Course on Human Action starts tomorrow!!!

Starting Tomorrow:

Human Action, Part 1

Instructor: David Gordon
Cost: $79 (50% off!)
Dates: September 12 – November 6, 2012
Length: Eight weeks

Register Now!

It is perhaps the most important and profound book ever written. Yet how many, in their attempts to read it, have been stopped in their tracks by Part I? In those 7 chapters, Mises lays out the philosophical underpinnings of economics and social philosophy. So they are crucial for understanding the rest of the treatise. Yet, for the reader not versed in philosophy, the technical terminology and references can be daunting.

In this course, David Gordon will clearly explain everything you need to know to make sense of the concepts presented in these chapters. He will define the terms, provide background for the references, and make clear exactly what it is that Mises is saying in these passages.

If this classic has been sitting on your shelf or in your Kindle, just waiting for you to tackle it, there is no better way to start than with this course, which will be followed by subsequent courses taught by Mises Academy faculty, covering the rest of Human Action.

Lectures

The video lectures are online. Lectures will be Wednesday evenings, 6:30-8:00 pm Eastern time. They will be recorded and made available for enrolled students to download.

Reading:

All readings will be free and online. A full hyper-linked syllabus with readings for each weekly topic will be available for all students.

Grades and Certificates

The final grade will depend on quizzes. Taking the course for a grade is optional. This course is worth 3 credits in our own internal system. Feel free to ask your school to accept Mises Academy credits. You will receive a digital Certificate of Completion for this course if you take it for a grade, and a Certificate of Participation if you take it on a paid-audit basis.

Refund Policy

If you drop the course during its first week (7 calendar days), you will receive a full refund, minus a $25 processing fee. If you drop the course during its second week, you will receive a half refund. No refunds will be granted following the second week.

Register Now!

About David Gordon

David Gordon is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He was educated at UCLA, where he earned his PhD in intellectual history. He is the author ofResurrecting Marx: The Analytical Marxists on Exploitation, Freedom, and JusticeThe Philosophical Origins of Austrian EconomicsAn Introduction to Economic Reasoning, and Critics of Marx. He is also editor of Secession, State, and Liberty and co-editor of H.B. Acton’s Morals of Markets and Other Essays.

Dr. Gordon is the editor of The Mises Review, and a contributor to such journals as AnalysisThe International Philosophic Quarterly,The Journal of Libertarian Studies, and The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.

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Recommended Articles: Business, Economic and Financial History

List of selected articles that I read last week that may be of your interest:

  1. Super-cycles of commodity prices since the mid-ninteenth century. Bilge Erten
  2. Against Liberty: Adorno, Levinas and the Pathologies of Freedom. Nelson, Eric S.
  3. Lords of Uhuru: the political economy of elite competition and institutional change in post-independence Kenya. Bedasso, Biniam
  4. The Euro crisis: a historical perspective. Mourlon-Druol, Emmanuel
  5. Economics and ethics: a historical approach. Ciani Scarnicci, Manuela

On the fallacies of an Emerging Global Left

Socialism is unrealizable as an economic system because a socialist society would not have any possibility of resorting to economic calculation. This is why it cannot be considered as a system of society’s economic organization. It is a means to disintegrate social cooperation and to bring about poverty and chaos.” Ludwig von MisesMoney, Method, and the Market Process.

Recently, an article from the blog Poverty Matters (supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) authored by Jayati Ghosh in the Guardian elaborates on how a new global left is emerging as a result of a transcendance of the traditional socialist paradigm.  Ghosh explains that this new global left has is currently transcending the traditional socialist emphasis on “centralised government control over an undifferentiated mass of workers, to incorporate more explicit emphasis on the rights and concerns of women, ethnic minorities, tribal communities and other marginalised groups, as well as recognition of ecological constraints and the social necessity of respecting nature.”  This transcendance is occurring via what Ghosh considers to be seven common threads that are not new but a result of a “collective failure of memory”.

These threads are:

  1. An attitude to what constitutes democracy,
  2. the rejection of overcentralisation,
  3. a more complex approach to property rights,
  4. a discourse in the language of “rights”,
  5. a realization that addressing issues only in class terms is not sufficient,
  6. a emphasis on gender as a a cause for addressing issues,
  7. an emphasis on environmental conservation, the protection of ecosystems, biodiversity and the integrity of a country’s genetic assets.

