Sunday, January 16, 2011

Was Ludwig von Mises Banished by Ayn Rand?

There's much written about Ayn Rand's banishment of Murray Rothbard from her circle.

Now there is new evidence that Ludwig von Mises may have suffered the same fate (Although it would be a bit inaccurate to say Mises was in Rand's "Circle" in the first place).

In a recently published book, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, Scott McConnell recounts the many interviews he has had with people who knew Rand. The book includes interviews with Rand's sister (who did not think Rand was a good writer) with Rand's maid, people Rand worked with in Hollywood and on and on. 

In one interview, Richard Cornuelle, a friend of Rand's, claims that Rand called him up and told him that Mises was pro draft and she demanded that Cornuelle choose between her and Mises. He said he would rather duck the question. She told him he couldn't. He stuck with Mises and never spoke to Rand again.

Several paragraphs oddly showed up in the 3rd Edition of Human Action (when Mises was elderly) that was pro draft, but there was no such view in the first edition (Which is the edition that Mises Institute has republished).  In Nationaleconomie, Mises was even stronger in his views against war and similar issues.

In one interview, Sylvester Petro made clear that Rand understood that the epistemology of Mises was different than hers but that she said that, as far as economics, Mises was the most important thing that ever happened to her. Petro added that Mises was a pretty cool character and that Rand thought a lot more about the [epistemological] conflict between them, then Mises did.

100 Voices also reports that when Solidarity first became a movement in Poland, Rand felt that Poland was the one country that could successfully buck the USSR because Poland was the only country in the Soviet sphere that had in Catholicism a united ideology.

There are also indications through out the book that Alan Greenspan was always trying to push her into buying stocks. But she felt that the only way she could invest in stocks is if she studied the company, the people associated with the company and the industry, and she felt she did not have the time to do so. A Bernie Madoff victim she would not have been. It appears she completely ignored Greenspan's urgings and kept her money in banks and money markets.


  1. Ayn will always hold a special place in my heart- her novels were formative in my late teens, as was that errant copy of "Reason" magazine that was incorrectly placed in my college POBox.

    It was that fortuitously, serendipitously misplaced "Reason" magazine that first started me down the path of liberty. I have been fortunate enough to live in an age of instant communication, where the flaws in her rigid philosophy were exposed, and the neocon powerlust of "Reason " (what a horribly improper name!) were exposed. I will be forever in debt to Lew Rockwell for exposing me to Von Mises and Rothbard.

    Neither of them is perfect- none of us are- but they recognized the primal superiority of human action in a way Ms Rand never could. They approached it without ego, or profit, at great personal sacrifice. Rand never did.

    I wish Murray or Ludwig had written fiction...maybe they would have taken Ayn's glory!!!

  2. Well, if by any chance Von Mises really was pro-draft then i would certainly support Rand on wanting to sever ties with those who support him.

    You can not be a consistent advocate of reason and liberty while maintaining ties with someone who is in favor of something even worse than slavery, which conscription is (since the chances are much larger one is horribly maimed or even killed).

    This is regardless of any other peculiarities Rand had towards those who disagreed with her.

  3. @Cannon - That's a little harsh. LvM was a prolific economist and although he might have supported a draft in some context or another, his works on economic theory and human action should not be dismissed as illogical or inconsistent with liberty. His economic works have laid the foundation upon which Rothbard and many others were capable of building the movement we appreciate today.

  4. @Wenzel

    Rand and the other two cannot be compared. Apples and oranges.

    Those of us who appreciate all three thinkers should not allow any of the gossip to detract from our admiration and gratitude to three great thinkers.

    In the kingdom of the spirit, every insight matters and every soul who gives us insight deserves credit and respect.