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Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,101 ratings  ·  41 reviews
This book must rank as the most devastating analysis of socialism yet penned. . . . An economic classic in our time.

—Henry Hazlitt

More than thirty years ago F. A. Hayek said of Socialism: "It was a work on political economy in the tradition of the great moral philosophers, a Montesquieu or Adam Smith, containing both acute knowledge and profound wisdom. . . . To none o
Paperback, 596 pages
Published March 22nd 1988 by Liberty Fund Inc. (first published 1922)
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Patrick Peterson
This is my favorite book by my favorite author. He dissects every known form of socialism up to the date of publication (1922). His words have stood the test of time and there are very few, if any really new ideas on the subject since, that are not actually described (if not by the same names) and torn apart in this book.

This is the book that turned the Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich von Hayek away from the social democracy ideology, held before he read it!

But most importantly, Mises d
Luke Held
Jul 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Stopped after the introduction. Pure ideology. You pretty much could have swapped the word "capitalism" for the word "Socialism" in the opening and it would have been just as true. There are major structural problems with Socialism and with Capitalism. This book is pure attack of a theory which the author clearly disagrees with, there is no science in this type of economic writing, just results justifying a point of view. I could not help feeling that the Author was simply protecting his interes ...more
Jason Keisling
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've yet to meet a person who advocated socialism after reading this book. For a shorter critique of the problems of calculation, Mises also wrote "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth", which is also quite good, but significantly shorter. ...more
Earl Solper
Jul 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Written between WWI and WWII, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis is interesting as a historical document. He correctly predicts many of the difficulties the Communist regimes would face.

However, von Mises loses me when he seeks to justify the Opium War. Even in the 1920s, the absurdity of the claim that "Not only each Chinese and each Hindu, but also each European and each American, would be considerably worse off" had it not been for England's aggressive attempts to open China to
Alessandro Puzielli
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics, liberalism
This book is the root of position of classical liberalism and of libertarian thinking in the XX Century (Friedrich von heyek, Murray Rothbard).

The socialism is showed as the better way to delete resources and civilization: if the political mens delete the free market, then they delete the system of price without another good way to determine the preferences and needed of people.
Ian Hodge
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps no one in the 20th century provided a more systematic defense of the free market than Ludwig von Mises. The scope of his writings was broad; his analysis incisive.

In this book, Von Mises undertakes the tasks of describing socialism and its implication for economics and the broader culture. His thesis can be illustrated in these words: "If the control of private property is transferred to the State the property owner is only an official, a deputy of the economic administration."

For Von Mi
Trey Smith
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mises in extraordinary fashion devastatingly destroys socialism as a viable economic system. This book provides unique analysis as to the different types of socialism represented mainly in two types that of Soviet socialism and that of German socialism. Mises also provides a unique sociological and ethical criticism of Socialism from his utilitarian and classically liberal viewpoint. Although I much prefer Mises, the economist to Mises the sociologist or ethicist, he provides interesting analysi ...more
Rachel Reid
Suffers a bit from Lord of the Rings syndrome. Reading Tolkein now can be weird, because a lot of LotR can seem cliche or common- but that's because LotR was the progenitor of the tropes that now seem overly familiar. It is a victim of its own success.

Likewise some of the stuff in the beginning of Mises's Socialism seems obvious/cliche to someone familiar with the likes of Friedman/Goldwater/Rand or basically any modern right-wing writers. But that is because they are the intellectual children
Martin Hrabal
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overwhelming analysis and critique of socialism from all possible points of view - sociological, economic, philosophical, historical... From destruction of families to destructionism of economy. The socialism is impossible to make per se and its variants are less productive than capitalism.

The key is impossibility of economic calculation because production means belong to state and cannot be traded, therefore there are no prices. And without prices nobody can say that production is efficient or
Steve Hadfield
If people want to know the fallacies of socialism, this is the book. I might disagree with some of his conclusions about Protestantism, but it touches on every aspect of what socialism is, how it works, and how it really affects mankind.He discusses it roots and shoots into communism and even how they differ, or how it was implemented differently than one would expect. In short, socialism can only be achieved with totalitarianism. It is inevitable - total state control is the only way to truly i ...more
Alfred Stappenbeck
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
My major takeaway from this book is that I don’t understand what some of my friends are referring to when they speak fondly of Socialism. For instance, which kind; Guild Socialism, National Socialism, Christian Socialism, Military Socialism, State Socialism, Solidarism? Misses covers all of these and more, highlighting their similarities and exploring differences. Further, are these friends actually expecting that all the means of production become state owned or just some, why differentiate bet ...more
Andrej Drapal
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Should be obligatory for anyone who intents to say anything in public.
Jon Nylander
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simply the most scathing and clear critique of socialism in all its forms. If you have any sense and can see behind the crisp and sober style of Mises's writing, this book will bring you to tears. ...more
John Waldrip
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An astonishingly prescient book that is must reading for anyone who seeks context for current political events. My only concern arises from Mises' opinion (no doubt derived from his observations of European Protestantism and Catholicism) that Christianity is woefully supportive of socialism. As a longtime Christian, Bible student, and pastor for four decades, I can assure any reader of von Mises that the Bible and Biblical Christianity most certainly does NOT support socialism. From the Genesis ...more
Jeff Northrup
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis

First published in German in 1922 but not published in English until 1951, Socialism, is a thorough debunking of the possibility of Socialism in a world where humans act with purpose...the real world, that is.

