Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ludwig von Mises as a Racist

Oh boy, Salon's Andrew Leonard is at it again.

 I can see it coming.  Racist charges against Ludwig von Mises and anyone who acknowledges reading him.
Last time I commented on Leonard, he was shooting at Richard Ebeling with a water gun. Now, he has moved on from Ebeling to take a shot a Mises.  In an attack piece on Michelle Bachmann for her comment to the Wall Street Journal that she reads Mises at the beach, he provides this Mises quote:
It must be emphasized that the destiny of modern civilization as developed by the white peoples in the last two hundred years is inseparably linked with the fate of economic science.
So you know the racist charges are coming. Just to clue in his Regressive readers in case they miss the point of the quote, he begins his comment on the quote this way:
Never mind the puzzling injection of skin color into the argument.
Puzzling perhaps to Leonard, but only because he doesn't understand the context  of the quote even when it is staring him in the face. You see the paragraph before the one he quotes, begins this way:
The characteristic feature of this age of destructive wars and social disintegration is the revolt against economics. Thomas Carlyle branded economics a "dismal science,"  and Karl Marx stigmatized the economists as "the sycophants of the bourgeoisie." Quacks--praising their patent medicines and short cuts to an earthly paradise--take pleasure in scorning economics as "orthodox" and "reactionary." Demagogues pride themselves on what they call their victories over economics. The "practical" man boasts of his contempt for economics and his ignorance of the teachings of "armchair" economists...
In other words, Mises on this page is attacking the Regressive hero, Thomas Carlyle, and also Karl Marx. In the essay, Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question, Carlyle said that blacks were subhuman "two legged cattle". Indeed, it was the notion that people are equal as human beings that Carlyle found as evidence that economics was the "dismal science". Carlyle was also anti-capitalist and argued that the advanced white economies were further evidence that blacks were inferior.

Mises argument, thus, is going something like this: Carlyle hails the success of the white economies, but they are successful only because they have left the economy pretty much a free market economy. The success of the economies "is inseparably linked with the fate of economic science." Mises is arguing that Carlyle is incorrect even about his view about the supposed superior white economies. He is saying that if the white economies adopted Carlyle's anti-capitalistic methods that they would never have had the increase in the standard of living that occurred.

Mises, in other words, is pointing to an economic weakness in Carlyle's argument about the success of white people. He is saying  that Carlyle didn't realize that the economic system had a lot to do with it. At no other time, in all of the Mises writings, did he use the term "white peoples". I just searched Google books to verify. Mises is simply attacking the economic classification that Carlyle said was superior. Mises is saying, white people, a classification that Carlyle used, wouldn't have succeeded if they had adopted a socialist system instead of a free market system. Beginning and end of story.

And thus again, we have the seriously clueless Leonard spinning way out of control. Perhaps he should take Mises and Carlyle books the next time he goes to the beach so he can really understand what is going on.

UPDATE: Andrew Leonard has responded and now promises to himself take Mises to the beach. Details here.


  1. Mental note: Andrew Leonard = hatchet man

  2. Bob -

    Misplaced defense.

    Even if Mises used the term white people, so what?

    The tribes of Europe look white on the whole. You can quibble that they look grey, pink, sallow, anything else. But you can't deny they don't look black or brown or yellow.

    Since when did the recognition of color become "racist"?

    Color is not race.

    And even if Mises WERE racist in our modern ultra-broad sense, again, so what?

    Does that make everything he wrote wrong?

    What a lot of anachronistic, ahistoric, irrational fear-mongering.

    And by the way, Samuel Johnson, Thomas Carlyle, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain and many other of my favorite writers are also racist and sexist by modern standards.

    There are about ZERO chances that I will apologize for any of them, throw them out of my library, or regard them as anything but zestful champions of the human race, warts and all.

    The word racist should be confined to those people, living in modern Western cultures today, who publicly advocate legal disenfranchisement of any race on racial grounds.

    All the rest - racial epithets and name-calling, pro and anti-affirmative action, group characterizations (benign racialism), evolutionary theory, research into IQ or genetics - is not racist.

    It is just opinion...and protected opinion at that.

    I hope you, as a proud white guy, of all people, don't succumb to this regressive curtailment of the richness of language and reality enforced by a bunch of cossetted white guys and gals (for the most part) with their colored stooges.

    Spoken as a proud brown, colored, WOG (or WOL)...

  3. I'm in love!

    A(true)Young Aryan Maiden!

    Lila, I have two questions:

    Are you rich?

    Can you cook?

  4. Wanna bet that Andrew Leonard himself did a Google Books search for the term "white people" in order to smear Mises?

    Leonard and his ilk used to use another term to smear anyone who opposed omnipotent government: "kulak."

  5. The debate over color aside, I LOVE the term Regressive. Wenzel, you need to popularize and copyright it. It works. If popular, the left would have to abandon Progressive (I could only hope), go back to 'liberal', or come up with another epithet to call themselves.

  6. Wherever he posts this accusation, he needs to be bombarded with a link to and copy/paste of this article to expose his intellectual vacuity. It's typical "liberal" dogmatism - try and go to ANY lengths to find that some writer you dislike is guilty of some thought-"crime", regardless of context, so that the sheeple cower at the prospect of being associated with this "fiend".

    'course, what is the bloody problem? They -are- white... what of it? Mises repudiated racist doctrines like polylogism. I agree with Lila. This guy needs to grow up.

  7. Slander, lies and hypocrisy. This is how an empire dies.

    Good idea about sending him the link, and demanding a public retraction. Send it to the editorial board at Salon too. Let's make a stink.

  8. I think what we're seeing here is a means for the establishment to attack Dr. Paul by getting useful idiots to mention the things Dr. Paul mentions, with no real understanding of what they're talking about, allowing the establishment to paint anyone that mentions those things as a fringe nut. They have tried directly attacking Dr. Paul as a fringe nut in the past to no avail. Now they will bring out real fringe nuts and have them talk about a lot of the same subjects without any of the intellectual understanding that Dr. Paul uses for the base of his philosophy. To me, it looks like they're working towards a fringe nut-by-association angle.

  9. I've said it before and I'll say it again. A racist/sexist/homophobe/anti-semite/neo nazi is somebody winning an argument with a regressive.
    The only reason "child molester" hasn't made the cut is that, it was one of the favorite ploys of Ceasceau and ahem, he got put in front of a wall and shot. IOW as irrational as the libs are, they one, know they don't want to go there or two, they're in favor of it, so they can't pour opprobrium and scorn upon it.

  10. A nice cropped race card. The next sentence said it was because of ideology, not nationality.

    This is how you know a liberal is completely defeated. They plug their ears and scream racist.

  11. Conservatives are not necessarily stupid,
    but most stupid people are conservatives.
    John Stuart Mill
    English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

  12. @Anonymous 4.47

    Stupid would include Edmund Burke (one of the most influential and revered statesmen in the Anglophone tradition), Russell Kirk (father of the modern conservative movement in the US), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (considered one of the dozen or so unalloyed geniuses of English poetry and criticism)......

    Mill is a great thinker but any of those three are even better.

  13. The most inspiring facet of Mises is that he did believe there are evidently superior people (he being one of them) along with the thick stupidity of the masses, yet he never surrendered to elitism.

    Instead of affirming himself chasing power or fortune he chose to dedicate his life building a solid foundation for economics. All of it brushed aside by this clown to make room for his shoddy quote mining job.

  14. Thank you for this explanation. In reading Human Action for the first time, I was bothered by this reference to "white people," but I didn't understand the context or implication. This clears it up!