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Wilhelm Ropke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist (Library of Modern Thinkers) [Paperback]

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Pages   229
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   ISI Books
ISBN  1882926676  
EAN  9781882926671  

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Item Description...
Wilhelm Ropke is probably the most unjustly neglected economist and social critic of the twentieth century. Exiled by Hitler's regime, Ropke was a passionate critic of socialism and the welfare state who was nonetheless keenly attuned to the limits of capitalism. John Zmirak's Wilhelm Ropke, written with the touch of an accomplished writer and journalist, ably demonstrates that Ropke's humane yet sophisticated "Third Way" economics can play a vital role in shaping appropriate policies to reflect the growing communitarian consensus.

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More About John Zmirak

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Zmirak is an editor, college teacher, screenwriter, and political columnist. He is author of the popular Bad Catholic's Guides, Wilhelm Ropke, and The Race to Save Our Century: Five Core Principles to Promote Peace, Freedom, and a Culture Of Life. His essays, poems, and other works have appeared in First Things, The Weekly Standard, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today, FrontPage Magazine, The American Conservative, The South Carolina Review, Modern Age, The Intercollegiate Review, Commonweal, and The National Catholic Register, among other venues; and he has contributed to The Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought and American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. He edited a number of popular guides to higher education and served as press secretary to Louisiana Governor Mike Foster. His columns are archived at"

John Zmirak currently resides in New York, in the state of New York.

John Zmirak has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Bad Catholic's Guides

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
An important introduction to an important thinker  Sep 29, 2008
Ropke was a major influence in the economic reconstruction of post-World War II Germany. This work is an excellent reintroduction to Ropke for a generation that needs to hear his message. If you are seeking to learn about sound economic alternatives to the irresponsible economic policies promulgated by both major U.S. political parties this is a good book to start with. Zmirak sets forth Ropke's economic and social philosophy in the context of the turbulent times through which he lived and worked. Highly recommended for the general reader.
Champion of Ordered Liberty, Tradition, and the Free-Market  Jun 13, 2003
Wilhelm Röpke is a brilliant German-born economic, social and political theorist, and perhaps my favorite amongst the "Austrian school." He stands apart from his colleagues in that he thinks on a more humane level rejecting crude utilitarian calculations in favor of sound empirical reasoning. The crux of Röpke's economic thought is that the individual counts. This brilliant German economist of the "Austrian school" stood up to the centralizing and dehumanizing policies of the Nazis. Collectivist ideologies lay waste to civil society-destroying the intermediary institutions between individual and state-supplanting them with institutions to empower and enhance the state. Röpke recognized that allocating resources by the fair play of supply and demand is the most humane system and he was champion of the market economy. He was influential over economist Ludwig Erhard, who architected FRG's postwar economic plan, which emphasized free enterprise.

Röpke possessed some peculiarities in his lexicon that set in him apart from his colleagues, but his motive for such peculiarities was principled. Röpke rejected characterizing socialism as a "planned economy" since in his view a market economy is just an economy "planned" by entrepreneurs as opposed to state planners. He preferred the delineation of "market economy" to "capitalism," since what often passed for capitalism in the early twentieth century was a large interventionist welfare state in a cozy lockstep relationship with big business monopolists. This was state corporatism not capitalism. Moreover, "capitalism" was, of course, coined by its chief critic Karl Marx and while the term captures the importance of capital to the market economy, it remains rather sterile. Capitalism frequently connotes a materialistic consumerist ideology or images of big business rather than a social framework based on the market economy. Röpke would attest that mammon is not the measure of all things. In Röpke's eyes, the intangibles-that is to say faith, family and tradition-are the things that animate life and give it meaning.

