An Interview with F.A. Hayek: Economics, Politics, & Freedom

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REASON: Do you find that your work is known, for instance, in Salzburg and students seek you out?

HAYEK: It wasn't when I arrived. And even now there is not a great deal of interest outside of the few who have come to my classes.

REASON: You still seem to prefer it in Europe–am I correct about that? Do you prefer living here? You've been in Freiburg and you've been in Salzburg for several years!

HAYEK: That is very largely for purely practical reasons. I think if I were completely free to choose I would live in England in spite of present political differences.

REASON: In general, I am curious as to how you see the prospects of liberty in our times or in the future?

HAYEK: What I expect is that inflation will drive all the Western countries into a planned economy via price controls. Nobody will dare to stop inflation in an ordinary manner because as things are at present, to discontinue inflation will inevitably cause extensive unemployment. So assuming inflation stops it will quickly be resumed. People will find they can't live with constantly rising prices and will try to control it by price controls and that of course is the end of the market system and the end of the free political order. So I think it will be via the attempt to regress the effects of a continued inflation that the free market and free institutions will disappear. It may still take ten years, but it doesn't matter much for me because in ten years I hope I shall be dead.

REASON: It matters a lot for me and for most of our readers, I can tell you. Is it likely that in America there would develop social revolution as a result of all this? I don't think that all the various factions of the American society can be brought together into a submissive totalitarian hold that would be required for a massive social planning. Do you find that to be a reasonable idea?

HAYEK: Yes. But what will happen I cannot really imagine because it will be constant pulling one way and pulling the other for the reason that inflation will be regarded as intolerable. The only way really to stop it will produce unemployment which would be regarded as equally intolerable and people will resort to price controls without knowing that this leads into worse matters. When they recognize it they will scrap the price controls and we'll again be at the beginning of the same affair. I don't know how many times we can go through the same cycle and certainly it will mean an increasing disappointment with governments. The governments will be unable to give the people what they clamor for and it will certainly be a time of constant political disruptions. My wish is that people would have courage to face a period of substantial though not necessarily very prolonged unemployment, with all provisions for the unemployed, and restore the price mechanism. But I think the chance that this will happen which to me seems to be the only way out for free system, is very small indeed.

REASON: That's what I'm afraid of. But it's not going to be the first time that people have chosen a pathvery different from freedom. Dr. Hayek, thank you very much for allowing us to visit and talk to you. We wish you good health and thank you again.

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  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Anarchism does not exist and never will. It's a floating abstraction.

  • Tak Kak||

    Do you have a pet definition of anarchy?

    As, under many definitions at least, has existed. Whether it was a good thing is a different matter.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Oh yay! An anarchism thread! Almost as good as an abortion thread.

  • RBS||

    Or an Ole Timey farm nostalgia thread...

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I sort of look forward to anarchism threads if only because I think we've made some real progress on the subject. For me, as soon as someone initiates force and you get together with your buddies to figure out how you are going to either punish or at least seek recompense against the offender, you have a government.

  • sarcasmic||

    A government is nothing more than a group of people with the last word in violence. Anything that involves government boils down to violence, and those who worship government and see it as the solution to everything in fact worship violence. Whether they see it themselves or not, they believe that the initiation or threat of violence is a moral and just way to accomplish, well, anything.

  • SIV||

    No. A government is a permanent institution which claims a right to represent and rule over people.It usually pretends to do so with their "consent"

  • MJGreen||

    So is a vigilante group a government? Or, perhaps the more relevant term: a state?

    It's easy to get bogged down in semantics. So, sure, say any association that uses force to punish rule-breaking is a government. There are still substantive differences between what 'anarchists' and 'minarchists' advocate. For instance, can a person peacefully revoke their association with one 'government' and join another?

  • sarcasmic||

    For instance, can a person peacefully revoke their association with one 'government' and join another?

    All they have to do is relocate to a geographical area where a different group of men have the last word in violence. As far as it being peaceful or not, well that depends on the people with the last word in violence in the geographical area you are trying to leave.

  • Brandybuck||

    If you have institutionalized coercion, you have a state. A one time vigilante action is not government, merely a crime. But a vigilance committee if a government.

  • SIV||

    A vigilance committee is much more likely to disband or go inactive.

  • ||

    Jesus titty fucking Christ it never fails. Someone mentions the work anarchy, and you people come out of the fucking woodwork to make sure the word 'government' gets redefined as anything that will help you prove your point, no matter how ridiculous.
    Those kids on the corner selling lemonade? Yep, they're a government!
    Those Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on your door? Another government!
    Those two or three people grouped around the water cooler at work? Government!

  • ||

    If someone breaks into your house, and tries to kill you, and you and your wife fight him back and kill him in self defense....

    then you and your wife are a government, operating on a majority rules contingency.

    Damnit, just can't get rid of the government. Apparently, any act of organization or self defense automatically creates one.

  • ||

    You'll never have a government, and you never will. Government is just an absraction.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Hayek vs. Hayek--you make the call!

  • RBS||

    Didn't she get topless in Desperado?

  • Pro Libertate||

    She got all-less, if I remember correctly. Friedrich? Not so much. Advantage Hayek.

  • ||

    "a natural evolution towards a free society, in the absence of government action to prevent it"

    Huh? The natural part is for government action to prevent it.

  • Solidus||

    I can only image what it must have been like to interview Friedrich A. von Hayek. What I wouldn't give to have been a fly on Tibor's shoulder. Hayek was so accurate in his vision of the logical outcome of statism and welfarism. Here we are...


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