Preface to the First Edition
This book is an analysis of economic fallacies that are at last so prevalent that they have almost become a new orthodoxy. The one thing that has prevented this has been their own self-contradictions, which have scattered those who accept the same premises into a hundred different “schools,” for the simple reason that it is impossible in matters touching practical life to be consistently wrong. But the difference between one new school and another is merely that one group wakes up earlier than another to the absurdities to which its false premises are driving it, and becomes at that moment inconsistent by either unwittingly abandoning its false premises or accepting conclusions from them less disturbing or fantastic than those that logic would demand.
There is not a major government in the world at this moment, however, whose economic policies are not influenced if they are not almost wholly determined by acceptance of some of these fallacies. Perhaps the shortest and surest way to an understanding of economics is through a dissection of such errors, and particularly of the central error from which they stem. That is the assumption of this volume and of its somewhat ambitious and belligerent title.
The volume is therefore primarily one of exposition. It makes no claim to originality with regard to any of the chief ideas that it expounds. Rather its effort is to show that many of the ideas which now pass for brilliant innovations and advances are in fact mere revivals of ancient errors, and a further proof of the dictum that those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it.
The present essay itself is, I suppose, unblushingly “classical,” “traditional” and “orthodox”; at least these are the epithets with which those whose sophisms are here subjected to analysis will no doubt attempt to dismiss it. But the student whose aim is to attain as much truth as possible will not be frightened by such adjectives. He will not be forever seeking a revolution, a “fresh start,” in economic thought. His mind will, of course, be as receptive to new ideas as to old ones; but he will be content to put aside merely restless or exhibitionistic straining for novelty and originality. As Morris R. Cohen has remarked *: “The notion that we can dismiss the views of all previous thinkers surely leaves no basis for the hope that our own work will prove of any value to others.”
本书的内容，我觉得，应当算是“古典的”、“传统的”或“正统的”吧，起码，抱持那些谬误的人会用这些名义来否定我的分析。但是那些努力探求真理的学生，则不应该被几个形容词吓住。学生们不应该总想着寻找革命性的、“全新”的经济学思想，他们应该是既接纳老观念，又欢迎新观念，应该摒弃浮躁而不是好炫求酷，一味地追寻新奇和原创。莫里斯·科恩（Morris R. Cohen）说过：“如果说我们能够推翻以前所有思想家的理论，那么我也不敢奢望自己的作品对别人会有任何价值。”[footnotes:《理性与本质》（Reason and Nature), 1931]
Because this is a work of exposition I have availed myself freely and without detailed acknowledgment (except for rare footnotes and quotations) of the ideas of others. This is inevitable when one writes in a field in which many of the world’s finest minds have labored. But my indebtedness to at least three writers is of so specific a nature that I cannot allow it to pass unmentioned. My greatest debt, with respect to the kind of expository framework on which the present argument is hung, is to Frederic Bastiat’s essay Ce qu `on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas, now nearly a century old. The present work may, in fact, be regarded as a modernization, extension and generalization of the approach found in Bastiat’s pamphlet. My second debt is to Philip Wicksteed: in particular the chapters on wages and the final summary chapter owe much to his Common-sense of Political Economy. My third debt is to Ludwig von Mises. Passing over everything that this elementary treatise may owe to his writings in general, my most specific debt is to his exposition of the manner in which the process of monetary inflation is spread.
