von Mises: the Economics of Liberty

The Theory of Money and Credit at 100 :: The Circle Bastiat

His conclusion:

If it seems that I judge The Theory of Money and Credit harshly, it is only because Mises did some work that was truly great [emphasis mine], and The Theory of Money and Credit was merely good [emphasis mine]. “Good” is a status still sufficiently rare that the number of books on monetary theory that are its equal in terms of their contribution to the subject would not fill a bookcase.

The book is better than good. Rothbard assessment is included in this description from the mises.org website:

This classic treatise on monetary theory remains the definitive book on the foundations of monetary theory, and the first really great integration of microeconomics and macroeconomics. As Rothbard points out in his introduction to “the best book on money ever written,” economists have yet to absorb all its lessons.

I must admit, while I find TMC foundational, often in my own work, when I draw on Mises, which is frequently,  I probably more often turn to Human Action and On the Manipulation of Money and Credit, now available as Causes of the Economic Crisis.

Schuler reminds us, quite rightly how many “important books on money at around the same time by other economists have now been forgotten.” Perhaps this has more to do with the book itself than Schuler will admit. It was not only important at time, but exceptional, if difficult, and important then and now.

1593. Benjamin Franklin (1706-90). Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

And of course the subtext of that is: “Liberty, if you can keep it.”

If we are to fight to keep or restore our liberties, we must do the necessary things that are required in order to do so effectively. One of the most important things is to educate ourselves on the foundational principles of the acquisitaion and maintenance of individual liberty. The “dismal science” of economics includes much of the real-world underpinnings of such principles, not to mention the means of attacking them.

If you doubt that assertion, consider how economic need has affected the American body politic. As more and more individuals have bartered their liberty for the temporary security of welfare transfers of one sort or another, they have moved from being part of the solution that leads to individual freedom, and become part of the problem of majoritarian socialist tyranny.

von Mises is one of the giants of the economics of liberty. He will well repay some study on the part of anybody who is interested in participating as a soldier on the side of liberty in the battle against tyranny.

Books by Ludwig von Mises

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


von Mises: the Economics of Liberty — 2 Comments

  1. von Mises’ TMCC is, along with Hayek’s ‘Constitution of Liberty,’ what I consider “junior” year reading for Tea Party types who’d never heard of either man (and many others) until 2009, and that’s not back-handed (or at least not intended that way). Both works are difficult, complicated, long and extremely dry, especially if the subject-matter each tackles isn’t something you have a natural affinity for or academic training in, but they are primers that are accessible and beautiful, and as relevant today as when written.

    I’m not alone among Rand fans when I say that Frisco’s “money speech” is the best thing she ever wrote, in part because it distills a complicated topic (money and its meaning, duh) into everyday language that almost anyone can understand. If you’re the kind of person who reads that passage on a semi-regular basis, then TMC will be right up your alley. Good stuff.

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