Wilhelm Röpke is one of the most important 20th century economists that almost no Americans know anything about. Fortunately, that may soon change as Röpke’s classic work on economics, A Humane Economy, is being republished by ISI Books with an introduction by Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute.
Intercollegiate Review has posted an excerpt from Gregg’s introduction:
The current world crisis could never have grown to such proportions, nor proved as stubborn, if it had not been for the many forces at work to undermine the intellectual and moral foundations of our social system and thereby eventually to cause the collapse of the economic system indissolubly connected with the social system as a whole. Notwithstanding all the harshness and imperfections of our economic system, which cry out for reform, it is a miracle of technology and organization; but it is condemned to waste away if its three cardinal conditions—reason, peace, and freedom—are no longer thought desirable by the masses ruthlessly reaching for power. —Wilhelm Röpke, 1933
When the German free-market economist Wilhelm Röpke spoke these words in a public address at Frankfurt am Main on February 8, 1933, none of his listeners doubted who he had in mind by “the masses ruthlessly reaching for power.” Only nine days earlier, Weimar Germany’s president, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, had appointed the leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, Adolf Hitler, as chancellor of Germany.