by Murray N. RothbardIn the twentieth century, the advocates of free marketeconomics almost invariably pin the blame for governmentintervention solely on erroneous ideas—that is, on incorrectideas about which policies will advance the public weal. Tomost of these writers, any such concept as "ruling class"sounds impossibly Marxist. In short, what they are reallysaying is that there are no irreconcilable conflicts of class orgroup interest in human history, that everyone's interests arealways compatible, and that therefore any political clashes canonly stem from misapprehensions of this common interest.In "The Clash of Group Interests," the most important of the little-known essays reprinted here, Ludwig von Mises, theoutstanding champion of the free market in this century,avoids the naive trap embraced by so many of his colleagues.Instead, Mises sets forth a highly sophisticated and libertariantheory of classes and of class conflict, by distinguishingsharply between the free market and government intervention.It is true that on the
there are no clashes of class orgroup interest; all participants benefit from the market andtherefore all their interests are in harmony. But the matterchanges drastically, Mises points out, when we move to theintervention of government. For that very interventionnecessarily
conflict between those classes of peoplewho are benefited or privileged by the State, and those whoare burdened by it. These conflicting classes created by Stateintervention Mises calls
As Mises states:
Thus there prevails a solidarity of interests among all caste membersand a conflict of interests among the various castes. Each privilegedcaste aims at the attainment of new privileges and at the preservation of old ones. Each underprivileged caste aims at the abolition of itsdisqualifications. Within a caste society there is an irreconcilableantagonism between the interests of the various castes.