It used to be great, to be an Austrian.
In 1940, there used to be just two, Mises and Hayek, and since Hayek was in reality a socialist, there was actually only one, Mises. And that’s true hard core, the best place to be.
Since then, things have gone mostly downhill.
In the 1950s, there was the Circle of Bastiat in Murray Rothbard’s front living room, which I suppose was tolerable, because half of the Austrians in the world could sit on his sofa, while the other half could sit at his kitchen table, all still locked behind one door. But then it got better again, because in the 1970s, with the death of Mises, only Murray Rothbard was really keeping at it, still I suppose with Hayek on the edges of the scene, though still, of course, as a state-accommodating socialist, who even unrepentant statists like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan could admire.
Lew Rockwell, et al, really ruined it, alas, by founding the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and bringing real Austrianism to a wider audience. Fortunately, however, he was stymied in his early efforts by the lack of an available Internet, and still had to print materials and pay for them to be posted, which really limited his reach.
Which kept the movement nice and small. And best of all, hard core.
Then the Internet really made a mess of things, and turned Austrianism into a mass-cultural device, until just about now, it is just about everywhere.
Indeed, it’s just plain embarrassing to be a Keynesian. Krugman is laughable, Roubini is dreading the day gold holds above $2,000 dollars an ounce, and the millions of Austrians out there, in their vast Misesian orthodoxy, just laugh at anyone who actually believes anything written in any Keynesian text book.
I mean, do you know anyone you hold to be intelligent, and with whom you could hold a conversation of more than five minutes, without laughing out loud, who is, or who claims to be, a Keynesian?
And Monetarism, another variant of the Keynesian School, died an unmourned death with its main mentor, Milton Friedman, though I suppose Ambrose Evans-Pritchard keeps the Irving Fisher flag flying, though even he slips into full-blown Austrianism, about every third article.
Yes, some people, criminals mostly, pretend to be fulltime Keynesians and Monetarists, while knowing that Austrianism is the truth, but that still makes them Austrians, really, just of an evil vicious variant.
Which brings me back to my central point.
If you want to be a hard core revolutionary and the member of an underground cadre of wild-eyed fanatics, then choose something else to follow.
There’s no fun manning a barricade, any more, when you help form the vast majority, and everyone who can think for themselves agrees with most of what you say, from hedge fund managers through to taxi drivers.
And what’s the point of that? Because you already know what you should do when a taxi driver tells you to buy. You sell. Everything.
Austrianism isn’t even soft core, any more. It’s just plain ordinary, and I need some other properly radical cause to follow, because I want to be a heretical punk-rocking fomenter of disharmony, a firebrand trouble-making zealot, and an iron-willed dissident rebel with a cause, but I can no longer be any of those things, with the Austrian School.
Because Austrianism is mainstream. It’s 1999, baby. And it’s time to switch channels.