|Ludwig von Mises|
By Jeff Deist
What a wonderful gathering of students today, on this impressive and beautiful campus. We can see why Hans Sennholz loved this place, and why Drs. Herbener and Ritenour so enjoy living and teaching here. You are all too young to serve as the “remnant,” so we will consider you the vanguard instead. I’m always impressed by young people with an interest in serious scholarship and ideas, who have the intellect to read 900-page books. We are told nobody reads anymore, and certainly not dense tomes about economic theory, but this raises a question: are the rare people who do read such books likely to be more important or less important in the future? I suspect the former.
Imagine how pleased Ludwig von Mises would be by this conference today, to know people still find his work vital and relevant nearly half a century after his death. He is far better known today, and far more widely read, than during his lifetime. And most of his important works today are available in multiple languages, online, free and instantly to anyone around the world. What more could any important thinker want?
Human Action, to make the broader point that human history is not deterministic, that individuals acting purposefully and willfully could change their fortunes. In other words, human volition trumps fate. We are all possessed of at least some measure of our own élan vital.
Dead Economists vs. Presentism
we know there is no New Economics any more than there is new physics or new calculus. There are advances and discoveries in economic science, and there are new technologies which of course have an enormous effect on economies. But economics is, and always will be, about human action in the context of choice, scarcity, opportunity cost, and subjective measures of value.
New York Times pundits get their views, even if they don’t have much of a sense of their place in the field. And why should they? It’s entirely possible to obtain a PhD in economics without taking a single course in the history of economic thought. Their economics represent warmed-over Marx, or Keynes, or John Kenneth Galbraith, or Paul Samuelson, though they rarely mention these names. They don’t announce themselves as neo-Keynesians, or Samuelsonites, or as advancing the views of any dead economist—because presentism makes that unthinkable. They are their own economists!
über alles. That’s how the modern profession thinks we create an economy.
old economics. It’s a marketing problem in a world of presentism! Are modern Austrians simply less egotistical than their peers, and thus attempt to provide support and foundation for their work? Do they simply recognize economics is built on an edifice of previous knowledge which can’t be thrown out with the bathwater at every new crisis?
How Economics Lost Its Way
Why We Need Mises
Human Action to any random page can yield immediate benefits. To use an analogy from the days when music came on vinyl and compact discs, with songs in a particular order, there are no throwaway songs in Mises’s work.
purposively struggling against the forces adverse to (us).”
Not the kind of stuff I remember from my undergraduate micro class!