Mises Reading Notes

/ Reading Notes /

Ludwig von Mises, The ANTI-CAPITALISTIC MENTALITY, 1956

Meritocracy
Never mind, these notes are ghastly: I’ll start again, important stuff, from scratch. First, on Merit.

2016 08 23 PM I’ve been reading von Misis for twenty-off hours now. and I see clearly what’s wrong: he discusses meritocracy versus class society: and he’s right about everything except: his feudal society is and was real; his meritocracy is imagined, not real. There’s never been a true meritocracy: people claim merit counts the way Christians claim to be Christian: without proof. Without God’s Judgment. Ask Tessler how meritorious the meritocracy was. Ask Illich. Ask me!

What nonsense: I just wrote “true” meritocracy. Where do humans get the arrogance to believe that they could determine merit and determine it truly? It’s not a level playing field, no advantaged players would ever permit leveling to be administered. Hypocrisy is what we’re good at; not determining merit. Oh, we can appoint merit: like assigned Tessla’s patents to Marconi; but could we be right? Would God agree without our judgments?
I don’t want God judging either: I want nature to rule. I want evolution to be tolerated: and not cheated on.

2016 08 23 My son became a student of von Mises a decade or more ago, has been encouraging me to read von Mises, gave me the e-books, gave me the kindle. Till yesterday, I hadn’t. Yesterday I did, and some more today, and plan to tomorrow. Important things to say in detail and depth. Just a scrap today:

In money-making the movie star outstrips the philosopher.

The class of those who have the ability to think their own thoughts is through an unbridgeable gulf separated from the class of those who cannot.

First I’m finally reading the von Mises. Second, I’m sharing notes with bk. Next I’ll post here some of those notes. bk & I have never been on the same side of the fence on many of these issues: bk applauds material wealth, applauds standards of living; I don’t. I’m for freedom such that freedom models natural law. If our behavior kills us, I oppose interference with our sinking, or swimming. I oppose interference.
So seems von Mises to, except that I founded FLEX; and he didn’t know about it. His followers ever since have ignored FLEX, show zero understanding of what was offered.

Ah! a jewel, a gem!

under capitalism. Here everybody’s station in life depends on his own doing.

Reminds me of Ivan Illich’s comment on “meritocracy”: if all is based on merit, then there’s no excuse!
If Jesus is crucified in BC Jerusalem it’s the Jews fault and Caesar’s fault: if Jesus is crucified in the US (which he is, every day) it’s Jesus’ fault?!
If Kepler is ignored by the flatearthers, is that Kepler’s fault? or is it the fault of the flatearthers?
Nonsense for humans in a kleptocracy to talk about merit: whether capitalist or not!

Silly me, I’m always talking about Jesus: turns the rational deist-atheists off. Try this: Lillian Hellman was blackballed by the Macarthyites: she had had Broadway successes, then she didn’t have Broadway anything. This is her fault? She chose her politics, therefore she chose the results of her politics?
My committe interrupted me, still doesn’t know what my Shakespeare thesis is, for ten years they hadn’t get it, and now for another forty-six years they still don’t get it: that’s my fault, is it?
My story was selected, then sabotages: that’s my fault? It is as much as it’s Hellman’s fault. Or Jesus’ fault: he should have realized that if he stuck up for God, for good behavior, for an honest temple, it was going to cost him.

Here, add these examples: Sutter invited all to help him find a land route west. He found it himself, no help from us. Sutter invited all to help him develop the Sacramento Valley. We didn’t, he developed it himself. He built his mill, trained his army, everything was going great, his was a sovereign state, he had treaties with Mexico, the US, and with Russia … and gold was found in his creek. Goodbye new Helvetia. That’s his fault? Was the earthquake Darwin was surprised by his fault?
Crazy Horse won the battle, so DC sent more worriors: that was Crazy Horse’s fault? Fruits of capitalism?

Oh, and Tessler!
Tessler inivented wireless technology: after he had developed AC. Thomas Edison refused to pay his bonuses. The US Patent Office gave his patents to Marconi! This is Tessler’s fault? Sure: if he had been shorter, had different hair coloring. He should have sold TuttiFrutti, not invented the future: a future he was allowed little part of.

Hear “merit” only as an irony, a condition men are incapable of judging. Men judge merit, but judge without humility, without wisdom, bereft of truth.

Some of this is so very good:

throw a veil of comradeship and colleagueship over the reality of competition.

Juvenile Jealosy
I’m feeling humiliated remembering an incident from the first assignment I ever gave in the first class I ever taught. Freshman English, 1967. I knew I would teach a number of forms of writing, all Standard Written English, in the semester. Two forms I did not plan to schedule: two forms so familiar we take them for granted: the standard personal letter and the standard business letter. I decided on a plan to mention them without wasting much time on them. My assignment for the class was to write me a personal letter, following the personal letter form of return address, date, greeting: body: closing, signature. Tell me who you are, what your interest are, help me get to know you: follow the form. And, in a PS, note what addition would have made your letter a business letter.

The letters were submitted, I read them. Jeez, what a lot to absorb. I was feeling proud of myself and fond of my interesting students when I got one I did not like: it turned my stomach, made more hostile. I cursed myself for my glibness in exposing this pour soul to my contempt. This writer, female, barely eighteen, told a story against an enemy, attributed malice to the enemy, then dismissed the enemy, saying: “She’s just jealous.”
An immature bit of casuistry if there ever was one: or so I thought.
I had to grade these papers, I didn’t believe in grades but I had to retreat at the first skirmish: I gave her a C minus: and felt like an idio: for the rest of my life! That was 1967, now it’s 2016. forty-nine years of guilt.

And now I see von Mises explaining the psychology of those who hate capitalism: glib, wading-pool deep: They’re just jealous.

2016 08 25 I want to tie this in with my current reading of Joseph Campbell on Buddhism: another case where the thinking starts with its conclusions, everything sort of recognizable but nothing proved: you start with rebirth, and dogmatically assert that nothing else is possible. As Sylvan Saudan said, “Nothing is impossible: until you try it.” Reason must allow for every possible experiment.

2016 08 25 von Mises’ comparison of European “society” and American “society” is invaluable: great; chapter 6. THE ANTI-CAPITALISTIC BIAS OF AMERICAN INTELLECTUALS; but, I can’t read any more of it, I abandon the book. He doesn’t know about my FLEX, my offering of a cybernetic free market. I’m up to here with such ignorance. Willful ignorance.

Reading Notes A — L By Author M — Z
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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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