How Hayek bred a race of elite monsters



He could be wrong
He could be right


And just like with the prostitute-friending, anti-hate, accepting, liberal hippie type stuff that Jesus says in the Bible, Conservatives like to cherrypick the parts of Hayek’s views that support their greed and disregard for the poor and completely ignore that Hayek said such things as:

“There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.”

There goes the, “taxation to pay for welfare and aid for the poor is a form of slavery,” argument.


Actually, he’s been categorically wrong for the better part of a century, because his assumptions rest on an unrealistic and callow assumption that poor people are necessarily evil.


I was really hoping this was going to be about Salma Hayek.


About two years ago I read that book to find out what the big deal was all about. Frankly, The Road to Serfdom is not about democratic government, it’s about Communism and Fascism. The polemic completely misses the point of the book: the world of the early 20th century saw many people who called themselves liberals sympathize with Stalinism (before they realized that it completely betrayed the socialist ideal) and express admiration for Fascism (they later reacted with predictable horror). The book was not about democracies but about co-opting the democratic process to gain power; I read it as warning against the Huey Longs, the Engelbert Dolfusses, the Benito Mussolinis, and yes, the Hitlers of the world, not against Democracy per se.

Yeah, he’s was personally kind of a jerkwad who held what we’d consider antidemocratic views today, like limiting the franchise to the elite or supporting benevolent dictatorships (not that that’s an uncommon immature fantasy among callow young econ students - and boy oh boy he got it wrong with Pinochet), but it’s not worth it to get worked up about it any more than I get worked up about Lord Acton or the everyday psuedo-intellectual praising the system of China or Singapore without realizing just how sterile and oppressive those countries are.

If there’s one thing I don’t understand, it’s why movement conservatives think of this guy as their icon. He supported government services, taxation, and a right to a basic standard of living. He had a very antidemocratic streak but that’s not a conservative position per se. Ironically Glenn Beck is precisely the kind of rabble rouser Hayek warned against, because Glenn Beck’s ideology resembles Hayek’s vision of a free market like your gramma resembles Calvin Coolidge. If anything the hagiography should be directed at Murray Rothbard, whose anarcho-capitalism can be summed up as “the free market outcome is the only morally correct outcome” and fits these crazies better. But I’m willing to bet the Glenn Beck hero worshippers never read any of either of their books anyway, and in any case they tend to be immune to facts.


Anger is an energy.

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You are not alone

I learnt all I know about Hayek from this rap video:

(Actually, that’s a lie- I learnt all I know about Hayek from this BBC documentary. The fact that Thatcher was heavily influenced by him is enough to put me off reading his work…)


I wouldn’t put much stock in this sort of provided - it reads like the typical ignorant attack on Spencer (conflating him with ‘might is right’ fascists), or right wing attacks on Marxian thinking.

Like Marx, Spencer or any other thinker, he got some things right and some things wrong. The Glenn Becks of this world have probably read as much Hayek as Che Guevara T-Shirt wearing leftists have read Marx.

Hayek’s greatest warning was against the idea that we can plan society - be it the planning of the bolsheviks, fascists or today’s neo-liberals. The spontaneous order which arises through freed markets (read free association and cooperation - not the rigged markets, rife with power imbalances which are called ‘free’ today) has a better chance of solving social issues than the planned society.

Its a shame he didn’t heed this lesson when it came to his support of Pinochet and others.


Bill Black’s use of “blood libel” is cringeworthy here.

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I wouldn’t let that put you off him. Just like I wouldn’t let Stalinism put you off reading Marx.

My own flavour of libertarian socialism is influenced by Hayek, notably his ideas of spontaneous order and his critique of the social effects of removing social institutions from community control into state control.

Thatcher took a very selective reading of Hayek and used bits to shore up her own biases.

In any case - its always worth reading the works of those you disagree with (or believe you do), even if only to better refute their arguments.


But is this even possible?

If we had an idealised free market tomorrow, how long would it last before we get more of the same. The rich companies (The difference between big business and small business is very blurred now with outsourcing) will not disappear overnight because corporations don’t exist anymore and they will still be the market manpulating entities they are now, with more freedom to take needlessly risky bets on the market (risky to us, not so much to them). Some of them may fail, but others will end up richer still.

How do we neutralise this, without manipulation of the market or a capitalist Year Zero?

Those have been part of libertarian socialist theory since the 19th century, well before Hayek. The Ⓐ symbol means anarchy within order Anarchy is the mother of Order, for example, athough there is uncertainty whether this usage predates Hayeks work.

I’m interested in how you became libertarian socialist by reading Hayek though. All of the lib-soc people I know of would reject him for being far too capitalist.

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Kinda like what a lot of modern crony capitalist apologists to do Rawls to give themselves a veneer of legitimacy: “Oh, I agree with everything except the veil of ignorance” - like saying “I like cake, but without the dry ingredients.” All you’ve got left is runny goop, arseholes. People should stop reading stuff written about political philosophy and just go read the darn philosophy.


I’ve been trying to work the sentence "Arthur knew that Joe professed he was a Hayekian, but it took one long late-night discussion into the nature of classical liberalism and laissez-faire economics for Arthur to realize that Joe really was just a Salma-Hayekian" into a novel for years now…


Libertarians complaining about the monsters they and their ideology created are pretty much infuriating.


His insistence on using ‘Von Hayek’ kind of mars this piece … unlike say Von Neumann I don’t believe Hayek insisted on holding on to the ‘Von’ that had been removed from him.

Also, the author makes it sound like Hayek got his Nobel prize for being a giant tool, which gives the Nobel committee too little credit. It was not ‘The Road To Serfdom’ that got him a Nobel, it was largely his work on monetary theory.

Finally, a book that was written in 1944 can be forgiven for being a little overwrought. If there is a problem here, it is with uncritical readers who take it as some kind of gospel.

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Based on her Dusk Till Dawn character? Yes, please.

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Maybe it’s less about what he actually argues, and more about how movement conservatives have actually interpreted him. If people, who buy into his anti-democratic views are actually getting elected to office, with the intent of shift the country in that direction, then that does actually matter.


“The successful use of competition does not preclude some types of government interference. For instance, to limit working hours, to require certain sanitary arrangements, to provide an extensive system of social services is fully compatible with the preservation of competition. There are, too, certain fields where the system of competition is impracticable. For example, the harmful effects of deforestation or of the smoke of factories cannot be confined to the owner of the property in question. But the fact that we have to resort to direct regulation by authority where the conditions for the proper working of competition cannot be created does not prove that we should suppress competition where it can be made to function. To create conditions in which competition will be as effective as possible, to prevent fraud and deception, to break up monopolies – these tasks provide a wide and unquestioned field for state activity.”

Frederick Hayek - The Road to Serfdom Chapter 3