Mises was a scholar in the classical sense so prepare to have a dictionary handy if you ever decide to read any of his books. I've been reading him for decades and still his vocabulary astounds me.

I don't actually recommend reading most of thi
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Comprehensive but difficult Review

This is a comprehensive assessment of the problems and merits of socialism that would be useful to the current generation that sees it as a utopian alternative to capitalism. Most current treatises focus on examples of socialism’s failures. Von Mises explains why all the various forms of socialism fail. Socialism starts with utopian ideas but has always ended in totalitarianism. This book goes a long way to explaining why that’s true. It’s a hard read and woul
Johannes J Smith
Jun 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dinosaur or Apollo 12?

I confess my third world study of economics in the sixties may be the reason for my rating.
Greenspan to congress recently kept ringing in my ears while reading so did paul ryan about his reveling of yan rand while running for VP? The Chicago 5's dominating economic thinking in the latter 19th century? All of which i kept relating to this author's findings?
I think it is an antiquated dinosaur and can just serve as a lesson in the history of economic thinking.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is funny how the worst argument on this book is still being used. When Mises discusses the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism because no one mind can perform the amount of calculations involved, one can recognise that argument is pretty date in an age of computers. The core of the argument and the genius on Mises is to recognise the social importance of private property of the means of production for the proper function of the Market Economy.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
von Mises systematically destroys all of the arguments in favor of socialism with clear logic in this well written treatise.
Thomas Mccall
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Every so called Socialist should read this book.
Shawn Ritenour
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the greatest works of economics and sociology written in the Twentieth Century. It is a masterful analysis of socialism that is as timely now as when it was first published in 1922
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this man writes like a dictionary. You're gonna need to re-read everything again. ...more
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a great book! Regardless of your background this will give an interesting insight into all economic history. I learned concepts about liberalism as well as socialism.
Donald Lanham
A discussion of the various forms of socialism and why the basic rules of economics prevent them from working successfully.
David Riseley
Dec 30, 2020 rated it liked it
One of those books that could really use a consolidation and reorganization.
Chris Cathcart
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: monumental
Once one has read all the way through 'Socialism,' there should be no question as to why Mises is reputed to be the greatest critic of socialism. He's a good man, and thorough. Secondary commentators seemed to focus a whole lot on the 'calculation problem' Mises raised (and was proven right about, all via 'apriori' praxeological reasoning and everything; you'd think his critics on matters of methodology might have taken note...), but as Mises makes clear throughout 'Socialism,' socialist thought ...more
Jan Notzon
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A quite challenging read, it took me a good while to finish. It describes socialism in all aspects: with respect to property, politics, economics, ideology, philosophy, etc. and demonstrates, remarkably clearly, its unworkability (the translator uses the word "impracticability"). I must admit I winced a bit at von Mises description of the romantic (in his view, socialism being a romantic dream) because it so closely described me as a young man: "the romantic imagines the pleasures of success but ...more
Jeff Rudisel
I finally read Ludwig Mises' rather lengthy book on his decades-long research into the rise of, and the structure of, socialism; and why it is so inferior to market systems which have economic means of calculation.
And, why state control of the means of production is totally impracticable, and always fails miserably in practice.
It was as obvious to Ludwig in 1922 as it is to the rest of us 100 years later.
I've always suspected it would be quite worthwhile, and I was quite right.
Uncannily predict
Michal Sventek
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised how well this book read! Don't be scared away by the cover, nor the length - Professor von Mises's pedagogical skills shine in his clear and precise exploration of socialism - as an economical system, its ethics, roots and results.

Nowadays more than ever we need to hear these lessons again, unless we want to repeat the mistakes of the 20th century. In the age of Sanders, Corbyn, Trump and Putin, reach for von Mises instead.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Actually read only parts of this great and weighty tome, but enough to get von Mises' decisive, devastating, and unanswerable refutation of central planning and social engineering. By the 20th century's most important economist, not as well known as he should be or as well known as his most famous student, Friedrich Hayek. ...more
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Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (German pronunciation: [ˈluːtvɪç fɔn ˈmiːzəs]; September 29, 1881 – October 10, 1973) was an Austrian economist, historian, philosopher, author, and classical liberal who had a significant influence on the Austrian government's economic policies in the first third of the 20th century, the Austrian School of Economics, and the modern free-market libertarian movement. ...more

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