Friday, August 15, 2008

Siloviki shills at the "Mises" Institute

Putin extends his occupation of Georgia. I just listened to a BBC radio reporter who observed Russians sinking captured Georgian ships in the port of Poti. (I believe this was Richard Galpin, the reporter mentioned in this article.)

Human Rights Watch has documented the Russian use of cluster bombs against civilians.

Meanwhile, the "Mises" Institute continues its defense of Putin. Variously, the "expert scholars" at LVMI have argued that the Russian invasion is 1) a neocon plot, 2) a response to an American and Israeli plot, 3) a reasonable Russian defense of the rights of Ossetian and Abkhazian self-determination, 4) a Republican plot to get McCain elected and 5), from Thomas Dilorenzo, a civil war.

("Civil war???" So Dilorenzo believes Georgia and Russia are a single country? I hardly know what to say, other than that the USSR is dead, thank God.)

Adding to the mess, the Russians now have now offered Poland the threat of a nuclear strike. After all, the anti missile defense Poland now will accept obviously is directed at Russia (are the siloviki thus confessing that they were indeed already contemplating firing missiles westward?) I wonder how long it will be before the "anti-war" "libertarians" of the LVMI condemn General Nogovitsyn's naked threat, the Russian occupation of a neighboring country, and Russian attacks on unarmed civilians. I'll not hold my breath.

Eugene Volokh has some excellent analysis of the crisis, as well as of issues of seccession. Among other things, he analyzes reasons for the seccession of America's slave states , and gives lie to the claim, oft repeated by the neocon-federates of "Mises" Institute, that it wasn't about slavery.

(Note: I didn't link to the LVMI posts, but will send some to anyone who wishes to see them.)


This is Zeke. Thanks for giving me some background on some of the folks at LvMI. As I mentioned on Tom's site, I favor the Austrian School's approach in learning economics. I am so impressed with praxeology and catallactics.

I've notice that some of the folks at LvMI have some of their writings and lectures posted on FEE and in the Freeman. I don't believe FEE and the Freeman to be in the same mindset as LvMI, are they?

The Russia-Georgia crisis is very alarming. In your profile, I understand that you lived and taught in the former USSR. I can't imagine that Boris and Natasha Public would want to go back to Stalinism or Cold War communism. However, I am under the impression that Putin is very popular among the masses. Are the Russian people longing to go back to USSR status or are they just like us, letting the government do what it wants. What gives?

Lastly, if there is only one Austrian Economic book to choose to learm from, what one would you highly recommend?

Hello Zeke, thanks for posting.

I'll reply to your questions in reverse order. And you can feel free to email me at steele_econ at, I always enjoy discussing these sorts of things.

Book: Human Action, by Mises. It's not an easy book, but an excellent one, I believe the best sngle book on economics.

Russia: First, some Russians *do* want a return to Stalin, bizarrely enough. The majority do not, I's more aong older people. But there's been an attempt to rehabiliatate Stalin's image. More importantly, Russians have a tendency to support a strong leader who will give stability, or the illusion of it. And most importantly, Russians tend to be extremely fatalistic and cynical. They are *more* likely to just let gov't do what it wants than Americans are, and to think t'that's just the way it is."

Not everyone at LVMI is crazy, but their "leading lights" seem to be. I think Robert Murphy generally writes very good stuff on macroeconomics, and Roger Garrison does as well. But generally speaking, LVMI behaves in ways that can only be seen as crazy. They persist in calling Cato "neocon" when it clearly isn't, they really do write in support of east European dictators, they attack Hayek as a socialist... I can't fathom them.

Finally, among supporters of Mises' theories, the part that generally seems least accepted is his methodology, the praxeological appraoch. But I think Mises was exactly on target with it, and what he recommends is actually what most mainstream economists do in practice w/o formally accepting it: we all know from the start that individuals "maximize" utility, goods have diminishing marginal utility, demand curves slope downwards. As one mathematical economist put it to me, "we say these are hypotheses, but they are not; they are axioms we know to be true w/o testing."

Thanks for your comment here.
Zeke: My comment about "not everyone at LVMI is crazy" refers to your Q about FEE & LVMI. In short, no, not the same mindset.
Charles, you will not be surprised: the Mises crowd and Gazprom employee Gerhard Schröder flock together:,1518,572686,00.html
Thanks Nat. As for Schröder: Ugh. He's clearly been bought by the siloviki. His comment that "Georgia and Ukraine must first resolve their domestic political problems" is remarkable, since one of their primary political problems is interference and subversion by their authoritarian anti-liberal neighbor. I was just rereading some analyses of the Orange Revolution; Putin had placed Mevedev in charge of the Russian operations to fix the election. Medvedev is Putin's puppet, contrary to what GS says.

BTW, the URL you posted didn't work, but this link does.

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