Röpke recognizes the limitations of the market economy. Röpke possesses a remarkable sense of prudence and conservative sobriety in his thinking as it relates to the political economy. He rejected the idea of making economists into social engineers whether in the interests of "efficiency" or "social justice." And amongst his "Austrian" colleagues like F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, he brought economics to a more humane level, rejecting crude utilitarian logic in favor of more humane empirical reasoning to defend the market economy. Furthermore, he refrains from the market idolatry that is so common to libertarian apologists for the free-market these days. Libertarians frequently espouse an ideology that can be summed up as "everything in the market, nothing outside the market." (This, of course, turns Mussolini's mantra on its nose.) Röpke recognizes something that libertarians miss with their penchant for crude utilitarian calculations and their moral neutrality that often makes being an avowed "libertarian" indistinguishable from being a "libertine." Many libertarians content themselves writing diatribes defending the "robber barrons" of the yesteryears while praising the colossal (e.g. Wal-Mart.) In their efforts to defend any and everything related to "the private sector," they forget that the apparently sporadic interventions of the state often come at the behest of big business. Many big business capitalists content themselves with cozy public-private partnerships that translate to steady, predictable profits and a regulated environment that drowns small business competition. Big business possess a comparative advantage in that they can absorb the regulatory costs easier than their smaller competitors and perhaps influence the regulations. Röpke, however, scorns the colossal not in demagogic rhetoric, but in the rhetoric of an economist. He likewise sees "big business" as a concomitant pillar of "big government" and its regulatory state.

Underlying Röpke's humane economy is the idea that a market economy needs a prudent civil framework, widespread distribution of property, a strong entrepreneurial middle class and emphasis on parochial traditionalism. Anyway, Röpke itinerates the need for sound monetary and fiscal policy on the part of the state. He holds that the gold standard is the only real safeguard against the vicious boom-and-bust cycles of modern capitalist society. Röpke recognized that a market economy flourishes when tradition and community guard against the centralizing depredations of the state and big business. Röpke further emphasized the principle of subsidiarity, which in Europe today seems to survive only in that beautiful alpine island of parochialism-Switzerland-which itself is straddled by the colossal and cosmopolitan EU super-state as if it is ready to be consumed.

In the Humane Economy, Röpke surmised that: "The market economy, and with social and political freedom, can thrive only as part and under the protection of a bourgeois system. This implies the existence of a society in which certain fundamentals are respected and color the whole network of social relationships: individual effort and responsibility, absolute norms and values, independence based on ownership, prudence and daring, calculating and saving, responsibility for planning one's own life, proper coherence with the community, family feeling, a sense of tradition and the succession of generations combined with an open-minded view of the present and the future, proper tension between individual and community, firm moral discipline, respect for the value of money, the courage to grapple on one's own with life and its uncertainties, a sense of the natural order of things, and a firm scale of values." To answer those who might sneer at this, Röpke nimbly replies, "Whoever turns his nose up at these things... suspects them of being 'reactionary'... may in all seriousness be asked what ideals he intends to defend against Communism without having to borrow from it."

John Zmirak does a wonderful job profiling the life and work of a very brilliant man. Bravo! Röpke's ideas are remarkably original, but even so are analogous to that of conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet, Anglo-Catholic distributists like Chesterton and Belloc, and the Southern agrarians like Agar and Tate. You might check out their works as well, if Röpke interests you.
Liberty and Self-Reliance  Nov 27, 2001
The author has done an excellent job in pinpointing to what extent Wilhelm Röpke, in his most mature work, was fired by his first-hand knowledge and experience of the small-scale, directly democratic, and partially corporatistic and communitarian institutions of his Swiss environment. Röpke's twin emphasis, on the one hand on private property rights, individual liberty and self-reliance, and on the other on a social setup characterized by face-to-face networks can be regarded as an antidote against the incipient facelessness of both an atomized capitalistic mass society and a bureaucratic welfare state. -Robert Nef,
The Errors of National Socialism  Nov 27, 2001
A window on the most turbulent decades of the twentieth century, seen through the eyes of Wilhelm Röpke, outstanding economist and social thinker. A tale skillfully retold by a scholar of our times in this very readable account of Röpke's life and work. A pleasure for anyone interested in the economic history of the twentieth century. Röpke's insights into the Great Depression, the errors of National Socialism and, after World War II, attempts at reconstruction and reform have the ring of truth and are of relevance to our times.
A Profound Social Philosopher  Nov 27, 2001
Wilhelm Röpke was really a great personality and an important figure in the history of liberal thinking. It was certainly worthwhile to publish a book on him and Zmirak has done a great job. He shows, that Röpke was not only an economist, but also a profound social philosopher. This reconciliation of technocratic economies and human values would be even more needed nowadays than at the time of Röpke. Zmirak shows better than other books on Röpke, that the Swiss social and political system was very important for Röpke's thinking, that many ideas were new only to Germans or Americans, but draw on Swiss history and Swiss experience.
-, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

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