Ludwig von Mises citations

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Ludwig von Mises

Date de naissance: 29. septembre 1881
Date de décès: 10. octobre 1973

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Ludwig von Mises est un économiste autrichien puis américain qui a eu une influence importante sur le mouvement libéral et libertarien moderne. Il enseigne d'abord à Vienne puis à Genève jusqu'en 1940. Fils d'une famille juive de Galicie et inscrit sur la liste noire des nazis, il fuit aux États-Unis où il enseigne à l'université de New York de 1945 à 1969. Naturalisé américain en 1946, il meurt à New York en 1973.

Auteur majeur de l'école autrichienne d'économie qui défend le capitalisme et le libéralisme classique, il est particulièrement connu pour son magnum opus, L'Action humaine, traité d'économie publié pour la première fois en anglais en 1949. Il y expose en particulier les positions épistémologiques et méthodologiques qui caractérisent l'école autrichienne : conception subjective de la valeur, individualisme méthodologique et praxéologie.

Son nom reste également attaché à la critique du socialisme, que Mises considère voué irrémédiablement à l'échec en raison de l'absence des mécanismes de fixation des prix par le marché. Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard et Israel Kirzner comptent parmi ses élèves les plus éminents.

Citations Ludwig von Mises

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„The capitalist system of production is an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: The capitalist system of production is an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote. The consumers are the sovereign people. The capitalists, the entrepreneurs, and the farmers are the people’s mandatories. If they do not obey, if they fail to produce, at the lowest possible cost, what the consumers are asking for, they lose their office. Their task is service to the consumer. Profit and loss are the instruments by means of which the consumers keep a tight rein on all business activities. Chapter I: Profit Management, § 1: The Operation of The Market Mechanism

„Society cannot exist without an apparatus of violent coercion. But neither can it exist if the office holders are irresponsible tyrants free to inflict harm upon those they dislike.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: State and government are the social apparatus of violent coercion and repression. Such an apparatus, the police power, is indispensable in order to prevent anti-social individuals and bands from destroying social co-operation. Violent prevention and suppression of anti-social activities benefit the whole of society and each of its members. But violence and oppression are none the less evils and corrupt those in charge of their application. It is necessary to restrict the power of those in office lest they become absolute despots. Society cannot exist without an apparatus of violent coercion. But neither can it exist if the office holders are irresponsible tyrants free to inflict harm upon those they dislike.

„Every advocate of the welfare state and of planning is a potential dictator.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: In fact, however, the supporters of the welfare state are utterly anti-social and intolerant zealots. For their ideology tacitly implies that the government will exactly execute what they themselves deem right and beneficial. They entirely disregard the possibility that there could arise disagreement with regard to the question of what is right and expedient and what is not. They advocate enlightened despotism, but they are convinced that the enlightened despot will in every detail comply with their own opinion concerning the measures to be adopted. They favour planning, but what they have in mind is exclusively their own plan, not those of other people. They want to exterminate all opponents, that is, all those who disagree with them. They are utterly intolerant and are not prepared to allow any discussion. Every advocate of the welfare state and of planning is a potential dictator. What he plans is to deprive all other men of all their rights, and to establish his own and his friends' unrestricted omnipotence. He refuses to convince his fellow-citizens. He prefers to "liquidate" them. He scorns the "bourgeois" society that worships law and legal procedure. He himself worships violence and bloodshed.

„A free man must be able to endure it when his fellow men act and live otherwise than he considers proper.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: A free man must be able to endure it when his fellow men act and live otherwise than he considers proper. He must free himself from the habit, just as soon as something does not please him, of calling for the police. [http://mises.org/liberal/ch1sec11.asp Ch. 1 : The Foundations of Liberal Policy § 11 : The Limits of Governmental Activity]

„The goal of liberalism is the peaceful cooperation of all men. It aims at peace among nations too.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: The goal of liberalism is the peaceful cooperation of all men. It aims at peace among nations too. When there is private ownership of the means of production everywhere and when laws, the tribunals and the administration treat foreigners and citizens on equal terms, it is of little importance where a country's frontiers are drawn.... War no longer pays; there is no motive for aggression.... All nations can coexist peacefully... [http://mises.org/etexts/mises/og.asp Omnipotent Government : The Rise of the Total State and Total War (1944)]

