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Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution Hardcover – August 22, 2007
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About the Author
Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was a preeminent philosopher and economist during the twentieth century. He shared an intellectual friendship with literary giant Ayn Rand, and his theorems and philosophies have continued to influence the careers and ideas of politicians and economists alike. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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"So is that a book on the history of theory, or the theory of history?"
My usual answer was:
For some reason it took me quite a while to get through the book, but I vividly remember the first thought that came to mind when I reached the last paragraphs. That thought was that I need to read this again at some point.
It is truly amazing how Mises manages to go through so many things in this relatively short book. Not only that, but the way Mises presents his arguments is absolutely brilliant. Every ten pages or so I had to literally stop and think about how someone was able to explain something so clearly. This is how a creative genius thinks and writes.
There is no way for me to list everything Mises goes through in this book, but simply put you will learn about how to think about society, economics and much more, how others have thought you should think about these things and why they are wrong. Mises dismantles his opponents in a way that leaves you thinking how anyone could've thought otherwise on this issue.
As this book is already over 50 years old and some of the arguments Mises deals with are much older, this book will also serve as a small and limited crash course to the history of intellectual thought.
Want to read Mises and don't know where to start? I'm sure someone might disagree, but in my opinion this isn't a bad place to start at all.
Theory and History is a first rate critique of Historicist type socialism. This book does differ in tone from some of Mises' earlier works. By 1957 professional economists had moved away from Marxism and towards `Market Socialism'. The Market Socialists (Lange, Lerner, Dickinson, Taylor, Durbin) were not historicists, so they do not belong in this book. Mises was obviously still troubled by Marxism in the 1950's. The general public was still open to the influence of Marxist ideas. Hence Mises wrote a book critiquing Marxist/Historicist ideas that is short and relatively easy (as compared to his other books).
Theory and History is an excellent work, well reasoned and clearer than many of his other writings. You can learn much from this book, even if you have read his other works. Marxian state socialism is now dead, but the "ideology of equal wealth and income" that Mises attacks in this book is alive and well. Theory and History therefore is more than relevant in the twenty-first century. It is vitally important in the defense of free and prosperous societies.