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Anno XXIII, n. 100, gennaio-marzo 1988
Centro Einaudi


Social liberalism

In this paper, Mises analyses the ideas of academic socialists on a scientific and academic plane, assessing the political effects that the application of such ideas has had. His conclusion is drastic: the ideas of socialism and syndicalism have lost their scientific moorings. Their champions have been unable to set forth another system more compatible with their teachings and thereby refute the charge of emptiness brought forward by theoretical economists. Therefore, they have had to deny fundamentally the possibility of theoretical knowledge in the field of social science and, especially, in economics. In their denial they have been content with a few critical objections to the foundation of theoretical economics. But their methodological critique, as well as their objections to various theories, has proved to be untenable. All this, however, has by no means weakened socialist and syndicalist ideology. The latter is more dominant even than in the past and serves as a filter for the observation of contemporary events which, nonetheless, demonstrate its failure. Politics, however, is disillusioned and cautious and dares not do everything which ideology demands. The end result is that people have lost confidence in reason: indeed many now hope for nothing other than the advent of the 'strong man'.