Mises and the State & a Quick Comment About Hayek

This is a direct response to the comments in Lord Keynes’ post: Hayek the Evil Socialist

I really hate when anarchists try to defend Mises as if he was some sort of ‘radical’ classical liberal that was basically an inch away in believing in anarchism, or more specifically, anarcho-capitalism. I remember in my anarchist period, I did that exact same thing, so I could completely understand why one would do that, but nevertheless it is a huge pet peeve of mine now. But one has to take into consideration that Mises was a classical liberal and he supported the State, whether anarchists want to admit it or not, and he even thought of the State as a desirable institution.

Society cannot do without a social apparatus of coercion and compulsion, i.e. without state and government. (1)

There are people who call government an evil, although a necessary evil.  However, what is needed in order to attain a definite end must not be called an evil … Government may even be called the most beneficial of all earthly institutions as without it no peaceful human cooperation, no civilization and no moral life would be possible.(2)

Liberalism [in the European sense-the philosophy of free markets and limited government] differs radically from anarchism.  It has nothing in common with the absurd illusions of the anarchists… Liberalism is not so foolish as to aim at the abolition of the state. (3)

(1) Anti Capitalistic Mentality pg 90

(2) Economic Freedom and Intervention pg 57

(3) Omnipotent Government pg 48

It is quite clear from the passages above that Mises did call for States to be mandatory. As a matter of fact, that is a requirement in the classical liberal branch, a classical liberal  thinks of a government as a necessary, but limited.

Also what bothers me is this hatred for Hayek as if he was some sort of socialist pig. Keep in mind now that Friedrich von Wieser, a self proclaimed socialist, never gets this criticism as being a socialistic pig, at least not to the extent as that of Hayek. Even while I was studying at the Mises Institute during the summer, all the faculty gave praise to Wieser for his economic contributions, and not once mentioned their opinions about him being a socialist. Why can’t the same be for Hayek? Hayek surely is less ‘socialistic’ than Wieser, yet he gets the whole ‘statist’ label more than Wieser. Instead of being closed minded people, why don’t you take what Hayek had to say about policy to the side and really read and understand his theoretical points, which his work on knowledge, spontaneous order, and the market process are great. Furthermore, Mises praised Hayek for his work on economics and classical liberalism. He considered Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty, a book highly criticized by Rothbard and his group, the result of Hayek’s studies in the philosophy of freedom, and said nothing negative about it. * It should be quite clear, that this hatred for Hayek is solely due to Rothbard, which, unfortunately, is embraced by the modern Rothbardian.

* Tribute to Hayek by Ludwig von Mises

-Isaac Marmolejo

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5 responses to “Mises and the State & a Quick Comment About Hayek

  1. Very, very nice post.

    These quotations from Mises deserve greater analysis. I’ll go and read the contexts carefully.

    You can read most of Economic Freedom and Intervention here:

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/simple.php?id=1887

    Lachmann, in my understanding, viewed government in a similar way, a limited state with minimal economic interventions:

    “[sc. Lachmann thought that] … government intervention in economic affairs should be minimal. The role of government should be as circumscribed as possible and conform to the classical liberal ideal of supporting the free market by strengthening the institutions of private property and voluntary business contract.”

    (Grinder, W. E. 1977. “In Pursuit of the Subjective Paradigm” [Introduction], in L. M. Lachmann, Capital, Expectations, and the Market Process: Essays on the Theory of the Market Economy (ed. by W. E. Grinder), Sheed Andrews and McMeel, Kansas City. p. 22).

    Lachmann’s role for government, however, does not rule out intervention during a depression or ‘intervention for stability’:

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2011/07/ludwig-lachmann-on-government.html

    The point of departure here is, of course, that Keynesians do not think extensive economic interventions by the state are necessarily deleterious.

    P.s. I hope know (I am sure you do) my title “Hayek the evil socialist” is tongue-in-cheek.

    Anyway, your blog is a credit to Austrian economics.

  2. These quotations from Mises deserve greater analysis. I’ll go and read the contexts carefully.

    I’m sure you know that you can read both Anti Capitalistic Mentality and Omnipotent Government for free…

    As for Lachmann, he was obviously a classical liberal but I do think that Lachmann did approve of more of a government than Mises did because he does give credit to Keynesian policy when it is due and Mises, very rarely, if not at all, gave credit for Keynesian policy. But what I like about Lachmann is, generally speaking, he did not really concern himself with policy or political debate and talked more about the economics. Peter Lewin stated that Lachmann’s economic classes were taught in a similar fashion:

    Most of his students were part of the white, politically liberal establishment (which in a U.S. or U.K. context would today be in the center of the political spectrum). If Lachmann had any political opinions they never showed in his economics classes. He left it to the students to draw whatever political implications they could, and most did not see any.

    “Biography of Ludwig Lachmann (1906-1990): Life and Work”

    P.s. I hope know (I am sure you do) my title “Hayek the evil socialist” is tongue-in-cheek.

    Anyway, your blog is a credit to Austrian economics.

    Yes, your title is obvious sarcasm. If my memory serves well, I think you have a similar title to another post that states something like “If Mises was a socialist, then Hayek was a fascist”…

    And thanks for your compliment

  3. Of course Lord Keynes likes this pro-government crap… Isaac, way to make Mises look like a Statist. If you look at the bigger picture though, you could see that Mises was an enemy to the state.

    • Isaac, way to make Mises look like a Statist.

      I did not make him look like a statist. There is a vast difference in believing in a State and believing in Statism. Mises, obviously, believed in a State but he clearly was not a Statist. I am simply defending Mises’ claim on classical liberalism, there is nothing statist about that.

  4. Pingback: A Passage By Carl Menger on The State | The Radical Subjectivist

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