I wonder what Ghosh considered to be the traditional socialist paradigma.  Socialism and the ideas behind this socioeconomic system of collective ownership of the means of production is very diverse and it is incorrect and inaccurate to speak of a single socialist paradigm.  More so, what seems a New emergence of the left is in fact not occurring anywhere in the world.

Collectivism (inaccurately generalized as “the left”) in its many names and shapes continues developing itself within the same framework of ideas that have been used for centuries. While the historical context has changed the principles continue being the same.  As such, the thread number 1 which seems for Ghosh as a new attitude toward democracy is the result of the failure of the previous collectivist governments that have ruled the world.  There is no real change in the attitude toward democracy since collectivist ideas consider democracy as a means to the value they aim to achieve: collective power over the collective.  The only way of having a new attitude toward democracy would be in fact to reject it as a mean to achieve any end successfully.  This of course is not happening anywhere in the collectivist groups of the world.

As well, the point number two of overcentralisation is false since collectivism is a centralized system of organization in which at the end of the day the sole power over everything resides in the collective government.  The only change is not of how centralization happens but on how many people are to be managing that collective government (the Party, elites, corporations, oligarchies, et al).

Point number three and four have nothing new and are the same exact approaches that collectivism has had since it origin in regard to property and rights.  Collectivist philosophies consider all in essence the private ownership of the means of production to be evil, static in nature and inefficient to satisfy the needs of humanity. Its approach to rights is rooted on the principle that the only important rights are those of the collective and thus reject the individual rights of its members.

Points five, six and seven have also not changed in the collectivist mindset since they are rooted in the principles of class struggle that have only continued the trend of understanding society as a competing/destructive system based on gender, race, culture, religion, etc.  The principle continues the same: The so called  tension or antagonism continues to exists in their interpretation of society due to competing socioeconomic interests between people.

By definition, the only way in which any real change, evolution or overcoming of a collectivist philosophy in the globe will arise when the discourse starts by rejecting the philosophical principles in which they are rooted.  As such, unless they understand how and why the collectivist philosophy is full of fallacious principles that have caused death and poverty for centuries, there is nothing that will change.  There is no emergence of a new left, there is no resurgence of collectivism and the dialectics of historical materialism continue existing in the core of all collectivist philosophies.  It will be only until intellectuals have the common-sense and moral courage to question their philosophies of life that we may seem an end to centuries of collectivist failed projects of organizing society.  Until that day what we will continue seeing is the same social system that has destroyed the best within man for ages.

Travel Diary: Prices, Unions and Freedom in one of the richest countries of the World

Prices in a capitalist economy reflect the relative scarcity of a good or service as well as the amount and intensity of consumer demand. Free-market prices are the only viable means of rational economic calculation. If a good or service becomes in shorter supply, for whatever reason, its price will rise, all other things being equal. The higher price will give consumers the proper incentive to do what is needed whenever anything becomes scarcer: conserve, or cut back on consumption. DiLorenzo in “How Capitalism Saved America

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Oslo Objectivist Conference 2012 in Oslo, Norway in which I enjoyed a weekend of Philosophy, Objectivity and a celebration of Individual Rights.  On Monday before returning to my base in Leipzig, I decided to spend the day enjoying the parks and streets of the city (one of my favorites) and during lunch I went to eat buffalo wings in front of the City Hall Park.

That noon I was reading the last pages of the book “How Capitalism Saved America” by Thomas DiLorenzo and was writing extensive notes in my notebook criticizing many of his arguments in favor of capitalism due to lack of consistency and integration.  Leaving those morality issues aside, I was very interested in his historical explanation on the role that Unions (and privileged groups of interest) have had in destroying the foundations (principles) of capitalism in the United States since the foundation of the country.  Curiously, that same day the Farmers Union of Norway gathered in front of the park to do a countrywide protest (news).

As DiLorenzo writes, Unions have claimed for decades to be representatives of the “interests” of society, workers, middle class, proletarians and et. al. However, it has been actually only in the interests of the Union’s leadership and their pursuit of cronyism that they have actually worked by being concerned only in “their own membership rolls and dues revenues”. Examples from the Unions intervention in the destruction of the most successful industries of the  United States are explained by DiLorenzo’s book.

