40 Years Later: Mises’s Lasting Legacy
Mises Daily: Thursday, October 10, 2013 byJörg Guido Hülsmann (http://mises.org/daily/author/231/Jorg-Guido-Hulsmann)
Editor’s note: October 10, 2013 is the 40th anniversary of the death of Ludwig von Mises.
Each year in early October, the world looks to Swedenand Norway, where the annual Nobel Prize winners areannounced in the fields of literature, medicine-physiology, physics, chemistry, and peace-making.The great Swedish entrepreneur, Alfred Nobel did notsponsor a prize in economics, and the committees sponsored out of his estate did not grant anysuch prize until the present day. But there is a “Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of AlfredNobel” which is sponsored by the central bank of Sweden. Since 1969, that prize has been grantedevery year in early October, too.The timing and the labeling of the prize, as well as the fact that its laureates are selected by theRoyal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which also picks the other laureates (except for the peaceprize), have misled people all over the world into thinking it is the real thing. Like counterfeitbanknotes, the economics prize has been circulating among the unsuspecting public.Alfred Nobel did not intend to sponsor a prize in economics. Apparently, neither did the Swedishcentral bank. Its prize has usually been awarded to scholars specializing in applied mathematics, orapplied psychology, or in the art of playing with statistical data that goes under the name of econometrics. Very rarely is it awarded to scholars who actually spend most of their time thinkingabout real-world economic problems, and almost never to anybody who has anything new andimportant and true to say about the real economy. It is true that many laureates were very wellversed in economics, but even they did not, as a rule, obtain the prize for any contribution to thatdiscipline.The problem with the “dismal science” of economics is well known. It mercilessly exposes anddispels the myths that have been invented to justify central planning and governmentinterventionism. This flies in the face of the very institutions that finance and award the Prize inmemory of Alfred Nobel. The Swedish central bank is institutionally committed to central planningin money. It can hardly be expected to print and spend millions of kronas on research that isuseless — and potentially nefarious — from its very own point of view. Moreover, Sweden has beenruled by socialists for most of the post-war period. The venerable Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was not immune from this tendency.Unsurprisingly, the economics prize has always been heavily biased against economists who opposethe fiat-money foundation of the welfare state and of the warfare state. The facts speak forthemselves. With the notable exception of F.A. Hayek (laureate in 1974), none of the prize winnersis on record as an outspoken critic of central banking and monetary interventionism. And evenHayek came out of the closet only
winning the prize, publishing
Choice in Currency
Denationalisation of Money
(1977).Unsurprisingly, two giants of economic thought, Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) and Murray Rothbard(1926-1995) did not obtain the economics prize in memory of Alfred Nobel. Mises, who was arguablythe greatest economist ever, died at the very moment when that prize was awarded for the fifthtime. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his passing, it is appropriate to commemorate hisachievements and to highlight his lasting legacy.
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