Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ludwig von Mises and the Real Meaning of Liberalism

Ludwig von Mises

Richard Ebeling emails:

Dear Bob,

My new article on the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation is on, “Ludwig von Mises and the Real Meaning of Liberalism.”

“Liberalism” is one of the most misused and abused political terms in the American lexicon, sometimes taken to mean
the enlightened notion of “progressive” policies to advance “social justice” through redistribution, and at other times is condemned as reflecting the arrogant belief in paternalistic government and merely another word for what used to be called socialism.

The fact is, “liberalism” originally meant individual liberty, respect for private property, free enterprise, freedom of trade, impartial rule of law, and constitutionally limited government. One of its leading proponents in the twentieth century was the Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, and this is reflected in his 1927 book, “Liberalism: the Classical Tradition,” which this year marks the ninetieth anniversary since its publication.

In Mises’s able hands liberalism is shown to be the practical political application of the great discovery of economics that human prosperity and well being will be greatly advanced when men participate in a social system of division of labor. But such a mutually advantageous system of interdependent cooperation requires individual freedom of choice and action, private property rights, and a peaceful arena of production and trade. And why this is only possible in a truly free market competitive economy, with both socialist central planning and the interventionist state unworkable alternatives.

At a time of continuing political and military global tensions, Mises also explained how the classical liberal vision extended to the international arena opened the vista of a world with peace and prosperity for all. And how it is the power of ideas that determines the course of human events, with nothing “inevitable” leading to a collectivist and politically planned future.

Though written nine decades ago, Mises’s “Liberalism” contains a timeless relevancy for understanding and dealing with the current problems of our own society.



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