Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis
By Ludwig Mises
Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) first published
Socialism in German, in 1922. The edition presented here is that published by Liberty Fund in 1981. It follows the text, with correction and enlargement of footnotes, of the Jonathan Cape, Ltd., edition published in London in 1969. The edition was based on the 1951 edition by Yale University Press which slightly enlarged the first English edition published by Jonathan Cape in 1936, translated from the German by J. Kahane. Only a few corrections of obvious typos were made for this website edition. One character substitution has been made: the ordinary character “C” has been substituted for the “checked C” in the name Cuhel.
J. Kahane, trans.
First Pub. Date
Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, Inc.
First published in German. Foreword by Friedrich A. Hayek not available online
The text of this edition is under copyright. Picture of Ludwig von Mises: file photo, Liberty Fund, Inc.
- Part I,Ch.1
- Part I,Ch.2
- Part I,Ch.3
- Part I,Ch.4
- Part II,Ch.5
- Part II,Ch.6
- Part II,Ch.7
- Part II,Ch.8
- Part II,Ch.9
- Part II,Ch.10
- Part II,Ch.11
- Part II,Ch.12
- Part II,Ch.13
- Part II,Ch.14
- Part II,Ch.15
- Part II,Ch.16
- Part III,Ch.17
- Part III,Ch.18
- Part III,Ch.19
- Part III,Ch.20
- Part III,Ch.21
- Part III,Ch.22
- Part III,Ch.23
- Part III,Ch.24
- Part III,Ch.25
- Part III,Ch.26
- Part IV,Ch.27
- Part IV,Ch.28
- Part IV,Ch.29
- Part IV,Ch.30
- Part IV,Ch.31
- Part IV,Ch.32
- Part V,Ch.33
- Part V,Ch.34
- Part V,Ch.35
1 The Horizontal Concentration of Enterprises
The Concentration of Enterprises
The merger of several similar independent establishments into one enterprise may be called horizontal concentration of production. Here we follow broadly the usage of writers on cartels, though their definition is not in complete accord with ours. If the separate establishments do not remain completely independent, if, for example the management or some departments are amalgamated, there is concentration of establishments. A mere concentration of enterprises occurs only when the individual units remain independent in everything except the taking of decisive economic decisions. The typical example of this is a cartel or a syndicate. Everything stays as it was, but, according to whether it is a buying cartel or a selling cartel or both, decisions about purchases and sales are taken unitarily.
When it is not merely the preliminary step to an amalgamation of establishments, the purpose of these unions is monopolistic domination of the market. Horizontal concentration originates only in the efforts of separate entrepreneurs to derive those advantages enjoyed under certain circumstances by the monopolist.
2 The Vertical Concentration of Enterprises
Vertical concentration is the union into one unitary enterprise of independent enterprises, some of which use the products of the others. This terminology follows the usage of modern economic literature. Examples of vertical concentration are the union of weaving, spinning, bleaching and dyeing works; a printing works to which a paper factory and a newspaper enterprise are joined; the mixed works of the iron industry and of coal mining, etc.
Each productive unit is a vertical concentration of part processes and of apparatus. Unity of
production is created by the fact that part of the means of production—certain machines, buildings, the direction of the works—is jointly held. Such joint holding is lacking in the vertical union of
enterprises. Here the essence of the union lies in the will of the entrepreneur to make one enterprise serve another. The mere fact that one man owns two enterprises is not in itself sufficient if this will does not exist. Where a chocolate manufacturer owns also an iron works there is no vertical concentration. Vertical concentration is usually considered to aim at ensuring an outlet for the product or safeguarding the source of raw materials and half finished goods. This is what entrepreneurs reply when questioned as to the advantages of such combinations. Many economists accept it without question, for apparently they do not think it is their job to scrutinize what is said by “practical men”; and after accepting the statement as final they proceed to examine it from the ethical point of view. Still, even if they avoid thinking about it, closer research into facts should show them the truth. There is the fact that managers of plants attached to a vertical combination often have to make complaints. The manager of the paper-mill says: “I could get much better value for my paper if I did not have to supply it to ‘our’ printing works.” The manager of the weaving-mill: “If I didn’t have to get the yarn from ‘our’ spinning works I could get it cheaper.” Such complaints are the order of the day, and it is not difficult to understand why they must accompany every vertical concentration.
If the amalgamated establishments were individually so efficient that they did not have to shun competition, vertical combination would serve no special purpose. A paper factory of the best type never needs to ensure its market. A printing works which is on a level with its competitors does not need to ensure its paper supply. The efficient enterprise sells where it gets the best prices, buys where it can do so most economically. Hence, it does not follow that two enterprises, working at different stages of the same branch of production and held by one owner, must necessarily unite in vertical combination. Only when one or other of them shows itself less able to sustain competition does the entrepreneur conceive the idea of supporting it by tying it to the strong one. He looks to the profits of the prosperous business for a fund to cover the deficits of the non-prosperous. Apart from tax remissions and other special advantages, such as those which the mixed works in the German iron industry were able to derive from cartel agreements, union achieves nothing but an apparent profit in one enterprise and an apparent loss in the other.
