Why Libertarians Should Read Mises – Part Two


Why Libertarians Should Read Mises

Part Two

By Duncan Whitmore

Introduction

In Part One of this series of three essays exploring the significance of Ludwig von Mises for libertarian thought, we examined the specific place that Mises holds in our tradition, and outlined the unique sophistication of his utilitarian theory in favour of freedom compared to that of other theories that can be grouped into this bracket.

In this part we will turn our attention to a detailed analysis of the action axiom – the keystone of Misesian economic theory – and its implications for concepts that we readily encounter in libertarianism.

Somewhat ironically, it was largely as a result of his influence that the wertfreiheit of Mises’ praxeology was regarded as a separate discipline from the search for an ultimate, ethical justification of liberty – a belief that was sustained by Murray N Rothbard.1 In more recent years, Hans-Hermann Hoppe has probably come closest to providing a link between the two through his derivation of “argumentation ethics” within the praxeological framework, and his identification of the pervasive problem of scarcity – a key praxeological concept – as underpinning any system of ethics.

Nevertheless, one may conclude that a full reconciliation, or synthesis, between the two is still wanting and that there remain other important commonalities to which this essay will seek to provide an introduction. Some of what we will learn below will have implications for a general understanding of right, and that the truths we reveal are inescapable for any political philosophy. Others will be specifically pertinent to libertarianism and will provide us with insights as to how we can further the libertarian goal. Continue reading

Sleeping on (and off) the protests


Christopher Houseman

I was watching the BBC state o’clock news at midday, in which a correspondent was covering the protests by Spanish public sector workers over an across the board 5pc pay cut there. She noted that the protesters converged in the morning on the “Economics Ministry”, where they passed the time chanting slogans and banging saucepans – until it was time to go home for their siesta.

Now don’t get me wrong, anyone who’s been to Spain knows how thoroughly sensible it is to have a long lunch and an afternoon snooze there, particularly in the summer. But even so, there’s something quite satisfyingly ironic about public sector workers having to leave their own protest for a long lunch and forty winks to follow.

When Spain’s public sector turkeys can’t stay awake to protest against their approaching Christmas, I think Spain’s beleaguered private sector may be in for better times ahead… eventually.