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Liberalism: The Classical Tradition (Liberty Fund Library of the Works of Ludwig Von Mises) Paperback – 24 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund Inc (24 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865975868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865975866
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was a preeminent philosopher and economist during the twentieth century. He shared an intellectual friendship with literary giant Ayn Rand, and his theorems and philosophies have continued to influence the careers and ideas of politicians and economists alike.


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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9d00f294) out of 5 stars 50 reviews
100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d017f48) out of 5 stars A stellar defense of classical liberalism. 3 Jun. 1998
By bregen@empe.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ludwig Von Mises had created a sensation in 1922 when he demolished all the intellectual arguements for socialism that had been advanced in defense of collectivist in his book Socialism. In 1927 Mises published his rebuttal to critics who had accused him of attacking the flaws of socialism without offering an alternative. Mises valiantly defends the liberalism of Burke, Locke,and Menger. He proscribed policies that even now are considered revolutionary i.e an end to national borders, the free flow of goods and people across borders, the immediate end to the brutal colonialism then popular in Europe, and vast limitations on state authority. Mises believed that there are two basic forms of human organization, coercion and cooperation, and that collectivism (socialism, fascism, communism) is capable of only using the former method and not the latter. Only liberalism maximizes the freedom of the individual.
71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d017f9c) out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Classical Liberalism 15 Feb. 2002
By D. S. Heersink - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's a shame that the liberalism von Mises espouses must be pre-classed as "classical," since the word "liberal" has come to mean precisely the opposite of what von Mises and his predecessors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries meant by the word. In today's lexicon, his liberalism is closer to libertarianism, although I caution readers not to dismiss this book if they dismiss the political movement.
What von Mises intends to show in easy to read eloquent prose is that capitalism and democracy are natural complements to a free society. Betwixt the two, prosperity and freedom of choice have been maximized beyond all other systems, and the general well-being benefits all, even those on the lowest economic rung. This is not a comprehensive exegesis of economics that one will find in von Mises' "Human Action." Rather, it is a general survey of the dominant themes that are given their fuller voice in his more detailed analysis. Thus, this book is an excellent introduction to democratic economics in general and to capitalism in particular.
What makes the book particularly engaging is its polemical tone. It is not a polemic, but it never loses sight of its opponents, and frequently takes socialism and critics of capitalism to task for their anxiety over the merits of being free.
After a brief introduction that is thoroughly engaging, von Mises covers four broad themes: (1) The foundations of liberalism and its policies; (2) liberalism's economic policies; (3) implications of liberalism in foreign policy; and (4) how liberalism is manifested in the political process. It's in the last section that he deals with doctrinaire liberalism and why, short of necessary regulations, the market must be free if man is to be free. Von Mises is unapologetically extreme in his views, and those of us who have come to expect an interventionist economic system will see why a "well-regulated" market economy has shortcomings. Alas, however, von Mises does not address the circumstances surrounding deceit, fraud, and other malfeasance (which is the book's only shortcoming).
The "liberal" of today will also learn a great deal about himself. Von Mises explores the reasons for socialism's popularity and staying power, despite its predeliction towards despotism, totalitarianism, and ineptitude. Socialism has no rational basis for existence, but it does have a very strong psychological dynamic that von Mises admits (and frankly doesn't discuss enough in this book).
After reading this short volume, readers will likely want to investigate these ideas further. Von Mises was a prolific author, and tackles many issues in any number of his works. Certainly, "Socialism" and "Human Action" are two of his major works that may find interest. Furthermore, one of von Mises' pupils was Frederick Hayek, one of the preeminent thinkers of the twentieth century.
If you want a concise, short, and eloquent introduction to classical liberalism, I can think of no better book to serve this function. Eschew some of the latter-day libertarians, and read from the foundational author of our times.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9da42ee0) out of 5 stars A Passionate Plea for Dispassionate Reason 22 Aug. 2007
By D. W. MacKenzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mises wrote Liberalism in dark times. Depression and social unrest plagued Europe after the Great War. Fascists and Nazis were on the march in Italy, Germany, and Spain. Lenin and Stalin held Russia in an iron grip. It seemed that everyone was giving up on limited government and laissez faire. Mises understood that the future of civilization was at stake. Someone needed to revive the ideas of the enlightenment. Mises had already written lengthy books against inflation and socialism, but how many people outside of academia would read such long and sophisticated books? How could human reason prevail over the demagoguery of socialists and interventionists without a succinct statement of classical liberal arguments?

