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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11426/the-planning-states-of-the-1940s/

The Planning States of the 1940s

January 11, 2010 by

Harry Hopkins — of “tax-tax, spend-spend, elect-elect” fame — argued in the early 1940s that in order to defeat the Nazis, the United States had to become like them. FULL ARTICLE by Chris Westley


Ohhh Henry January 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

“Mises argues here that such interventions always lead to a state of affairs worse than that which existed prior to the intervention. Faced with this situation, the planners have two options. Either they can repeal the intervention and allow the previous relationships to reassert themselves, which would happen when (for instance) workers made unemployed by minimum-wage legislation are able to sell their labor again once that intervention in the labor market is abolished, or, faced with unforeseen problems resulting from their intervention in the market, they can respond with new levels of bureaucracy and compulsion designed to mitigate them. Sadly, planners often choose the second option, setting into motion a cycle that, taken to its logical extreme, results in the complete socialization of society, the necessity of a police state, and the repeal of the rule of law.

I would amend the last sentence to say, “As expected, planners nearly always choose the second option, because the socialization of society, the creation of a police state and repeal of the rule of law are results which benefit the planners.”

I believe that HHH explained this, more or less as follows: since they own a monopoly on the arbitration of disputes between citizens, including disputes between themselves and the public, the government will tend to settle disputes in its own favor. And because of this the government has a motivation to create even more disturbances in society as a means of providing more opportunities to take advantage of its lucrative monopoly on the resolution of such disputes.

I only wish to emphasize that it is not a case of misfortune, or poor choices, or lack of information, or even morality as to whether a central planner will tend to make society worse than they found it. It is practically guaranteed that they will do so because as normal human beings they will follow their nature and exploit any advantage to their own benefit. The sad thing is, in other words, that the government exists, not that its agents happen to use its power for their own benefit rather than the benefit of others.

We can define the intellectual position of a minarchist in this way: a minarchist is someone who appreciates the calculation problem, but who (illogically) wishes to believe that government agents are not motivated to do their jobs badly and that they can be persuaded to wield their power for the benefit of the governed rather than for their own benefit.

While the latter can happen, one thinks of Mises persuading the Austrian government to refrain from printing money as recklessly as the Weimar republic, the eventual voluntary merger of Austria with the Nazis and its economic and political destruction in the war I think provides ample demonstration of the essentially incorrigible nature of the government and the futility of trying to influence it “for the better”.

Stuart MacLean January 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm

“You might not know this, based on documentaries, or at least the kind of documentaries favored by cable history or public-broadcast channels, which depict that decade’s world war as a difficult but glorious triumph of American will over tyranny. In such venues, despots were stopped; countries were liberated, and a united United States and its “greatest generation” defined itself to a grateful world as a force of peace through strength.”

Christopher, all of the above is absolutely true! The fact that our ‘progressivism’ hadn’t advanced as far as Hitler’s doesn’t mean we were trying to emulate Marx, Bismark or Hitler by ‘beating back the forces of tyranny’. We hadn’t yet discovered that ‘progressivism’ was the tyranny. We were valiantly defending the truth. That was the ‘good fight’. That was the reason we won. We were inspired by freedom. We knew we were right. So the portrayal of the ‘greatest generation’ is true. The fact that it was being undermined from within does not change the reason we fought Hitler.

We were not claiming our lock on peace and prosperity through conquest. We were claiming Locke’s peace and prosperity by defending private property from Hitler’s tyranny.

Marx didn’t lead us into those battles, Locke did. We weren’t defending ‘progressivism’ (tyranny), that wasn’t our cause, but I’d agree that’s what we were getting.

Ron Finch January 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm

This is one of the most profoundly important messages of the LvMI. People assume that just as there is an equilibrium price in business, there is a balance point between right and left, slave and free, Liberty and the state. Not so. The freedom we enjoy was hard won, not by citizen soldiers who blindly served the state, but by revolutionaries who realized that they and their posterity would gain the most benefit from the blessings of Liberty by expanding it to everyone possible and refusing the short term benefits that could be had by plundering the people. Jefferson realized that those holding power would tend to enlarge it. IMO That is what he meant when he said that a little revolution from time to time is a good thing.

Mike January 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm

“Jefferson realized that those holding power would tend to enlarge it. IMO That is what he meant when he said that a little revolution from time to time is a good thing.”

Precisely. I like to think Jefferson was an anarcho-capitalist except he’d never thought about anarchy. Kind of like how deists are what atheists were before Darwin. So the only thing he could think of was periodic revolution.

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