Pandemics: Systematic Government Bureaucracy and Coercion versus Spontaneous Social Coordination

 

The Theorem of the Impossibility of Socialism and Its Application to the Current Crisis

The reaction of the world’s different governments and public authorities (and particularly those of my own country, Spain) to the emergence and evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic, the interventionist measures they have taken one after the other, and the monitoring of the effects of these measures offer a unique opportunity to any economic theorist who wishes to observe, verify, and apply to a historical case that is very close and significant to us the essential content and main implications of the “theorem of the impossibility of socialism” formulated for the first time by Ludwig von Mises one hundred years ago.[10] It is true that the collapse of the former Soviet Union and of real socialism, along with the crisis of the welfare state, had already sufficiently illustrated the triumph of the Austrian analysis in the historic debate about the impossibility of socialism. However, the tragic outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has given us one more real-life example – in this case one much closer to us and more concrete – which superbly illustrates and confirms what the theory holds, namely: that is it theoretically impossible for a central planner to give a coordinating quality to their commands, regardless of how necessary these commands seem, how noble their goal is, or the good faith and effort devoted to successfully achieving it.[11]

The worldwide impact of the current pandemic, which has affected all countries regardless of tradition, culture, wealth, or political system, highlights the general applicability of the theorem Mises discovered (which we could aptly call the “theorem of the impossibility of statism”) to any coercive, interventionary measure the state uses. It is true that the interventionist measures adopted by the various governments differ considerably. However, though some governments may have managed the crisis better than others, the differences have actually been more of degree than of kind, since governments cannot dissociate themselves from the essential coercion in their very DNA. In fact, coercion is their most fundamental characteristic, and whenever they exercise it, and precisely to the extent they exercise it, all of the negative effects predicted by the theory inevitably appear. Therefore, it is not just that some authorities are more inept than others (though that is certainly the case in Spain[12]). Instead, it is that all authorities are doomed to fail when they insist on coordinating society through the use of power and coercive commands. And this is perhaps the most important message economic theory must convey to the population: Problems invariably arise from the exercise of coercive state power, regardless of how well the politician of the moment performs.

Although this article deals in general with the economic analysis of pandemics, we will focus almost exclusively on the implications of the current pandemic in light of the “theorem of the impossibility of statism-socialism.” The reason for this is twofold: First, from the viewpoint of any contemporary reader, the current pandemic is closer in time and has a personal impact. Second, the intervention models employed in other pandemics are now quite remote from us in history, and though we can identify many of the same phenomena we have recently observed (such as the manipulation of information by the Allied Powers during the flu pandemic of 1918, poorly named the “Spanish” flu for precisely that reason), they clearly offer less added value today as an illustration of the theoretical analysis.

As I explain in detail in my book Socialism, Economic Calculation, and Entrepreneurship, particularly in chapter 3, which applies directly here,[13] economic science has shown that it is theoretically impossible for the state to function in a dynamically efficient way, since it is perpetually immersed in an ineradicable ignorance that prevents it from infusing a coordinating quality into its commands. This is chiefly due to the four factors listed below from least to most important:

First, to truly coordinate with its commands, the state would need a huge volume of information and knowledge – not principally technical or scientific knowledge, though it would need that too, but knowledge of countless specific and personal circumstances of time and place (“practical” knowledge). Second, this vital information or knowledge is essentially subjective, tacit, practical, and inarticulate, and thus it cannot be transmitted to the state central-planning and decision-making agency. Third, this knowledge or information is not given or static, but instead is continually changing as a result of the innate creative capacity of human beings and the constant fluctuation in the circumstances surrounding them. The impact of this on the authorities is dual: They are always late, because once they have digested the scarce and biased information they receive, it has already become outdated; and they cannot hit the mark with their commands for the future, since the future depends on practical information that has not yet emerged because it has not yet been created. And finally, fourth, let us recall that the state is coercion (that is its most fundamental characteristic), and therefore, when it imposes its commands by force in any area of society, it hinders and even blocks the creation and emergence of precisely the knowledge or information the state desperately needs in order to give a coordinating quality to its commands. Thus the great paradox of statist interventionism, since it invariably tends to produce results opposite those it is intended to achieve.[14] Typically, and on an extensive scale, we see the emergence, left and right, of maladjustments and discoordination; systematically irresponsible actions on the part of the authorities (who do not even realize how blind they are regarding the information they do not possess and the true cost of their decisions); constant scarcity, shortages, and poor quality in the resources the authorities attempt to mobilize and control; the manipulation of information to bolster themselves politically; and the corruption of the essential principles of the rule of law. Since the outbreak of the pandemic and the mobilization of the state to fight it, we have observed all of these phenomena, which have inevitably emerged, one after the other, in a chainlike fashion. And I repeat, these phenomena do not arise from malpractice by public authorities but instead are intrinsic to a system based on the systematic use of coercion to plan and to try to solve social problems.

