Von Mises to Milton Friedman: You’re all a bunch of socialists

In 1947, Milton Friedman and George Stigler traveled together to Europe for the inaugural meeting of the Mont Pèlerin Society. In 1992, Friedman reminisced about that trip in a memorial to Stigler, who had died the previous year. Here’s the conclusion:

One incident above all impressed George and me. In the course of a spirited discussion of policies about the distribution of income among a group that included Hayek, Machlup, Knight, Robbins, and Jewkes among others, Ludwig von Mises suddenly rose to his feet, remarked, “You’re all a bunch of socialists,” and stomped out of the room.
H/t Suresh Naidu


  1. Ronald Pires October 12, 2014 at 4:25 pm | #

    But Friedman and Hayek actually were socialists in their better moments. Per Friedman (C-span video, 1995), he believed in a basic income guarantee, while Hayek believed in the social provision of healthcare and retirement.

    • Barry October 13, 2014 at 10:25 pm | #

      None of those are socialism.

  2. Roquentin October 12, 2014 at 9:37 pm | #

    Nothing about this is the least bit surprising. Today, Barack Obama is called a socialist in some corners of the America right in a completely serious manner. Mises was merely accusing them of apostasy, of not being sufficiently devoted to the neoliberal cause. One wonders what particular heresy was uttered in his presence to provoke such a response. Perhaps there didn’t even need to be one, and his need to be seen as the only true capitalist theologian overrode all. There’s a degree of hysteria to it, which paradoxically increases with the harder one tries for ideological purity. Suddenly the smallest deviations, the most minor infractions, carry monumental importance. That mechanism functions the same for political movements of all stripes. Left or right, it matters not.

  3. GerardO October 13, 2014 at 8:30 am | #

    Everyone is a socialist until proven otherwise.

  4. Edward October 13, 2014 at 8:54 am | #

    It is hard to evaluate this remark without knowing the contents of the discussion. Maybe they were socialists? There was an interview a few years ago on the Left Business Observer with Mark Ames about Hayak. As I recall, Ames claimed that Hayak produced what he knew was bogus economics to please some business interests. The 10/31/2013 interview here may be the one:


  5. Snarki, child of Loki October 13, 2014 at 9:54 am | #

    My guess is that someone asked von Mises to stop hogging the salt shaker, and share it with the others.

  6. Frankie October 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm | #

    That’s a real feat, in your recent tweet.

    Linking to a news article about the repressive nature of the Saudi state, rather than talking about how repressive Saudi Arabia is, you use it to denounce Israel. Missing the forest for the trees?

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