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Finished this finally This is in the prescribed reading list of Princeton University s Department of Politics for Public Law Wonderful critique on Socialism a.k.a Communism And why Conservatism is not the opposite to Communism Socialism. I forced myself to read it and it was not a pleasant experience First, it is boring Unless you support exactly the same ideology than Hayek, you will very soon be aware that the author does not try to be funny or witty and that he has the same relation with his dogma than the Spanish Inquisition had with Catholicism.Beyond that, a good example of the nonsense he defends is when he tries to justify inequality He says for instance that the consumption of the rich is what drives innovation because the rich can pay for expensive things and it would be a necessary step between an idea for an invention and the mass production of this invention except one little thing in reality, it is not true, of course As a list of inventions can easily demonstrate, governmental organizations followed by the middle class were actually the most common by far investors in the first steps of what we use in our day to day life computer British and American armies , internet American and European public research centers , most medical inventions and discoveries hospitals and universities financed by the government and the middle class , photography cinema plane French and American middle class with some subsidies , mobile phone American government , car German middle class , microwave oven the allies during WW II etc.So, it is an authoritative and boring book that defends ideas that would lead to a plutocracy Well Bruce Caldwell, in his excellent study of Hayek s social and economic thought, has suggested that The Constitution of Liberty most likely constituted a part of Hayek s broader project to respond to the increasingly fashionable view that the application of the methodology of the natural sciences to social phenomena, in the form of social planning by a team of experts, could in theory solve all problems of human organization This conclusion was predicated on the assumption that the laws of human interaction were analogous to the laws of physics, which, once uncovered, would permit the engineering of social relationships with the same predictability of outcome as obtained with respect to the physical world Hayek begins his analysis of the nature of a free society by attempting to define personal freedom One is free, he maintains, when one is not coerced And coercion, he continues, occurs when one man s actions are made to serve another man s will, not for his own but for the other s purpose, 26 but only when the possibility of alternative action is open and only when that alternative action serves the other person s desires The conception of freedom under the law rests on the contention that when we obey laws, in the sense of general abstract rules laid down irrespective of their application to us, we are not subject to another man s will and are therefore free The recognition that each person has his own scale of values which we ought to respect, even if we do not approve of it, is part of the conception of the value of the individual personality How we value another person will necessarily depend on what his values are But believing in freedom means that we do not regard ourselves as the ultimate judges of another person s values, that we do not feel entitled to prevent him from pursuing ends which we disapprove so long as he does not infringe the equally protected sphere of others. An Exposition Of A Theory Of LibertyHayek s The Constitution of Liberty is a comprehensive work of political philosophy It sets forth, defends, and applies an important view of the nature of human liberty, government, and economics that is worth considering, at the least, and that has much to commend it The book is carefully written and argued with extensive and substantive footnotes and with an analytical table of contents that is useful in following the details of the argument The book is highly erudite It is also passionately argued Hayek believed he had an important message to convey.Hayek states his theory in part I of this book, titled The Value of Freedom He seeks to explore the nature of the ideal of freedom liberty and to explain why this ideal is valuable and worth pursuing He finds the nature of freedom in the absence of coercion on a person by another person or group He argues that in giving the broadest scope of action to each individual, society will benefit in ways that cannot be foreseen in advance or planned and each person will be allowed to develop his or her capacities Hayek summarizes his views near the end of his book T he ultimate aim of freedom is the enlargement of those capacities in which man surpasses his ancestors and to which each generation must endeavor to add its share its share in the growth of knowledge and the gradual advance of moral and aesthetic beliefs, where no superior must be allowed to enforce one set of views of what is right or good and where only further experience can decide what should prevail The book focuses on issues of economic freedom and on the value of the competitive market Hayek has been influenced by writers such as David Hume, Edmund Burke, and John Stuart Mill in On Liberty Part II of the book discusses the role of the State in preserving liberty It develops a view of law which sees its value in promoting the exercise of individual liberty The approach is historic Hayek discusses with great sympathy the development of the common law and of American constitutionalism particularly as exemplified by James Madison.In Part III of the book, Hayek applies his ideas about the proper role of government in allowing the exercise of individual liberty to various components of the modern welfare state Each of the chapters is short and suggestive, rather than comprehensive Hayek relies on technical economic analysis, and on his understanding of economic theory, as well as on his philosophical commitments, in his discussion What is striking about Hayek s approach is his openness sometimes to the point of possible inconsistency with his philosophical arguments He tries in several of his chapters to show how various aspects of the modern welfare state present threats to liberty in the manner in which he has defined liberty But he is much favorably inclined to some aspects of these programs than are some people, and on occasion he waffles This is the sign of a thoughtful mind, principled but undoctrinaire.I think there is much to be learned from Hayek He probably deserves of a hearing than he gets For a nonspecialist returning to a book such as this after a long time off, it is good to think of