Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. US Housing Market Real Estate Crash The Next Shoe To Drop – Part II - Chris_Vermeulen
2.The Coronavirus Greatest Economic Depression in History? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.US Real Estate Housing Market Crash Is The Next Shoe To Drop - Chris_Vermeulen
4.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications and AI Mega-trend Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Are Coronavirus Death Statistics Exaggerated? Worse than Seasonal Flu or Not?- Nadeem_Walayat
6.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications, Global Recession and AI Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Debt Climax - James_Quinn
8.Dow Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Britain's FAKE Coronavirus Death Statistics Exposed - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Commodity Markets Crash Catastrophe Charts - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
A Simple Way to Preserve Your Wealth Amid Uncertainty - 11th Aug 20
Precious Metals Complex Impulse Move : Where Is next Resistance? - 11th Aug 20
Gold Miners Junior Stcks Buying Spree - 11th Aug 20
Has the Fed Let the Inflation Genie Out of the Bottle? - 10th Aug 20
The Strange Food Trend That’s Making Investors Rich - 10th Aug 20
Supply & Demand For Money – The End of Inflation? - 10th Aug 20
Revisiting Our Silver and Gold Predictions – Get Ready For Higher Prices - 10th Aug 20
Storm Clouds Are Gathering for a Major Stock and Commodity Markets Downturn - 10th Aug 20
A 90-Year-Old Stock Market Investment Insight That's Relevant in 2020 - 10th Aug 20
Debt and Dollar Collapse Leading to Potential Stock Market Melt-Up, - 10th Aug 20
Coronavirus: UK Parents Demand ALL Schools OPEN September, 7 Million Children Abandoned by Teachers - 9th Aug 20
Computer GPU Fans Not Spinning Quick FIX - Sticky Fans Solution - 9th Aug 20
Find the Best Speech Converter for You - 9th Aug 20
Silver Bull Market Update - 7th Aug 20
This Inflation-Adjusted Silver Chart Tells An Interesting Story - 7th Aug 20
The Great American Housing Boom Has Begun - 7th Aug 20
NATURAL GAS BEGINS UPSIDE BREAKOUT MOVE - 7th Aug 20
Know About Lotteries With The Best Odds Of Winning - 7th Aug 20
Could Gold Price Reach $7,000 by 2030? - 6th Aug 20
Bananas for All! Keep Dancing… FOMC - 6th Aug 20
How to Do Bets During This Time - 6th Aug 20
How to develop your stock trading strategy - 6th Aug 20
Stock Investors What to do if Trump Bans TikTok - 5th Aug 20
Gold Trifecta of Key Signals for Gold Mining Stocks - 5th Aug 20
ARE YOU LOVING YOUR SERVITUDE? - 5th Aug 20
Stock Market Uptrend Continues? - 4th Aug 20
The Dimensions of Covid-19: The Hong Kong Flu Redux - 4th Aug 20
High Yield Junk Bonds Are Hot Again -- Despite Warning Signs - 4th Aug 20
Gold Stocks Autumn Rally - 4th Aug 20
“Government Sachs” Is Worried About the Federal Reserve Note - 4th Aug 20
Gold Miners Still Pushing That Cart of Rocks Up Hill - 4th Aug 20
UK Government to Cancel Christmas - Crazy Covid Eid 2020! - 4th Aug 20
Covid-19 Exposes NHS Institutional Racism Against Black and Asian Staff and Patients - 4th Aug 20
How Sony Is Fueling the Computer Vision Boom - 3rd Aug 20
Computer Gaming System Rig Top Tips For 6 Years Future Proofing Build Spec - 3rd Aug 20
Cornwwall Bude Caravan Park Holidays 2020 - Look Inside Holiday Resort Caravan - 3rd Aug 20
UK Caravan Park Holidays 2020 Review - Hoseasons Cayton Bay North East England - 3rd Aug 20
Best Travel Bags for 2020 Summer Holidays , Back Sling packs, water proof, money belt and tactical - 3rd Aug 20
Precious Metals Warn Of Increased Volatility Ahead - 2nd Aug 20
The Key USDX Sign for Gold and Silver - 2nd Aug 20
Corona Crisis Will Have Lasting Impact on Gold Market - 2nd Aug 20
Gold & Silver: Two Pictures - 1st Aug 20
The Bullish Case for Stocks Isn't Over Yet - 1st Aug 20
Is Gold Price Action Warning Of Imminent Monetary Collapse - Part 2? - 1st Aug 20
Will America Accept the World's Worst Pandemic Response Government - 1st Aug 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More – Part II - 1st Aug 20
Trump White House Accelerating Toward a US Dollar Crisis - 31st Jul 20
Why US Commercial Real Estate is Set to Get Slammed - 31st Jul 20
Gold Price Blows Through Upside Resistance - The Chase Is On - 31st Jul 20
Is Crude Oil Price Setting Up for a Waterfall Decline? - 31st Jul 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More - 30th Jul 20
Why Big Money Is Already Pouring Into Edge Computing Tech Stocks - 30th Jul 20
Economic and Geopolitical Worries Fuel Gold’s Rally - 30th Jul 20
How to Finance an Investment Property - 30th Jul 20
I Hate Banks - Including Goldman Sachs - 29th Jul 20
NASDAQ Stock Market Double Top & Price Channels Suggest Pending Price Correction - 29th Jul 20
Silver Price Surge Leaves Naysayers in the Dust - 29th Jul 20
UK Supermarket Covid-19 Shop - Few Masks, Lack of Social Distancing (Tesco) - 29th Jul 20
Budgie Clipped Wings, How Long Before it Can Fly Again? - 29th Jul 20
How To Take Advantage Of Tesla's 400% Stock Surge - 29th Jul 20
Gold Makes Record High and Targets $6,000 in New Bull Cycle - 28th Jul 20
Gold Strong Signal For A Secular Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Anatomy of a Gold and Silver Precious Metals Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Shopify Is Seizing an $80 Billion Pot of Gold - 28th Jul 20
Stock Market Minor Correction Underway - 28th Jul 20
Why College Is Never Coming Back - 27th Jul 20
Stocks Disconnect from Economy, Gold Responds - 27th Jul 20
Silver Begins Big Upside Rally Attempt - 27th Jul 20
The Gold and Silver Markets Have Changed… What About You? - 27th Jul 20
Google, Apple And Amazon Are Leading A $30 Trillion Assault On Wall Street - 27th Jul 20
This Stock Market Indicator Reaches "Lowest Level in Nearly 20 Years" - 26th Jul 20
New Wave of Economic Stimulus Lifts Gold Price - 26th Jul 20
Stock Market Slow Grind Higher Above the Early June Stock Highs - 26th Jul 20
How High Will Silver Go? - 25th Jul 20
If You Own Gold, Look Out Below - 25th Jul 20
Crude Oil and Energy Sets Up Near Major Resistance – Breakdown Pending - 25th Jul 20
FREE Access to Premium Market Forecasts by Elliott Wave International - 25th Jul 20
The Promise of Silver as August Approaches: Accumulation and Conversation - 25th Jul 20
The Silver Bull Gateway is at Hand - 24th Jul 20
The Prospects of S&P 500 Above the Early June Highs - 24th Jul 20
How Silver Could Surpass Its All-Time High - 24th Jul 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

