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Austrian Economics, Socialism and Impure Forms of Economic Organisation


  • Stavros Ioannides


Modern supporters of the Austrian school of economics maintain that their critical stance towards impure forms of economic organisation - such as the mixed economy - grew out of the arguments of Mises and Hayek during the socialist calculation debate of the 1930s. The paper assesses the two theorists, contributions in the debate and argues that their ideas cannot provide the basis for a general rejection of impure forms of economic organisation. First of all, and contrary to most modern Austrians, who consider the contributions of Mises and Hayek as essentially consistent, it is argued that Hayek's critique of socialism is much more effective than Mises' as it rests on his concept of tacit knowldge and on an evolutionary account of the emergence of capitalist institutions. However, the paper goes on to argue that, if Hayek's critique of state intervention is to have any relevance for contemporary capitalist economies, it must be in a position to show the non-viability not only of a fully centrally planned economy of the Soviet type but also of the mixed economy. It is argued that it is precisely in this that Hayek's evolutionism fails, for his teleological approach is not persuasive in ruling out the possibility of impure forms of capitalism in a manner that is consistent with truly evolutionary - i.e. non-teleological - ideas.

Suggested Citation

  • Stavros Ioannides, 2000. "Austrian Economics, Socialism and Impure Forms of Economic Organisation," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 45-71.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:12:y:2000:i:1:p:45-71
    DOI: 10.1080/095382500106812

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. G√ľnther K. Chaloupek, 1990. "The Austrian Debate on Economic Calculation in a Socialist Economy," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 22(4), pages 659-675, Winter.
    2. Vaughn, Karen I, 1980. "Economic Calculation under Socialism: The Austrian Contribution," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(4), pages 535-554, October.
    3. Israel M. Kirzner, 1997. "Entrepreneurial Discovery and the Competitive Market Process: An Austrian Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 60-85, March.
    4. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    5. Richard R. Nelson, 1981. "Assessing Private Enterprise: An Exegesis of Tangled Doctrine," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(1), pages 93-111, Spring.
    6. Marina Colonna & Harald Hagemann, 1995. "The Economics of F.A. Hayek," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 101.
    7. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
    8. Adaman, Fikret & Devine, Pat, 1996. "The Economic Calculation Debate: Lessons for Socialists," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(5), pages 523-537, September.
    9. Bruce Caldwell, 1997. "Hayek and Socialism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(4), pages 1856-1890, December.
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