Chapter 7 – Revival (part 1/2)

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Approx. time

Audio (background music: classical, sad, but with rather optimistic notes by the end)


Acting scene; the actor playing Mises is seen on board of a ship (green screen technology); his hands are resting against the railing; in the distance, the Statue of Liberty is visible (the weather is clear); half of the frame – containing the Statue – is better exposed; the part of the frame including the direction from which the ship is traveling is darker.

One minute

The case for liberty was lost in Europe for some time and nobody knew how long it would last. The dark clouds of totalitarianism were looming over almost the whole of the continent. Mises was one of those who managed to save the spark of freedom. He hoped to set it off somewhere else, helping Americans remember their classical liberal legacy. However, he was aware of how difficult a task it would be.


Expert A speaking

One minute

The expert talks about Mises’s former visit to the US in 1931, when he participated in an academic conference. Now the emigrant is fifty-eight and has to start all over. All he has with him is his knowledge and connections in the academic circles. The support of his wife is comforting, too.


Expert B speaking

One minute

The expert comments on the problems finding job. In the US of that time, the demand for free market economists was limited. Mises’s hopes of employment were fading. So were his savings. What is more, he wasn’t only taking care of himself, but he needed to provide for his wife, Margrit, as well.


Cutaway shots from New York, archival photos; a window view on the New York of the 40s; acting scene, black and white (converting to a colored one); Mises is looking through letters; a close-up on his hands; the letters are exceptionally polite, yet firm refusals that leave no room for hopes of finding a job.

Two minutes

New York, the city founded by emigrants, at the time when the Mises couple arrived, was more emigrant than ever. The economist was not the only one who left Europe in fear of nazism. He soon found out that the city was full of his acquaintances from Europe – even those from Vienna. Obviously, it gave Mises new opportunities as the wide network of contacts allowed him to look for employment more efficiently. Unfortunately, apart from casual jobs, like giving public lectures to groups who more or less shared his views, the vision of his future was not optimistic. However, it was about to change soon.


Expert C speaking; meanwhile, cutaway shots with photos of Henry Hazlitt and an acting scene involving Mises and Hazlitt are shown.

One and half minute

The expert talks about Henry Hazlitt, noting his profession – economic journalist – and his employment of that time. He comments on the issue of popularizing the Austrian School of Economics in the US and the role that Hazlitt played in this endeavor. He also mentions the relation between Ludwig von Mises and Hazlitt, as well as other American proponents of the Austrian School, emphasizing the admiration they held for Mises.


An acting scene in a plainly decorated room; the actor playing Mises answers the phone and talks to somebody.

Half minute

The audio of the actor speaking with a New York accent: Sometime in 1940 I got a telephone call. The voice on the other end said “This is Mises speaking.” As I’ve told many of my friends since, it was as if someone had called and said, “This is John Stuart Mill speaking.” I had referred to Mises as “a classic,” and you don’t expect a classic to call you on the telephone! Anyway, that led to our acquaintance. (Hulsmann, J.G., The Last Knight of Liberalism, p. 794)


Expert C speaking

One minute

The expert tells the story of how Hazlitt helped Mises taking the first steps on his American path. Although it is noted that Mises’s financial struggle, at least in the beginning, was virtually permanent.


Cutaway shots of New York

One minute

Man speaking: settling was not easy for Mises. He had a lot to do – New York was full of his friends, former students and other things he could devote his time to. But not many of those were actual paying activities. He had dead assets on his European bank accounts and Hayek’s attempt to help in withdrawing money from bank in England was futile. During the war, no country was willing to give up money from the banks they owned. The situation was getting worse. This was when, once again, Mises was saved.


Expert A speaking

One and half minute

The expert talks about the Rockefeller Foundation and its scope of operation – especially in the field of grants for economists. He informs the audience that the Foundation granted the National Bureau of Economic Research so that they would appoint Mises for a year. The remuneration wasn’t especially high, but it surely was better than having no stable source of income at all.


Expert B speaking

One and half minute

The expert tries to answer the question of how different was the economics discussed by Mises from that discussed by Americans. The answer is complex and covers both methodological issues and the attitudes towards free market. In that time, Mises was truly “the last knight” of liberalism which had mostly negative effect on him – he missed his five minutes, the demand for the services he offered was low, he wasn’t able to sell his books simply because people had no interest in them.


Expert D speaking

One minute

The expert presents the Mexican theme in Mises’s life – the invitation to a seminar in this country received from his acquaintance named Luis Montes de Oca. He highlights the improvement of not only financial situation, but also – mostly – the new perspectives that unraveled before the economist. Mises wanted to diversify his sources of income and this Mexican trip enabled him to do so as the money that he was paid did not come from the Rockefeller Foundation. After a short vacation, Mises traveled to Mexico and by doing so, he finished the first and the most difficult stage of his emigration to the US. It was probably during his leisure time spent in the mountains of New Hampshire that he decided to become an American.