As an example, I recommend readers study, in light of the theoretical analysis we are discussing concerning the impossibility of statism, the research article “El libro blanco de la pandemia”[15] [White Paper on the Pandemic] written by José Manuel Romero and Oriol Güell. This paper illustrates, step by step, practically all of the inadequacies and deficiencies of statism, even if the authors, who are journalists by trade, naively believe that their description of the events will serve to prevent the same errors from being committed in the future. They fail to grasp that the errors in question are not rooted chiefly in political or management errors, but in the very rationale behind the state system of regulation, planning, and coercion, which always, in one way or another, triggers the same effects of discoordination, inefficiency, and injustice. As one example among many others, we could cite the chronology of events, which the authors have reconstructed perfectly, and the precious weeks that were lost when, beginning February 13, 2020, doctors from the public hospital Arnau de Vilanova in Valencia fought unsuccessfully to obtain authorization from the regional (and national) health authorities to run coronavirus tests on samples they had taken from a sixty-nine-year-old patient who had died with symptoms they suspected might have been caused by Covid-19. But they were confronted with a harsh reality: The corresponding central health planning agencies (the Department of Health in Madrid and the regional health ministry) repeatedly denied authorization for the tests, since the patient suspected of having been infected (who, many weeks later, was shown to have died from Covid-19) did not meet the conditions the authorities had set down earlier (on January 24), namely: having traveled to Wuhan in the fourteen days prior to the onset of symptoms or having been in contact with people diagnosed with the disease. Clearly, in a decentralized system of free enterprise in which the creativity and initiative of the actors involved had not been restricted, this monumental error would not have occurred, and we would have gained several key weeks’ worth of knowledge. We would have known the virus was already freely circulating in Spain and could have learned about preventive measures and ways of fighting the pandemic. (For instance, it would have been possible to cancel, among others, the feminist demonstrations on March 8.)

Also quite noteworthy is Mikel Buesa’s remarkable book (which we have already cited[16]) in terms of presenting (especially on pages 118 and following) the litany of errors, discoordination, corruption, manipulation of information, violations of rights, and lies that have naturally and inevitably arisen from the activity, at different levels, of the state as it has attempted to come to grips with the pandemic. For instance, “…Spanish manufacturers understandably interpreted the orders of seizure of medical supplies as an attack on their business interests, and the result was a halt in production and imports” (p. 109) just when it was most urgent to safeguard the health of doctors and health personnel, who were going to work every day without the necessary protective measures. Also, seizures in customs by order of the state led to the loss of orders of millions of face masks when the corresponding suppliers preferred to send them to other customers in fear that the government might confiscate the merchandise (ibid.). There was also the case – one among many – of the Galician manufacturer whose materials were frozen in a warehouse by order of the state, but no one claimed them (pp. 110-111). In addition, there were the Spanish companies specialized in the manufacture of PCR tests whose stock and production were requisitioned by the state, and consequently, these companies were not able to produce more than 60,000 PCR tests each day or satisfy domestic and foreign demand (p. 119). And this was compounded by the bottleneck stemming from the lack of cotton swabs for collecting samples, a problem which could have been solved immediately if Spanish producers had been permitted to operate freely (p. 114). There was the widespread shortage which dominated the market for face masks, hand gels, and nitrile gloves as a result of state regulation and the setting of maximum prices, and all during the months of the most rapid spread of the virus (p. 116).[17] And of the 971 million units of different products (masks, gloves, gowns, breathing devices, diagnostic equipment, etc.) acquired since the month of March, only 226 million had actually been distributed by September of 2020, while the rest languished in storage in numerous warehouses (p. 118). And the list goes on and on, in an endless catalogue that rather resembles a description of the systematic inefficiencies which existed in production and distribution in the former Soviet Union during the twentieth century and led to the definitive collapse of the communist regime beginning in 1989.[18] And I repeat, this has all been due not to a lack of work, management, or even good faith on the part of our authorities, but to their lack of the most fundamental knowledge of economics (and this despite there being philosophy professors and even PhDs in economics at the head of our government.) Therefore, it should not surprise us that, at a moment of utmost urgency and gravity, they chose – as authorities always do, since that is precisely their role in the state’s framework – coercion, regulation, confiscation, etc. instead of freedom of enterprise, production, and distribution and to support instead of hinder private initiative and the free exercise of entrepreneurship.

