This is Mises's classic statement in defense of a free society, one of the last statements of the old liberal school and a text from which we can continue to learn. It has been the conscience of a global movement for liberty for 80 years. This edition, from the Mises Institute, features a new foreword by Thomas Woods.

It first appeared in 1927, as a followup to both his devastating 1922 book showing that socialism would fail, and his 1926 book on interventionism.

It was written to address the burning question: if not socialism, and if not fascism or interventionism, what form of social arrangements are most conducive to human flourishing? Mises's answer is summed up in the title, by which he meant classical liberalism.

Mises did more than restate classical doctrine. He gave a thoroughly modern defense of freedom, one that corrected the errors of the old liberal school by rooting the idea of liberty in the institution of private property (a subject on which the classical school was sometimes unclear). Here is the grand contribution of this volume.

"The program of liberalism, therefore, if condensed into a single word, would have to read: property, that is, private ownership of the means of production... All the other demands of liberalism result from this fundamental demand."

But there are other insights too. He shows that political decentralization and secession are the best means to peace and political liberty. As for religion, he recommends the complete separation of church and state. On immigration, he favors the freedom of movement. On culture, he praised the political virtue of tolerance. On education: state involvement must end, and completely.

He deals frankly with the nationalities problem, and provides a stirring defense of rationalism as the essential foundation of liberal political order. He discusses political strategy, and the relationship of liberalism to special-interest politics.

In some ways, this is the most political of Mises's treatises, and also one of the most inspiring books ever written on the idea of liberty. It remains the book that can set the world on fire for freedom, which is probably why it has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Socialism is the watchword and the catchword of our day. The socialist idea dominates the modem spirit. The masses approve of it. It expresses the thoughts and feelings of all; it has set its seal upon our time. When history comes to tell our story it will write above the chapter “The Epoch of Socialism.”

As yet, it is true, Socialism has not created a society which can be said to represent its ideal. But for more than a generation the policies of civilized nations have been directed towards nothing less than a gradual realization of Socialism.17 In recent years the movement has grown noticeably in vigour and tenacity. Some nations have sought to achieve Socialism, in its fullest sense, at a single stroke. Before our eyes Russian Bolshevism has already accomplished something which, whatever we believe to be its significance, must by the very magnitude of its design be regarded as one of the most remarkable achievements known to world history. Elsewhere no one has yet achieved so much. But with other peoples only the inner contradictions of Socialism itself and the fact that it cannot be completely realized have frustrated socialist triumph. They also have gone as far as they could under the given circumstances. Opposition in principle to Socialism there is none. Today no influential party would dare openly to advocate Private Property in the Means of Production. The word “Capitalism” expresses, for our age, the sum of all evil. Even the opponents of Socialism are dominated by socialist ideas. In seeking to combat Socialism from the standpoint of their special class interest these opponents—the parties which particularly call themselves “bourgeois” or “peasant”—admit indirectly the validity of all the essentials of socialist thought. For if it is only possible to argue against the socialist programme that it endangers the particular interests of one part of humanity, one has really affirmed Socialism. If one complains that the system of economic and social organization which is based on private property in the means of production does not sufficiently consider the interests of the community, that it serves only the purposes of single strata, and that it limits productivity; and if therefore one demands with the supporters of the various “social-political” and “social-reform” movements, state interference in all fields of economic life, then one has fundamentally accepted the principle of the socialist programme. Or again, if one can only argue against socialism that the imperfections of human nature make its realization impossible, or that it is inexpedient under existing economic conditions to proceed at once to socialization, then one merely confesses that one has capitulated to socialist ideas. The nationalist, too, affirms socialism, and objects only to its Internationalism. He wishes to combine Socialism with the ideas of Imperialism and the struggle against foreign nations. He is a national, not an international socialist; but he, also, approves of the essential principles of Socialism.
Liberty is not, as the German precursors of Nazism asserted, a negative ideal. Whether a concept is presented in an affirmative or in a negative form is merely a question of idiom. Freedom from want is tantamount to the expression striving after a state of affairs under which people are better supplied with necessities. Freedom of speech is tantamount to a state of affairs under which everybody can say what he wants to say. At the bottom of all totalitarian doctrines lies the belief that the rulers are wiser and loftier than their subjects and that they therefore know better what benefits those ruled than they themselves. Werner Sombart, for many years a fanatical champion of Marxism and later a no less fanatical advocate of Nazism, was bold enough to assert frankly that the Führer gets his orders from God, the supreme Führer of the universe, and that Führertum is a permanent revelation.* Whoever admits this, must, of course, stop questioning the expediency of government omnipotence. Those disagreeing with this theocratical justification of dictatorship claim for themselves the right to discuss freely the problems involved. They do not write state with a capital S. They do not shrink from analyzing the metaphysical notions of Hegelianism and Marxism. They reduce all this high-sounding oratory to the simple question: are the means suggested suitable to attain the ends sought? In answering this question, they hope to render a service to the great majority of their fellow men.
Mortal man does not know how the universe and all that it contains may appear to a superhuman intelligence. Perhaps such an exalted mind is in a position to elaborate a coherent and comprehensive monistic interpretation of all phenomena. Man—up to now, at least—has always gone lamentably amiss in his attempts to bridge the gulf that he sees yawning between mind and matter, between the rider and the horse, between the mason and the stone. It would be preposterous to view this failure as a sufficient demonstration of the soundness of a dualistic philosophy. All that we can infer from it is that science—at least for the time being—must adopt a dualistic approach, less as a philosophical explanation than as a methodological device.

Methodological dualism refrains from any proposition concerning essences and metaphysical constructs. It merely takes into account the fact that we do not know how external events—physical, chemical, and physiological—affect human thoughts, ideas, and judgments of value. This ignorance splits the realm of knowledge into two separate fields, the realm of external events, commonly called nature, and the realm of human thought and action.

Older ages looked upon the issue from a moral or religious point of view. Materialist monism was rejected as incompatible with the Christian dualism of the Creator and the creation, and of the immortal soul and the mortal body. Determinism was rejected as incompatible with the fundamental principles of morality as well as with the penal code. Most of what was advanced in these controversies to support the respective dogmas was unessential and is irrelevant from the methodological point of view of our day. The determinists did little more than repeat their thesis again and again, without trying to substantiate it. The indeterminists denied their adversaries’ statements but were unable to strike at their weak points. The long debates were not very helpful.
“It is impossible to grasp the meaning of the idea of sound money if one does not realize that it was devised as an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments.” – from The Theory of Money and Credit

Originally published in 1912, Ludwig von Mises’s The Theory of Money and Credit remains today one of economic theory’s most influential and controversial treatises. Von Mises’s examination into monetary theory changed forever the world of economic thought when he successfully integrated “macroeconomics” into “microeconomics” —previously deemed an impossible task —as well as offering explanations into the origin, value and future of money.

One hundred years later, von Mises and the Austrian school of economic theory are still fiercely debated by world economists in their search for the solution to America’s current financial crisis. His theorems continue to inspire politicians and market experts who aim to raise up the common man and reduce the financial power of governments. In a preface added in 1952, von Mises urges the people of the world to see economic truth:

“The great inflations of our age are not acts of God. They are man-made or, to say it bluntly, government-made. They are the off-shoots of doctrines that ascribe to governments the magic power of creating wealth out of nothing and of making people happy by raising the ‘national income.’”

“The best book on money ever written.” —Murray Rothbard, economist and historian

“The greatest economist of the twentieth century.” —Sandeep Jaitly, economist
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