Why the intellectual climate in French-spoken countries matters
With an estimated 220 million speakers around the world, with many in developing regions like sub-Saharan Africa, French is one of the most spoken languages worldwide. In that regard, the spread of the idea of liberty in French-speaking countries is of vital importance and could well shape the future.
But while in those countries there is a wide-spread acceptance for civil liberties (democracy, the right to assemble, public speech, etc.), economic freedom is very much despised. Obviously many factors come into play, but we believe that the unavailability of the main works of the Austrian schools greatly affects the intellectual climate as far as economic ideas are concerned. And as long as the situation will not change, any progress towards greater economic liberty will be impossible in French-speaking countries.
Surely, it’s not that bad, you would think. Well, let’s make a little comparison.
Availability of Austrian economics in French : How bad is the situation ?
French — If you speak French and want to study Austrian economics, you have chosen a very difficult path. Out of the 20 or so books of Ludwig von Mises, only one (and it’s only an abridged edition) is available in print. It’s slightly better for Hayek, even though some of its main treatises have been out of print for a long time. Before the Coppet Institute started to do something about it, there was only one book of Rothbard available.
Spanish — Thanks to Union Editorial, all the works of Ludwig von Mises are available in print. La Acción humana has recently celebrated its 12th edition — that’s 11 more than in French, where L’Action humaine has been out of print for decades. The collected works of Hayek are available (10 volumes), as are the greatest works of Rothbard, Menger, Böhm-Bawerk, Hazlitt, etc.
Chinese — Despite active censorship, Austrian economics is thriving in China. Most of the works of Mises, Hayek and Rothbard are available. Not only Human action is available, but there is two different translations competing. In bookstores you can even find the 1000-page-long biography of Mises by G. Hulsmann.
What the Coppet Institute plans to do
The Coppet Institute has set up a concrete plan to turn this situation around. For the past few months, we have been actively recruiting experienced translators who accept to work for this project on a lower-than-average pay and have made contact with the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LVMI) in the United States.
A list of top-priority works, all currently unavailable in French, have been made, which includes : Mises’ Human action, Socialism, Economic Policy, Theory and History ; Rothbard’s Man, Economy and State, Austrian Perspective…, Hazlitt’s Economics in one lesson ; Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty ; and much more. We have successfully secured the rights for all of these titles.
Because the lack of Austrian literature in French is so significant, we plan to publish one new book each month. Each of them will include an introduction and editorial material. Following the LVMI model, all of our books will be freely available in PDF and ePub/Mobi editions; the softcover editions will be deliberately inexpensive.
How you can help
In the first 24 months, we plan to publish 8 brand new translations of previously unpublished works, and 16 translations out of print for a long time for which we obtained rights. In terms of budgeting, the new translation alone will cost us 40 000€ (46 700 USD) (the experienced translators we are working with agreeded to work on a half-lower-than-average pay). To this sum we must add 10 000€ (11 600 USD) for translation rights, as well as editing and distribution costs.
In short, the investment we have to make to publish 24 Austrian classics in 2 years is 50 000€ (58 400 USD), which is around 2000€ (2 300 USD) per book (or per month of operation).
The Coppet Institute is a young and dynamic team of scholars who are devoted to peace and freedom. To stem the tide of statism, socialism and militarism in the French-speaking world, we need your help. We hope you will consider making a donation and make this project come true.
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For further information or assistance, please feel free to contact me.
Thank you in advance for your support,