Libertarian History/Philosophy

Get Yer Ha-Yeks Out! (And Yer Rands Too!)


Riffing off a Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds observation earlier this spring, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Frank Wilson talks up the surge in interest in the works of F.A. Hayek and Ayn Rand:

To attribute the surge in popularity of these books to "conservatives" seeking solace after a defeat at the polls is both tempting and easy. But it almost certainly has less to do with partisan politics than with fundamental principles.

Some years after The Road to Serfdom, Hayek wrote an essay called "Why I Am Not a Conservative." In it, he describes "as liberal the position which I hold and which I believe differs as much from true conservatism as from socialism," and he proceeds to argue that "the liberal today must more positively oppose some of the basic conceptions which most conservatives share with the socialists." Of course, Hayek uses liberal in its classic sense, referring to someone whose aim is "to free the process of spontaneous growth from the obstacles and encumbrances that human folly has erected." (John Galt couldn't have put it better.)

Moreover, what Hayek says about conservatives applies equally well to many who today call themselves progressives:

"Conservatives are inclined to use the powers of government to prevent change or to limit its rate. . . . They lack the faith in the spontaneous forces of adjustment. . . . The conservative feels safe and content only if he is assured that some higher wisdom watches and supervises change, only if he knows that some authority is charged with keeping the change 'orderly.' "

Read the whole thing here.

More quoting from Hayek in today's news, courtesy of your humble narrator.

Correction: The Inquirer's name was wrong in the orignial post. And I even lived in Philadelphia for two years.

NEXT: Elfinomics

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  1. Riffing off a Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds observation earlier this spring, The Philadelphia Enquirer’s Frank Wilson talks up the surge in interest in the works of F.A. Hayek and Ayn Rand:

    Just in case, while it’s the “Enquirer” in Cincinnati, it’s the “Inquirer” in Philadelphia.

  2. Anyone ever read the “the fountainhead”? I guess it was a fun read but I really didn’t get it… What’s Rand want us all to be, supermen like Howard Roark?? Should the rest of us mortals just lie down and die?

  3. No. Not lie down and die. but stand up and live. Be a man if you can’t be a superman. A man endowed by God with limited talents and by circumstances with limited opportunities, who yet insists on living by his own efforts according to his own lights, is the only sort of man worthy of the label, and is a man who has no reason to be envious or subservient to one with greater talents and achievements. That long took the simple for taking an axe and gun and going into the wilderness to make a home for oneself and wife and children, facing and accepting with courage whatever outcome may result.

    Until FDR warped it a materialistic one, “The American Dream” was never about security or stuff–it was to live without a master other than ones-self.

  4. Eh?

  5. Hayek wrote several books detailing his disagreements with progressive economic and political philosophy (which has not substantially changed since his time), why is it necessary to hijack his arguments against European type conservatism to use against today’s progressives?

  6. I guess it was a fun read but I really didn’t get it…

    “It” was spelled out pretty clearly for you, JJJ.

  7. It’s not hijacking when the premises he’s attacking are the same, as is the logic of the arguments he offered.

  8. Another warm endorsement for The Road to Serfdom here. The illustrated version really doesn’t give you the full argument about why planning is wrong, just the results, portrayed in a scary and (so far) unrealistic fashion.

    We are heavily in debt to Hayek. Reading the interview with his biographer shows how far “progressive” thinking had come in pre- and post-war years, especially in those countries which had resisted the spread of totalitarianism, and how close we had come to giving up almost all of our economic freedom on the initiative of an “enlightened” few.

    Every member of Congress should be forced to read this brilliant work, which demolishes any notion that government can enhance economic growth in any way.

  9. And thus makes silly any pronouncements by politicians that “we need to” “invest” “in new technology” to “create jobs” which “can’t be outsourced” and will make us more “competitive”. All lies and economic falsehoods.

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