Ludwig von Mises on the Economic Causes of War and the Path to Lasting Peace

Another excerpt (from this article) from the great economist Ludwig von Mises:

I do not say that all wars of all nations and in all ages were motivated by economic considerations, that is, by the desire to make the aggressors rich at the expense of the defeated. There is no need for us to investigate the root causes of the crusades or the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. What I want to say is that, in our age, the great wars have been the outcome of a specific economic mentality.

The Second World War is certainly not a war between the white and the colored races. No racial differences separate the British, Dutch, and the Norwegians from the Germans, or the French from the Italians, or the Chinese from the Japanese. It is not a war between Catholics and Protestants. After all, there are Catholics and Protestants in both belligerent camps. It is not a war between democracy and dictatorship. The claim of several of the United Nations (Soviet Russia in particular) to the appellation “democratic” is rather questionable. On the other hand, Finland (which is allied with Nazi Germany) is a country with a democratically elected government.

My argument that recent wars have been motivated by economic considerations is not meant to be a justification of the aggressor’s policies. Viewed as an economic means for the attainment of certain economic benefits, the policy of aggression and conquest is self-defeating. Even if technically successful in the short run, it would never attain in the long run the ends at which the aggressors are aiming. Under the conditions of modern industrialism, there cannot be any question of a social system such as the Nazis plan under the name of a “New Order.” Slavery is not a method for industrial societies. If the Nazis had conquered their adversaries, they would have destroyed civilization and brought back barbarism. They would certainly not have erected a thousand-year New Order, as Hitler promised.

Thus, the main problem is how to avoid new wars. The answer is not to be found in setting up a better League of Nations; neither is it a question of the establishment of a better World Court, nor even in the implementation of a World Police Force. The real issue is to make all nations ā€” or at least the most populous nations of the world ā€” peace loving. This can be achieved only by going back to free enterprise.

If we want to abolish war, we must remove the causes of war.

The great idol of our time is the State. The State is a necessary social institution, but it should not be deified. It is not a god; it is a device of mortal men. If we make it an idol, we must sacrifice to it the flower of our youth in coming wars.

What is needed to make a lasting peace is much more than new offices and a new court for the League of Nations in Geneva, or even a new international police force. What is needed is a change in political ideologies and a return to a sound free-market economic system.


Leave a comment

Filed under Austrian Economics, foreign policy, Libertarian, politics, role of government

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s