Ludwig von Mises on Socialism

lvm-human-action“A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings. To stress this point is the task of economics as it is the task of biology and chemistry to teach that potassium cyanide is not a nutriment but a deadly poison.”

Source: Human Action. Ludwig von Mises. Yale University Press. 1949, 1998, 2010

Author: Atanu Dey


2 thoughts on “Ludwig von Mises on Socialism”

    1. Claiming that “economists are losing it” assumes that economists are in some kind of contest. Economists have no dog in the fight between the left and the right. Our job (I speak as an economist) is to lay out the choices — that is called positive analysis. What people end up choosing is up the people. As ordinary human beings concerned about the welfare of people, one may approve of one course as opposed to another (that’s known as normative analysis which usually includes the word “should” as in “you should exercise more”). Any idiot can propose what should be done; whether the recommendation is good or not is another matter. An experienced doctor is likely to know more about health and disease than an auto mechanic. It’s up to the people to decide whose advice to follow — the economist who knows his discipline or some idiot.


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