Which Road to Serfdom?

by John Quiggin on April 12, 2010

While we’re on yet another libertarian kick, can anyone find me a copy of Hayek’s prescient 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom, which predicted that the policies of the British Labour Party (policies that were implemented after the 1945 election) would result in relatively poor economic performance, and would eventually be modified or abandoned, a claim vindicated by the triumph of Thatcherism in the 1980s? This book, and its predictive success, seem to play an important role in libertarian thinking.

Despite a diligent search, the only thing I can find is a book of the same title, also written by an FA von Hayek in 1944. This Road to Serfdom predicts that the policies of the British Labour Party, implemented after the 1945 election, would lead to the emergence of a totalitarian state similar to Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, or at least to a massive reduction in political and personal freedom (as distinct from economic freedom). Obviously this prediction was totally wrong. Democracy survived Labor’s nationalizations, and personal freedom expanded substantially. Even a defensible version of the argument (say, a claim that, Labor’s ultimate program included elements that could not be realised without anti-democratic forms of coercion, and that would have to be dropped if these bad outcomes were to be avoided) could only be regarded as raising a hypothetical, but unrealised, cause for concern.. Presumably, this isn’t the book the libertarians have read, so I assume there must exist another of the same title.

{ 174 comments }

1

Rafe 04.12.10 at 6:40 am

I read the same book that you read. I concur. Hayek was claiming a direct path between the British equivalent of food stamps and the Gulag. The most striking thing to me was that he used the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as examples of such an evolution, but it seemed to discount the entire history of those countries up until that point. It was a book such a breath-taking absence of context that as it had been referred to me by a libertarian friend as a definitive I never seriously considered the ideology again.

2

alex 04.12.10 at 7:40 am

N.B. This assertion was quite widespread in the mid-40s: Churchill made it in the ’45 election campaign [‘British gestapo…’], and Orwell, of course, made extensive use of it in 1984. Hysterical scaremongering, or zeitgeist?

Meanwhile, just out of curiosity, any chance of some citations for the ludicrous schmibertarian over-readings of Hayek?

3

John Quiggin 04.12.10 at 7:59 am

Alex, when you want the conventional wisdom on any topic, you can’t go past David Broder:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=888&dat=19920330&id=AyIMAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mlwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6734,5773171

4

Anarcho 04.12.10 at 8:07 am

And I should also point out when George Woodcock wrote Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements the likes of von Hayek were not mentioned. That is because in term “libertarian” has been used by the left as an alternative for anarchism (anti-state or libertarian socialism) for over 100 years:

150 years of libertarian

The right-wing appropriation of “libertarian” starts in the 1950s, one hundred years after the left started using it (an awkward fact which the likes of Murray Rothbard were aware of). What is called “libertarianism” here is better described as propertarianism.

I suppose there is a certain irony in how the defenders of absolute property rights stole their name from the left:

“The very label ‘libertarianism’ has been captured from the left by free-market liberalism.” (Steven Lukes, “Equality and Liberty: Must They Conflict?”, pp. 48-66, Political Theory Today, David Held (ed.), (Polity Press, 1991), p. 53)

Needless to say, no propertarian would agree with such libertarian statements (to quote Proudhon) that “property is theft”, “property is despotism” or “Political economy, as taught by MM. Say, Rossi, Blanqui, Wolovski, Chevalier, etc., is only the economy of the property-owners, and its application to society inevitably and organically gives birth to misery.”

5

IM 04.12.10 at 8:22 am

Churchill was just a politician talking nonsense during a election campaign.

And Orwell said something different: After a socialist party taking power in a revolution, there would be a totalitarian dictatorship.

Hayek claimed that the election of democratic socialist or social democratic party would lead into serfdom. And that did not happen, anywhere.

6

Ken Lovell 04.12.10 at 8:27 am

I love Broder.

If courage consists of having principles and sticking to them, blogging has produced a generation of veritable heroes.

7

weaver 04.12.10 at 8:56 am

And Orwell said something different: After a socialist party taking power in a revolution, there would be a totalitarian dictatorship.

Erm, actually he said that, following the logic of Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution, all superpower imperial systems would eventually become indistinguishable from each other and indistinguishable from totalitarianism.

Or perhaps I’m thinking of The Man with the Golden Arm.

8

Hidari 04.12.10 at 9:15 am

I have been checking up on this on the interwebs and can’t find a reference….which is itself interesting.

But I have an old book kicking about somewhere on Hayek and others which claims that, while in the ‘Road To Serfdom’ period, Hayek was a more or less standard believer in democracy, his views became increasingly bizarre as he got older.

Indeed, this book (and no, I can’t remember what it was called) claimed that in works written in the 1970s and 1980s Hayek went on to argue against universal suffrage and to state that some form of test (or something similar) should be brought in: only those who passed this test (or requirement, or whatever) should be allowed to vote: and the resulting ‘Government’ should have strictly limited powers.

Now my question is simple: is this true? Did ‘late’ Hayek indeed believe this? I have no horse in this race incidentally, it may be true, it may not, but I would like to know.

9

Hidari 04.12.10 at 9:34 am

Found it!

‘The first representative body in Hayek’s model constitution is what he confusingly terms a ‘Legislative Assembly’. This assembly would be charged with the task of upholding and gradually improving the rules of just conduct or ‘law’. Its
function would be the articulation of moral norms – ‘the views about what kind of action is right or wrong’ – thatunderpin the market order. It would enforce the rules of just conduct, revise private (including commercial and
criminal) law, define the principles of taxation and state regulations on matters such as health and safety and production or construction. These tasks would be substantial and difficult as they would involve ‘the preservation of an abstract
order whose concrete principles were unforeseeable’ and the exclusion of ‘all provisions intended or known to affect principally particular identifiable individuals or groups’ (Ibid, 109). Hayek, however, makes it explicit that the function of Legislative Assembly would not be to define the functions of government, but ‘merely to define the limits of its
coercive powers’. He states that ‘though it would restrict the means that government could employ in rendering services to the citizens, it would place no direct limit on the content of the services government might render’ (Ibid, 109-110).
Because of the significance of its task, Hayek suggests that membership of the Legislative Assembly should be severely restricted to particular individuals capable of carrying of carrying out its responsibilities. Hayek (1944, 76) states in
his Road to Serfdom that the liberal notion of an assembly of independent and infallible men entrusted with the task of maintaining the rule of law is an ‘ideal that can never be perfectly achieved’. He, however, goes on to claim in his Law,
Legislation and Liberty that it would be possible to select specific members of the community for the Legislative Assembly that could be paid and pensioned sufficiently to be independent of any interest group pressure. Hayek
suggests that membership should be limited to those ‘mature’ members of the community aged between forty-five and sixty, who would be elected by their peers for a ‘fairly long period’ such as fifteen years, ‘so that they would not be
concerned with being re-elected, after which period, to make them wholly independent of party discipline, they should not be re-eligible nor forced to return to earn a living in the market but be assured of continued public employment in
such honorific but neutral positions as lay judges’. This Hayek states would ensure that members tenure as legislatures ‘would be neither dependent on party support nor concerned about their personal future’. As an additional safeguard, he
maintains that the ‘nomothetae’ elected to the Legislative Assembly will not have served in the Governmental Assembly or party organizations (Ibid, 113-4).
The second representative body in Hayek’s constitutional scheme, the ‘Governmental Assembly’, is entrusted with administration and what he refers to as ‘legislation’. The Governmental Assembly Hayek states is representative of
existing parliamentary bodies. It central tasks would be very considerable; it would organise the apparatus of government, decide the use of personal resources entrusted to the government and mobilise popular support around
policy measures. Hayek, however, makes it clear that the Governmental Assembly would be ‘bound by the rules of just conduct laid down by the Legislative Assembly, and that, in particular, it could not issue any orders to private citizens
which did not follow directly and necessarily from the rules laid down by the latter’ (Ibid, 119). Unlike the Legislative Assembly which is guided by opinion, Hayek believes that the Governmental Assembly should be based on a
competitive party system and should be guided by the will of the majority.’

‘Problems’ between the two bodies would be solved by an unelected Court, and a ‘state of emergency’ could be declared at any time which would suspend the Governmental Assembly.

http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jpl/article/viewFile/737/709

10

IM 04.12.10 at 9:50 am

Erm, actually he said that, following the logic of Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution, all superpower imperial systems would eventually become indistinguishable from each other and indistinguishable from totalitarianism.

1. The party in 1984 clearly did take power in a revolution.

2. In his essay on the managerial revolution he called Burnham a power worshippper who first admired fascism and then communism and underestimated the democracies. He did not seem to share the assumptions of Burnham then. (Wasn’t Burnham a movement conservative later? Fits.)

3. Orwell, of course was a supporter of Atlee, Labour the NHS and so on in the late forties. If anything, he critizised Labour for not being ambitious enough.

I’m hardly a Orwell expert, though.

11

alex 04.12.10 at 9:54 am

To be fair, lots of people have had ideas about restricting the franchise. And every time you see who gets elected to public office, you see why… But continuing the Churchill riff, democracy may be a pile of crap, but it’s better than the shitpile you’re proposing, dude. [I think that’s more or less how the quotation goes, isn’t it, at risk of a certain terminological inexactitude…?]

12

John Quiggin 04.12.10 at 10:04 am

I’m pretty sure Hayek also canvassed the idea of disenfranchising public sector workers and welfare recipients, and that he quoted Switzerland’s denial of the vote to women as an argument in favor.

13

Ciarán 04.12.10 at 10:34 am

Hayek claimed that the election of democratic socialist or social democratic party would lead into serfdom. And that did not happen, anywhere.

Further to this we could quite plausibly argue that the rise of social democracy precisely prevented any moves towards revolution in many European countries. So Hayek was not just wrong: he was perfectly wrong.

14

Map Maker 04.12.10 at 11:15 am

At the risk of Godwin’s Law, many of the economic policies within Germany at the time of Hayek’s writings would have been virtually indistinguishable from other social democracies. While I understand the anti-libertarian bent here, the 1940s was not a banner decade for communism or fascism … the direct costs of both ideologies put to rest any discussion of AGW’s costs. Hayek saw the risk and wrote the warning. Was he right? Much like AGW – none of us will be around to know the answer … and that is the point.

15

IM 04.12.10 at 11:29 am

At the risk of Godwin’s Law, many of the economic policies within Germany at the time of Hayek’s writings would have been virtually indistinguishable from other social democracies.

Do you want to claim that Germany in the year 1944 was a social democratic country?

And to what social democracies of the forties do you want to compare Germany?

Sweden, Australia, New Zealand?

A “libertarianism” built on such brazen lies can’t be have much in the way of positive arguments.

16

alex 04.12.10 at 11:30 am

Really, economic policy in Germany in 1944 was “virtually indistinguishable from other social democracies”? I’m not quite sure anywhere else in the world at that time saw people systematically selected to be worked to death on the basis of their ethnicity [well, the Burma Railway maybe]. And if you’re trying to tar social democracy with the brush of Stalinism, well, try harder.

And AGW? Did you mean that? or did it slip in from some other all-purpose rant?

17

etbnc 04.12.10 at 11:33 am

Did anyone else turn up this gem? The Road to Serfdom … in Cartoons!
http://mises.org/books/trts/

The title page suggests the comic was “originally published in Look magazine” and then “reproduced from a booklet published by General Motors, Detroit in the ‘Thought Starter’ series (no. 118)”.

Cheers

18

Dan Hind 04.12.10 at 11:50 am

If anyone finds themselves arguing with a libertarian, it is always fun ask whether they agree with Hayek’s views, following Adam Smith, about the ‘wide and unquestioned field for state activity’ created by the need to invest in services that cannot never repay private investors but that are highly advantageous to a ‘great society’. (p.40 in the Routledge edition)

In a nearby, somewhat weasally passage Hayek concedes that ‘the functioning of competition … requires adequate organization of certain institutions like money, markets and channels of information – some of which can never be adequately provided by private enterprise […]’. It seems that Hayek wants at least 2 out of 3 of money, markets and channels of information to be managed publicly. Which is interesting, in light of the libertarian anxiety about public involvement in all three. (p.39)

At least I think that that is what Hayek commits himself to in the text – perhaps I’ve not followed his reasoning.

