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Monday
Apr192010

von mises on politics

Who could argue with what economist Ludwig Von Mises wrote in 1940?

"The usual terminology of political language is stupid. What is ‘left’ and what is ‘right’? Why should Hitler be 'right' and Stalin, his temporary friend, be 'left'? Who is 'reactionary' and who is 'progressive'? Reaction against an unwise policy is not to be condemned. And progress towards chaos is not to be commended. Nothing should find acceptance just because it is new, radical, and fashionable. 'Orthodoxy' is not an evil if the doctrine on which the 'orthodox' stand is sound. Who is 'nationalist,' those who want to bring their nation under the heel of the Nazis, or those who want to preserve its independence?"

The same terminology is still used freely. Seventy years on. Why? Because politics is the art of exciting people into doing things they aren't that interested in. Whenever "language is stupid"- PR and advertising are more obvious examples- then the objective is usually to create excitement. Being excited is fun, brain boxes like Von Mises were not against this, but they thought it healthier, I suspect, to not confuse excitement with actually getting something done.

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