Without a doubt, Ludwig von Mises was one of the most important economists in history. Unfortunately, he is commonly known and appreciated only in a narrow circle of experts and enthusiasts - ordinary people don’t know him or his extraordinary achievements. We are going to change this by telling Mises's story in the form of a movie.
We believe that our movie will be a breakthrough in communicating about Liberty. The main character was a real hero – and he deserves to be shown as such. A fearless intellectual, scientist, teacher and in some sense a social inventor, Mises showed that human action is an important area of study, and that we all need to work to secure the blessings of liberty. But at the same time he was a conscript, refugee, husband, friend. A normal everyday person, somebody like our professor or a neighbor. We want to show that interesting combination, and to stress that in every freedom fighter lies a spark of genius. We hope our movie showing the great character of Ludwig von Mises will inspire others to find and fan their own sparks to spread freedom.
Lemberg, where Mises was born in 1881, was the capital of Galicia and one of the most important cities of Austria-Hungary. Its history and affiliation with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth produced a remarkable effect: an intellectually invigorating and multiethnic climate in which Poles, Ukrainians, Jews, Germans, Armenians, and even Greeks lived side by side.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, characterized by its political freedom and religious toleration, stood out from contemporary countries. All representatives of the ruling class, i.e. nobility, were equal to each other and were entitled to choose the king in a free election. Furthermore, every nobleman could protest against a decision of a parliament by exercising the right to veto. This power — independent of religion and ethnical identity — allowed Poland and Lithuania to unify and incorporate into its elite the German-speaking mighty as well as Orthodox Ruthenians or Muslim Tatars. No Inquisition occurred in the Commonwealth, and in fact, no significant religious persecutions took place; thus, it was a refuge for Jews and a place where atheists were also not persecuted.
The Mises family belonged to the social and intellectual elite. Ludwig’s ancestors and relatives were successful entrepreneurs and leaders of local civic organizations. His grandfather received a noble title and a coat of arms in recognition of his value to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Ludwig’s father was an affluent engineer working on the construction of railway lines. Owing to these circumstances, both Ludwig and his brother had a chance to receive the best education available at that time. This, however, involved moving to the capital of the country — Vienna.
At the turn of the century Vienna was capital of the world and the leading seat of learning and culture. Its influence extended far beyond its political boundaries, and the city's many attractions tempted the most brilliant minds of the epoch to settle by the Danube.
Having completed his elementary education, Ludwig began studying at the University of Vienna; however, not to become an economist but a lawyer. The groundbreaking moment, which Mises himself considered the trigger that made him an economist, was when he read Carl Menger's "Principles of Economics”. Acquaintance with Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk and attending his seminars were of the same importance for Mises’s intellectual development as his first economic reading.
„Böhm-Bawerk’s seminar decisively reinforced the impact of Menger’s Principles. Under Böhm-Bawerk’s guidance, Mises began to delve more systematically into the literature of economic theory. He began the research that led to his first great book, a treatise on money and banking.”
Mises's highly promising scientific career was interrupted in the summer of 1914. Just like millions of other mobilized soldiers, he set out for the battlefields of the Great War. Initially, he fought in his home town in Galicia, later in Ukraine. At the end of 1915, he was promoted to staff work, on the Scientific Committee for War Economics. He returned afterwards to the front, first Romanian and then Italian. He reached the rank of captain.
The end of the war marked the defeat of the Central Powers, the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the fall of, previously guaranteed by Vienna, liberalism in Central Europe. The Versailles Peace Conference created several independent countries from the former Empire, including the Republic of Austria. Motivated by patriotic duty, Mises engaged in normalizing the situation in his homeland and its reconstruction. Owing to his efforts, post-war inflation was stopped in the early twenties which largely disrupted the development of totalitarian ideas in Austria.
Engaging in public affairs did not satisfy the energetic Mises as he simultaneously continued his academic career. Apart from official lectures at the university, he conducted informal, private seminars which were attended by several hundred people during the interwar period. The most outstanding attendee of the seminars was Friedrich August von Hayek who, like Mises, was a Great War veteran fascinated by the study of economics.
Mises and Hayek based their cooperation on an attempt to analyze and understand the nature of trade cycles. For this purpose, the master and the student set up the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research (German: Österreichisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (WIFO)) in 1926 with Hayek as the first executive. They financed this institution exclusively from private donors, and allocated the proceeds from the sale of reports to scholarships for talented young economists.
Absorbed by civic activity and scientific work, Mises had long been skeptical about the concept of marriage. His opinion of his mother impacted his love life enormously; she set a high bar for Ludwig’s girlfriends and he respectfully accepted it. Therefore, although he met the love of his life—Margit Seréna —in 1925, he only married her thirteen years later.
The married couple must walk side by side amid the rank and file of humanity. Whoever wishes to go his own way must break away from it. Rarely indeed is he granted the happiness of finding a woman willing and able to go with him on his solitary path.
Mises' magisterial character was mitigated under Margit’s influence. During all the difficult years they faced together, her loving support never faltered.
From the day of our marriage, Lu was a changed person. Not that he spoiled me with gifts or presents—he would not have known how to do that—but he was relaxed, affectionate, and his eyes were sparkling with happiness. Every little thing I did was of interest to him. The world had changed for him... Lu was overpowering in his love and affection for me. Never was he cross or dissatisfied with anything I did; he could not nag. There was not one day, to the very end of his life, that he did not tell me: “I love you, darling, oh... how I love you.” It seemed to me, after our marriage, that for the first time in his life he felt really fulfilled and happy.
After Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the pro-Nazi mood increased in neighboring Austria, where the authoritarian government fought both the influence of the Nazis and the Communists by introducing censorship, for example. Due to unfavorable conditions for scientific work in Vienna, Mises regretfully decided to leave for Switzerland.
The first months on American soil were difficult, and at times Mises's lack of income was even dramatic. To make things worse, Mises was alienated from intellectual life and, apart from a few lectures, he had no opportunities to teach, because as an unquestionable opponent of government intervention - during the time of New Deal and the war economy - his views were not popular. Fortunately, with the help of friends, especially Henri Hazlitt’s and Leonard E. Read’s he survived this difficult period.
I have been very busy these last months in writing my posthumous works. I do not believe that it will be possible for me to publish anything other than small articles in periodicals.
Not only did Mises emigrate physically to the USA, but his ideas also followed. When they were noticed, they caught on. The liberalism of the founding fathers, though tainted, still lingered in the minds of many Americans. Mises's ideas helped raise this awareness to a new level. Ironically, the Austrian economist became a new founding father of American libertarian / liberal thinking. Mises began a trend which combined the efforts of scholars, intellectuals, entrepreneurs and activists, in which the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) played a crucial role.
Ludwig von Mises died in 1973. A year later, his outstanding student, Frederick August von Hayek, received the Nobel Prize in Economics. Mises's ideas live on to provide a weapon against all who want to take away people’s freedom.
In the libertarian and wider liberty movement Ludwig von Mises is well-known and appreciated. But among ordinary people? The revival and rise of statist and nationalist sentiments in the world – for example, in the USA, Poland, and Hungary – indicate that citizens and voters are unaware of the advantages of the free market. We believe that achieving our goals depends on winning the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens. How to do this?
Capitalism is based on the division of labor, which carries a lot of advantages, but has a drawback as well. Namely, it makes people start to focus on one or several areas that provide their livelihoods and forces them to upgrade their skills constantly. They lose interest in other areas and prefer to spend their leisure time on hobbies or entertainment. To interest them, scientific ideas (proposed by Mises for example) about economic issues have to be introduced in an attractive way, such as in the form of a film, if it tells an interesting story and does not just present dry facts. It must offer momentum and commitment.
Without a doubt, Ludwig von Mises was one of the most important economists, so naturally we will present his most groundbreaking ideas: economy methodology (Praxeology), Monetary Theory, Business Cycle Theory, and the impossibility of socialism.
This Austrian was also an undeterred defender of freedom. He never stopped fighting for it. But at the same time he was a conscript, refugee, husband, friend. A normal everyday person, somebody like our professor or a neighbor. We aim to show what kind of man he was and from where he drew the strength to continue his actions.