On Monday, the disgruntled Norwegian farmers decided to take the streets against the recent decisions of the government in April, 2012 to subsidy of Agriculture by granting only 625 million Norwegian Kroner instead of the 2.2 billion they asked.  The Norwegian Farmers’ Union (NFU) decided to take their trucks and cows and occupy the doors of the City Hall in Oslo; in other cities and towns the mayors were even kidnapped by the unionists.

This protest arise after the Parliament decided that that food prices should rise 20 percent in the next 20 years in line with expected population growth, providing sufficient income to both achieve this and ensure continued recruitment to farming (this reminds me of Hayek’s ideas on the Fatal Conceit). The NFU doesn’t agree.  They consider that the average annual incomes are under 300,000 kroner per man-labour year, whilst it is 469,000 on average in other sectors.  They also claim to represent the “interests” of 100,000 jobs in agriculture and food industry and not only to be seeking for more money for farmers (yeah, right).

Norway is one of the richest countries in the world and its society lives in very comfortable conditions.  The Leviathan in government charges immense amounts of taxes and inflation is incredible.  Just to illustrate the size of Leviathan: The buffalo wings and a beer cost me the high price of 250 krone (aprox. 33 euro or US$41.00 in T.G.I. Friday’s) That same meal would have cost me much less if bought in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world .

How can they afford it? The population earns artificial higher incomes due to the government interventions in the economy and disrupts the economy of the country.  How did the country reached such a condition can only be understood by taking a close and detailed attention to the role interventionism has in a country’s economy.  The effect: high prices, unstoppable high taxes and widespread limitation of liberties behind the power that Unions, groups of interests, politicians and bureacrats have had in the economy for decades.

Slowly but consistently, the Unions and crony capitalists in the bureaucracy of the Norwegian country have made it impossible to be free to exchange products in the country without any type of government intervention.  While Norwegians seem to be free, their daily lives are unconsciously been managed and controlled by a gigantic government that regulated every instant of their lives.

As DiLorenzo described, “Ludwig von Mises initially explained back in the 50s in this theory of government interventionism: one intervention (such as subsidies for railroads) leads to market distortions, which create problems for which the public “demands” solutions. Government responds with even more interventions, usually in the form of more regulation of business activities, which cause even more problems, which lead to more intervention, and on and on. The end result is that free-market capitalism is more and more heavily stifled by regulation. And on top of that, usually the free market, not government intervention, gets the blame.”

I would love to go back to Oslo and if possibilities arise to settle and live there for a couple years. I wish that my passion for buffalo wings will bring me to experience a story to write about and meditate again.  As for now, I return to write about Capitalism while sitting in a desk in Leipzig, Germany.

Review of Austrian Economics—The Full Collection! (e-book format)

Review of Austrian Economics, Full Collection - Digital Book

This are great news for those of you interested in reading and learning more of the ideas that enabled a revolutionary development of new understandings on Economics and Human Action.

Murray Rothbard had long dreamed of an Austrian academic journal. In 1986, his dream came true. The Mises Institute published it, and it changed everything. Now they can be conveniently read on your digital device!

The individual issues have been nearly impossible to find, until now. Today you can own the entire set, learn from the pioneering articles that Murray and his co-editors saw as crucial, and see what gave the modern Austrian movement its scholarly momentum.”

GET THEM HERE

Interview: How Procter and Gamble Learned To Love YouTube

“Action is purposive conduct. It is not simply behavior, but behavior begot by judgments of value, aiming at a definite end and guided by ideas concerning the suitability or unsuitability of definite means. . . . It is conscious behavior. It is choosing. It is volition; it is a display of the will.” Ludwig von Mises

As a former employee of P&G I am always proud to learn from the future of one of the greatest companies on Earth.  P&G provides with hundreds of consumer goods to millions of human beings at competitive and wonderful prices.  Indeed, companies like P&G are the result of team working leaders who create a better future by giving irreplaceable experiences to its consumers.  In the following video, Melanie Healey (P&G Group President, North America) and Filippo Passerini (Group President, CIO, P&G) explain how success is about networked technology, big data analytics and 1-to-1 marketing.

