Monday, January 25, 2016

Evidence of the Activist Mind of Mises Still Making An Impact

At the beginning of the month, Jeff Deist wrote an important post, A Call to Activism from the Late Margit von Mises.

In part he wrote:
In a superb talk, given on February 27, 1984 at an early Mises Institute event in New York City, Margit von Mises discusses the process by which she came to write the memoir of her late husband [Ludwig von Mises]. She also discusses his impact on the world, as evidenced by the success and reach of his many former students.
Margit von Mises saw her husband not only as a great economist, but also as a committed activist. Yet she didn't use the term as we ordinarily use it, to describe political action or organizational outreach. She used it to describe her husband's intellectual efforts to build support for liberty: he was an "activist of the mind."

I think she would be happy with two recent experiences I have had.

My office is located in a new high-rise building in downtown San Francisco.  The floor I am on is pretty high tech and it includes a lot of glass. In fact, most of my office is glass including the door to the office. But I have two solid walls, against the walls I have bookcases. The comment I hear most often from people passing by is "Wow, that's a nice collection of books."

But I also have a couple of pictures on the wall, blown up pictures, one of Mises with Henry Hazlitt laughing and one of Mises, Hazlitt and Murray Rothbard.

I don't get too much comment on them. A couple of times people have said, "Nice art."

But a few weeks ago, a young guy hesitantly knocked on my door and said, while nodding toward  one of the pictures "Is that Mises?"

I replied, "You know who Mises is?"

It turns out he was a computer programmer in from Chicago for a few days, who only recently learned of Mises but was studying him intensely.

More recently, I noticed a new guy a few offices down. At one point, we ended up waiting at the elevator together and we introduced ourselves to each other. He is an accountant. I told him about EPJ.

He said, "Oh that explains all the Mises books?"

Me: "You know who Mises is?"

"I studied under one of Mises' students," he replied.

Me: "You studied under one of Mises' students?"

He said, "Yes, Israel Kirzner."

It turns out that he was going for a degree in accounting but ended up in one of Kirzner's classes. He said that he knew there was something special about Kirzner and so after taking the undergrad course with Kirzner he got special permission (which apparently required going through a lot of red tape) to take a graduate course with Kirzner.

He said, "Kirzner turned around my entire perspective on economics."

There really isn't that much traffic that passes by my office. It still seems almost magical that in The People's Republic of San Francisco, the ideas of Mises have reached so close.

But, yes, the activist mind of Mises continues to influence, directly and indirectly.



  1. That's a fantastic illustration. We never know who is watching us, or who and where the "remnant" might be.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. I recently met the author of this book on Anarcho-Capitalism that David Gordon reviews quite favorably. I met him, of all places, living in my own home town.

    Brilliant book, by the way.

  3. Thanks, Bob,
    I was walking through a testing lab last year wearing an "Enemy of the State" tee shirt, and this guy yells out: "Hey, that's ROTHBARD!!!"
    Made my month.
    BTW, Did I mention that Michael Burry is a genius? :)

  4. Thank you for this post RW. Very inspirational.