other positions which differ from Hayek s in order to consider what he has to say and to place it in context For example, in an essay called Liberty and Liberalism in his Taking Rights Seriously 1977 the American legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin discusses Mill s On Liberty with a reference to Hayek Dworkin argues that for Mill, liberty meant not the absence of coercion but rather personal independence Mill was distinguishing between personal rights and economic rights, according to Dworkin Thus Dworkin would claim that Hayek overemphasizes the value of competitiveness and lack of state economic regulation in the development of Hayek s concept of liberty.The British political thinker Isaiah Berlin seems to suggest to me, as I read Hayek s argument, that there are other human goods in addition to liberty, as Hayek defines liberty Further, Hayek does not establish that liberty, as he understands it, is always the ultimate human good to which others must give place It may often be that good, but there may also be circumstances in which other goods should be given a preeminent role when human well being is at issue In thinking about Hayek, it would also be useful to understand and to assess his concept of liberty by comparing and contrasting his approach to that of John Rawls in his A Theory of Justice Hayek s book is important, thought provoking and valuable Probably no writer of a book of political philosophy can be asked for It deserves to be read and pondered It has much to teach, both where it may persuade the reader and where it encourages the reader to explore competing ideas.Robin Friedman Hayek has gotten a lot of press, lately some of it from corners of the media world that are quit a bit , um, colorful than he would himself appreciate Most of his renewed popularity surrounds his first major political tract, The Road to Serfdom, written in 1943, which I read 8 or 9 years ago While that was an important work, it suffered I think from somewhat leaden prose, and a reactive view of developments in the world a that time, especially in Germany and Britain I liked the message, but didn t really enjoy the read.The Constitution of Liberty, on the other hand, is a much readable work, as political philosophy goes It s highly positive in its arguments, laying out a carefully constructed argument in favor of freedom and restricted government Hayek is eminently reasonable, unlike, for example, Ayn Rand, who was much strident and dismissive of alternative viewpoints, even if they only deviated slightly from her own The book is divided into 3 parts The first section defines freedom in a careful and limited way, so as not to leave any doubt that Hayek s main concern is the exercise of arbitrary coercive power by one person over another He distinguishes his view form the anarchic strains of libertarianism a term he disliked , as well as the hyper rationalistic versions he makes a strong case for the basic insight that reason, as we know it at any given point in time, is the product of our culture and environment, and does not exist outside of a specific societal context This means that radical movements seeking to tear down a traditional society and reconstruct society along rational lines tend to meet a problematic fate see France, 1793 Russia, 1917 China, 1949 etc However, he concerns himself primarily with expounding the benefits of freedom and the need for restraint of authority over the lives and actions of individuals, primarily from a moral point of view The next section deals primarily with the rule of law, and the interactions of the legal system with a free state There is quite a lot of interesting history here including a quick overview of the evolution of the Rechtsstaat in Prussia that was killed in the cradle by Bismarck , and a well developed analysis of what does and does not qualify as the Rule of Law The third part was the hardest to get through, and in some ways the most anachronistic for a modern reader the book was written in 1960, after all , but still worth the effort This section concerned itself with the modern welfare state, and the ways in which Hayek s concept of freedom and the rule of law could still be compatible with many of the aims of the welfare state, but seldom are The chapters in this section deal primarily with specific areas of policy, such as taxation, social security, agriculture and education policies I suppose I found this applied section difficult to read than the abstract portions of the book because I m already familiar with most of the basic arguments, and thus found much of it to be old news though it wasn t at the time, I assure you However, there were still illuminating ideas, and there was an interesting tone suffusing this section that evoked the very isolated feeling libertarian minded thinkers felt during the fifties Ultimately, this book makes a sensible, non hysterical case for freedom and limited government, while reassuringly pointing out that the philosophical case for freedom and the rule of law does not have to exclude the possibility of societal solutions for the poor and downtrodden It s no page turner, but the message is worth the time and effort. This is best non fiction book I ve read Absolutely incredible Hayek is difficult to read, but once you get into it, his language is beautiful and most direct.He explains WHAT liberty is and shows that most people across history and nations actually have rejected true liberty duh He explain WHAT liberty DOES Thus he shows WHY we want liberty So, if we know why we want liberty then we have a reason to stand up for it.He explains the concept of spontaneous order He also contrasts the two disparate theories of liberty and democracy The French version you can learn about especially in Cambridge, MA, or at any university or public school It is about human instigated planning of society and popular democracy He decries this sort of liberty and sides with British liberty that is about trial and error, haphazard evolution of good institutions and getting rid of bad institutions It is the opposite of state planning, it is the free market.The free market is certain a necessary outcome of liberty, and he discusses this as well.Rumor has it that Margaret Thatcher threw this book on the table at one of her first meetings when she was selected as Prime Minister and she said THIS is what we believe I have to concur with Margaret, this is what I believe as well. A phenomenal work, a must read for anyone with an interest in freedom and liberty As with Hayek s other popular works, it is written to be accessible rather than technical The first portion of the book is philosophical though Hayek is remembered for his contributions to economics, his consideration of specifically economic