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HALL OF FAMEon December 18, 2000
Ludwig Von Mises is considered one of the giant figures in economic thought. He is an acolyte of the Austrian school of economics, which began as a response to Marxist economic thought. The Austrian school advocated the idea of marginal utility and the importance of the consumer in the production process. This book, which is a fairly short read, is Von Mises's look at the people who advocate the imposition of a planned, or socialistic, economic system. Needless to say, Von Mises launches massive attacks against these people.
As some of the other reviews stated, Von Mises believes that the reason some people in a capitalist society hate free markets and advocate socialism is due to their own shortcomings. As everyone with an ounce of sense knows, reality does not make everyone equal. Everyone has flaws and shortcomings. These shortcomings, according to Von Mises, manifest themselves in inner turmoil that finds release through attacking the system in which others succeed where these people fail. These people look at the successful entrepreneurs and resent them deeply. Since they can't attack them directly without exposing their own deep flaws, they attack the capitalist system which they think "created" these successful businessmen. Von Mises goes on to show several ways how this hostility expresses itself. One way is through literature. Von Mises makes a very perceptive observation while examining literature. He shows how the genre of detective stories is actually an expression of hatred for the capitalist system. The detective in most of these stories is usually a down and out type (one of the downtrodden workers of Marxian fame) who shows up the police (who represent the ineffective ruling system) by proving the guilt of a successful, rich person who nobody would ever suspect (the triumph of the worker over the rich). Very insightful stuff.
Von Mises destroys the socialist worldview in this book. It reads quick, and it's my first Von Mises book, so I'm not sure I picked up on every point he was trying to make. It's well worth the time and I highly recommend it. The only downfall is that some of the sentences are a bit awkward, which makes since if Von Mises wrote this in English. You see, he didn't even come to the U.S. until he was 60. He fled Hitler when the Nazis took Austria in 1940. Von Mises's primary language was German.
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on July 29, 2002
THE ANTI-CAPITALISTIC MENTALITY is an outstanding little book by Ludwig von Mises which explains why Capitalism - which has raised the standard of living of so many people - is hated by so many.
We often think of von Mises as a great economist (which he certainly was), but Mises considered his work to be "sociology" as well. However, his writings are full of brilliant sociological commentary on any number of subjects. Take the chapter "The Non-Economic Objections to Capitalism." How often people criticize Capitalism for its alleged "materialism." But listen to Mises: "The preeminent art of this age of . . . `materialism' was music. Wagner and Verdi, Berlioz and Bizet, Brahms and Bruckner, Hugo Wolf and Mahler . . . ." [p. 61.] And this music was written before the record permitted the great masters to be enjoyed by the common man, who could never hob-nob with aristocracy at the great music halls of the world.
In addition to this type of sociology, sprinkled throughout the book are concise economic lessons about how the increase in capital is the cause of higher wages, not unions and socialist schemes. So this book is a useful introduction to Mises' thought.
Although this book is important, if you want to understand the greatness of Mises, read: HUMAN ACTION, SOCIALISM, and THEORY OF MONEY AND CREDIT. Also, Prof. Kirzner's book on Mises is an outstanding introduction.
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on April 17, 1999
This book explains the basis for the American (and Western) fascination with non-capitalism despite an increasing standard of living that has come about precisely because of capitalism. Mises explains how little, if any, of such fascination is grounded in intellectual arguments. After all, it can hardly be admitted that non-capitalist systems offer the same type of prosperity and lifestyle that have been enjoyed by capitalist societies. Nevertheless, animosity towards capitalism abounds and some still look towards non-capitalist ideologies to save us. But one must ask: Save us from what? An increasing standard of living? Enjoying commodities that had been reserved for the wealthy only a generation before? The mass availability of goods and services? The freedom to choose goods and indirectly control production? In posing such questions, Mises shows how absurd the anti-capitalist mentality is. But he does not leave the reader without an explanation for such sentiments. He shows how this continued fascination with anti-capitalism it rooted in emotionalism - particularly resentment, envy, jealousy, and self-doubt. And how those that despise and disparage entrepreneurs and "the wealthy" are doing so not for valid reasons, but because they feel cheated since they have less and believe they somehow have a right to more absent any effort on their part. Yet, anti-capitalists never entertain the notion or possibility that effort and sweat may have gone into such achievement and prosperity among entrepreneurs and "the wealthy." Neither do they recognize the importance of such individuals in increasing the standard of living for all people. It is quite amazing how much "punch" this book packs considering it is less than 100 pages in length. I definitely recommend it to those who are dumbfounded by the continued existence of anti-capitalist sentiments within the most prosperous nation on earth. I also recommend the book to anti-capitalists who will either "see the light" (doubtful) or will become even more emotional in their screed against capitalism (emotionalism that can only damage their cause in the long run).
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on March 23, 2000
This small book is an excellent introduction to the thought of the great economist, Ludwig von Mises. In a penetrating look at the 'anticapitalistic mentality', Mises refutes some of the most common objections to a social order based on private property and free, voluntary exchange, correctly attributing most such opposition to envy and covetousness. (Readers of Ayn Rand will recognise one of her unacknowledged sources!)
In fact, as Mises shows not only in this book but in his tremendous body of pioneering work in economic theory, both liberty and justice require a market-based social order. The reader who enjoys this little book may also wish at some point to tackle Mises' magnum opus HUMAN ACTION.
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on January 17, 2013
Von Mises does a credible job in this short book explaining from the point of view of human motivations the actions and sayings of the left.