由于这是一部阐释性著作，我会自由地利用他人的观点而不必作具体说明（除了少数脚注和引文外）。在经济学这个诸多先贤辛勤耕耘过的领域写作，这样做在所难免。不过，有三位作者对我有特别的帮助，我不能不提及。首先要感谢弗雷德里克·巴斯夏（Frederic Bastiat），本书中的阐释所采用的框架得益于巴斯夏一百年前发表的文章<看得见的与看不见的>（Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas）。事实上，本书可视为巴斯夏原文所用的分析方法的现代版，是其延伸和扩展。其次，要感谢菲利普·威克斯第德（Philip Wicksteed），特别是关于工资的章节和课后温习那一章，多得益于他所著的《政治经济常识》（The Common Sense of Political Economy）。最后要感谢路德维希·米塞斯（Ludwig von Mises），除了他对我这本粗浅的入门著作在写作上的指点，特别地要感谢他对通货膨胀过程散播方式的说明。
When analyzing fallacies, I have thought it still less advisable to mention particular names than in giving credit. To do so would have required special justice to each writer criticized, with exact quotations, account taken of the particular emphasis he places on this point or that, the qualifications he makes, his personal ambiguities, inconsistencies, and so on. I hope, therefore, that no one will be too disappointed at the absence of such names as Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, Major Douglas, Lord Keynes, Professor Alvin Hansen and others in these pages. The object of this book is not to expose the special errors of particular writers, but economic errors in their most frequent, widespread or influential form. Fallacies, when they have reached the popular stage, become anonymous anyway. The subtleties or obscurities to be found in the authors most responsible for propagating them are washed off. A doctrine becomes simplified; the sophism that may have been buried in a network of qualifications, ambiguities or mathematical equations stands clear. I hope I shall not be accused of injustice on the ground, therefore, that a fashionable doctrine in the form in which I have presented it is not precisely the doctrine as it has been formulated by Lord Keynes or some other special author. It is the beliefs which politically influential groups hold and which governments act upon that we are interested in here, not the historical origins of those beliefs.
我认为在分析谬误时，不同于对贡献的评价，要避免指名道姓。若要指名道姓，就得公允地对待每一位被批评的学者，引录其著述原文，叙述其对某个问题的特殊见解，列明其所给定的限定条件，指出其表达暧昧或前后矛盾之处等。因此，书内并没有具体提及卡尔·马克思（Karl Marx）、索尔斯坦·凡勃伦（Thorstein Veblen）、大道格拉斯（Major Douglas）、凯恩斯爵士（Lord John M. Keynes）、阿尔文·汉森（Alvin Hansen）和其他人，但愿读者不会太失望。本书的目的并不在于揭露某某学者所犯下的某个错误，而是在于分析经济生活中那些最常见的、流传最广的、影响力最大的经济学谬误。谬论一旦流行开来，便责怪不到谁的头上,散布谬误负有主要责任的作者的细节与隐晦之处会在流传中消失。当用于包装谬误的理论被简化成泛泛的教条，那些可能隐藏在一堆限定条件、含混表达或数学方程式中的诡辩就会显现出来。本书所讨论的流行教条跟凯恩斯或其他某位学者所陈述的学说不完全相同，希望大家不要因为这些不同就责怪我处理不公。我们在这里所感兴趣的，是那些有强大政治影响力的集团抱持的信条，以及政府的政策行动所依据的信条，而不是这些信条的历史渊源。
I hope, finally, that I shall be forgiven for making such rare reference to statistics in the following pages. To have tried to present statistical confirmation, in referring to the effects of tariffs, price-fixing, inflation, and the controls over such commodities as coal, rubber and cotton, would have swollen this book much beyond the dimensions contemplated. As a working newspaper man, moreover, I am acutely aware of how quickly statistics become out of date and are superseded by later figures. Those who are interested in specific economic problems are advised to read current “realistic’’ discussions of them, with statistical documentation: they will not find it difficult to interpret the statistics correctly in the light of the basic principles they have learned.
I have tried to write this book as simply and with as much freedom from technicalities as is consistent with reasonable accuracy, so that it can be fully understood by a reader with no previous acquaintance with economics.
While this book was composed as a unit, three chapters have already appeared as separate articles, and I wish to thank the New York Times, the American Scholar and the New Leader for permission to reprint material originally published in their pages. I am grateful to Professor von Mises for reading the manuscript and for helpful suggestions. Responsibility for the opinions expressed is, of course, entirely my own.
March 25, 1946
当本书编为单行本时，先已有三个章节分别独立发表于《纽约时报》（New York Times）、《美国学人》（American Scholar）、《新领袖》杂志（New Leader），感谢三家允许我将这些篇章收集于本书中。米塞斯教授校阅了本书手稿，并且提出了许多有益的建议，这里表示感谢。当然，对于书中所表述的各种观点，言论责任完全由作者本人承担。