Ludwig von Mises

After the publication of Principles of Economics, Menger became a professor at Vienna University in 1872, and so the ‘Austrian School of Economics’ was born. The two principal students of Menger were Friedrich von Wieser and Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. In turn, the principal intellectual descendant of Von Wieser was Friedrich von Hayek, and the principal intellectual descendant of Von Böhm-Bawerk was Ludwig von Mises.

Although we have many good things to say about the Hayekian line of the Austrian school, as our site name suggests, our main inspiration comes from the Misesian line. Von Mises himself almost became the single living exponent of his own line of free market economics and classical liberalism. In the 1930s, when many of the world’s economists became enamoured with the work of John Maynard Keynes, a product of classical economics and Cambridge University in England, Mises cut a lonely figure in Austria, and later in Switzerland.

To know Ludwig von Mises is to translate his personal Latin motto, ‘Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito’.  Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it.

As the major figure in Europe representing both classical liberalism and free market economics, Mises was out of step with his own times, with the rise of national socialism both in Germany, and later in his home country of Austria. Mises thus had to flee Europe in 1940, sometimes only a few miles ahead of Hitler’s Wehrmacht advance through France. Fortunately, Mises did manage to escape, though he arrived virtually penniless in New York, aged sixty.

Despite this, and through Viennese-style seminars held both at New York University and at his Upper West Side home, he tutored and mentored a new cohort of ‘Austrian’ economists. These included Israel Kirzner, Hans Sennholz, Ralph Raico, Leonard Liggio, George Reisman and above all, Murray N. Rothbard. During this time, Mises translated many of his earlier books into English, and also published Human Action, his magnum opus. Once Mises retired in 1969, the main standard bearer of Austrian economics became Murray Rothbard. His own masterwork is Man, Economy, and State.

The Austrian School thus became principally established in America, where it remains relatively strong, though it has now returned to Europe and many other places around the world, such as Brazil and Canada.