Mises Freemarket Economist Of The Century

This concluding chapter offers an outline of an aspect of Mises' economics that is, in one sense, the most important aspect of all. Indeed, it is this aspect which probably identifies, for many observers, the position occupied by Mises in twentieth-century economics: for better or for worse, Mises is best known not so much as an outstanding economic theorist, not so much for his central role in the development of twentieth-century Austrian economics, but as the most outspoken, most trenchant, and most passionate defender of free-market capitalism—of laissez-faire—of the twentieth century. This chapter will present certain elements in Mises' economics that have not been covered in any of the preceding chapters. But it will also pull together certain implications of a number of topics that were dealt with in earlier chapters in order to help us understand the basis for the strong positions which Mises took regarding central governmental planning (socialism) and governmental intervention into an otherwise free-market economy.

It is important, for the purposes of this book, to bring these implications together for two distinct reasons. First, in the last analysis, these implications have, more than other aspects of his work, decisively shaped Mises' lifework and its public influence. Second, these implications throw significant light on some otherwise overlooked aspects of the substance of his scientific economics. To best appreciate what we mean in this latter regard, it may be useful to confront direcdy an apparent puzzle in Mises' strong statements in favor of laissez-faire economic policy.

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