1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

The Ludwig von Mises Institute

Advancing Austrian Economics, Liberty, and Peace

Advancing the scholarship of liberty in the tradition of the Austrian School

Search Mises.org

This socio-psychological study of anti-market bias was published by D. Van Nostrand Co (Princeton, NJ), 1956, with the British edition appearing the same year under London's Macmillan imprint. Translations followed: Swedish (1957), Spanish (1957), German (1958), Portugese (1988), Italian (1988), Polish (1991), Russian (1992). The most recent edition is Libertarian Press (Grove City, PN), 1981. See a sample of reviews.

The book is available in text (below) and in PDF (click here) at no charge, and in hard copy from the Mises Institute for $16 plus shipping. The entire text is made available here only through a leasing arrangement with Libertarian Press that is renewed on an annual basis at a fee. To support the continued availability of this text and others at no charge, please contribute to the Mises Institute's work.

Table of Contents

THE SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CAPITALISM AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES OF ITS VlLIFlCATION

      1. The Sovereign Consumer  
      2. The Urge for Economic Betterment    
      3. Status Society and Capitalism 
      4. The Resentment of Frustrated Ambition  
      5. The Resentment of the Intellectuals
      6. The Anti-capitalistic Bias of American Intellectuals  
      7. The Resentment of the White-Collar Workers
      8. The Resentment of the “Cousins” 
      9. The Communism of Broadway and Hollywood  

II     THE ORDINARY MAN’S SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY  

      1. Capitalism as it is and as it is Seen by the Common Man   
      2. The Anti-capitalistic Front  

III    LITERATURE UNDER CAPITALISM    
      1. The Market for Literary Products  
      2. Success on the Book Market  
      3. Remarks about the Detective Stories   
      4. Freedom of the Press    
      5. The Bigotry of the Literati      
      6. The “Social” Novels and Plays    

IV    THE NONECONOMIC OBJECTIONS TO CAPITALISM  
      1. The Argument of Happiness      
      2. Materialism     
      3. Injustice   
      4. The “Bourgeois Prejudice” for Liberty   
      5. Liberty and Western Civilization

V     "ANTICOMMUNISM" VERSUS CAPITALISM        

REVIEWS

E.S.A. "Anti-Capitalistic Mentality Probed, Scored in New Book." Standard Times. (November 1956). "In a well-expressed analysis, Dr. Mises predicts that this effort [on the part of those who oppose, not communism, but only a communist system they do not themselves control], being 'purely negative' must fail inevitably; he buttresses his beliefs with a clear definition of capitalism, its benefits and advantages. The author has succeeded admirably in presenting in simplest terms a subject of formidable and complex dimension."

Albert, Hans. "Einzelbesprechungen" [Specific Reviews]. Jahrbucher fur Nationalokonomie und Statistik. 170:4 (1958). This book "is strongly polemical and simply written .... Ludwig v. Mises has long been trying to prove that extreme laissez-faire liberalism was the quintessence of economics. Theideological criticism of the last 30 years has evidently changed his comprehension no more than has the course of the debate, which he sparked earlier, on economic calculation in the planned economy .... Surely very few will accept the political [pro-laissez fairel  conclusion he reaches at the close of his book." (Translated from the German)

American Banker. (December 10, 1956). "Professor von Mises examines critically the anti-capitalistic sentiments of the intellectuals, the writers and the literati and exposes their fallacies and misconceptions."

Bert, Erik. Daily Worker (New York). (March 20, 1957) 7. "Even though he [Mises) comes to us after long years of teaching at the University of Vienna, he can show Madison Avenue a few things .... Von Mises sounds the tocsin for 'open and unrestricted support of laissez-faire capitalism.' Among its worst enemies are the 'anti-communist liberals' who are aiming at Communism' but call it 'planning' or the 'welfare state.' If the capitalists who are paying for the 'people's capitalism' hokum ever read von Mises, they will raise the very devil with the P.C. advertising copy-writers, probably hire Prof. von Mises and dump the lot of them. And well they deserve it."

Roy A. Childs,  Books for Libertarians. Washington, D.C. [Dec. 1972/Jan. 19731. "While Mises' analysis here is welcome indeed, he does not, in my opinion, take it far enough. He does not discuss the fact that there has not been, until our own time, a philosophical, consistent, non-contradictory defense of capitalism, particularly from the perspective of ethics — but in this regard Mises himself is 'part of the problem'."

