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Monday, October 26, 2009

Society cannot be planned from the top down

Mises died a year before what is usually considered the Austrian revival, which is often dated from 1974 when Hayek received the Nobel Prize, a prize that was entirely unexpected and which had to be shared with a socialist and which shocked a profession that had no interest in the ideas of either Mises or Hayek, whom they considered to be dinosaurs.

It is interesting to read Hayek's acceptance speech, which the Mises Institute published this year. It is a tribute to a profession to which he wanted closer ties. But it was not a loving presentation of the glories of academia. In fact, it was the opposite. He said that the most dangerous person on earth is an arrogant intellectual who lacks the humility necessary to see that society needs no masters and cannot be planned from the top down. An intellectual lacking humility can become a tyrant, and an accomplice in the destruction of civilization itself.

It was an amazing speech for a Nobel Prize winner to give, an implicit condemnation of a century of intellectual and social trends, and a real tribute to Mises, who had stuck by his principles and never given into the academic trends of his time.
-- from "Economics and Moral Courage" by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

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