Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mises mentioned in the Reece Committee Investigation of Tax Exempt Foundations

The research question that I am currently investigating is: "Why did the Rockefeller Foundation fund Ludwig von Mises?" In doing my research, I added to my library René A. Wormser's book Foundations: Their Power and Influence. I learned about the existence of this book from Murray N. Rothbard. Rothbard mentioned Wormser's book and the associated Reece Committee Investigation in his book The Betrayal of the American Right. The Rothbardian quote that really launched this part of my larger investigation is as follows:
A valuable summary of the Committee's work can be found in a book by its general counsel, René A. Wormser, Foundations: Their Power and Influence (New York: Devin-Adair, 1958). Some of Wormser's section heads are instructive: "Politics in the Social Sciences," "The Exclusion of the Dissent," "Foundation-Fostered Scientism," "The 'Social Engineers' and the 'Fact-Finding Mania,'" "Mass Research-Integration and Conformity" (The Betrayal of the American Right, p. 136, footnote 3)
 So I ordered and received a copy of Wormser's book. I was unable to find a copy from the major booksellers in Canada; consequently, I had to order a copy from a bookseller in Chicago. When I was looking through the book early this morning (maybe 2 AM!), I came across a quotation that mentions Ludwig von Mises. This, of course, is the purpose of the current blog entry.

Wormser mentions (p. 143) a Mr. Aaron Sargent, "one of the witnesses before the Reece Committee." According to Wormser, Sargent's qualifications are as follows. "Mr. Sargent is a lawyer who has had considerable experience in special investigations and research in education and subversion" (143). The important quotation for my research is found on page 145 (bold emphasis is mine):
The growing radicalism which was beginning rapidly to permeate academic circles was no grass-roots movement. Mr. Sargent cited a statement by Professor Ludwig Von Mises that socialism does not spring from the masses but is instigated by intellectuals "that form themselves into a clique and bore from within and operate that way. It is not a people's movement at all. It is a capitalization on the people's emotions and sympathies toward a point these people wish to reach." (145)
I want to conclude that Mr. Sargent's witness testimony to the Reece Committee certainly appears to be consistent with what I know already about Ludwig von Mises. When I read this Sargent citation originally, what popped into my mind was Mises's conclusion to his book Planned Chaos. Mises's Planned Chaos was originally published in 1947 by the Foundation for Economic Education. The Reece Committee was around roughly from 1952 to 1954; hence, both of my sources are from the same period of history, i.e., circa 1950. You will immediately see the parallels that exist between what Sargent said and what Mises said:
It is not true that the masses are vehemently asking for socialism and that there is no means to resist them. The masses favor socialism because they trust the socialist propaganda of the intellectuals. The intellectuals, not the populace, are molding public opinion. It is a lame excuse of the intellectuals that they must yield to the masses. They themselves have generated the socialist ideas and indoctrinated the masses with them....The intellectual leaders of the peoples have produced and propagated the fallacies which are on the point of destroying liberty and Western civilization. The intellectuals alone are responsible for the mass slaughters which are the characteristic mark of our century. (Planned Chaos, p. 76, bold emphasis mine)

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