Libertarian History/Philosophy

F.A. Hayek on Individualism

Understanding the great economist's insights into individualism, true and false

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F. A. Hayek's essay "Individualism: True and False" (pdf; chapter one of Individualism and Economic Order) overflows with insights that belong in any brief on behalf of the free society. As the title suggests, Hayek wished to distinguish two markedly different philosophies associated with the label individualism: one that rejected rationalism and one that embraced it

"One might even say," Hayek explained, "that the former is a product of an acute consciousness of the limitations of the individual mind which induces an attitude of humility toward the impersonal and anonymous social processes by which individuals help to create things greater than they know, while the latter is the product of an exaggerated belief in the powers of individual reason and a consequent contempt for anything which has not been consciously designed by it or is not fully intelligible to it."

Thus for Hayek the crucial difference is over whether societies (institutions) are largely spontaneous, emergent, and organic—or designed. His great concern was that rationalistic individualism, in awe of the mind's ability to engineer solutions, too readily leads to the centralization of power and totalitarianism.

Controversial Essay

This essay has not been without controversy even among fans of Hayek. He has been criticized for drawing too sharp a distinction between the liberal rationalists and liberal empiricists and for being arbitrarily pro-British and anti-French in dividing the true from the false individualists. I happily duck those controversies here and focus instead on points that are both less controversial among liberals and, in my view, indispensable to the full case for freedom. (In his book Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School, the great intellectual historian Ralph Raico criticizes [pdf] Hayek's derogation of the French liberals. "Some might uncharitably suspect Hayek of a terminal Anglophilia which tended to blind him to some obvious facts," Raico writes.)

The first point I draw attention to comes in Hayek's discussion of Adam Smith's view of mankind. Smith's "chief concern," Hayek wrote,

was not so much with what man might occasionally achieve when he was at his best but that he should have as little opportunity as possible to do harm when he was at his worst. It would scarcely be too much to claim that the main merit of the individualism which he and his contemporaries advocated is that it is a system under which bad men can do least harm. It is a social system which does not depend for its functioning on our finding good men for running it, or on all men becoming better than they now are, but which makes use of men in all their given variety and complexity, sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes intelligent and more often stupid. Their aim was a system under which it should be possible to grant freedom to all, instead of restricting it . . . to "the good and the wise." [Emphasis added.]

Keep this in mind the next time someone proclaims that a muscular state, unconstrained by strict rules, is needed to prevent flawed human beings from harming others. Then ask: What will keep the flawed—and privileged—human beings who have access to the violent power of the state from harming others? Those who are familiar with Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, and especially his chapter "Why the Worst Get on Top," will know what Hayek is getting at.

Self-Love

Hayek also sought to correct a popular misconception about the early liberals' view of human motivation. "There can be no doubt, of course, that in the language of the great writers of the eighteenth century it was man's 'self-love,' or even his 'selfish interests,' which they represented as the 'universal mover,' and that by these terms they were referring primarily to a moral attitude, which they thought to be widely prevalent," Hayek wrote. "These terms, however, did not mean egotism in the narrow sense of concern with only the immediate needs of one's proper person. The 'self,' for which alone people were supposed to care, did as a matter of course include their family and friends; and it would have made no difference to the argument if it had included anything for which people in fact did care."

When critics attack the alleged market ideal of the selfish maximizer, they tackle a straw man.

As important as this point regarding moral attitude is, Hayek finds something more important in true individualism, namely:

the constitutional limitation of man's knowledge and interests, the fact that he cannot know more than a tiny part of the whole of society and that therefore all that can enter into his motives are the immediate effects which his actions will have in the sphere he knows. All the possible differences in men's moral attitudes amount to little, so far as the significance for social organization is concerned, compared with the fact that all man's mind can effectively comprehend are the facts of the narrow circle of which he is the center; that, whether he is completely selfish or the most perfect altruist, the human needs for which he can effectively care are an almost negligible fraction of the needs of all members of society. The real question, therefore, is not whether man is, or ought to be, guided by selfish motives but whether we can allow him to be guided in his actions by those immediate consequences which he can know and care for or whether he ought to be made to do what seems appropriate to somebody else who is supposed to possess a fuller comprehension of the significance of these actions to society as a whole.

