The Mises Institute was founded as a research center based on classically liberal ideas that have always been below fire: the ideas associated with Mises and the tradition of thought he represents.
That means a focus on the Austrian College of economics, and, within political philosophy, individual liberty and the need to prevent the Condition and its interests from crushing it, as all Claims everywhere are inclined to do.
The first priority of such an institute is to keep a body of suggestions alive. Great ideas do not have inherent life of their own, specifically not those that are opposed by the powers that end up being. They must circulate and be a part of the academic and public mind in order to avoid extinction.
And yet we must get around rather than merely keep a entire body of thought alive. We don’t just want our ideas to live; we want them to grow and develop, improve within the culture and public debate, become a force to be reckoned with among intellectuals, be constantly employed towards the end of explaining background and current reality, and eventually win in the great ideological battles of our times.
What is the best means of achieving such victory? This can be a subject that is rarely talked about on the free-market right. Murray Rothbard pointed out that strategy is a huge part of the scholarship of the left. Once having settled around the doctrine, the left functions very hard at honing the message and finding ways to push it. This is a major explanation for the left’s success.
Our aspect, on the other hand, doesn’t discuss this subject much.
But since some sort of technique is unavoidable, let me simply list a few tactics which i do not believe work. These, I’m quite sure, will fail for various factors:
Faced with the amazing odds against success, there exists a tendency among believers in liberty to despair and locate solace in being close to their friends and talking only to each other.
This is understandable, naturally , even fruitful at times, however it is also irresponsible and instead selfish. Yes, we may often be a minority, but we are always either growing or shrinking.
If we shrink enough, all of us disappear. If we grow enough, we win. That is why we have to never give up the fight for young minds and for changing older minds. Our message has tremendous informative power. We must never conceal our light under a bushel.
One mark of the liberal tradition is its intellectual rigor. It contains more than enough intellectual substance to take up the academic mind for many lifetimes. There is a tendency, then, to believe that retreating straight into academia and eschewing public life is the correct path.
The idea is that we should just use our knowledge to pen log articles and otherwise stick to ourselves, in the hopes that someday this path will pay off in terms of academic respectability.
Yet this has not been the way of brilliant minds through Turgot and Jefferson, Bastiat and Constant, Mises and Hayek, Rothbard and the adjunct scholars of the Mises Institute. They are all engaged at some degree in public debate.
They believed so much is at stake to retreat solely to personal study. We cannot afford that luxury.
Holding Chairs in the Ivy League
We’ve seen this related mistake take a real toll upon otherwise good minds. A young person can start out with real commitments, but he might fear the marginalization that is included with holding unpopular ideas.
He attempts to pass himself off as a conventional scholar, while sneaking in libertarian thoughts on the way.
He may intend to reveal his real colors eventually, but then you can find the demands of tenure and promotion, and social pressures to boot. Eventually, in a nutshell, he comes to sell out.
Convincing the Politicians
Another type of problem stems from the belief that political arranging is the answer.
But this can just lead to despondency, as work after effort fails to yield fruit. Despite what you listen to, the political class is not interested in ideas for their own sake.
They are interested in subsidizing their friends, protecting their territory, and getting reelected.
Political ideology on their behalf is, at best, a hobby. It is only useful insofar because it provides a cover for what they would do otherwise. I am just generalizing here, and indeed, exceptions are possible. Actually I can think of one within our century: Ron Paul.
Placing High Profile Content articles
I know think-tank people who would do just about anything to get in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal .
This is a snare and misconception. Once you put a priority around the medium over the message— and this is inevitable once you start to think this way— you happen to be forgetting why you got with this business to begin with.
If these sites come to you and ask you to offer an opinion you hold, by all means do so. But that is not the way it works.
Getting on TELEVISION
The same applies here. I know people who were once dedicated to the concepts of liberty who created a hankering for press attention, and eventually forgot exactly why they got into the ideas business in the first place.
Starting More Think Tanks
I know this particular sounds silly but some people on our side of the fence believe that the more nonprofit organizations there are, the much more likely we are to win the particular battle of ideas.
To me, this particular amounts to confusing the success that franchising represents in the commercial marketplace with ideological success, which is not guaranteed by the proliferation of internet sites and institutes.
Indeed, ideology is not solely a commercial enterprise.
We are a nonprofit research institute for a reason.
What we do pays huge returns for world but not in the form of accounting income.
Our own reward comes in other ways.
Building an Immense Endowment and Hiring a Large Staff
Funding and staff alone will solve nothing. Funding is vital and heaven knows the particular Mises Institute needs associated with it.
Staffing is great, so long as the individuals are dedicated and qualified.
But neither is an end in by itself. The crucial question is whether the particular passion for ideas is there, not just the financial means.
Incredible things are possible on small budgets, as I think the success of the Mises Institute shows.
Wait for the Collapse
We know that socialism and interventionism cannot work. We know they will fail, and we suspect that they may finally fail in a catastrophic manner.
This may be true, but we have been mistaken if we believe that the particular ideas of liberty will emerge in such a setting.
