The Hayek-Pinochet Connection: A Second Reply to My Critics

by Corey Robin on June 25, 2013

In my last post, I responded to three objections to my article “Nietzsche’s Marginal Children.” In this post I respond to a fourth regarding the connection between Friedrich von Hayek and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Though my comments on that connection took up a mere three sentences in my article, they’ve consumed an extraordinary amount of bandwidth among my libertarian critics. At Bleeding Hearts Libertarians, Kevin Vallier repeatedly accuses me of “smearing” Hayek with the Pinochet connection:

When Hayek was eighty he said that Pinochet was an improvement on Allende. This was a serious mistake in judgment, but it is not significant for Hayek’s body of work in any way. Why would it be?


Libertarian journalist Julian Sanchez says, “I don’t think anyone denies that was a grotesque mistake but…what? Hayek isn’t Jesus? Unsure why we’re supposed to care.” And again: “I mean, maybe Hayek was a shit human being. Let’s suppose. Still. Why do I care?”

While Sanchez and Vallier concede that Hayek was wrong on Pinochet, much of the libertarian commentariat at Bleeding Hearts do not. Here’s a representative remark:

I am now going to utter what some have been thinking: perhaps Hayek was right. 190 units of evil is better than 191 units of evil (if there were any such thing)….Let me affirm it loud and clear: Pinochet was better than Allende.


The claims of my libertarian critics boil down to these: The Pinochet connection is little more than Hayek saying Pinochet was better than Allende. That was a bad call (though some of these professors of liberty aren’t sure), but Hayek was 80 when he made it. His political judgment was clouded not by ideology but age. (Last summer, Vallier even broached the issue, in this context, of Hayek’s “important mental decline.”) So who cares? To raise the Pinochet connection is a smear, a smear so low I should be banned from Crooked Timber.

Let’s take these one at a time.

 

Hayek only said that Pinochet was better than Allende

This is absurd. The Hayek-Pinochet file is so extensive that I could only give it the barest mention in my Nation piece. Here’s the brief version of the story; all supporting evidence can be found in these five posts and the links therein.

Hayek first visited Pinochet’s Chile in 1977, when he was 78. Amnesty International had already provided him with ample evidence of Pinochet’s crimes—much to his annoyance—but he went anyway. He met with Pinochet and other government officials, who he described as “educated, reasonable, and insightful men.” According to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, Hayek

told reporters that he talked to Pinochet about the issue of limited democracy and representative government….He said that in his writings he showed that unlimited democracy does not work because it creates forces that in the end destroy democracy. He said that the head of state listened carefully and that he had asked him to provide him with the documents he had written on this issue.


Hayek complied with the dictator’s request. He had his secretary send a draft of what eventually became chapter 17—“A Model Constitution”—of the third volume of Law, Legislation and Liberty. That chapter includes a section on “Emergency Powers,” which defends temporary dictatorships when “the long-run preservation” of a free society is threatened. “Long run” is an elastic phrase, and by free society Hayek doesn’t mean liberal democracy. He has something more particular and peculiar in mind: “that the coercive powers of government are restricted to the enforcement of universal rules of just conduct, and cannot be used for the achievement of particular purposes.” That last phrase is doing a lot of the work here: Hayek believed, for example, that the effort to secure a specific distribution of wealth constituted the pursuit of a particular purpose. So the threats to a free society might not simply come from international or civil war. Nor must they be imminent. As other parts of the text make clear, those threats could just as likely come from creeping social democracy at home. If the visions of Gunnar Myrdal and John Kenneth Galbraith were realized, Hayek writes, it would produce “a wholly rigid economic structure which…only the force of some dictatorial power could break.”

Hayek came away from Chile convinced that an international propaganda campaign had been unfairly waged against the Pinochet regime (and made explicit comparison to the campaign being waged against South Africa’s apartheid regime). He set about to counter that campaign.

He immediately wrote a report lambasting human rights critics of the regime and sought to have it published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The editor of this market-friendly newspaper refused, fearing that it would brand Hayek as “a second Chile-Strauss.” (Franz Josef Strauss was a right-wing German politician who had visited Chile in 1977 and met with Pinochet. His views were roundly repudiated by both the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats in Germany.) Hayek was incensed. He broke off all relations with the paper, explaining that if Strauss had indeed been “attacked for his support for Chile he deserves to be congratulated for his courage.”

The following year, Hayek wrote to the London Times, “I have not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende.” (This is the statement that Vallier believes exhausts the contents of Hayek’s Pinochet file.)

In 1981, Hayek returned to Chile. The Pinochet regime had recently adopted a new constitution, which it named after The Constitution of Liberty. During this visit, El Mercurio interviewed him again and asked him what “opinion, in your view, should we have of dictatorships?” Demonstrating that he was fully aware of the dictatorial nature of the Pinochet regime, Hayek replied:

As long-term institutions, I am totally against dictatorships. But a dictatorship may be a necessary system for a transitional period. At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power. As you will understand, it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way. And it is also possible for a democracy to govern with a total lack of liberalism. Personally, I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking in liberalism. My personal impression…is that in Chile…we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government….during this transition it may be necessary to maintain certain dictatorial powers.


