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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15116/a-message-of-hope-from-the-dismal-science/

A Message of Hope from the Dismal Science

December 24, 2010 by

I want to focus on how these times relate to history and how we can change the future by applying the economic way of thinking. I am therefore going to draw your attention to four different themes. FULL ARTICLE by Art Carden


J. Russell December 24, 2010 at 2:11 pm

You are of course free to believe in whatever change you wish to believe in, but I cannot agree with your change that tempers the rhetoric of the political conversation. If we do not use language that accurately describes that of which we speak then we obscure the reality of the situation.

If not socialism then what other term should be used to describe the political ideology that subjugates the individual to the authority of the state? If not Nazism then what other term should be used to describe the political ideology of state authoritarianism over private industry? These are concise terms that have meaning and when used properly have no other substitute. That they carry negative connotations is not sufficient reason to avoid their use when their use is appropriate. I do not believe that these are terms that “short-circuit” the discussion. Rather they cut right to the heart of the discussion when the discussion concerns those matters which they describe. These terms do not always obscure the analysis; they can be the meat of the analysis.

If the use of terms such as Socialist or Nazi puts the Left on the defensive then I say that is a good thing. I for one do not have friends on the Left who advocate the repression of individual freedoms and liberties. Anyone who wishes to enslave me through policies of wealth redistribution is not and never will be my friend. In a free society a political Left which advances policies contrary to freedom and liberty should be on the defensive and subject to continuous exposure and condemnation in the harshest of terms. A call to temper the rhetoric is simply a call to political correctness on terms defined by the Left.

The proper use of terms that concisely describe that to which they are applicable is not intellectual laziness. It is in fact a proper intellectual use of the language. To imply that such usage is intellectual laziness is nothing more than an attempt to denigrate those who might use such language and an attempt to ridicule them into submission to one’s own way of thinking. That you attempt to control the discourse of thought in your classroom by such a tactic exemplifies the intolerance of the Left to open discussion of ideas not consistent with the fundamental ideologies of a socialist a Nazi or a communist. There is no confluence of libertarians and socialists as some might think.

Jim December 24, 2010 at 3:33 pm

1) His specific example was Obama. Obama is not a Nazi. A central plank of the Nazi party is white superiority and the denegration of Jews. Fascism in general, even in Italy, always had a racial superiority tone. A true communist would not have sold the shares back of the institutions which were “bailed out”. They would have kept them for the government.

I would not quibble with calling him a radical socialist however. It is just important to be precise in the terms used, because it IS intellectually lazy to simply pluck a lable out of the air for it’s shock value and apply it to someone, if that lable is not appropriate.

2) You are incorrect when you state that there is absolutely no confluence of socialist and libertarian thought. You essentially come across sounding like a standard conservative, rather than a libertarian. The socialist plank is (in general) against war and against the gov’t legislating morality (pot use, state constitutions outlawing gay marriage, etc). On items like these, there is indeed crossover between socialist thought and our own. It’s on economic issues that there is little (if any) common ground.

augusto December 24, 2010 at 3:48 pm

“The socialist plank is (in general) against war and against the gov’t legislating morality (pot use, state constitutions outlawing gay marriage, etc).”

hmm… is pot use or gay marriage legal in any of the existing socialist/communist countries (Cuba, North Korea, China) ?

I really don’t know the answer, so I look forward to your reply.

Jim December 24, 2010 at 4:01 pm

No, because those nations are third world dictatorships in addition to being socialist. You can reference European socialism as an easier example. Low defense budgets (preference for avoiding war), much less stringent drug laws (and where drugs are strictly illegal, the socialist parties in those nations advocate for losening of drug laws where they are strict), and a much more tolerant attitude towards gay marriage. I think there are actually only a few European nations which recognize it, but they aren’t passing laws specifically banning it, either.

Point I was making, is that libertarianism is a combination of gov’t out of my bedroom, and out of my wallet. If we simply dismiss the entire left, then we’re dismissing the out of my bedroom portion of the beliefs, and that just leaves us as republicans. I personally am not a republican anymore than I am a democrat; I despise both equally.

