In “The Defrosted Progressive,” an article published in Taki’s Magazine, July 5, 2021, “The Z Man” is less than enthusiastic about the Mises Institute. He says that “so-called conservatives” embrace “libertine culture and libertarian economics.” This, the Z Man tells us, “was what left-wing deviationists were pushing at the end of the Cold War.” Now, “National Review now reads like Von Mises Center for Transgender Studies.”
Z Man knows nothing about the Mises Institute. We do not embrace libertine culture, and left-libertarians often attack us for defending conservative social values. But I suspect that this does not matter to our author. His article contains so many weird remarks that he ought to have adopted the pseudonym “The LSD Man.”
It is utterly false to say that “The aggressive defense of global capital, the hard defense of order, the corporatism. These are things that were on the right half a century ago, but today they are the defining qualities of the left.” The contemporary left continues, as always, to be against capitalism. Who are the progressives Z has in mind? Bernie Sanders? Thomas Piketty?
Z thinks that capitalism is outmoded. It is just one of several ideologies that grew out of the Industrial Revolution. Nowadays, ”The titans of modern industry do not rely upon a monopoly of capital, but rather a monopoly of information. Wall Street controls the global financial system, which is just an endless stream of information. They make their money through informational asymmetry, which allows them to skim a little from every transaction.”
If the global financial system is just an endless stream of information, where does money come in at all? Z, in writing about Wall Street’s “mak[ing] their money” fails to notice that he has contradicted himself.
But more important than Z’s errors is a fundamental fact, often stressed by Mises. There are only two ways to distribute goods and services in a complex modern economy: market prices and centralized control. Informational asymmetry, which is as Z notes important, does not alter the essential choice, capitalism or socialism, and if Z thinks there is another alternative, he is mistaken.
3:38 pm on July 5, 2021 Email David Gordon