Ludwig Von Mises and the Justification of Poverty
Ludwig Von Mises: Egalitarianism = Bad. Paying others to buy your survival = Good!
I am uncertain of the date when my complete disillusionment with the cynical and mealy-mouthed politics of what I laughingly call “the American Left” kicked in, but sometime after Al Gore capitulated in the 2000 Presidential Election to George W. Bush. I was certain that the Democrats where not the answer to the question of what was it going to take to turn this country around. It was clear to me that I had to widen my political field of vision, so to speak, because it was obvious that both the Democrats and the Republicans were united in the their mutual concern of looking out only for themselves and their corporate benefactors. I wanted something more radical, something with more teeth. I wanted to turn to something that would stand against the status quo. So I looked towards the Libertarians to see what they had to offer.
On first glance, they were certainly interesting. I mistook them for plucky “freedom fighters,” and believed that the politics of these people contained the punch in the political gut I was looking for. However, the Libertarian landscape is not densely populated. Anyone vaguely interested in Libertarianism will stumble across its icons and talismans. Ludwig Von Mises, the influential classical liberal economist and staunch supporter of capitalism, Ayn Rand, famous for her Objectivist philosophy which praised the self-interest of man, Murray Rothbard, the leading “anarcho-capitalist” of his era and of course, Lew Rockwell and the Libertarian’s current hero and failed Presidential candidate, Ron Paul.
I was initially enthralled by the Libertarianism’s primal instinct for achieving personal individual freedom while objecting to the to invasive controls of the state. I mean, that really spoke to me. So I subscribed the Mises online blogs and joined a Libertarian forum where I participated regularly to learn more about their platform. Slowly it dawned on me that the discussions I was involved in were nothing more than an extended bull — session for pot-smokin,’ whore-mongerin,’ tax-hatin’ Republicans men (the forums were primarily male) who thought that child labor was an idea good enough to bring back. Appalling. I gradually realized that these people shared a shocking lack of concern for the welfare of others and committed to a self-aggrandizement arrogance that was just impossible to believe. Their conversations were repetitive and predictable, like the metallic spinning of a hamster wheel. I was completely turned off to say the least, but I was still curious to see if there was anything of substance beneath the thick, revolting miasma of Libertarian self-interest.
Nope. There are two things that concern the Libertarian: Money and Liberty. Or rather, the Liberty to make Money – for Money buys you all the Liberty you can afford. Most Libertarians understand the games of the money system and how paper money is intrinsically worthless, yet instead of changing the system for the benefit for all, they want to change the system for the benefit for themselves.
Classical Liberalism as the Justification of Abuse
“What is most criticized in our social order is the inequality in the distribution of wealth and income, There are rich and poor; there are very rich and very poor. The way out is not far to seek: the equal distribution of all wealth.”- Ludwig Von Mises, The Inequality of Wealth and Income
Ludwig Von Mises’ sarcasm should be evident. As a staunch and vociferous critic of Socialism, Mises didn’t think an equal distribution of wealth was a good idea. Why? Because according the his own calculus and understanding of how capitalism worked, an egalitarian system would fall because there wouldn’t be a stable pricing structure to give people an idea how much something was worth. But more important, Mises claimed that economic equality destroyed the meaning of Free Markets and could only be asserted through totalitarianism. Of course, his view was aligned with the current economic of his time. An Austrian Jew who was forced to flee from Vienna to Geneva to escape the Nazis in 1934, Mises considered Hitler’s economic reforms to be a serious threat to the survival of Free Market Capitalism and from abroad wrote and lectured extensively in defense of his classical liberal economic theories.
Hitler was unaffected by his critics, and set out to rescue his country from economic oppression imposed by its continental neighbors after Germany’s defeat in World War 1. The German government led by Hitler did this by quickly creating its own version of capitalism that was in direct competition (!) with the current world banking system. According to C.C. Vieth’s book, The Citadels of Chaos (Meador, 1949), Hitler is quoted to say:
“We were not foolish enough to try to make a currency [backed by] gold of which we had none, but for every mark that was issued we required the equivalent of a mark’s worth of work done or goods produced... we laugh at the time our national financiers held the view that the value of a currency is regulated by the gold and securities lying in the vaults of a state bank.” (Emphasis mine)
What the Third Reich accomplished was remarkable. Hitler issued a state currency that bypassed the European banking system completely, based solely on material and the output of labor rather than gold reserves. In a matter of a few years, Hitler had successfully invalidated the concept that capital could only be measured through gold reserves and by extension, the banking system championed by classical liberal economists like Mises.
Hitler’s eventual defeat by the Allies must have produced a tremendous sigh of relief for men like Mises who were able to crow victoriously about the apparent superiority of Capitalism over the socialist egalitarian models. But even in victory, there were hard lessons that the capitalists were forced to learn. Sheldon Emry, in his book, Billions for the Bankers, Debts for the People (1984), writes:
Germany financed its entire government and war operation from 1935 to 1945 without gold and without debt, and it took the whole Capitalist and Communist world to destroy the German power over Europe and bring Europe back under the heel of the Bankers. Such history of money does not even appear in the textbooks of public (government) schools today.
Such a rendition of the fallacies and flaws of Capitalism and how its global control was nearly toppled by a country the size of the American state of Montana cannot be discussed openly in classrooms across America for obvious reasons. It could give the citizens the wrong idea. Imagine people printing their own money and existing through an economic system ofr their own making and bypassing the Federal Reserve. Of course, the notion of printing your own money is not one that the government is likely to look kindly upon.
Still, an economic Equality could be achieved in a rather short timeframe. Crime, debt and full employment would be possible – not to mention the basic needs of beings being provided for all as an essential human right. The Free Markets and Competition of economists represented by Mises are old, pitiful and unnecessary ideas that need to be taken out back and have put down. An Equal Money system as proposed by the Equal Life Foundation is desperately needed because it is the only reasonable way we can stop the rampant, unyielding abuse and suffering generated and justified by Capitalist policies. It is time to put an end to what is ethically, morally and irrationally about the principle of forcing people to pay others money in order to survive.