Good manners forbid that I should detail the reasons for these assertions, as well as refer to his domestic life, except to state that without the loving care and constant watch of his wife, Margit, Professor Mises would never have completed the incredible amount of work which he has accomplished. Some years ago Ludwig von Mises joined those select few like Kant, Voltaire, and Goethe who reached an age denied most men, in full possession of their mental gifts, in lively contact with the world, and as active as always in their fields of interest.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday we can only present him with a modest and very incomplete proof of the fact that we have tried to follow his lead. When reason, science, and freedom reign once again in the world, as it is our hope and Edition: current; Page: [ viii ] conviction that they shall, Ludwig von Mises will not be alone.
The admiration and gratitude of all men will accompany him. In he emigrated to the United States, and from here his influence spread over many nations through his lectures and writings.
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He has been a consultant and advisor to numerous business and research organizations. A library possessing all the books by Ludwig von Mises would have nineteen volumes if it confined itself to first editions, forty-six volumes if it included all revised editions and foreign translations, and still more if it possessed the Festschriften and other volumes containing contributions by him. This stream of publications began in …. The stream of students that has come out of his seminars is no less remarkable than his literary output.
His published work ranges from economic history and history of thought to methodology and political philosophy, with special emphasis on monetary theory, international finance, business fluctuations, price and wage theory, industrial organization, and economic systems. It would not be possible to enumerate the ideas which Mises has originated and disseminated over the years, but some of the most fruitful may be mentioned: in monetary theory, the application of marginal utility theory to the explanation of the demand for money; in business cycle theory, certain amendments to the Wicksellian theory of the cumulative process and a demonstration that a monetary policy stabilizing Edition: current; Page: [ x ] certain price indices would not at the same time stabilize business activity; in the theory of socialist economic planning, the discovery that the type of economic calculation required for an efficient allocation of resources cannot be carried out without a system of competitive market prices.
The recent movements toward decentralized planning in several Soviet-type economies add the endorsement of history to the insights at which Mises arrived almost fifty years ago.
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Others are lost, perhaps forever, due to his early files and records having been ransacked shortly after Hitler's army invaded Austria in This remarkable man has appropriately been called a scholar's scholar and a champion of the potential of humans. His rare degree of philosophic conscience and scientific integrity not only has contributed the powerful force of his ideas themselves, but also has inspired untold numbers of persons to heights of intellectual attainment otherwise hardly conceivable.
Some of these fruits are on the pages which follow, from a few of his friends and admirers. It is a great honour to be able to share this deserved homage to Professor Doctor Ludwig von Mises. He is undoubtedly the most enlightened man of thought of our times, consubstantiated with the basic principles which brought about the greatness of western civilization.
Constantly, in his teachings, he has been loyal to scientific truth. The intelectual integrity of Professor Mises is the best example for students who love truth. If human beings wish to enjoy prosperity all that government can do is to establish and support the institutional system which enables the maximum accumulation of capital. This system is the classic capitalism based on private property and free market. All the wrong economic policies that nowadays prevail are anticapitalistic and antiliberal, in different degrees.
These antiliberal policies are always poisoned with demagogic ingredients. Mises' teachings show the relevance of private property and individual freedom for the improvement of civilization. Freedom and property are always very important subjects. The decay of civilization at present shows us how important Edition: current; Page: [ 2 ] it is to recover the complete force of private property in order to preserve individual freedom. Our times are inclined to destruction. Changes take place swiftly while destruction is being accomplished. Without analyzing the causes of the evils that we wish to avoid, and without knowing the real significance of social institutions, without minding what comes next, a blind impulse brings about senseless changes.
The remnants of many free institutions are being threatened to be extinguished. Under these circumstances it is a good idea to stop and think. Let us cast a look upon one of the basic constituents of civilization. During these hard times, private property, pursued and crippled, has become a kind of Cinderella. This Cinderella is threatened by many social reforms that makes her the real scapegoat.
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In this way civilization retreats, because private property is its irreplaceable basis and is the principal component of individual freedom. Throughout human history we can see that the great advances of civilization take place at a time when private property exists as a basic social institution.
Western civilization owes its progress in a great measure to the existence and due respect of the right of property. Private property is born with the right to live. To preserve life implies to enjoy the fruits of one's labour freely.
Without doubt labour belongs in property to the one that accomplishes it, as does our organism to us. Private property of the intellectual, or manual work or services performed.
