Front Page Titles (by Subject) 2: Rational Action - Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
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2: Rational Action - Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis 
Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, trans. J. Kahane, Foreword by F.A. Hayek (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).
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Action based on reason, action therefore which is only to be understood by reason, knows only one end, the greatest pleasure of the acting individual. The attainment of pleasure, the avoidance of pain—these are its intentions. By this, of course, we do not mean “pleasure” and “pain” in the sense in which these terms used to be used. In the terminology of the modern economist, pleasure is to be understood as embracing all those things which men hold to be desirable, all that they want and strive for. There can therefore be no longer any contrast between the “noble” ethics of duty and the vulgar hedonistic ethics. The modern concept of pleasure, happiness, utility, satisfaction and the like includes all human ends, regardless of whether the motives of action are moral or immoral, noble or ignoble, altruistic or egotistical.3
In general men act only because they are not completely satisfied. Were they always to enjoy complete happiness, they would be without will, without desire, without action. In the land of the lotus-eaters there is no action. Action arises only from need, from dissatisfaction. It is purposeful striving towards something. Its ultimate end is always to get rid of a condition which is conceived to be deficient—to fulfil a need, to achieve satisfaction, to increase happiness. If men had all the external resources of nature so abundantly at their disposal that they were able to obtain complete satisfaction by action, then they could use them heedlessly. They would only have to consider their own powers and the limited time at their disposal. For, compared with the sum of their needs, they would still have only a limited strength and a limited life-time available. They would still have to economize time and labour. But to economy of materials they would be indifferent. In fact, however, materials are also limited, so that they too have to be used in such a way that the most urgent needs are satisfied first, with the least possible expenditure of materials for each satisfaction.
The spheres of rational action and economic action are therefore co-incident. All rational action is economic. All economic activity is rational action. All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts. How society arises from the action of individuals will be shown in a later part of our discussion.
[3. ]Mill, Das Nützlichkeitsprinzip. Trans. Wahrmund, Gesammelte Werke, German ed. Th. Gomperz (Leipzig, 1869), vol, 1, pp. 125-200. Publisher’s Note: This is a German translation of Utilitarianism.