Rulers Can't Know

Of course Hayek's true individualists—that is, the early economists—understood that no one possesses that fuller comprehension. Rulers can have no better grasp of the whole than do the ruled. However, rulers lack something that ruled individuals do not: knowledge of the subjects' own particular circumstances, interests, preferences skills, and so on. Hence the liberal injunction that the state should leave peaceful people alone and the conviction that strict observance of that injunction serves the general good.

"What the economists understood for the first time," Hayek wrote, "was that the market as it had grown up was an effective way of making man take part in a process more complex and extended than he could comprehend and that it was through the market that he was made to contribute 'to ends which were no part of his purpose.'"

There's irony in individualism: "What individualism teaches us is that society is greater than the individual only in so far as it is free. In so far as it is controlled or directed, it is limited to the powers of the individual minds which control or direct it."

Sheldon Richman is editor of The Freeman, where this article originally appeared.

NEXT: Rand Paul Reminds Libertarians: I'm Good on Civil Liberties, TSA and Drone Division

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  1. Man that dude jsut looks corrupt as the day is long lol.

    http://www.Anony-Net.tk

    1. Man that dude jsut looks like he does speak English lol.

  2. Not. Does not.
    Slow down, PHOD, ya ain’t checkin yer werk!

    1. Never mind. I’m going to cut the grass.

  3. Hayek is another who fails the Libertarian purity test. Its a damn tough test.

    1. You don’t think that Hayek is a goldbug paultard?

    2. “Hayek is another who fails the Libertarian purity test.”

      Didn’t think the strawman store was open this early on Saturday. Did you manage to save one from yesterday?

      1. Hayek believed that the state should regulate production where producers would fail (including the environment):

        http://russabbott.blogspot.com…..ation.html

        That makes him a Kenyan Commie in the wingnut world.

        1. LOL! Your team Blue progressive friends think that means the government should control 60-70%+ of economic activity. Hayek would have been appalled by people like you.

          Plus he wrote that 20 years before the Coase theorem.

          1. That’s why you cannot be for ANY sort of regulation. If you so much as say, “Maybe it should be illegal to dump mercury into the drinking supply” it’s taken as some sort of consent for the leviathan state of today.

            If you give an inch the fucking statists take 42.6 miles, the fucks. Hayek would bitch slap the shit out of shrike for the dishonest use of his words.

            1. If it weren’t for cherry-picking, how would shriek make a living?

            2. Of course. The important political conflict is liberalism vs totalitarian socialism (whether it be the fascist or communist variety), and any appeal they (by “they” I mean people like Shrike) make to externalities is a red herring. Get rid of the socialists first and then the minarchists and anarchists can hack out their differences.

              1. This is why progressives shouldn’t vote for Ron Paul, despite Reason’s disingenuous claims to the contrary.

                1. The Derider|6.16.12 @ 4:36PM|#
                  ‘This is why progressives shouldn’t vote.’

                  No, they shouldn’t vote since ‘progessives’ are ignoramuses.

            3. “Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, or of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation. In such instances we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism. But the fact that we have to resort to the substitution of 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.”

              Friedrich Hayek
              The Road to Serfdom

              http://tinyurl.com/6qvufld

              The way I read that, he’s saying that making people pay for the damage they cause to other people’s property by way of pollution, etc. needs to be addressed–but even then, it needs to be addressed by way of some kind of market mechanism.

              …rather than by way of the government engaging in direct regulation by deciding who gets to pollute and how much.

              But, no, there’s nothing in there to suggest that people should be free to pollute other people’s property.

              Libertarianism really isn’t about shitting all over everybody with impunity–no matter what Elizabeth Warren says.

              1. The alternative read, I suppose, is that he really is saying that we need to substitute away from the price mechanism, sometimes, to address environmental issues, in which case, we need to preserve as much competition as possible.

                Actually, I don’t have any problem with that take either. We really don’t have a right to destroy other people’s property (rights), and the only legitimate function of government is protecting our rights.

                If that’s what government is for, then why would Hayek oppose using the government to protect our property against other people’s pollution?

                Feel free to argue about how extensive the problem is or the onerous cost of preventing whatever type of pollution.

                Regardless, the principle remains. There’s only so much inconvenience we’re willing to tolerate in order to prevent bank robberies. But the principle that the government really should address the problem of bank robbers still remains.

                Substitute pollution for bank robbers, and Hayek is just saying that price mechanisms may not work for addressing bank robbers, in which case, we need to try something other than price mechanisms to address that problem.