The number and importance of vertical concentrations is extraordinarily overestimated. In modern capitalist economic life on the contrary, new branches of enterprise are constantly forming and parts of those existing are constantly breaking away to become independent.
The progressive tendency to specialization in modern industry shows that development is moving away from vertical concentration, which, except where it is demanded by considerations of productive technique, is always art exceptional phenomenon, generally to be explained by regard for the legal and other political conditions of production. But even here the break-up of such unions and the re-establishment of individual enterprise is to be witnessed over and over again.
Vorläufige Thesen zur Reform der Philosophie, 1842, Collected Works, Vol. II (Stuttgart, 1904), p. 239.
Die Naturwissenschaft und die Revolution, 1850, Vol. X (Stuttgart, 1911), p. 22.
Köhlerglaube und Wissenschaft, 2nd ed. (Giessen, 1855), p. 32.
Marxistische Probleme (Stuttgart, 1913), pp. 60 if., 216 ff., in which he conflicts sharply with other Marxists. See, for example, Plekhanov,
Grundprobleme des Marxismus (Stuttgart, 1910).
Das Kapital, Vol. I, p. 354, note. But between Descartes and Haller stands La Mettrie, with his “homme machine,” whose philosophy Marx has unfortunately omitted to interpret genetically. Publisher’s Note: This is page 426n in the Kerr edition.
Zur Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, p. xi. Publisher’s Note: p. 11 in the Eastman anthology, p. 12 in the Kerr edition.
Das Komnunistische Manifest, p. 27. Publisher’s Note: This quote appears on p. 326 of the Eastman anthology.
Das Elend der Philosophie, ibid., p. 91. See also p. 269 of the present work. Publisher’s Note: p. l05 in the English translation.
Das Kapital, Vol. I, p. 336. Publisher’s Note: p. 406n in the English translation.
Zur Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, p. 62. Barth,
Die Philosophie der Geschichte als Soziologie, Vol. I, pp. 658 ff., says rightly that the comparison between the innate privileges of the nobility and the presumably innate ideas can be considered as at most a joke. But the first part of Marx’s characterization of Locke is no less untenable than the second. Publisher’s Note: p. 93 of the Kerr edition. Please note that this particular quotation is not in the excerpt reprinted in the Eastman anthology.
Die Lessing-Legende, 3rd ed. (Stuttgart, 1909), p. 422.
Zwei Bücher zur sozialen Geschichte Englands (Leipzig, 1881), pp. 176, 183.
Grundriss der Sozialökonomik, Pt. I (Tübingen, 1914), pp. 81 ff.
Böhm-Bawerk’s Marx-Kritik (Vienna, 1904), pp. 1, 61. For the Catholic Marxist Hohoff,
Warenwert und Kapitalprofit (Paderborn, 1902), p. 57. Böhm-Bawerk is “an indeed well gifted, ordinary economist who could not lift himself out of the capitalistic prejudices among which he grew up.” See my
Grundprobleme der Nationalökonomie (Jena, 1933), pp. 170 ff. Publisher’s Note: The Hilferding essay is available in English in
Karl Marx and the Close of his System by Eugen Böhm-Bawerk & Böhm-Bawerk’s Criticism of Marx by Rudolf Hilferding, ed. Paul M. Sweezy (New York: Augustus M. Kelly, 1949), pp. 121-196. The pages cited here are pp. 121 and 196. Please also note that Mises’ book,
Grundprobleme der Nationalökonomie is in English as
Epistemological Problems of Economics (Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand, 1960). The particular citation here is to the essay entitled “The Psychological Basis of the Opposition to Economic Theory,” essay VI in this collection, pp. 183-203. This was first published in 1931.
Fabian Essays (1889), pp. 16 ff. In the same way, in sociology and political science, natural law and contract theory have served both to advocate and fight Absolutism.
Die deutsche Geschichtsschreibung von den Befreiungskriegen bis zu unseren Tagen [Leipzig, 1916], pp. 224 ff.,) Were beforehand with this knowledge.