 

Other Collateral Effects of Statism Predicted by the Theory

Apart from the basic consequences of maladjustments, discoordination, irresponsible actions, and a lack of economic calculation, statism brings about all sorts of additional negative effects which are also covered in chapter 3 of my book Socialism, Economic Calculation, and Entrepreneurship.[19] Another typical characteristic of statism and the authorities who embody it is the attempt to take advantage of crises – in this case the one the pandemic has caused – to not only hold onto power but (and especially) to increase their power even more by engaging in political propaganda to manipulate and even systematically deceive the citizenry to that end.[20] For instance, when the pandemic struck, the Chinese authorities initially tried to conceal the problem by hunting down and harassing the doctors who had sounded the alarm. Later, the authorities launched a shameless campaign of cover-up, lack of transparency, and underreporting of deaths which has lasted until at least the present, since as of this writing (January 2021), over a year after the pandemic broke out, the Chinese government has yet to allow the international commission organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) to enter the country and conduct an independent investigation into the true origin of the pandemic.

Regarding the Spanish state, the cited works document multiple lies that have been deliberately and systematically spread in the form of political propaganda to manipulate and deceive citizens so they would be unable to assess the true cost of the government’s management. Of these lies, I would like to highlight the following, due to their significance: First, the true number of deaths. (According to Mikel Buesa, only 56.4 percent have been reported of a total, to date, close to 90,000 – p. 76.) Second, the total number of people really infected (which, depending on the stage of the pandemic, varies between five and ten times the number of cases reported). And third, the false data, inflated by 50 percent, which the government deliberately provided the Financial Times at the end of March 2020 concerning the number of PCR tests administered (355,000 instead of the actual 235,000), numbers the government itself later publicly used to boast that Spain was one of the countries with the most tests performed (see, for instance, p. 113 of Buesa’s book).

We must bear in mind that states in general and their governments in particular invariably focus on achieving their objectives in an extensive and voluntaristic[21] manner. “Voluntaristic” since they expect to accomplish their proposed ends by mere coercive will in the form of commands and regulations. “Extensive” since the achievement of the goals pursued is judged only in terms of the most easily measurable parameters – in this case, the number of deaths, which, curiously, has been underreported by nearly half in the official statistics, as we have seen. And as for the prostitution of law and justice, another typical collateral effect of socialism,[22] Buesa documents in detail the abuse of power and the wrongful and unconstitutional use of the state of alarm, when the appropriate action would have been to declare a true state of emergency, with all of the protections against government control established by the constitution. Thus, both the “rule of law” and the fundamental content of the constitution were disregarded (Buesa, pp. 96-108 and 122).

Worthy of special mention are the whole chorus of scientists, “experts,” and intellectuals who are dependent on and complicit with the state. They depend on the political establishment and devote themselves to providing supposed scientific support for every decision emanating from it. In this way, they use the halo of science to disarm civil society and render it helpless. In fact, “social engineering” or scientistic socialism is one of the most typical and perverse manifestations of statism, since, on the one hand, it aims to justify the notion that the experts, due to their supposedly higher level of training and knowledge, are entitled to direct our lives; and on the other hand, it aims to block any complaint or opposition by simply mentioning the purported backing of science. In short, governments lead us to believe that, by virtue of the allegedly greater knowledge and intellectual superiority of their scientific advisors with respect to ordinary citizens, governments are entitled to mold society to their liking via coercive commands. Elsewhere[23] I have written about the litany of errors triggered by this “power binge,” which is fueled by the fatal conceit of “experts” and technicians. In turn, the origin of this fatal conceit lies in the fundamental error of believing that the dispersed, practical information the actors in the social process are constantly creating and transmitting can come to be known, articulated, stored, and analyzed in a centralized way through scientific means, and this is impossible in both theory and practice.[24]

 