                Hardly controversial.

                1. Hardly controversial.

                  It’s hardly controversial to you, because you are a rational person. Flashing your critical thinking skills, and your tempered, pleasant tone around here. Who do you think you are?

                  1. Yeah but remember that the opposition are people who claim with a straight face, for example, that any argument for federalism = racism. Engaging the nuance is wonderful, but don’t lose sight of the fact that your opposition is intellectually dishonest at the core, and that any convincing argument you might make will be obstinately ignored in the end.

                2. the only legitimate function of government is protecting our rights.

                  The important question, then, is what are our rights? Some political movements have spent the last century increasing the number of rights people have. (Why shouldn’t people have a right to safe drinking water and healthcare?) Others have spent their time pushing back and trying to minimize rights. The ironic thing about libertarianism is that it is minimalist on rights. A whole lot of modernity is rejected in the name of the apparently all-important right of preserving discounted taxes.

                  1. The important question, then, is what are our rights?

                    Yeah, that’s an interesting argument.

                    What are our rights, and what aren’t they?

                    And we’ll keep fighting over that ’til the end of time.

                    I don’t think they necessarily need to be defined in detail, but one feature of them I’m sure of is that whatever they are? They’re not defined by a popularity contest.

                    Also, about libertarians being minimalist on our rights–that’s complete bullshit, and it’s been pointed out to you by me personally a dozen times at least.

                    I’m a libertarian, and I think I have a right to wear to green shoes on Tuesdays–and the government shouldn’t be able to do a damn thing to stop me! I think individuals have a right to open a grocery store and charge any damn price they want to!

                    Do you believe in those rights, Tony? Do you believe people have a right to pool their resources to start a business and maximize their profits? Do you believe people have a right to live their lives without being forced by the government to pay for each other’s healthcare?

                    I don’t think you do. I don’t think you’re trying to maximize anybody’s rights at all. I think you want to limit people’s rights to whatever your favorite politicians say they are. I think when you use the word “rights”, you’re just playing word games.

                    1. Do you believe people have a right to pool their resources to start a business and maximize their profits?

                      Sure, as long as they don’t harm others in the process. The right to make a profit comes with many provisos, as there are many ways to make a profit that harm people outside of the transactions.

                      Do you believe people have a right to live their lives without being forced by the government to pay for each other’s healthcare?

                      No, because another right necessarily gets in the way, one I feel is more important: the right to healthcare. This right exists whether we have an efficient centralized payment system or not. I don’t want to live in a society where healthcare is administered on an ability-to-pay basis, and if you do then we disagree about what makes a freer society. Healthcare costs in a modern society are socialized no matter what, so it pays to do it in the most efficient way.

                      As long as you acknowledge that there is no fundamental moral distinction between our preferences of what costs are socialized (as administered by government). If you want to assert a right to be free from paying for others’ healthcare costs then it is equally legitimate to claim a right to be free from paying for others’ national defense.

                      If you just believe in rights that are cost-free, then you are a rights minimalist. But you don’t, as any assertion of property rights necessarily entails the cost of police and courts and such.

                  2. T o n y|6.16.12 @ 2:39PM|#
                    …”(Why shouldn’t people have a right to safe drinking water and healthcare?)”…
                    Because, shithead, taking goods from others can never be a “right”, except in the thuggish political systems shitheads prefer.

                    1. Hayek disagrees.

                    2. The Derider|6.16.12 @ 4:23PM|#
                      “Hayek disagrees.”

                      So?

                    3. The Derider|6.16.12 @ 4:23PM|#
                      “Hayek disagrees.”

                      Oh, and nowhere did Hayek define such payouts as he preferred as “rights”, so you’re lying once again.

                    4. Except to pay for programs you like.

                  3. healthcare

                    You are free to manage your health any way you wish, Tony. Medical care is my discrete product and commodity and not yours to take at the point of a gun, you entitled son of a bitch!

                    I really wish you would get that through your thick skull, you vile, depraved Utilitarian bag of shit.

                    health care =/= medical care

                  4. “Some political movements have spent the last century increasing the number of rights people have. (Why shouldn’t people have a right to safe drinking water and healthcare?) Others have spent their time pushing back and trying to minimize rights.”

                    The problem is your’re creation of so-called new rights violate other rights. You aren’t making more rights in total. You’re just converting the concept into yet-another agenda-driven political tool.

