Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Putting the 'Au' into 'Austria'

I've just returned from a splendid trip to Vienna, Austria, the highlight of which was discovering a bust of Carl Menger behind a pile of refit scaffolding in a dusty quadrangle corner of Vienna University.

Alas, business calls this week, and then sunnier climes will claim me for my annual retreat into a land filled with windsurf equipment outlets, gins and tonic, and a range of swimming pools with bar service, but for those who wish to visit the spiritual home of all Austrians, I'll be providing a pilgrimage guide to the holy city of Vienna, once the experience has settled into my bones.

Before I sign off though, I must relay a strange incident; I was watching the James Bond film Goldfinger, on the laptop in my hotel room, when I noticed the numberplate on Auric Goldfinger's car, AU1. The symbol AU is, of course, the Periodic Table symbol for gold, the medium of exchange preference of most modern Austrians, as well as being the first two letters of the word Austria.

Spooky, huh?

There's even a town in Austria called Au, which you can read about here. Ah, the excitement of being an Austrian in Austria; it does funny serendipitious things to the brain cells, you know. But when you stand outside the site of Ludwig von Mises' old home, just down the road from Saint Stephen's cathedral, on a warm summer's evening, before a 25 minute walk to an open air café situated between the University and the Burgtheater, where Von Mises and his friends also used to spend the evening? Now that really does set the psyche tingling.

Obviously, a well-seasoned Wienerschnitzel soaked in lemon and washed down with a particularly fine ice-cold Welschriesling helps, but it is an atmosphere which I feel unworthy even to write about until I can summon up the correct words. I even felt so inspired I tried to order the whole thing in German, to a fantastically Hungarian-looking waiter:

Ich mochte bitte, ein Wienerschnitzel, und vielleicht ein glas von Welschriesling, haben, bitte, und denn, das Rechnung?
I wonder if Von Mises would have approved of my schreckliche Deutsche sprache?

But alas, I must away into the evening. The balmy heat of an Oxfordshire evening in England is insisting that the Bombay Sapphire is iced and lemoned instantly. Jawohl, ich bin ein Wiener. Auf wieder hören.


Radical Sceptic said...

It all sounds wonderful. BTW instead of just using the Bombay Sapphire in a G&T why not try out a proper Dry Martini cocktail. Much the best way to enjoy Bombay Sapphire on a summer evening, twist of lemon peel rather than an olive garnish is best I think.

PS Have you seen Walter Block's attack on libertarian deviationists where he criticizes Hoppe for deviating to the right and Long for deviating to the left. He takes a swipe at many other libertarian luminaries like Konkin as well.


Jack Maturin said...

As someone who swings with alarming unpredictability between supporting Konkin and supporting Hoppe, I think I'm too unintellectual and too woolly in my thinking to pass a decent opinion. Plus, I like Professor Block because he posted me one of his difficult-to-otherwise-acquire papers, on roads; which in my book scores lots of points.

Anyone who swings as wildly as me probably has an 'average' position, I suppose, of a 'plumb-line'. In the meantime, I'm still waiting for Block's critique of Hoppe's ideas on time preference.

I'll probably be able to pass a better opinion, at that time. Plus of course, I have to refute Hoppe's ideas on homosexuality, and move to a Blockian position on that, though just for his sheer glasshouse-smashing entertainment value, and brilliant Molinarian insight on democracy, the good Professor Hoppe is a man worth listening to. As is, of course, Konkin, another libertarian with tremendous barricade-building charisma.

And Konkin's idea that it will be through entertainment (ie. novels, films, etc.) that the libertarian message is spread most effectively (eg: Atlas Shrugged, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) is an excellent one. But this doesn't prevent us from also having great theory books published, to back this 'entertainment' up.

And for that, we need people like Block to continue in the plumb-line Rothbardian 'left AND right' theoretical tradition.

In short, although I would support some (or even most) of Hoppe's ideas, and some (or even most) of Konkin's ideas, I think it is in the 'reasonable middle' where we will have our greatest success, combining the best ideas from both left and right, to form a consistent whole.

I shall stick to my get-out position, in this case, as being a 'Proto-Rothbardian', which I suppose pushes me in a Blockian direction, who, it would appear, is closest to Rothbard, of all the current Austrians.

Bugger. And no, this doesn't mean I support Block on his ideas that a man can sell himself into slavery.

I shall have to indeed a new form of Austrianism, 'Maturianism', a new light delicate blend of Hoppe, Konkin, and Block. I just don't know if I've got enough time, in this lifetime, to read enough books to do it.

Gekko said...


When are you going to post again? The well of proto-Rothbardian daily commonsense is dry and your appreciative audience is dying of thirst. :-)

cuthhyra said...

I second Gekko! AngloAustria really is a breath of fresh air, it would be a shame to lose the momentum you have built up.

Jack Maturin said...

Damn, do I have to put the Gin and Tonic down again? And don't get me started on David Cameron...

Still alive, here. Just waiting for the inflationist welfare state to totally collapse.

Bah, humbug.