As Passerini asserts, what we need right now is “business people that have passion for technology but (who don’t forget) that they are businesspeople”. Further, Healey elaborates on how global channels are currently working in global scale.  As Healy explains, they create plans that “deliver strategies faster, cheaper and better” in order to create business plans in order to fulfill the business needs.

Indeed, in a globalized world opportunities appear logarithmically while strengths are developed by giving always an added value for consumers.  Indeed, as philosophers like Ayn Rand and economist Ludwig von Mises so wonderfully elaborated as it is the philosophy of the entrepreneur what allows him to pursue successful projects.  What gives the entrepreneur the ability to succeed are market signals, which are necessary to determine what people might want and how well it was provided. Even the smartest person can’t learn if a teacher uses black chalk on a blackboard in a dark room. No entrepreneur can succeed in isolation.

Entrepreneurs and successful men with values like them are what we need in the world! People ready to create something better and work hard!

On how Islam violates individual rights

Wealth is produced for the purpose of creating a monetary profit (a moral value) that will enable a man to pursue other values.  The process of creating wealth is the result of a man’s reason put in practice.  This process of acting requires that man be free in order to pursue his rational and objective values and to make use of them as he pleases.  The previous process I have mentioned is much more complex to understand and requires pages of explanation. For anyone interested in learning how man’s mind works I recommend you to check the writings of Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand as a starting point.

There are many philosophies of life and religions that are in opposition to individual freedom because of the religious dogma from which they are rooted.  These people’s philosophies and religions have codes of values that deny an individual’s right to their life and the pursue of their happiness.  Religions are anti-life since they proclaim rules believed by faith that require man to suffer, sacrifice and do irrational actions in the aim of fulfilling their dogma. The religion that strikes me the most is Islam because it is not only a religious creed but also a political mean of organizing human life through the Sharia and Fiqh.

Ellaborating on how Islam is anti-life would take also dozens of pages with explanations and examples of how it does so.  A great reference to start learning is the book “Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism” which clear examples on how Islam and the practice of Sharia and the Fiqh violate individual rights, disincentive man’s creativity to pursue happiness and create wealth. Also, I recommend you to check the following blog post “Islam Violates our human rights” which enumerates very shortly and clearly good examples of violations done by Islamics,

  • Violation of Article 23 (1) and 26 (1) of the UDHR Article 23 (1) of theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Article 26 (1) states: Everyone has the right to education.

But in Afghanistan, a muslim country, girls are not allowed education. Girls schools are banned and those caught running these schools, can be punished by law.

This continued for about 5 years, during the reign of the Taliban, the oppressive Islamic extremists, who were finally eliminated by theAmericans. (Thank you, America)

  • Violation of Article 19 of the UDHR Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other muslim countries do not allow freedom of speech, regarding criticism on Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. This has taken the shape of a Blasphemy Law, where any person who speaks negatively about Mohammed, can be given death sentence or life imprisonment and/or fine.

An example of this is the recent death sentence given to Dr. Younus Shiekh for correctly pointing out that the Prophet Mohammed did not become Muslim until the age of 40 (which was when he received his first revelation) and that his parents were non-Muslims (as they died before Islam was proposed by the Prophet).

  • Violation of Article 18 of the UDHR Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

But the Quran says that:

Any religion except Islam will not be accepted

Quran 3.85 : If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost.

This is also mentioned in Violation 5, where those who dont believe in Allah, will be tortured severely.

  • In Iran, and Afghanistan, brutal punishments are give for extra-marital sex. Stoning to death was ordered by Mohammed, and is still used in Iran. This is a very cruel brutal punishment and its only aim is to inflict maximum pain on the individual. Muslims in Afghanistan and Iran can be flogged for consuming alcohol, slandering or for adultery while they are not married.

Flogging is ordered by the Quran:

And those who accuse free women and bring not for witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes.”59 For the adulterer, God says :”The adulteress and the adulterer, flog each of them with a hundred stripes.” 60 s

These punishments are condemned by the International Community

Islam also orders cutting of hands and feet :

Quran 5.38 As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power.

Read here the complete post on how Islam violates rights…