Chamber of Commerce of the U. S., Economic Research Department. "Congratulations: von Mises." ' Economic Intelligence. 100 (November 1956). "The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality by Ludwig von Mises may do for America what Karl Marx did for Europe and much of the world, but in reverse. It is the most devastating analysis of the corrosive forces undermining capitalism that has come to our attention."

Chamberlain, John.  The Wall Street Journal. (October 23, 1956). "Since there aren't enough psychiatrists or psychoanalysis in the world to cure the huge number of people who parade their enmities, their jealousies and their pernicious infantilism through Dr. Mises' pages, The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality might be set down as the work of a thoroughly disillusioned fatalist . . . But more sanguine people would put a different gloss on a lot of it. Isn't it possible, for example, that many of the people whom Dr. Mises regards as hopelessly jealous incompetents are merely guilty of short-term thinking and defective training in logic .... Paradoxically enough, if it were not for the phenomenon of men like Ludwig von Mises one would be entirely justified in writing off capitalism as a lost cause. But Dr. Mises' own career is evidence enough that the 'anti-capitalistic mentality' is no longer as pervasive as it used to be..... Dr. Mises and his school are, as the saying goes, 'not without influence'. . . . The work already accomplished by Dr. Mises and his followers does much to negate the pessimistic conclusions of his latest book."

The Economist. London. "Liberalism in Caricature: The Anti-Capitalist Mentality." (April 13, 1957) 135. "This is a sad little book, from which admirers of its author — and these are many, even among those who radically disagree with his political conclusions — should be warned away. Professor von Mises has a splendid analytical mind and an admirable passion for liberty; but as a student of human nature he is worse than null and as a debater he is of Hyde Park standard .... To find an equal dogmatism coupled with an equally simpliste view of the springs of conduct, an equal propensity for propping up dummies and knocking them down, an equal contempt for human facts coupled with an equally vituperative style, one would have to turn to the less sophisticated Marxists .... The case for freedom needs making and re­making, tirelessly and ingeniously; but its cause is ill served by such stuff as this."

Fertig, Lawrence. "Anti-Capitalism: Dr. von Mises Probes Reason Why It Infects Many Important Groups." New York World Telegram and Sun. (October 22, 1956). "Above all. Dr. von Mises is a passionate advocate of freedom and human progress. He is just as contemptuous of the society of 'status' which existed in the past as he is of restrictive socialism which threatens to be the society of the future. He writes with a vigorous and at times vitriolic pen in defense of a system where consumers are supreme."

Grimes, William H. "No Dirty Word: Thinking Things Over." The Wall Street Journal. (October 23, 1956). "Time was not so long ago when capitalism was a dirty word .... Well, times do change. Now it appears that capitalists are coming out of the caves where they have been hiding. Not only that, some of them are wearing buttons announcing that they are capitalists .... If the capitalistic system in the United States is in danger today, it is not the danger from a frontal attack. It is the danger that it will be loaded with so many forms of government intervention that it will no longer be able to perform its function."

Hanson, Agnes. Library-Journal. 81 (November 1, 1956) 2604. "This civilized presentation, by a world renowned libertarian economist, is clarifying and stimulating reading for all who are concerned with individual freedom and a sound economy."

Harper's. (January 1957). "Ludwig von Mises, author of The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, is sure that society is going to hell in a hack (government-owned) because it has abandoned the pure capitalism of the middle of the nineteenth century .... Under pure capitalism the market was a place where every man was rewarded exactly as he deserved to be rewarded .... One area, however, in which von Mises does not accept the verdict of the market is economics. His own theories of economics happen not to have fared very well in either the commercial or the intellectual marketplace ... But von Mises rejects the market decision on his work not because he is envious of his betters as the rest of us do, but because sound economics is the victim of conspiracy ('propaganda and indoctrination has well succeeded in enforcing its taboos')."

