Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER 23: The Social Democratic Agrarian Program 1 - Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises, vol. 1: Monetary and Economic Problems Before, During, and After the Great War
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CHAPTER 23: The Social Democratic Agrarian Program 1 - Ludwig von Mises, Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises, vol. 1: Monetary and Economic Problems Before, During, and After the Great War 
Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises, vol. 1: Monetary and Economic Problems Before, During, and After the Great War, edited and with an Introduction by Richard M. Ebeling (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2012).
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The Social Democratic Agrarian Program1
In spite of the collapse of the ideology of socialism, and the failure of its prescriptions for universal happiness, the Social Democratic Party has not disappeared from the scene. It continues to exist, even after renouncing its original program. And although it will not admit it, its new program now means: devour the wealth that has been accumulated by capitalism.
In the Austrian Social Democratic Party’s agrarian program, this goal is presented to us in a more unmasked and open way than in the past. Large-scale agricultural enterprises operate far more efficiently than the individual farmer on a small plot of land. The Social Democrat’s agricultural program cannot deny this. But its program demands the expropriation of the large agricultural estates, and their transfer to government ownership—even though everyone knows that all such federal undertakings end up operating at a loss.
Twelve percent of the forest land in Austria is administered by the federal government, and its annual deficit swallows up a million schillings in tax money. In comparison, private owners of forest lands all operate at a profit. Nevertheless, the Social Democrat’s agricultural program insists on the expropriation and nationalization of all large forest lands that are held in private hands.
These socialist forests, the program says, should be administered “not as capitalist for-profit forests, but as socialist welfare woods.” This last phrase was certainly superfluous, since all nationalized enterprises that we have had the “opportunity” to experience have freed us from any fear that operations managed by government, or by cooperative enterprises, could ever yield a profit!
In essence, the goal of the Social Democratic agricultural program is the transformation of a large part of the farming and forestry economy into a government-subsidized undertaking. Forests and products produced on the land would no longer be expected to yield any net profits. Those assigned to oversee the management of these lands are to be supported by funds supplied from other sources. Almost every paragraph in this agrarian program speaks of expenditures from the public coffers for the benefit of agriculture.
For example, combined associations of cottagers and small farmers are to be “promoted from public means.” Expenditures from federal and regional funds also will be required to facilitate the provisioning of quality seeds, chemical fertilizers, good breeding stock, and for the setting up of agricultural machine stations and so on.
Where the financial means to cover these expenditures are supposed to come from is, of course, never explained in this Social Democratic program. On the other hand, it is proposed to eliminate various presently existing taxes, for example, the taxes on sugar and wine. Doing away with the tax on wine would promote alcoholism! But such factual considerations seem not to have bothered the authors of this new Social Democratic agricultural program. There is precisely only one motive that has guided the composition of this program: its effect on the voters.
Up until now the Social Democratic Party, in all questions relating to agriculture, has exclusively “represented” the viewpoint of urban consumers. Right now, however, the party also needs the votes of the rural constituencies if it is to achieve political power; it therefore offers an agricultural program full of enticing promises. Will the farmers let themselves be deceived by this program? Will they realize that in the long run it will not be possible for the Social Democrats to impose financial burdens on the urban population for the benefit of agriculture? Won’t this sudden awakening of “interest” in agricultural matters by the Social Democratic Party seem suspicious?
Dr. Siegfried Strakosch, our most successful agriculturalist, who is at the same time a prominent natural scientist and a writer on economics, has undertaken the task of examining the Social Democratic agricultural program in detail. When Dr. Strakosch speaks about agricultural policy, everyone in Austria can learn something, even if one may not completely agree with him on many economic issues.2
The sober objectivity of his analysis will not fail to have its effect. Let us hope that it will open the eyes of many about the magnitude of the danger that carrying out of any part of the Social Democratic agricultural program would create in our country.
[1. ][This was originally written in German as a foreword to Siegfried Strakosch’s Das sozialdemokratische Agrarprogramm in seiner politischen und volkswirtschaftlichen Bedeutung [The Political and Economic Meaning of the Social Democratic Agricultural Program] (1926). The foreword was dated January 5, 1926.—Ed.]
[2. ][See Chapter 21, “The Austrian Problem,” footnote 2.—Ed.]