Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On the "Tolerant" Mises

First, we had Ludwig von Mises absurdly painted as a feminist, now, we have Mises, in the wake of the attack on the  Mises Institute by NYT,  painted as a free spirit, tolerant of anything goes life styles.

Steve Horwitz writes that the views by those at the Mises Institute have:
"soiled Mises's name and turned an open, tolerant, cosmopolitan intellectual and political tradition into its exact opposite[...]This is BLOWBACK. You play with racist, homophobic, neo-confederate fire, you're gonna get burned. 
It's as though Mises was only a polite invitation away from throwing off his suit and joining John Maynard Keynes in one of his wild sex orgies. Or that Mises would certainly tolerate such.

I really don't care what people do in their bedroom, nor with whom they do it, but to paint Mises as a silent tolerant supporter of unconventional sexual behavior is absurd.

Here's Mises in Bureaucracy commenting on the decade before World War I and the youth movement in Germany of that period, which was similar in many ways  to the current Occupy movement:
The chiefs of the youth movement were mentally unbalanced neurotics. Many of them were affected by a morbid sexuality, they were either profligate or homosexual.
Now that's what I call anti-Horwitzian tolerance.

I repeat, I really don't care what people do in their bedroom, nor with whom they do it, BUT pure libertarianism has no position on whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. Libertarianism is about the non-aggression principle and it applies as much to the hillbilly, the redneck and the total jackass as it does to the "cosmopolitan intellectual." This is an important concept to understand, especially at this time when you have those, who are attempting to turn libertarianism into some kind of snobbish elite movement with strictures incorporated into libertarianism that have nothing to do with the non-aggression principle, and who advocate that libertarians should get along with the great "cosmopolitan intellectual" aggressors, that is, the establishment elite who lord over us.

If anything, Mises was totally intolerant of this kind of bullshit. Here's Milton Friedman on the intolerant Mises. I can think of many scholars associated with the Mises Institute who are much more tolerant than Mises ever was. What we really need are more principled supporters of libertarianism, who are as intolerant of bullshit as Mises was in the two episodes Friedman describes below.


  1. And as a student and lifelong confident of Mises, who better to know his deepest thoughts and truest sentiments than Steve Horwitz.

    1. btw, although I loathe the ad hominem, apparently my Android phone does not: upon not finding "Horwitz" in its dictionary, its first autocorrect suggestion was "Nitwits".

  2. From Mises' Wikipedia entry is a citation which further contradicts Horwitz's attempt to redefine the man:

    "After his death, Mises's wife quoted a passage that Mises had written about Benjamin Anderson, and said that it best described Mises's own personality: "His most eminent qualities were his inflexible honesty, his unhesitating sincerity. He never yielded. He always freely enunciated what he considered to be true. If he had been prepared to suppress or only to soften his criticisms of popular, but irresponsible, policies, the most influential positions and offices would have been offered him. But he never compromised."

  3. I think lots of times people don't understand how relatively narrow Libertarianism is as a political philosophy.

    Virtually all flaws found in the general population can be found in Libertarians.

    You can be a Libertarian and a racist.

    You can be a Libertarian and a relatively mindless and uncritical thinker.

    You can be a Libertarian and extraordinarily selfish.

    And so on...

    Now, I DO think many negative traits are less represented amongst Libertarians (passive thinking is a great example), but there are relatively few negative traits that are explicitly counter to Libertarianism in and of themselves.

    1. "You can be a Libertarian and a racist. "

      Actually I dont think so since most racists are quite open (or at the very least passive aggressively) support the state turning it's collection of guns and thugs on groups that they hate.

    2. "Actually I dont think so"

      If you are a libertarian living in the ghetto, it would probably be racism that would help keep you alive as you seek to avoid young black males, especially those roaming in gangs while walking on the street.

      There is nothing un-libertarian about that...it's just reality.

  4. Freewill scares the living hell out of the control freaks (progressives, neocons, socialists, fascists, etc).

    1. Interesting isn't it, God gives man freewill and man attempts to either escape it or to suppress it in his fellow man. You don't have to be a believer to appreciate the meaningfulness of the contrast.

    2. I've always found that fascinating. The people who claim a god gave us free will are the first to try to take it away. I think this is because they also believe that god punishes nations that fail to live up to his standards. They feel justified in outlawing "sin."

      Of course, there's plenty of research demonstrating that free will is actually an illusion. Sam Harris, author and neuroscientist, has done some great work in this field. He has a number of talks on the subject available on youtube.

    3. Edward, a neuroscientist is not a philosopher, or an expert in the experience of subjective introspection.

      Read Hoppe's tome on ethics and private property. If free will is an illusion, you and I are not even engaging in dialogue. We are just spewing chemical reactions and noises without end or purpose. You can hold this view, but not without complete contradiction. Try living your life that way.

    4. Edward, also, this statement - "The people who claim a god gave us free will are the first to try to take it away" -- is utterly false.

      Read Tom Woods et al. It was Christian doctrine that undid the prevailing ideas that saw life as cylical and unchanging, with fate a dominating factor. Christian doctrine freed cultures to advance, save, learn, respect others..basically implicitly allow freedom and have optimism for the future. It was a long process, but the history is there for the reading.

      I think you are more concerned with the "Yankee problem", a phenomenon you should google. That is a special class of pietists from England and New England that have the flaws you mention. Rothbard is great on this in his historical writings.

    5. Edward,

      I think you're subjecting the Authoritarian christian label to the wrong Christian people. Harris is joke and a shill for the state.

  5. What coercion or violence would a Horwitz unslip,
    too ensure a politically-correct acceptance,
    by a fawning elite?
    And would he still be a libertarian?

  6. Intolerance is now the act of living in harmony with reality.

  7. From the Establishment perspective, there is little that is as much fun as a battle between libertarians.

  8. A libertarian can hold unpopular views and still harm no one. Thus some libertarians could be 'racist', have a moral objection to sodomy, and so on. A libertarian does not initiate force against others so his unpopular views will not impact on others.

    A statist on the other hand attempts to bring the power of the state to bear against those he does not like.