questions and their interrelation with liberty doesn t come until toward the end The work is well known for positing the rule of law as the chief principle to ensure a modicum of liberty, whether rule of law is to be practiced by a representative government or some less democratic form However, some of his critics have unfairly painted him as placing too much stock in the rule of law Hayek himself notes it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for liberty to flourish He goes further to note, if a law gave the government unlimited power to act as it pleased, all its actions would be legal, but it would certainly not be under the rule of law The rule of law, therefore, is also than constitutionalism it requires that all laws conform to certain principles p 310 Modern day Anarchists sometimes make reference to Hayek and use some of his ideas for inspiration However, Hayek did not oppose government, sticking to the familiar lesser of the evils argument all we can hope for is to create conditions in which people are prevented from coercing each other But to prevent people from coercing each other is to coerce them This means that coercion can only be reduced or made less harmful but not entirely eliminated p 13 He also notes how culture can reduce the need for coercion Coercion, then, may sometimes be avoidable only because a high degree of voluntary conformity exists, which means that voluntary conformity may be a condition of a beneficial working of freedom p 123 I think this last point is the weakness of Anarchists, as they incorrectly presume others value liberty as much as they do Hayek does acknowledge that culture puts great pressure on the individual to conform, but still, the individual is left free to not conform provided such individuals are willing to brave the censure of their fellows p 124 Yet Hayek urgently warns that modern Western civilization is premised on liberty and the positive developments of the last couple of centuries stemmed from increasing liberty, and therefore, the decline in liberty s popularity owing to the rise of Socialism, Progressivism, and other statist trends will invariably lead to the decline of the West unless reversed.In terms of the argument against liberty spreading to countries and cultures where it is currently absent, Hayek opposed other countries from closely aping the West, but he just as clearly thought that should the people be free, they would generate forms to develop their government and economy that would be appropriate to their own milieu Hayek defines liberty or freedom as The state in which a man is not subject to coercion by the arbitrary will of another or others p 58 or independence of the arbitrary will of another p 59 He refutes collectivists who assert that those who lack wealth, practically speaking, lack freedom, but sharply contrasted the two states, while acknowledging they are both good things that most people desire He acknowledged the dangers and risks of freedom, to include the freedom to starve, to make costly mistakes, or to run mortal risks p 69 However, the cost of trying to make people safe from such risks is to take away their freedom and subject them to the decisions of another, who may be as or susceptible to making the same mistakes, while at the same time, diminishing those who lose their liberty Coercion is evil precisely because is thus eliminates an individual as a thinking and valuing person and makes him a bare tool in the achievement of the ends of another p 71 The reason coercive methods always lead to outcomes sub optimal compared to freedom in the long run stems back to an argument that Hayek is perhaps most famous for making, that no individual or even small group like a committee can learn, understand, and act on sufficient knowledge to make the optimal decisions Conversely, with that knowledge dispersed among those best able to understand and make use of it, if those same people are left free, they may generally make the best possible use of it However, such success depends on people s voluntary cooperation with one another, which tends to occur among free people It is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess and because each individual s use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much successfully than they could alone p 76 While some may contend that Hayek s idea about knowledge in society is obsolete now that information can be widely shared in near real time, such that decision makers can access all of what they need when they need it However, the increasing specialization and diversity in society has actually had the opposite result The men know, the smaller the share of all that knowledge becomes that any one mind can absorb The civilized we become, the relatively ignorant must each individual be of the facts on which the working of his civilization depends The very division of knowledge increases the necessary ignorance of the individual of most of this knowledge p 78 It is popular to stick the word social in front of other words to give them a particular meaning some would say doing so makes the next word take on the opposite of its usual meaning Hayek picks this up in his own way, noting that The preference for social considerations over the adherence to moral rules is, therefore, ultimately the result of a contempt for what really is a social phenomenon and of a belief in the superior powers of individual human reason p 127 This latter contempt traces back at least as far as Socrates, at least insofar as I have read.Hayek recognized one of the most effective methods interventionists used to buy people s freedom from them with promises, as the chief benefits of freedom included the inventions, discoveries, and other progress that is, by nature, unknown prior to becoming known for in each particular instance it will be possible to promise concrete and tangible advantages as the result of a curtailment of freedom, while the benefits sacrificed will in their nature always be unknown and uncertain If freedom were not treated as the supreme principle, the fact that the promises which a free society has to offer can always be only chances and not certainties, only opportunities and not definite gifts to particular individuals, would inevitably prove a fatal weakness and lead to its slow erosion p 130 Probably another reason for the decline of Western society has been its flight from individual responsibility Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions and will receive praise or blame for them Liberty and responsibility are inseparable A free society will not function or maintain itself unless its members regard it as right that each individual occupy the position that results from his action and accepts it as due to his own action p 133 He briefly