November 7, 2019 Reading Time: 2 minutes

Overnight, and almost by accident, we discovered that a duplicate copy of AIER’s “The March of History” had posted 4.2 million views in China, with subtitles. We had added modern and traditional Chinese subtitles to our original version, but these days, YouTube is perhaps not the most popular of sites in China. 

So we were thrilled to discover that someone had uploaded it on a different platform and spread it around, where the video has proven to be wildly popular – even more so than in the U.S.. To date, our original posting has garnered 1.7 million views. We’ve also more than doubled the number of our YouTube subscribers, prompting AIER to plan more original content going forward. 

The video explores the respective views of Karl Marx and Ludwig von Mises on matters of political economy. A major theme concerns the issue of conflict: is human society capable of cooperation or must there always be intractable conflicts at the root of human life that cry out for massive social upheaval and total control by the state? 

China has some experience in this regard. The bloody regime of Mao Zedong, which frequently invoked Karl Marx in its cultural revolution, ended in a grim slaughter. Since the 1980s, China has undergone reforms leading to its current embrace of controlled markets under one-party rule – far from perfect but a far cry from the totalitarianism at the depths. Billions have been lifted out of poverty. If we can end this destructive trade war, the U.S. and China can once again enter onto a cooperative path of mutual enrichment. 

When we look at the top countries where the video is popular, China comes in at number one, followed by India, the U.S., and Brazil. But truly this video is popular all over the world. The reason has to do with the way it deals directly with this central question: do we want to organize society by force or by choice? This is the central issue facing the U.S. right now, with both parties pushing out their own vision of conflict theory. The topic dominates the headlines. I just read a piece this morning in the New York Times in which the writer takes issue with the idea that society should be divided by age group; rather, he argues we should all just hate the rich and be done with it. 

The alternative to all the hate is the peace about which Mises raps in the video. It comes down to the realization that differences among people, however you want to slice and dice the population, can be overcome through cooperative exchange, work, and discovery. Society can never be perfected but it can encourage a process of improvement that depends fundamentally on consent. That absolutely requires a free commercial sector that is being inveighed against these days by both socialists and nationalists. This video has done mighty work in changing the terms of the debate, all over the world. 

Here is the video, and be sure to see all the supplemental material too


Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker served as Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research from 2017 to 2021.

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