Free Market Defense

Ludwig von Mises: Defender of the Free Market

Ludwig von Misis thoughts on human behavior, socialism, and money and credit
have had a major impact on economic thought. He championed true free markets and
is seen as a defender of liberty. Former President of the United States Ronald

Reagan said "Ludwig von Mises was one of the greatest economic thinkers in the
history of Western Civilization. Through his seminal works, he rekindled the
flames of liberty. As a wise and kindly mentor, he encourages all who sought to
understand the meaning of freedom. We owe him an incalculable debt"(Mises

Institute). The remainder of this paper will outline the life of Ludwig von

Mises. This will be accomplished by describing the social, political, technical,
and economic environment that influenced his ideas. A description of his major
ideas in economic thought will be presented. Next, the people and ideas that
influenced his approach to economics will be addressed. Finally, the paper will
conclude with an assessment of Ludwig von Mises contributions to economic
thought. Overview of the Life of Ludwig von Mises Ludwig von Misis was born on

September 29, 1881 in Lemberg, Austria. He attended a private elementary school,
the public Akademishe Gymnasium in Vienna from1892 to 1900. In 1900 Mises
entered the University of Vienna. On February 20,1906 he received a Dr. Jur
degree, a Doctor of both Canon and Roman Laws, from the University of Vienna.

When Mises attended the University, it had no separate economics department; the
only way to study economics was through law (Mises Institute). From 1907 to 1914

Mises was employed as an advisor to the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. His first
major thesis, the Theory of Money and Credit was published in 1912. In 1913

Mises was awarded the position of Privatdozent (unsalaried lecturer) at the

University of Vienna (Mises Institute). Misesí academic pursuits were
interrupted from 1914 to 1918 due to World War I. After World War I Mises
returned to the University of Vienna and his position at the Austrian Chamber of

Commerce. His next major thesis, Socialism, came in 1922. In 1934 Mises accepted
a position as Professor of International Economic Relations at the Graduate

Institute of International Studies, in Geneva, Switzerland. Even though he bad
left Vienna to accept this position in Switzerland, Mises did work for the

Austrian Chamber of Commerce on a part-time basis until Hitler\'s annexation of

Austria in March 1938 (Mises Institute). On July 6, 1938 Ludwig von Mises
married Margit Sereny in Geneva. Ludwig von Mises immigrated to the United

States in 1940 arriving in New York on August 2. In the United States Mises
taught as a Visiting Professor at the University of New York from 1945 to 1969.

He also traveled to Central and South America giving lectures from 1942 to 1959.

In 1949 Mises published his crowning achievement Human Action. This treatise
summarized his thoughts on economics. Through out the rest of his life Mises
received several distinguished awards. On October 10, 1973 Ludwig von Mises
passed away at St. Vincent Hospital in New York City. Factors Influencing Ludwig
von Mises Ideas The major influence on Ludwig von Mises ideas was the Austrian
school of economic thought. The political and economic events that influenced

Mises included two world wars and an extended worldwide depression. In the
political turmoil after World War I, the main theoretician of the now socialist

Austrian government was Marxist Otto Bauer. Mises had befriended Bauer during
his school years and the two often discussed economics and politics. Mises
explained economics to him night after night, eventually convincing him to back
away from Bolshevik-style policies (Mises Institute). His actions kept Austria
from following to the hyperinflation that the Germans experienced. The
prevailing political climate during this time was Socialism. Mises strongly
opposed Socialism and its prevalence inspired him to write his next great work

Socialism. The Great depression brought about the rise of Keynesian Economics.

Mainstream economics embraced Keynesian economics and as a result Mises theory
of money and credit was pushed into the background as the cause for business
cycles. Political activity in Europe, specifically Hitlerís aggression, drove

Mises from his homeland and then Europe just before World War II. Mises
continued to lecture widely in the United States, Europe and Latin America. He
served as economic advisor to the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) from
its founding in 1946 until his death. He was appointed a Visiting Professor at

New York University Graduate School of Business Administration in 1945 and
served there until 1969 (FEE). In his life time Mises witnessed the completion
of the industrial revolution in the western