Damned if I do, damned if I don't

So the first part of Brad's discussion invoked some points on anti-Semitism in comments from both Brad and Noah. I felt like I had to acknowledge it or my Austrian readers would just read the first part and stop because they think Brad is calling them anti-Semitic.

Now even though I addressed in and encouraged people to keep reading, it's still raising hackles.

Let me (1.) clarify and (2.) provide one thought: Brad said medieval thinkers and a particularly chauvinistic Brit in the early twentieth century were motivated by anti-Semitism when they argued their case for disgust with money made out of nothing. I can't argue with this. This is absolutely true. Hang-ups about banking long pre-date anti-Semitism, but these views also fed on anti-Semitism later. There's no denying that at all.

Actually what I felt was inaccurate was Noah's point (quoted by Brad) that called more modern renditions of  the theory anti-Semitic. That, I think, is inaccurate in almost all cases when it comes to the Austrian school (although there's a guy who's name has a lot of H's in it that always worries me...). All anti-Semites might be paranoid about the Rothschilds, but not everyone paranoid about the Rothschilds is anti-Semitic. Got it? That's what I considered inaccurate.

Now, you could make a "sins of their fathers" argument. If these ideas grew out of the writings of anti-Semites, surely they are stained with it.


But that would give me pause. In the General Theory, Keynes explicitly connects his views on the interest rate to medieval Christian doctrine which he says was more thoughtful than people realize. Keynes himself clearly had anti-Semitic prejudices, although we can have an honest debate about how severe they were. If we took Mises and Keynes and had to call one the anti-Semite, clearly it would be Keynes.

But I get a lot out of Keynes, including his views on the interest rate.

I would argue - and I know this is going to sound self-serving - that anti-Semitism has nothing to do with the ideas that I hold about the economy.

So this sort of thing is tough, I think. We will have to throw out most Continental philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century (some wouldn't mind this). Even if you think Nietzsche wasn't all that bad you can't really argue your way around Heidegger. Forget being a public space program enthusiast, because NASA is thoroughly infected. Lutherans are going to need to convert.

Ultimately, there's more than enough low hanging fruit - making contorted arguments about anti-Semitism in a post about Mises of all people is unnecessary.

For example, Mises said fascists saved civilization by murdering Communists.

That's food for thought, and a lot harder to weasel out of. When we're done with that we can chew on Chile for a while.

Or we can talk about economics.