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The Movement to Burn Toxic Textbooks

Link to blacklist.

Toxic textbooks?  How does this differ from what the German Student Association denounced in 1933?  Is “toxic textbooks” not just a new name for the books that the anti-intellectuals intend to burn?

Ludwig von Mises writes:

Economics in the second German Reich, as represented by the government-appointed university professors, degenerated into an unsystematic, poorly assorted collection of various scraps of knowledge borrowed from history, geography, technology, jurisprudence, and party politics, larded with deprecatory remarks about the errors in the "abstractions" of the Classical School.

After 1866, the men who came into the academic career had only contempt for "bloodless abstractions." They published historical studies, preferably such as dealt with labor conditions of the recent past. Many of them were firmly convinced that the foremost task of economists was to aid the "people" in the war of liberation they were waging against the "exploiters."

This was the position Gustav Schmoller embraced with regard to economics. Again and again he blamed the economists for having prematurely made inferences from quantitatively insufficient material. What, in his opinion, was needed in order to substitute a realistic science of economics for the hasty generalizations of the British "armchair" economists was more statistics, more history, and more collection of "material." Out of the results of such research the economists of the future, he maintained, would one day develop new insights by "induction."

Does Gustav Schmoller remind you of anyone alive today?

In the defining manifesto of the Post-Autistic Movement, James Devine writes:

The original statements by the rebellious French economics students define autistic economics in terms of its one-sided and exclusionary interest in "imaginary worlds," "uncontrolled use of mathematics" and the absence of pluralism of approaches in economics.  The hard-core autistic walling off from the societal environment can be seen most strongly in the specific, highly abstract, axiomatic school that the students protested against.

More recently, they have grown bold enough to demand that federally-funded economics associations censure anybody who displays “axiom-happy behavior,” as this is considered symptomatic of autism.

The Real-World Economics Review writes:

It is accepted fact that the economics profession through its teachings, pronouncements and policy recommendations facilitated the Global Financial Collapse (GFC).  To date, however, the world’s major economics associations have declined to censure the major facilitators of the GFC or even to publicly identify them.  This silence, this indifference to causing human suffering, constitutes grave moral failure.  It also gives license to economists to continue to indulge in axiom-happy behaviour.

Since these associations are funded entirely by the Federal Government, this is tantamount to government censorship.  Indeed, their use of the word censure, rather than censor, implies a formal reprimand issued to an individual by an authoritative body.  This is highly reminiscent of the Soviet practice of denouncing dissidents as mentally ill.  If preventing autistic people from getting published becomes government policy, it is only a short step to forcibly institutionalizing anybody who has studied geometry or otherwise shown an aptitude for the axiomatic method.

If this comparison seems unimportant, recall what the German Historical School led to.

Ludwig von Mises writes:

The political significance of the work of the Historical School consisted in the fact that it rendered Germany safe for the ideas, the acceptance of which made popular with the German people all those disastrous policies that resulted in the great catastrophes.  The aggressive imperialism that twice ended in war and defeat, the limitless inflation of the early 1920s, the Zwangswirtschaft and all the horrors of the Nazi regime were achievements of politicians who acted as they had been taught by the champions of the Historical School.

Only forty years passed from the time of Gustav Schmoller to that of Adolph Hitler.  How many years will it take for the Post-Autistics to find their own Hitler?

Do you want to fight the Nazis again?  Or would it be more effective to denounce the Post-Autistic movement now, before they arm themselves? I remind you:  Rifles and bullets alone do not win wars; it takes ideas to press rifles into the hands of men.  Win the war of ideas and you will have won the war before a single shot has been fired.

“To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.”  –  Sun Tzu

At this early stage of the Post-Autistic Movement, the most obvious point of comparison with the Nazis is their campaign to ban academic papers.  Click here and here to see two blatant examples of a post-autistic economist banning me for ideological reasons.    Also, observe that the Wilmott forum banned me for a post almost identical to this page, calling it “self promotion,” though it does not actually link to my website or mention me or my book.

Just because it is not the government, in the sense of actual federal agents, who are burning books does not mean that it is any less wrong or any different than Nazi book burning.  That was not done by the government either.  It was the German Student Association.