              2. What’s the solution, other than Government regulation?

                You can’t assign property rights to the atmosphere.

                1. Don’t let your views on global warming affect your view of everything else.

                  Like I said, feel free to question the cost of fighting something like global warming relative to the benefit. Maybe that’s pollution that isn’t worth fighting!

                  Doesn’t change the principle that people should pay for the damage they do to other people’s property.

                  Also, I’d like to mention again, that pollution is one of the things that really does make sense to tax. You say I have to pay a sales tax on something because its use causes damage to other people’s property?

                  I’ll buy that before I buy the idea that I owe you taxes on my income–because I earned a paycheck.

                  I’ll buy that before I buy the idea that I owe you taxes on my investment proceeds–because I sold something at a profit.

                  Taxing people because of the pollution they cause isn’t socialist; redistributing wealth by way of income taxes and capital gains taxes is socialist. Just because we’ve grown accustomed to being screwed in that socialist way doesn’t make it right.

                  And just because we’re not used to being taxed heavily for the pollution we cause doesn’t make it wrong, either.

        2. Hayek believed that the state should regulate production where producers would fail (including the environment):

          I have no problem with charging people for the pollution they create. Actually, taxing people for pollution makes a lot more sense than taxing them because they generated income or a capital gain.

          I’m glad to see Hayek was clued into common sense on the issue. Actually, I’ve known about his take on that for a long time.

          There’s nothing about libertarianism that says polluting our environment is a good thing. Libertarian solutions to pollution, like Hayek’s, are entirely superior to the solutions proposed by the left.

          There’s no contradiction between Hayek’s libertarian solutions to environmental problems and libertarianism at all.

          1. Is taxing emissions the Libertarian position on pollution now?

            Because a hell of a lot of Libertarians call me a statist when I propose that as a solution.

            1. They’re reacting to greens who are using global warming as a justification for various forms of socialism.

              There’s no doubt a lot of greens want to shut down economic growth in the name of the environment.

              I personally would love, love, love to get rid of the income tax, the capital gains tax, and the corporate tax–and replace them all with an equivalent tax on various forms of pollution.

              There are a number of reasons. From a utilitarian perspective, income, capital gains and corporate taxes hamstring the economy. Economic growth would explode, unemployment would shrivel, etc.

              From a moral perspective, a tax on pollution would be much more voluntary than income taxes or corporate taxes. If you don’t want to pay a tax on oil, you can ride a bicycle or move closer to work, or move to a more temperate climate, or install a heat pump, or insulate your house, or substitute away from that tax in all sorts of other ways.

              The key is to emphasize that if we institute a heavy tax on pollution like that, then we’ll need to make up for it by slashing all other taxes dramatically elsewhere.

              Anybody that doesn’t want to replace income, capital gains, and corporate taxes with what amounts to a sales tax–because it would help the environmentalist cause? Isn’t really a capitalist.

              And anyone that wouldn’t support saving the environment by way of a substantial tax on pollution if doing so meant getting rid of redistributive taxes?

              Doesn’t really care about the environment.

              1. “The key is to emphasize that if we institute a heavy tax on pollution like that, then we’ll need to make up for it by slashing all other taxes dramatically elsewhere.”

                The problem, of course, is that such a happy result would require the ‘right people’ in the government; not going to happen.
                Re derider’s ‘can’t assign property rights’; it’s true. What can easily happen, however, is that as a society becomes more prosperous (meaning one with less of the thuggish governments which derider favors), the greater the concern for such issues as ‘the environment’.
                Note that (per the article) our prosperity allows the market to reward Whole Foods for the ‘organic’ hogwash. Similarly, I’d trust the market to punish polluters long before I’d trust a government to do as you propose.

                1. I think it would require the environmentalists on the left to override the socialists on the left.

                  There’s no way the greens are ever gonna get more than what they’ve already got unless they strike a grand bargain with anti-tax people on the right.

                  Likewise, anti-tax people on the right aren’t about to get significantly lower taxes either–unless they, likewise, start working outside the box.

                  1. Ken Shultz|6.16.12 @ 7:04PM|#
                    “I think it would require the environmentalists on the left to override the socialists on the left.”

                    There might be a lefty enviro who isn’t a socialist, but probably not more than one.

