Two of my recent posts were about Ludwig von Mises and Walter Grinder. Walter knew Mises toward the end of Mises's life, and he sent me a short e-mail reminiscing about taking afternoon tea in Mises's apartment, with Walter's wife and Margit von Mises. Walter wrote, "It was pure heaven" to talk to Mises in such a setting and to hear from him what life had been like in Europe before World War I, when (as John Maynard Keynes also famously wrote) the forces of history all seemed to be moving in the direction of peace, freedom, and economic progress.
Walter modestly did not mention a remembrance he himself wrote less than a year after Mises died. I just came across it yesterday. It is noteworthy in particular for these prophetic sentences:
In fact, signs around us make it seem likely that Mises' influence will be stronger in years to come than it ever was during his lifetime. Both the present frightening objective conditions and the current subjective malaise make it clear that Ludwig von Mises' ideas are more desperately needed now than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930's. One thing is certain, if the international market system as it has developed over the past 200 years is to survive, then the ideas of Mises must be understood and implemented. The alternative is far too horribly regressive to contemplate.
Right, right, right, and right. Mises's influence has grown. The 1970s were the high-water mark of the spread of centrally planned economies. The international market system survived by moving back toward (though obviously not all the way to) the ideas Mises championed. And the alternative was horrible, which is why the collapse of central planning was so complete.
I have aroused the ire of some readers of this blog by criticizing certain aspects of Mises's work. He was a great economist, but he didn't get everything right. Nobody does. It does more to honor Mises to revise the parts of his thought that seem in error than to preserve them unchanged, which will only mummify the Austrian School.