Sleeping Giant of the Twentieth Century
Writings on Ludwig von Mises
Ludwig Mises (1881-1973) ranks with Popper as a giant of the 20th century. Arguably the most important economist of his time, he was also a polymathic scholar in the social sciences at large. He lived from the year that Carl Menger published the book that launched the Austrian school of economics, to the year before the revival of the school commenced in the US.
It was Mises who consolidated the legacy of Menger and Bohm Bawerk, first in Vienna and Geneva, then in the US after WW2. His best known pupil is Hayek, others include Haberler, Machlup, Morgenstern, Kirzner and Rothbard. From 1909 to 1934 he worked in the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, giving advice to the Government on monetary and financial policy. During the Great War he served for a year in active service with the artillery in the Ukraine.
The first of his three major books was The Theory of Money and Credit (1912) which applied the concept of marginal utility to money and also set forth the first version of the Austrian theory of the trade cycle. In 1919 he published a criticism of “war socialism” and National Socialism” followed by his papers on the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism that culminated in his second major book Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis (1922).
Like Popper, he saw what was likely to happen when Hitler came to power and he moved from Vienna to Geneva in 1934. When Hitler swallowed Austria he no longer felt safe in Switzerland and he moved on to the US in 1940. In Geneva he completed the German version of the book that later appeard as his third masterpiece, Human Action (1949).
Through the 1920s and 1930s he wrote a series of papers on philosophical and methodological issues. His major targets were historicism and positivism but remarkably there was no cross-referencing between Popper and Mises on these topics. The synergy of ideas between these two giants has yet to be realised.
Quick Access to Mises Materials
Rafe Champion's introduction to the the Austrian school of economics as it relates to the agenda for deregulation in Australia during the 1980s