echoes Bastiat, Frederick in noting that assigning responsibility tends to shape behavior in beneficial ways, moving away from pain, suffering, loss, etc.Hayek reveals a great reluctance concerning democracy and gives extensive and thoughtful critique to representative government He does admit that it provides for a peaceful transfer of power and can be compatible with the rule of law and liberty, but that democracy unbridled by sufficient checks is surely not the path to liberty He also demonstrates the essential aspect of private property to permitting liberty, and thereby the importance of enforcing contracts and prohibiting fraud.Hayek looks extensively at the problem of administration and bureaucracy, noting that the main threat to liberty in the West today is an overgrown state apparatus not bounded by the same restrictions as other branches of government He underscores the importance of rule of law in keeping the administration in check, but also active court intervention and principles preserving rights to the people, not open ended authorities for bureaucrats to regulate everything He further notes that the experts in any given field tend to favor what they are experts in and are employable thereby and this accelerates the growth and penetration of government administration.As Hayek transitions to a focus on economic issues in particular, he notes that in a free society, the government should be focused on the prevention of violence and fraud, the protection of property and the enforcement of contracts, and the recognition of equal rights of all individuals to produce in whatever quantities and sell at whatever prices they choose p 338 He then reviews many basic concepts and notes the impact of various government interventions He also mentions his opposition to any kind of world government, particularly in light of the general predilection among many people for systems that are not free.While analyzing the pros and cons of various aspects of government action vis vis the economy, Hayek gives a prophetic summary Though we may have speeded up a little the conquest of want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness, we may in the future do worse even in that struggle when the chief dangers will come from inflation, paralyzing taxation, coercive labor unions, an ever increasing dominance of government in education, and a social service bureaucracy with far reaching arbitrary powers dangers from which the individual cannot escape by his own efforts and which the momentum of the overextended machinery of government is likely to increase rather than mitigate p 429 He gives a robust and frank discussion of many social ills and the attempts to address them, whether wages, poverty, education, social security, etc He forces the reader to really think things through, not being content to stop at the good intentions of some of the would be solutions, but examining both the effects and the implications they carry The final part of his book is Hayek s expression of why he is not a Conservative and why he thinks it is risky for lovers of liberty to ally with Conservatives he thought it better to try and convert Progressives, Socialists, and others working for change He articulates his understanding of the peculiarly American problem of political vocabulary, how Liberals are called conservative and Progressives and Socialists are called liberal in spite of their opposition to Liberalism While Hayek is correct in his analysis of real Conservatives being dragged along by whatever change and progress goes on in the world such that their program evolves with society , he is unnecessarily harsh in implying Conservatives have no positive philosophy of their own Edmond Burke is rightly considered the father of modern Conservatism and his articulate expression of the model of balance found in 18th century British monarchy, nobility, parliament, and church certainly stands out in this regard Hayek considers Burke a Liberal an Old Whig and doesn t include him as a Conservative, though he acknowledges that Conservatives quote him However, this completely overlooks Burke s reaction to the French Revolution that ultimately cost him his seat in Parliament and his membership in his old party.In his brief discussion of nationalism and patriotism, Hayek displays an understanding of the difference all too often not shared by modern Libertarians an aversion to nationalism is fully compatible with a deep attachment to national traditions But the fact that I prefer and feel reverence for some of the traditions of my society need not be the cause of hostility to what is strange and different p 527 The bottom line There is only one principle that can preserve a free society namely, the strict prevention of all coercion except in the enforcement of general abstract rules equally applicable to all p 404 Yes, it s a little long, but it reads pretty well, and I m not sure what he could have cut out If you care about liberty, or if you plan to be civically active, you would benefit a great deal by taking the time to read it. In 1943, Friedrich von Hayek published The Road to Serfdom In this little book he explained how collectivist i.e socialist theories and thinking destroy humanity when applied in practice But first, this book was of an essay than a clear exposition and second, it was focused primarily on economic policy i.e the issue of central planning in collectivism So, in 1959, Hayek decided to publish another book on the same subject this time a comprehensive and very broad book, spanning than 400 pages This is The Constitution of Liberty I d like to start my review with mentioning the downsides of The Constitution of Liberty Hayek isn t a gifted writer, the subject matter is abstract and dry, the topics involved require much background knowledge and the scope and hence length of the book is immense Therefore, this book cannot be recommended to read for fun one has to be truly committed to understand Hayek s thoughts in order to read this book In other words, if one wants to read an accessible statement against socialism, read The Road to Serfdom.But, why the four stars Because The Constitution of Liberty is the bible of liberalism In it, Hayek explains all the pros and cons of liberalism and does so in a much nuanced way than is commonly understood Hayek is commonly seen as one of the founders of the radical neoliberalism movement of the 1970 s and 1980 s.Hayek s message can be summarized in a few sentences Liberalism sees individual freedom as the guiding principle for politics and ethics Making it specific liberalism strives to minimize coercion and violence in the personal sphere Basically, this individual freedom can only be accomplished if two conditions are established First, the rights