Book Review: Liberalism by Ludwig von Mises

Even though my semester hasn’t officially started and has been delayed by President-elect Obama’s events, I have completed the first book for a class called Constitutional Economics. This book is by the dean of the Austrian School of economic thought. It is a very short read of about 200 pages including the introduction, talking about the new dirty word in politics, “Liberalism.” It is not the type of liberalism that you think of when thinking of John Kerry. In fact, most of it is the complete opposite. Like most sensible people, unlike politics, Mises used the word in relation to its definition from the latin word “liber” meaning free.

Since there are many big ideas in this book that I will probably write future posts about, I will only give this a brief book review. The overarching main theme is that the Liberalist’s policies are those of a society build upon freedom and Capitalism. Capitalism has been the key to success bringing wealth to everyone, along with freedom. I think this is an important point that people overlook. Capitalism back in his time and still today is portrayed as only helping the rich. This makes no sense at all because none of the polices pursued by supporters of Capitalism support a certain class.

This leads to another great point Mises makes which is that when people talk and think of a monarchy, they always think of themselves as the king. In a oligarchy, they are always apart of the ruling class. In a socialist system, they are always the central planner. In Capitalism, they are always what? When someone talks about Capitalism, they never put themselves in any ruling class over someone else. This alone should make people skeptical of what these other people are coming up with as organization.

Capitalism is not complicated even though today people try to complicate it. It is simply, as Mises puts it,  private property as the means of production. This is completely opposite of communal property as the means of production or Socialism. This argument could go on and I am sure in his other literature, he continues these arguments. But it is without a doubt that this should be a required reading for all politicians and policymakers. Since very few of us are those, then this should be a good starting book into the literature of Capitalism. And I will end this with a great ending quote from the book:

” It [Liberalism] has no party flower and no party color, no party song and no party idols, no symbols and no slogans. It has the substance and the arguments. These must lead it to victory.”

Rating 10/10



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