Von Mises’ thought is 32+ loads of manure

26 March 2007

After much resistance and soul-searching, I went ahead and checked Ludwig von Mises“Economic Freedom and Interventionism” from the PDX library. Even one’s ideological opponents must have at least some interesting thoughts and an occasional valid point, I thought.

Not so. Granted, this is my initial impression, after reading only 5 of the 47 essays contained therein; but really, judging upon the (lack of) ideas found therein, I wonder if I should continue.

Maybe I am too demanding: expecting actual logical arguments and impartial statements from the branch of human knowledge (economics) that has always been the domain of many hot winds and little clarity, depth, or predictive value. But, after all, Galbraith and Keynes (hah! I suppose my true colours are showing now!;)) did manage to produce statements of substance. Von Mises does nothing of the kind. Especially funny are his older essays, which confidently state facts that we (now) know to be complete bullshit. “The Agony of the Welfare State” devotes considerable rhetorical efforts to ridiculing progressive taxation and public ownership of general utilities: two of the economic measures that have withstood the test of time and may actually be among the very few benign aspects of economic interventionism.

Of course, I have always been suspicious of claims that the entirety of human interaction can be reduced to economics, especially since neither the processes of human consciousness nor the exact processes of the market have been worked out in a satisfactory manner . (In a way, these kinds of claims are similar to the (in)famous Penrose conflation: human consciousness is mysterious; quantum mechanics also mysterious; therefore, human consciousness must be quantum in nature. If you do not see the logical fallacy here, you should not be reading this. So with Mises).

Maybe I shall find something of substance later: after all, I have just started reading the damn thing, and I am certain, I shall finish it, like I do all books, whether disgusted, enthralled or something in between by them. But, so far, my progress report must be rather dismal (like the field of study itself :)): Von Mises was full of shit; and his defenders and followers are even more so, since he has been blatantly shown to be wrong about those–admittedly few–subjects I have had the misfortune to see his thought upon. Not unlike old-school Stalinists and Maoists they claim to see the perfection in the pile of manure that is the legacy of a given thinker. Blah. This is the kind of writing that claims to be rich in deep thoughts, philosophy even, while being nothing but a series of empty assertions. Not dissimilar to theology, and just as pretentious. (That said, I am sure he was a great dinner-n-drinking conversationalist and companion).

Forgive me for ranting; now I must go back and actually read some more. My punishment is certain: a day off reading this and, maybe some Evola!!!! At least, I have some tensor analysis to look forward to. Am I a masochist? One wonders.

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