of the individual, which centre around life and property, should be limited only insofar as the freedom of some individual limits the freedom of life and property of some other individual In other words, one should be free of violence and coercion This is as radical as liberalism can get Second, there has to be a coercive power that enforces this liberalism on society the state The state translates the coercive restrictions into general laws, according to the guiding principle of individualism Hence, the state is subject to the same principles as the people this is penned down in a constitution This, therefore, is the only legitimate form of coercion with in a society, and its legitimacy lies in the fact that 1 even the enforcer i.e the state is subject to it, and 2 it is general i.e not particular or arbitrary in nature.So, the state, as well as the people, are subject to the consitution, which is itself based on the principles of liberty and individualism The state legislates according to these principles, and the laws it makes take the form of general laws i.e no arbitrariness The state is checked by the judicial power each citizen is equal before the law and in his her dealings with the state.One thing has to be remarked here Hayek promotes liberalism i.e radical individual freedom , not democracy Democracy is only a means of government type of government is not that important when dealing with the limits of government as such Of course, when compared to monarchy, aristocracy or tiranny, democracy is the best type of government It ensures the channeling of the opinions of the people into policy and law, but democracy is no sinecure.As a matter of fact, democracy can be viewed as an enemy of indiviual freedom Democracy slides easily into the rule of the majority, but this is opposed to individual freedom One only has to look at Hitler s rise to power, via democracy, to get Hayek s point Only a constitution that garantuees the freedom of individual people independent of current majority opinions is the solution to tiranny and oppression As Hayek mentions himself, a constitution is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy without it, oppression, and hence stagnation and decline, will follow.The principle of individual freedom is not only applied to ethics and rights, but importantly Hayek also applies it to economics There has to be a free market to allocate to each his own Only individual freedom will ensure that the laws of supply and demand will funtion You decide how and if you want to earn your money, and how to spend it This, in effect, is the translation of human desires into economics Of course, this will lead to inequality, but at least it s inequality based primarily on merit According to Hayek, all other systems especially socialism presuppose an all knowing authority who will redistribute the wealth of a society All redistribution presupposes norms and standards and all norms and standards are as varied as there are people In other words, there will by definition be no consensus on redistribution, leading to favoritsm and arbitrariness, and destroying the incentives for individual people to better their lifes.In a free market i.e radical individual freedom , Hayek says, the economic elite will, because of their better position, pave the way technologically, socially and culturally for the betterment of the rest of society In other words, the economic elite will spend their money on new fashions and technologies, and thereby make the products over time cheaper, so the rest of society can benefit According to Hayek, if you take away the inequality in society for example by applying collectivism you will put a brake on development and society will suffer as a whole This economic liberalism shows interesting parallels with Darwin s theory of evolution by natural selection Evolution happens because individuals differ from each other in traits and characteristics the most suited will procreate, at the cost of the rest of the population since these successful traits are inherited by offspring, these traits will spread numerically in populations, gradually changing populations and thereby species over eons of time.Why the comparison According to Hayek, society needs progress, since stagnation or decline will lead to immense suffering wars, starvation, diseases, etc Progress can only happen if their is money to make it happen If everybody earns the same amount, their is not enough surplus money to spend on innovation and technology, the drivers of economic progress Hence, ecnomic progress feeds on economic inequality, like evolution feeds on biological ineqality.But here the parallel stops It is important to realize that Hayek describes the mechanism, he doesn t promote it, and he certainly is no radical libertarian, who only sees safety and order as the tasks of a very small government Hayek even says there is a role for the government to ensure a just economic game the government should promote competition and prevent monopolies if at all and other un economical trends of the free market Hayek goes even further, and says it is absolutely possible for a government to ensure all of its citizens i.e the unlucky ones a minimum level of subsistence and protection This minimum, over, can be decided democratically Hayek only points out that the egalitarian society becomes, the it costs the society in terms of progress, and hence an increase of suffering There has to be a balance between freedom and humanity, preferably democratically decided I stress Hayek s point because he is often cited as being one of the founding fathers of modern neoliberalism or even libertarianism This is simply untrue, and it doesn t help in serious debates if there is a deliberate misrepresentation of Hayek s points It is a common strategy of scare tactics, used by so called progressives, to lure the masses into believing that liberalism and capitalism are bad or even the same thing So, to sum up all of the above we need individual freedom economically and politically This principle of freedom has to be translated into a constitution, which limit and guides government in making general laws, and citizens in obeying the law The a government tries to promote radical egaliterianism, the the government will encroach on and endanger the individual freedom of its citizens In that sense, social welfare is a clear and present danger to society The road to hell is paved with good intentions and Hayek uses the third part of his book to apply his principle of liberalism to social issues of the welfare state like trade unions, social security, monetary planning, etc.Social welfare has to be viewed as a democratic compromise to ensure citizens a minum level of subsistence This is not an argument against social