My first contribution to my weekly Forbes column/blog “The Economic Imagination” (which was going to be “Guerrilla Economics,” but it turns out that’s copyrighted) is up. There will probably be a couple of hiccups with Forbes’ new publishing platform and the first post might change accordingly, but I’m pretty excited about it. Please join the conversation: I’ll have the ability to call out excellent comments and display them along with the articles themselves.
There are a lot of great things happening for people interested in the Misesian tradition. You probably know about Peter Klein’s PhD course in Austrian economics at the University of Missouri. Scott Beaulier is the executive director of the newly-created Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University. We’re working on developing a program in political economy at Rhodes that will be voted on by the faculty a week from Wednesday. Ben Powell has developed an excellent group of PhD students at Suffolk University. I was very impressed with them at Mises U last year and at the APEE meetings in April. IHS just launched KosmosOnline, which is an online social network for academics and aspiring academics. These are only a few recent developments. I could probably go on for hours. Or pages. Or bits. Or whatever.
A couple of weeks ago, I re-read the first volume of the Great Books of the Western World, entitled The Great Conversation (which I first read while I was a summer fellow at the Mises Institute in 2003). It discusses how the original mission of the GBWW was to assemble and disseminate the great ideas that have shaped civilization. The thought that only a few decades ago one would have such difficulty accessing the work of Aristotle or Aquinas is shocking in a world where I can download Human Action, Man, Economy, and State, and others with the click of a button or two from Mises.org. I got word a few months ago that a draft of one of my early papers hosted on Mises.org was translated into Farsi and posted on the web by a graduate student in Tehran. Those who think they can thwart the free flow of information and ideas would probably do well to admit that they’re fighting a losing battle.
My optimism has been a recurring theme on the Mises Blog. Perhaps I’m just indulging availability bias and confirmation bias, but it’s very hard to be pessimistic after spending time around the students I’ve encountered at Rhodes, Mises U, IHS summer seminars, and elsewhere. Hazlitt was right that the good ideas have to be re-learned every generation, but it’s a lot easier to teach them today than it was when Mises and others were being chased out of Europe by the Nazis.