(btw Churchill warned voters in 1945 that ‘no socialist system can be established without a political police’, and he probably picked up the idea from Hayek, albeit indirectly. Cockett’s Thinking the Unthinkable has something on this. Attlee responded by criticising Churchill’s reliance on ‘the second-hand version of the academic views of an Austrian professor Friedrich August von Hayek’, a line of attack that nimbly combines popular British suspicion of all things continental, let alone Germanic, anti-intellectualism, and maybe class resentment, too – note the ‘August’ and the ‘von’ there.)

19

Nick 04.12.10 at 12:15 pm

‘Further to this we could quite plausibly argue that the rise of social democracy precisely prevented any moves towards revolution in many European countries. So Hayek was not just wrong: he was perfectly wrong.’

Or, perhaps the propogation of books like Road To Serfdom changed the character of social democracies, thus averting (or delaying) the disaster that Hayek predicted. There were still plenty of ‘progressives’ who were enamoured with Communism back then. Hayek, in response, helped to articulate a scepticism of state intervention, and bolstered the liberal ideal of things like the rule of law. You can see the influence of these ideas as far into social democratic thinking as people like John Rawls (who, I am told, was briefly a member of the Mont Pelerin Society that Hayek founded).

Many of Hayek’s concerns have since become common currency, and they are often better expressed on the left than the right: http://hurryupharry.org/2009/09/29/rereading-hayek/

20

John Protevi 04.12.10 at 12:15 pm

Making an argument that has never been made with such detail and such care, and not at all calling up a fantasy entity like “the character of a people” when it suits him, the rigorous methodological individualist Hayek shows that the lack of evidence of serfdom is central to his point:

“Of course, six years of socialist government in England have not produced anything resembling a totalitarian state. But those who argue that this has disproved the thesis of The Road to Serfdom have really missed one of its main points: that the most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of a people. This is necessarily a slow affair, a process which extends not over a few years but perhaps over one or two generations.”

From Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (Chicago, 1967), 216-228. Cited passage at 224.

Chapter title: “The Road to Serfdom after Twelve Years.” (A reprint of the Foreword to American paperback edition of Road (Chicago, 1956).

21

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 12:25 pm

Or, perhaps the propogation of books like Road To Serfdom changed the character of social democracies, thus averting (or delaying) the disaster that Hayek predicted.

I’m glad I wasn’t drinking coffee when I read that. Yeah, Attlee was almost finished with his planning for a Soviet Britain until he read some Austrian loonie’s stupid book and the scales fell from his eyes, just in the nick of time.

Libertardians are funny.

22

Jacob T. Levy 04.12.10 at 12:29 pm

“John Rawls (who, I am told, was briefly a member of the Mont Pelerin Society that Hayek founded).”

I’m almost sure this isn’t true, not least because if it had been true people like Will Wilkinson and me would mention it a whole lot.

This 50-year index of meetings and members doesn’t mention Rawls.

23

J— 04.12.10 at 12:33 pm

written by an FA von Hayek

Wrong Hayek. Try S. Hayek. Better results.

24

Nick 04.12.10 at 12:36 pm

‘Yeah, Attlee was almost finished with his planning for a Soviet Britain until he read some Austrian loonie’s stupid book and the scales fell from his eyes, just in the nick of time.’

Give me a little credit. You don’t need to set out to create the Soviet Union. You can get there by accident, by demolishing institutional safeguards in order to get policy stuff done more quickly and efficiently. Serfdom may have been involved in warning everyone to be just a little less gung-ho in instituting those reforms.

25

Nick 04.12.10 at 12:37 pm

‘I’m almost sure this isn’t true, not least because if it had been true people like Will Wilkinson and me would mention it a whole lot.’

I will check my source:)

26

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 12:44 pm

Give me a little credit.

Sorry, cash only. And you’re bust. Bye.

27

IM 04.12.10 at 12:51 pm

<i<Give me a little credit. You don’t need to set out to create the Soviet Union. You can get there by accident, by demolishing institutional safeguards in order to get policy stuff done more quickly and efficiently.

But that is assuming facts not in evidence. To claim that you can get to the Soviet Union by accident is risible. And what institutional safeguards exactly wanted social democrats to demolish? The house of lords? (That was proposed by Orwell).

Face it: the influence of Hayek on social democratic or even most other centrist or right wing thinking was very small. Further,more, if his pamphlet was that influential, why weren’t there social democratic attempts at dictatorship prior to 1944? Do you have an example?

28

Ahistoricality 04.12.10 at 1:06 pm

You don’t need to set out to create the Soviet Union. You can get there by accident…

The slippery-slope thing, based on an inability to tell the difference between ethical civility and totalitarianism: classic libertarian maneuver.

29

Ceri B. 04.12.10 at 1:15 pm

Also relevant in assessing Hayek’s legacy: When a broadly tyrannical regime did come to power in the US, it built its power on the solid foundation of the police power, responding to alleged threats of exactly the sort that are the core function of a minarchical state. It isn’t the Social Security Administration that became the cornerstone of a national security state; it’s the military, federal police, courts, and like that. There are, I believe, no actual examples of a state engaging in efforts to promote positive liberty that become the basis of tyranny.

30

Nick 04.12.10 at 1:45 pm

IM: well ok. This isn’t my area of research so bear with me. But consider one example I’ve found, Evan Durbin. A consummate socialist planner in his early years, but gets more and more nuanced as time goes by. His work remained influential in the Labour Party and then subsequently the SDP.

His relationship to Hayek:

“Durbin had considered the problem of reconciling effective planning with the protection of individual freedom. The threat to such freedom formed the core of the attacks made upon planning in the 1930s and 1940s. Durbin may have felt these attacks more keenly than others because two of the most prominent liberal critics, Lionel Robbins and Friedrich Hayek, were his closest colleagues at the L.S.E.’s department of economics. Indeed, in the preface to Problems of economic planning (1949), Durbin thanked both, ‘who, by criticizing and disagreeing with almost everything I have ever said about this subject, have kept me thinking about it’.”

(Stephen Brooke (). Problems of ‘Socialist Planning’: Evan Durbin and the Labour Government of 1945. The Historical Journal, 34, pp 687-702)

So hardly a convert, but a social democrat who thought much more carefully about his case for planning as a consequence of his interactions with Hayek.

31

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 1:49 pm

All that needs to be said about Nick’s “example” can be imported from commenter Barry on the “this is getting silly” thread: “You know, this latest ‘libertarian’ brouhaha reminds me of the pedophilia crisis in the Catholic Church, in that it’s really, really hard to find an argument which won’t be eagerly seized upon by apologists. It certainly confirms the stereotypes about libertarians.”

32

sg 04.12.10 at 1:49 pm

his thesis is also completely ignorant of the way that politics actually works in English democracy. By the time he wrote The Road to Serfdom, hadn’t Atlee already promised to silence the Doctors by “stuffing their mouths with money”? Maybe that was 1947… but by then the debate about the NHS was well advanced, and everyone knew what compromises and political methods would be involved. For an academic to write a text ignorant of that process, and pretending that the labour govt would ride roughshod over the rule of law, is really cheap.

33

Barry 04.12.10 at 1:49 pm

Ceri B’s point is important – while control of the ‘commanding heights of the economy’ is certainly useful for a totalitarian state, that doesn’t happen until the ‘commanderinger heights’ such as the police, military, etc. have been taken.

34

mds 04.12.10 at 1:57 pm

Further to this we could quite plausibly argue that the rise of social democracy precisely prevented any moves towards revolution in many European countries.

On the other hand, the rise in social democracy in Chile did lead to revolution, one which Hayek approved of. So he wasn’t completely off the mark. And at least Pinochet helped instill “a scepticism of state intervention, and bolstered the liberal ideal of things like the rule of law,” albeit after the fact.

35

Nick 04.12.10 at 2:02 pm

Hmm, will this close the italics tag?

My point is that there were other people besides right wingers who were reading and interacting with Hayek at that time. The left were already grappling with some of the problems of central planning and the potential for totalitarianism (having previously been very impressed with elements of the Soviet Union). Hayek, as part of the milieu, may have sharpened some of the arguments of the moderates within those debates.

36

Kieran Healy 04.12.10 at 2:05 pm

I closed the errant tag.

37

Hidari 04.12.10 at 2:06 pm

‘You can get there by accident, by demolishing institutional safeguards in order to get policy stuff done more quickly and efficiently. ‘

Give me one example, just one, of the classic libertarian ‘slide into slavery’ in which a democracy slowly and unwittingly becomes a totalitarian state, so to speak ‘by accident’.

If you do manage to provide one example I would be very surprised. But in any case, a quick look at the empirical data will show that even if it does happen it is very very rare.

Overwhelmingly communist dictatorships arise not through a slow decades long ‘slide into surfdom’ but as a result of violent, dramatic revolutions, either as as a result of a civil war, or some geopolitical cataclysm, or invasion by a foreign power, or else as a violent revolutionary counter-reaction to right wing violence and autocracy.

In other words, the empirical data casts doubt on Hayeks’ central proposition. To put it rather mildly.

38

chris 04.12.10 at 2:11 pm

It isn’t the Social Security Administration that became the cornerstone of a national security state; it’s the military, federal police, courts, and like that.

Nitpick: the courts were carefully sidelined because they would have insisted on following the law. It was (and in alarmingly many respects still is) a lawless government.

There are, I believe, no actual examples of a state engaging in efforts to promote positive liberty that become the basis of tyranny.

Arguably, the Soviet Union itself is one of the closest examples of this: it started out as an effort to promote positive liberty, but was hijacked in mid-revolution and became a dictatorship with only lip service to positive liberty or the needs of workers in general.

Because positive liberty is based on the people having the *actual* (as opposed to merely theoretical) ability to exercise their freedoms, it can’t destroy the village in order to save it: that counts as a loss under the positive-liberty scoring system.

39

JLR 04.12.10 at 2:12 pm

Sorry, cash only. And you’re bust. Bye.

No fiat currency, either. Gold only.

40

chris 04.12.10 at 2:17 pm

“communist dictatorships”

Are there any? There are several dictators that pay lip service to communism, of course, but as far as actually advancing communist goals, isn’t a dictator (and, generally, his cronies) by definition the ultimate oligarchy? ISTM that “communist dictator” is at least as much an oxymoron as “libertarian dictator”.

41

ScentOfViolets 04.12.10 at 2:28 pm

I suppose there is a certain irony in how the defenders of absolute property rights stole their name from the left:

“The very label ‘libertarianism’ has been captured from the left by free-market liberalism.” (Steven Lukes, “Equality and Liberty: Must They Conflict?”, pp. 48-66, Political Theory Today, David Held (ed.), (Polity Press, 1991), p. 53)

It would be nice if libertarians dropped all pretense and simply called themselves propertarians, wouldn’t it? Does anyone know where this term originated? A quick look at the wiki says the term was used in 1973 by Historian Marcus Cunliffe to apply to “characteristic values of American history” in regard to property. But that surely isn’t the end of the trail; Le Guin after all used it in “The Dispossessed”, published in 1974, which would seem to indicate an earlier use of the word.

42

Nick 04.12.10 at 2:38 pm

“Give me one example, just one, of the classic libertarian ‘slide into slavery’ in which a democracy slowly and unwittingly becomes a totalitarian state, so to speak ‘by accident’.”

Well I guess Germany is the only example I can think of and the one that Hayek most feared. Venezuela recently looked like it could be going in that direction. But there is a lack of data points. Mass democracy is a relatively new phenomenon and was fairly uncommon until the second half of the 20th century. They have existed in the circumstances of a particular international regime centred on the US. It is not that long for a set of Governments to endure, so it is really too soon to tell whether or how they will diminish.

43

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 2:49 pm

Nick, do you know anything, anything at all, about the history of the Weimar republic and its downfall? That’s a rhetorical question, of course, since the answer is obvious.

44

Phil 04.12.10 at 2:53 pm

I guess Germany is the only example I can think of

Unwittingly? Slowly?

45

P O'Neill 04.12.10 at 2:53 pm

Mark Steyn has embraced the argument that big gummint works not through being totalitarian but being … popular.

46

CJColucci 04.12.10 at 3:00 pm

At the risk of Godwin’s Law, many of the economic policies within Germany at the time of Hayek’s writings would have been virtually indistinguishable from other social democracies.

Well, there was a war on.

47

IM 04.12.10 at 3:12 pm

Well I guess Germany is the only example I can think of and the one that Hayek most feared. Venezuela recently looked like it could be going in that direction. But there is a lack of data points.