welfare, but an argument for carefully weighing the importance of freedom and the importance of helping those who need it Freedom is not buying all you want, freedom is deciding as far as possible over your own life When it comes to social welfare, we need to be careful about centralizing this in the national government, which tends to grow unlimited in power We also need to be very careful about progressive taxation as a principle Hayek convincingly argues that progressive taxation can be used for ever increasing taxes This is dangerous, according to Hayek, because it is based on emotion, is ineffective in alleviating the poor and is a threat to the progression of society It is better to agree on a minimum of subsistence, and leave social welfare to local politics for example, townships , which are much less prone to usurping power and dominating society For the progressives among us Hayek argues that a decentralized system of social welfare albeit one that purely caters to the needy is fully compatible with a society based on liberal principles i.e preventing coercion of and violence to individuals.Liberalism needs inequality, but it is an illusion to think that alternative systems, like socialism or facism, do away with inequality A strong case can be made as Hayek does that liberalism is the system that offers the best system for society as a whole At least liberalism is the only political system that makes inequality random i.e based on individual characteristics instead of arbitrary i.e based on the relationship between individual and ruler In that sense, liberalism to paraphrase Churchill is the worst political system possible, except all the rest that have been tried.I think, anno 2017, The Constitution of Liberty should be mandatory reading for schoolchildren We see the hun for radical euality all around us Genders are said to be constructs, sexuality is declared to be preference, unwelcome political ideas are told to be facism, traditional cultural values are proclaimed to be boursgious oppression, etc The progressives, who ironically call themselves left liberals, are a threat to the existence of Western culture as we know it They promote radical equality and declare biological and cultural differences to be non existent In other words, every individual should be forced to be the same This is marxism 2.0, applied to culture cultural marxism , and I cannot help but wonder if these spoiled brats they are mostly young students have any historical insight Hence, my plea to make Hayek s works mandatory reading it would do well to remember ourselves the importance of individual freedom, its consequent inequalities and the dangers that threaten it This realization will let us make informed decisions about how to conquer inequality and promote a better world, without falling into the same traps as our ancestors After writing this review, I d like to add a personal remark I consider myself a liberal and I value much of what Hayek argues I agree on liberalism as a principle for society, and I even agree on the totalitarian tendency of government any government that is built on social engineering Nevertheless, I have personal problems with liberalism s underlying assumption of humanity Hayek s system looks, from a rational point of view, perfect yet, I see serious humanitarian problems with his system.Science has progressed a lot ever since the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century Not only do we know about the universe we live in, we know a lot about ourselves Neuroscience and psychology and much else tell us that we are not the rational beings that liberalism presupposes even so called rational thinkers cannot deny David Hume s conclusion reason is a slave of the passions It is common knowledge that we share a common ancestor with chimpanzee s and bonobo s Most of our current psychological functions and feelings have been shaped by the process of evolution by natural selection A human being is primarily primed to save his own skin and to look out for number one there is only a small circle of relatives, family and friends for which we care less Also, we use our emotions to guide our actions without feeling there s no incentive to ever do something.Liberalism, especially in combination with capitalism, pushes our worst buttons It incentivizes us to compete with the rest endlessly if necessary , and because inequality is inevitable, it leads us to envy the success of others This sets us up for social problems We cannot deny these feelings they exist and have to be dealt with, one way or another.Hence, we do not accept the 10% of the population owning 90% of the capital, leaving the remaining 90% to fend for themselves This is injustice in our eyes, and only the people belonging to the 10% or the ones aspiring to get there will accept this state of economics as a status quo For most of us the 90% we feel resentment and unfairness How is someone able to buy an umteenth car while my neighbor cannot pay his medical bills This is only a logical outcome of our biological make up, but it s something radical liberals tend to overlook or ignore.Not all people are equal, and these biological differences in equality have a practical outcome some earn than others So far, all is good But some people will not be able to fend for themselves, while others will be visited by disasters or bad luck It is easy to accept this, until it happens to you, or someone you care about At that moment you expect them to be helped This is also a logical outcome of our biological make up, and it too is overlookd or ignored by most liberals.So, I will make a bold assertion and claim there is absolutely no evidence that in a fully functioning free market and liberal society, suffering is less than in a socialist or any other society There will be just different winners and losers If you look at the World Happiness Index as an example , you ll see the most happy and happiest people living in Scandinavian countries countries with a huge social welfare system and a heavy redistribution of wealth These same countries are among the most competitive economies of the world and are, relatively speaking, rich.So, the countries with the most intense redistributive mechanisms, contain the most happy and happiest people in Earth Is this a paradox Only if you adhere rigidly to Hayek s system Once you take into account human nature, the paradox resolves We do not like to see suffering in our streets, and we certainly don t like to see our family and friends being treated unfairly or left to themselves in times of despair In the end, most of us want a safe, happy and fulfilled life And to ensure that the maximum amount of people lead such lives, one requires the redistribution of wealth Human beings are not rational