From the Editor—January/February 2024

  • February 21, 2024
  • 0
  • 67 Views

Welcome to the first issue of The Misesian.

We’ve decided to rename The Austrian magazine The Misesian to emphasize how Ludwig von Mises remains at the center of everything that that is today called the Austrian School of economics.

When the Mises Institute was founded more than forty years ago, most of our supporters were directly connected to Mises. First and foremost was Mises’s widow, Margit, whose tireless work in preserving Mises’s legacy lives on at the Mises Institute. The Institute also benefited from early support from Mises’s student F.A. Hayek, who won his Nobel Prize specifically for the Mises-Hayek business cycle theory. Journalist Henry Hazlitt was a great admirer of Mises and brilliantly popularized his work in regular columns for publications like Newsweek and the New York Times. And, of course, there was Murray Rothbard, Mises’s student and disciple, who brought Mises’s work to new generations of scholars and students.

To be a Misesian means to reject the usual milquetoast third-way fare that passes for “free-market” activism in much of today’s political discourse. Even in a time when Marxism was taken very seriously and the “mixed economy” was presumed the wave of future, Mises remained uncompromising, radical, and rigorous in a way that has been seen in few others. We hope to capture these qualities of steadfastness that made Mises so special in the pages of The Misesian for our readers.

So, it seems fitting that the first issue of The Misesian showcases important new scholarship from Mises’s biographer, Jörg Guido Hülsmann. In this issue, we examine in some detail Professor Hülsmann’s new book, Abundance, Generosity, and the State. This book breaks new ground in extending the Austrian School’s insights to the economics of charity, gifts, and donations.

This is an important but much neglected field of economics. This neglect has done quite a bit of damage to economics over the decades. After all, it’s not unusual for critics of economics to tell us economics offers no explanation of how or why people do anything other than “maximize profit” or pursue wealth above all else. Economists, we are told, are wedded to the model of Homo economicus, in which human beings think only in terms of cold, hard cash. If this is true, then economists must have few insights into why people would raise children or give gifts away with no expectation of any repayment.

Mises himself did not subscribe to this simplistic view of economics, of course, and his work helped lay the foundation for Dr. Hülsmann’s new scholarship. In order to gain a more sophisticated understanding of economics and human action, economists must also address how human beings act when money profits are not a concern. They must also understand how state intervention has distorted and destroyed the charity and generosity that is such a critical part of human civilization. If you’re into really sinking your teeth into some serious economic insights, I think you’ll like this issue.

In the following pages you’ll also find two new book reviews from David Gordon. In the first, Dr. Gordon reviews Jennifer Burns’s new biography of Milton Friedman. In its pages, Dr. Gordon finds some of the many ways that Friedman led economics away from sound theory and toward support for monetary expansion and blind empiricism. Friedman was no fan of Mises, and it showed. In the second review, Dr. Gordon takes a more measured view of the great conservative scholar Claes Ryn. Although Ryn misunderstood capitalism and markets in many ways, he also understood the grave danger posed by neoconservatives like Harry Jaffa.

As always, you’ll also find in these pages news about our events, students, and scholars. The Mises Institute is much more than a publishing house or a website. It is a campus, a school, and a community of like-minded people working to carry on Mises’s legacy.