December 14, 2014

When Gordon Clark Mentioned the Austrian School Economists

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

Most readers know I have a strong liking for Christian philosopher Gordon H. Clark. Until I read the following, I was unaware as to whether or not Clark had any clue that the Austrian economists existed.  I knew that many of his views were similar to some important themes in libertarian political philosophy, although not being a political philosopher, there wasn’t much specifics to go off of.  I have been struck for some time by the vast similarities in the epistemology of Clark and the rationalism of Mises.  Naturally, differences exist. But anyone who is familiar with both Clark’s presuppositionalism and the Misesian tradition of economic methodology cannot avoid recognizing some important commonalities.  At the most basic level, both Clarkianism and Misesianism are radically opposed to empiricism as a means of attaining truth.

In any case, despite their fascinating overlaps, I have only just last week learning of when Clark mentioned Mises and Hazlitt and Hayek.  It was during a critique of something he referred to as “The National Council of the Churches.”  Clark expressed frustration at the “leftist” economists represented in a certain sponsored book.  And he concludes with:

The National Council of the Churches disclaims responsibility for the views of the several writers of the book it sponsored, but it would be interesting to know the answers to two questions. First, why, with one possible exception, did the Federal Council select all left-wing authors? Why were not some representatives of capitalism, liberty, and Americanism chosen? Why did they not ask chapters from Ludwig von Mises, [F.A] Hayek, Walter Spahr, Henry Hazlitt, Lewis Haney, or a dozen other conservative economists? Second, what is the justification for spending the tithe money of Christian people for a course in economics – even if it were not one sided and anti-christian? All these authors have published their views in solid volumes; there seems to be no need for Christians to subsidize or propagandize secular economics.

 

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com