I suppose that it should not be surprising that a man with a comprehensive and unusual understanding of economics would have a certain insight into human motivations and their psychological basis. One follows the other. Von Mises makes the case that this carries over into political philosophy.
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on February 21, 2014
This book is almost pure conjecture but it doesn't matter. It's a tiny little book, but the words pack a powerful punch. Von Mises may be speculating but when you are as smart as he is, and as familiar with the mindset from which "The Anti-Capitalist Mentality" evolved, you tend to see where he is coming from. It becomes easier and easier to support his statements. The question is, can this book help you to understand where communists/socialists/progressives are coming from? The answer is yes. Systematically, he takes the thought processes back into Freudian obscurity, borrowing some of the fellow Austrian's explanation as to why it is difficult for those who see capitalism as a threat, who fear being personally responsible for their lot in life. This also contains fascinating studies about Lenin, and his approach to Marxism. When you see these former Soviet leaders for what they really were, they become as common as the next person. Where I may have had respect for Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin as historical figures, I no longer think that they had an ounce of respectability, nobility, or courage to do the things they did. These were not revolutionaries, but very very unprincipled thinkers, unintellectual, and very confused due to lack of experience and closed mindedness. In one part, Von Mises tells the story of how Lenin assumed the economy was a simple game which could be easily undertaken by "bean-counters." Lenin's revile for accountants and economists make him a tragically stupid figure in world history. Basically he was all bark and no bight. He knew political philosophy, strategy, persuasion, and could lead the military, but was never really a viable candidate to run a large country.
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I want to thank all of the collectivists, central planners and socialists of both Left and Right affiliations for their low rankings and bad reviews of this book. If my entire worldview was shattered by a single book, I supposed I would be angry and irrational as well.
Anyway, this is a great book to learn not only why central planning and regulation of markets fail, but the mentality behind those type of people. This book exposes the myth that National Socialism and Soviet Communism were somehow radically different, and not in reality just different sides of the same coin. I have had many arguments with Lefists on how different socialism is from National Socialism, but with this book I can show them the error of their ways.
To sum up: If you are a market liberal, a fiscal conservative or libertarian, read this book and buy it for any central planning, anti-market advocates you know. If you are a collectivist or anti-market conserviative or liberal, please read this book and try to convince your fellows of the danger of their actions.
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on September 22, 2000
This is a good probe into the mindset of socialist-interventionists. It unmasks the psychology and ideology that plays on people's emotions, fears and ignorance, while advancing the cause of collectivism and big government. Commies would write this book off as bourgeois trash for capitalist pigs. Free-marketers will find this tract enjoyable. However, it might free a few minds of anti-capitalist leanings. I'm surprised how many people think that the root of inflation is simply 'greedy' businesses raising prices.
"An 'anti-something' movement displays a purely negative attitude. It has no chance whatever to succeed. Its passionate diatribes virtually advertise the program they attack. People must fight for something that they want to achieve, not simply reject an evil, however, bad it may be be. They must, without any reservations, endorse the program of the market economy." -- Ludwig von Mises.
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on November 6, 2011
You can go through the entire U.S. educational system without reading a single book that explains capitalism. (Many people presume they understand free markets by virtue of living in a country generally freer than say the Soviet Union was. That's like saying you understand architecture because you live in a building.) This book by von Mises is a wonderful antidote to the kind of anti-capitalist prejudice that is commonplace. He explains the motivation for the hostility to free markets as well. This is one of the longest short books you will ever read. It's slow-going because von Mises packs a lot of meaning into each paragraph. Yet, I have found myself returning to the book over the years to reread certain portions. Von Mises belonged to that school of economics that relied on philosophical logic rather than mathematics to define economics. (Academia has gone with the math methodology, which was and is a gigantic mistake.) The problem that capitalism and free-market economics have is that it's assumed that it elevates money as the No. 1 goal of life. It does nothing of the kind. Von Mises himself chose writing his books over striving for financial success. We can be glad he did.
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on April 2, 2008
The Anti Capitalistic Mentality is Mises' attempt to uncover the driving force behind the socialist movement of the early twentieth century. As such, it should be seen as an alternative to Hayek's `Fatal Conceit/Abuse of Reason' hypothesis. Mises and Hayek agree on some points. Mises claims that "everyone is prone to overate his own worth and deserts" (p10). This is consistent with Hayek's Fatal Conceit hypothesis, but Mises takes the idea that people overate themselves inn a different direction. Hayek thought that intellectuals disdain capitalism because it offends their intellectual pride. Those who see themselves as the best and brightest cannot accept the idea that spontaneously evolved orders outperform any system that they can consciously design.

Mises emphasizes envy and resentment, along with the lack of proper economic education. As Mises puts it on page 36 socialists "are blinded by envy and ignorance. They stubbornly refuse to stuffy economics ... they pretend to trust only in experience. But they also stubbornly refuse to take cognizance of the undeniable facts of experience".

The main problem with this book is that it is too short. Mises did not develop his ideas in this book to the extent he developed other ideas elsewhere. Also, Mises relies too much on the notion that people hate capitalism because the market value of their wage is below their self-evaluation. People do tend to overate their own worth. However, it should be noted that even those who succeed often hate capitalism. Consider the following list of highly successful wealthy capitalism haters: John Lennon, James Cameron, George Soros, Stephen Speilberg, Warren Beatty, Ted Turner, Jane Fonda... These people passed the market test and then some. Yet they hate the system that made them wealthy and famous. Why? Lack of economic education might explain more than does envy. Who would they envy?

The Anti Capitalistic Mentality is still an important book. It explores vital issues that should be sorted out more completely. Since Mises kept this book brief, the task of developing this and Hayek's work on the motivations behind the socialist/interventionist movement will be left to their intellectual heirs.
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