Perhaps I’m not informed enough on obscure british political figures, but I know something about german history in this period. And of you either misunderstand Hayek or he was a greater fool than I thought. It is arguable that Grermany did slide into dicatorship at all. Actually it was a quite quick process in the first half of 1933. Even if you want to make a “slide” into dictatorship argument you would start in 1930. Heinrich Brüning was installed as leader of a minority right-wing government by the conservative president and ruled then, misusing the constitution, with the help of presidential decrees. Now what the authoritarian rule of a catholic conservative has to with social democrcy I don’t know. And shouting “economy” doesn’t help you here. Brüning was very much a liquidationist in the Hoover style and used his power to cut wages and social benefits and rise taxes and balance the budget at all costs.

In other words, Brüning did use dictatorial means -
to follow to the letter all the policies of the austrian school. Funny how that goes. Of course these policies were not even successful and Germany had the second deepest recession between 1930-1933.

And we have a lot of data points. There were a lot of states in eastern and southern europe that changed from democracy to dictatorship in the early thirties. But of course all of them were right-wing dictatorships.

Sweden on the other hand brought the social democrats in to master the recession and we still wait for the dictatorship now, after all these years.

48

Nick 04.12.10 at 3:21 pm

“Unwittingly? Slowly?”

Well you might have to wait a little longer to see a democracy collapse slowly. Democracies are, after all, quite young. Watch the UK for the next 20/30 years or so. We have extended detention without charge, the use of trial by jury is being reduced, public protests are at the behest of the police, and there are a network of regulations and laws which could, just about, convict anyone of something. This isn’t a party political point; I am perfectly aware that some of the worst extensions of state authority have happened under Conservative governments. The institutions for an increased authoritarian rule are here already. It is a question of whether the people will put up with them being used. I am concerned that a lot of people in the UK would be quite happy to.

I think whatever happens, it is going to be quite a bumpy ride for maintaining the liberties we have. And I personally find Hayek’s emphasis on constitutional restraints against populist democracy to be useful in this regard.

49

rickstersherpa 04.12.10 at 3:28 pm

First, Weimar was a very troubled, divided state whose legitimacy large numbers of German questioned, not a true social democracy with a mixed economy. Especially amonth the elites there was still a strong nostaligia for the Monarchy and authoritarian nationalist rule. Second, in 1928 elections, an election that saw the NAZIS only get 2.6% of the vote, and the Catholic Centre Party became the largest party, replacing the socialists. Bruening’s Center party formed a grand coalition with the Socialists, and dealt with a growing recession, that soom became a depression. Bruening, the Reichs Chancellor, by adopting ever more conservative, neo-classical, one could say Austrian, economic policies. It cut unemployment benefits and assistance to the poor, in tail chasing effort to balance the budget, and deal with a crisis for the ReichsMark and trying to keep it on the Gold Standard. By 1930, the Socialists had left the Goverment and Bruening ruled by decree until his Government fell in 1932. Ahmed Liaquat’s “The Lords of Finance” have an excellent short description of this tragedy in bad economic policies, of ideology and orthodoxy run amok. Germany by that time had an unemployment rate of 25% and the NAZIS had become the largest party in the Reichstag. Hayek’s policies, not Keynes’s, were the road to serfdom and barbarism.

50

Ceri B. 04.12.10 at 3:37 pm

Nick: And none of that has anything to do with economic planning, the subject of Hayek’s fears. A lot of it is national security theater, and pretty much all the rest is norm enforcement socially, which Hayek explicitly endorsed in quotes given earlier in this very thread. It is not the product either of Hayek’s bugaboo, the central direction of economic life, or of the modern libertarian bugaboo, a meaningful social safety net.

51

parse 04.12.10 at 3:52 pm

From the linked cartoon of Road to Serfdom (thanks, etbnc ): The Gullible do find agreement. . .Meanwhile, growing national confusion leads to protest meetings. The least educated–thrilled and convinced by fiery oratory, form a party.

Do they call it the Tea Party?

52

Phil 04.12.10 at 3:53 pm

Nick – what Ceri said. Plus you appeared to be saying that Weimar Germany turned into Nazi Germany slowly and unwittingly, but that would be such a silly thing to say that I’m willing to forget all about it.

This isn’t a party political point; I am perfectly aware that some of the worst extensions of state authority have happened under Conservative governments.

I think it’d be easier to argue that some of the worst extensions of state authority have happened under Labour. For whatever reason, Labour in government have been extraordinarily spook- and police-friendly (and not just New Labour). I’d still rather vote Labour than Tory, though.

53

Nick 04.12.10 at 3:53 pm

‘Now what the authoritarian rule of a catholic conservative has to with social democrcy I don’t know.’

Hang on, I was told to give an example of a democracy collapsing into dictatorship, not specifically a social democracy. But it was legitimate to be concerned about social democrats at the time, due to some of them admiring the Soviet Union, and the even more widespread respect for Nazi economic policies before and even after the war. And there was an avowedly socialist wing of the Nazi party before it was purged. So these distinctions appear somewhat larger in retrospect as history plays out. The fear in Serfdom does not apply to social democrats only, but to any demand for robust national planning of which right wing governments have often been very enthusiastic.

Perhaps social democrats are different from other kinds of socialists, and fared better, precisely because they heeded some of the advice and evidence from liberals about market economics and the dangers of unrestrained Government. Perhaps you are saying that they had done that all on their own. But perhaps Hayek made a small contribution to this softening of the socialist tendency for authoritarian planning.

54

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 3:59 pm

Nick, to call that response “pitiful” would be extremely charitable. First Rule of Holes, and all that.

55

Hidari 04.12.10 at 4:06 pm

‘And I personally find Hayek’s emphasis on constitutional restraints against populist democracy to be useful in this regard.’

As I pointed out in the quote above, what Hayek (or you?) refer(red) to as ‘populist democracy’ is what most people call…….democracy. And it is true that he wanted restraints on it. But since he opposed what most of us in the ‘West’ would call ‘democracy’, all he is really saying is that he opposes some forms of autocracy, because he prefers others.

56

IM 04.12.10 at 4:18 pm

Social democrats and democratic socialists did certainly not need the advice of a third rate right winger like Hayek. The did not need it because of their commitment to human rights, liberty and democracy. A commitment that Hayek did not really share, as his love for oligarchic institutions show.

Hayek did attack labour in great Britain and New deals democrats in the US on 1944 and in both cases it was a slander.

But in the name of bipartisanship I will give you an right wing example: Economic planing in France as instituted by the gaullists. Any collapse into dictatorship now imminent, almost 50 yeary later?

57

Nick 04.12.10 at 4:20 pm

I really don’t see what the controversy is here. At one point, widespread economic planning was a pretty big thing in democratic politics. It was admired on both the left and the right, and even led some to talk about how great some aspects of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were. It then ceased to be considered such an unalloyed good thing, on both the left and the right. Hayek was part of that shift in ideas, and social democrats were influenced by that shift.

Unless you think that Western liberal democracies are somehow impregnable to really bad but popular ideas amongst elites, I don’t see how that can be anything other than a good thing.

58

IM 04.12.10 at 4:23 pm

I mean really, that is the core thesis of Hayek: That Roosevelt and Atlee would destroy democracy. Pretty brazen considering that these two had just saved democracy , no thanks to right.wingers like Hayek.

59

IM 04.12.10 at 4:30 pm

At one point, widespread economic planning was a pretty big thing in democratic politics.

So what? That has to do with dictatorship exactly that? That is the thesis of Hayek and that was nonsense then and has been disproven by the historical record now.

And, no elites in liberal democracies are not immune to bad policies: See the popularity of classical economics during the depression (and now).

60

Colin Danby 04.12.10 at 4:46 pm

Nick, would it help if I said that Hayek was smart about some things, and that his arguments against planning are influential for good reason? He should be read, though I might not start with _Road_.

But to argue that if not for Hayek, Britain would now be Stalinist, to argue, as you still want to do, that countries get to murderous totalitarianism via the slow accretion of economic regulation, is ludicrous. Learn how power works.

61

Nick 04.12.10 at 5:17 pm

I am not saying ‘were it not for Hayek’. I am saying he was part of a reaction against some very popular doctrines at the time.

I have Serfdom back in my hands now and actually the argument does not seem to be so much specifically about economic regulation itself leading necessarily to a dictatorship. It seems to be more the ideas that were justifying these policies at the time. Germany’s descent was traced not by the final years of the Weimar Republic but by a powerful collectivist ideology that had been growing for decades before. He feared that this collectivism was making grounds in Britain too.

Perhaps he didn’t have so much to worry about. But it is hard to say how much of the liberty in Britain today was down to the enduring stability of British institutions, and how much was down to the anti-Communist ideas that were starting to emerge on the left and right at that time.

62

Map Maker 04.12.10 at 5:26 pm

Well, IM, just remember at the time Hayek was writing, what the Germany of 1934 turned into by 1940 … when I look at what Hayek saw, I could see reason for alarm. Clearly no one thought in 1932 that Roosevelt would be rounding up Japanese-Americans and putting them in concentration camps, but he later did. Road to Serfdom? I’m glad that things didn’t go as Hayek feared and I believe that is in part due to his work expressed (imperfectly) through Thatcher and Reagan.

If not for Hayek, Britain would be Stalinist is too strong, but I think through Hayek, public choice economics, and more focused study of rent-seeking from private parties from government, the arguments for central planning that were common in the 1930s are not seriously discussed today …

63

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 5:36 pm

To deal with two idiots in one reply:

Germany’s descent was traced not by the final years of the Weimar Republic but by a powerful collectivist ideology that had been growing for decades before.

Which, one more time, had absolutely fuck-all to do with how and why the Nazi seizure of power actually took place.

Clearly no one thought in 1932 that Roosevelt would be rounding up Japanese-Americans and putting them in concentration camps, but he later did. Road to Serfdom?

Uh, to put it mildly, no. Xenophobia also has fuck-all to do with any “road to serfdom”. For example, draconian restrictions on immigration from Asia were put in place by the US during the liberal (sensu Hayek) 1920s.

Libertardians are only good for comic relief, but are tiresome when their jokes fall flat.

64

IM 04.12.10 at 5:45 pm

Did hayek oppose the internment? I doubt that.

>i>I’m glad that things didn’t go as Hayek feared and I believe that is in part due to his work expressed (imperfectly) through Thatcher and Reagan.>i>

So until the arrival of these two right wing authoritarians in 1978 and 1980 the west was on a way to dictatorship?

Nuts.

And how you can blame left wing politics for what happend in germany between 1934 and 1940 beggars belief. I think most german Jews would have been pretty astonished to hear that the biggest problem with Hitler were his economic politics. next you will say something about the enslaving properties of universal health insurance.

“and how much was down to the anti-Communist ideas that were starting to emerge on the left and right at that time.”

And what kind of nonsense is that? Anti-communism started on the left and right shortly after the october revolution. Churchill would have been quite surprised if someone told him them that anti-communism started with Hayek in 1944.

65

Walt 04.12.10 at 5:50 pm

The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882, thus issuing in an era of freedom the likes of which the world has never seen.

66

Walt 04.12.10 at 5:57 pm

You people have it all wrong. The Nazis jailed or liquidated the German equivalents of Clement Attlee. If it wasn’t for that, then Europe would have traveled a lot further down the Road to Serfdom before the inevitable election of Margaret Thatcher. Europe could survive one Attlee, but never two.

67

chris 04.12.10 at 5:59 pm

“At one point, widespread economic planning was a pretty big thing in democratic politics. . . . It then ceased to be considered such an unalloyed good thing”

In defense of Hayek, “The Road to a Moderate Degree of Inefficiency” is not a very catchy book title. Maybe it was just garden-variety sensationalism that tempted him to (over)dramatize his thesis.

None of this is to say that Hayek wasn’t interestingly wrong, or even usefully wrong; but he clearly was, objectively, wrong.

P.S. Did anyone ever consider central planning an *unalloyed* good thing, as opposed to, say, sometimes the least of several evils? Libertarians are a tad bit prone to strawmanning, so I have to ask.

68

Diomedes 04.12.10 at 6:02 pm

Michael Sandel, in his Justice, has an interesting section on Libertarianism. But I think he lets them off the hook and makes their case look more appealing than it really is. Using the example of taxing Michael Jordan, he omits the most obvious objection, IMO, to the libertarian view.

