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We Oppose the State, its Socialism, and its Wars

Summary:
In case you haven’t read it lately—or perhaps you’ve never read it—the mission statement of the Mises Institute states that the Institute “exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian school of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard.”For those who find this mission statement to too non-specific, I recommend consulting the decades’ worth of commentary and research published by the Institute over the forty-plus years of the Institute’s existence. For anyone who has bothered to read any significant portion of this body of work, the Mises Institute’s mission and editorial positions over the past four decades are no mystery. In my ten years as an editor at the Mises

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In case you haven’t read it lately—or perhaps you’ve never read it—the mission statement of the Mises Institute states that the Institute “exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian school of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard.”

For those who find this mission statement to too non-specific, I recommend consulting the decades’ worth of commentary and research published by the Institute over the forty-plus years of the Institute’s existence. For anyone who has bothered to read any significant portion of this body of work, the Mises Institute’s mission and editorial positions over the past four decades are no mystery. 

In my ten years as an editor at the Mises Institute, however, I’ve been often surprised by how many self-described “supporters” of the Institute disagree with our most fundamental positions. For example, it’s remarkable how many article submissions I have received over the years in which the author attacks our core editorial positions. 

These articles often have titles like “Why the Austrian School is wrong about X.” ”X” is some fundamental tenet of the Austrian School that is supposedly “disproven” in 900 words by the would-be columnist who generally demonstrates almost no understanding of the Austrian School at all. 

I also receive article submissions which take the form of “the libertarian/free-market case for Y” in which Y is a position—usually a morally repugnant one—that is utterly opposed to what Mises Institute scholars have been publishing here for decades. This sort of submission usually—but not always—centers on foreign policy and advocates for the latest war or “humanitarian” intervention. 

Naturally, I reject these articles because our editorial policy and our mission is to publish articles that actually support peace, freedom, and Austrian Economics. It’s not our job to publish articles opposed to these things. After all, for writers and readers who don’t like what the Mises Institute stands for, they can read and publish articles at National ReviewThe Washington PostThe New York TimesThe American ConservativeCommentary, and countless other neoconservative or social-democrat publications that are more than happy to tell readers that radical laissez-faire and non-interventionist foreign policy are terrible.

Apparently unaware that the legacy media exists, these rejected authors often become indignant and claim they are being “censored,” and that it is our job to use the money of Mises Institute donors to promote ideas contrary to our mission. It’s a bizarre and incoherent position, but it is a surprisingly common one. 

Moreover, should these would-be authors not be inclined to publish their articles with the countless existing publications that already oppose our ideas, these authors are free to start their own institutes and publications devoted to “correcting” the Austrian School or to explaining why the Iraq War—for instance—was a great idea. These people who pretend to be “censored” are rarely interested in building up their own audiences or founding their own organizations, however. That requires a lot of work, and its much easier to try and ride the coattails of an organization like the Mises Institute instead. 

Often, these people will claim that we “have to” publish their articles in the interest of “debate.” Of course, this is hardly self-evident since debate can—and usually does—take place across two or more different publications just as well as it can take place within a single publication. If a writer wants to publish something explaining all the faults of Austrian Economics, he is welcome to start a debate by publishing his views at some other publication where it will be read by people interested in economics. That’s how most debates have actually happened throughout modern history. After all, if it were necessary that both sides of every debate be published at every publication, then I suppose we’d better start publishing articles promoting Modern Monetary Theory immediately! After all, now that we’ve repeatedly criticized MMT at mises.org, don’t we owe fhief MMTer Stephanie Kelton—in the spirit of debate, of course—a weekly column so she can explain why governments should print money in huge quantities? Clearly, the answer is no. There is plenty of debate over the topic without us publishing “both sides.” It would be similarly absurd to claim that the Mises Institute must publish articles pushing central bank digital currencies or the income tax in the name of offering a balanced “debate.” 

The same is true of the foreign-policy interventionists who think we need to foster some misplaced notion of debate, as if the world needs a series of articles at mises.org explaining “the case for the Iraq War” or “the case for wiping out the Palestinians.” Is it really so difficult to find an article promoting these prowar views that it is necessary for the Mises Institute to publish the same? I’m pretty sure it’s very easy to find countless articles calling for endless US involvement in countless wars. Readers and authors who prefer to read all about how Americans ought to be funding the State of Israel’s ethnic cleansing in the Levant, for instance, are welcome to read all about it somewhere else. It is not incumbent on mises.org to push bad ideas in the name of “balance.” 

In spite of all of this, there are still some people who seem to think that the Mises Institute is like their local chapter of Toastmasters International and that we exist to promote debate for its own sake. We aren’t, and we don’t. We have a mission which is to—in the words of Lew Rockwell—oppose “the state, its socialism, and its wars.” Moreover,  we owe it to our donors to be good stewards of the money donors give to forward that mission “in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard.” Those who would like a better understanding of that tradition are encouraged to explore mises.org. 

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore.


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Ryan McMaken
Ryan McMaken is the editor of Mises Wire and The Austrian. Send him your article submissions, but read article guidelines first. (Contact: email; twitter.) Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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