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Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War (Lib Works Ludwig Von Mises PB) [Paperback]

by Ludwig von Mises
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 30, 2011 0865977542 978-0865977549 New edition
Published in 1944, during World War II, Omnipotent Government was Mises's first book written and published after he arrived in the United States. In this volume Mises provides in economic terms an explanation of the international conflicts that caused both world wars. Although written more than half a century ago, Mises's main theme still stands:  government interference in the economy leads to conflicts and wars. According to Mises, the last and best hope for peace is liberalism—the philosophy of liberty, free markets, limited government, and democracy.

Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) was the leading spokesman of the Austrian School of economics throughout most of the twentieth century. He earned his doctorate in law and economics from the University of Vienna in 1906. In 1926, Mises founded the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research. From 1909 to 1934, he was an economist for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce. Before the Anschluss, in 1934 Mises left for Geneva, where he was a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies until 1940, when he emigrated to New York City. From 1948 to 1969, he was a visiting professor at New York University.

Bettina Bien Greaves is a former resident scholar, trustee, and longtime staff member of the Foundation for Economic Education. She has written and lectured extensively on topics of free market economics. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Human Events, Reason, and The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. A student of Mises, Greaves has become an expert on his work in particular and that of the Austrian School of economics in general. She has translated several Mises monographs, compiled an annotated bibliography of his work, and edited collections of papers by Mises and other members of the Austrian School.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Omnipotent Government is not only a history of the fall of Germany, but also a powerful critique of the political, social, and economic ideologies that have shaped Western history in the last two hundred years. The ordeal of two World Wars, according to Mises, was the inevitable result of ideologies that call upon government for the management of human affairs. People today hail every step toward more government as "progress," and call for more laws, regulations, and their enforcement by courts and police. They are yearning for Caesar. They forget the consequences of total government. Omnipotent Government is a potent reminder. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Lib Works Ludwig Von Mises PB
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund Inc.; New edition edition (April 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865977542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865977549
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Ludwig Von Mises, one of the last great Austrian liberal economists, had escaped from Nazi and Communist aggression in continental Europes at the time the book was written. Mises had arrived at the conclusion, made famous by his former student Friedrich Hayek, that fascism was simply a logical extension of the socialist philosophy. The need to engage in violent conquest was a result of socialism's attempts to raise national living standards while avoiding the "plague" of international capitalism. The only alternative for nations such as Germany, which had already embraced autocratic socialism under the Bismark, was to launch an unending series of military assults against their neighbors in order to avoid national starvation and impoverishment. The true irony of socialism is that it creates conditions that are completely opposed to its stated goals i.e. militarism instead of peace, poverty instead of plenty, and the destruction of freedom instead of an increase in human growth and potential.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best pro-capitalist analysis of the rise of Naziism September 18, 1997
This book deserves a 10 for its ideas but is hard reading. Well worthwhile especially for disspelling the myth that fascism is some form of 'Ubercapitalism.' The author's brilliance clearly shines through the difficult writing
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The History of Modern European Conflict April 3, 2008
The specific purpose of this book is to refute the mythology of an omnipotent dictator, who guides better than can markets. Unlike his other books, Mises relies more on history than theory to make his case. Omnipotent Government examines modern European history in an effort to explain the problems of twentieth century Europe.

Understanding the problems of Europe requires inquiry into the history of events and the history of ideas both. Liberalism is the policy of international peace, yet somehow people came to embrace particularly aggressive forms of nationalistic socialism (i.e. Nazism). Since the free trade policies of Europe are central to peaceful international relations, hostility between socialist nations (i.e. the Nazi and Soviet nations) is hardly surprising.

The productivity of modern industry hinges upon the international division of labor. Without international trade, productivity would fall to the point where only a fraction of the world population could survive. The consequences of National Socialism, and even protectionism, are therefore dire. The analysis in this book is not entirely new. Mises got into some of this material in his 1922 book Socialism, and Economic and Sociological Analysis. Lionel Robbins also did similar work in his Economic Planning and International Order.

Omnipotent is the most historical of Mises' books. This book is important as a historical work. It is also important because it explains the international aspects of the calculation critique of socialism better than his other works. Omnipotent Government also shows that Mises was not anti-empirical. Mises stressed the importance of theory because he rejected empirical analysis. Mises stressed the need for logically valid theory as the means of understanding history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (1881-1973) was one of the major figures in the Austrian School of economics; Friedrich Hayek was a pupil of his. His major works were Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, Third Revised Edition and Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1944 book, "Those disagreeing with ... dictatorship claim for themselves the right to discuss freely the problems involved. They do not write 'state' with a capital S. They do not shrink from analyzing the metaphysical notions of Hegelianism and Marxism. They reduce all this high-sounding oratory to the simple question: are the means suggested suitable to attain the ends sought? In answering this question, they hope to render a service to the great majority of their fellow men."

He says sharply, "No German has contributed anything to the elaboration of the great system of liberal thought" (pg. 21) He insists that "Liberalism differs radically from anarchism. It has nothing in common with the absurd illusions of the anarchists." (Pg. 52) More controversially, he argues that "The fundamental tenets of Nazi ideology do not differ from the generally accepted social and economic ideologies. The difference concerns only the application of these ideologies to the special problems of Germany." (Pg. 240)

Interestingly, he notes that John Maynard Keynes' famous (infamous?) phrase, "In the long run we are all dead" was not intended to recommend short-run policies, "but in order to criticze some inadequate methods and statements of monetary theory...
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