Michael Jordan went to public schools, paid for by taxpayers. He went to a state college, supported by taxpayers, where he gained national attention, which led to being drafted by an NBA team. He used roads, bridges, libraries, etc. etc. paid for by taxpayers. His family did as well, as did his team. If Michael Jordan were the first taxpayer, and he never used any infrastructure paid for by taxpayers, then one could make an argument about the fairness of assessing taxes on his wages. Obviously, that’s not the case. Not sure why Sandel didn’t add that to the section.

69

IM 04.12.10 at 6:08 pm

P.S. Did anyone ever consider central planning an unalloyed good thing, as opposed to, say, sometimes the least of several evils? Libertarians are a tad bit prone to strawmanning, so I have to ask.<i<

In the late 19th and early 20th century planning of all kinds was quite popular. See that conservative Burnham and his managerial revolution. The classic socialist argument was: Look at GM or I.G. Farben: Isn't that central planning at a large scale, isn't it working? Can't we do the same at the national level for the public good?

And the communist did think central planing was an unalloyed good.

But I doubt you can make the libertarian conclusion Gospaln = TVA.

70

Nick 04.12.10 at 6:22 pm

Personally I think people just don’t quite see the depth of collectivism into which many intellectuals had sunk back then. Today, many of Hayek’s arguments look dated and eccentric, but thats because the significant bits have been absorbed back into the mainstream of political discussion. Most people now believe that markets have a useful role to play in the provision of even essential goods and services. That wasn’t clear at the time.

I think Foucault is in a similar position actually. A lot of his work is quite…whats a good word… overwrought. And he was historically and factually wrong in loads of places. But he was reacting to a set of ideas about, amongst other things, sexuality and mental illness that have now been almost totally displaced and mostly discredited, partly thanks to him.

71

Substance McGravitas 04.12.10 at 6:27 pm

Personally I think people just don’t quite see the depth of collectivism into which many intellectuals had sunk back then.

Could have been because there were people starving in the street, but that’s neither here nor there to the terror of government-manufactured boardgames.

72

David 04.12.10 at 6:30 pm

Cool. I had no idea that April, among other distinctions. is now also Laugh at Libertarians Month. Great fun.

73

Andreiadoros 04.12.10 at 6:41 pm

Ceri B. 04.12.10 at 1:15 pm:

“Also relevant in assessing Hayek’s legacy: When a broadly tyrannical regime did come to power in the US, it built its power on the solid foundation of the police power, responding to alleged threats of exactly the sort that are the core function of a minarchical state. It isn’t the Social Security Administration that became the cornerstone of a national security state; it’s the military, federal police, courts, and like that. There are, I believe, no actual examples of a state engaging in efforts to promote positive liberty that become the basis of tyranny.”

Was Mao’s Great Leap Forward not an effort to promote positive liberty? Mao certainly didn’t start out with the desire to kill 50 million of his own citizens (or thereabouts; it is hard to obtain accurate data on deaths when dealing with numbers so large). In fact, he (and the many American and European left-wing intellectuals who supported him as being an exemplar of “progressive” values) thought that collectivization would free up rural workers and allow them the material and other basis for realizing true freedom. In fact, most of the atrocities of the last century were committed in the name of positive liberty– see Pol Pot for more information.

Furthermore, while it is somewhat silly to call the Bush administration “broadly tyrannical” (I was certainly no fan, but they did willingly leave office, something that cannot be said of, say, Hugo Chavez), most of the tyrannical things they did in the name of national security were PRECISELY what Hayek feared would result from wartime justifications of state power. Aside from foreign interventionism and wealth-destroying deficits, the bureaucratic institutionalization of torture is something that came as no surprise to libertarians, and if this group were more committed to serious intellectual inquiry (as opposed to fighting society’s true enemies: libertarians) you could probably find common ground with libertarians on this and many other issues.

The scary thing is that, although I have read this blog and the comments accompanying it for some time, I have never seen a single post as derisive of, for instance, Lincoln Steffens, Joseph Davies, George Bernard Shaw, or the litany of public figures who supported Mao, Stalin, Che, Castro, etc., as this thread is of Hayek. Oh, and for those of you who claim that there is no good example of central planning leading to tyranny, I suggest you ask Alvarez Paz his opinion on the matter (unfortunately you may not be able to catch him, as he was thrown in jail last week). And the fact that Weimar’s slide into tyranny was quick and not gradual does not seem to prove your point.

74

David in NY 04.12.10 at 6:46 pm

“And Orwell said something different: After a socialist party taking power in a revolution, there would be a totalitarian dictatorship.”

I’m not sure about that. It’s pretty clear that he saw how that happened in the Russian Revolution (see Animal Farm). But I’m not sure he thought it inevitable. And he certainly didn’t think that democratic socialism led to totaliarianism — he was a democratic socialist all his life. I’ve always read 1984 as a tract on the misuses of political language (see also Politics and the English Language), and a warning against them, as much as anything. But I’m no Orwell expert either.

75

bjk 04.12.10 at 7:03 pm

I visit plenty of conservative sites and never see posts like this. It’s not like Rich Lowry is going to devote a post to ridiculing Rawls TOJ — he probably hasn’t read it and he doesn’t care. But the same goes for conservative academic sites, like No Left Turns or Volokh. I don’t have an explanation for why this is, maybe conservatives don’t think conservatism requires any theoretical justification.

76

Ombrageux 04.12.10 at 7:05 pm

That little Look/RTS pamphlet is hysterical!

77

Jeff R. 04.12.10 at 7:12 pm

If one regards the loss of the right to armed self -defense as a massive loss of personal and political freedom (a position which does not strike me as entirely unreasonable at all), it looks like Hayek was in fact onto something…

78

David in NY 04.12.10 at 7:23 pm

“the right to armed self-defense as a massive loss of personal and political freedom (a position which does not strike me as entirely unreasonable at all), it looks like Hayek was in fact onto something…”

Yeah, I mean, look at the totalitarian state the Brits have erected. And under Maggie Thatcher too, who would have guessed. [WTF????]

79

IM 04.12.10 at 7:23 pm

I’m not sure about that. It’s pretty clear that he saw how that happened in the Russian Revolution (see Animal Farm). But I’m not sure he thought it inevitable. And he certainly didn’t think that democratic socialism led to totaliarianism—he was a democratic socialist all his life. I’ve always read 1984 as a tract on the misuses of political language (see also Politics and the English Language), and a warning against them, as much as anything.

I read some of Orwell political essays, opinion pieces a few years ago and like them. But that was some time ago and I never read all or even all important ones. So I can’t say anything definitive about Orwells position – that changed with circumstances and mood anyway – in his non-fiction writing.

But I was only talking about 1984. And that is indeed about language and the manipulation of memory. And the connection to Politics and the English language is there; the book is located in Britain to show that misuse of language is not a problem of funny speaking foreigners, but could happen here.

Now because of the manipulation of history we know about the fictional history of Ozeania only from the hazy memories of Winston Smith. But it seems from his fragments that there was indeed a revolution and a quite violent transition including nuclear war. It is mentioned for example that the three old comrades purged (Jones, Rutherford and ?) belonged to the party prior to the “revolution” and that one of them incited with his drawings the revolution.

80

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 7:25 pm

If one regards the loss of the right to armed self -defense as a massive loss of personal and political freedom (a position which does not strike me as entirely unreasonable at all), it looks like Hayek was in fact onto something…

Because, of course, there never was a regime anywhere before the heyday of the 2oth Century “collectivists” that restricted access to and use of arms by the general population. [headdesk]

By the way it could only be a loss of political “freedom” if previously governments had recognized a right of armed self-defense against the government itself. No regime has ever been quite THAT “liberal”.

81

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 7:29 pm

Orwell wasn’t against socialist revolutions in general, only against Leninist ones. See Homage to Catalonia.

82

Nick 04.12.10 at 7:40 pm

“By the way it could only be a loss of political “freedom” if previously governments had recognized a right of armed self-defense against the government itself. No regime has ever been quite THAT “liberal”.”

I thought that was one of the purposes of the 2nd Amendment? Tree of liberty needing a little watering now and then… that kind of stuff. Keep Government officials on their toes?

83

socialrepublican 04.12.10 at 7:49 pm

The base economic case of the rise of the Nazis in the 1930-33 period was mass unemployment and the collaspe of capital liquidity. The SDP , the ZP and the NVP (the major players in most central and lander govt) limited their plans to small scale public works programs and timid social contract “in place of strife” stuff. The Weimar republic was indeed founded on an explicit rejection of socialisation/nationalisation/central planning. Weimar economics were the pinnacle of 19th century liberal economics and one of the few poitns of consensus shared by the original parties of the republic

The explosion in Fascism was not the culmination of a growing “collective moment” brought about by top down initiatives, “making the masses clients”. Rather its was the plain failure of the nightwatchman or limited Gladstonian/Bismarckean state to fight (and lose) a total war and cope in a depressed world market. Neither the virtuous and mythical Hajekean “constitution of noble men, not mobs” or the actually existing Giolottian “compromise of interests” would fare any better.

84

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 7:49 pm

I thought that was one of the purposes of the 2nd Amendment? Tree of liberty needing a little watering now and then… that kind of stuff. Keep Government officials on their toes?

For a reality check on how impressed the new US government actually was by this theory, see “Whiskey Rebellion”.

Are there any libertarians who aren’t complete historical illiterates? Oh, silly me, in that case they couldn’t be libertarians.

85

socialrepublican 04.12.10 at 7:58 pm

With regards to Russia and Germany, access to weapons was never really an issue in creating the dictatoships. Restrictions were only put in place on firearms after the Tambov rebellion had already been defeated and the basis of the Stalinist dictatorship erected. As far as I know, there were no firearm restrictions to “citizens of the Reich”, beyond a formal licence before 1943.

If the 2nd ammendement was seriously about having a populace who could defeat their own govenment in a military trial of strenght, surely they should double produce every weapon system, one for the state, one for the “people”. Try removing my Abrams from my cold dead driveway

86

IM 04.12.10 at 8:14 pm

Weapon laws in the nationalsocialistic period were actually somewhat relaxed compared to the regulation of the states during the Weimar Republic.

87

IM 04.12.10 at 8:24 pm

A question on Hayek: If he really believed that the welfare state equals tyranny, why did he live from 1997 until his dead in 1992 in Germany, in other word in a statist hell-hole?

Serfdom fitted him good enough.

88

JLR 04.12.10 at 8:35 pm

“why did he live from 1997 until his dead in 1992 in Germany”

Ahh, that explains the Road To Serfdom; Hayek lived backwards through time.

89

John Quiggin 04.12.10 at 8:36 pm

@73 “The scary thing is that, although I have read this blog and the comments accompanying it for some time, I have never seen a single post as derisive of, for instance, Lincoln Steffens, Joseph Davies, George Bernard Shaw, or the litany of public figures who supported Mao, Stalin, Che, Castro, etc., as this thread is of Hayek. “

http://crookedtimber.org/2005/10/17/the-winter-palace-and-after/

90

Myles SG 04.12.10 at 8:52 pm

“Give me one example, just one, of the classic libertarian ‘slide into slavery’ in which a democracy slowly and unwittingly becomes a totalitarian state, so to speak ‘by accident’.”

Chavez’s Venezuela looks to be on that road, although to give due credit, he really isn’t quite there yet, and I doubt even the ultimate destination will be totalitarianism, but collectivist authoritarianism.

I should like to have a good chuckle at anyone here who should like to hold Chavez up as the Model Democrat and the True Liberal.

91

Jeff R. 04.12.10 at 8:58 pm

The political-freedom benefit of an armed populace isn’t for actually fighting pitched battles with the nation’s military. (Once you reach that point, you’ve got to pretty much hope that at least half of the soldiers and officers are, when push comes to shove, on your side in the matter, which can be a forlorn hope.) What it’s really useful for, though, is in stopping (usually through deterrence rather than actual conflict) pogroms and other thuggish behavior from actual and would-be unofficial extensions of the government and party in power.

But really, speaking here of the particular case of Britain, it’s the loss of the legal right to defend oneself and home that’s far more significant than the specific regulation of particular weapons. Once the police are literally the only possible protection against criminals, you already have the physics part of a police state, and the rest is just collecting postage stamps.

(One could also make a similar argument based on the extent of Britain’s current surveillance culture, by the way…)

92

Colin Danby 04.12.10 at 9:07 pm

I was going to add that some of the H.G. Wells posts covered similar ground.

And Andreiad, I hardly think that Hugo Chavez can be explained as a consequence of “central planning.”