(The transition Hayek imagines here would not occur for another seven to eight years, over and against the wishes of the “liberal dictator” Pinochet.)

In a second interview with El Mercurio, Hayek again praised temporary dictatorships “as a means of establishing a stable democracy and liberty, clean of impurities” and defended the “Chilean miracle” for having broken, among other things, “trade union privileges of any kind.” In a separate interview not long after, he said the only totalitarian government in Latin America he could think of was “Chile under Allende.”

But Hayek’s greatest contribution to the Pinochet regime may well have been his effort to organize the 1981 convention of the Mont Pelerin Society that was held in Viña del Mar, the Chilean city where the coup against Allende had been planned. Hayek was in on the convention plan from the beginning. As early as 1978, he was working with Carlos Cáceres—a member of Pinochet’s Council of State and soon to be a high-ranking minister in the regime—on the schedule and financing of the conference. It turned out to be a spectacular propaganda coup for the regime. The backdrop of the conference, explained its official rapporteur, was the bad rap “the often maligned land of Chile” was getting in the international media. The conference made a point of providing its participants with an opportunity “for becoming better acquainted with the land which has had such consistently bad and misrepresenting press coverage.” Two hundred and thirty men and women—including James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and Milton and Rose Friedman—from 23 countries attended. Like pilgrims to the Soviet Union, they were treated to lavish displays of the wonders of their host country and were happily trotted out for interviews with the media.

After the convention, Hayek milked it for all that it was worth. When the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, for example, published a cartoon comparing Pinochet’s Chile to Jaruzelski’s Poland, he fired off an angry letter to the editor:

I cannot help but protest in the strongest possible terms against the cartoon on page 3 of your publication of the 30th of December equating the present governments of Poland and Chile. It can only be explained by complete ignorance of the facts or by the systematically promoted socialist calumnies of the present situation in Chile, which I had not expected the F.A.Z. to fall for.  I believe that all the participants in the Mont Pelerin Society conference held a few weeks ago in Chile would agree with me that you owe the Chilean government a humble apology for such twisting of the facts.  Any Pole lucky enough to escape to Chile could consider himself fortunate.


These were just some of Hayek’s actions and statements on behalf of Pinochet’s Chile over a five-year period. As the Hayek archives reveal, the regime was more than grateful for his efforts and repeatedly conveyed their thanks to him. As Cáceres wrote Hayek: “The press has given wide coverage to your opinions and I feel no doubt that your thoughts will be a clarifying stimmulous [sic] in the achievements of our purposes as a free country.”

 

This old man

Let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that the whole of Hayek’s contribution to the regime can be found in that letter to the Times, where he favorably compares Pinochet to Allende. That was in 1978, a mere two years after the publication of volume 2 of Law, Legislation and Liberty and a full year before the publication of volume 3. These books are generally recognized to be among Hayek’s greatest contributions to political theory. The notion that Hayek was sufficiently compos mentis to write these classics but not to understand what he was saying about Pinochet is risible.

 

The Pinochet connection has nothing to do with Hayek’s ideas

As Andrew Farrant, Edward McPhail, and Sebastian Berger document in their exhaustive treatment of the Pinochet connection, Hayek had a long-standing interest, pre-dating his engagement with Pinochet, in the idea of temporary dictators and strongmen. It is a running thread throughout his work, and more than a decade before his dance with Pinochet, Hayek took a turn with the Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar.

Even in Constitution of Liberty, which makes a powerful case for the evolutionary nature of rule formation, we get a glimpse of a Schmittian-type legislator stepping forth “to create conditions in which an orderly arrangement [of rules] can establish and ever renew itself.” That, Hayek says, is “the task of the lawgiver.” (Hayek sent the text to Salazar, perhaps with that very passage in mind.)

Again, Hayek did not imagine the dictator as simply a response to foreign attack or domestic insurrection; he was the antidote to the discretionary free-fall of a socialist state run amok. When a “government is in a situation of rupture,” Hayek told his Mercurio interviewer in 1981, “and there are no recognized rules, rules have to be created.”

But it is precisely on this notion of the dictator as a creator of rules that Hayek’s theory falters, for nothing in his notion of evolutionary rule formation seems to allow—or, more precisely, to account—for it. Though Hayek frequently speaks of this dictator, the strongman seems to be, almost literally, a miracle: an appearance from nowhere, with no background or context to explain it. Not unlike Schmitt’s notion of the decision or the exception—or, as Henry Farrell points out, the notion of innovation in standard economic models of equilibrium that Hayek, Schumpeter, and the other Austrians so chafed at.

