“The death of nations is the retrogression of the social relation, the retrogression
of the division of labour. Whatever may have been the cause
in individual cases, it has always been the cessation of the disposition to
social co-operation which actually effected the decline. This may once
have seemed an incomprehensible riddle to us, but now that we watch
with terror the process at work in our own experience we come nearer to
understanding it, though we still fail to recognize the deepest, most ultimate
causes of the change.
It is the social spirit, the spirit of social co-operation, which forms,develops, and upholds societies. Once it is lost, the society falls apart
again. The death of a nation is social retrogression, the decline from the
division of labour to self-sufficiency. The social organism disintegrates
into the cells from which it began. Man remains, but society dies. 35
Th ere is no evidence that social evolution must move steadily upwards
in a straight line. Social standstill and social retrogression are historical
facts which we cannot ignore. World history is the graveyard of dead civilizations,
and in India and Eastern Asia we see large-scale examples of
civilization at a standstill.
Our literary and artistic cliques whose exaggerated opinion of their
own trifling productions contrast so vividly with the modesty and self-criticism
of the really great artists, say that it does not matter much
whether economic evolution continues so long as inner culture is intensified. But all inner culture requires external means for its realization, and
these external means can be attained only by economic effort. When the
productivity of labour decays through the retrogression of social co-operation
the decay of inner culture follows.
All the older civilizations were born and grew up without being fully
conscious of the basic laws of cultural evolution and the significance of division
of labour and co-operation. In the course of their development they
had oft en to combat tendencies and movements inimical to civilization.
Liberalism [not the meaning given today] men became conscious of the laws of social evolution for the first time, and for the first time clearly recognized the basis of civilization and cultural progress. Those were days when hopes for the future ran high.
Unimagined vistas seemed to be opening up. But it was not to be. Liberalism
had to meet the opposition of militaristic-nationalist and, above
all, of socialist-communist doctrines which tended to bring about social
dissolution. Th e nationalist theory calls itself organic, the socialist theory
calls itself social, but in reality both are disorganizing and anti-social in
Of all accusations against the system of Free Trade and Private Property,
none is more foolish than the statement that it is anti-social and
individualistic and that it atomizes the body social. Trade does not disintegrate,
as romantic enthusiasts for the autarky of small portions of the
earth’s surface assert; it unites. The division of labour is what first makes
social ties: it is the social element pure and simple. Whoever advocates the
economic self-sufficiency of nations and states, seeks to disintegrate the
ecumenical society; whoever seeks to destroy the social division of labour
within a nation by means of class war is anti-social.
A decline of the ecumenical society, which has been slowly forming
itself during the last two hundred years under the influence of the gradual
germination of the liberal idea, would be a world catastrophe absolutely
without parallel in history as we know it. No nation would be spared. Who
then would rebuild the shattered world?”
The Mises Reader Unabridged, pp. 102-103, Shawn Ritenour, Editor
(pp. 102-103 PDF)
34On the decline of Ancient Greek Civilization see [Vilfredo] Pareto, Les Systèmes Socialistes
(Paris, 1902), vol. 1, pp. 155 ff .
35Izoulet, La Cité moderne, pp. 488
“‘Social engineering’–a synonym for dictatorship and totalitarian tyranny. The idea is to treat human beings in the same way in which the engineer treats the stuff out of which he builds his bridges, roads, and machines.”–Mises
“As the behaviorist tells us, man can be thought of as “an assembled organic machine ready to run.”3 He disregards the fact that while machines run the way the engineer and the operator make them run, men run spontaneously here and there. “At birth human infants, regardless of their heredity, are as equal as Fords.”4Starting from this manifest falsehood, the behaviorist proposes to operate the “human Ford” the way the operator drives his car. He acts as if he owned humanity and were called upon to control and to shape it according to his own designs. For he himself is above the law, the god sent ruler of mankind.”
Failure to speak against evil and passivity–WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? And what did Dietrich Bonhoeffer say?
Isaiah 58:1: Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet,..show their transgression, and their sins