In Jim Cook's Archive

Marx or Mises

Hatred of capitalism appears to be widespread among liberals these days.  In fact, this animosity seems to be more virulent than ever. This worrisome trend needs to be confronted and neutralized lest it spread.  If too many people begin to see capitalism as an evil they will vote for politicians who will destroy capitalism and the country will face certain ruin.

The sentiments of the present administration in Washington are definitely anti-capitalistic.  They slander capitalism and promote socialism at every opportunity.  They tend to see business as predatory and their customers as victims.  They see free-enterprise primarily as a system to take advantage of people.  They talk about greed, selfishness and dishonesty as if that were integral to doing business.  They think profit is a dirty word.  They share the economic viewpoint of Karl Marx.  It’s no stretch to call them Marxists even though most of them would disagree.    Marx hated capitalism. It was the foundation of his views.

You can’t escape the Marxist label by arguing that capitalism has flaws that only the government can rectify.  The idea of an economy half run by the state and half run by free enterprise is a socialist dream.  It’s only an economy in transition from capitalism to socialism. A mixed economy is a slippery slope to collectivism. The economist, Hayek, called it the road to serfdom.  People who believe the state must keep its boot heel on the necks of capitalism and take most of the wealth it produces are espousing Marxism.  They may not think they are Marxists but if they advocate Marxist principles and denigrate the market system, as so many do, they can’t escape the label.  There’s no in between.  Keynesianism, for example, is only a stopping place on the way to statism.

Keynesians may vehemently deny they hold Marxist views but they have far more in common with Marx than with Adam Smith.  And they have nothing in common with the foremost enemy of Marxist thought, the great free market economist, Ludwig von Mises, (1881 – 1973).  Little by little Americans are becoming familiar with the tremendous fortress of thought, supporting capitalism, that was constructed by the Austrian Economic School and its foremost thinker, Mises.  In the 1920’s Mises decimated communism with his argument that no economy could work without market pricing.  He claimed that central planning would fail in Russia and ultimately it did.

Our government does not control the means of production as it did in Russia.  Market pricing still prevails, however, a combination of capitalism and socialism known as the mixed economy enables the government to siphon off much of the nation’s incomes from business and workers.  This semi-socialism allows government to closely regulate business for social goals and to strip the affluent of their earnings.  These taxes are used to further the goals of the welfare state.   Socialism doesn’t precisely control business decisions but it tightly controls the flow of tax dollars into its coffers.  The government milks capitalism for redistribution.  Mises called this process interventionism.  He concluded, “Interventionism cannot be considered as an economic system destined to stay.  It is a method of the transformation of capitalism into socialism by a series of successive steps.”

Mises is socialisms greatest enemy.  He would consider today’s liberal politicians to be socialists and he would say to them, “Socialism is not in the least what it pretends to be.  It is not the pioneer of a better and finer world, but the spoiler of what thousands of years of civilization have created.  It does not build; it destroys.  For destruction is the essence of it.  It produces nothing, it only consumes what the social order based on private ownership in the means of production has created.”

Mises was implacable in his certainty that socialism was not only unworkable it was poisonous to society.  He wrote, “A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death.  A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society.  Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.”

Mises knew that capitalism was the liberator of mankind.  He said, “Capitalism is essentially a system of mass production for the satisfaction of the needs of the masses.  It pours a horn of plenty upon the common man.  It has raised the average standard of living to heights never dreamed of in earlier ages.”

Unfortunately, the enemies of capitalism are in control of the media, the educational system and the government.  They preach the gospel of Marx and Keynes.  They aim for government omnipotence.  You can be sure of one thing; their liberal agenda is the blueprint for national ruin.  It’s late in the game.  We are far down the road to serfdom.  The one thread of hope lies with a growing understanding of the Austrian School of Economics enshrined in the many books and publications of Ludwig von Mises.  You can’t argue effectively against the left unless you understand Mises bedrock free market principles.

I would direct you to the website of the Mises Institute at Auburn University,  They have all his books for sale.  I particularly recommend “Planning for Freedom,” a paperback that’s easy to read.  Make no mistake about it you are fighting for your way of life here.  You need to participate.  This is the seminal issue of our time and perhaps all time.

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