From Mises Wiki, the global repository of classical-liberal thought
Jump to: navigation, search

The common people, commoners, or the masses are the people who are neither rich nor have an exceptionally strong intellect.[1] Socialists often describe themselves as champions of the common man,[2] but libertarians beg to differ.[3] Art Carden notes, "Under capitalism, the common man does not need an intellectual vanguard or a group of virtuous surrogates to make his decisions for him or to defend him against the rapacity of his fellows. He can do just fine without our help, thank you very much, and would be much obliged if we would go back to our ivory towers and leave him alone."[4]

According to Ludwig von Mises, the common man's inferiority to the average businessman "manifests itself first of all in his limited ability to think, to work, and thereby to contribute more to the joint productive effort of mankind. Most people who satisfactorily operate in routine jobs would be found wanting in any performance requiring a modicum of initiative and reflection."[5] For this reason, "a man of average intellectual abilities has no chance to rise to the rank of a captain of industry."[6]


  1. Mises, Ludwig von (1949). "The Individual and Changing Features of Human Action". Human Action. "Common man does not speculate about the great problems. With regard to them he relies upon other people's authority, he behaves as "every decent fellow must behave," he is like a sheep in the herd. It is precisely this intellectual inertia that characterizes a man as a common man. Yet the common man does choose. He chooses to adopt traditional patterns or patterns adopted by other people because he is convinced that this procedure is best fitted to achieve his own welfare. And he is ready to change his ideology and consequently his mode of action whenever he becomes convinced that this would better serve his own interests." 
  2. Mises, Ludwig von (1956). "Capitalism as it is and as it is Seen by the Common Man". The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality. 
  3. Rockwell, Llewellyn H. (21 September 2013). "Who Are the Champions of the Common Man?". Mises Daily. 
  4. Carden, Art (7 September 2009). "Why Is Capitalism So Unpopular?". Mises Daily. 
  5. Mises, Ludwig von (Spring 1961). "On Equality and Inequality". 
  6. Mises, Ludwig von (October 1958). Liberty and Property.