Pandemics: Free Society and Market Economy

We cannot know a priori how a free society not in the grip of the systematic coercion of state interventionism would cope with a pandemic as severe as the current one. As now, society would certainly feel a profound impact in the areas of health and the economy. However, the reaction of society would clearly rest on entrepreneurial creativity. The search for solutions and the efforts made to detect and overcome problems as they arose would be dynamically efficient. It is precisely this force of entrepreneurial creativity which prevents us from knowing the details of the solutions that would be adopted, since entrepreneurial information which has not yet been created – because monopolistic state coercion has prevented its creation – cannot be known today, though, at the same time, we can rest assured that problems would tend to be detected and resolved very agilely and efficiently.[25] In other words, as we have been analyzing, problems would be handled in a manner exactly opposite to what we see with the state and the combined action of its politicians and bureaucrats, regardless of the good faith and work they put into their efforts. And although we cannot even imagine the immense variety, richness, and ingenuity that would be rallied to combat problems resulting from a pandemic in a free society, we have numerous indications to give us at least an approximate idea of the completely different scenario that would emerge in an environment free from state coercion.[26]

For instance, instead of total and all-inclusive confinement – and the obligatory economic standstill associated with it – (which, we must not forget, originated in communist China, no less), in a free society, the measures that would predominate would be far more decentralized, disaggregated, and “micro” in nature, such as the selective confinement of (private) residential areas, neighborhoods, buildings, companies, nursing homes, etc. Instead of the censorship exercised during the key weeks at the start of the pandemic (and the harassment of those who revealed it), information would be transmitted freely and efficiently at great speed. Instead of slowness and clumsiness in the monitoring, via tests, of possible cases, from the very beginning entrepreneurs and proprietors of hospitals, nursing homes, airports, stations, means of transportation, etc. would, in their own interest and in that of their customers, introduce these tests immediately and with great agility. In a free society and a free market, acute shortages and bottlenecks would not occur, except on very isolated occasions. The use of face masks would not be advised against (when half the world has already been using them with good results), nor would it later be frantically imposed in every situation. Entrepreneurial ingenuity would focus on testing, discovering, and innovating solutions in a polycentric and competitive manner, and not, as is the case now, on blocking and deadening most of humanity’s creative potential through monopolistic central state planning.[27] And I need not mention the enormous advantage of individual initiative and private enterprise nor how differently they operate in terms of researching and discovering remedies and vaccines; for even in the current circumstances, states have been obliged to turn to them to obtain these things quickly when confronted with the resounding failure of their pompous and well-funded public research institutes to offer effective, timely solutions.[28] The same could be said concerning the far greater agility and efficiency of private health care networks (health insurance companies, private hospitals, religious institutions, foundations of all sorts, etc.), which have the additional possibility of expanding much more quickly and with much more elasticity in times of crisis. (As an example, let us recall that in Spain, curiously, nearly 80 percent of public servants themselves – including the vice president of the socialist government – freely choose private over public health care, while their fellow citizens are unjustly denied that choice; and even so, at least 25 percent of them make the sacrifice of paying the additional cost of a private health care policy.) And so on…[29]

 

The Servility and Obedience of Citizens

To conclude this section, perhaps it would be a good idea to ask why, despite all of the inadequacies, insufficiencies, and contradictions inherent in state management that have been exposed by economic analysis,[30] most citizens, enticed by their politicians and public authorities, continue to obey them with both discipline and resignation. When his Discourse of Voluntary Servitude appeared back in 1574, Etienne de la Boétie[31] identified four factors to explain the servility of citizens toward rulers and authorities, and these factors are still fully relevant even today: the custom of obeying, which, though of tribal and family origin, is extrapolated to the whole society; the perennial self-presentation of political authorities with a “holy” seal (in the past, divine election; today, popular sovereignty and democratic support) which would legitimize the supposed obligation to obey; the perpetual creation of a large group of stalwarts (in the past, members of the Praetorian Guard; today, experts, civil servants, etc.) who depend on the political establishment for their subsistence and constantly support, sustain, and rally behind it; in short, the purchase of popular support through the continual granting of subsidies (in the past, stipends and awards; today, for instance, benefits of the guilefully named “welfare state”), which make citizens progressively and irreversibly dependent on the political establishment. If to this we add the fear (incited by the state itself) which leads people to call on the authorities to do something, especially in times of severe crisis (wars, pandemics), we can understand how citizens’ obsequious behavior grew and was reinforced, particularly in this sort of situation. But as soon as we begin any in-depth study from a theoretical or philosophical standpoint, it becomes clear that the special authority attributed to the state lacks moral and ethical legitimacy. Many have shown this to be true, including Michael Huemer in his book The Problem of Political Authority.[32] Obviously, we cannot here delve deeply into this grave problem, which undoubtedly lies at the root of the main social crisis of our time (and, in a certain sense, of all time). However, in the context of our economic analysis of pandemics, what we can confirm is that there exists a “virus” even deadlier than the one that triggered the current pandemic, and it is none other than the statism “which infects the human soul and has spread to all of us.”[33]

