12/16/2019

Wasserman’s Twisted Tale About the Austrian School of Economics

"In Professor Wasserman’s tale, Rothbard has used Austrian Economics as a tool to advance his anarchistic political agenda. He has fostered an “alt-right” movement of racists and bigots, or at the least made room for “a small faction of Alt-Right extremists” who pledge “fealty to Mises, Rothbard, and Austrian ideas. . .” (p. 272). What Professor Wasserman has touched upon is part of a division in the modern Austrian School, one that has generated a great deal of tension and heated words for a good number of years.

First of all, personal and theoretical and policy conflicts have existed in the Austrian School practically from the beginning. This was certainly the case of Menger, Böhm-Bawerk and Wieser. In the interwar period, it centered around Mises and Hans Mayer, who had been Wieser’s protégé and replaced Wieser at the University of Vienna when the Wieser retired in the mid-1920s. Mises and Mayer were rivals for leadership of the Austrian School and ended up in political conflict. When Austria was annexed into the German Reich in March 1938, Hans Mayer actively collaborated with the Nazi authorities and expelled all Jewish members from the Austrian Economics Society (including Mises), and publicly spoke on the need for Austrian Economics to serve the new order of National Socialism. Many of the other Austrians who had gone into exile from their native land permanently viewed Mayer as an intellectual as well as a political traitor."