The answer, in my view is, yes, and the Austrian school had its own serious debates from the 1970s to early 1990s when Lachmann’s ideas on the non-existence of any tendency to general equilibrium (or what he called the kaledic economy) were starting to be taken seriously. We need only think of George A. Selgin’s Praxeology and Understanding (1990) where Lachmann’s kaleidic view is opposed to most other Austrians like Kirzner, etc.:
“Central to the current controversy in Austrian economics is the debate concerning whether or not the market harbors a tendency toward equilibrium. The skeptical position, represented by Lachmann, is that no such tendency exists. It is opposed in particular by Kirzner, who attempts to defend the more traditional, praxeological position.” (Selgin 1990: 37).A passage in Method, Process, and Austrian Economics: Essays in Honor of Ludwig von Mises is also relevant:
“Commentators in the Austrian literature have emphasized and discussed the contrast between Hayek’s view that the tendency to equilibrium is an empirical matter and Mises’s view that it follows logically from the ‘activities of enterprising men.’” (Kirzner [ed.] 1982: 88).The passage of Mises referred to here is in Human Action:
“Both the logical and the mathematical economists assert that human action ultimately aims at the establishment of such a state of equilibrium and would reach it if all further changes in data were to cease. But the logical economist knows much more than that. He shows how the activities of enterprising men, the promoters and speculators, eager to profit from discrepancies in the price structure, tend toward [p. 356] eradicating such discrepancies and thereby also toward blotting out the sources of entrepreneurial profit and loss. He shows how this process would finally result in the establishment of the evenly rotating economy. This is the task of economic theory. The mathematical description of various states of equilibrium is mere play. The problem is the analysis of the market process.” (Mises 1998: 352-353).So I am going to say that Mises did indeed adhere to the view that there is a strong tendency to equilibrium in the real world, even if that state never comes about.
This is exactly what Ludwig Lachmann criticised Mises and Hayek for: the view that there is a tendency towards general equilibrium, while Lachmann himself concluded that the economy is an on-going, open-ended “market process” with subjective knowledge and subjective expectations:
“Professor Hayek and Mises both espouse the market process, but do not ignore equilibrium as its final stage. The former, whose early work was clearly under the influence of the general equilibrium model, at one time appeared to regard a strong tendency towards general equilibrium as a real phenomenon of the market economy. Mises, calling the Austrians ‘logical’ and neoclassicals ‘mathematical’ economists, wrote: ‘Both the logical and the mathematical economists assert that human action ultimately aims at the establishment of such a state of equilibrium and would reach it if all further changes in data were to cease’ … It is this view of the market process as at least potentially terminating in a state of long-run general equilibrium that now appears to require revision.” (Lachmann 1976: 60).In this, Lachmann was entirely correct, and for that (and other reasons too) he has always struck me as Austrian economist worthy of respect, even if I do not agree with him on other issues. (It is not often I defend Austrians!)
There was a time when certain moderate subjectivist Austrians saw merit in constructive mutual dialogue with Post Keynesians. I am thinking here of Gerald P. O’Driscoll and Mario J. Rizzo’s book The Economics of Time and Ignorance (Oxford, UK, 1st edn., 1985; 2nd edn. 1996), where we read:
“[i]t is evident that there is much more common ground between post-Keynesian subjectivism and Austrian subjectivism …. the possibilities for mutually advantageous interchange seem significant” (O’Driscoll and Rizzo 1985: 9).Of course, Paul Davidson, one of the leading Post Keynesians, was not especially impressed (Davidson 1989 and 1993). “Mutually advantageous interchange” does not seem to have progressed very far since then.
Davidson, P. 1989. “The Economics of Ignorance or Ignorance of Economics?,” Critical Review 3.3/4: 467–487.
Davidson, P. 1993. “Austrians and Post Keynesians on Economic Reality: Rejoinder to Critics,” Critical Review 7.2/3: 423–444.
Kirzner, Israel M. (ed.). 1982. Method, Process, and Austrian Economics: Essays in Honor of Ludwig von Mises, Lexington Books, Gower, Lexington, Mass.
Lachmann, Ludwig M. 1976. “From Mises to Shackle: An Essay on Austrian Economics and the Kaleidic Society,” Journal of Economic Literature 14.1: 54–62.
Mises, Ludwig von. 1998. Human Action: A Treatise on Economics. The Scholar’s Edition, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala.
O’Driscoll, G. P. and M. J. Rizzo, 1996. The Economics of Time and Ignorance (2nd edn), Routledge, Oxford, UK.
Selgin, George A. 1990. Praxeology and Understanding. Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala.