This is a revised version of a talk given October 28th at this year’s Mises Institute Supporter’s Summit, “Imperialism: Enemy of Freedom.” The original talk, “Taxation, Inflation, and War” is available in MP3 audio from Mises Media.
Praxeology and War
Commentaries on war stretching back more than two millennia to the Peloponnesian Wars have enshrouded the fundamental causes of war in an almost impenetrable fog of myths, fallacies, and outright lies. In most studies, war is generally portrayed as the inevitable outcome of either complex historical forces or accidental circumstances generally beyond the understanding or control of the human combatants.
Fortunately, there exists a science of human action that is applicable to all purposeful activities. This science is referred to as “praxeology.” Although economics is its most developed branch, the basic principles of this science can also be applied to analyzing violent action including warfare. Thus Murray Rothbard wrote:
The rest of praxeology [besides economics] is an unexplored area. Attempts have been made to formulate a logical theory of war and violent action, and violence in the form of government has been treated by political philosophy and by praxeology in tracing the effects of violent intervention in the free market.
As Rothbard suggested, what we might call the “Logic of War Making” is a relatively undeveloped area of the science of human action. Its elaboration is therefore especially necessary if we are to dispel the mythology of war and elucidate its true origin and character. The basic axiom of this praxeological discipline is that war is the objective outcome of the human endeavor of war-making.