                    1. Let’s make ’em pick a side!

                      Save the world from your global warming?

                      Or keep redistributing investment proceeds and income?

                      Hump or Death?

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJNs-sfTIM4

                      How can they back-pedal on saving the world from global warming after all the hot air they’ve blown into the atmosphere telling us we have to do something? None of their fixes are big enough to solve the problem–according to their own models.

                      This is the only way. If they want a solution that’s really big enough to solve the problem–according to their own models–then all of our taxes should come from pollution.

                      If we did that without slashing taxes elsewhere, it would completely destroy the economy–no one would support that tax regime for very long. So, we’re gonna have to kill the income tax (at least) if they want to save the planet.

                      There’s no other way.

                      That’s my pitch to them. We can’t have a solution big enough to solve the problem unless you greens help us slash taxes elsewhere. That may be an inconvenient truth for them, but I think that’s the way it really is.

                    2. Ken Shultz|6.16.12 @ 8:15PM|#
                      …”How can they back-pedal on saving the world from global warming after all the hot air they’ve blown into the atmosphere telling us we have to do something?”

                      Because ‘saving the world’ is a red herring. Exerting control over others is the text.

                  2. Ken, look at it another way:
                    The Derider|6.16.12 @ 4:25PM|#
                    “Is taxing emissions the Libertarian position on pollution now?”

                    What Derider’s looking for in the seemingly innocuous question is a blanket approval for mischief; typically dishonest.
                    I oppose taxation in general, much as I oppose physical violence.
                    But physical violence is acceptable in the case of a specific case of self-defense. Similarly, taxation is acceptable in some circumstances.
                    So AFAIC, the answer is:
                    “No, it is not a libertarian position. If you wish to argue for it, please define the exact circumstances where such a tax might be acceptable.”

        3. Perfectly idiotic. Hayek’s entire thesis was that the realm where the state ought to tread was vanishly small, not the lumbering, incompetent behemoth we have now and are expanding at a torrid pace.

      2. Dude,

        Go easy on the Rockefeller Republican. Under their philosophy, either some peasant is being beaten to better the other members of his class – or society crumbles.

        Trying to argue Shrike out of his Rockefellerism is doomed; his superstitions are canalized in his brain.

  4. OT:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2…..ght-choir/

    I didn’t want to link to a Balloon-Juice post, but this particular turd might provide a few laughs to those of you troubled by your annoying kids this Father’s Day weekend.

    1. Balloonknot Juice is the world’s largest strawman factory. Their obsession is more telling about them than it could ever be about us.

      I’d feel sorry for them, if so many of our griefers weren’t sent here by the site. For that, they can all burn in the hell their ignorance has built.

      1. Really? That is where all the assholes come from?

        And it is funny how we never get any Red State or Free Republic Griefers. Even Donderoo and Lonewacko, while Joe from Lowell level assholes, were not griefers. The left does seem uniquely craven in that regard.

        1. I’m dying to see SF’s evidence for this claim.

          The glibsters are very good at making shit up and getting away with it.

    2. I like how some in the comments are characterizing the tightrope stunt as some sort of bourgeois, pointless activity…as opposed to what would occur in, I suppose, the supremely efficient, communist, production-based economy of their fantasies.

    3. What the fuck was that? What the fuck does a highwire act have to do with some imagined contradiction in libertarianism?

      Jesus those people are stoopid.

      You know what’s scary is that by two years into the Romney presidency they’ll be here posting about their love of freedom and civil rights and bullshit. Well, when that happens don’t forget today, don’t forget this attitude.

      Also, don’t forget the republican fucks spending four years bitchin’ about Obama’s tyranny and “THE LEFTISTS!” when Mittens governs the same way.

      NEVER FORGET!

    4. Wow that is stupid.

    5. Here is my comment:

      LOL!

      You people are dumb as fuck. There’s no conflict for libertarians. Wallendas was free to cross with or without a harness, as he saw fit. ABC (a group of people who happen fill out a particular tax form that leftards don’t like even though it results in higher tax revenues) was free to air his crossing or not air it as they saw fit. Neither put any coercive demand on the other, and nobody’s liberty was infringed. It’s telling, though, that you people think liberty means Wallendas should have been able to use violent force to make another group of people air his crossing even if they didn’t want to.

