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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Greatest Living Person?

In 1939, according to freshmen at Princeton?

Adolf Hitler. (Hat tip to Kevin Vallier for digging this up.)

I just note this to point out that it is rather dumb to try to smear Mises or Keynes because they made some remarks that were not completely condemnatory of fascism during the 20s or 30s. It was a mistake, but a mistake that a whole boatload of people were making back then.

6 comments:

  1. http://archive.mises.org/18257/mises-on-fascism-again/

    How wonder how many would view Mussolini today if he had never gotten involved with Hitler, and had been Franco type in not going to war and allying with Germany? Since the major aspects of Italian Fascist program were similar today, and more extreme than the New Deal, and since Mussolini was an anti-clericalist, maybe he'd be remembered positively. I do remember hearing the Italian great uncles of one clergyman, "Mussolini made the mistake of getting involved with that Hitler fellow."

    Mussolini was obviously bad, and it was shortsighted of Mises and others to think that in 1927 Mussolini saving the country or other Fascists their countries from Communist revolutions, would lead to any good in the long run.

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  2. The point of your post is well taken.

    (1) But I don't recall any evidence that either Keynes or Mises praised Hitler (though you don't say that they did, of course).

    Already in 1933 Keynes wrote this about Nazi Germany in a letter to Professor Spiethoff:

    "Forgive me for my words about barbarism. But that word rightly indicates the effect of recent events in Germany on all of us here …. It is many generations in our judgement since such disgraceful events have occurred in any country pretending to call itself civilised ... If you tell me that these events have taken place, not by force, but as an expression of the general will … that in our view would make some of the persecutions and outrages of which we hear … ten times more horrible."

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2011/08/keynes-on-germany-in-1930s.html

    (2) Regarding Mussolini's economics: he began with laissez faire policies, not interventionist ones:

    “From 1922 to 1925, Mussolini’s regime pursued a laissez-faire economic policy under the liberal finance minister Alberto De Stefani. De Stefani reduced taxes, regulations, and trade restrictions and allowed businesses to compete with one another. But his opposition to protectionism and business subsidies alienated some industrial leaders, and De Stefani was eventually forced to resign.”
    Sheldon Richman, “Fascism,” Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/Fascism.html

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    Replies
    1. "Regarding Mussolini's economics: he began with laissez faire policies, not interventionist ones:"

      OK, but what does that have to do with this post? No threadjacking, please!

      Delete
  3. Until I read that last paragraph, I thought your point was that we shouldn't listen to Princeton freshmen.

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  4. I'm amazed they didn't pick FDR.

    I'm not even kidding. Can you imagine a group of freshmen today knowing who a foreign leader was? Maybe I'm being too cynical.

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