Ludwig von Mises Institute

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Ludwig von Mises Institute
LvM Crest.png
Motto Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito
Latin: Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it
Founder(s) Lew Rockwell, Jr., Murray Rothbard, Burton Blumert
Established 1982
Mission To advance the Misesian tradition of thought through the defense of the market economy, private property, sound money, and peaceful international relations, while opposing government intervention as economically and socially destructive.[1]
Focus Economics, Anarcho-capitalism
President Lew Rockwell, Jr.
Faculty 16[2]
Staff 21
Key people Lew Rockwell, Jr. (President)
Joseph Salerno (Editor
Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics)
Budget Revenue: $5,704,596
Expenses: $4,547,235
(fiscal year ending 2011)[3]

Auburn, Alabama, United States

(32°36′24″N 85°29′28″W / 32.60667°N 85.49111°W / 32.60667; -85.49111)

The Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI), often referred to as the Mises Institute, is a tax-exempt libertarian organization located in Auburn, Alabama.[4][5][6] It is named for Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973). Its website states that it is dedicated to advancing "the Misesian tradition of thought through the defense of the market economy, private property, sound money, and peaceful international relations, while opposing government intervention."[1]

The Mises Institute was founded in 1982 by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Burton Blumert and Murray Rothbard, following a split between the Cato Institute and Rothbard, who had been one of the founders of the Cato Institute.[7] Through its publications, the Institute promotes anarcho-capitalist political theory and a form of heterodox economics known as praxeology ("the logic of action"). [8][9]

Background and location[edit]

Further information: Split among the contemporary Austrian School

The Ludwig von Mises Institute was established in 1982 in the wake of a dispute which occurred in the early 1980s between Murray Rothbard and the Cato Institute, another libertarian organization co-founded by Rothbard.[10][11] Llewellyn Rockwell has stated that the Mises Institute met strong opposition from parties affiliated with the Koch family, Rothbard's former backers at Cato.[12] Rothbard was the Mises Institute's vice president and head of academic programs until his death in 1995.[13]

The Institute stated that its founding ambition is to be "the research and educational center of classical liberalism, libertarian political theory, and the Austrian School of economics".[14] It has reprinted works by Mises, Rothbard, Hayek, and others. It presents the annual "Austrian Scholars Conference" and "Mises University", at which anarcho-capitalist thinkers meet, and Institute personnel teach and advise students. The Institute reports that its library holds nearly 35,000 volumes, including Rothbard's personal library.[15]

Early after its founding, the Mises Institute was located at the business department offices of Auburn University, and relocated nearby to its current site in 1998.[16] According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, the Institute chose its Auburn location for low cost of living and "good ol' Southern hospitality". The article goes on "to make an additional point", that "Southerners have always been distrustful of government," making the South a natural home for the organization's libertarian outlook.[17] The institute has a staff of 16 Senior Fellows and about 70 adjunct scholars from the United States and other countries.[18]

In the early years of the Mises Institute, Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard embraced paleolibertarianism, a culturally conservative conception of libertarianism. In a discussion of the paleolibertarian period of the Mises Institute, Austrian economist Steven Horwitz criticized what he describes as the Institute's "numerous connections with all kinds of unsavory folks: racists, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers".[19] On Horwitz' account, associating with these people was the product of a conscious political strategy, articulated by Llewellyn Rockwell,[20] and rooted in Rothbard's "paleolibertarian" views formulated in the 1980s after his separation from the Koch brothers and the Cato Institute. Horwitz states that the Institute's alleged attempt to appeal to racists was part of the broader paleo-libertarian political effort to create a "libertarian-conservative fusion" founded on cultural conservatism.

Views espoused by founders and organization scholars[edit]

In a 2006 article published on Wall Street Journal's website, Kyle Wingfield credited the Institute for helping make the "Heart of Dixie a wellspring of sensible economic thinking."[21] Wingfield pointed to the Institute's publishing and promoting the work of Mises and other Austrian economists, who he characterizes as advocating "limited government, lower taxes, stronger private property rights and less business regulation."

The Institute has published views critical of democracy, which authors in Mises Institute publications have called coercive,[22] incompatible with wealth creation,[23] replete with inner contradictions,[24] and a system of legalized graft.[22] Writers associated with the Mises Institute typically take a critical view of most U.S. government activities, foreign and domestic, throughout American history. The Institute expresses non-interventionist positions on foreign policy, asserting that war tends to increase the power of government. The Institute's website offers content which is explicitly critical of democracy, collectivism, fascism, socialism, and communism.[22]

Mises Institute scholars hold diverse views on the subject of immigration.[25] Walter Block argues in favor of open borders.[26] Hans-Hermann Hoppe argues in favor of immigration restriction.[27]

American Civil War and the Confederacy[edit]

