Thoughts on economics and liberty

The delusion of human perfection

In the coming days, subject to my eyes permitting (the severe eyestrain continues but I now better understand its causes, and hence may soon be able to arrive at a potential package of solutions that works) I'll extract some of the more brilliant sections from von Mises's Human Action (Word version here).

Indeed, even when one opens this book at random, one is amazed at the clarity of thought Mises demonstrates. More gratifying for me, the conclusions I've arrived at over the past fifteen or so years largely through independent thought (having read very little of Mises or Hayek till very recently) — many of my conclusions and reasons being incorporated into the structure and narrative of DOF — have been vindicated by this book.

I came to my conclusions less from theoretical teachings or understandings and more from empirical observation of people I have known and worked with. True, a general awareness of classical liberal ideas (as part of a general awareness of many other ideas including socialism) was useful in firming up my conclusions.

I can now comfortably challenge anyone who has diligently watched and understood people to justify any other world-view than classical liberalism.  


After the philosophers had abandoned the search for the absolute, the utopians took it up. They weave dreams about the perfect state. They do not realize that the state, the social apparatus of compulsion and coercion, is an institution to cope with human imperfection and that its essential function is to inflict punishment upon minorities in order to protect majorities against the detrimental consequences of certain actions.

With "perfect" men there would not he any need for compulsion and coercion.But utopians do not pay heed to human nature and the inalterable conditions of human life. Godwin thought that man might become immortal after the abolition of private property."[1] Charles Fourier babbled about the ocean containing lemonade instead of salt water.[2] Marx's economic system blithely ignored the fact of the scarcity of material factors of production. Trotsky revealed that in the proletarian paradise "the average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise."[3]

[1] William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness (Dublin, 1793). 11, 393-403.

[2] Charles Fourier, The'orie des quatre mouvernents (Oeuvres completes, 3d ed. Paris, I 846), I, 43.

[3] Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution, trans. by R. Strunsky (London, 1925 ) , p. 256.

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