Crisis can present opportunities but simply no guarantees.
Obtaining errors such as these is easy, and am could list a dozen a lot more. Let me offer a few points I think we should remember.
Our ideas are usually unpopular. We are in the minority. Our views are not accepted by the regime.
They often fall within the deaf ears of an indifferent public. Big newspapers can not often care what we believe.
In fact , they want to keep us from their pages. Politicians will usually find us impractical best case scenario, and threatening at worst.
In short, we all fight an uphill fight. We must recognize this at the outset.
We have been what Albert Jay Nock called the remnant, a small band of brothers who have special knowledge of theory and background, and a concern for the well-being of civilization.
What we do with this knowledge and concern is up to us. We can retreat or even sell out, or we can use it as our battle cry and go forward through background to face the enemy.
Let me offer just a quick outline of several principles I use:
Educate Every Student
Engage everyone who may be interested in what we do. Certainly not neglect anyone. One by no means knows where the next Mises or Rothbard or Hayek or Hazlitt is going to come from.
Encourage Proliferation of Talents
Some people are great writers. Others are great teachers. Still other people have a talent for analysis.
There are other abilities too, like speaking in public and technological competence.
It takes all these abilities to make up the great freedom movement of our time.
There is no need to insist on a single design; rather, we should make use of the department of labor.
Use Every Medium
Use everything we are able to to advance our ideas, through the smallest newsletter to the biggest Website.
Never believe that a medium is beneath you, or above you. We must maintain the academic journals and must be in the pages from the local newspaper.
Along these outlines, the Web has solved the problem we faced throughout history, namely finding a medium to communicate our suggestions in a way that makes them available to everybody who is interested.
But it never happens automatically.
It takes tremendous effort and creativeness to bring about change.
Adhere to What is True
This means staying away from fancy ways of pitching your opinions in keeping with current trends. It’s fine to be attentive to product sales techniques. But never let this concern swamp your own message.
State What Is True
Never underestimate the power associated with just stating things plainly and openly. Whatever the subject, the ideas of freedom have something to add which is missing from public controversy. It is our job in making that addition.
Don’t Neglect Academia
Yes, colleges and universities are usually corrupt. But they are in which the ideas that rule civilization come from. We must not neglect them.
We must publish journals, sponsor colloquia, help faculty and students.
Never let academia think it has the luxury of failing to remember about our ideas.
This is why the Mises Institute holds workshops for professors and college students, as well as financial professionals plus interested people of every sort.
Don’t Neglect Popular Culture
Yes, popular culture is usually corrupt, but not entirely.
We must not really neglect it because it includes a huge impact on the way individuals see themselves and learn about their world.
Use Your Minority Status to Your Own Benefit
There is no sense in duplicating what others already do. If you publish, publish some thing radical and surprising.
If you produce a book, make it a book that will modify people’s minds.
If you hold a seminar, say things that are worth saying. Never dread the unconventional.
It is possible to be standard in form and radical in content.
Remember that Influence Can Be Indirect
The effect associated with ideas on a civilization is similar to waves on water. By the time they reach the coast, no one remembers or knows for sure where they came from. Our job is to go through the task. We should use each means at our fingertips to get the ideas out there; what happens after that is as unpredictable since the future always is.
Success Can Take Numerous Forms
I am often asked how we can think we are succeeding even as the government keeps growing.
To me, this positions no great quandary.
All government authorities want total control.
What stops them, primarily, is ideological opposition.
Without it, the government might grow much quicker and world would be doomed in short order.
To what level has the circulation of the suggestions of liberty slowed down the growth of the State? How much worse off might all of us be?
Change Can Happen quickly
The ideological foundations of statism weaken in ways which are not always detectable.
Change can happen right away, after which all becomes crystal clear in retrospect.
If you had informed the average Russian in 85 that in five years, the Soviet Union would be defunct, you would have been dismissed as a madman.
It’s my opinion that will statism in America may have operate its course. We should just about all do our best to speed up the process.
In the history of warfare, there have been armies that are ruled from the center and emphasize exercises, lines, and discipline.
They tend to deal with their soldiers as expendable. They can win but in a huge price.
The other model is guerrilla warfare, usually undertaken with the underdog in the battle.
Guerrilla armies usually consist of volunteers; every single soldier is considered valuable.
Their tactics are unpredictable.
They are not ruled by center but rather exploit the particular creativity of each member.
Such soldires have proven remarkably efficient in the history of warfare.
I believe that the guerrilla model is what fits us best— a strategy of ideological guerrilla warfare conducted by the remnant.
This is no ensure of success but it is the best guarantee against failure that I know.
Our journals circulate such as never before, in academia and public culture.
Our books have changed history within so many ways. The key to the success, I believe, is that the Mises Institute is all about being attached with principle and truth before anything else.
Coming from never traded short-term attention for building for the long term.
Mises failed to either, and he paid an individual price. But his suggestions are changing the world.
We must most follow his lead, never giving in, never giving up, fighting for truth until our last breath.
We have the particular passion and energy. Above all, we have truth on our side. In my opinion we can have the victory.