The Ludwig von Mises Institute was established in 1982 in the wake of a dispute which occurred in the early 1980s between Murray Rothbard and the Cato Institute, another libertarian organization co-founded by Rothbard.
Early after its founding, the Mises Institute was located at the business department offices of Auburn University, and relocated nearby to its current site in 1998. "Southerners have always been distrustful of government," making the South a "natural home" for the organization's libertarian outlook.
Views espoused by founders and organization scholars
In a 2006 article published on the Wall Street Journal's website, Kyle Wingfield credited the Institute for helping make the "Heart of Dixie a wellspring of sensible economic thinking."
The Institute is founded in Misesian praxeology ('the logic of action'), that holds that economic science is a deductive science instead an empirical science. Developed by Ludwig von Mises, following the Methodenstreit opened by Carl Menger, it is a self-conscious opposition to the mathematical modeling and hypothesis-testing used to justify knowledge in neoclassical economics. Externally, this economic method usually is considered a form of heterodox economics.
The Mises Institute has been criticized by some libertarians for the adoption of paleolibertarian and right-wing cultural views by some of its leading figures, on topics such as race, immigration, and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
In 2003, Chip Berlet of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an American nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation, described the Mises Institute as "a major center promoting libertarian political theory and the Austrian School of free market economics", also noting Rothbard's opposition to child labor laws and the anti-immigrant views of other Institute scholars.
^Lee, Frederic S.; Cronin, Bruce C.; McConnell, Scott; Dean, Erik (2010). "Research Quality Rankings of Heterodox Economic Journals in a Contested Discipline". American Journal of Economics and Sociology. 69 (5): 1409-1452. doi:10.1111/j.1536-7150.2010.00751.x.