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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11148/ropke-stood-against-the-tide/

Röpke Stood Against the Tide

December 3, 2009 by

Personalities such as Mises, Menger, and Röpke were not in the fashion. If it had been that way when he was a student, said Dr. Erhard, he would never have become an economist. FULL ARTICLE by John Chamberlain

{ 3 comments }

Caley McKibbin December 3, 2009 at 11:07 am

The problem is that the economics profession is just a lot of useless chaffs that try to appear respectable by applying the veneer of a respected thing such as math.

Paul Stephens December 3, 2009 at 10:22 pm

I was an undergrad in economics from 1965-69, and subscribed to the Freeman (which actually was free to anyone who requested it) throughout this period. And I read a couple of John Chamberlain’s books, including one about the history of the American industrial capitalists.
The last paragraph of this essay indicates why I became a “socialist” or advocate of a “welfare state” rather than continuing as “an advocate of capitalism.”
Chamberlain does very well in explaining that small, homogenous countries like Denmark or Switzerland did very well without “Lebensraum” or resource colonies and captive markets to fuel their growth and prosperity. But he leaves out the fact that they were (and are) comprehensive “welfare states” which provide for all the basic needs and aspirations of their people.
I had spent 6 weeks in Norway in 1963 at a summer school (and I am half-Norwegian by descent). So, I was able to witness first-hand how a war-ravaged, occupied country, with few natural resources and little farmland, was clawing back to its pre-war position as a country with the 4th largest merchant fleet, a wealthy middle-class, and very advanced educational and cultural attainments. I was struck, especially, by the intense patriotism and reverence which young people there had for their country and traditions – something which seemed “square” to us (American teenagers).
Even then, our teachers told us, there were “no slums” in Norway. High school students didn’t drive cars, like we did, but they had great sports facilities, and the wealthier ones did have Vespas or other motorbikes. They read and spoke 3 or more languages – often knowing English better than we did – and had very liberated views and behavior, but very refined and ethical, as well. Yet, statistically, they were a very poor country at that time – half or less the “standard of living” we had, then, but a much higher “quality of life.”
I would maintain that the “social market economy” is exactly what we need. Keynesianism is certainly an elitist and statist way of looking at things, and organizing a society, and is anything but “social democracy” or any sort of “socialism” at all.
The Scandinavians, Swiss, and other social democratic (with regionalized, localized self-government) are definitely the way to go, and Germany did well to follow Erhard and Roepke, rather than Keynes or Marx. Indeed, the Nazi system, like Italian Fascism, was basically Keynesian or even Marxist state capitalism in its essentials. And like the U.S. today, it was WAR Keynesianism, not the simple manipulations of the money supply and thinking in “aggregates.”
Our government, today, thinks that the answer is to “tax and spend” (Democrats) or “borrow and spend” (Republicans), without any concern about opportunity costs, or whether these particular taxes and spending priorities actually serve any human needs.
Obviously, a well-run totalitarian system could do much better than what we have here, today, in terms of serving human needs. But since everyone believes that the state is evil, that will never happen. And even if they believed in the idea of a state, as Germans, Russians, and French have developed it since the Enlightenment, it would only work for those who have access to and control over state mechanisms. Such a state requires organizing all of the citizens into blocs or coalitions which are recognized and powerful. Few Americans nowadays are represented by anyone but their jailers or case-workers. Instead, we are prey to the loan sharks, insurance rackets, and every other sort of exploitation. And we have nothing like the free press or freedom to dissent which are essential to a free society. Six media monopolies control 80% or more of what we see, hear, and read.
One would hope that the internet and this kind of “free association” might save us. That remains to be seen.
Thanks for being here, Mises Institute!

newson December 3, 2009 at 11:02 pm

paul stephens says (on norway):
“…a war-ravaged, occupied country, with few natural resources and little farmland, was clawing back to its pre-war position as a country with the 4th largest merchant fleet, a wealthy middle-class, and very advanced educational and cultural attainments.”

the counterargument: post-war kong kong.

n.b.: norway is a resource-rich nation, always has been. traditional industries like fisheries and timber were joined by oil in the 60′s.

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