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August 3, 2003 by AK

There is more to the funny von Mises statement I quoted earlier than the juxtaposition of the three names, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Lenin (“the ideas of Gandhi, Tertullian, and Mussolini” would sound lovely, too). Apparently, the mention of Lenin is related to von Mises’ rejection of violent class warfare, and Dostoyevsky stands for his aversion for non-trivial, mystical religiosity seeping through to public life. But Tolstoy? His ethical teachings have something oddly in common with von Mises’ philosophy: dull rationality. There’s a lot of sad truth about Tolstoy’s moralism, as well as von Mises’ economics, but both are uninspiring.

Let me explain this. I think Marx was an extremely gifted man with a very shrewd judgement and a great sense of humor. Yet Marxism as an all-encompassing philosophical/economic system was a failure. It should have been obvious from the start, so why did this realization come too late? Because Marxism was a quasi-religion. Hence more people martyred themselves for it than will have ever done so for libertarianism. Freud was a great psychiatrist; Freudism as a philosophy is highly suspicious; and it’s a shitty religion. Von Mises was by all accounts an outstanding intellectual, but it’s just not enough to win the world. His teachings are lacking the fervor of Schumpeter, the feistiness of Ayn Rand, the bon mots of Marx, and whatever else would inject a drop of hot blood into them. But even hot blood is not enough; there ought to be a transcendental element in the mix. It can be surely found on, and in, American soil — but — but it’s still missing from modern libertarianism.

Or am I dead wrong?


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