Front Page Titles (by Subject) 41: Freedom Has Made a Comeback * - Economic Freedom and Interventionism
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41: Freedom Has Made a Comeback * - Ludwig von Mises, Economic Freedom and Interventionism 
Economic Freedom and Interventionism: An Anthology of Articles and Essays, selected and edited by Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007).
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Freedom Has Made a Comeback*
One of the characteristic marks of the age that witnessed more bloodshed, war, and destruction than any preceding era of history was the credulous appreciation of quasi-prophetic prognostications about the course of future history and about the final goals of mankind’s evolution. In the wake of Hegel’s philosophy, Marx had proclaimed that a mysterious, never-defined or clearly described agency called the “material productive forces” was inevitably leading the peoples toward the bliss of everlasting earthly paradise, socialism. Socialism, he contended, would radically transform all human and earthly affairs. In its frame there would no longer be any want or suffering. To work would not cause pain but pleasure and everybody would get all he needed. What a comfort to know that the coming of this perfect state of things was inevitable!
Seen from the point of view of these fables, which paradoxically were called scientific socialism, the foremost duty of every decent fellow was to fight unto death the dissenters who did not believe in the Marxian message and to prepare himself for life in utopia. The task of progressive education, heralded the pundits, is to adjust the rising generation to the conditions of their future socialist environment.
Only a few years ago the harbingers of these dogmas could assume that they had succeeded in this educational effort. Their semantic innovations were accepted by almost everybody. Progress meant progress on the road toward socialism, reaction any attempt to preserve freedom. “No enemies on the left” was a battle cry which very soon was followed by the still more shameful slogan: “Better Red than dead.”
But then a miracle happened, the awakening of the common sense of sound, decent people. Out of the ranks of the young boys and girls arose an opposition. There were on the campuses once again friends of freedom and they had the courage to speak their minds. Collectivism was challenged by individualism. No longer was liberty condemned as a bourgeois prejudice; no longer were constitutional, representative government and the rule of law smeared as clever make-shifts invented by the privileged few for the oppression of the many. The idea of freedom made a comeback.
There are overcautious skeptics who admonish us not to attach too much importance to these academic affairs. I think these critics are wrong. The fact that, out of the midst of the college youth, a new movement in favor of the great old ideals of individualism and freedom originated, is certainly of paramount importance. The spell of the dreadful conformity that threatened to convert our country into a spiritual desert is broken. There are again young men and women eager to think over the fundamental problems of life and action. This is a genuine moral and intellectual resurrection, a movement that will prevent us from falling prey to the arbitrary tyranny of dictators. As an old man I am greeting the young generation of liberators.
Economics and Ideas
In the first essay in this section Mises wrote, “The struggle between the two systems of social organization, freedom and totalitarianism . . . depends on ideological factors. The champions of freedom can win only if they are supported by a citizenry fully and unconditionally committed to the ideal of freedom.”
The major economic fallacies of post–World War II Marxism and Progressivism have been demolished by economists of the Austrian, subjective value, marginal-utility school. Yet much still remains to be done to “unmask” these fallacies in the field of public opinion. For freedom to triumph, people must come to understand the importance of protecting private property and free markets. It is a tragedy for the world that now, just as the peoples in many lands are seeking to break the chains that bind them to Communism, they are looking to interventionist United States as their model.
In the final essay in this section Mises wrote:
“One of the main paradoxes of the modern world is this: The achievements of laissez-faire liberalism and the capitalistic market economy have finally instilled in all Eastern peoples the conviction that what the Western ideologies recommend and the Western policies practice is the right thing to be done. But by the time the East got this confidence in Western ways, the ideologies and policies of socialism and interventionism had supplanted liberalism in Europe and America. . . . Therefore, nothing is more important today than to enlighten public opinion about the basic differences between genuine liberalism, which advocates the free market economy, and the various interventionist parties which are advocating government interference with prices, wages, the rate of interest, profits and investment, confiscatory taxation, tariffs and other protectionist measures, huge government spending and finally inflation.”
[* ]Statement at Young Americans for Freedom rally, Madison Square Garden, March 7, 1962. Reprinted from The New Guard, March 1962.