Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why I hate hardcore Austrians sometimes

Sometimes I wish to completely dissociate myself from hardcore Austrians or anarcho capitalists. They live in Utopia. They think they can just get rid of the government in one wide sweep and a spontaneous order will just emerge within society and take care of everything despite generations of individuals in society who have grown up with the unshakeable belief that the government has to take care of them come what may. I am not saying those who think government has to do all are right; however, there is no reason to be rude to those who think we have to start from how things are right now, rather than think in terms of ceteris paribus and an ideal world all the time.

These 'elite' may be extremely intelligent and have high IQs but they have no sense of ground reality. They believe that a million jobs will be created overnight and that hunger and starvation will just disappear. They do not understand that even with emergent systems things do not happen overnight and there is a time lag between mechanisms falling into place and benefits spreading out. All they want to do is theorize sitting in their comfortable couches and complain about how the government is screwing everything up. I DO NOT DENY THAT THEY SOMETIMES HAVE WONDERFUL IDEAS ABOUT HOW THINGS CAN BE MADE BETTER. What they do not realise is that if they were to preach the same truths in milder language without abusing others and sounding insensitive to the real concerns of the population a lot many more people would listen to them.

I have attended on an average two seminars a week on Austrian lines. for a whole year now. Not a single one of them has been devoid of tirade. For a conservative person like me it is difficult sitting there listening to verbal abuse. But I know these guys have interesting and truthful points to make and am willing to give them concessions. Not everyone does. I think this is why everyone dismisses the Austrians as a bunch of lunatics. From stories I have heard of Murray Rothbard to the current leading Austrians there is much verbal abuse and less progressive action, and I am embarrassed that three generations of brilliant Austrians have still been unable to make mainstream economists look up and listen to them. Menger, Mises and Hayek are still respected, I believe because they put their anger and frustration towards leading a community towards change, not by fussing and fuming and using the f word everytime the words government and macroeconomics are mentioned. The fact is both of these are here to stay and will remain as long as the other. The Austrians cannot wave a magic wand and make these disappear overnight or even in one generation. It is going to be a few generations of persistent reforms without abusive language to make them go away.

Milton Friedman brought in a revolution in just a few years. But he is also a mild mannered man who sticks a knife through your bad ideas with smiles and laughter and without you even realising that you have been struck down. I wish the Austrians would take a leaf out of this short man who has the respect of academics and commoners alike around the world.


Jason Br. said...

No, Triya, tell us how you really feel. ;) (And name names!)

Daniel J. D'Amico said...

I can't help but notice this post as an obvious response to Wednesday's workshop. I think you generally misinterpreted the debate as being fundamentally divided along Austrian and non-Austrian lines. I don't think that's an accurate portrayal of the debate which ensued. I think the dividing lines of contention are better understood to lie between economics and political science. Any economist (Austrian or not) would recognize his role in the example at hand to explain how the results came to be. But if the economist's hands are tied and all that's available to discuss is "now what policy." Then it's generally unfair to accuse the economist of not adequately responding to the question. I hope this makes sense, but perhaps we could talk about it more sometime