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In Human Action, Mises explains complex market phenomena as ‘the outcomes of countless conscious, purposive actions, choices, and preferences of individuals, each of whom was trying as best as he or she could under the circumstances to attain various wants and ends and to avoid undesired consequences,’ according to Bettina Bien Greaves in her foreword to this volume. These individual choices are the ultimate regulators of the market, determining supply and demand, prices, and, in the end, profit and loss. Although governments can attempt to set prices, individual actions will have the final say through competitive bids for money and products and services. Thus, Mises presents economics as part of a larger science of human action, one that has discovered regularity in the sequence and interdependence of market phenomena.
Mises defends this science against methodological criticisms from those in ‘hard’ sciences and ideological criticisms from proponents of Marxism and socialism. He asserts the tremendous progress in technology and the consequent increase in wealth and general welfare in the last two centuries are the direct result of liberal policies based on free market economic teachings. In addition, Mises explains the futility and counter-productiveness of government attempts to equalize all people’s circumstances.
A complex and challenging work, Human Action is a masterpiece of economic thinking, and this edition is truly the best available.
1947, 2007, Published by Liberty Fund Inc, ISBN 978-0-86597-630-6, 1,128pp, HB
Bureaucracy by Ludwig von Mises