Thursday, June 6, 2013

Exposing and Challenging the Spirit Behind Interventionism

In the "Introductory Remarks" of "Planned Chaos", an excerpt from Ludwig von Mises' book "Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis" (1951), you will have an overview of what to expect in reading the material. As for me, after reading the entire material once (it only has 43 pages) and rereading it again while taking down notes and relevant quotes for writing, I see that the whole message of "Planned Chaos" is all about the influence of socialism using government interventionism to suppress personal liberty and the free enterprise. 

Of course, interventionists will not admit that. They claim to dislike tyranny and monopoly. They also claim to be fighting for poor's welfare, social justice and fairer distribution of income. 

But Mises' "Planned Chaos" tells a different story. He actually describes our time as an "age of dictators, wars and revolutions". In fact, he said that "History will call our age the age of the dictators and tyrants."

One distinguishing mark of our dictatorial age is hostility against capitalism. Such hostility has been expressed through interventionist policies. This explains the co-existence of free enterprise and anti-free market policies. 

However, despite of interventionist policies, people still reap the advantages from the free enterprise. Unfortunately, interventionists claim credit to these advantages. This is the reason why Mises emphasized the need to expose and challenge the interventionist policies of the government. 

Most people according to Mises are "Entangled in the superstitions of statism and government omnipotence". He adds, people "expect everything from authoritarian action and very little from the initiative of enterprising citizens." They appear to be blind about the fact that "the only means to increase well-being is to increase the quantity of products", which only the free enterprise is capable of doing. 

For us to challenge interventionism, we need to identify first the spirit that raised the dictators in the past for interventionism is leading to nothing but tyranny. Mises describes that spirit as follows:

"But the spirit which raised these knaves to autocratic power survives. It permeates textbooks and periodicals, it speaks through the mouths of teachers and politicians, it manifests itself in party programmes and in play and novels. As long as this spirit prevails there cannot be any hope of durable peace, of democracy, of the preservation of freedom or of a steady improvement in the nation's economic well-being."
In other words, the above spirit is the dominant spirit that controls the existing academic and political institutions, which is no other than but socialism! This is the spirit that prepares the way for dictators. This is the spirit that needs to be exposed and challenged if we want to maintain both our personal and economic freedom. 

Note: First posted last February 8, 2013.