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IPFS News Link • Economic Theory

What Are Mises's Six Lessons?

•, By Jonathan Newman

This surge in interest in Mises's ideas was started by UFC fighter Renato Moicano, who declared in a short post-fight victory speech, "I love America, I love the Constitution…I want to carry…guns. I love private property. Let me tell you something. If you care about your…country, read Ludwig von Mises and the six lessons of the Austrian economic school."

The "six lessons" he is referring to is Mises's book, Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow, which was republished by our friends in Brazil under the title "As Seis Lições" ("The Six Lessons").

If you are interested in what Mises has to say in this book, which is a transcription of lectures he gave in Argentina in 1959, here's a brief preview, which I hope inspires you to read the short book in full. As a side note, if you are an undergraduate student who is interested in these ideas, the Mises Institute's next Mises Book Club is on this text (pure coincidence!).

Lecture One: Capitalism

Mises begins his first lecture with an overview of the development of capitalism out of feudalism. Businesses began "mass production to satisfy the needs of the masses" instead of focusing on producing luxury goods for the elite. These big businesses succeeded because they served the needs of a larger group of people, and their success wholly depended on their ability to give this mass of consumers what they wanted.

Despite the amazing and undeniable increases in standards of living, even for a growing population, capitalism had its detractors, including Karl Marx, who gave capitalism its name. Mises says that while Marx hated capitalism and that Marx dubbed it thusly as an attack on the system, the name is a good one

because it describes clearly the source of the great social improvements brought about by capitalism. Those improvements are the result of capital accumulation; they are based on the fact that people as a rule, do not consume everything they have produced, that they save—and invest—a part of it.