Hazlitt, Henry. "Why Anti-Capitalism?" Newsweek. (October 15, 1956) 110. "Why? Why, at the very moment when capitalism has brought the greatest material and scientific progress known to history should it be meeting with its greatest disparagement and opposition'? This is the question Prof. Ludwig von Mises has set himself to answer in a short book called The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality .... Many readers will question whether the envy and frustration that Mises describes constitute a sufficient explanation of today's anti-capitalist mentality .... But Mises is much too good a logician not to recognize that the arguments against capitalism cannot be answered merely by an ad hominem retort that they spring from discreditable motives. In his great works. Human Action and Socialism, he has spelled out in full the real arguments for capitalism and against Socialism. And he restates them here in summary form."

Heilbroner, Robert L. "Economic Paradox." The New York Times Book Review. (November 18, 1956) 20. "Without a doubt the 'anti-capitalistic mentality' is a peculiar and fascinating problem of our day .... To analyze such a paradoxical state of affairs takes a variety of gifts. One must have sufficient grounding in history to appreciate that the theme of protest is not limited to our times but runs through much of Western civilization .... Secondly, one must have the ability to identify with the critics as well as with the partisans of each society .... Neither of these qualities of objectivity are to be found, unfortunately, in Ludwig von Mises' The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality"

Mitchell, Wiley. Christian Science Monitor. (November 7, 1956) 17. "Dr. von Mises has not only failed to contribute to sound social criticism but has written an essay potentially harmful to the institutions it says it defends .... His final conclusion is that, 'What alone can prevent the civilized nations of Western Europe, America and Australia from being enslaved by the barbarism of Moscow is open and unrestricted support of laissez-faire capitalism.' . . . Does he mean, literally, that government shall never interfere between buyer and seller? .... Does he mean to end not only welfare payments, social security, labor mediation machinery, but also control of gambling, drugs and liquor, legal enforcement of contracts, the Federal Reserve System, government insurance of bank deposits and government monopoly of coinage?"

New York Sunday News. "Why They Hate Capitalism" (Editorial). (November 4, 1956). "We recommend the book as a string of brilliant comments on the American system from an unusual angle. Also, as a book carrying a moral which perhaps Dr. von Mises didn't think of; namely, that anybody who resolutely keeps conceit and jealousy out of his or her life has a far better chance of being happy, under any economic system, than one who yields to those two enemies of personal peace and contentment."

Raico, Ralph. Journal of Social Studies New York: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, City College. 13:2 (Spring 1957) 65-67. "The realistic, well-balanced person . . . adjusts his goals to what he can, as a practical matter, achieve; the neurotic romantic insists on seeing ail his yearnings satisfied, and blames the social system if they are not .... Disappointment, frustration, envy, resentment: here, the reviewer believes, von Mises has touched the nerve of the anti-capitalistic bias."

Roosevelt, Edith Kermit. The American Mercury. 84:398 (March 1957) 153-154. "Ludwig von Mises . . . inclines to be too dogmatic. The fact remains that the United States still is not, as the author would have us believe it is, a land where all people freely compete on their merits. Some groups such as women, negroes, emigres, and persons over 40 are still denied job opportunities fully warranted by their abilities, training and education .... In addition, von Mises never mentions what may be the main reason for anti-capitalist thinking, namely that Americans have been indoctrinated over some 30 years by Communists strategically placed in our schools and universities, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, the entertainment industry, government and our churches."

Rothbard, Murray N. "Why Anti-Capitalism?" National Review. New York. 2:25 (November 10, 1956) 21. "At the end of this profoundly stimulating work, we are left with the problem: if anti-capitalist resentment is so pervasive, how can it be overcome? Will a moral philosophy of individualism — and a consequent moral condemnation of envy — complement the utilitarian arguments for unhampered capitalism?"

Teplow, Leo. The Management Review, American Management Association. 46:5 (May 1957) 93-94. "The main trouble with The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality is that it fails to identify the major threat to our profit-and-loss system. The danger resides not in a conscious, almost universal opposition to the system, as von Mises avers, but rather in the fact that a great many people do not understand it. Those who profess to believe in the competitive enterprise system but insist on demanding more and more government services may not realize that, in so doing, they are hamstringing the system itself. It is lethargy and lack of understanding, rather than outright opposition, that constitutes the greatest danger to capitalism. Dr. von Mises is at his best when he explains and defends capitalism. He is at his worst when he inveighs with more emotion than reason against those who oppose it. In mistaking the major danger to capitalism, his book renders but little service."