The movie will last around 90 minutes (cinematic version) or 120 minutes (extended version). We want to bring the crew to Lviv (Ukraine) – where Mises was born; Vienna – where he grew up; Vaduz (the Prince of Liechtenstein governs his country inspired by the ideas developed by Mises) and of course to the USA (Washington, Auburn, NYC), where he spent a big part of his life. We will talk with experts who are developing Mises’s theories and the people who knew him. Additionally, we will have scenes from that epoch, enrich the film with animations and aerial photos (we use drones), and finally, we will add music composed exclusively for this film.
To promote the movie to the widest international audience, we will place it on YouTube in at least three language versions (subtitles or dubbed): English, Polish and Chinese. We will also organize an official movie premiere and show it in cinemas – at least one in Europe (Vienna or Cracow) and another in the USA (NYC or Washington). In addition, we will produce 1000 copies of the film and send them to important politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists and people of science. We will include a letter asking them to implement Mises's ideas in their places of work or to become Mises's ideas advoates in other way.
Support thresholds and gift packages for Donors
We estimate that the project's budget will close with the amount of 100 000 USD. This amount includes: Travels (plane and bus tickets for the film crew); Insurances (people and equipment); Accommodation and meals for the movie crew; Compensation for producer and producing crew; Compensation for writer and director; Compensation for camera operators and cost of video processing; Salary of actors; Rental of necessary equipment (costumes, props, film equipment etc); Cost of composing music; Cost of dubbing; Cost of cinemas premieres (rental halls, catering); Small expenses (taxis, catering on photo plans, local fees, permits etc.); Other: gifts for donors, graphic pay, producing and shipping movie discs and reserve for unforeseen expenses.
The film is made in the basic version: 2-3 actors per scene, only indoors, single actors, no extras. Donors receive gift packages mentioned in the table.
In addition, we will send 50 copies of the movie on USB flash drives to important politicians, businessmen and journalists. The recipients will be selected by donors in the vote.
Donors Benefits: Everything included in the previous threshold + In each package containing the movie on DVD, the payer will receive a USB flash drive instead of DVD + Each Donor, starting from Homebody Package +, will receive an invitation to the movie premiere. We will organize one screening selected by donors in the vote: in Europe or in the USA.
The movie benefits: extending the running time from 90 min. to 120 min. Three language versions: Polish, English and Chinese. Acting scenes in greater numbers and with a flourish.
In addition, we will send 150 copies of the movie on USB flash drives to important politicians, businessmen and journalists. The recipients will be selected by Donors in the vote.
Donors Benefits: Everything included in previous threshold + two screenings: one in Europe and another in the USA + Starting from the Patron Package, a set of 16 figures representing the most prominent economists. The figures will be 3D printed, the liberal economists will be presented as white figures and statists as black figures.
The movie benefits: Even better acting scenes (use of vehicles and drones) + music composed exclusively for the film.
In addition, we will send 250 copies of the movie on USB flash drives to important politicians, businessmen and journalists. The recipients will be selected by Donors in the vote.
Donors Benefits: Everything included in the previous thresholds + tournée around Europe and the USA: We rent a bus, screening equipment and organize outdoor movie screenings in 10 cities in Europe and the US with pre-screen lectures on Mises.
The movie benefits: Fully professional scenes on location with professional actors and dozens of extras in costumes from the epoch (e.g. front of World War I), on a full scale using special techniques such as green screen.
In addition, we will send 500 copies of the film on USB flash drives to important politicians, businessmen and journalists. The recipients will be selected by Donors in the vote.
Project financing is based entirely on voluntary donations from individual and corporate donors. We do not use state or EU subsidies and grants, so taxpayers do not have to worry about their wallets. At the same time, this means that the movie’s production depends entirely on your generosity.
Fundacja Wolności i Przedsiębiorczości,
ul. Asnyka 6
Payments from Poland
Account No: mBank 14 1140 2017 0000 4502 1294 6841
Deposits from abroad
IBAN: PL 79 1140 2017 0000 4212 0125 8060
Bank Name: mBank Bankowosc Detaliczna BRE Banku SA
Bank Address: Skrytka pocztowa 2108, 90-959 Lodz, Poland
Please provide your email address and package name in the title of the transfer.
Warning! Packages will be sent free-of-charge only on the territory of Poland. Donors, who express the will to receive package abroad, have to cover the shipping expenses (costs determined individually).