The Anti-Gnostic December 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Cuba, North Korea and China, having socialized medical risk, naturally prohibit high risk activity. The interesting thing about those places is they are traditional ethnic nation-states, so they share something important in common with the National Socialist Reich. Homosexuality would be discouraged in such places, since membership in the socialist polity is determined by ethnicity–they want to encourage children for the Fatherland.

Obama is just a kinder, gentler national socialist: his socialist ideal extends political membership based on ideology rather than ethnicity.

The Anti-Gnostic December 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Though now that I think about it, there was China’s one-child policy but again, the whole point was to preserve resources for the nation-state.

Jake the Snake December 26, 2010 at 5:39 am

“His specific example was Obama. Obama is not a Nazi. A central plank of the Nazi party is white superiority and the denegration of Jews. Fascism in general, even in Italy, always had a racial superiority tone.”

This is simply not true. But even if it were true, it would constitute but a small fraction of fascist ideology. Central to fascist economics is (a) extreme interventionism and the implicit removal of actual property rights, (b) a welfare/warfare state (massive government spending), (c) monetary central planning (unlike communism, where money simply doesn’t exist), and (d) government supported labor-cartels.

This basically describes the economic system of every single Western nation. The Nazi’s lost world war 2, but fascism won. Mussolini explicitly said:

“Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud”

IAin December 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Gay marriage and legalizing of drugs has nothing to do with socialism per se.

The Anti-Gnostic December 24, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Gay marriage is in the vanguard of cultural Marxism; the homosexual is actually the State’s ideal citizen, along with single moms.

Drug legalization, I agree, conflicts with the socialist ideal of control.

Jim December 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Then are we seperating the general “left” from socialism in particular? That is not often done on this site; usually “leftist” is conflated completely with “socialist”. If we’re saying socialists only value control therefore they are against drug legalization, then what, if not socialists, are the large number of left-democrats who do favor legalization? I guess what I’m saying is, if they aren’t socialists, then what are left-wingers who want gov’t out of the bedroom, but in the economy?

Jim December 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm

In addition, on the homepage of the Socialist Party of the United States one of the platform items listed is an end to military aggression and the military industrial complex. It’s a plank of their main platform, which goes hand-in-hand with the libertarian thought of many on this site.

Jake_nonphixion December 29, 2010 at 7:17 pm

People on the political left are libertarians who don’t understand economics. I know this as an absolute certainty because I once was one, and passionate about it to boot.

Diego December 24, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I think the point is that if you say “nazi”, the discussion becomes one of definitions, and not of the “heart of the matter”. I think every socialist/communist is a libertarian deep down, so it is better to try to build a wall in a discussion, and try to show the common sense of it.

It is an unfortunate reality as well that the flag of ethics and morality has been taken over by the socialists. When in fact it is capitalism that offers an ethical system by its basic premise of voluntary exchange. So it is always best to avoid labels, whatever they may be, in a discussion.

Bala December 24, 2010 at 7:27 pm

“Between 1949 and 1987, 76.7 million people died at the hands of the Chinese government. Between 1917 and 1987, the USSR killed almost 62 million people. Twentieth-century colonialism gave us a death toll of 50 million. Between 1933 and 1945, almost 21 million people were killed by the government in Germany. Statism’s 20th-century body count clocks in at about 262 million people.”

What are the sources of these statistics?

Gil December 25, 2010 at 9:59 am

With the Chinese – how many of the dead were devout Communists anyway? Their deaths could hardly be called unfair when the Communist villagers would torture kill the non-Communists.

Art Carden December 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm
Bala December 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Thank you

Joe Esty December 25, 2010 at 9:54 am

If someone threatens you with violence, do you have the right to react with violence?

Bruce Koerber December 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Privatization of Education And Universal Compulsory Education.

The link between charity and education is key. Until the concept of universal compulsory education is understood within the context of private education mankind will suffer from the ignorance that stems from State propaganda. Charity, either directly or indirectly through institutions within the realm of commerce, is the foundation that will permit universal compulsory (as a parental mandate) education by providing all parents with the means to implement what they know to be the right thing to do.

A Liberal in Lakeview December 25, 2010 at 7:53 pm

…our friends on the Left..

Good grief, man, that’s mushy, gladhander talk. Dangerously misleading, too.

