Richard Ebeling, with two sentences below, explains clearly why I have a distaste for the words by Professor Wasserman in this book. The professor cannot help but discuss Austrian economists and matters in terms of class interests–from his progressive, political viewpoints.
“Professor Wasserman does not agree with many if not most of the policy views of the Austrian economists that are at the center of the story.”
Second sentence, after the heading:
“Austrians and Their Asserted “Class” Biases
Everything in Professor Wasserman’s world is driven for political power and policy influence.”
The economists of the Austrian School have been among some of the most insightful analysts of the workings of the competitive market order, and critics of its alternatives, It is notable, then, when a book appears that is devoted to analyzing the influence and impact of “Austrian” ideas in modern times.
But Janek Wasserman’s “The Marginal Revolutionaries: How the Austrian Economists Fought the War of Ideas,” is a highly flawed work that has an interpretative agenda through which much is distorted and wrongly explained about the Austrian economists. And explaining this misinformation is the focus of my review of this book.
Wasserman’s implicit interpretative schema can be labelled “progressive” or “social democratic,” or even partly Marxian in its presumption of hidden “class interests” as work. The Austrian economists are put through a sieve that explains their writings as all about defending and establishing an international “neo-liberal” order that is presumed to be incompatible with social democracy and the interests of “the people.” The “Austrian” understanding of markets and socialism are all explained as ways of serving “capital” against “the workers,” including a suggestion of their being guilty of racism and sexism.
In Wasserman’s hands, we see a version of George Orwell’s “newspeak,” in which markets mean exploitation, liberty means authoritarianism, and criticisms of socialism hint of being really fascist-like.
The book is another contribution to the recent counter–revolution against clear thinking about markets versus socialism, and freedom versus paternalism. It will, no doubt, be hailed by “progressives” as insightful and important. It is, in reality, one more twisting of history and ideas.
The author also wants to draw a series of pictures that distinguishes between earlier and intellectually more honorable proponents of a set of “Austrian” economic ideas and policies in the Europe before the Second World War, and a later “Austrian” generation that emerged in America following that war, which have harbored socially questionable purposes and harmful, if not immoral, policy prescriptions.”