mises ludwig von

A despot in disguise: one man’s mission to rip up democracy
James McGill Buchanan’s vision of totalitarian capitalism has infected public policy in the US. Now it’s being exported • George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist
By George Monbiot

Buchanan was strongly influenced by both the neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, and the property supremacism of John C Calhoun, who argued in the first half of the 19th century that freedom consists of the absolute right to use your property (including your slaves) however you may wish; any institution that impinges on this right is an agent of oppression, exploiting men of property on behalf of the undeserving masses.

James Buchanan brought these influences together to create what he called public choice theory. He argued that a society could not be considered free unless every citizen has the right to veto its decisions. What he meant by this was that no one should be taxed against their will. But the rich were being exploited by people who use their votes to demand money that others have earned, through involuntary taxes to support public spending and welfare. Allowing workers to form trade unions and imposing graduated income taxes were forms of “differential or discriminatory legislation” against the owners of capital.

A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.

“Socialism is not in the least what is pretends to be. It is not the pioneer of a better and finer world, but the spoiler of what thousands of years of civilization have created. It does not build, it destroys. For destruction is the essence of it. It produces nothing, it only consumes what the social order based on private ownership in the means of production has created … Each step leading towards Socialism must exhaust itself in the destruction of what already exists.”

Ludwig von Mises

Some background: Rothbard and Mises are both thinkers associated with “anarcho-capitalism,” which opposes state coercion and maintains that the privatization of all state services would render said services both more moral and more efficient. That said, both theorists had a curious pattern of expressing sympathy for fascism and right-populism as “lesser evils” against socialism, which calls into question the consistency of their moral arguments.

What pushes the masses into the camp of socialism is, even more than the illusion that socialism will make them richer, the expectation that it will curb all those who are better off than they themselves are.
—  Ludwig Von Mises (1881-1973) Austrian economist 
The ideas of modern Socialism have not sprung from proletarian brains. They were originated by intellectuals, sons of the bourgeoisie, not of wage-earners.
—  Ludwig Von Mises (1881-1973) Austrian economist 
The writings of the socialists are full of such utopian fancies. Whether they call themselves Marxian or non-Marxian socialists, technocrats, or simply planners, they are all eager to show how foolishly things are arranged in reality and how happily men could live if they were to invest the reformers with dictatorial powers.
—  Ludwig Von Mises  (1881-1973) Austrian economist 

The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement.
They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty.
They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship.
They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent.
They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight for!

Ludwig Von Mises – Bureaucracy, 1944