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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5595/mises-1919-back-in-print/

Mises 1919: Back in Print

September 11, 2006 by


This was Mises’s second book. It was written following his military service in World War I. It is also his first book that dealt with political themes–and began Mises’s full-scale launch into the fight against collectivism that would be a theme of his later writings. Its original title was Imperialism and one can only regret that the publisher didn’t keep it, for that is its theme.

In Nation, State, and Economy, Mises takes up the question of the proper political order to sustain the peace in the age of democracy. It was published less than a year after Austria’s defeat in World War I. It examines and compares prewar and postwar political and economic conditions. He argues that each country’s prosperity supports rather than undercuts the prosperity of other countries.

Specifically, Mises warns of the consequences of the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles by victors more interested in punishing their defeated enemies than in building a Europe that would be able to meet the challenges of the future. With the benefit of hindsight we see how different European and world history might have been.

Mises recommends a radical vision of laissez-faire combined with a commitment to self-determination that would lead to a break up of the old imperial structures. It is in this book where Mises first advances his idea of secessionism. Every people ought to be permitted to choose their own political arrangements, even if they end up in tiny geographical units. With free trade, smaller units of government become completely viable.

This is also Mises’s first attack on socialism, specifically war socialism. He shows that it will destroy a country and lead to complete chaos in economic organization. He provides the definitive case that war socialism is real socialism, and not qualitatively different from other forms of socialism. He further shows the relationship between socialism and the total state.

Also notable is Mises’s pioneering theory of the relationship between language and nation. No matter what the state may attempt, our national identities preexist the political order. In this book, Mises makes a case for a form of “nationalism” that will lead to ever smaller units of government.

The reader can’t but be impressed by the erudition on display here. The historical scholarship is masterful. The economic theory underlying the argument is robust. The prose is white hot. Here is a thinker who would be a fighter for liberty his entire life.

When the historian Robert Higgs first encountered this work, he was so impressed that he said he could have saved himself 20 years of research had he had access to it in graduate school.

The introduction of this masterpiece is by Leland Yeager. He compares Mises’s book to Keynes’s own book on postwar economic reform, and shows how Mises’s views were far more sophisticated.

Of course Mises’s advice was rejected but only at terrible cost. World War II might otherwise have been avoided.

This book has been unavailable for many years, and we can only celebrate its return, nearly a century after it was first published. We live in another age of empire, and Mises’s voice needs to be heard more than ever.

220 page hardbound volume.

{ 5 comments }

averros September 11, 2006 at 7:21 pm

Am I the only one who finds the amount of hagiography published at mises.org somewhat excessive?

Come on, the fact that Mises was a great thinker does not change anything regarding validity of his ideas. For all I care he could’ve been an absolute nobody – if what he says is convincing to *me*, than I’m accepting his ideas. Or not, if I’m not convinced.

We should all learn to speak in the first voice; the incessant references to authorities do make one sound like some dogmatic leftie or some religiousnik.

An appeal to Reason does not mix with an appeal to Authority.

jeffrey September 11, 2006 at 9:38 pm

If you find it hagiographical, I can promise you that this is inadvertant. This is a great book by a great man, and it’s very exciting that it is back in print after so many years of not being available. The fact is that Mises is wildly underappreciated and underestimated by the mainstream, etc. etc., I’ll stop there and not say more than smacks of “hagiography.”

By the way, there are traditionally two criticism made of the Mises Institute: 1) too slavishly attached to Mises’s ideas, 2) betraying Mises by publishing material that departs from the master’s teachings. So there you have it.

Vanmind September 11, 2006 at 10:31 pm

Maybe you can find some kind of third way…

Gil Guillory September 12, 2006 at 11:50 am

Come on, folks — this is ad-style copy for a book. A very good book, by an incredible thinker.

averros, you get things terribly wrong by claiming that an “argument from authority” is worthless. On the contrary, there are so many things to choose from to read, we have to have some sort of guide in selecting worthwhile books. The fact that Mises was a fine mind and produced other great works, and is recognized by many as such are all valid warrants to support the claim that NSE is a book worthy of one’s time.

I find it vexing that some folks are slavishly devoted to the mechanics of logical fallacies without an appreciation of the larger rhetorical issues.

quasibill September 12, 2006 at 12:28 pm

“He provides the definitive case that war socialism is real socialism, and not qualitatively different from other forms of socialism”

Hard to think of a more timely topic. Quite clearly, more than a few “libertarian” hawks need to read this book.

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