Monday, February 24, 2014

When the Ignorant Opine: the Case of EJ Dionne

Writing in Forbes, George Leef has analyzed EJ Dionne's Washington Post article about Austrian economics.  I logged on to Dionne's article out of morbid curiosity.   I was surprised that many people still read the Washington Post.  Given how wrong the pro-bailout media has been on so many subjects, from Viet Nam to the tech bubble of '99 to Obama's healthcare reform (no, it didn't reduce costs), the readers must be true believers who, like Dionne, voice opinions about authors they've never read and maintain religious faith in government. No matter how badly or how often the government fails, Dionne and The Washington Post will stand ready to generate lies to defend it.

Anyone who questions the "state activist liberal" religion is subject to angered attack. Hence, Dionne concocts a series of lies: Ron Paul's ideas have been adopted throughout the Republican Party,  those ideas are associated with the Republican Congress, and Austrian economics is influential within the Republican Party.  Dionne seems to be unaware that Paul lost the primary election to a Progressive, Mitt Romney. I very much doubt that more than five or six Republican congressmen can explain or have even read about Austrian ideas.  Since Dionne can't explain them and hasn't read about them either, his explanations fit the crime. An idiot Democrat attacking idiot Republicans about a subject he doesn't understand. How characteristic of Obama's dumbed-down America.

Dionne accuses the Austrians of not understanding history, but in doing so he reveals a lack of understanding of, for example, the reconstruction of Europe after World War II, which was led by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who repeatedly said that he was influenced by von Mises and the Austrians and so adopted a market-based economy for Germany rather than the socialistic one that Hitler and his National Socialist (Nazi) Party had created. (See Guenter Reimann's firsthand account of the socialistic Nazi economy, much like the American economy of the Obama years, in his book The Vampire Economy.)

The reason for Dionne's and his fellow "state activist liberals'" religious fanaticism about big government goes back to Richard T. Ely, the economist who brought the ideas of the German historical school, which contested the Austrian viewpoint of von Mises's predecessor, Carl Menger, to America.  Followers of "state activist liberalism" like Dionne are, from an historical perspective, heirs to Ely and Ely's predecessors in Germany. American liberals are mouthpieces of the German historical school economists, whose ideas were transmitted here via Ely, John R. Commons, and the Hegelian John Dewey.

The last proponent of the German historical school, Werner Sombart, became increasingly nationalistic in his socialism; his last important work was about "German socialism."  He collaborated with the Nazis and signed the letter than evicted Ludwig von Mises, a Jew, from the German Sociological Association.  Thus, there is a direct link between American state-activist liberalism and Nazism; the link affected von Mises personally.  It is not surprising that von Mises, a victim of Nazism who was forced to flee Europe, might see in his opponents' followers in America similar tendencies.

Moreover, von Mises was right.  I see little difference between the totalitarianism that evolved in Germany between 1880 and 1930 and the evolution of Progressivism toward totalitarianism here.   The willingness of propagandists like EJ Dionne to concoct lies about Austrian economists whom he has not read is very much like the propaganda that appeared in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

The great public choice theorist Mancur Olson outlines in his Rise and Decline of Nations how the destruction of economic special interest groups, the destruction of the infrastructure of big government, led to the economic growth in postwar Germany and Japan.  The public choice debate does not trouble Dionne, who is unread on many subjects, so he blithely and ignorantly attributes the recovery in Europe to government spending.  Such explanations fly when a totalitarian state is supported by a collaborative media that serves as a mouthpiece to gangsters like Obama.