Sozialismus und soziale Bewegung, 7th ed. (Jena, 1919), p. 110, says, “So far as I know them personally—amiable, fine, educated people. Cultured people with clean linen, good manners and elegant wives, whom one meets as gladly as one’s own kind of people, and who certainly do not look as if they represented a movement which turns above all against the increasingly bourgeois nature of Socialism and wants to help the wealed fist, the genuine and true only-manual-workers to their rights.” And De Man,
Zur Psychologie des Sozialismus, pp. 16 if., says, “If one accepted the misleading Marxist expression which connects every social ideology with a definite class attachment, one would have to say that Socialism as a doctrine, even Marxism, is of bourgeois origin.”
thought, says a figure of speech. What it means is that the wish is the father of
Ludwig Feuerbach und der Ausgang der klassischen deutschen Philosophie, 5th ed. (Stuttgart, 1910), p. 58.
Der Nietzsche-Kultus (Leipzig, 1897), p. 6.
Das Kapital, Vol. I, pp. 726 ff. Publisher’s Note: p. 837 in the English translation.
Das Kapital, Vol. I, pp. 728 ff. Publisher’s Note: pp. 837 ff. in the English translation.
Das Erfurter Programm, pp. 83 ff.
Sozialismus und kapitalistische Gesellschaftsordnung (Stuttgart, 1892), pp. 149 ff.
Essentials of Economic Theory, pp. 374 ff., 397.
Sozialisierungskommission über die Frage der Sozialisierung des Kohlenbergbaus vom 31 Juli 1920 (Appendix:
Vorläufiger Bericht vom 15 Februar 1919), op. cit., p. 32.
Grundriss der Sozialökonomik, Pt. VI (Tübingen, 1914), pp. 203 ff. Weiss, “Abnehmender Ertrag,”
Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaften, 4th ed., Vol. I, pp. 11 ff.
Grundriss der Sozialiökonomik, Pt. VI (Tübingen, 1914), pp. 54 ff. The remaining factors of localization can be passed over, as the present, or the historically transmitted, distribution of primary production ultimately determines them.
Lehrbuch der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte, pp. 159 ff.; Dopsch,
Wirtschaftliche und soziale Grundlagen der europäischen Kulturentwicklung, Part 2 (Vienna, 1920), pp. 289, 309 ff.
Die Verelendungstheorie (Leipzig, 1928), pp. 19 ff.
Die drei Bevölkerungsstufen (Munich, 1889), pp. 181 ff.
“Les capitaux suivent aujourd’hui sans contrepoids la loi de leur propre gravitation; c’est que, s’attirant en raison de leurs masses, les richesses sociales se concentrent de plus en plus entre ks mains des grands possesseurs.” (“Capital today follows, without any opposing force, the law of its own magnetism. Capital attracts capital to itself, by mason of its very size. Social wealth is concentrated more and more in the hands of the largest owners.”) Quoted by Tugan-Baranowsky,
Der moderne Sozialismus in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung, p. 62. That is word play, nothing more.
Das Kapital, Vol. I, p. 611. Publisher’s Note: In the English
Capital, Vol. I, pp. 736-737.
Bernstein und das Sozialdemokratische Programm (Stuttgart, 1899), p. 116.
Zur Erkenntnis unserer staatwirtschaftlichen Zustände, 2nd ed. (Berlin, 1885), p. 273 n.
Karl Marx und die Gewerkschaften (Berlin, 1918) pp. 82 ff.
Der Zukunftsstaat, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart, 1919), p. 12.
Bernstein und das Sozialdemokratische Programm, p. ll6.
Der proletarische Sozialismus (Jena, 1924), Vol. I, p. 106.
A Treatise of Human Nature, Philosophical Works, ed. Green and Grose (London, 1874), Vol. II, pp. 162 ff.; Mandeville,
Bienenfabel, ed. Bobertag (Munich, 1914), p. 123. Publisher’s Note: In English, Mandeville,
The Fable of the Bees, ed. F. B. Kaye (Oxford University Press, 1924), pp. 135-136; Schatz,
L’Individualisme économique et social (Paris, 1907), p. 73 n2, calls this an
“idée fondamentale pour bien comprendre la cause profonde des antagonismes sociaux.” (“Fundamental idea for a good understanding of the profound cause of social animosities.”)
Monopolies and Trusts (New York, 1900), pp. 11 ff.; Vogelstein, “Die finanzielle Organisation der kapitalistischen Industrie und die Monopolbildungen” (
op. cit., p. 231) too, and following him the German Socialization Commission (
op. cit., pp. 31 ff.), start from a concept of monopoly which comes very close to the views criticized by Ely and generally abandoned by the price theory of modern science.
Grundsätze der Volkswirtschaftslehre (Vienna, 1871), p. 195; further Forchheimer, “Theoretisches zum unvollständigen Monopole” (
Schmoller’s Jahrbuch XXXII), pp. 3 ff. Publisher’s Note: In English, Menger,
Principles of Economics, trans. and ed. James Dingwall and Bert F. Hoselitz (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1950), pp. 211 ff.
ibid., this is “perhaps even the rule.”