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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Last Knight of Liberalism

Ronald Reagan sometimes quoted Ludwig von Mises in his speeches. Too bad he didn't attempt to put more of Mises's ideas into practice.

From Barron's, December 17, 2007:

LUDWIG VON MISES (pronounced "meezis") had an unusually active existence for a person who mainly led a life of the mind. That life makes for a good story, skillfully told in Mises (Mises Institute, 2007) by economist Jorg Guido Hulsmann. To find this lengthy biography enthralling, however, it is probably necessary to feel some connection to Mises' intellectual achievement as the dean of the Austrian School of economics. Hulsmann makes us aware of the man's stunning originality. But a useful companion volume to the biography is the great work Human Action (Mises Institute, 1998), which Mises first published in English in 1949, nine years after he and his wife fled Hitler for New York City.

Ironies abound in Mises' story. Had he not been a Jew forced to flee the Nazis, he would not have taught his legendary seminar at New York University, or published in English, which inspired his brilliant American disciples. And as an almost delicious irony, documents taken by the Nazis from Mises' Vienna apartment were later taken by the Red Army, only to be discovered in a Moscow archive in 1991 -- after the demise of the economic system whose doom Mises anticipated -- so that Hulsmann could eventually use them for his biography of Mises. The biography's subtitle, The Last Knight of Liberalism, should also be read ironically. Mises was also the first knight of an intellectual movement that has disciples all over the world.

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