Ludwig von Mises on Liberalism, Nationalism, and Self-Determination

“The recent rise in nationalist sentiments and politics once more makes relevant the arguments of Austrian Economist, Ludwig von Mises, in a lesser-known book of his, “Nation, State, and Economy,” that came 100 years ago in 1919. Written in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, Mises tried to explain the history of and the reasons for the rise and threats from political and economic nationalism that, in fact, came to plague Europe and other parts of the world in the 1920s and 1930s, the years between the two World Wars.

The ideal of (classical) liberalism” in the 19th century was individual liberty, free markets, and constitutionally limited government with impartial rule of law. But in the middle decades of the 19th century two rival ideologies arose, socialism and nationalism, both of which demanded the subservience of the individual in serving a collective group. In the case of nationalism, the individual was to be subservient to the linguistic or ethnic group for which he was to sacrifice and obey.”