Comment: Re: Stop associating

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Re: Stop associating

OctoBox: "Mises did not agree with NAP -- He was in favor of 'value-free' analysis. That is just fact, as well."

“Western civilization is based upon the libertarian principle, and all its achievements are the results of the action of free men.” —Ludwig von Mises

As Stephen Kinsella writes:

Ludwig von Mises unabashedly identified with a “specific political movement”: that of liberalism. In fact, he wrote a book on it.

And Mises saw no contradiction between his forthright liberalism and his adherence to value-free scholarship. In his liberalism, he did not impose his own moral ends on others. He simply made the reasonable assumption that, outside of the handful of aescetics in the world…

"people prefer life to death, health to sickness, nourishment to starvation, abundance to poverty." (Human Action, Chapter 8, Section 2)

As a liberal and as an economist, he sought to teach his fellow man “how to act in accordance with these valuations.” And regarding such modes of action, economics, as Mises saw it, is not ambivalent. Rather, as Jorg Guido Hulsmann put it, in his splendid biography, Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism, economics is…

"… a science with clear political implications, not a mere intellectual exercise." (Page 547)

Mises also saw, according to Hulsmann, that in the 1920s…

"…an increasing number of young economists turned their attention to abstract and technical problems…

Mises observed that this retreat from traditional economic inquiry was in part the result of a perverse interpretation of value-freedom in the social Sciences. According to this view, any critique of practical politics, by the very fact that it deals with a political problem, cannot possibly be scientific. Such was the strongly held opinion of Friedrich von Wieser and others. Mises did not concur.

Economic analysis is suitability analysis; it examines whether a proposed means is fit to attain a purported end. This is a factual question and thus subject to a scientific answer. Economists can invoke the authority of their science when they reject a policy that does not achieve what its proponents say it will. Mises concluded by pointing out that erroneous notions of value-freedom threatened to make the research of the rising generation sterile…" (pages 549-550)

Firm political stances and value-free scholarship are not antithetical. Just as there is nothing untoward in a physician maintaining an uncompromising position on eating out of lead-based cans, there is nothing untoward in an economist maintaining an uncompromising advocacy for the abolition of the Federal Reserve. I borrow this line of argument from Mises himself, who wrote (emphasis added):

"Socialism cannot be realized because it is beyond human power to establish it as a social system. The choice is between capitalism and chaos. A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings. TO STRESS THIS POINT IS THE TASK OF ECONOMICS AS IT IS THE TASK OF BIOLOGY AND CHEMISTRY TO TEACH THAT POTASSIUM CYANIDE IS NOT A NUTRIENT BUT DEADLY POISON."

"I hate government as much as government hates freedom, and that's a lot." - Mike Malin

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