Why Friedrich Hayek was NOT a Conservative

July 18, 2013 § 3 Comments

I found this interesting little gem yesterday from Friedrich Hayek who, in by 1960, found himself somewhat alarmed that his The Road to Serfdom had become such a bible for right-wing laissez-faire capitalists and their supporters. Hayek subtitled the Postscript to his book, The Constitution of Liberty, “Why I’m Not a Conservative,” he writes that, amongst other things, conservatism (at least in 1960) lacked coherency in terms of countering liberalism (and other enemies).  But, perhaps more to the point, Hayek argues that conservatism was hostile to innovation and new knowledge.  It was shaky on the economic foundations of free market economics (which he himself was not all that fond of, as noted in The Road to Serfdom), and, to quote George H. Nash, “altogether too inclined to use the State for its own purposes rather than to limit this threat to liberty.”

Interesting, really.


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§ 3 Responses to Why Friedrich Hayek was NOT a Conservative

  • Brian Bixby says:

    In particular, I’ve found people on the right generally assume we have free markets in the U.S., without any idea of how prevalent market imperfections are.

    • John Matthew Barlow says:

      I can’t think of anywhere in the world today where there are free markets. And when there were close to free markets in the UK, US, and Canada in the 19th century, well, look at how that turned out.

      Right now, I’m fascinated by right-wing arguments that Hayek called for free markets w/no regulatory oversight whatsoever. Of course, to know that he didn’t actually favour that, they’d have to read Road To Serfdom.

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Toss in that Rome fell because of bread and circuses (a.k.a. helping the poor through socialism), that the gold standard promoted economic stability, including price stability, and the double-think that Reagan liberated the markets to give us economic growth in the 1981-2008 period at the same time excess regulation was destroying the economy during the same period.

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