„In a battle between force and an idea, the latter always prevails.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: Now it cannot be denied that the only way one can offer effective resistance to violent assaults is by violence. Against the weapons of the Bolsheviks, weapons must be used in reprisal, and it would be a mistake to display weakness before murderers. No liberal has ever called this into question. What distinguishes liberal from Fascist political tactics is not a difference of opinion in regard to the necessity of using armed force to resist armed attackers, but a difference in the fundamental estimation of the role of violence in a struggle for power. The great danger threatening domestic policy from the side of Fascism lies in its complete faith in the decisive power of violence. In order to assure success, one must be imbued with the will to victory and always proceed violently. This is its highest principle. What happens, however, when one's opponent, similarly animated by the will to be victorious, acts just as violently? The result must be a battle, a civil war. The ultimate victor to emerge from such conflicts will be the faction strongest in number. In the long run, a minority — even if it is composed of the most capable and energetic — cannot succeed in resisting the majority. The decisive question, therefore, always remains: How does one obtain a majority for one's own party? This, however, is a purely intellectual matter. It is a victory that can be won only with the weapons of the intellect, never by force. The suppression of all opposition by sheer violence is a most unsuitable way to win adherents to one's cause. Resort to naked force — that is, without justification in terms of intellectual arguments accepted by public opinion — merely gains new friends for those whom one is thereby trying to combat. In a battle between force and an idea, the latter always prevails. [https://mises.org/liberal/ch1sec10.asp, Ch. 1 : The Foundations of Liberal Policy § 10. The Argument of Fascism]

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„The great danger threatening domestic policy from the side of Fascism lies in its complete faith in the decisive power of violence. In order to assure success, one must be imbued with the will to victory and always proceed violently.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: Now it cannot be denied that the only way one can offer effective resistance to violent assaults is by violence. Against the weapons of the Bolsheviks, weapons must be used in reprisal, and it would be a mistake to display weakness before murderers. No liberal has ever called this into question. What distinguishes liberal from Fascist political tactics is not a difference of opinion in regard to the necessity of using armed force to resist armed attackers, but a difference in the fundamental estimation of the role of violence in a struggle for power. The great danger threatening domestic policy from the side of Fascism lies in its complete faith in the decisive power of violence. In order to assure success, one must be imbued with the will to victory and always proceed violently. This is its highest principle. What happens, however, when one's opponent, similarly animated by the will to be victorious, acts just as violently? The result must be a battle, a civil war. The ultimate victor to emerge from such conflicts will be the faction strongest in number. In the long run, a minority — even if it is composed of the most capable and energetic — cannot succeed in resisting the majority. The decisive question, therefore, always remains: How does one obtain a majority for one's own party? This, however, is a purely intellectual matter. It is a victory that can be won only with the weapons of the intellect, never by force. The suppression of all opposition by sheer violence is a most unsuitable way to win adherents to one's cause. Resort to naked force — that is, without justification in terms of intellectual arguments accepted by public opinion — merely gains new friends for those whom one is thereby trying to combat. In a battle between force and an idea, the latter always prevails. [https://mises.org/liberal/ch1sec10.asp, Ch. 1 : The Foundations of Liberal Policy § 10. The Argument of Fascism]

„To maintain and further raise our present level of economic development, peace among nations must be assured. But they cannot live together in peace if the basic tenet of the ideology by which they are governed is the belief that one's own nation can secure its place in the community of nations by force alone.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: Repression by brute force is always a confession of the inability to make use of the better weapons of the intellect — better because they alone give promise of final success. This is the fundamental error from which Fascism suffers and which will ultimately cause its downfall. The victory of Fascism in a number of countries is only an episode in the long series of struggles over the problem of property. The next episode will be the victory of Communism. The ultimate outcome of the struggle, however, will not be decided by arms, but by ideas. It is ideas that group men into fighting factions, that press the weapons into their hands, and that determine against whom and for whom the weapons shall be used. It is they alone, and not arms, that, in the last analysis, turn the scales. So much for the domestic policy of Fascism. That its foreign policy, based as it is on the avowed principle of force in international relations, cannot fail to give rise to an endless series of wars that must destroy all of modern civilization requires no further discussion. To maintain and further raise our present level of economic development, peace among nations must be assured. But they cannot live together in peace if the basic tenet of the ideology by which they are governed is the belief that one's own nation can secure its place in the community of nations by force alone. It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error. Ch. 1 : The Foundations of Liberal Policy § 10 : The Argument of Fascism