FREEDOM, Ideas Can Overthrow Regimes

Politics / Social Issues Mar 10, 2011 - 12:10 PM GMT

By: Robert_Murphy

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThe political upheaval in the Middle East underscores one of the most profound aspects of Ludwig von Mises's worldview: all governments ultimately rely on the consent of the governed.


Although the claim at first sounds preposterous — who could possibly argue that a dictatorship is subject to the will of the people? — there is an important sense in which it is true. Mises's insight has ramifications for choosing methods in the struggle for liberty, and it shows the critical importance of educating the masses in sound doctrines.

Mises on Might and Ideology

In his magnum opus, Human Action, Mises explains the connection between might and ideology:

A durable system of government must rest upon an ideology acknowledged by the majority. The "real" factor, the "real forces" that are the foundation of government and convey to the rulers the power to use violence against renitent minority groups are essentially ideological, moral, and spiritual. Rulers who failed to recognize this first principle of government and, relying upon the alleged irresistibility of their armed troops, disdained the spirit and ideas have finally been overthrown by the assault of their adversaries. The interpretation of might as a "real" factor not dependent upon ideologies, quite common to many political and historical books, is erroneous. …

He who interprets might as physical or "real" power to carry on and considers violent action as the very foundation of government, sees conditions from the narrow point of view of subordinate officers in charge of sections of an army or police force. …

However, things are different for the head of the government. He must aim at preservation of the morale of the armed forces and of the loyalty of the rest of the population. For these moral factors are the only "real" elements upon which continuance of his mastery rests. His power dwindles if the ideology that supports it loses force.

