F.A. Hayek

Happy Birthday, F.A. Hayek!

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Your wide-ranging erudition, the application of your thought to matters from economics to politics to intellectual history to neurology to computer science, that Nobel Prize, your founding of the Mont Pelerin Society, Margaret Thatcher saying she believing what you believed, your cogent advocacy of Austrian business cycle theory that helps explain how government credit manipulations could harm the economy, all helped make you one of libertarianism's most prominent and respectable advocates. Milton Friedman told me that your Road to Serfdom was the most influential libertarian document of the 20th century.

You didn't hate the state, per se, but believed a mostly free market provided the best chance 

for the use and creation of valuable knowledge that would increase human options and choices on earth, leading to the best chance for the widest happiness. You believed in a limited welfare state to keep a minimal income floor under the destitute, but thought "social justice" was nonsense.

A few bits I wrote about Hayek in my book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement:

Hayek's vision of individualism and liberty is not based on a belief in human grandeur, ability, or strength. It's based on our limits and weakness, particularly the limits and weakness of our reason. Hayek didn't believe in strict and severe limitations on the power of the state on a judgment of the state's evil….Hayek stressed the state's inefficacy: the essential and in Hayek's mind insurmountable limits of what a state can hope to do, owing to the insurmountable limits of what man's reason and knowledge can do….

Hayek's personal influence on such think tankers as Antony Fisher of Britain's Institute for Economic Affairs, and through them on politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and dozens of other classical liberal intellectual institutes the world over, has had and is having a decisive influence on what Hayek called the secondhand dealers in ideas, the intellectuals, that makes him (despite his occasional doctrinal looseness when it comes to purist antistatism) a prime engine of modern libertarianism.

A nifty summational quote on Hayek's political thought (hat tip to the Reason Foundation's director of polling Emily Ekins): "Our impatience for quick results may lead us to choose instruments which, though perhaps more efficient for achieving the particular ends, are not compatible with preservation of a free society"- F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

Herewith, a sampling of some of Reason's coverage of Hayek's life, work, and controversies:

*A long interview with Hayek from 1977.

*I explain at length the controversies and divisions between Hayekian libertarianism and (Murray) Rothbardian libertarianism.

*A January 2005 interview with Hayek biographer Bruce Caldwell.

*Sheldon Richman on why his modern critics fear Hayek, from 2011.

*Hayek speaks on stagflation–actual audio from 1975 on Meet The Press.

*A review of Theodore Burczak's Socialism After Hayek, by Steven Horwitz, from 2007.

*My March 2012 review of the disappointing book Keynes Hayek by Nicholas Wapshott.

*Katherine Mangu-Ward noted the 20th anniversary of Hayek's death in March.

*Foucault dug Hayek.

*Barney Frank embraces Hayek (sort of) from last month.

*Hayek would have been for gay marriage, Jonathan Rauch argued in 2004.

*Hayek and Orwell intersect, Sheldon Richman explains in December 2011.

*Fukuyama vs. Hayek.

*Soros v. Hayek.

*Hayek vs. the ants.