A leftist is a collectivist who expects your peaceful submission to her will and your support for her favorite charities, contributions to which are not optional. She expects you to tolerate the rigging of commerce to the benefit of some people who sell labor, but by no means all who do so. She expects to you practice her religion of the ignoble ideal, “from each according to his means…”.

The leftist has a close friend and political ally who says on WCPT, “Chicago’s Progressive Talk”, that “you need to do any Goddamned that the government tells you to do.” (I heard that in late March of this year, around 5:30pm on a Saturday on one of their syndicated programs. It’s Kennedy’s show, in fact, although he wasn’t doing the show that day. The host and guest, both male, had a belly laugh at the expense of the “sovereign citizen” movement, the subject of their sneering at the time.)

Funny that thus far I have hardly distinguished the leftist from the nonleftist collectivist, but that is really quite beside the point.

The leftist expects you to sit back and do nothing while she and her friend clamour for the government to criminalize self defense against the government. In fact, it burns her heart if you dare not to be silent. When you speak up, you are sneered at, smeared, and spat at.

If that be your idea of a friend, then it must be that you are my nonfriend.

When the master looks up to the clear, daytime sky and says, “the sky is green”, you nod and further convey your understanding by replying, “the needles of the Norway spruce are blue.”

MENDEL EDWARDSON December 26, 2010 at 1:39 pm



BuckeyeChuck December 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Nice article by Art. There are no lasting political solutions to a problem rooted in a lack of freedom. Our best hope for change is personal outreach. “Each one reach one” is usually heard in evaneglical churches, but it applies here also. In this context, where our goal is to win the hearts and minds of our friends and neighbors, I think Art’s four points are salient.

J. Russell led off the commentary here by saying, “You are of course free to believe in whatever change you wish to believe in, but I cannot agree with your change that tempers the rhetoric of the political conversation. If we do not use language that accurately describes that of which we speak then we obscure the reality of the situation.”

I think this is something of a cop out. I’m sure Mr. Russell would say that he…

… thinks detailed thoughts about detailed subjects
… has learned to defend his position on several fronts
… was introduced to these topics by, encouraged by, and perhaps even mentored by, people who were able to tailor their message to persuade him of their correctness and to spur him on to his own growth in this area.

It is at least ironic, and I daresay shameful, that any such person blows raspberries at the suggestion that he (a) should never tire of changing hearts and minds, and (b) that delivery of his message impacts the effectiveness of his message. Certainly such a person should be capable of tailoring his message for the intended audience. Some people will respond well to a full-frontal attack using the strongest possible terms. Others will require a more nuanced approach. My point is that the “I’m-going-to-call-it-what-it-is-in-the-strongestl-terms-and-if-somebody-is-put-off-then-so-be-it” attitude is antithetical to the libertarian spirit and quite unbecoming of any man or woman who fancies themselves to be accomplished between the ears.

I add a fifth point to Art’s four: Be positive by affirming the freedom of the individual when speaking and writing to the individual. I must improve here. My tendency when talking to friends and family (or even strangers) is to talk about “what is wrong” without offering the only true solution to these problems: personal liberty. Failing to affirm individual freedom when talking to people who have never envisioned life absent the state can make a “what is wrong” a message of despair, not of enlightenment. And if you are really so inflexible and so inarticulate as to use only the most polarizing terms available, be sure to discuss personal liberty in the same strong terms. At least you’ll be consistent.

Mushindo January 5, 2011 at 9:05 am

Nice upbeat article. Dovetails with much of the content of Matt ridley’s new book, The Rational Optimist, which itself is ripe for an Austrian-perspective review in this very forum. How about it Mr Carden? Mr Gordon? Anybody?

Nathaniel I. Wenger January 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

I have too many words for a Jew; I have so many that I have to explain them I’m so furious. This is in reference to Anne Frank and the Jewish community and countless other communities. Civilocity is a form of government where the people watch the ruler or elected official entirely amongst their reign. I wonder if Anne Frank would have included civilocity in her second book if she had known what it is. Well if she didn’t she would allow what happened to her to happen to someone else in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Cambodia after it happened to her. What civilocity is to you is a word what it is to her is a breath.

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