 

 

________________________________

[10]     Ludwig von Mises, “Die Wirtschaftsrechnung im sozialistischen Gemeinwesen,” Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, no. 47, 1920, pp. 86-121.

[11]     We find another concrete historical illustration, in this case from the other side of the iron curtain during the final years of Soviet communism, in the explosion of the nuclear power plant Chernobyl on April 26, 1986. Much has been written analyzing and commenting on the accident, and the context and key events are admirably presented in Chernobyl, a television miniseries produced and distributed in five episodes by HBO-SKY beginning in 2019. The series has become the highest rated in history.

[12]     See, for instance, Mikel Buesa, Abuso de poder: El coronavirus en España. Incompetencia y fracaso en la gestión de la crisis [Abuse of Power: The Coronavirus in Spain: Incompetence and Failure in the Management of the Crisis] (Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2020).

[13]     Jesús Huerta de Soto, Socialism, Economic Calculation, and Entrepreneurship (Cheltenham, UK;  Northampton, MA:  Edward Elgar, 2010), especially pp. 49-98.

[14]     “Thus arises this unsolvable paradox [of statism]: the more the governing authority insists on planning or controlling a certain sphere of social life, the less likely it is to reach its objectives, since it cannot obtain the information necessary to organize and coordinate society. In fact, it will cause new and more severe maladjustments and distortions insofar as it effectively uses coercion and limits people’s entrepreneurial capacity.” Ibid., p. 58.

[15]     Published in various installments by the newspaper El País, June 14 and 21, 2020.

[16]     Mikel Buesa, Abuso de poder: El coronavirus en España. Incompetencia y fracaso en la gestión de la crisis, op. cit. Nevertheless, Professor Buesa attributes the errors more to incompetence than to the system itself. And in the final part of his otherwise excellent work, practically the only proposal he makes (except concerning the labor market) is of additional active state policies to improve the way things are done and to overcome the crisis (!) This is all apart from the mistaken Keynesian interpretation he makes of the crisis on p. 203.

[17]     As is well known, maximum prices give rise to shortages, scarcity, and the black market. When an urgent need for a product appears (for example, face masks), the only sensible policy is to both liberalize prices so they will rise as much as necessary and encourage production on a massive scale until the increased demand has been met and the problem has been solved. Experience shows that prices very soon return to their prior level (and in any case, long before government intervention achieves the necessary increase in production, which – in contrast to what happens in a free market – invariably arrives late, drop by drop, and with very low quality). Therefore, the argument that high prices are not equitable makes no sense, because the alternative is far worse: much more prolonged shortages, black markets, and low quality. To ensue that the most disadvantaged people can purchase face masks at a low price as soon as possible, the price must initially be permitted to rise as much as the market determines.

[18]     At the time I am writing these lines, all of these problems we have seen are occurring again in the slow, discoordinated process of distributing and administering Covid-19 vaccines to the entire population. (Public authorities are monopolizing this process as well and completely excluding private enterprise.) See Hans-Werner Sinn, “Europe’s Vaccination Debacle,” Project Syndicate, Jan. 18, 2021. [https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/europe-vaccine-scarcity-central-planning-by-hans-werner-sinn-2021-01?barrier=accesspaylog]

[19]     Jesús Huerta de Soto, Socialism, Economic Calculation, and Entrepreneurship, op. cit., pp. 62-77.

[20]     “Any socialist system will tend to overindulge in political propaganda, by which it will invariably idealize the effects on the social process of the governing body’s commands, while insisting that the absence of such intervention would produce very negative consequences for society. The systematic deception of the population, the distortion of facts … to convince the public that the power structure is necessary and should be maintained and strengthened, and so on are all typical characteristics of the perverse and corrupting effect socialism exerts on its own governing bodies or agencies.” Jesús Huerta de Soto, Socialism, Economic Calculation, and Entrepreneurship, op. cit., p. 68. Government action is again reflected in the unsettling question which concludes the miniseries Chernobyl mentioned earlier: “What is the cost of lies?”

