The Quotable Mises

Article excerpt

The Quotable Mises Edited by Mark Thornton Ludwig von Mises Institute * 2005 * 333 pages * $20.00

Reviewed by William H. Peterson

Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern: the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle in which the epoch has plunged us."

I chose this Mises quotation for its persuasive prescience of Orwellian things to come and for its individualistic appeal. It bears on this remarkable book of quotations from the vast work of Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973), even though the quotation itself is not included in this particular collection. (It is from the concluding chapter in his classic Socialism, published in 1922.) But as editor Mark Thornton says in his introduction, he and his teammates, including Thomas DiLorenzo, Martin Garfmkel, C.J. Maloney, B.K. Marcus, Richard Perry, and Jeffrey Tucker, were themselves unable to include all of their own favorites. Picking the best quotations of Mises is a lot like picking the best lines from Shakespeare.

Bettina Bien Greaves, a world authority on the life of Mises and someone well known to readers of The Freeman, calls the book "A thrilling project, a thorough job, and a marvelous result. The Quotable Mises performs a great service." I agree wholeheartedly and hope the book will reinvigorate interest in the thought of this great defender of individual liberty. More people will want to tackle Human Action, Socialism, and other imposing works once they have seen some of the magnificent quotations.

In The Quotable Mises, some 1,400 quotations and their citations are put into about 150 categories ranging from "Action" to "Youth." This organization makes it easy for anyone who wants a good quotation on a subject to quickly find one. That will be useful to people whether they're writing a paper or trying to clinch an argument.

A small sampling:

Some gems from "Ideas" include: "Only ideas can overcome ideas. …