robots, they have feelings feelings that are not calculated in rigidly applied liberalism.Hence, I d advocate liberalism, but policies have to be scientifically informed, and with the aim of maximizing the alleviation of suffering And NOT to aim at preventing people becoming rich or climbing in society We establish a certain minimum of health care and security, higher than in a radical liberalist society, but above this anything goes Of course, one could argue among the following lines In a fully functioning liberal society, people can use their money to help their friends and family, so the need for a system of social welfare is non existent This a much heard objection, but not such a serious one First, there are many people who don t have friends or family who are willing or able to care for them This includes people who, due to their psychological make up i.e mental diseases and such cannot establish social relations Second, along similar lines, not all people are able to pay in order to help the people they care about Third, capitalism has led to the accumulation of masses of people in the cities, destroying the old family and regional networks There is no bond between the city dwellers that will make sure that people donate money to help complete strangers So far the practical very real arguments, the fourth is a moral one The rich, or those that are becoming rich, have profited from the social capital that was built by preceding generations For example, they can earn money because they enjoyed a decent education This creates a moral obligation to uphold these institutions If not, then these people may legitimately be labeled parasites and hence the society as a whole has no obligation towards them.The last argument is not so much practical or moral, but an inductive one There is absolutely no evidence that rich people care for poor people In other words, a historical induction leads us to observe that Hayek s arguments on this point are not valid But let us grant him this point Even then, we would trade in a system of relative objectivity for one of complete arbitrariness Now the law decides who gets what help in a fully liberal society it is up to the whims of the rich who gets what This cannot function as a stable system of society So in general, I do agree with Hayek on most of his points In his economics, there is a serious flaw it uses an idealized conceptions of a human being Hence, radical free market politics will not work in practice people have feelings of envy, of hate, of suffering, of justice, etc Only a system that recognizes these feelings not bows to these feelings will work.In that sense, contemporary neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris might have a solution In The Moral Landscape, he argues, on the basis of the scientific knowledge of what makes us happy and what makes us suffer, to develop an ethics that caters to these human traits If we extrapolate his ethical system to economics, we could argue for an economic policy that ensures the greatest happiness and the least suffering for society as a whole In other words, we should make informed economic decisions on how to alleviate suffering as much as possible This doesn t require the need for a totalitarian government it can be democratically decided and applied in a decentralized way At least it sounds to me much realistic than Hayek s system. Hayek s book is one of the crowning achievements in the socialism capitalism debate of the last 100 years It is a deserved classic of liberalism, an argument for a market oriented society with all its faults.It provides a classical liberal defence, mostly on utilitarian grounds, for a limited government under what he called rule of law the reign of non arbitrary, non coercive, abstract and general rules that apply to all citizens equally The state, although minimal, should offer the maximum protection for individual liberty and safeguard the efficient operation of the free market Hayek s system places heavy emphasis on the virtues of private property and the vices of government interventionism especially of the benign and well meaning kind He sees his work as continuing the work of the British Whigs the originators of today s liberalism As we know, this Whig lover has inspired many Tories including Thatcher but he has always considered himself a classical liberal rather than a conservative See the last paragraph below The Constitution in the name is a pun on the two meanings of the term, active and passive A The actively written constitution that safeguards liberty the rule of law and B the non deliberate passive emergence of liberty out of social evolution via the market forces.The book traces the history of liberalism in the Anglo Saxon countries, from the days of Common Law to the philosophers of early Anglo Scottish liberalism Locke, Hume, Smith, Burke He also traces the way these ideas affected American constitutionalism with its Bill of Rights.He sees the British Common Law tradition with its emphasis on individual liberty as laying the basis for the idea of limiting government action, i.e chaining sovereign power Such a concern, he claims, was the guiding principle of 18th 19th centuries liberal politics But, due to shifting intellectual currents he puts the blame on Franco Teutonic rationalism and positivism , by the 20th Century, this tradition of liberalism, in its original form, had mostly been either forgotten or supplanted by socialist, authoritarian and social democratic ideologies, with their faith shared by Marxism and social democratic reformism alike on shaping society according to deliberate design The main argument of the book is that we need methods of making sure that government, despite being a useful servant, should not be granted arbitrary and discretionary powers Hayek argues that such dangerous powers should NEVER be granted to such a powerful, monopolizing, competition killing institution, EVEN if done for all the best intentions and in the service of good sounding causes Indeed, we should be wary of using the blunt powers of government, with the noble but misguided aim of shaping society according to human will and design, ESPECIALLY when faced with the ever present danger of bleeding heart zealousness due to some notion of social justice , which may blind our long term interests and cause us to accept mild forms of socialist interventionism into the economy Such interventionism only serves to destroy the basis for a free society A good example of such a danger, according to Hayek, is the support, in the name of egalitarianism, for progressive taxation, in order to achieve heavy redistribution If the main obstacle for freedom, in the 18th and 19th Centuries, used to be the power of sovereign kingship and the police