Ludwig von Mises, fully Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises

Ludwig von
Mises, fully Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises
1881
1973

Austrian-American Economist, Historian, Philosopher, Author and Classical Liberal

Author Quotes

The masses do not like those who surpass them in any regard. The average man envies and hates those who are different.

Inequality of wealth and incomes is an essential feature of the market economy. It is the implement that makes the consumers supreme in giving them the power to force all those engaged in production to comply with their orders. It forces all those engaged in production to the utmost exertion in the service of the consumers. It makes competition work. He who best serves the consumers profits most and accumulates riches.

Therefore it is not arrogance or narrowrnindedness that leads the
economist to discuss these things from the standpoint of economics. No
one, who is not able to form an independent opinion about the admittedly difficult and highly technical problem of calculation in the socialist
economy, should take sides in the question of socialism versus capitalism.
No one should speak about interventionism who has not examined
the economic consequences of interventionism. An end should be
put to the common practice of discussing these problems from the
standpoint of the prevailing errors, fallacies, and prejudices. It might be
more entertaining to avoid the real issues and merely to use popular
catchwords and emotional slogans. But politics is a serious matter.
Those who do not want to think its problems through to the end should
keep away from it.

Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping toward destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interest of everyone hangs on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.

Once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of the government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments

Reason is the main resource of man in his struggle for survival.

Progress cannot be organized.

To illustrate the difference between the innovator and the dull crowd of routinists who cannot even imagine that any improvement is possible, we need only refer to a passage in Engel's most famous book. Here, in 1878, Engels apodictically announced that military weapons are "now so perfected that no further progress of any revolutionizing influence is any longer possible." Henceforth "all further [technological] progress is by and large indifferent for land warfare. The age of evolution is in this regard essentially closed." This complacent conclusion shows in what the achievement of the innovator consists: he accomplishes what other people believe to be unthinkable and unfeasible.

In the world of reality, life, and human action there is no such thing as interests independent of ideas, preceding them temporarily and logically. What a man considers his interest is the result of his ideas.

Facts per se can neither prove nor refute anything. Everything is decided by the interpretation and explanation of the facts, by the ideas and the theories.

Education rears disciples, imitators, and routinists, not pioneers of new ideas and creative geniuses. The schools are not nurseries of progress and improvement, but conservatories of tradition and unvarying modes of thought.

Value is not intrinsic; it is not in things. It is within us; it is the way in which man reacts to the conditions of his environment.

Economics is not about things and tangible material objects; it is about men, their meanings and actions.

Progress is precisely that which the rules and regulations did not foresee.

If the small minority of enlightened citizens who are able to conceive sound principles of political management do not succeed in winning the support of their fellow citizens and converting them to the endorsement of policies that bring and preserve prosperity, the cause of mankind and civilization is hopeless. There is no other means to safeguard a propitious development of human affairs than to make the masses of inferior people adopt the ideas of the elite. This has to be achieved by convincing them. It cannot be accomplished by a despotic regime that instead of enlightening the masses beats them into submission. In the long run the ideas of the majority, however detrimental they may be, will carry on. The future of mankind depends on the ability of the elite to influence public opinion in the right direction.

If history could teach us anything, it would be that private property is inextricably linked with civilization.

The essential characteristic of Western civilization that distinguishes it from the arrested and petrified civilizations of the East was and is its concern for freedom from the state. The history of the West, from the age of the Greek polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders.

It is a double-edged makeshift to entrust an individual or a group of individuals with the authority to resort to violence. The enticement implied is too tempting for a human being. The men who are to protect the community against violent aggression easily turn into the most dangerous aggressors. They transgress their mandate. They misuse their power for the oppression of those whom they were expected to defend against oppression. The main political problem is how to prevent the police power from becoming tyrannical. This is the meaning of all the struggles for liberty.

The criterion of truth is that it works even if nobody is prepared to acknowledge it.

A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.

In fact, however, the supporters of the welfare state are utterly anti-social and intolerant zealots. For their ideology tacitly implies that the government will exactly execute what they themselves deem right and beneficial. They entirely disregard the possibility that there could arise disagreement with regard to the question of what is right and expedient and what is not. They advocate enlightened despotism, but they are convinced that the enlightened despot will in every detail comply with their own opinion concerning the measures to be adopted. They favour planning, but what they have in mind is exclusively their own plan, not those of other people. They want to exterminate all opponents, that is, all those who disagree with them. They are utterly intolerant and are not prepared to allow any discussion. Every advocate of the welfare state and of planning is a potential dictator. What he plans is to deprive all other men of all their rights, and to establish his own and his friends' unrestricted omnipotence. He refuses to convince his fellow-citizens. He prefers to "liquidate" them. He scorns the "bourgeois" society that worships law and legal procedure. He himself worships violence and bloodshed.

Credit expansion can bring about a temporary boom. But such a fictitious prosperity must end in a general depression of trade, a slump.

Economically considered, war and revolution are always bad business.

Inflation can be pursued only so long as the public still does not believe it will continue. Once the people generally realize that the inflation will be continued on and on and that the value of the monetary unit will decline more and more, then the fate of the money is sealed. Only the belief, that the inflation will come to a stop, maintains the value of the notes.

The most serious dangers for American freedom and the American way of life do not come from without.

Author Picture
First Name
Ludwig von
Last Name
Mises, fully Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises
Birth Date
1881
Death Date
1973
Bio

Austrian-American Economist, Historian, Philosopher, Author and Classical Liberal