Austrian Economics for “TRUTH’S Sake”

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Peter Boettke of January ’08 in Should the Label be Abandoned? responds to Peter Boettke of January ’10 on New Thinking for a New Decade:

The Keynesian consensus fractured, real-existing communism collapsed, the formalist hegemony was challenged, and scientism lost much of its appeal as post-modernism captured the imagination of intellectuals.  Mises (and Hayek) was the economist who predicted that failure of Keynesianism, Socialism, and Scientism first and held his ground when the world was intellectually upside down.  Others might have been more successful with their peers, or with the general public, but it is Mises who owned the second half of the 20th century.  Unfortunately, few are willing to admit this rather obvious point — Robert Heilbroner famous wrote “Mises was right”, but that admission failed to stick.  So for TRUTH’s sake, it is again important to stay the course on the central importance of Mises as a thinker in the development of economic liberalism in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Precisely because of this centrality, attempts to minimize Mises and hold up Hayek instead are not acceptable in my mind.  Hayek was a great economist and a great social thinker, but Mises has a claim to priority.  Hayek, in fact, in my interpretation, is the great Misesian and should be understood as such.  To put it simply, without Mises, there is no Hayek.   We have to understand that Hayek’s research program was defined by Mises, and Hayek spent his entire career elaborating on Misesian economics, seeking new answers to Misesian questions, and exploring alternative philosophical foundations for Misesian analysis.  To me an Austrian economics that emphasizes Mises to the exclusion of Hayek is intellectually underdeveloped, while one that emphasizes Hayek to the exclusion of Mises is intellectually vulnerable.  It is the Mises-Hayek paradigm that must be continually worked on, further developed, extended in new directions, and taught and refined by the current generation of economists and social thinkers…

The Austrian label still communicates something of value to professional economists and gradaute students — subjectivism, methodological individualism, market process, entrepreneurship, institutions, spontaneous order, capital structure, and monetary non-neutrality are all ideas that are identified with the Austrian school of economics…

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One Response to “Austrian Economics for “TRUTH’S Sake””

  1. Etienne Says:

    See Tyler Cowen’s comments on Boettke’s announcement: http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/01/peter-boettkes-announcement.html

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