I love retelling the story of running into two socialists from Hanover. It was in a bar in Garmisch in February of 2003, after I had raced 50 kilometers in an cross country ski event up in Oberammergau. I was enjoying several tall, cold, wheat beers and had just returned to the bar for another round. I ordered several more beers for myself and my fellow Americans, and apparently my accent gave me away.
Being from Wisconsin, I am often mistaken for a Canadian. There were two mid-twenty aged guys at the bar next to me and after I put my order in, one of them asked me if I was Canadian. I said, “no, I am an American.” They both raised their eyebrows and it was game on..
The beers appeared and one of my buddies took all but mine and I stayed at the bar to chat with these two, learning they were from Hanover. The two were clearly politically minded as they immediately asked me if I was happy with “your cowboy President.” I told them then that I believed George W. Bush was a step in the right direction following Bill Clinton (of course, this was after we attacked Afghanistan but before invading Iraq-which I initially supported-in what is now clearly an evangelical’s war of self-sacrifice, in my humble view) . They both said they liked Bill Clinton much more. Well, one thing led to another and I asked them about their country, to which they began extolling the virtues of socialism (far more prevalent in the north of Germany than down in Bavaria). I then asked them why, and they said they were big fans of Marx. I told them I found this incredible, given that we were sitting in a bar at the foothills of the Alps on the border with Austria, home of the man who almost singlehandidly destroyed Marx.
Both looked at me with utter confusion on their faces. Who, they asked, was I talking about. I said, “surely you have read and studied Von Mises?” Neither one had ever heard of the man, let alone read any of his works. I was stunned, and began to articulate only a few of his ideas. I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the following:
Please read this book – Socialism, by Ludwig Von Mises. It will clear up everything for you and help you immensely.
Well, we debated a bit more at the bar and I turned and joined my fellow ski racing buddies to recount my amazement. To this day I am still stunned that two kids from Germany do not know of Von Mises and his demolishment of socialism and Marxist ideology.
Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
by Ludwig von Mises
This masterwork is much more than a refutation of the economics of socialism (although on that front, nothing else compares). It is also a critique of the entire intellectual apparatus that accompanies the socialist idea, including the implicit religious doctrines behind Western socialist thinking, a cultural critique of socialist teaching on sex and marriage, an refutation of syndicalism and corporatism, an examination of the implications of radical human inequality, an attack on war socialism, and refutation of collectivist methodology.
In short, Mises set out to refute socialism, and instead pulled up the socialist mentality from its very roots. For that reason, Socialism led dozens of famous intellectuals, including a young F.A. Hayek, into a crisis of faith and a realist/libertarian political orientation. All the collectivist literature combined cannot equal the intellectual achievement of this one volume.