The great political movements that brought about a high civilization recognized private property as the background of social order. Private property is a part of individual liberty and it is Edition: current; Page: [ 3 ] as important as life itself, thus none of them can be deprived at will. This is the sense of the declarations on private property contained in the documents of democratic revolutions against absolute monarchies—English, American and French revolutions are the proof. The same thing can be said of the movements for independence in the whole of America.
The same idea is reflected in the modern Constitutions which were the basis of the political organizations of the new nations. Although liberty is the essential element of the advance of civilization, private property is its prerequisite and its principal component. We cannot imagine individual freedom without private property.
To acquire and possess private property and its free disposal, is indispensable for the free creative activity of individuals. Freedom to create involves the existence of individual property. Individual property makes it possible to exchange goods and services. Individual property makes these exchanges the most useful and it enriches the members of society. The worker who suffers violation of the property of his earnings does not enjoy freedom. And the property of his earnings is violated, for instance, when governments and unions deprive him by force of a portion of his income, to spend it on different purposes than those freely chosen by the owner.
This is the case of compulsory contributions for retirements, pensions, etc. That is to say, whenever the system and the contribution have not been accepted voluntarily by those who have to pay. If civilization is nowadays under crisis, it is in great measure due to the deterioration of private property which, in some cases, has even been totally abolished, just as Marx, Engels and Lenin wished.
Even in those places where private property has not been totally abolished, it has been discredited by unjust legislations. These unjust legislations have been established by the impulse Edition: current; Page: [ 4 ] of the fashionable demagogy. Freedom is not defended as it should be. These people, sometimes well intended, do not realize the preeminent rank of private property in social institutions. Besides its other qualities, private property is one of the bastions that confers independence to the individual, and makes it possible for him to resist the lurking intent of political power to outbound itself.
The advantages accomplished by the collectivists in the dramatic ideological struggle between liberty and collectivism are due, in great measure, to the success of the preachings of Marxism. These preachings are led to soften the defence of private property which should be undefeatable, since it is the background of progress of civilization. The demagogic spirit accompanies, supports and stimulates every advance of collectivism. This always leads to deteriorate private property. The eternal facing between rich and poor is provoked by demagogues, and determines hard feelings in the people as well as low passions.
This facing is at present also at international level, because international bureaucrats have been practicing demagogy for some time now, pretending that the poverty of the poor countries is due to the richness of rich countries. The pure emotional element blinds reason. Conscious or unconsciously, along this path, the gates are opened for ignorance to mislead the real causes that provoke wealth or poverty. Laziness is also stimulated in this way. In this manner it is encouraged to hate capital, notwithstanding capital being the fundamental factor for redemption of the poor.
Capital is precisely the element that cannot be substituted to increase mass production of goods and services. And mass production of goods and services has no other destiny than mass consumption, which, consequently, improves the standard of living of the masses. Since the saving spirit has been weakened, the investment of capital is impeded. And, as we know, investment of capital is the real redeemer of poverty.
In this atmosphere, poisoned by error, it becomes very difficult to defend private property and its essential attributes, as civilization demands. Nowadays, in the opinion of many of our contemporaries, to own goods and use them, as well as dispose of them freely, has not the same significance as it used to have for our Founding Fathers. Free and contractual society tends, in this way, to be replaced by collectivistic and hegemonic society.
The will of the parties, which does not affect the rights of others, is not the supreme law any more. Authoritarian government neglects such a law in order to impose its paternalistic dictates.
Along such a path sometimes government uses intimidation and even violence, by means of the unions. In these cases the unions often stand on the basis of a totalitarian legislation, which accumulates privileges, violating private property as well as freedom to work, to contract and to associate. The advance of collectivistic conception of the society based on hegemonic principles changes the structure of government. Government expands its function and enlarges its costly dimension, sometimes politically supported by gigantic unions, often of spurious origin.
Governments become entrepeneurs and manage railroads, telephones, oil, banks, power: governments become merchants, liquor dealers, manufacturers, etc. They assume most of the functions that are forbidden to the State in a free society based on contractual principles. Limited government, characteristic of free societies is being replaced by omnipotent government, characteristic of hegemonic societies. In this process, property and freedom deteriorate. Government intensifies its extraofficial activities at a time when the fulfilment of its specific functions is considerably weakened.
The effective protection of life, property and freedom is becoming more and more neglected. Governments are at present devoted to many activities alien to their proper functions. At the same time they lack efficient means to put Edition: current; Page: [ 6 ] an end to terrorism and subversion, with their sequel of murders, kidnappings, thefts and depredations, which put governments in a tight corner.