Feels Like 1871 / by Cristian Mitreanu


Carl Menger wrote in the Preface of his 1871 book "Principles of Economics," which later became the foundation of the so-called Austrian School of economic thought:

Never was there an age that placed economic interests higher than does our own. Never was the need of a scientific foundation for economic affairs felt more generally or more acutely. And never was the ability of practical men to utilize the achievements of science, in all fields of human activity, greater than in our day. If practical men, therefore, rely wholly on their own experience, and disregard our science in its present state of development, it cannot be due to a lack of serious interest or ability on their part. Nor can their disregard be the result of a haughty rejection of the deeper insight a true science would give into the circumstances and relationships determining the outcome of their activity. The cause of such remarkable indifference must not be sought elsewhere than in the present state of our science itself, in the sterility of all past endeavors to find its empirical foundations.
— Carl Menger

It makes you think -- it was written 136 years ago, and yet it remains so relevant today. Indeed, it feels like 1871!

I tried to say the same thing in my earlier post "Does the Long Term Matter?" but I could not be as concise as Menger. So, if you have not read this relatively short book yet, you should. Or at least, read the first chapter "The General Theory of the Good." The Ludwig von Mises Institute offers a free PDF version here.


Image: Carl Menger via Austrian Economics Center.