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Did Carl Menger Start WWI?

June 28, 2014 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

English: The arrest of Gavrilo Princip. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI this unlikeliest of antidotes comes to us from Forbes and Mark Hendrickson.

As we mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, and the eventual start of World War I later this summer, it is fascinating the way individuals affect history and history affects individuals.

Anecdote #1:

Here’s one that I doubt you’ve heard before: The founder of the Austrian school of economics, Carl Menger (1840-1921), might have altered the course of events in a way that made possible the double assassination in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. Let me explain:

Franz Ferdinand might not have been the heir to the Hapsburg Empire in 1914 if his cousin, Crown Prince Rudolf, had lived to be 65. However, Rudolf had committed suicide at the age of 40 a quarter-century earlier. The reason for that suicide has been the subject of speculation ever since, and the Wikipedia entry on Rudolf lists 14 productions in film and theatre that have included Rudolf as a character. The most widely accepted explanation is that Rudolf was depressed because his father was insisting that the crown prince, who was married, end his relationship with a younger woman. However, there might have been another major cause for Rudolf’s depression.

I heard this from my mentor, the late Hans Sennholz, who in turn had heard it from his mentor, Ludwig von Mises, another Austrian economist whose lifespan overlapped Menger’s by nearly four decades, although whether Mises heard this directly from Menger or from their mutual colleague, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk or a third party, I know not. The Emperor Franz Joseph I had appointed the brilliant Menger to be the crown prince’s private tutor/mentor accompanying Rudolf on extended travels across Europe. Menger was a visionary genius who foresaw a period of revolutions and wars that would involve the disintegration of the existing order. Understandably, Menger’s predictions depressed Rudolf, and perhaps contributed to his decision to end his life prematurely so as to avoid the approaching cataclysm that we know as World War I.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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June 28 A Century Ago

June 28, 2014 in Economics

By Hunt Tooley

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Franz Ferdinand was a difficult person in many ways. Dark. Angry at times. He became heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary when his cousin, Rudolf (whose tutor was the father of the Austrian School of Economics, Carl Menger) died in an apparent murder-suicide with his young mistress in 1889. The death of Rudolf was only one of many tragedies in the Habsburg family in the two generations leading up to World War I. Besides the cases of consecutive heirs to the throne, Franz Josef’s glamorous wife, Elisabeth, died at the hands of an assassin in 1898. There was also the rancor over Franz Ferdinand’s marriage in 1900 to Sophie Chotek, whose prestigious pedigree was not quite prestigious enough for the House of Habsburg. The two married in 1900, but only on the condition that Sophie not appear as Franz Ferdinand’s consort on occasions when he was appearing in the capacity of heir to the throne. She would not receive the title of Empress, and any son would not be eligible to succeed to the throne.

This is to say, Franz Ferdinand was facing somewhat more than normal family pressures. Political issues also lay heavy on his mind. To his thinking the transformation that had given Hungary autonomy within the Empire in 1867 had allowed the Hungarians to impose “magyarization” on the nationalities who came under their control–in effect nationalizing the minorities in the way that the Russians were “russianizing” their minorities. In an Empire which had grown by marriage alliances and had kept strong by means of negotiation and compromise, the 1867 compromise represented permission to introduce a new tone of bitterness into politics. Franz Ferdinand advocated peace with the bothersome southern neighbor Serbia, in part because he needed to have the cooperation of all Habsburg Slavs. He hoped to revamp the Empire from a Dual Monarchy into a Monarchy presiding over a federation of regions, and the various Slavic nationalities were crucial in overwhelming the Hungarians.

So he had enough on his mind to appear dark and angry. At times, he was capable of charm—for example in the center of his family or when he was with friends and close aides.

As Inspector-General of the Habsburg Army, Franz Ferdinand must have found the occasion of visiting Sarajevo, in recently annexed Slavic Bosnia, a special moment. Not only could he confer special attention on the picturesque capital with a parade and a visit …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Human Action in Swedish

June 28, 2014 in Economics

By Per Bylund

As we noted a couple of months ago (here and here), the Swedish Mises Institute (officially the Ludwig von Mises-institutet i Sverige) were organized a crowd funding campaign to finance the translation and subsequent publication of Mises’s magnum opus Human Action in Swedish. They eventually reached (exceeded, actually) their goal of SEK 60,000 (almost $9,000) and are now working on getting the translation done, proofed, and then published. If all goes well, they hope to have the book available already in the fall – at least in a digital format. (This, of course, would require quite a bit of human action.)

Those of you who read Swedish or wish to learn – and this is obviously a great opportunity for Misesians in e.g. Minnesota and Wisconsin with Swedish or Scandinavian ancestry - may want to consider investing in a copy or two of the final product. Keep an eye on the Mises.se site for updates on how this project progresses. Find the post We Made It! here in English translation.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Unintended Consequences of World War I

June 28, 2014 in Economics

A hundred years ago this weekend, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated, triggering World War I and changing the course of the 20th century. And while the devastation of World War I was itself terrible, a recent article from Jim Powell argues that the American entry into World War I was substantially responsible for the unintended consequences that next played out in Germany and Russia, contributing to the rise of totalitarian regimes and another world war.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES