Yet another dead horse begging to be flogged

Earlier, I had an opportunity to expres my dislike of von Mises' ideas. Now, after persevering for a further couple of weeks and reading a dozen or more of his essays, I have finally given up in disgust.

Some salient points:

a.Mises' insistence on the benevolent nature of laissez-faire would have been suspicious even back when he was writing the said essays: he must have been aware of the excesses of the American Gilded Age, which was, arguably, the closest this society has ever been to laissez-faire conditions. Now, with the inevitable result of the markets' being taken over by an authoritarian segment of the population (which continue to pay at least lip-service to Mises' ideas), it is ridiculous. (Mises' followers would insist that the conditions of true laissez-faire have never obtained; in that their thinking is curiously religious and close to the Marxian insistences that the true conditions for communism have never obtained. Both are right, to a degree; both are irrational).

b.Mises' deep inegalitarianism has nothing to do with anarchism, and is, really, deeply offensive to one like me who is a staunch believer in democracy and legal equality and, at least, an attempt to approximate political equality. (Social equality is something else entirely).

c.Mises' ignorance of ecology is, perhaps forgivable: he was writing before the science had really taken off. But certain warning signs were visible already: Carson's book was published during Mises' lifetime and he could have checked it out. But the overwhelming majority of economists (with the exceptions, as earlier noted, of Schumacher and Daly) are woefully ignorant of ecology and the concept of closed system most likely is meaningless to them. Mises' ignorance of biology and evolutionary theory (except for the useful--to him--canard of social darwinism) is less excusable. Modern synthesis was at full swing during the 40's and the 50's when a lot of these essays were produced, and he should not have been unaware of the evolutionary implications on human behaviour.

d.Finally, his attempts at metaphysics and ethical systems are--and I am not going to try to write a 200-page treatise on the subject--laughable.

Interestingly, while claiming the wrongness of Marxian and Keynesian ideas of economic development (I find much of interest in both, with quite a few reservations), Misesians are so completely blind to the failures of their own founder's philosophy that the whole Austrian school is revealed as a religious enterprise that it is.

Sorry. Well, not really. Utter shite. Even Engels is better....;)


Questions Schmestions: part 1

Some people inhabiting this planet--by all accounts, an overwhelming majority--are suffering from an (obviously) widespread but deadly disorder: an incapacity to ask questions. Now how this dangerous malady arises we do not know. Some say it is a genetic mutation, but I find that idea hard to agree with: how would something of such negative survival value, that decreased one's fitness so thoroughly, spread throughout whole populations (I could be wrong about its fitness value, of course)? It is more likely that the root of the disease is nurtural, children being taught by (occasionally) well-meaning parents that all the questions in the universe have already been answered (all the ones worth asking, anyway), and that they (the parents) hold all the answers and will reveal them to the child as time goes by. An attempt to think for oneself is then treated as a rebellion against one's parents and crushed ruthlessly. (Crushing anti-parental rebellions does, actually increase the parent's fitness value somewhat, making sure that their offspring respect them and care for them during their old age. Even if the chances of siring more children at that age are low, they are not zero--especially for men, and because of that, fathers would seem to tend to be more authoritarian than mothers).

In any case, since all the questions have already been answered, the gleeful offspring skips along the road of life rarely stopping to consider that the path they are following may, indeed, be thew wrong one. What's more, since different parents teach their offspring different answers to the same questions, they are often at cross-purposes. But because they do not know how to ask, they assume that everyone else thinks about the world the same way that they do, leading to endless confusion and strife. Also, those in possession of all answers often believe that their omniscience gives them the right–no, the duty–to tell everybody else what to do and how to go about doing it.

The majority of such people would be called religious, although some atheists may fall into that category.

They constitute a clear and present danger to all the rest of us, to the survival of not only of civilization, but human species itself along with the majority of other organisms inhabiting this planet. They must be stopped. They must be taught the value of questioning. But how? Since blind faith and unquestioning belief are, statistically, more likely to take one somewhat further along the road of, at least, material riches (the questioners dawdle trying to decide which is the right thing to do, while the believers happily skip ahead, often falling off precipices, but, overall, achieving more than those who only contemplate the universe, awed by the infinity of choices). The time to act is now! Undecided people of the world: questioners, doubters, disbelievers, all you disobedient, incompliant, obstreperous ones, UNITE! We must do something before life (as we know it) is stamped into oblivion by idiots and radical religionists in positions of power (or out of it: in this century, one no longer needs political power to destroy huge amounts of life). What are we do to?;)