Monday, May 6, 2013

How Yale University Press Tried to Destroy Ludwig von Mises

By Gary North

Ludwig von Mises was resented by several generations of economists, 1912 (Theory of Money and Credit) until his death in October 1973.

They had reasons for this resentment. First, he held to a rigorously free market-based explanation of economic causation. They were statists. Second, he kept predicting things that kept coming true – events which his critics had denied would ever happen. This made him look good. It made them look bad. They resented this.

They wanted to bring him down a notch – more notches, if they could. This is always the motive of envy. Some of his critics were green with it.

Recently, I wrote an article on the decision of Yale University Press in 1963 to issue a grotesque edition of Mises' masterpiece, Human Action (1949). It is a forgotten story, even within Austrian economics circles.

Mises was resented. The extent to which he was resented can be seen in this scurrilous incident. It showed the petty vindictiveness of obscure, resentful men against a truly great thinker. It was pure envy at work. The editor of Yale University Press was willing to issue an ugly, amateurish looking book. He was willing to suffer the embarrassment of overseeing an incompetent typesetting job. Why? Because he was able to bring Mises down a notch, or so he thought. He was wrong.

Today, Mises is known around the world. The Ludwig von Mises Institute's website has five times the traffic of the website of the American Economic Association, the premier organization of academic economists.

The petty men who sought to bring him down a notch were not known by many people in their day. Mises was. Today, they are not even long forgotten. They were never known by enough people to have become long forgotten. Mises is better known today than he was in his lifetime. This almost never happens to anyone, and surely not someone in academia, where fads come and go, and so do reputations.

1 comment:

  1. So...who's for commissioning a 50th Anniversary reprint of the "Amateur Hour" edition, but by MIT Press or Harvard Press?