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), institute scholars have condemned Abraham Lincoln's conduct of the American Civil War (e.g. suspending habeas corpus), asserting that his policies contributed to the growth of statism in the United States. Senior faculty member Thomas DiLorenzo, in his critical biographies The Real Lincoln and Lincoln: Unmasked, argues that the sixteenth president substantially expanded the size and powers of the federal government at the expense of individual liberty. Adjunct faculty member Donald Livingston shares a similar view, blaming Lincoln for the creation of "a French Revolutionary style unitary state" and "centralizing totalitarianism."[28]

LvMI's Thomas DiLorenzo's references to the American Civil War as the "War to prevent Southern Independence" and Mises faculty member Thomas Woods's presence at the founding of the League of the South were cited by James Kirchick, writing for The New Republic, as suggesting a "disturbing attachment to the Confederacy."[29] Woods has stated that he was present at the meeting at which the organization was founded,[30] and later contributed to its newsletter,[31] but that his involvement was limited.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized the Institute as "Neo-Confederate."[32] Lew Rockwell responded to the criticism: "The Mises Institute recently came under fire from one of these watchdog groups that claims to oppose intolerance and hate. What was our offense? We have published revisionist accounts of the origins of the Civil War that demonstrate that the tariff bred more conflict between the South and the feds than slavery. For that, we were decried as a dangerous institutional proponent of 'neoconfederate' ideology. Why not just plain old Confederate ideology."[33]

Intellectual Property[edit]

Mises Institute has published the writing of Senior Fellow Stephan Kinsella in opposition to Intellectual Property.[34] He believes that IPRs not only violate property rights, but undermine social well-being from a utilitarian perspective.

Climate change[edit]

Articles published by the Institute have expressed doubt of the scientific consensus on climate change, and have alleged that the promise of research grants, as opposed to scientific evidence, compels climatologists to endorse that consensus.[35][36]


In an article written on Institute Chairman's Lew Rockwell's website, Jacob Huebert observes that socially liberal libertarians have often accused the Mises Institute of racism. He calls the charges erroneous and argues that they might stem from the support of some Institute scholars for immigration restrictions, its support of secession, or its uncompromising stand on libertarian issues.[37]

A January 2014 article in the New York Times critically examined the views of several Mises Institute scholars on race, religion, and the U.S. Civil War.

"some [Mises Institute] scholars combine dark biblical prophecy with apocalyptic warnings that the nation is plunging toward economic collapse and cultural ruin. Others have championed the Confederacy. One economist, while faulting slavery because it was involuntary, suggested in an interview that the daily life of the enslaved was “not so bad — you pick cotton and sing songs.”[38]

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Mises Institute as a hard right organization, noting Rothbard's opposition to child labor laws and the anti-immigrant views of other Institute scholars.[39] The SPLC also criticized Rothbard's remarks that the "'Officially Oppressed' of American society", by which (according to SPLC) he referred to women, African Americans and other groups, were a "parasitic burden" on society.[citation needed]

The Catholic publication New Oxford Review reviewed Christopher Ferrara's book The Church and the Libertarian, in which Ferrara condemned the argument, made by Mises Institute Catholics Jeffrey Tucker and Thomas E. Woods,[40] that Catholicism is compatible with the principles of Rothbard.[41] The Review endorsed Ferrara's thesis, and criticized Mises scholars who advocate for the legal right to (though not the morality of) "selling children to the highest bidder, or starving them to death at the whim of their parents".

Publications, conferences, activities and awards[edit]

Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics
2004 Rothbard medalist Gary North delivers his acceptance speech

The Mises Institute makes available a large number of books, journal articles, and other writings online.[42] and archives various writings on its website. Its Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics is dedicated to the promotion of its version of Austrian economics.[43] It published the Journal of Libertarian Studies from 1977 to 2008.[44] The Mises Review has been published since 1995, the quarterly review of literature in the social sciences being currently edited by David Gordon.

The Mises Institute's website states that its "Are You An Austrian?" quiz tests an individual's economic reasoning.[45] It has been criticized by economists such as Arnold Kling, who wrote, "the 'Are you an Austrian?' quiz does not distinguish between knowledge of doctrine and belief in doctrine. To me, this is symptomatic of a sect, which focuses on doctrinal purity above all else. For a sect, to know is to believe, and to believe is to know."[46]

The Institute presents the annual Schlarbaum Prize for "lifetime defense of liberty", a $10,000 prize given to a public intellectual or scholar. Laureates have included U.S. Congressman Ron Paul and economists Walter Block and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Other honors include the Murray Rothbard Medal (also won by Block, Hoppe and Paul, as well as by economic historian Gary North), The Elgin Groseclose Award (a $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle) for money writing, and the Fertig Prize.[47]

Notable scholars[edit]