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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11947/austrian-economics-and-classical-liberalism/

Austrian Economics and Classical Liberalism

March 4, 2010 by

Classical liberalism — which we shall call here simply liberalism — is based on the conception of civil society as, by and large, self-regulating when its members are free to act within very wide bounds of their individual rights. FULL ARTICLE by Ralph Raico

{ 8 comments }

Aubrey Herbert March 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

Very well done.

Beefcake the Mighty March 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

When is Raico’s book out?

SailDog March 4, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Good essay.

It misses out two key issues: The Commons and Resource depletion.

It is no use asserting that private property rights should be extended over The Commons. Two key elements of The Commons, the Air and the Oceans can never be subject to private property rights. With clear evidence that these Commons are struggling to accept the sheer volume of human waste some form of agreement is literally vital. Yet such agreement is opposed on purely ideological grounds. Opposition to the science is merely a proxy. By the time the impacts are clear enough to understand by the common man; and so damaging that even Austrian School economists are clamouring for action, it will be too late. This is the height of idiocy.

Then there is the issue of resource depletion. A number of key resources are becoming scarce, including crude oil and rare-earth metals. Most economists fudge this issue by claiming resources are for all intents and purposes infinite, or that they are infinitely substitutable. This dangerous delusion has become ever more apparent in recent years and this decade is going to be “interesting” as a result. The first leg down, the GFC, is still in play. The next leg down will continue with much more significant commercial failure. Job losses and business closures will continue to accelerate. It will be lumpy and “the establishment” will constantly claim any small uptick, in any one of the fudged metrics they all worship, is evidence the recession is “over”.

These two blind spots in economic thinking, rational at the time this discipline developed with around 1bn people in the world, represent a massive intellectual failure in todays world. We will pay dearly for this failure. Energy really is a key economic input, every bit as important as capital and labour.

Mushindo March 5, 2010 at 8:33 am

Hm. On resource depletion, Im reminded of PJ O Rourkes observation that there was a time when industrial andhousehold illumination oil was almost exclusively derived from whales. ( and I might add, before that, on extracted oil from fat-tail sheep, an oil-rich breed now almost extinct). Well, fast forward into the 20th century, we were fresh out of whale oil. Had everything stopped? no.

Scarcity of any resource and the inevitable higher cost simply stimulates both more efficient use and the innovation of alternative ways to get the job done.

SailDog March 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Nothing new here. Standard economics dogma. It conveniently ignores the laws of thermodynamics, ecology, scale and timing. What is more I am not even going to claim “it is different this time”. The collapse of human society has happened many times before. Claiming we are smarter today is ironic – our problems stem from the exact same issues that confronted many of those other societies that collapsed – climate change and resource depletion.

SailDog March 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Good essay.

It misses out two key issues: The Commons and Resource depletion.

It is no use asserting that private property rights should be extended over The Commons. Two key elements of The Commons, the Air and the Oceans can never be subject to private property rights. With clear evidence that these Commons are struggling to accept the sheer volume of human waste some form of agreement is literally vital. Yet such agreement is opposed on purely ideological grounds. Opposition to the science is merely a proxy. By the time the impacts are clear enough to understand by the common man; and so damaging that even Austrian School economists are clamouring for action, it will be too late. This is the height of idiocy.

Then there is the issue of resource depletion. A number of key resources are becoming scarce, including crude oil and rare-earth metals. Most economists fudge this issue by claiming resources are for all intents and purposes infinite, or that they are infinitely substitutable. This dangerous delusion has become ever more apparent in recent years and this decade is going to be “interesting” as a result. The first leg down, the GFC, is still in play. The next leg down will continue with much more significant commercial failure. Job losses and business closures will continue to accelerate. It will be lumpy and “the establishment” will constantly claim any small uptick, in any one of the fudged metrics they all worship, is evidence the recession is “over”. Energy really is a key economic input, every bit as important as capital and labour.

These two blind spots in economic thinking, rational at the time this discipline developed with around 1bn people in the world, represent a massive intellectual failure in todays world. We will pay dearly for this failure.

David Roemer March 5, 2010 at 6:36 am

I stopped being a libertarian when I read Karl Rahner’s essay on the theology of power. He argued that we have power over one another because of the Fall of Man. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve could not only not harm each other physically, they could not get on each other’s nerves. In other words, Adam could not affect Eve’s consciousness in a way that Eve had no control over.

This is a more general definition of power than the definition based on utility theory. This is why compulsory child support laws are just. Abandoning your children is immoral. If governments allow it, humanity might wind up like Sodom and Gomorrah.

The phrase “classical liberal” is based on utility theory. In my opinion, Karl Marx was just as much a liberal as Herbert Spencer. They both did not believe in God and both had irrational ideas about government. Herbert Spencer was against the Poor Laws, not to protect taxpayers, but to prevent inferior people from thriving and holding back progress.

Abhinandan Mallick March 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm

A very interesting read Professor Raico.

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