Today’s Leading Mises Scholar on the Man (Mises) and His Legacy—Guido Hülsmann

Jörg Guido Hülsmann

https://mises.org/profile/jörg-guido-hülsmann

Economists have become increasingly moronic, increasingly ignorant, not only of classical economics and all the literature of the nineteenth century, but also of the great contributions that were made by Mises and several others in the 1920s and 30s.

It’s [Human Action] certainly a combination of a life-time of reflecting on all these questions. Moreover, for Mises himself, economics is the science of relationships, so it’s the science of how all different aspects of human life, all different markets, all different activities, all different spheres in which we are making choices, which we act, and how they relate to one another. So, for this reason alone, Human Action is unavoidable. It’s the embodiment of Mises’s thought and I would also say on virtually all questions of detail, we find his most mature thinking on these pages. You can argue on one or two occasions, it’s not of course, perfection, like no human work can be perfect, but you can raise the question, is it better than how he had put it in previous works? Then you can argue on one or two things.

Yes, that’s right, it [Human Action] is especially strong in economics. But, the truth is that the way young economists are trained today, they are turned into morons because all that they learn is to mimic the natural sciences. They learn how to apply econometric methods to datasets, and of course in order to do this you don’t really need any training in economics. You can come from any natural science. You can come from engineering, you can come from mathematics, you can come from physics, it doesn’t matter, as long as you know a little bit about mathematics and applied mathematics. You take one or two years of classes in econometrics, you’re there. Anybody can do this. You don’t need any knowledge of economic literature, you don’t need any knowledge of economic history, you don’t need any acquaintance with praxeological analysis, the logical analysis of human action, which we find in classical economics and in Austrian economics.

You don’t need any of this because all that you do is to look at data and to apply methods that people from all other walks of scientific life would and could apply if they had no idea what economics was all about. This is the work of a moron. Unsurprisingly, these people typically have great difficulties engaging in interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary work with scholars from the social sciences, and also with philosophers and jurists.

One big problem with monetary intervention is that it “de-responsibilizes” us, destroys the virtues in us. It destroys morals from within. The whole point of morals is to lead a successful life. This is something that’s often not sufficiently appreciated because you associate morals with a whole item list of constraints that you put on what people would like to.

Self-sacrifice for the mere sake of sacrifice, rather than in the pursuit of a higher end. But this is not the traditional conception of the virtues, as we find it most notably in the Christian canon of cardinal and theological virtues. These are attitudes, mental dispositions that make for success in life, that make us more successful, not only on our personal way to heaven, but also in our social relations. Now, monetary interventionism destroys this because what is virtuous holds true under the premise that you have clearly defined and protected private property rights, that you have something like responsibility, that if you make a wrong choice, there will be negative feedback because it ultimately falls back on you, you’re responsible for the wrong things that you do. You mess up your social relations, you mess up a friendship, you betray your relatives and your wife and so it will ultimately fall back on you. But, in our society, we do all kinds of things and have the government intervene in various ways, to prevent the cost being too high on people who behave recklessly, both in their social relations and as far as their own individual behavior is concerned. Think of drug consumption or sports that are excessively risky, or of divorce. We are socializing many of the risks associated with such behavior, and this of course cannot fail to destroy virtue from within, and at the end of the process, everybody asks themselves, well, first of all, why should I behave virtuously?”

https://mises.org/profile/jörg-guido-hülsmann