state with its arbitrary and often unlimited powers of discretion , in the 20th and 21st Centuries, the main obstacle, according to Hayek, has become the DEMOCRATIC AND BUREAUCRATIC STATE From being the promise of human dignity and infinite progress, the welfare state, which is the norm in the Western countries, has turned into a scourge The welfare state, even with its obvious achievements, has nearly destroyed the legacy of spontaneous human development, replacing dangerous freedom with the promise of an all knowing authority The line of argument is familiar to anyone who has read The Road to Serfdom Indeed, even the social democratic proponent of welfare state measures must admit that the current welfare state has everywhere turned into a network of power wielding authorities and a never ending supply of liberty infringing laws Hayek argues the power of the democratic legislature, and the power of the bureaucratic committee, are JUST AS BAD as the power of, say, absolute monarchy, if not EVEN WORSE, because ostensibly based on the will of the people and in the service of higher causes, such as social justice which, for Hayek, is mere babble.However, despite his reputation, Hayek does NOT see the solution as being the complete abolition of democratic sovereignty, or even of welfare state measures many of which he supports, at least in theory, to some extent, despite his official protestations Rather, he argues that we should strengthen the institutional safeguards of our legal, economic and political framework to make sure that our laws do not infringe on the people s basic liberties On top of this, Hayek crucially admits that the state may well, without infringing on human liberty, provide a wide range of social services usually supported by socialists but also many classical liberals , including, but not limited to, social security, basic education, zoning laws, housing rules, public parks, roads, bridges, spreading important information, supporting universities, protecting wildlife reserves, etc At this point it becomes clear Hayek is no strict libertarian Whatever you may say about the list, this is hardly a minimal state, at least of the kind Ayn Rand or Robert Nozick would want Hayek s argumentation is rather circuitous, so it becomes difficult to say what his primary argument for the importance of private property accumulation is, and, on the other hand, why he nonetheless accepts a wide range of government activities It is NOT enough to say that he is a typical utilitarian minded classical liberal because this only pushes the question back a few arguments a few centuries Hayek s position, because of its strong anti rationalism, seems to waver between intuitive liberal prejudice and relativistic utilitarianism.The problem is, from Hayek s not very precise premises, not very precise consequences will follow In the same book, he can claim that social justice is a completely meaningless concept, and yet, a few pages later, without blinking an eye, argue that the state probably has a useful role in the name of the public good in a dozen or important fields besides letting the markets operate freely I even think that Hayek s position would be tenable and logical if he had accepted SOME part of the ethical principles of egalitarianism But such principles Hayek, recalcitrantly, refuses to even consider Thus his anti egalitarianism may seem like a prejudice.As I see it, Hayek s work s has three main problems 1 An excessive distrust of ethical principles other than a Humanist fascination with human freedom and a Puritan fascination with legal orderliness 2 The wavering argumentation in SIMULTANEOUSLY attacking and defending welfare state institutions he seems to want to have his cake and eat it too, i.e to destroy the ethical basis of the welfare state and nonetheless to salvage many of its features 3 His shortcomings as a writer and thinker leave his prose to be somewhat repetitive and dry He repeats the same arguments over and over again All these faults aside, the book contains so much scholarship and erudition that the reader is bound to be both enlightened and delighted Hayek s principled criticism of the welfare state and his equally principled defence of limited government under the rule of law, are very timely and useful But so is his surprising and forceful defence of the POSITIVE role that government can play in actually making the society a better place for everybody The fact that this is bound to piss off many orthodox libertarians and small government conservatives makes it all the valuable, because perhaps it makes them reconsider some of their doctrinaire anti government attitudes.It is my opinion that we should replace the welfare state not with cutthroat capitalism but with something like a mixture of Hayek and the welfare state free market fairness, or social liberalism, which respects both individual liberty AND the effective, minimally coercive role that limited government can play in a free, just society.The resurgence of liberalism in the last couple of decades has shown that the idea of maximizing human freedom is far from dead and buried In order to make this revolution stick, Hayek s work should be the Bible or at least one of the Holy Texts for the next decades PS See John Tomasi s book Free Market Fairness to learn about bleeding heart libertarianism See also Milton Friedman s Free to Choose PPS The book also contains the classic short essay, Why I Am Not A Conservative , which explains the difference between Whig and Tory mentality or between classical liberalism and a Tea Party Ron Paul Republicanism quite succinctly Hayek s work is in the line of humanists and progressive forces of society, against defenders of the status quo Although in essence there is not much difference between his liberalism and much of what passes for economic conservatism in the Anglo Saxon countries We are back at the old question was Edmund Burke a conservative or a classical liberal, or perhaps an imperfect combination of both `DOWNLOAD E-PUB ☝ The Constitution of Liberty ⇷ One Of The Great Political Works Of Our Time, The Twentieth Century Successor To John Stuart Mill S Essay, On Liberty Henry Hazlitt, Newsweek A Reflective, Often Biting, Commentary On The Nature Of Our Society And Its Dominant Thought By One Who Is Passionately Opposed To The Coercion Of Human Beings By The Arbitrary Will Of Others, Who Puts Liberty Above Welfare And Is Sanguine That Greater Welfare Will Thereby Ensue Sidney Hook, New York Times Book ReviewIn This Classic Work Hayek Restates The Ideals Of Freedom That He Believes Have Guided, And Must Continue To Guide, The Growth Of Western Civilization Hayek S Book, First Published In , Urges Us To Clarify Our Beliefs In Today S Struggle Of Political Ideologies