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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2013
Refutes the use of "liberal" currently in use and takes back the term to the economic freedom espoused in most of the nineteenth century that led to the greatest advances in personal well being in history. Defends the private ownership of the means of production as the most efficient use of human labor, and why socialistic systems destroy innovation and fail..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2014
The content is outstanding, but not the easiest read. It's a sort of practical philosophy - explaining why various (classical) liberal principles are the best option for society and economy, while refuting many arguments against liberal principles. Note that classical liberalism is more in line with what's today referred to as libertarianism. I don't know exactly how or why the term "liberal" was misappropriated, but it's a shame, since so few people take the time to inform themselves. And it's ironic that the term is based on the Latin for freedom - liberatem. Classical liberalism was about individual freedom, including free markets. Today's liberalism undeniably limits individual freedom by allowing the state to take responsibility for identifying any perceived issue, and implementing laws to address it as it sees fit.

What's interesting to me is reading the explanation and defense of these principles from a century ago. While Von Mises would undoubtedly be amazed by how the world and its economy have evolved, I feel certain he would say the same principles are appropriate for today's economy. He also may be shocked at how soundly liberal principles were defeated as those in power have found it impossible not to meddle with markets. Of course, we're so far down the road of government interference in markets that it's not possible to ever have anything even close to a free market. But Von Mises provides sound basis for how liberal principles can and should be applied, and he discusses the vast shortcomings of alternatives. If nothing else, this work discusses at great length liberal principles in the early to mid 19th century, and paints a picture of how there were competing principles in those days as well. Other texts explain how there were classical liberals among early American leaders who battled interventionists. Von Mises explains the basis for the economic views of patriots such as Thomas Jefferson, who also succumbed to the temptation to intervene with economic regulation.

Von Mises is clearly an unabashed classical liberal, whose faith in free markets will rub many the wrong way. But, as he points out, modern society has never allowed free markets to operate without interference. For anybody who abhors free market principles, his retort is clearly that they cannot say with certainty what the outcomes of a free market society would be since men have never let free markets operate without interference. Ultimately, Von Mises lays out a clear foundation for classical liberalism while answering the criticisms of his day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2011
This book provides insight into the true liberal philosophy in its consistent form as the progressive international social division of labor with a liberal (free market) economy under private ownership of the means of productions, a peaceful foreign policy with free trade, tolerance, equality under the law, and limited government. It is unfortunate how the use of the term has come to mean the opposite of what it was originally intended but it's important to keep the true meaning alive. For anyone interested in true liberalism in the classical tradition this is a must read. It provides a great counter to the anti-liberal economic thought of today that dominates much of the world. Mises argues that communism or socialism, fascism or national socialism, and all interventionism will result in, not only totalitarianism of some sort, but a worse state of affairs than what they were originally at. These policies actually do more harm than good, often mostly to those they are intended to help. Liberalism is equality under the law where it favors no group and thus is a promoter of peace for all mankind. Today, groups are always in competition with each other for the greatest advantage from the State but it comes at the cost of everyone else. This is anti-liberal. If group conflict for privileges is done under the guise of liberalism, it just shows how backwards the true meaning of the word has come. As Mises said, "The American self-styled liberal aims at government omnipotence, is a resolute foe of free enterprise, and advocates all-round planning by the authorities, i.e., socialism." This is in direct contrast to the liberal capitalism and freedom for all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2013
Mises loses little time in exposing his tremendous intellect. I was surprised at how Liberalism has changed from its classical form to the "neoclassical" genre today, i.e., the "Progressives." It seems to me that the author uncovers the basic change in Liberalism which, as I understood it, is the gradual but increasing belief in the greater role of government in society. The book is aged but still quite valuable. Classical liberalism is equatable to freedom in the numerous spheres of society, especially the economy. Mises thus touts the capitalistic form of the free market. The main problem with the book in this respect is that it fails to take into account the changed circumstances of many of the industrialized nations, particularly the demographic ones, i.e., growth and ethnicity, and in the globalization of economic activity. These changes factor heavily in the need for more government involvement in a very complex society. Still, there's a lot to learn in reading Liberalism.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2010
As a percentage of GDP, the United States government spends more than the Chinese. There is no better measurement of socio-economic freedom, so is it right that we consider the situation in China to be communistic, and the U.S. to be a democratic, capitalistic society? Von Mises will please any mind that finds the preceding point elucidating.

He is a master of the Austrian (classical liberal) school of economics, his points are made brilliantly using history as a guide. 'Liberalism' is a fantastic non-technical description of his principles. VonMises is occasionally overzealous in his explication of the concept of liberty, but his zeal is a testament to the energizing power of these ideas. In a world where governments are involved in nearly ever process of our lives, 'Liberalism' points out that there is an economic 'path less taken', the path of individual freedom, and we have every right to believe that this path leads to a prosperity we can only dream of today.

Well written and insightful - 'Liberalism' is an excellent starting point to understanding the perspective of the classical liberal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2013
I have read the whole book once, and re-read sections. I will reread the entire text at least 2 more times and use it as a reference.

It is a good overview of what liberalism stood for and why. It points out that the liberal agenda was never fully implemented in any country, but that where it was partially implemented prosperity blossomed and the condition of the poor improved dramatically. He explains the liberal stance on many subjects, and counters some critiques.

As he explains in the introduction, some of the material is dated or intended to address concerns that were current at the time it was written. Still, I found it quite revealing. If you value prosperity or improving the condition of the poor, it is a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2013
This is a spot on analysis and must read for people interested in the roots of classical liberalism. Mises articulates the importance of individual liberty as the engine of growth and repeatedly reasons why this is the ideal logic for a free and just society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2013
I liked it because the books author gave a calm explanation and comparison between capitalism and socialism.
I like this approach because it give you rational thought in which to compare to different approaches to economics.
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on August 27, 2015
Ludwig really writes from the heart in this essay; he mourns the demise of True Liberalism, not the faux "Liberalism" that is a direct contradiction to everything the word once meant; today's "Liberals" are as far from the original concepts of True Liberalism as the White House is from a Constitutional Republic. Even the much=vaunted "Libertarianism" has missed the mark, for I believe Mr. von Mises is one of the last voices who really had the knowledge and abilities to actually define and expound knowledgeably upon this ideology--even when he wrote this, it had already corrupted alarmingly. EVERY American should read this wonderful essay and weep bitterly for what our nation--and the world--has truly lost.
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on May 11, 2011
Today the word liberalism means something different than it does in this book. It is not a book about political persuasion. If you are beginning a study of different types of economies, however, then this a book for you. It's a a short but thorough work on capitalism that is not so technical that the reader is lost by the end of the first page.
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