The Mises Circle: A Digital Sign of the Times
A New Opportunity for Praxeology
The Mises Circle has successfully branded itself as the student organization known to climb ever higher towards abstraction and to root its insights ever deeper into reality. It is no secret that Bitcoin has stoked a perennial fire around which The Circle meets. Michael put it best: “I remember Richard Feynman paraphrasing a poet by suggesting all of physics can be seen in a glass of wine. Likewise, I think all of economics can be seen through crypto-currencies.” I believe he is correct; however, many in the Austrian camp do not yet hold this perspective. I feel in this regard, our Mises-kreis is in a unique position from other economic circles, because we see Bitcoin and its implications as a real world incarnation of the abstract economic concepts we study.
Crypto-currencies present an odd intersection of mathematical and economic logic, one that traditional Austrians are rightly skeptical of. The Mises Circle’s “Intellectual Shaman,” Daniel Krawisz, has successfully begun demonstrating the role cryptography plays in market operations: cryptographic functions are market functions because they hold meaning.
In a sense, this seems to effectively open the praxeological science not only to cryptography but to (computational) linguistics, informatics, and mathematics generally. Tor even has a paper on the economics of anonymity within its network and Identity Crisis by Jim Harper begins an inquiry into the economic relationships between identity and authorization, both of which I believe are ripe for praxeological analysis.
It would be a mistake to solicit praxeological truths from the static mathematical models inherent in the study of some of these fields, but to study them would perhaps lend a deeper understanding of the relationships between people, property, and authority. The study of these models should abstract the value relations between nodes and entities, rather than stress testing their technical specs in a logical vacuum.
I believe it is in the study of these networks and the languages they use to communicate that will lend us answers in other aspects of economics, as Peter Šurda has already done with the Bitcoin network and the theory of money.
A Reflection on The Mises Circle
The group that Michael Goldstein, José Niño, and I founded January 2012 with the intellectual foundation provided by Daniel Krawisz has seen spectacular growth and an intellectual flowering that has only just begun to bud. I’m extremely proud of how the group has evolved over time, particularly due to the initiative of both Michael and Pierre Rochard, without whom our digital presence would be meager.
January 2013 proved to be the turning point of the organization, particularly because of our digital presence. Veritable heavyweights of praxeology have regularly attended and guided our meetings with audiences not limited to UT Austin, but the world over:
(in order of appearance)
The Mises-Kreis of Our Times
Our group is peculiar, but its evolution isn’t. In Murray Rothbard’s “The Future of Austrian Economics”
he explains the fantastic explosion of interest in Austrian economics during the period following 1974, after Hayek won the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Rothbard explains that many of the new students thought Austrian economics to be too dogmatic, and they sought to soften the methodology so as to popularize some of the insights to the public. In 1982, the Ludwig von Mises Institute was founded by Lew Rockwell in order to maintain the integrity of the praxeological method.
I believe that Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign parallels Hayek’s 1974 Nobel Prize, that the ever increasing number of students that join libertarian student organizations generally mirror the popularizers of the 70s, and that those Austrians who are Bitcoiners are synonymous with the founders of Ludwig von Mises Institute for the digital age.
A Prospective Future
The future of The Mises Circle seems clear, to be a progenitor of the next wave of radical, uncompromising Austrians. The bent will be technological rather than historical, and digital rather than physical. However, the integrity and principle will remain the same: Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.
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