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Epistemological Problems of Economics
Ludwig von Mises

6
The Psychological Basis of the Opposition to Economic Theory

Introduction

Subjectivist economics would be guilty of an omission if it did not also concern itself with the objections that have been raised against it from political and factional standpoints.

There is, first of all, the assertion that the subjective theory of value is "the class ideology of the bourgeoisie." For Hilferding it is "bourgeois economics' final answer to socialism."[1] Bucharin stigmatizes it as "the ideology of the bourgeoisie, which even now no longer corresponds to the process of production."[2] One is free to think what one will about these two authors, but it is to be noted that they belong to the ruling groups of the two most populous states in Europe and are therefore very capable of influencing public opinion. The millions of people who come into contact with no other writings than those distributed by the Marxist propaganda machine learn nothing of modem economics beyond these and similar condemnations.

Then we must consider the views of those who believe it to be significant that subjectivist economics is deliberately not taught at the universities. Even Adolf Weber, who knew enough to criticize the prejudices of academic socialism, comes very close to resorting to this argument.[3] It is completely in accord with the etatist thinking prevalent everywhere today to consider a theory to be finally disposed of merely because the authorities who control appointments to academic position, want to know nothing of it, and to see the criterion of truth in the approval of a government office.

No one will argue that views so widespread can simply be passed over in silence.

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[1] Cf. Hilferding, "Böhm-Bawerk's Marx-Kritik," Marx-Studien (Vienna, 1904), I, 61.

[2] Cf. Bucharin, Die politische ?konomie des Rentners (Berlin, 1926), p. 27.

[3] Adolf Weber, Allgemeine Volkswirtschaftslehre (Munich and Leipzig, 1928), p. 211. The passage referred to is no longer contained in the most recent (fourth) edition of this well-known textbook. That this refusal to admit economic theory into the universities has not led to satisfactory results in actual "practice" may be seen from the address of Dr. B?cher to the Frankfurt conference on the National Federation of German industry. B?cher objected that in the universities of Germany economists are being "falsely" educated because "German economics has lost feeling for the actual problems of the present day and in many ways has given up practical economic thought." It has "split itself into highly specialized branches concerned with detailed problems and has lost sight of the connections between them." (See the report in the "Frankfurter Zeitung," September 4, 1927.) This devastating judgment is all the more remarkable as B?cher is, as can be seen from the other statements in this speech, in economic and political matters thoroughly in accord with the opponents of laissez fairs and the advocates of the "completely organized economy" and consequently agrees with the interventionist-etatist school of German economists.

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