©2014 By ILANA MERCER
As I paged through the dog’s breakfast of an essay titled “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises,” I found myself wondering:
What does midwifery have to do with Mises? Both find their way into the stream-of-consciousness non sequiturs that is the article. I suppose midwifery is an occupation dominated by women. Mises was an old-fashioned, European economist whose legacy women are attempting to occupy. That must be it!
Incidentally, naming the solipsistic feminists (a redundancy, I know) who’ve made a move on the Austrian-School economist is unnecessary. “Avoid naming names when dealing with marginal characters,” I was once instructed by a veteran journalist, who was responding to a devastating critique I had penned in reply to some self-important, insignificant sorts. Joseph Farah e-mailed one of his lacerating missives: “Good job. But who the hell are these people? Their arguments are of a piece with Yasser Arafat’s. Next time, tackle the Arafat argument instead,” he admonished.
Alas, “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises” is devoid of argument to tackle. From the fact that Mises taught and mentored capable lady scholars, the FEE.org* feminists have concluded that the Austrian-School economist “actively promoted the interests of women in academia” and “saw women intellectuals in Vienna as an undervalued human resource.”
As difficult as it is for a cloistered American feminist to imagine a time before Sandra Fluke and “Vagina Monologues”—the women Mises taught were nothing like those currently claiming him as “a feminist before it was cool.” Today, fem affirmative action infects private and state-run establishments alike. Mises, however, lived in a time before the ladies got a leg up. His circle of students would have included a highly select sample of women, of the caliber absent in academia and elsewhere nowadays. Put differently, Old World Vienna would have had no truck with the female author of “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises.” She is a libertarian version of S. E. Cupp, who, when opening her mouth all too frequently, says nothing at all.
Mises was worldly. Our FEE.org feminists are provincial. Their world is rocked by women qua women, so they presume the world of Mises was like wise rocked. Using the illogic of mind-reading, psychologizing, and post hoc ergo propter hoc, “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises” arrives at yet another “conclusion”: This experience of teaching [marginalized female students] must have had a big impact on [Mises]. He began writing his book ‘Socialism’ at this time …”
“Socialism” was written in 1921 and 1922. During those tumultuous years, the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed. Germany was saddled with crippling war reparations and hit by hyperinflation, which reached 1426 percent in Austria. Adolf Hitler was nascent. The Red Army romped into Georgia. Lenin launched the Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy. Joseph Stalin rose to head the Communist Party. Libya was vanquished by Italy and Greece by Turkey. The Irish Civil War began, to mention but a few of the events that rocked the world.
At the very least, could it be that socialism, and not “marginalized” women, “inspired” a book about socialism? Perish the thought.
Indeed, it takes a degree of provincialism unique to our country’s feminists to claim that a European gentleman, born in Austria-Hungary in the late 1800s, was one of them—a rib from the feminist fraternity’s ribcage. This writer grew up in Israel at a time when quite a few elderly, highly educated Austrian gentlemen were still around. Grandfather, a master chess player, hung out with these men in Tel-Aviv chess clubs and cafés. Having actually encountered this creature in his natural habitat, I put this to you, gentle reader:
The proposition that Ludwig von Mises was a feminist is an apodictic impossibility.
Messy, wishful thinking also leads our authors to collapse the distinction between first- and second-wave feminism. They quote Mises as saying that he approved of feminism’s quest “to adjust the legal position of woman to that of man.” Who doesn’t? That position is the position of first-wave feminists, who strove for equality under the law, demanding only that existing law be applied to women. But then, using the telltale postmodern word-salad, the writers proceed to portray Mises as one who would likely protest what today’s radical feminists term structural or institutional under-representation, “the wrongs of sexism,” “sexual objectification” and “gendered expectations.” This is the language of second-wave feminism, whose collectivists hold that to be a woman is to be part of a group that has been and still is institutionally abused.
In addition to being a flaming feminist, Ludwig von Mises, to go by the authors of “The Feminism of Ludwig von Mises,” “sought to help the world understand that although they were discounted and pushed out of academia, if allowed, women could offer tremendous value to the study of scarcity.” Some rare individuals do just that. In aggregate, though, women pose a threat to scarce resources. One has only to trace the statistically significant “growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote”—as did John R. Lott, Jr. (Yale University) and Lawrence W. Kenny (University of Florida) in “Did Women’s Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?”—to grasp the severity of this threat.
One such extraordinary woman was the Objectivist Ayn Rand. Mises referred to Ms. Rand as “the most courageous man in America.” If that doesn’t say it all about the economist’s man-centric frame of reference, I don’t know what does.
*Robert Wenzel, editor at Economic Policy Journal, has already illustrated how the FEE.org writers misleadingly cite tracts from Mises’ “Socialism” as proof of the economist’s Betty Friedan feminism. This, the authors accomplished by strategically truncating the text to support their claim that the views of Mises and “Ugly Betty” on marriage were not dissimilar. See “Was Ludwig Von Mises a Feminist?”