93

Colin Danby 04.12.10 at 9:17 pm

to add, since I didn’t see #90 — the situation in Venezuela is very bad. But Chavez is a classic military strongman. It’s idiotic to try and explain him as a consequence of of central planning, even if you interpret “central planning” in the loosest way possible.

94

Nick 04.12.10 at 9:34 pm

Sorry for Wikipediaing but: ‘Since 2005, Chávez is an outspoken proponent of what he calls a socialism of the 21st century as a means to help the poor. Since 2003, the Venezuelan government has set price controls on around 400 basic foods to counter inflation, which has led to “sporadic food shortages”. Food processing companies said that regulated prices had not kept pace with inflation, so that they were producing regulated food at a loss. Chávez has also nationalized a number of major companies, including in the telephone, electric, steel, and cement industries, and encouraged cooperatives.’

Looks quite like central planning, and quacks rather like central planning too.

95

IM 04.12.10 at 9:42 pm

So when Nixon instituted price controls, that was central planing , too? Words have meanings, you know.

96

Hidari 04.12.10 at 9:58 pm

‘Chavez’s Venezuela looks to be on that road, although to give due credit, he really isn’t quite there yet, and I doubt even the ultimate destination will be totalitarianism, but collectivist authoritarianism.’

The key word in this sentence, of course, is ‘looks’.

97

Cranky Observer 04.12.10 at 10:05 pm

Did Hayak predict the discovery of North Sea oil also?

Cranky

98

Nick 04.12.10 at 10:13 pm

“So when Nixon instituted price controls, that was central planing , too? Words have meanings, you know.”

Yes, and when he revved up the drug war too. And when he introduced whatever crazy monetary system we are currently using around the world. He was a bad man, donchaknow!

99

novakant 04.12.10 at 10:15 pm

Give me one example, just one, of the classic libertarian ‘slide into slavery’ in which a democracy slowly and unwittingly becomes a totalitarian state, so to speak ‘by accident’.

Well, the US is not quite there yet, but the expansion of executive power under Bush, and for the most part retained by Obama, is certainly rather worrying, no?

100

ScentOfViolets 04.12.10 at 10:19 pm

David@74:

“And Orwell said something different: After a socialist party taking power in a revolution, there would be a totalitarian dictatorship.”

I’m not sure about that. It’s pretty clear that he saw how that happened in the Russian Revolution (see Animal Farm).

It’s been a few years since I was an English major, so I’m probably wrong on this one, but . . . wasn’t “1984” about Great Britain in 1948? I’m not sure about “Animal Farm”, but I thought this was the same thing as well.

101

Lee A. Arnold 04.12.10 at 10:24 pm

@83 — The Nazis came to power because Weimar lacked the Keynesian message?

102

IM 04.12.10 at 10:26 pm

Yes, and when he revved up the drug war too.

Following this definition wherever it leads us, the US was a centrally planed economy between 1919 and 1934. Prohibition, you know. But than the great libertarian FDR lead America out of the collective commando economy darkness.

103

IM 04.12.10 at 10:35 pm

@101,

roughly yes. It is coventional wisdom, more or less.

1) the Nazis did come to power because of the great depression, more severe in germany than in other countries.

2) the great depression was not ended or meliorated between 1930 and 1933 because everybody, but especially Brüning followed the conventional, classical economical wisdom of the day, that is deflation.

3) After 1933 the economy picked up because Schacht financed a fiscal stimulus or created money with the Mefo-Wechsel. Armament-Keynesianism or War-Keneysianism.

So a – peacefiul – Keynesian solution could have be tried prior to 1933 and was proposed but universally rejected in the WTB-Plan.

104

Jim Aune 04.12.10 at 10:39 pm

All of this was anticipated in Jorge Luis Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote.” Libertarian postmodernism at its finest.

105

John Quiggin 04.12.10 at 10:43 pm

@Lee Arnold. That’s pretty much the conclusion from Sheri Berman’s book, which we reviewed a while back. In particular, the main SDP finance expert, Hilferding was an orthodox Marxist who thought that, while capitalism continued, it was necessary to stick to classical economic policy.

106

Steve LaBonne 04.12.10 at 10:50 pm

Armament-Keynesianism or War-Keynsesianism.

Which is all to familiar to Americans.

107

J— 04.12.10 at 10:52 pm

104: Not to mention the tomes and tomes of spot-on libertarian historical analysis in the Library of Babel.

108

IM 04.12.10 at 10:52 pm

Of course. That was the model of Reagan in the eighties.

109

Phil 04.12.10 at 11:09 pm

Nick, or whoever -
Give me one example, just one, of the classic libertarian ‘slide into slavery’ in which a democracy slowly and unwittingly becomes a totalitarian state, so to speak ‘by accident’, and this process has actually been completed

So far we’ve had the US, the UK and Chavez’s Venezuela as candidates for places on the slide, but rather a dearth of examples of states which have actually, well, slid. Which was the point of the original question.

(By the way, if you don’t mention Nazi Germany again neither will I.)

110

snuh 04.12.10 at 11:10 pm

Hayek claimed that the election of democratic socialist or social democratic party would lead into serfdom. And that did not happen, anywhere.

actually, this is exactly what happened in chile. natually, hayek approved. [rimshot]

111

Colin Danby 04.12.10 at 11:31 pm

Nick, please think carefully. (a) “central planning” has a rather specific meaning that you might want to look up too. But (b) of course the Venezuelan gov’t interferes with its economy in many ways. That’s obvious, and *that is not the point in dispute.* What you can’t show is that Hugo Chavez’s suppression of opposition and jailing of judges *is a consequence* of his interference in the domestic economy, or more specifically, that current conditions can be explained by the _Road to Serfdom_ creeping-socialism thesis, that a little more taxation here and a little more regulation there and sooner or later you’re shooting the opposition.

The point that commenters have been making patiently is that if you look at the examples, big and small, of murderous totalitarianism over the last century (or even petty, ramshackle totalitarianism) they are *not* explainable as social democracy gone too far. Pol Pot was not the result of creeping regulation.

You *can* regulate and tax your way into grotesque inefficiency and pervasive corruption and these things are not good, but the tight link you want between economic and political freedoms is not there in the data. The world is not so simple. Try pulling data for Latin American countries for the last half century for gov’t spending as a % of GDP, or any other measure you want to devise for the size of the state’s role, and see if any correlation emerges between that and political freedom.

112

Jason McCullough 04.12.10 at 11:32 pm

“The scary thing is that, although I have read this blog and the comments accompanying it for some time, I have never seen a single post as derisive of, for instance, Lincoln Steffens, Joseph Davies, George Bernard Shaw, or the litany of public figures who supported Mao, Stalin, Che, Castro, etc., as this thread is of Hayek.”

This has been dealt with: http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2007/08/will-you-condemn-thon.html

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tomslee 04.12.10 at 11:33 pm

end tag.

114

tomslee 04.12.10 at 11:34 pm

failed

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Nick 04.12.10 at 11:53 pm

‘…Road to Serfdom creeping-socialism thesis, that a little more taxation here and a little more regulation there and sooner or later you’re shooting the opposition.

The point that commenters have been making patiently is that if you look at the examples, big and small, of murderous totalitarianism over the last century (or even petty, ramshackle totalitarianism) they are not explainable as social democracy gone too far. Pol Pot was not the result of creeping regulation.’

I think the point is that is not exactly the Serfdom thesis, either. It doesn’t apply only or strictly to social democracies, and it does not proceed by small increases in taxation or a little more regulation here and there, to which Hayek was content to accede (even in Serfdom itself). It was an ideology that seemed very impressed with the achievements of some variants of authoritarian socalism that he was concerned about. That ideology collapsed in the West. Now we have somewhat different ideological threats to liberty, like whatever it is that keeps the drug war and the war on terror going.

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Kieran Healy 04.13.10 at 1:25 am

Fixed. What’s wrong with you people today? That’s the third one.

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mds 04.13.10 at 1:51 am

The political-freedom benefit of an armed populace isn’t for actually fighting pitched battles with the nation’s military. … What it’s really useful for, though, is in stopping (usually through deterrence rather than actual conflict) pogroms and other thuggish behavior from actual and would-be unofficial extensions of the government and party in power.

Ah, yes, only the deterrence of a well-armed populace stands between us and thuggish behavior in support of the party in power by a well-armed populace.

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roger 04.13.10 at 2:36 am

Wow, these interpretations of Orwell are so comically off the mark that they are hard to believe. Has nobody read Orwell”s essays? He wrote on politics for the Partisan Review, and though, as a prophet, he was mostly wrong – Orwell was a huge pessimist – he wrote as an avowed supporter of Labour. In his letter after the Labour government was elected, he wrote: “A Labour government may be said to mean business if it (a) nationalizes land, coal mines, railways, public utilities and banks; (b) offers India immediate Dominion Status (this is a minimum); (c) purges the bureaucracy, the army, the diplomatic service etc. so thoroughly as to forestall sabotage from the Right.”

In fact, contra the American version of Orwell, he was a quite serious socialist and would make teabaggers shout in horror if what he believed was voiced, say, by Obama. In the Lion and the Unicorn, his ten point program for the UK included this charming – and I think correct – point:

“Limitation of incomes, on such a scale that the highest tax-free income in Britain does not exceed the lowest by more than ten to one.”

Next time you hear some nonsense about Orwell and his anti-socialist beliefs, pull that little quote out.

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weaver 04.13.10 at 3:33 am

I don’t think anyone above was arguing Orwell was anti-socialist, just that, as a matter of plot, the IngSoc system derived from a socialist revolution. I don’t buy that myself. In the book England is still a vassal state of the US (“Airstrip One” – no-one ever gives Orwell sufficient credit for his jokes) and it’s hard to believe that Orwell was suggesting, even in an allegory, that the US would succumb to a socialist revolution. ( I don’t recall the stuff about Jones and Rutherford “before the revolution” but it’s been a while.)

The point was more that permanent war feeds a permanent war economy feeds permanent war. And, so far, he appears to have been on the money.

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Steve LaBonne 04.13.10 at 3:49 am

Still not quite right, weaver. Oceania has a regime that is quite obviously intended to evoke Stalinism (you do remember the physical description of Big Brother? And the obvious Trostsky figure, Goldstein?) and thus is certainly socialist, though not socialism of a kind Orwell approved (to put it mildly). So yes, the Stalinists are running what used to be the US. You really do have to read Homage to Catalonia, noting in particular Orwell’s outrage at the total rewriting by the Communist press of events he had witnessed himself (while fighting in the militia of an anti-Stalinist socialist party that the Communist-dominated republican government outlawed while he was still in Spain), to understand the genesis of 1984.

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Martha Bridegam 04.13.10 at 5:07 am

Following is from Orwell’s review of *The Road to Serfdom* as quoted in CEJL. Don’t stop with his first two points. As usual with Orwell, he shifts ground.

“…Shortly, Professor Hayek’s thesis is that Socialism inevitably leads to despotism and that in Germany the Nazis were able to succeed because the Socialists had already done most of their work for them, especially the intellectual work of weakening the desire for liberty. By bringing the whole of life under the control of the State, Socialism necessarily gives power to an inner ring of bureaucrats, who in almost every case will be men who want power for its own sake and will stick at nothing in order to retain it. Britain, he says, is now going the same road as Germany, with the left-wing intelligentsia in the van and the Tory Party a good second. The only salvation lies in returning to an unplanned economy, free competition, and emphasis on liberty rather than on security.
In the negative part of Professor Hayek’s thesis there is a great deal of truth. It cannot be said too often — at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough — that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamed of.
Professor Hayek is also probably right in saying that in this country the intellectuals are more totalitarian-minded than the common people. But he does not see, or will not admit, that a return to ‘free’ competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the State. The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them. Professor Hayek denies that free capitalism necessarily leads to monopoly, but in practice that is where it has led, and since the vast majority of people would far rather have State regimentation than slumps and unemployment, the drift toward collectivism is bound to continue if popular opinion has any say in the matter.”

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Jack Strocchi 04.13.10 at 5:38 am

Pr Q said:

This Road to Serfdom predicts that the policies of the British Labour Party, implemented after the 1945 election, would lead to the emergence of a totalitarian state similar to Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, or at least to a massive reduction in political and personal freedom (as distinct from economic freedom). Obviously this prediction was totally wrong.