„Violent prevention and suppression of anti-social activities benefit the whole of society and each of its members. But violence and oppression are none the less evils and corrupt those in charge of their application.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: State and government are the social apparatus of violent coercion and repression. Such an apparatus, the police power, is indispensable in order to prevent anti-social individuals and bands from destroying social co-operation. Violent prevention and suppression of anti-social activities benefit the whole of society and each of its members. But violence and oppression are none the less evils and corrupt those in charge of their application. It is necessary to restrict the power of those in office lest they become absolute despots. Society cannot exist without an apparatus of violent coercion. But neither can it exist if the office holders are irresponsible tyrants free to inflict harm upon those they dislike.

„The men who are to protect the community against violent aggression easily turn into the most dangerous aggressors. They transgress their mandate.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: It is a double-edged makeshift to entrust an individual or a group of individuals with the authority to resort to violence. The enticement implied is too tempting for a human being. The men who are to protect the community against violent aggression easily turn into the most dangerous aggressors. They transgress their mandate. They misuse their power for the oppression of those whom they were expected to defend against oppression. The main political problem is how to prevent the police power from becoming tyrannical. This is the meaning of all the struggles for liberty. Chapter 5: On Some Popular Errors Concerning the Scope and Method of Economics, § 10 : The Concept of a Perfect System of Government

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„In fact, however, the supporters of the welfare state are utterly anti-social and intolerant zealots.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: In fact, however, the supporters of the welfare state are utterly anti-social and intolerant zealots. For their ideology tacitly implies that the government will exactly execute what they themselves deem right and beneficial. They entirely disregard the possibility that there could arise disagreement with regard to the question of what is right and expedient and what is not. They advocate enlightened despotism, but they are convinced that the enlightened despot will in every detail comply with their own opinion concerning the measures to be adopted. They favour planning, but what they have in mind is exclusively their own plan, not those of other people. They want to exterminate all opponents, that is, all those who disagree with them. They are utterly intolerant and are not prepared to allow any discussion. Every advocate of the welfare state and of planning is a potential dictator. What he plans is to deprive all other men of all their rights, and to establish his own and his friends' unrestricted omnipotence. He refuses to convince his fellow-citizens. He prefers to "liquidate" them. He scorns the "bourgeois" society that worships law and legal procedure. He himself worships violence and bloodshed.

„If we were to regard the Soviet regime as an experiment, we would have to say that the experiment has clearly demonstrated the superiority of capitalism and the inferiority of socialism.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: The only certain fact about Russian affairs under the Soviet regime with regard to which all people agree is: that the standard of living of the Russian masses is much lower than... the paragon of capitalism, the United States of America. If we were to regard the Soviet regime as an experiment, we would have to say that the experiment has clearly demonstrated the superiority of capitalism and the inferiority of socialism.

„When people were committed to the idea that in the field of religion only one plan must be adopted, bloody wars resulted. With the acknowledgment of the principle of religious freedom these wars ceased.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: When people were committed to the idea that in the field of religion only one plan must be adopted, bloody wars resulted. With the acknowledgment of the principle of religious freedom these wars ceased. The market economy safeguards peaceful economic co-operation because it does not use force upon the economic plans of the citizens. If one master plan is to be substituted for the plans of each citizen, endless fighting must emerge. Those who disagree with the dictator's plan have no other means to carry on than to defeat the despot by force of arms.

„The characteristic feature of militarism is not the fact that a nation has a powerful army or navy. It is the paramount role assigned to the army within the political structure.“

— Ludwig von Mises
Context: The characteristic feature of militarism is not the fact that a nation has a powerful army or navy. It is the paramount role assigned to the army within the political structure. Even in peacetime the army is supreme; it is the predominant factor in political life. The subjects must obey the government as soldiers must obey their superiors. Within a militarist community there is no freedom; there are only obedience and discipline. Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War (1944)

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