The Austrian Approach to Economic History
Dr Matteo Salonia, Associated Scholar of Mises UK at King’s College London
It is safe to assume that most of the readers of Mises UK are not admirers of the Marxist historiographical school, and the defects and inadequacies of Marxian reconstructions of the past are by now well-known, even though a large percentage of academics in the Humanities insists in perpetuating Marxian myths and in using a Marxist vocabulary in textbooks and lectures. Yet, for all the shortcomings of the Marxist school, it is important to recognize that the narrative that it proposes has a strong relationship with economic theory. It is perhaps not by chance that after the crisis of Marxism the relation between economic theory and economic history has become quite tormented. The problem today is not simply that the two disciplines of history and economics do not speak to each other. Rather, it seems that many economic historians, in principle, do not accept the necessity of theoretical analysis when looking at the past. Some of them actually seem to believe that distancing themselves from any economic theory is the appropriate thing to do. The trouble comes when, in order to say anything meaningful, eventually they must say something about the causes of economic development or the economic structure of a certain society. But, as Sudha Shenoy has warned, “Those actions that historians actually find in the contexts they study, can be fitted together into ‘social complexes’ only if historians make use of the ‘schemes of structural relationships’ that theory provides ready-made. Without such developed theories, historians may implicitly use contradictory or unsustainable reasoning in their accounts.” This is why, for instance, in a recent book on the history of Japan, one reads that the growth of certain local industries and the beginnings of specialization in the Tokugawa period supposedly happened thanks to the intervention of regional political powers. But correlation is not causation, and the author does not even try to explain to the reader (let alone convince him) that, having shown the presence of government intervention, it is indeed theoretically safe to assume that this alone accounts for specialization in production – or even that specialization in production would not have happened without some sort of coercive action favoring it from above. Economic history textbooks and monographs are sprinkled with such problematic statements, and I want to stress once more that the issue here is not holding a wrong economic theory, but rather not holding a theory at all: in fact, it has become not unusual to find in the same article or volume scattered assumptions that seem taken from many different (and irreconcilable) economic theories. Read more
Open letter on behalf of the worldwide Catholic and Orthodox lay faithful in response to Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew on climate change
by Lord Monckton
A FALSE BALANCE is abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight (Prov. XI:1).
Your Holinesses’ recent admonition to your flocks about climate and the environment, though it was at one level a practical attempt at rapprochement between two faiths whose religious beliefs are in essence identical, demonstrated a naïve, unbalanced, scientifically ill-informed, disfiguringly totalitarian and, therefore, environmentally destructive political partisanship that it was and remains Your Holinesses’ bounden duty to eschew. Read more
The ‘Reactionary’ Libertarianism of Frank van Dun
By Richard Storey
Before I reached out to Prof. Frank van Dun, I had it all figured out. Like many anarcho-capitalist libertarians, I believed that the Church, far from being a hindrance to state growth, was the primary promoter of centralised statism in Northern Europe. Whilst many of the greatest intellectual defenders of liberty were Christians (Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell etc. etc.), I assumed they were wrong about the Church. Rather arrogantly, I thought them blind to the historical data and for emotional reasons. I contacted the good professor, hoping he could teach me a thing or two and, of course, confirm my conclusions. I got more of the former than I had bargained for. Permit me to outline the historical perspective I presented to Prof. van Dun before I provide his responses. Read more
May, Take the High Ground on This
By Adam J. Young
Once Trump had said his speech declaring perhaps both sides committing acts of violence may both be in the wrong during Charlottesville protest, Theresa May stood up in a port in Portsmouth and announced to the world that “fascists” were bad. Read more
By Dick Puddlecote
Farewell Anna Raccoon Last week I wrote about Anna Raccoon and how she had been badly treated recently while receiving palliative care in a Norwich hospice.
She had been fighting a nasty form of cancer for six years despite doctors saying she would succumb in less than one, but sadly that last fight that she would undertake in her illustrious life ended yesterday morning in the early hours. She passed away peacefully in the beautiful riverside cottage on the Norfolk Broads that she and hubby Mr G had returned to from their previous home in France once the cancer was diagnosed.
Ironically, I heard the sad news just as I was about to set off to the same area in France for a family holiday, but after the long drive the first thing we did on arrival was to raise a toast to her and the marvellous Mr G.
The Blocked Dwarf (aka Jack Ketch) has spoken with Mr G and he is heartbroken but cheered to hear that his wife had so many online friends and admirers. Jack has agreed to pass on any kind messages so do feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments here.
Anna was most recently in the news bedbound, but I prefer this fantastic picture which is one of two on the wall of the annex G built with great views of the Norfolk wildlife and river boats especially for her. Taken in 1973, it is of a 25 year old Anna smoking Camels with a cup of tea and a slice of Battenberg cake. Beautiful, carefree, and with a world to take on in her future. I think she did exactly that, with integrity and skill.
RIP Anna, it was wonderful knowing you.
Do Modern ‘Liberals’ Suffer from a Personality Disorder?
By Ronald Olden
We tend to think of ‘Statism’ and, what passes for ‘Socialism’, as modern political attitudes. These allegedly political attitudes are, however, neither modern, nor principally political. Modern ‘liberal’ dogma is no more than the latest manifestation of a certain type of human psychology. Read more