As readers of this blog experienced in the recent past, there are differences between the approach to teaching, research and the promotion of Austrian economics in the contemporary academic world and public mind between those associated closely with the Mises Institute and those not as closely tied to the Mises Institute. A lot of this discussion is counter-productive I would argue, but some of it goes to the very core of our enterprise. But that is not what I want to talk about today. I obviously have my disagreements with certain positions associated with the Mises Institute and they are on the public record. But today I want to stress why I spend my time trying to fight this battle within the Austrian ranks. In order to do that I have to explain why I think the Mises Institute is so vitally important to the Austrian/libertarian movement.
First, let me make a non-economic point, but instead a libertarian point. After 9/11, the Mises Institute was the only libertarian organization that held steadfast to the anti-war stance. For that, they earned a certain respect in my mind which would be very hard to erode. Libertarianism is an anti-war, pro non-intervention political philosophy. Why some have attempted to torture the tradition to come with arguments that are pro-war I don't know. Just admit that you find the libertarian principle too difficult to adhere to in the modern world and move on. Or, stick to your intellectual roots and do not justify military intervention as a solution to the problems we face in the world today. Second, an intellectual history point instead of an anlytical economic point. The Mises Institute understands and promotes an aggressive appreciation of the works of Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. For that, again they deserve a tremendous amount of recognition for their good judgment. Mises is, in my opinion, the greatest economist of the 20th century, and Rothbard is the most inspiring (though I really like Hayek too!). Third, the Mises Institute has been amazingly entrepreneurial in making material (lectures, articles and old books) available to young students throughout the world. Liberty Fund and the Mises Institute make the literature of liberty readily available to a new generation and they continually do so every day. Just today, I was altered to the existence of The Economics of Inflation by Costantino Bresciani-Turroni (with a foreward by Lionel Robbins) on the Mises Institute website. This is a very good book on the inflation in Germany and the consequences of inflation on the social order. It is also a very good "teacher" of how to do empirical applied political economy.
Not only Mises's writings, but those of several major and lesser known figures in the Austrian and libertarian movement are kept "alive" electronically by the Mises Institute (and credit must go to Jeff Tucker here). What a great resource for students of economics! I may disagree with this or that reading offered, or this or that interpretation of the work of others that is promoted by particular scholars associated with the Mises Institute, but one cannot deny the great service done for Austrian economics, political economy, and truth by making all these works available to subsequent generations of students and scholars world-wide.
The reason I choose to fight what might appear as senseless battles over labels and approaches is because the Mises Institute is a major force for good in the world of ideas and policy affairs. I share that commitment to both a consistent and uncompromising libertarianism, and to the advancement of the teachings of the Austrian School of Economics. The goals are shared in common between what I am trying to do here at GMU and what the Mises Institute is doing, the means suggested for the most effective way to achieve those ends is where we differ. If our goals differed, I would never bother to fight battles over labels, etc.
But our goals don't differ, and the job they are doing in making material available to students and scholars is amazing and vital to our common cause. So I acknowledge the great work that they do, and I respectfully ask my friend Joe Salerno to just have patience with me (and my former students) as we pursue common goals with different means (at least on the academic front). You can correct us for errors you think we are making, but don't deny that our goals are aligned --- consistent and persistent libertarianism, and the advancement of the core ideas within the Austrian tradition of economic scholarship.