In the Wikipedia article on Nazi book burnings we read:

The German Student Association (Deutsche Studentenschaft) proclaimed a nationwide"Action against the Un-German Spirit," to climax in a literary purge or "cleansing" ("Säuberung") by fire.

Placards publicized the theses, which attacked "Jewish intellectualism," asserted the need to "purify" German language and literature.

On May 10, 1933 the students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of "un-German" books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the night of May 10, in most university towns, nationalist students marched in torchlight parades "against the un-German spirit."

Should Axiomatic Theory of Economics be burned?

   Yes. It is toxic! The Post-Autistic Economists should burn every copy!
   No. It is protected by the First Amendment. Please donít burn any books!

View Results

Mark Skousen writes about Mises’ attitude towards the use of empirical studies in economics:

Mises claimed in Human Action that the only pure economic science is radical apriorism – using solely deductive reason without the help of experience. He built his entire system on logic and self-evident assumptions, similar to geometry. Mises rejected all forms of inductive aposteriorism, or the use of empirical studies or history to prove a theory. Mises solemnly declared, “Its particular theorems are not open to any verification or falsification on the grounds of experience.”

The particular theorems of praxeology are not open to any verification or falsification on the grounds of experience?  That certainly sounds burnable, by Edward Fullbrook’s definition.

Should Ludwig von Mises' Human Action be burned?

   Yes. It is toxic! The Post-Autistic Economists should burn every copy!
   No. It is protected by the First Amendment. Please donít burn any books!

View Results

If you believe that burning books is wrong, link to this page with the keyword “toxic textbooks.”

Edit: On 16 May 2011, the Post-Autistic Economics Network changed its name to the World Economics Association. Their leadership is unchanged and they continue to maintain the same blacklist, though the economists on the blacklist are no longer referred to as "autistic," apparently in deference to real scientists who know that "autistic" is not just a bad word to hurl at one's ideological opponents but a neurological disorder that should be diagnosed by medical professionals, not economists.

by Red Rocket

I have a problem
with Gustav Schmoller,
and his latest reincarnation –
James Devine.

These two men,
opted for books supportive
of price controls
and trade barriers.

Clad in lab coats
they called for curricular reform
in colleges jubilantly jaded:
“a free market is a wild market”.

In fact, as capitalists in training
we are morally and intellectually deprived,
unable to support our economic system.
Unwilling to spend sensibly; we're dogmatic.


Enlightened gov't in 1938,
lost a decade of economic growth.

isn't it the most effective form of terror?
was surely swastika approved.

I doubt
they'd try to order the entrepreneur around
in front of his two free guns:

Smith and Menger.

The Enigma of Hitler - Salvador Dalí
Liberal Hitler?
by Kurt Cook

One day, when I was chatting
With a fellow who I knew
who said, "I'm nothing like a Hitler
because I never hated Jews!

“I never did a goose step,
or raised my arm up high
if I ever wore a swastika
I think I'd surely die!

“I do not own a brown shirt
a mustache I detest
I'm an open-minded liberal
as my friends will all attest

“I have no thought of racism
from such evil I am pure
I could never be a Nazi!"
Said I, "Are you sure?"

He said he was for gun control
for crime, guns were to blame
He stammered when I told him
that Adolf felt the same.

He said that he was pro-choice
and that it would not do
to make a woman have a child
I said, "Adolf believed that, too"

He boasted vegetarian
that meat he would eschew
out of love for animals
I said, "Hitler was one, too."

He spoke at length of poverty
how the poor should be helped by the state
and the unemployed given government jobs,
I said, "Like Germany in '38."

He railed against hateful speech
How it needs to be banned flat
and hateful books and movies burned
I said, "Hitler did just that."

He said, "We must teach our young ones well,
make them strong and wise and couth!
So they will know our righteous ways"
I said, "Just like the Hitler Youth."

He called me a right-wing terrorist
and said that he soon would stamp
out all the thing I stood for,
Said I, "Send me to a camp?"

Then my liberal friend stood up,
and angrily shouted and stomped
Just like the little Bohemian
who was full of bluster and pomp.