Three hundred pages into Ludwig von Mises' economic masterpiece, Human Action, and I've found myself stopping for air. I'm not fatigued, as I was 300 pages into John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion; I'm not confused, like I was in the last portion of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. Mises is a mastermind, too interesting and fresh to find tedious (though Calvin is mostly enjoyable) and far too clear and concise to be confusing. No, Human Action is one of the most profound books I've ever read. My momentary pause has far less to do with Mises' difficulty, and far more to do with his spiritual emptiness: he must be read in segments because my soul buckles under the total burden of his meaninglessness.
I believe that my reaction to Mises' work underscores my particular problem with libertarianism in general: the fact that it has little to no soul, reducing man to a rational, pleasure-seeking animal. The central premise of Human Action, the basic theory of Mises' praxeology, is that all men are united by one logic, one universal bent toward happiness, which they seek in the most advantageous way possible. In short, man, though capable of making poor decisions, will even in failure choose the most logical poor decision known to him; he furthermore always desires one object more than everything else at any given moment, and the object of his desire is revealed only by his logical action.
Egerer's analysis is simply off the wall. Here are a couple of examples of mainstream economic analysis:
This is the mainstream and yet Egerer writes:
my particular problem with libertarianism in general: the fact that it has little to no soul, reducing man to a rational, pleasure-seeking animal.Where the hell has this guy been living? Does he have any idea how distorted from reality mainstream economics is. And how does anyone this side of Colorado's James Holmes
write in the same paragraph that
Human Action is one of the most profound books I've ever readand
[Mises] must be read in segments because my soul buckles under the total burden of his meaninglessness.After many other errors, including Egerer failing to understand why the science of economics must be wertfrei, he concludes with this doozy (my bold):
What am I to make of Mises and libertarianism, or that ideology's adherents? In the end, though I find them destructive to Western civilization, I pity them. They seek civilization in earthly pleasure, and meaning in meaninglessness. I have a destiny, have a God, have glory, have unalienable rights and The Law, have incorruptible joy -- and should Pleasure ever stand between these and me, then with the Almighty's help, She will know where Her dominion ends. Take your stand where you may; I cannot but with my whole heart reject libertarianism.Economics studies choice and action has nothing to say about whether those choices should be "earthly pleasure" or spiritual. It's similar with libertarianism. Libertarians have no problem with those pursuing "earthly pleasure" or spiritual, as long as there is no aggression against others.
Thus, Egerer is simply wrong and confused when he writes:
[Mises and libertarians] seek civilization in earthly pleasure.There is simply no basis to charge that Mises and libertarians only seek earthly pleasure. His entire article is based on misunderstanding Mises and libertarians.
(ht Christopher Barcelo)