Mises vs. Marx

“The March of History,” a project of the American Institute for Economic Research, pits Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises against the godfather of socialism, Karl Marx, in a rap battle that spans more than 150 years of history, philosophy, and economic theory. The debate between socialists and capitalists is just as topical today as it was in 1848 — so, which side are you on?

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Follow along with our interactive lyrics. Click on the highlighted text to learn more about the concepts explored in the video.



Workers of the world — ASSEMBLE! 
It’s time for the ruling classes to tremble. 
I’m the people’s hero, the MVP: 
M – A – R – X! Yeah, you know me!

Let’s go back to when men were free. 
We hunted and gathered communally. 
But get ready, ’cause here comes the twist, 
A villain appears, called a “capitalist”.

He puts the proletariat — that’s US — in chains, 
exploits our labor, and pockets the gains.
Though slick ads he trick lads and ladies in kind,
selling fake needs he poisons our hearts and minds.

He rots our soul through alienation 
pursuing limitless accumulation.
He works us into an early grave,  
through debt, steals back the money we save.

Greed is the gospel! Profit? GOD. 
The rich get richer through graft and fraud. 
The poor get poorer, but YOU don’t care. 
Doesn’t that sound laissez unfair?

200 years I’ve been singing this song, 
Now my chorus is 99% strong. 
The revolution’s here. It’s time to repent. 
Your moment is over — your capital’s SPENT!


This is history’s lesson
You think he’s right, I’m guessin’?
All we want is progression.
Without bourgeois oppression.
So we look for the truth,
As we tighten our boots.
Who’s right, who’s wrong?
Left, right, left, now the march is on.


Guten Tag, Marx, nice to meet ya,
My name’s Ludwig: call me “Teacher.” 
The master of markets, the Austrian boss, 
You don’t like profits? Well let’s talk LOSS!

The problem with your plan is NOBODY wins — 
except Stalin, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh,
Lenin, Mugabe — remember Berlin?
They built a wall to keep THEIR people IN!

Your theories have a rotten foundation,
built on control, not cooperation.
Centralized power completely corrupts —
real people suffer, violence erupts.

Your system depends on the very same people
you decry as greedy, bourgeois and evil.
If we’re not fit to run our own lives,
why would you expect our votes to be wise?

If you really want to help people rise up,
Unleash the free market: lift their lives up!
It was capitalism, not a socialist plan,
Saved billions in India, China, Japan.

Everyone has a unique purpose and plan —
No one solution can serve the whole land.
Each individual has their own voice.
The heart of my theory is freedom and choice.


This is history’s lesson
The market’s a blessing (yeah right)
Let’s pursue our expression
Living free from aggression
So we look for the truth
With the freedom to choose
Who’s right, who’s wrong?
Left, right, left, now the march is on!


Free Marketeers love to play this game:
Mao kills millions, Marx gets blamed.
It’s deceptive, dishonest, plain unfair.
Did I drive the tanks at Tiananmen Square?!

Man, I’m a humanist! You can check my receipts!
But you gotta break eggs if you wanna eat.
Don’t like violence? Admit defeat!
Then I’ll call this revolution complete.

Till then? Let’s get a few things straight:
I’m not shaping the future, I’m embracing our fate.
My utopian forebears weren’t that specific,
But this analysis is highly scientific.

Every social system has governing laws.
Capitalism? DOOMED, because
the system generated its own fatal flaws
by uniting workers in a common cause.

Thanks to you, we have all the wealth we need
to seize control, and eradicate greed.
The people are rejecting your bourgeois lies —
REAL Marxism has never been tried.

Equality is the core of my creed —
from this one’s ability, to that one’s need.
Our healthcare, finance, and industry.
Let’s collectivize, and set ourselves FREE!


Your standard refrain: “Oh that’s not the real thing”
The most common verse all your followers sing
The closer we get to your ideal system
The further we go down the road to serfdom!

The empirical record can’t be denied,
Your ideas don’t work… but they just won’t die!
ATTENTION: this is not breaking news
Jevons and Menger lit that fuse

Now here comes the bomb via Von Bohm-Bawerk
He blew up your system, exposed the core quirk.
The heart of your theory is exploitation
of surplus value — that’s a bogus equation!

You can’t explain value by measuring the cost
of labor. That theory of value has lost favor!
Value is subjective by every measure:
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

There’s no exploitation if two people arrange
voluntary exchange, man, that’s not deranged!
That bourgeois transaction you diss with a scoff
creates benefit for both so we’re both better off.

Here’s the real problem, the crucial equation:
without private markets, there’s no calculation
to coordinate courses, allocate resources,
incentivize choices — because it lacks prices.

What crops should I grow? Where should this factory go?
How should I pick a J.O.(B)? How would your planners ever know!?
Your “theory” is a bundle of confusion…
Socialism got crushed by the marginal revolution!


This is history’s lesson
All we want is progression
Let’s pursue our expression
Living free from aggression
So we look for the truth
As we tighten our boots
Who’s right, who’s wrong?
Left, right, left, now the march is on.


We’re all better off?! Are you kidding me, Mises?!
My immiseration thesis tears you to pieces.
Your economy grows but not our wages.
You call that progress? I think it’s outrageous.


In 1820 everyone was poor,
until capitalism kicked down the door.
Real wage growth, not stagnation,
saved 80% of the world from starvation.


You kicked down the door, but you locked us out.
That’s what your “free market” is all about.
Here’s what you do: on your next shopping spree,
pick up this book by my boy Tommy P.


The pie can get bigger, it’s not zero-sum.
Free markets have lifted the lowest incomes!
If you really want to help out the poorest nations,
encourage peace, trade and immigration!


The earth is boiling and your solution
is more production, more pollution?!
More cheap trinkets in bigger malls,
more fossil fuels, more aerosols?!

For a problem this big we need total control —
a green new deal to save the north pole.
We can’t gamble the future on anarchy.
Greed’s not a plan, it’s insanity!


Your story’s bombastic, your rhetoric’s strong.
There’s only one problem: your theory is wrong!
The wealthiest countries do the most to conserve,
haven’t you heard of the Kuznets curve?

Only wealthy societies can afford to go green.
If you want a better world: see the unseen.
Even carbon will bend to creative destruction,
with entrepreneurship in the means of production.


This is history’s lesson
The market’s a blessing
All we want is progression
Living free from aggression
So we look for the truth
With the freedom to choose
Who’s right, who’s wrong?
Left, right, left, now the march is on!


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,
the long march of history will come to an end.
Hegel was close, but too a priori,
watch me break down my dialectical story.

Proletariat, bourgeoisie.
Them versus us, you versus me.
Slave, master, lord and serf.
New class battles, same old turf.

We have what we need to throw the chains off us,
Organize the economy like the post office.
The state takes over, but that’s not the whole plan.
Watch it whither away and leave socialist man!

Our goal is true fairness, outcomes that are equal.
Capitalism? OVER. Here’s a socialist sequel:
revolution’s coming, prepare for the fight.
Workers of the world, U-U-U-U-Unite!


Nothing is determined, You’re so fatalistic!
A grand theory of history?! Be realistic!
Your failed predictions? A distraction!
Here’s some questions that guide human action:

Where are we going, what’s the right course?
What will motivate us? Incentives or force?
Here’s what you miss from commanding heights:
each person’s gifts and individual rights.

Across every continent, culture and creed,
people have flourished ONLY when freed
to find passion, profit, charity and love
through the shake of a hand, not a boot from above.

Socialism’s record isn’t hard to parse.
First it was tragedy, now it’s a farce.
Let’s unite people from every nation
in peace, exchange and cooperation.