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Liberalism Kindle Edition
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What's interesting to me is reading the explanation and defense of these principles from a century ago. While Von Mises would undoubtedly be amazed by how the world and its economy have evolved, I feel certain he would say the same principles are appropriate for today's economy. He also may be shocked at how soundly liberal principles were defeated as those in power have found it impossible not to meddle with markets. Of course, we're so far down the road of government interference in markets that it's not possible to ever have anything even close to a free market. But Von Mises provides sound basis for how liberal principles can and should be applied, and he discusses the vast shortcomings of alternatives. If nothing else, this work discusses at great length liberal principles in the early to mid 19th century, and paints a picture of how there were competing principles in those days as well. Other texts explain how there were classical liberals among early American leaders who battled interventionists. Von Mises explains the basis for the economic views of patriots such as Thomas Jefferson, who also succumbed to the temptation to intervene with economic regulation.
Von Mises is clearly an unabashed classical liberal, whose faith in free markets will rub many the wrong way. But, as he points out, modern society has never allowed free markets to operate without interference. For anybody who abhors free market principles, his retort is clearly that they cannot say with certainty what the outcomes of a free market society would be since men have never let free markets operate without interference. Ultimately, Von Mises lays out a clear foundation for classical liberalism while answering the criticisms of his day.
Originally written in the 1920's, the current events discussed therein are obviously out of date (but it's interesting to see how accurately he predicted the failure of certain endeavors that were popular at the time); however, this book's forte is in its laying out of the principles named above.
Should be a part of every liberal arts education.