Heroes for liberty are not particular to any region of the world or to a particular time period or to one sex. They hail from all nationalities, races, faiths, and creeds. They inspire others to a noble and universal cause—that all people should be free to live their lives in peace so long as they do no harm to the equal rights of others. They are passionate not solely for their own liberty, but for that of others as well.
In my last book, Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character and Conviction, I wrote about 40 individuals whose views, decisions, and actions served this cause in various ways. That book planted the seed for this new weekly series to be published each Thursday at FEE.org. But this time, others from around the world will do the writing, and I’ll be content to do the editing while keeping that to a minimum to preserve the author’s voice. It is my hope that when all is said and done some months from now, the literature of liberty will be greatly complemented by this collection of short biographies. The authors will be writing about heroes for liberty who are (or were) citizens of each author’s own country. Each week’s installment will be added to the collection here.
This week’s edition is about the life of one of the greatest heroes of liberty, Austrian economist and philosopher Ludwig von Mises, and it is written by FEE’s own Dan Sanchez.
That’s from the preface to, as the man says, the latest installment in what looks to be a compelling and worthwhile series. The Mises article linked above is fantastic stuff:
The death knell of the age of liberalism could be heard in the cannonades of the First World War. And Mises had barely enough time to finish, publish, and defend his treatise on money before he himself was sent to the eastern front as an artillery officer.
Imagine the mind of the greatest critic of central planning being snuffed out by the war that represented central planning’s apotheosis.
Other scholars of comparable qualifications were given safe roles in war-planning offices. But Mises, whose liberal ideas were out of step with the establishment in Austria, was put directly in harm’s way. One of history’s greatest geniuses was a single air burst away from having his career nipped in the bud.
How tragic that would have been! Mises had not yet even written his great 1920 essay Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, which contained the single most powerful argument against central planning that had ever been formulated. Imagine the mind of the greatest critic of central planning being snuffed out by the war that represented central planning’s apotheosis.
Put yourself in Mises’s shoes on the front line. You, better than anyone else in history, understand the workings of the peaceful market society. You understand the fatal flaws of socialism and interventionism and the futility of war. You have the answers! You know the societal code that would unlock and unleash humanity’s potential.
But nobody will listen to you, and you are surrounded by destruction and madness. Moreover, you yourself may, at any moment, be devoured by this war that rages around you, and all these unwritten ideas that are bubbling over in your mind will be lost to humanity forever.
It would be enough to break almost any man. But, fortunately for us, Mises was not only a genius but also a paragon of moral courage. In this harrowing crisis, as in all his subsequent trials, Mises bolstered that courage with a scrap of Latin poetry he had learned as a schoolboy.
No matter how much you may or may not already know about this remarkable man’s life and work (and I freely confess to knowing very little), you’ll want to read all of this one. There’s a whole slew of other pieces on the main page for the collection already, which I hastily bookmarked and will be wading through and mentioning here as and when I can. I’ll probably provide a blogroll link to it as well. Many thanks to Glenn for hipping us to this worthy effort.