Misesian Interventionism: the Text, the Aftermath, and the Entangled Political Economy

Jonathan von Ahnen

Major Professor: Richard E Wagner, PhD, Department of Economics

Committee Members: Christopher J Coyne, Peter J Boettke

Online Location, Online
November 17, 2020, 02:30 PM to 04:30 PM


In his magnum opus economic treatise Human Action, Ludwig von Mises makes the peculiar prediction: “…yet the age of interventionism is reaching its end.  Interventionism has exhausted all its potentialities and must disappear.”  As this prediction bears no resemblance to our current world, a thorough examination of the facts was in order.  Chapter 1 provides a history of thought in the evolution of von Mises’ critique of interventionism, replete with relevant biographical and historical events by which to frame the period of his prediction.  Chapter 2 examines the leading theories on the direction of the market towards greater or lesser interventionism, as well as the relevant empirical evidence.  I argue both that von Mises’ view of the fragility of the hampered market has been overstated, and that the period under examination by von Mises has largely been misinterpreted.  Chapter 3 then recasts Misesian interventionism into the Entangled Political Economy which forthright rejects the existence of traditional interventionism.  This recasting is then used for explanatory purposes to understand the persistence of such things as redistribution and collectivist thinking.