Monday, January 4, 2010

The Name "Austrian School" as a Badge of Honor

Richard Ebeling emails:

I have no embarrassment or "shame" calling myself an "Austrian Economist" or a member of the "Austrian School". It is a noble tradition in the history of economics that continues to have time relevancy and application to our current economic circumstances.

I have too much respect and appreciation for the intellectual courage and contributions of those great thinkers from Menger and Bohm-Bwarek to Mises, Hayek, Kirzner and Rothbard to turn my back on a set of ideas that has so profoundly influenced my understanding of the social world and economic order.

And why this name change? Because you feel uncomfortable with some of the "press" that Austrian economics has been received during the current economic crisis?

That would be like expecting Mises and Hayek not to identify themselves with the Austrian tradition any more because Hans Mayer --who was Friedrich von Wieser's successor as a professor of economics at the University of Vienna-- ended up being a public Nazi collaborator after the German takeover of Austria in March 1938.

When the proceedings volume of the famous "Colloquium Walter Lippman" was published in Paris in late 1938, the names and nationalities of the participants were listed at the beginning of the book. Lionel Robbins and F. A. Hayek were listed as from Great Britain, for example.

But not wanting to be in any way identified with, now, a Nazi Germany and Austria, the nationality of both Ludwig von Mises and Wilhelm Ropke were listed as "Austrian School" (I'm not joking.)

The name "Austrian School" was, clearly, a badge of honor to Mises and Ropke in the face of the triumph of National Socialism in their respective homelands.

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