With this foundation, Mises later in the book draws a connection between governments and the approval of the masses:

[Classical] liberalism realizes that the rulers, who are always a minority, cannot lastingly remain in office if not supported by the consent of the majority of those ruled. Whatever the system of government may be, the foundation upon which it is built and rests is always the opinion of those ruled that to obey and to be loyal to this government better serves their own interests than insurrection and the establishment of another regime. The majority has the power to do away with an unpopular government and uses this power whenever it becomes convinced that its own welfare requires it.

Even Dictators Rest on Ideology

Many people scoff when they first hear Mises's claims. Surely there is a sense in which a dictator, who violently suppresses all opposition, rules through force and not consent?

Yet the actual behavior of dictators proves the deep truth in Mises's analysis. For example, the very mark of a closed, totalitarian society is that the media are all controlled by the government. Even graffiti challenging the regime is very quickly removed, far more quickly than authorities would clean up something comparable in a relatively open society. The schools serve as indoctrination camps, teaching the next generation about the virtues of the regime. Finally, the supreme ruler might spend hours every week giving long-winded speeches, not explaining how many guns and secret police agents are at his disposal, but on the contrary explaining how fortunate the people are to be taken care of by such a wise and benevolent leader.

"It is ultimately ideas that determine which way the soldiers point their guns."

These tell-tale signs of a dictatorship all reinforce Mises's observation: the regime can only last if it maintains the illusion that it is beneficial to the masses. Mere physical strength is not sufficient, because it is ultimately ideas that determine which way the soldiers and police point their guns.

We can interpret events in the Middle East through this prism. To understand why Mubarak was toppled relatively easily, in contrast to the bloodshed in Libya, we need to push the analysis deeper and ask why Mubarak lost the support of the army, whereas Gaddafi maintained loyalty on the part of a sizable number of subordinates who were willing to kill and be killed on his behalf.

As Mises explained, such an analysis of "power politics" doesn't primarily concern military statistics on troop strength. Instead, the analysis would focus on the prevailing ideologies animating both the armed forces and the general public who were rising up against the regime.

Lessons for Liberty

Looking through a Misesian lens, there are two important lessons we can draw from the turmoil in the Middle East. First, we see that it is possible to topple a hated regime without resorting to a civil war. Although American commentators are bickering over just how peaceful the Egyptian mobs were, it is undeniable that few people, even six months ago, would have predicted that Mubarak's implosion would occur so spontaneously and with such little loss of life.

The second lesson is the importance of having a sound ideology, so that the masses have a shared vision of how a free society works and what is needed to maintain it. Everyone the world over longs for freedom, and no one enjoys living under a brutal dictatorship. But if Egyptians believe that the historical success of the United States came from its periodic elections — as opposed to its relative respect for the institution of private property — then they are in for a rude awakening.

Both lessons underscore the critical importance of educating for liberty. If enough people understand freedom and withdraw their consent, an oppressive regime will topple under its own weight, as Étienne de la Boétie described so eloquently.

Yet to put something durable and superior in the old regime's place, the common man must also know more than mere slogans like "liberty" and "democracy." It's not necessary that the majority become formally trained in political science and economics, but it is necessary that "conventional wisdom" is indeed wise on such matters. Unfortunately, too many "freedom fighters" around the world seem to think the problem with oppressive governments is the specific personalities at the top, as opposed to the institutions themselves.

Conclusion

Educational institutions such as the Mises Institute (including the online Mises Academy) have always been in the business of educating for liberty, and with the Internet their outreach is truly global. If the human striving for freedom is ever to be realized, a necessary first step will be promoting a sound ideology.

Robert Murphy, an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute and a faculty member of the Mises University, runs the blog Free Advice and is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism, the Study Guide to Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market, the Human Action Study Guide, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal. Send him mail. See Robert P. Murphy's article archives. Comment on the blog.

© 2011 Copyright Ludwig von Mises - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules