditions of the less prosperous. The essence of the interventionist policy is to take from one group to give to another. It is confiscation and distribution. Every measure is ultimately justified by declaring that it is fair to curb the rich for the benefit of the poor.

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Individualism and the Industrial Revolution

Liberals stressed the importance of the individual. The 19th-century liberals already considered the development of the individual the most important thing. "Individual and individualism" was the progressive and liberal slogan. Reactionaries had already attacked this position at the beginning of the 19th century.

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What “Capitalism” Really Means

Descriptive terms which people use are often quite misleading. In talking about modern captains of industry and leaders of big business, for instance, they call a man a “chocolate king” or a “cotton king” or an “automobile king.”

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Warum die Anhänger des freien Marktes die Sozialisten unterschätzen

Die breite Masse der Menschen hängt keiner eigenen Idee an, weder einer guten, noch einer schlechten. Stattdessen suchen sie sich unter den vielen von intellektuellen Vordenkern erdachten Ideologien eine aus. Ihre Wahl aber ist verbindlich und bestimmt den Gang der Dinge. Wenn die Masse schlechte Grundsätze bevorzugt, ist das Unheil nicht mehr abzuwenden.

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When Governments Confiscate Wealth to Fund Government Programs

The entrepreneurs try to undertake only such projects as appear to promise profits. This means that they endeavor to use the scarce means of production in such a way that the most urgent needs will be satisfied first, and that no part of capital and labor will be devoted to the satisfaction of less urgent needs as long as a more urgent need, for whose satisfaction they could be used, goes unsatisfied.

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Socialists Have Never Shown How They Could Increase the Standard of Living

Marxism sees the coming of socialism as an inescapable necessity. Even if one were willing to grant the correctness of this opinion, one still would by no means be bound to embrace socialism. It may be that despite everything we cannot escape socialism, yet whoever considers it an evil must not wish it onward for that reason and seek to hasten its arrival; on the contrary, he would have the moral duty to do everything to postpone it as long as possible.

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Understanding the Proper Meaning of “Equality”

Nowhere is the difference between the reasoning of the older liberalism and that of neoliberalism clearer and easier to demonstrate than in their treatment of the problem of equality. The liberals of the eighteenth century, guided by the ideas of natural law and of the Enlightenment, demanded for everyone equality of political and civil rights because they assumed that all men are equal.

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Why “Taxing the Rich” Doesn’t Make Us Better Off

The complete confiscation of all private property is tantamount to the introduction of socialism. Therefore we do not have to deal with it in an analysis of the problems of interventionism. We are concerned here only with the partial confiscation of property. Such confiscation is today attempted primarily by taxation.

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Inflation: Its Effects and Failures

Inflationism is that policy which by increasing the quantity of money or credit seeks to raise money prices and money wages or seeks to counteract a decline of money prices and money wages which threatens as the result of an increase in the supply of consumers’ goods.

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Mises on Syndicalism

Mises on Syndicalism

As political tactics Syndicalism presents a particular method of attack by organized labour for the attainment of their political ends. This end may also be the establishment of the true Socialism, that is to say, the socialization of the means of production. But the term Syndicalism is also used in a second sense, in which it means a sociopolitical aim of a special kind.

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The Myth of the Failure of Capitalism

The nearly universal opinion expressed these days is that the economic crisis of recent years marks the end of capitalism. Capitalism allegedly has failed, has proven itself incapable of solving economic problems, and so mankind has no alternative, if it is to survive, than to make the transition to a planned economy, to socialism.

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Mises: To Adopt Keynesian Terminology Is to Legitimize It

Some years ago, there was published a book in the German language with the title L.T.I. These three letters stood for three Latin words, lingua Tertii Imperii, the language of the Third Reich. And the author, a former professor of Romance languages at one of the German universities, described in this book his adventures during the Nazi regime.

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Do People Really Seek to Maximize Profit?

[This article is excerpted from chapter 14 of Human Action.] It is generally believed that economists, in dealing with the problems of a market economy, are quite unrealistic in assuming that all men are always eager to gain the highest attainable advantage. They construct, it is said, the image of a perfectly selfish and rationalistic being for whom nothing counts but profit.

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How Do We Calculate Value?

[From Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, by Ludwig von Mises, pp. 113–22.] All human action, so far as it is rational, appears as the exchange of one condition for another. Men apply economic goods and personal time and labour in the direction which, under the given circumstances, promises the highest degree of satisfaction, and they forego the satisfaction of lesser needs so as to satisfy the more urgent needs. This is the essence of economic activity — the carrying out of acts of exchange.12

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How to Write and Understand History

[Adapted from Chapter 2 of Human Action.] The study of all the data of experience concerning human action is the scope of history. The historian collects and critically sifts all available documents. On the ground of this evidence he approaches his genuine task.

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Economics and the Revolt against Reason

The Revolt Against Reason. It is true that some philosophers were ready to overrate the power of human reason. They believed that man can discover by ratiocination the final causes of cosmic events, the inherent ends the prime mover aims at in creating the universe and determining the course of its evolution.

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There Is No End to History, No Perfect Existence

All doctrines that have sought to discover in the course of human history some definite trend in the sequence of changes have disagreed, in reference to the past, with the historically established facts and where they tried to predict the future have been spectacularly proved wrong by later events.

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