Hayek dedicated the RtS “To the socialists of all parties”, an irony that has obviously fallen on deaf ears in these parts. The Road to Serfdom is “the road less travelled” in part because Hayek et al pointed out the pit-falls of welfare statism. Its not surprising that it was notional Leftists such as Bob Hawke, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair who made the most significant policy moves to “end welfare as we know it”. They had to clean up the welfare statist mess to get re-elected.

Obviously Hayek was wrong for predicting that welfarism would lead to totalitarianism. He made a howler by failing to realise that a totalitarian party is a neccessary condition for a totalitarian state. The British Labor party has its faults, but nannyism is not despotism.

But lest we forget that, at the time of the RtS, socialists were heady with power having just about taken over the commanding heights of the Russian, German, Anglo-American and Chinese imperial economies. Hayek chapter on “The Socialist Roots of Nazism” was right to remind people that the Nazis were very Left-wing on economics.

Hayek’s misgivings and apprehensions were shared by the best minds of the day (and arguably of any day) in social science, including current and former Leftists such as James Burnham. Its worth quoting some of the reviews:

Keynes:

In my opinion it is a grand book…Morally and philosophically I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it: and not only in agreement with it, but in deeply moved agreement.

Orwell:

in the negative part of Professor Hayek’s thesis there is a great deal of truth. It cannot be said too often — at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough — that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamt of.

Schumpeter:

The Road to Serfdom is also a polite book that hardly ever attributes to opponents anything beyond intellectual error. In fact, the author is polite to a fault; for not all relevant points can be made without more plain speaking about group interests than he is willing to resort to.

Schumpeter understood the workings of interest group democracy and welfare bureaucracy better than anyone before or since. He was fifty years ahead of the curve in forseeing the “crisis of the tax state”. So his reference to Hayek politely refraining from “plain speaking about group interests” is good.

Hayek may have aimed and missed at the Old Left but he really hit the target when the New Left popped up its head. It was only in the mid-seventies when Hayek’s prescience about the ennervating culture of welfarism became apparent. Extensive government ownership and sponsorhip does tend to stultify individual initiative. One only has to look at the works of Theodore Dalrymple to see this picture fleshed out in terrifying detail.

Hayek devoted a chapter to “Who, Whom”, which clearly points to the temptation welfare states have to reward their political allies and punish their political foes. Statist parties have extensive opportunities for political patronage which has chilling effect on free speech. As a former resident of NSW I speak with feeling.

So if I was a socialist (conservative social democrat FTR) I would not be too harsh on Hayek. He was a socialist once too, you know.

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weaver 04.13.10 at 6:06 am

>>You really do have to read Homage to Catalonia<<

Have done. Fully aware Orwell strongly disapproved of Stalinism and the Soviet Union (note also "fellow travellers" blacklist incident, assuming that wasn't just part of an attempt to get laid). IngSoc is clearly a species of oppressive Soviet-style state-capitalism, as the Trots call it, and whatever the rest of Eurasia has will be very like it. Just not convinced Orwell intended a future history that included a revolution as such – more likely a slow decline into an oppressive state from the continued war economy state with attending negativities: propaganda, surveillance, informers, the widespread incidence of the “gramophone mind”, etc. This does, now I think of it, sound creepily like Hayek’s thesis, but I’m pretty sure Orwell didn’t have the NHS in mind when he was doing his extrapolations. Martha Bridegam’s quote refers.

Of course, if the book really does explicitly talk about a revolution, my idea of the transition that Orwell had in mind is obviously less credible, even if whatever history Winston Smith thinks he knows is a construct of the Party.

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sg 04.13.10 at 6:30 am

can’t we read 1984 as a critique of marxism and of the propaganda power of continuous war, in anyone’s hands?

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Hidari 04.13.10 at 7:45 am

‘Hayek’s misgivings and apprehensions were shared by the best minds of the day (and arguably of any day) in social science, including current and former Leftists such as James Burnham’.

You can’t argue that Hayek was uniquely and brilliantly original, and that everyone thought the same, at the same time.

Incidentally, Orwell didn’t make the ‘backstory’ of 1984 clear (that this was impossible was one of the points of the book) but he referred to an atomic war between the major powers and street fighting in London, self-evidently some kind of revolutionary/civil war situation. Orwell did not at any time believe that democratic socialist regimes might slowly, over decades, slide (inadvertently) into dictatorship.

Which was, let’s not forget, Hayek’s thesis.

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Martha Bridegam 04.13.10 at 7:48 am

weaver wrote:
I’m pretty sure Orwell didn’t have the NHS in mind when he was doing his extrapolations. Martha Bridegam’s quote refers.

Don’t be too sure. At http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/essays/asiplease1943.htm#Dec24 note Orwell backhandedly defending Beveridge (founder of the NHS) against various people’s “refusal to believe that human society can be fundamentally improved. “

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Martha Bridegam 04.13.10 at 7:53 am

Not to mention he did fantasize about English revolutions at moments. See e.g. the famous second-to-last paras of *My Country, Right or Left* ( http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/My_Country/english/e_mcrol ). Though that could have been the shell-shock talking, as in Chris Hedges’ current apocalyptics.

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socialrepublican 04.13.10 at 8:16 am

101 – at a materialistic level, to a large degree. Whilst the KPD had a clear Bolshevik statist approach to the crisis i.e. Rate/Soviet control, rapid sublimation into the party state, the SPD had a odd two stage solution. Temporary Liberal orthodoxy until material conditions were met then either nationalisation or a 1918 style socialisation. As Andreski points out in Larsen et al “Who were the Fascists” the Nazis were able to paint themselves as a party of anti-financial ideology, of economic pragmatism. Given the Linz paradox of fascism as a political latecomer, their military Schachtism, if you will was a unique and cross class selling point.

Brustein’s look into the role of fascist land policy confirms it. In Italy, after land reform, the PSI’s programme of collectivisation, the Popularii’s timidity and the old Liberal and Conservative support for the larger estates made the mixed program of the PNF seem radical, practical and anti-political and post ideological. The SDP’s collectivisation program for agriculture, even if forever delayed till the mythical appearance of the rural prolitariet, gave the aggressive Nazi policy of support for farmers and of rural society the facade of curing sociatal ills. In the cases of the NSB in Holland or the Lapua movement in Finland, both had their growth terminally limited by flexibility by their particular indigious Social democratic parties on the land question

“What it’s really useful for, though, is in stopping (usually through deterrence rather than actual conflict) pogroms and other thuggish behavior from actual and would-be unofficial extensions of the government and party in power.”

The dynamic was somewhat different in Tsarist Russia. There, barely controlled armaments were an aid to an semi-official branch of the government carrying out pogroms, breaking strikes and disrupting demonstrations. Whilst I doubt you are saying that proliferations of guns is to stop public servants being rude, this “nuisance” factor is massively overstated. A state that can claim a modicum of public legitimacy has vast advantages over an armed citizenry, not least centralised control, communication and command, training, and the cooperation, tacit or active, of the elites.

If you look at the Vendee explosion, it’s nascent causes were economic dissatifaction with the revolutionary settlement, an increasing divide between country and town and the arrogance and interfering of Patriot officials, culminating in the conscription of 1793. Vendee didn’t last till 1799 because there were a surfeit of model 1777 Charlville muskets in the hands of the Vendeans, it lasted because it was a distant third on the list of Paris’s priorities, after the war against the coalition and the dramatic but hollow Federalist revolts.

There was no mass ownership of AK47 or 74s amongst the crowds that immobalised the Warsaw pact nations in 1989 (Romania excepted), yet their “nuisance” polished off a cabal of increasingly illegitimate regimes with vast reserves of military power.

The right to bear arms as a defence against tyranny is a pleasing illusion. People get to keep their guns for their particular socio-psychological terrors and feel they are in “liberty’s last line of defence”.

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Hidari 04.13.10 at 8:20 am

‘The right to bear arms as a defence against tyranny is a pleasing illusion. People get to keep their guns for their particular socio-psychological terrors and feel they are in “liberty’s last line of defence”.’

One thing that I haven’t been able to find out on the interwebs is….what were the laws on gun ownership like in Saddam’s Iraq? Because there certainly seemed to be a lot of guns available to the insurgency very very quickly after the invasion. Moreover there is also anecdotal evidence: cf all those stories about shooting guns at weddings etc. Does anyone know?

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socialrepublican 04.13.10 at 8:35 am

Indeed, Hidari

I think there is a confusion some have between the Weberian ideal state and that of a totalitarian ideal type i.e Emilio Gentile’s. A ridiculously overarmed section of the citizenry presents differing chanlenges to the two cases so noted. To the Weberian state, the armed citizen presents a nightmare of presumption, of regulatory paperwork, of public order but essentially a minor annoyance. The Gentile state disregards weather the citizen is armed much beyond tactics when arresting and views them instead as part of the volk/people/historical class or not, as a citizen or a non-person.

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weaver 04.13.10 at 11:12 am

Ah, well, then I stand corrected.

(About the revolution in Nineteen Eightyfour stuff. I wasn’t ever claiming that Orwell thought democratic socialism would slide into totalitarianism. Which is what I meant when I said he didn’t have the NHS in mind – he certainly didn’t think that kind of collectivism would usher in Big Brother. More the intellectual collectivism he complains about in the “suppressed” preface to Animal Farm and, well, everywhere else. )

My Country Right or Left: “building a Socialist on the bones of a Blimp” – I guess Orwell wrote an autobiography after all, albeit a short one.

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Nabakov 04.13.10 at 4:50 pm

I always thought it was bloody clear that point of both of 1984 (strategy) and Animal Farm (tactics) was warning democratic socialists not to even contemplate going down the road of what happened in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany when the means and ends merged into same thing.

You could probably make a good argument that Orwell was far more influential than Hayek in making the above argument for many post war generations.

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Nabakov 04.13.10 at 5:00 pm

Mind you, it’s hard to disagree with the observation that Orwell modelled the MiniTrue canteen on the Beeb’s wartime feeding facilities.

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Tom M 04.13.10 at 7:45 pm

As to Iraqi armaments, there is the disbanding of the army, without necessarily gathering them together in barracks and relieving them of their arms and then there was the failure to secure the munitions dumps or armories just after the formal announcement of Mission Accomplished.

See here re: Looters stormed the weapons site at Al Qaqaa in the days after American troops swept through the area in early April 2003

Collateral Damage? UNICEF says that although the conflict may be largely over, Iraqi children continue to be maimed and killed at a steady pace by the remnants of war.

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Jack Strocchi 04.13.10 at 11:57 pm

Hildari@#125 said:

You can’t argue that Hayek was uniquely and brilliantly original, and that everyone thought the same, at the same time.

Quite true, which is why I did not make that argument.

I argued that Hayek made a “howler…for predicting that welfarism would lead to totalitarianism”. But that at the time all the best social scientists of the day – Keynes, Orwell, Schumpeter, Burnham – all thought that a socialist economy could well lead to a dictatorial polity. So he was in good company.

Hayek was prescient about the personal, rather than political, effects of excessive welfare statism. It does stultify individual enterprise and freedom in general. Not so much by closing off options as by conditioning people to forsake the search for options. Welfare statism reduces freedom by sapping the individual push for freedom, rather than beefing up the institutional crush of freedom.

So curbing the growth of the welfare state has in some way increased the sum of human freedom. Hayek deserves some credit for this.

Free will does not mean one will, but many wills conflicting in one man.

Flannery O’Connor

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Jack Strocchi 04.14.10 at 12:08 am

Pr Q said:

Obviously this prediction was totally wrong. Democracy survived Labor’s nationalizations, and personal freedom expanded substantially…Presumably, this isn’t the book the libertarians have read, so I assume there must exist another of the same title.

It does seem rather an odd time to drag out Hayek’s dusty tomes for another belting. Hayek may have been wrong about the 1945 British Labor party. Buth what has that got to do with the price of fish in China?

I’d hazard a wild guess and suggest that the current debate about the relationship between socialist economy and democratic polity has been stimulated by the Tea-Party animals hysterical reaction to Obama’s tepid health care reform. Rather than any recondite concern to set the academic record straight.

No one knows how many high-ranking libertarian social scientists actually believe the Tea-Party claim that Obama’s luke warm health care socialism will lead to a communist/nazi dictatorship. Pr Q does not quote any any which leads me to suspect there are none.

Meanwhile could we please LEAVE FREDDY ALONE!