      1. Looks like they deleted your comment. How unsurprising.

        1. Shouldn’t have used the F-word.

    6. You have to wonder how narrow their understanding of life itself to be able to assert such bullshit and think it’s iron-clad.

    1. It depends. If they really did do a racist skit, I don’t blame the teachers for being angry. But somehow I doubt it was really racist.

      1. The kid doing the skit was black.

        1. Are you saying blacks can’t be racist? That’s racist.

          1. Are you saying blacks can’t be racist? That’s racistTHAT’S RACIST!!!!oNE1!eLEVENTY!1.

            FIFY

    2. Sanctioned?

      A weasel word in the headline from the editor, but a good article otherwise. The students were effectively arrested.

      1. I’d take my kids to Great Adventure and send the administrators pictures from the roller coasters instead of making them relive The Breakfast Club because of some overly sensitive twat with an ax to grind against her students for pointing out character flaws.

        1. “The Breakfast Club” premise might not have work so well if the students were properly Merandized at the moment before their detention.

  5. “Rulers can have no better grasp of the whole than do the ruled. However, rulers lack something that ruled individuals do not: knowledge of the subjects’ own particular circumstances, interests, preferences skills, and so on.”

    Hayek died before he could see what the internet made possible for centralizing dispersed and local knowledge. Can you imagine Hayekian customer service when you order something? You call a clerk at the company to find out about the status of your order, and the clerk says that the knowledge you requested is dispersed and localized and beyond the ability of anyone at the company headquarters to know. Only the person who has the package right in front of him has that knowledge. You’ll just have to live in ignorance and wait until your order arrives.

    1. Try again. This time with a point.

    2. This post (advancedatheist|6.16.12 @ 12:22PM|#) is exactly why I’m torn between atheism and Satanism. If belief is primarily a social milieu for like minded adherents, there are way too many mongoloid retards like this guy in the former.

    3. That’s a good point, advancedatheist. What Hayek said about governments also applies to large corporations, which is why small business usually deliver better customer service. The difference between the corporation and the government, though, is that the size a corporation settles at represents a balance between all the bureaucratic bumbling and efficiency gains resulting from the economies of scale.

    4. That’s a good point, advancedatheist. What Hayek said about governments also applies to large corporations, which is why small business usually deliver better customer service. The difference between the corporation and the government, though, is that the size a corporation settles at represents a balance between all the bureaucratic bumbling and efficiency gains resulting from the economies of scale.

  6. “Can you imagine Hayekian customer service when you order something? You call a clerk at the company to find out about the status of your order, and the clerk says that the knowledge you requested is dispersed and localized and beyond the ability of anyone at the company headquarters to know.”

    That sort of stupid doesn’t come about by luck; it takes hours to hit that level.

  7. “…the knowledge you requested is dispersed and localized…”

    I’m thinking of the bank robbery scene in “Raising Arizona”.

  8. The Road to Serfdom, pp 148-149

    There is no reason why in a society which has reached the general level of wealth which ours has attained the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom. …. [T]here can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. … Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individual in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision.
    “Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance … the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to super-cede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatability in principle between the state’s providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom.

    Socialized risk management is compatible with “the preservation of individual freedom”

    1. There’s a reason Von Mises called Hayek a ‘socialist’.

      “Socialized risk management is compatible with “the preservation of individual freedom””
      Claiming something really does say much, other than you claimed it to be so.

      1. Correction:
        …really *doesn’t* say much…

      2. It’s not a claim that can be verified empirically, it’s a philosophical opinion. Just like everything you believe, only what you believe lacks depth and indeed rewards itself for simplicity. If you believe Derider’s claim to be untrue then you must reject national defense and property rights protection, which are forms of socialized risk management. Intelligent people can disagree about which forms of risk should be mitigated socially, but you want to assert a moral superiority for your particular list. That is really lacking an empirical basis. It’s just “because I said so.”

        1. I’m still surprised you didn’t puke while typing your response about that it’s okay to make a profit.

  9. Of course Hayek’s true individualists?that is, the early economists?understood that no one possesses that fuller comprehension. Rulers can have no better grasp of the whole than do the ruled. However, rulers lack something that ruled individuals do not: knowledge of the subjects’ own particular circumstances, interests, preferences skills, and so on. Hence the http://www.maillotfr.com/maill…..-3_10.html liberal injunction that the state should leave peaceful people alone and the conviction that strict observance of that injunction serves the general good.

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