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The "Poisoned Spring" of Economic Libertarianism: Menger, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard: A Critique from Catholic Social Teaching of the 'Austrian School' of Economics Paperback – May 13, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (May 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461144566
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461144564
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

________________________________________ ANGUS SIBLEY studied mathematics and economics at Edinburgh University and later qualified as an actuary. Pursuing a career in investment, he became a member of the London Stock Exchange. Now retired, he lives with his wife Aurora in Paris. He has long been concerned by the damaging effects on our economies and societies of the doctrinaire application of free-market theory, and has published many articles on this subject in newspapers and journals in Britain, America, France and Ireland. Many of his essays on economic and other topics can be found on his personal website: www.equilibrium-economicum. ________________________________________ His recent book "THE POISONED SPRING" OF ECONOMIC LIBERTARIANISM," critiques ‘libertarian’ economic theory and practice, both from the viewpoint of practical economics and from Catholic teaching. Summarizing his argument, he writes: "Capitalism is like the electric motor traditionally used in subway trains: a very useful machine which has the peculiarity that it must never be allowed to run free when not connected to the wheels of a train. For without the restraint due to the train’s inertia, the motor will accelerate wildly till its rotating centre disintegrates. That does not mean that the motor is defective; it simply means that it only works properly under restraint. Likewise, our markets, when allowed to operate without an adequate framework of limitations, tend to run wild; they become financially, economically and socially destructive. Yet many economists, particularly those of the ‘Austrian school’, reject this principle. They call for deregulated, unhampered markets under minimal political control. By heeding these theorists, we have got ourselves into deep trouble. It is important that we understand why this ideology, so widely accepted, often subconsciously, is fundamentally flawed and particularly unsuited to the needs of our times. Catholic Social Teaching offers an alternative approach to economics. It insists upon firm and effective regulation of markets, refuses to regard labor as mere merchandise, and highlights the vital importance of politics in creating a just society." ________________________________________

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Brian on July 4, 2011
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There are times while reading newspapers' opinion columns, and watching 24/7 newscasts, that I become somewhat confused about the best and most moral way to interject politics into the economy, especially during this continued Great Recession. I too wonder what our tax policy should espouse. I try to imagine the proper role of the government in regulations of markets. Then I realize that there is the rub to all this: Can we even talk about morals and the economy in the same sentence? No where do I read or hear on radio or TV any call for a moral review of our economic policies and perspectives. Add to that, there are few if any commentaries in the current public discourse about how the tenets of our faith traditions, especially Roman Catholicism, can shed light on economic fundamentals and consequences.

Angus Sibley's "The `Poisoned Spring' of Economic Libertarianism; Menger, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard: A Critique from Catholic Social Teaching of the `Austrian School' of Economics" (Pax Romana/CMICA-USA, 2011) provides such a critique and analysis of our global political economy that led to the Great Recession of 2008/9, and its current aftermath. Sibley argues that the philosophical-theological perspective of Catholic social theory can and does bring much to the debate about the role of the state and the economy. His most important contribution, in this reader's estimation, is his critical review and analysis of the hyper-competitive, outrageous anti-statism and supra-individualistic ideology of the libertarian movement based in the Austrian School of Economics. Sibley methodologically articulates and deconstructs the philosophical underpinnings of notable economists from the Austrian School, namely, Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich von Hayek.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Steve Rosswurm on June 30, 2011
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This is a wonderful book. In just a few learned pages, Angus Sibley not only summarizes the Austrian school of economics, but also critiques it from the viewpoint of social Catholicism: Readers, no matter what their perspective is, will learn a good deal about both. Sibley is a partisan - he concludes that a "good case could be made for condemning" Austrian economics as "outright heresy" - but not a socialist. The argument is smart and clear, the writing not stuffy. The title references Pope Pius XI's comment on "free competition" in Quadragesimo Anno (1931).
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By MikeW on February 19, 2013
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Actions speak louder than words, the saying goes. And this book, this economic good produced by the actions of Angus Sibley and Joe Holland, demonstrate the foundational basics of the Austrian School of Economics as developed by Ludwig von Mises. The authors "... are men, inspired by definite ideas, made definite judgements of value, chose definite ends, and resorted to definite means in order to attain the ends chosen..." (See pg. 40 of http://www.amazon.com/The-Ultimate-Foundation-Economic-Science/dp/0865976392) No outside governmental agency forced them to act in a manner that was against their will.

The contents of the book, however, does not refute any part of Mises' science of economics. To do so, the author would have to show that the logic used by Mises is faulty, or, that Mises' starting point, "Human action is purposeful behavior", is false. Rather than address these issues, the author creates numerous strawman arguments and then burns them in the fire of his indignation that the world is not the way he feels it should be.

For instance, page 100, "But the theory of subjective value is open to a more profound objection. Mises' attitude is clearly anthropocentric; it places the human rather than God at the center of the universe. Things created by God are said to have no value save in the estimation (market pricing) of us human beings. That smells of heresy, indeed of blasphemy, does it not?" Heresy and blasphemy? Really!?!?

Luckily for Mises, and those belonging to the Austrian School of Economics, the Roman Inquisition that tried Galileo in 1633 is long gone.

In the end, though, this book was worth the time and money I spent on it. It forced me to clarify my understanding of Austrian Economics so I could represent it honestly in a group discussion centered on this book. It turned out though, that the group was more interested in hearing about "Human Action" than in what this book had to say.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C.J.A. on November 14, 2011
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This book is a perfect summary of many reasons economic liberalism (libertarianism) is incompatible with and therefore unacceptable to orthodox Catholicism. Joe Holland's introduction alone would make this book a worthwhile purchase; Angus Sibley's text is both brilliant and accessible. Though brief, the book provides both moral and ontological criticisms of "Austrians" such as Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard as well as popular American Catholic neo-cons such as Novak and Woods. Though focused on criticizing economic liberalism specifically from the perspective of Catholic social teaching, non-Catholics (and even non-Christians) will also find it very informative-- and find much with which to agree. Heartily recommended to all readers.
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