Liberalism is one of the most readable book that Mises wrote. It is concise and compelling. Mises makes a strong case for limited government in a mere 193 pages. The central message of this book is that capitalism is the only economic system that can deliver the prosperity and freedom that many of us take for granted in the West. Socialism leads inevitably to a rigid inefficient bureaucracy. Interventionism is a senseless, self defeating, absurd policy". Capitalism is the progressive system. Socialism is, in contrast, a reactionary system that would fail to feed the current population, were we to attempt to live under this system.

Given the length of this book, Mises does not explain his arguments as thoroughly, compared to Human Action or Socialism, an Economic and Sociological Analysis. Yet he does explain his main points, and these other books are long enough to deter many readers. For most people the detail of his other books is unnecessary, so reading Liberalism is a good way to economize on your time.

Times have changed. The fascists and Bolsheviks are long gone. Yet the ideas in this book remain relevant and important. There are still many people who reject the true liberalism of free markets in favor of welfare state liberalism. Also, socialism is not completely dead. Liberalism provides a means for people to understand the importance of liberty with relatively little effort. While the ideas in this book failed to turn interwar Europeans from socialism, it will surely contribute to the defense of liberty in the twenty-first century.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cdaf240) out of 5 stars Reason over Emotion 7 Sept. 2007
By D. W. MacKenzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio Cassette
The audio version of this book makes an easy read even more accesible. Liberalism is hardly the most difficult book that Mises wrote. Yet it is well worthwhile, and the ability to listen to it fits with a busy schedule.

Mises wrote Liberalism in dark times. Depression and social unrest plagued Europe after the Great War. Fascists and Nazis were on the march in Italy, Germany, and Spain. Lenin and Stalin held Russia in an iron grip. It seemed that everyone was giving up on limited government and laissez faire. Mises understood that the future of civilization was at stake. Someone needed to revive the ideas of the enlightenment. Mises had already written lengthy books against inflation and socialism, but how many people outside of academia would read such long and sophisticated books? How could human reason prevail over the demagoguery of socialists and interventionists without a succinct statement of classical liberal arguments?

Liberalism is one of the most readable book that Mises wrote. It is concise and compelling. Mises makes a strong case for limited government in a mere 193 pages. The central message of this book is that capitalism is the only economic system that can deliver the prosperity and freedom that many of us take for granted in the West. Socialism leads inevitably to a rigid inefficient bureaucracy. Interventionism is a senseless, self defeating, absurd policy". Capitalism is the progressive system. Socialism is, in contrast, a reactionary system that would fail to feed the current population, were we to attempt to live under this system.

Given the length of this book, Mises does not explain his arguments as thoroughly, compared to Human Action or Socialism, an Economic and Sociological Analysis. Yet he does explain his main points, and these other books are long enough to deter many readers. For most people the detail of his other books is unnecessary, so reading Liberalism is a good way to economize on your time.

Times have changed. The fascists and Bolsheviks are long gone. Yet the ideas in this book remain relevant and important. There are still many people who reject the true liberalism of free markets in favor of welfare state liberalism. Also, socialism is not completely dead. Liberalism provides a means for people to understand the importance of liberty with relatively little effort. While the ideas in this book failed to turn interwar Europeans from socialism, it will surely contribute to the defense of liberty in the twenty-first century.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cdaf480) out of 5 stars A brilliant defense of classical, laissez-faire liberalism.. 22 July 2000
By R. Setliff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Today, liberalism is a misnomer for an ideology advocating a interventionist welfare-warfare state. This ideology is known as socialism in Europe and the rest of the world and typically known as liberalism in America. For the better part of my life, I considered a classical liberal to be someone like say Ted Kennedy. Mises pointed me back to the pre-20th century classical liberalism... the liberalism of free-markets and individual liberty... the very same liberalism espoused by Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, and Frederic Bastiat. Classical Liberalism is among America's most venerable traditions, for it laid the foundation for everything revered by the conservatism and libertarianism of today. Mises vindicates free-markets and refutes socialism with his amazing verbal logic and innate sense of reasoning.
However, I find Mises' brilliant work to be just as valuable as an economics text as it is a work of political history and theory. This book is a great volume for jumping into the brilliant writings of Ludwig von Mises... Getting this book and companion volumes such as Anti-Capitalistic Mentality and Bureaucracy are a good way to gear up for Mises' magnum opus - Human Action.
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