Economics

F.A. Hayek Died 20 Years Ago Today

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not dead yet

This day in history: 20 years ago today, economist F.A. Hayek bit the dust. Reason interviewed the man himself in 1977, and re-ran that interview in honor of his death in 1992.

Read the whole thing, or enjoy some choice tidbits below, including some fine smack talk about rival John Maynard Keynes. Happily for Hayek (but unfortunately for us), he died believing the Keynes fad was fizzling. Two decades later, Keynesianism drove more than $800 billion in (failed) stimulus spending. The silver lining: A recent Reason-Rupe poll found that Americans are turning their backs on Hayek's rival.

Reason: Of your bestselling The Road to Serfdom, John Maynard Keynes wrote: "In my opinion it is a grand book…. Morally and philosophically I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it: and not only in agreement with it, but in deeply moved agreement." Why would Keynes say this about a volume that was deeply critical of the Keynesian viewpoint?

Hayek: Because he believed that he was fundamentally still a classical English liberal and wasn't quite aware of how far he had moved away from it. His basic ideas were still those of individual freedom. He did not think systematically enough to see the conflicts. He was, in a sense, corrupted by political necessity. His famous phrase about, "in the long run we're all dead," is a verv good illustration of being constrained by what is now politically possible. He stopped thinking about what, in the long run, is desirable. For that reason, I think it will turn out that he will not be a maker of long-run opinion, and his ideas were of a fashion which, fortunately, is now passing away.

And this:

Reason: Are you optimistic about the future of freedom?

Hayek: Yes. A qualified optimism. I think there is an intellectual reversion on the way, and there is a good chance it may come in time before the movement in the opposite direction becomes irreversible. I am more optimistic than I was 20 years ago, when nearly all the leaders of opinion wanted to move in the socialist direction. This has particularly changed in the younger generation. So, if the change comes in time, there still is hope.

Take a minute today and pour one out for fallen homies. Or watch this awesome Keynes v. Hayek rap video, which is basically the first quote above, but in rhyme. 

Via Ryan Young.