Mises on laissez-faire and the state

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December 15, 2011 by galudwig

A couple of quotes from the Ludwig von Mises’ excellent Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, which is in my opinion the very best book out there on the rise of the state in general and of nazism in Germany in particular.

Within a world of free trade and democracy there are no incentives for war and conquest. In such a world it is of no concern whether a nation’s sovereignty stretches over a larger or a smaller territory. Its citizens cannot derive any advantage from the annexation of a province.

The biggest myth of free trade and capitalism, and one which just refuses to die among the general population, is that a free market somehow leads to war and imperialism and needs to be checked by a benevolent government. But nothing could be further from the truth.

On laissez-faire, Mises writes

Laissez faire, laissez passer does not mean: let the evils last. On the contrary, it means: do not interfere with the operation of the market because such interference must necessarily restrict output and make people poorer. It means furthermore: do not abolish or cripple the capitalist system which, in spite of all obstacles put in its way by governments and politicians, has raised the standard of living of the masses in an unprecedented way.

Libertarians continually try to point out facts like these, but unfortunately our arguments are often met by very harsh and insulting ad hominems, but

It is futile to call the critics of inappropriate policies names and to cast suspicion upon their motives. That might silence the voice of truth, but it cannot render inappropriate policies appropriate.

Indeed it cannot.

Read the book for free at mises.org


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