[21]     Ibid., p. 66.

[22]     Ibid., pp. 71-76.

[23]     Ibid., pp. 80-82.

[24]     Experts and authorities usually attribute the continual maladjustments interventionism causes to a “lack of cooperation” on the part of citizens, and these maladjustments are used as further justification for new doses of institutional coercion in a progressive, totalitarian increase in power which, in the presence of increasing discoordination, is usually accompanied by constant “…jolts or sudden changes in policy, radical modifications of the content of commands or the area to which they apply, or both, and all in the vain hope that asystematic ‘experimentation’ with new types and degrees of interventionism will provide a solution to the insoluble problems considered.” Perhaps the shameful episode of face masks – which were initially advised against by the experts, and then, just two months later, were considered essential and declared obligatory even outdoors (!) – offers a perfect illustration of this point. See Jesús Huerta de Soto, Socialism, Economic Calculation, and Entrepreneurship, op. cit., p. 64. See also “Macron y la vacunación,” El país, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, p. 10. In addition, I could mention the tragic discrimination public authorities inflicted upon the residents of nursing homes or the fact that, at the most critical moments of the pandemic, it was often a civil servant (a doctor at a public hospital) who decided whether patients critically ill with Covid-19 deserved to live or not.

[25]     Israel Kirzner, Discovery and the Capitalist Process (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1985), p. 168.

[26]     For instance, the use by the private company Inditex (“Zara”) of its logistics and transportation centers with China made it possible to bring to Spain in record time over 35 million units of protective health equipment (along with 1,200 ventilators) which, had the usual public channels been used, would have arrived much later and in worse condition. Also, the restaurant “Coque,” which has received two Michelin stars, prepared and delivered in Madrid thousands of meals for the needy and those affected by the pandemic, etc.

[27]     See, among many others, F.A. Hayek’s classic article, “Competition as a Discovery Procedure,” in New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and the History of Ideas (London: Routledge, 1978).

[28]     Governments continually apply a double standard and immediately condemn any failure (no matter how small) of the private sector while viewing the much more serious and egregious failures of the public sector as definitive proof that not enough money is spent and that we must further expand the public sector and increase public expenditure and taxes.

[29]     As is obvious, those public authorities who, relatively speaking, have intervened and coerced their citizens a bit less (as in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, or, closer to us, the autonomous community of Madrid) have not been able to entirely escape from the unsolvable problems of state interventionism, but they have tended to achieve comparatively more positive results. Hence, this is another indication or illustration to add to those already mentioned in the main text. Incidentally, it is popularly said that “half of Spain devotes itself to regulating, inspecting, and fining the other half,” and there is a great deal of truth behind that. Therefore, at least one positive effect of the confinement and radical standstill has been precisely that civil society has, for a few months, had at least a partial respite from that pressure.

[30]     I have not mentioned in the main text the contributions of the Public Choice School, which on the failures of democratic public management (especially the effects of the rational ignorance of voters, the perverse role of privileged special-interest groups, government short-sightedness and short-termism, and the megalomaniacal and inefficient nature of bureaucracies) gained such prestige beginning in the 1980s (when its main pioneering architect, James M. Buchanan, won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1986). These contributions apply directly here. (See also the bibliography I cite in note 27 on p. 93 of my book Socialism, Economic Calculation, and Entrepreneurship, op. cit.)

[31]     See, among other editions, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (Auburn AL: Mises Institute, 2002). Various editions are also available in Spanish, for instance, that of Pedro Lomba, published in Madrid in September of 2019 by Editorial Trotta.

[32]     Michael Huemer, The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). The subtitle is quite thought-provoking.

[33]     Jesús Huerta de Soto, “Il virus più letale,” Il Giornale, Milan, May 14, 2020, pp. 1 and 24. In English, “The State: The Deadliest Virus,” Mises Wire, Mises Institute, June 24, 2020. [https://mises.org/wire/state-deadliest-virus] The Spanish version, which appeared after the Italian one, “El virus más letal,” Procesos de Mercado 17, no. 1 (Spring 2020): 439-441.