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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/3475/two-men-from-galicia/

Two Men From Galicia

April 15, 2005 by

With the death of Pope John Paul II last week, writes Christopher Westley, many have compared his intellectual contributions to those of Ludwig von Mises. Comparisons are certainly apt, as both men have much in common. That their experience with 20th century totalitarianism shaped their lives is well known. It is less well known that they both spent their formative years in a similar area of Poland—Mises’s ancestral home of Lemberg and John Paul’s Krakow are in an area of Poland known as Galicia. [Full Article]

{ 11 comments }

Dennis Sperduto April 15, 2005 at 7:25 am

Can anyone help with this question, as I do not know much about John Paul II? Apart from the obvious theological training, was he educated in another field, outside of foreign languages, which as I understand he spoke several?

tz April 15, 2005 at 9:33 am

He spoke 8 fluently upon becoming pope. He quickly added spanish and the last count I heard was 26 languages.

He also had degrees in philosophy – Thomistic and Phenomenoligical (and his theology of the body is a synthesis).

JP2 was personal, but persons are more than an abstract right to own property. Science must reduce things in order to analyze them, but we don’t talk of Michaelangelo’s works as 3D equations, or chemistry or spectra. Liberty derives from the dignity of human beings.

tz April 15, 2005 at 9:36 am

JP2 was also an actor and poet.

Samuel F. Dominguez April 15, 2005 at 9:53 am

Prof. Westley has written a wonderful article.I have always believed that there is a close connection between Catholic Austria and the Austrian School. Although, Mr. Westley lays it out in the context of JPII, this article is a well written formulation of the connection. Well done!

Dennis Sperduto April 15, 2005 at 10:06 am

tz: Thank you.

Joseph F Dunphy MBA MFP April 15, 2005 at 11:54 am

A thoughtful and interesting article. Very well done.

Bruce April 15, 2005 at 1:40 pm

Interesting, graceful article — but a bit of a stretch. The Pope was a social democrat; Mises opposed public education and poor relief laws. The Pope was a Catholic mystic; Mises was a secular Jew. The Pope ran a highly centralized bureacracy and cracked down on dissent; Mises was a libertarian rationalist. The Pope was outgoing and generous; Mises was an argumentative crab (or so some say). Libertarians can find value in the thought of both men but let’s not get carried away by the Pope’s death and overdo their affinities.

artisan April 15, 2005 at 3:14 pm

Being myself more of an agnostic, I find the pope still did a pretty good job challenging State power in general, don’t you? And when I read some of his stuff, I find the clearest statements that he made about economics concern his disapproval for “socialism”. That’s right, he’s Polish.

Now, the Vatican today is more of an “enterprise” really, and not so much a bureaucratic State as some put it… Taxes are raised here on a voluntary basis, right? Well sure, It wasn’t always so (or where did the money for building the Vatican come from…?). Nevertheless, as Enterprises are not all democratic, I don’t see why the boss should always accommodate with the view of his secretary.

I tend to meet everywhere many de facto opponents to liberalism, and I can only confirm, if their view on statism were all like those JPII had, I’d be more optimistic in general.

Doug Wiltfong April 16, 2005 at 11:03 pm

The pope was a prohibitionist. Prohibition is in as much direct conflict with liberty and free markets as a person will see. Why even such a comparison is made is ridiculous and even more so on this supposed libertarian leaning site.

David April 17, 2005 at 6:24 am

How can anyone actually make a serious connection between the pope and Ludwig von Mises?
The pope is an autocratic, fundamentalistic, religious, homophobic, sexist, etc tyrant, the head of the catholic church.
Now, anyone still think there is a connection between the pope and von Mises?
Furthermore, there was this comment made that there is a connection between catholic Austria and the Austrian school…well, first of all, von Mises was a born jew, second of all, Galicia was a very jewish place.
Another comment described that the pope was an anti statist…come on!!!…please…
I thought that the Austrian school teaches freedom and it values science and rational thinking. This article seems to describe the opposite.

Dennis Sperduto April 17, 2005 at 7:58 am

I think a distinction needs to be made between the imposition of religious and moral behavior by the state, and advice from religious institutions and leaders that attempts to instruct, to persuade an individual as to what is appropriate personal ethical and religious behavior. Persuasion is fundamentally different from the government utilizing its legal monopoly on the use of violence to force individuals to adhere to certain religious/moral teachings. From a Libertarian perspective, I do not believe there is anything wrong with religious institutions persuading people to adhere to certain moral and religious principles, as long as violence and compulsion, government or other, is not utilized in the process. Libertarians should much more be concerned with the ethics of human interaction than with the personal religious and moral ends that individuals pursue.

Remember that the two foundational principles of Libertarianism are: (1) each person is the sole owner of his or her own person, and all rightly acquired property; and, (2) the initiation of violence or fraud against another individual or his or her property is wrong and punishable. And let us not forget that these two Libertarian principles are of an ethical nature. In fact, Rothbard’s treatise regarding foundational Libertarian issues is entitled “The Ethics of Liberty”. I do not believe that religious/moral persuasion and teaching per se violates either of these two foundational Libertarian principles. Violation occurs when force is utilized to require others to adhere to certain religious/moral beliefs or in some way support these beliefs against their will.

Regarding Mises, while he was certainly one of the 20th century’s most outstanding Classical Liberals, a trenchant rationalist, and an agnostic, he also was a cultural conservative, as I believe was Rothbard. Mises’s major strictures against religion occurred when religious/moral teachings attempted to contradict or did not even acknowledge the existence of economic law.

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