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Yarrow 04.14.10 at 12:28 am

Jack Strocchi @ 135: “Hayek was prescient about the personal, rather than political, effects of excessive welfare statism. It does stultify individual enterprise…”

Jack, would you care to compare the stultification of individual enterprise produced by (1) excessive welfare statism to that produced by (2) lack of universal health insurance?

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Jack Strocchi 04.14.10 at 12:39 am

Yarrow@#137 said:

Jack, would you care to compare the stultification of individual enterprise produced by (1) excessive welfare statism to that produced by (2) lack of universal health insurance?

A good question. I’d argue that universal public health insurance acts to stimulate, rather than stultify, individual enterprise. Thats because private health insurance companies tend to cartelise, forming a bureaucratic crypto-government without neither market or democratic accountability.

FTR I have always supported the “health-fare state:, more on utilitarian, rather than libertarian, grounds.

But thats not always the case for every form of welfare statism. Unconditional welfare payments can demoralise an individual. In AUS we have plenty of cases of households stuck in the welfare trap for multiple generations.

Thats why mutual obligation was devised. To give the disadvantaged a hand-up rather than a hand-out.

Governments are corporations when it comes right down to it. So a totally government run economy would be a company town. Not exactly my idea of a free society.

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Yarrow 04.14.10 at 1:32 am

“A good question. I’d argue that universal public health insurance acts to stimulate, rather than stultify, individual enterprise. Thats because private health insurance companies tend to cartelise, forming a bureaucratic crypto-government without neither market or democratic accountability.”

Fair enough.

140

Branden 04.14.10 at 4:19 am

“And how you can blame left wing politics for what happend in germany between 1934 and 1940 beggars belief.”

Probably been reading Jonah Goldberg…

141

Charles Peterson 04.14.10 at 4:27 am

I seem to recall that Krugman or DeLong gave an account of Hayek recanting the RtS thesis before his death, that social democratic programs like national healthcare and social security do not necessarily lead to totalitarianism.

Didn’t Hayek also have a view that any sort of “central planning” being impossible? However his argument, if I recall it correctly, was uselessly simplistic, and either unconfirmed or outright negated by the reasoning of legions of esteemed economists, ironically sponsored by the US Pentagon following WWII, as described by Philip Mirowsky in Machine Dreams.

The singular example of USSR is hardly conclusive for many reasons, including various correctable mistakes in implementation, the fact that USSR actually industrialized in record short time while the free world was in depression, its uselessly costly imperialism, and the fact that its collapse (or western sponsored coup as I sometimes think of it) occurred subsequent to the Perestroika reforms which negated many of the original principles and positive liberty guarantees.

Now it seems rather that lack of central planning, or at least some sort of national industrial and wages policy, is a certain recipe for deindustrialization and economic crisis noted mainly for economic predation, as described by James Galbraith in Predator State.

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Andy 04.14.10 at 4:52 am

Is it possible to reconcile these views by pointing out that, because of the relatively poor economic performance of these policy proposals, and their eventual modification or repeal, the nightmare scenario envisioned by Hayek was never realized in the UK? One might look at Venezuela today as an example of central economic planning’s leading to a loss of freedom – newspapers and TV stations shut down, elections manipulated, etc. – in a scenario more along the lines of what Hayek envisioned.

It could be that the central planners in the UK were never extreme enough, or determined enough, or powerful enough to cause the damage to personal freedom that Hayek predicted, whereas in Venezuela today they seem to be getting there.

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Branden 04.14.10 at 4:53 am

I wouldn’t give any more creedence to a deathbed apostasy than I would to a deathbed conversion.

Darwin did not “recant evolution on his death bed” as creationists like to claim, but it would matter a damn bit if he did.

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Branden 04.14.10 at 4:56 am

I meant “would NOT matter”. Sigh.

Come to think of it, though, since right-libertarians in my experience are about as sophisticated as creationists, it might be worth tracking down that account of Hayek’s “reversal” (much-delayed clarification?) just to throw sand in their gears.

‘Cause it’s not like they’re ever going to change their minds.

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Jack Strocchi 04.14.10 at 5:42 am

Branden@#140 said:

And how you can blame left wing politics for what happend in germany between 1934 and 1940 beggars belief.

Probably been reading Jonah Goldberg…

Goldberg has half a point. Although many socialists are not fascists, all fascists are socialists. Social-democrats are obviously at the liberal end of socialism. Nazis are at the “corporal”* end of socialism.

Both Hitler and Mussolini were socialists as well as nationalist. That is they were Left-wing on economic stratification, but Right-wing on ethnic segregation. They were “corporal” about everything, liberal about nothing. They were an odd blend of revolutionary utopia and reactionary nostalgia with not much thought for reformatory “hard boring of solid boards”.

Hitler began as a nationalist but got more socialist on issues of class as time went on, largely at the urging of Goebbels, his chief propagandist. So much so that he wound up nationalising industry and purging the Prussian aristocracy. Thats the sort of thing Left-wing revolutionaries can only dream about.

Stalin began as a socialist but went the other way and got more nationalist over time. (“socialism in one country”) Eventually winding up a Great Russian chauvinist, with anti-semitism to boot.

More generally, the terms of political discourse are unhelpful to the point of idiocy. von Hayek called this “the confusion of language in political thought”. Particularly in the US where the contraposition of “liberal” and “conservative” generates maximum feasible misunderstanding. Bush was Right-wing alright, liberal on some matters but conservative about almost nothing.

Hereunder are some helpful suggestions to reduce conceptual confusion:

Left-wing: progressive empowment of lower-status
Right-wing: regressive establishment of higher-status

Liberal: consensuality with individual autnonomies (scalable for artificial “persons”)
“Corporal”*: conformity to institutional authority

Conservatism: integration of traditional identity
Constructivism#: differentiation of fashionable identities

Reactionary: orientation towards past “golden age”
Reformatory: orientation towards present “mundane here & now”
Revolutionary: orientation towards future “never never land”

Hayek did his best to clear up the mess. But he had his own ideological issues to work out, not surprising given his von background, life and times.

* My neologism
# Hayek’s neologism

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Hidari 04.14.10 at 7:37 am

‘Hayek was prescient about the personal, rather than political, effects of excessive welfare statism. It does stultify individual enterprise and freedom in general. Not so much by closing off options as by conditioning people to forsake the search for options. Welfare statism reduces freedom by sapping the individual push for freedom, rather than beefing up the institutional crush of freedom.’

Evidence, please.

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Jack Strocchi 04.14.10 at 8:32 am

Hidari@#145 said:

Sure.

Roger Kimball gives a handy summary of Hayeks theory of the effect socialist economics has on both personal, professional and political liberty. Hayek regarded centralised bureaucracy as antithetical to both the pyschology of personal freedom and the sociology of political freedom:

The two great presiding influences on The Road to Serfdom were Alexis de Tocqueville and Adam Smith. From Tocqueville, Hayek took both his title and his sensitivity to what Tocqueville, in a famous section of Democracy in America, called “democratic despotism.” Hayek, like Tocqueville, saw that in modern bureaucratic societies threats to liberty often come disguised as humanitarian benefits. If old-fashioned despotism tyrannizes, democratic despotism infantilizes. “It would,” Tocqueville writes,:

resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves… . It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living? … [This power] extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; … it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

Echoing and extending Tocqueville, Hayek argued that one of the most important effects of extensive government control was psychological, “an alteration of the character of the people.”

Now its hard to test for the effects of socialist economics on personal pyschology. But its hard not to see some truth in what Hayek was saying. Welfare statism demonstrably demoralises dependent client populations, which is one reason why welfare dependency seems to be inter-generational. “Wealthfare” statism for trustafarians does the same thing at the other end of the class scale.

Hayek was right to warn that statist bureaucracy is a threat to political freedom. Max Weber foresaw the soul-destroying effects of the Iron Cage of Bureaucracy. He argued that bureaucracy was a common feature of both capitalist enterprise and statist agency. Hayek pointed out that the statist bureaucracy was ultimately more dangerous to liberty since it rested on the foundation of coercive power.

All things being equal one is more likely to enjoy more personal, professional and political freedom when there is a diffusion of economic power. I would suggest that is why the US tends to lead with institutional and instrumental innovation. Hayek dedicated the Constitution of Liberty to the “unknown civilization of America”.

More generally the rise of a nanny state seems to correspond to what Rieff calls the “therapeutic culture” of counselling and victimology. Its not exactly 1984, but it does tend to head in the Brave New World direction where individual problems are medicalised and then socialised. I daresay that some such vision is animating the Tea-Party animals.

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Hidari 04.14.10 at 9:19 am

‘But its hard not to see some truth in what Hayek was saying. ‘

Yes it is.

‘Welfare statism demonstrably demoralises dependent client populations, which is one reason why welfare dependency seems to be inter-generational.’

To repeat: evidence please. The word ‘demonstrably’ would seem to imply that you have the empirical data at your fingertips so it sounds like it won’t be too hard to produce it.

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alex 04.14.10 at 10:07 am

I don’t think it’s a reactionary point to highlight the problem of welfare dependency. I mean, it is if you do it in a way which is code for racism or what-not, but outwith that, it should be nobody’s ideal society in which large populations exist on state handouts. People should have work they can value, and that gives value to them. If you embed them in a situation where the answer to the question ‘What am I for?’ is going to be ‘Nothing much’, then no good will come of it in the long run. Greater generosity of handout, without challenging the structural problems of the status-quo, is self-defeating if the goal of one’s politics is actually to empower ordinary people.

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Hidari 04.14.10 at 10:43 am

‘I don’t think it’s a reactionary point to highlight the problem of welfare dependency.’

I’m not talking about whether or not its reactionary. I’m asking for empirical evidence that it exists.

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Hidari 04.14.10 at 10:54 am

Actually scratch that. I’ve just had a look at some of the academic papers on ‘welfare dependency’ (most of which seem to have been written by economists, quelle surprise), and the whole concept is so ideologically loaded it’s impossible to have a discussion about it without accepting its reactionary assumptions. What these papers demonstrate is that poverty is real, that if you are born poor, you tend to stay poor, that if are poor and you have kids your kids are likely to be pooor, that long term unemployment is an extremely serious (and worsening) problem in the ‘West’, and so on.

Of course, the purpose of these ‘papers’ (some of which, it should be noted, have been published in allegedly serious academic journals in the ‘liberal’ academy) is to mask all this by disguising nice, crisp, accurate words like ‘poor’ and ‘no job’ with slimy euphemisms like ‘welfare dependent.’

A good counter argument is here:

http://www.radstats.org.uk/no079/henman.htm

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Hidari 04.14.10 at 10:55 am

‘and you have kids your kids are likely to be poor,’

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Phil 04.14.10 at 11:43 am

Although many socialists are not fascists, all fascists are socialists.

That’s not an argument, it’s a smear. All Fascists nationalise heavy industry, just like socialists! Except the ones who don’t! But when a non-Fascist government nationalises heavy industry it’s not socialist because… and anyway, did you know that Hitler was actually a National Socialist?

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Steve LaBonne 04.14.10 at 12:24 pm

Alex kinda sorta has a point in that any democratic socialist worthy of the name would naturally wish to move toward a society in which all able to work will have access to meaningful work, not one in which many people capable of working exist on a dole; few would dispute that the former kind of society is likely to offer a better chance for a dignified and satisfying life. At the same time, that just doesn’t justify adopting an essentially punitive rhetoric about “welfare dependency” that embodies all the ideological presuppositions of the right and basically serves as a cover for class warfare against the poor. The left should have no truck with such stuff.

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alex 04.14.10 at 12:40 pm

Hidari, indeed – and my response would be that we ought to acknowledge that poverty is the problem. It is easy to say, and in some senses self-evident, that giving people money can solve that problem. But if some of the cultural consequences of poverty are forms of exclusion, it is not self-evident to say that people who are poor and excluded can be reintegrated meaningfully to the mainstream of collective life just by giving them money. What they need is a valid social role. Saying that poor people ought to be given money to do nothing is a curious consequence of left-leaning sentiment attempting to function while implicitly accepting the existence of a capitalist society. One rages against its injustice, and demands more for those with less, but the end result is merely the request for a little extra handout for the poor who appear always to be with us. And who wins? Not the cause of real equality. It is certainly hard to imagine a socialist – or indeed any just – society in which fit, able-bodied people were paid to do nothing while their comrades worked to support them.

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Hidari 04.14.10 at 12:40 pm

‘Alex kinda sorta has a point in that any democratic socialist worthy of the name would naturally wish to move toward a society in which all able to work will have access to meaningful work, not one in which many people capable of working exist on a dole; few would dispute that the former kind of society is likely to offer a better chance for a dignified and satisfying life’.

Yes, obviously, but it’s a straw man argument. It’s like the abortion argument. It’s not like anyone is going ‘woo hoo! Another abortion! Fantastic! Let’s have more!’. The argument was always that legal termination is the lesser amongst a large number of evils.

In the same way obviously being on the dole is awful and soul destroying, but in the absence of meaningful, well paid (or even not so well paid), long term contract jobs with, for example, the possibility of promotion, or some other form of ‘betterment’….then having some form of welfare to ensure that people don’t starve is the lesser of a rather large number of evils.

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alex 04.14.10 at 12:41 pm

What Steve said, if I hadn’t taken half an hour to get round to posting…

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Steve LaBonne 04.14.10 at 12:43 pm

Yes, obviously, but it’s a straw man argument.

Well, that’s essentially what I said in the second half of my comment!

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Hidari 04.14.10 at 12:45 pm

‘Saying that poor people ought to be given money to do nothing is a curious consequence of left-leaning sentiment attempting to function while implicitly accepting the existence of a capitalist society. One rages against its injustice, and demands more for those with less, but the end result is merely the request for a little extra handout for the poor who appear always to be with us. ‘

Again, straw man argument. I don’t ask for ‘a little extra handout’. I ask that societies’ productive capacities be used such that there are meaningful, relatively well paid jobs for all. But in the absence of such a move (and none of the major political parties seem to be in the slightest bit interested in such actions) ensuring that the poor don’t starve should be the first priority.

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alex 04.14.10 at 12:53 pm

It’s a very long way from ensuring people don’t starve to essentially creating by policy entire communities dependent on state handouts. The former we’ve had since the Elizabethan Poor Law, one way or the other; but the latter is what has, in fact, been done in the last 50 years. It’s a travesty of the aims of socialism, a pointless waste of human potential, and, which is worse, an open goal for the right to score cheap points against the very aspirations ‘welfare’ is supposed to promote.

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Steve LaBonne 04.14.10 at 12:56 pm

Alex, again, such hyperbole neither accords well with reality nor serves any but right-wing goals. I have to go with Hidari on that.

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alex 04.14.10 at 12:59 pm

A little front-line taste, from today’s Guardian, that notorious fount of fascist smears:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/apr/14/writing-award-nomination-children-in-care-blog

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Hidari 04.14.10 at 1:03 pm

‘It’s a very long way from ensuring people don’t starve to essentially creating by policy entire communities dependent on state handouts’.

Or, another way of putting it, entire communities who are without work. And who therefore have to depend on state handouts, in order not to starve.

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Anderson 04.14.10 at 1:06 pm

Hitler began as a nationalist but got more socialist on issues of class as time went on, largely at the urging of Goebbels, his chief propagandist. So much so that he wound up nationalising industry and purging the Prussian aristocracy.

Hitler “purged the Prussian aristocracy” after they tried to blow him up, not because of any whimsical socialist notions.

As for nationalizing industry, that’s largely a myth; “rationalization” of industry was attempted, with varying degrees of success, but I’m unaware of the state simply taking over any sisgnificant industries. The industrialists had things entirely too much their way for too long, to the detriment of the war effort; the Nazi bureaucracy was so bloated that the business sector could play one rival off another. I will be happy to be corrected on this with specific examples.

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socialrepublican 04.14.10 at 1:17 pm

Jack

Was Bismarck left wing?

Was Stolypin?

Was Hindenburg?

Was Pitt the younger?

Was Corrandini?

Was AC Cuza?

Was Gömbös?

Was Carol II of Romaina, of the royal house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen a socialist?

The problem with the Goldberg “thesis” (if you assume that it isn’t just shite polemic and, like a post shedder puppy, just wants to be loved) is at base it’s inability to imagine a right wing ever that doesn’t look like his corner of Con-Liberatarianism in 21st century America when we quint at it and don’t really pay attention. Combined with a complete void of context/knowledge about the political cultures and lexicons of storm of modernity Italy and Germany, it is no wonder it is entirely arse.

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Ceri B. 04.14.10 at 1:22 pm

The observable alternative to an extensive series of handouts is a large and growing chunk of the population living their whole lives in both misery and fear. I’ll take the handouts, thanks.

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Keir 04.14.10 at 2:02 pm

It’s a very long way from ensuring people don’t starve to essentially creating by policy entire communities dependent on state handouts.

Er, the communities existed before the handouts; you have the cart before the horse here.

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chris 04.14.10 at 2:49 pm

In AUS we have plenty of cases of households stuck in the welfare trap for multiple generations.

Whereas, without that welfare, their grandparents would have just starved to death as God and Adam Smith intended, and the subsequent generations would have been spared the misery of existence.

Of course welfare *by itself* does not lift people out of poverty. But it doesn’t actively hold them down, either; it merely keeps them alive until a way out comes along (or doesn’t).

Limited upward mobility (even intergenerationally) is not an argument against welfare; it’s the reason it’s necessary as an alternative to even worse human misery.

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engels 04.14.10 at 8:40 pm

‘Being unemployed is horrible, therefore we must incentivise people not to be unemployed — by making it more horrible’

Right-wing ‘logic’ at its finest, and so nice to have it in Alex’s ‘socialist’ concern troll version.

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jack strocchi 04.15.10 at 5:30 am

socialrepublican@#165 said:


Jack

Was Bismarck left wing?

Was Stolypin?

Was Hindenburg?

Was Pitt the younger?

Was Corrandini?

Was AC Cuza?

Was Gömbös?

Was Carol II of Romaina, of the royal house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen a socialist?

Reference above I define:

Left-wing as a political party that strives to progressively empower the lower-status.
Right-wing as a political party that strives to repressively establish the higher-status.

All these politicians are Right-wing in that they were interested in establishing the high-status. Yet they often adopted Left-wing policies which empowered the lower-status.

Politicians do not always act according to neat ideological definition. I think one can answer these questions on a case-by-case basis.

So yes, in some sense, Bismark did act in a Left-wing way to progressively empower the lower-status by introducing the welfare state. He acted in a Right-wing way by making Prussia the dominant state in the German union.

Pitt the Younger obviously opposed the French and American Revolutions, which made him Right-wing (pro-establishment). But he did introduce some notable accountability laws which reduced the power of corrupt establishment. A bit Left-wing, me-thinks.

Stolypin was obviously Right-wing in his reactionary phase, hanging revolutionaries. But he was Left-wing in his reformatory phase, introducing pro-market policies that reduced the power of aristocratic land-owners.

More generally, one cannot identify ideological valency by reference to institutional modalities. A politician may propose capitalist or statist policies but these are just institutional tools for individual users.

Of course there are purists out there who insist that politicians must cleave to the Mosaic truth as inscribed on party platforms. But those sort tend to get adversely selected by evolution.

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Bruce Webb 04.15.10 at 6:52 pm

“Meanwhile, just out of curiosity, any chance of some citations for the ludicrous schmibertarian over-readings of Hayek?
The mothership of Austrianism is the Ludwig von Mises and in their store they have this Amazon link plus review: http://mises.org/store/Road-to-Serfdom-The-P252C0.aspx I don’t know that ‘over-reading’ is the word.

What F.A. Hayek saw, and what most all his contemporaries missed, was that every step away from the free market and toward government planning represented a compromise of human freedom generally and a step toward a form of dictatorship–and this is true in all times and places. He demonstrated this against every claim that government control was really only a means of increasing social well-being. Hayek said that government planning would make society less liveable, more brutal, more despotic. Socialism in all its forms is contrary to freedom.

Nazism, he wrote, is not different in kind from Communism. Further, he showed that the very forms of government that England and America were supposedly fighting abroad were being enacted at home, if under a different guise. Further steps down this road, he said, can only end in the abolition of effective liberty for everyone.

More interesting than that is the following, an authorized reduction of the Road to Serfdom to 18 cartoon panels.
http://mises.org/books/TRTS/

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socialrepublican 04.16.10 at 11:34 am

Jack

“Left-wing as a political party that strives to progressively empower the lower-status. – Right-wing as a political party that strives to repressively establish the higher-status.”

But this is fairly arbitary post-hoc balls. Bismarck’s welfare experiment, Stolypin’s land reform, Pitt’s income tax, Corrandini’s forced industrialisation or Hindenburg’s war state were conceived as programs loyal to a conservative or right radical spirit and dialectic. They were not “lets do a bit of tamworth tory here, a bit of socialism there” sprinkling. They were all designed to buttress and weather proof societies against wider change. Bismarck wasn’t emancipating the new working classes, he was depoliticising poverty, allowing the Junker/Burgher tacit alliance to continue uninterrupted. A bourgeois’ state run welfare program was not part of the pre-1914 program of the SPD, indeed it competed with the self organised and party affliated organisations that had been set up outside of government

Bear in mind, it was the Hindenburg “grey dictatorship” that informed the Lenin/Trotsky conception of what the Soviet state should look like, it was the first modern totalising state (Jacobin France, in comparison, was hopelessly decentralised and ad-hoc). Surely then, the whole politico-economic structure of the USSR and it’s various offshoots must be as conservative ideologically as Divine rights by your methodology.

If policies are merely interchangable tools, the ideological definitions of their various users can only be found by examining their goals, their world-view and their sought after historical ends. If policy X has been happily used by right wingers around the world since times immemorial but in the last forty years suddenly declaimed as intrinsically Bolshevik in one country, it is class A primo post-hoc balls. To claim that despite conservatives inventing many of these now objectionable policies, they were never right wing and indeed a negation of that is true and righty is laughable

Let say that your definition has some heuristic use, then Goldberg thesis’ still falls down. No political ideology has been more explicit proclaiming it’s inherent elitism than Fascism. The distain for the masses and the concentration of power around a chosen group of leaders is the entirity of fascism’s political science. This elite is depicted as eternal, a re-emergence of past elites, a continuity pre and post liberal era. There is no empowerment, merely a reversion of power from the Giliotto’s and Eberts to those who encompass the true leadership of the nation.

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foolish commentary from afar 04.17.10 at 3:57 am

The extremes of the left & right are the same thing: central planning, in actuality more akin to the left. Fascism & Communism are virtually identical: no property. This has ethical dimensions (cf John Locke’s ‘Letter Concerning Toleration’ for example) as well as consequential-ist wealth-creation arguments of great merit. Consider thus that the information exchanged via the market doesn’t reflect real world circumstances and how that poses a conundrum for the central-planners to achieve their goals is one logical and forceful argument that has been seen in theory & practice. Among others is the incentives put in place under different political climbs, hence leading to much elucidation of behavioral norms. Adam Smith takes as a starting point that people generally act in their own best interest. He doesn’t imagine a Utopian ideal. His explication of the spontaneous discovery of a steam valve is useful as a metaphor to the inherited, evolving circumstances that we utilize to better our station, and ultimately of others as well. From one perspective, that’s a broad decency enlightened on a perpetually suffering mass that’s trying to accomplish the right-things and his view of the attainability of such is a vast array of win/win scenarios that’s a compliment to the Human Race entire.

Hayek is muti-faceted and can be considered outside of a political milieu. His arguments span many bridges, one being the Matlhusian predicament of limited resources, akin to all living things, being bounded by humans — yet restricted via the loss of data via market-signals, i.e., the evolved language of trade.

He also wrote during a time of great push for grand political experiments, all necessarily influenced by their own characteristic evolution — which deems it distinct from any other, yet from these broad expanses of cause & effect, we attempt to converse on expected principles of what constitutes Law. The different facets of influence and how they comprise our station.

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S. Charusheela 04.17.10 at 6:23 pm

Apropos the discussion here, I strongly recommend Theodore Burzcak’s _Socialism After Hayek_ (Univ. of Michigan Press). With an openly socialist agenda, the book, written by a member of the Association of Economic and Social Analysis (AESA, which puts out Rethinking Marxism), won the 2007 Annual Prize in Austrian Economics (put out by the Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies, and presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics). No mean task to present a socialist agenda that engages the work of Austrians so thoroughly that they cannot but acknowledge your intellectual contributions, despite its social policy/political conclusions. How often do you see Peter Boettke, Warren Samuels, and Geoff Hodgson all heap praise on the same book?

(Disclosure: Ted was in grad school with me at UMass Amherst, and I am not only an active member of AESA, I currently act as Editor of RM).

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