One might say, I suppose, that Hayek failed to develop or account for this idea because it meant so little to him. But Farrant et al show that’s not the case. The more likely explanation is that it meant a great deal to him but that he wanted it to remain a miracle out of the whirlwind, or simply didn’t know how to reconcile it with his ideas about evolutionary rule formation. In either case, it was a circle he couldn’t square.

Hayek’s failure to grapple with what he was doing with dictators theoretical and actual is symptomatic of a larger problem: not his personal flaws—as libertarian Jesse Walker points out, Hayek was not the only libertarian to embrace Pinochet; Austrian economist and libertarian George Reisman called Pinochet “one of the most extraordinary dictators in history, a dictator who stood for major limits on the power of the state”—but the vexed relationship between capitalism and coercion, a relationship, as we’ve seen, libertarians have a difficult time coming to terms with.

Whether we call it primitive accumulation or the great transformation, we know that the creation of markets often require or are accompanied by a high degree of coercion. This is especially true of markets in labor. Men and women are not born wage laborers ready to contract with capital. Nor do they simply evolve into these positions over time. Wage laborers are often made—and remade—through violence, coercion, and force. Like the labor wars of the Gilded Age or the enclosure riots, Pinochet’s Chile was about the forcible creation, at lightning speed, of new markets in land and labor.

Hayek’s failure to fully come to terms with this reality—his idea of a good “liberal dictator” shows that he was more than aware of it; the fact that so little in his work on rule formation gives warrant to such an idea demonstrates the theoretical impasse in which he found himself—is why his engagement with Pinochet is so important. Not because it shows him to be a bad person but because it reveals the “steel frame,” as Schumpeter called it, of the market order, the unacknowledged relationship between operatic violence and doux commerce.

In his excellent post, Walker suggests that Hayek didn’t have to respond to Pinochet as he did. If that’s the case, the burden is on my critics to explain why he did—without resorting to “he was an old man” foolishness. But I wonder if Walker is right: not about markets but about the man. And here I circle back to the question of Hayek the theorist.

Given everything we know about Hayek—his horror of creeping socialism, his sense of the civilizational challenge it posed; his belief that great men impose their will upon society (“The conservative peasant, as much as anybody else, owes his way of life to a different type of person, to men who were innovators in their time and who by their innovations forced a new manner of living on people belonging to an earlier state of culture”); his notion of elite legislators (“If the majority were asked their opinion of all the changes involved in progress, they would probably want to prevent many of its necessary conditions and consequences and thus ultimately stop progress itself. I have yet to learn of an instance when the deliberate vote of the majority (as distinguished from the decision of some governing elite) has decided on such sacrifices in the interest of a better future”); and his sense of political theory and politics as an epic confrontation between the real and the yet-to-be-realized—perhaps the Pinochet question needs to be reframed. The issue is not “How could he have done what he did?” but “How could he not?”

 

So what? Who cares? Stop the smearing!

My response to the above claims should answer the “So what? Who cares?” question and set to rest the notion that I was smearing an old man. If anything I let him off easy.

{ 211 comments }

1

BruceJ 06.25.13 at 8:11 pm

All I can say is that the definition of “freedom” that prohibits workers from organizing to better their lot is quite possibly the most twisted and unrecognizable definition since Orwell’s “Freedom = Slavery”

On second thought, it is PRECISELY Orwells definition…

2

Aldous 06.25.13 at 8:44 pm

I trust you are as thorough unearthing and criticizing the entire *departments* of academia that hand wave away the carnage and suffering wrought by the plethora of nobly intentioned leftists of the 20th century?

3

John Quiggin 06.25.13 at 8:53 pm

An important element of Hayek, and of propertarian libertarianism in general, is that they “turn Mill on his head”. Mill says freedom of speech and thought are primary – his support for free markets (even before his late conversion to a kind of socialism) was contingent on the conclusion, derived from classical economics, that free markets worked better than any alternative.

By contrast, Hayek says free markets (freedom of action in his terms) are more important than free speech. Hence (this is my inference, but consistent with his writings on the two) Pinochet is better than, say, the British Labour Party.

Also, Mill was alive to the dangers of non-state restrictions on free speech, such as those arising from intolerant public opinion. By contrast, propertarians are entirely happy with bosses firing workers whose politics they don’t like and so on.

4

Corey Robin 06.25.13 at 9:02 pm

John at 3: This statement of Hayek, from a separate letter he wrote to the Times on 7/11/78, doesn’t support your exact formulation of his position but it gets us some of the way there: “If Mrs. Thatcher said that free choice is to be exercised more in the market place than in the ballot box, she has merely uttered the truism that the first is indispensable for individual freedom, while the second is not.”

5

The Narrator 06.25.13 at 10:21 pm

Corey wrote: “To raise the Pinochet connection is a smear, a smear so low I should be banned from Crooked Timber”

For what it’s worth, I don’t think that the person (Jason Brennan) who suggested to Chris Bertram that you be kicked off this blog (CT) suggested that because of what you said about Hayek and Pinochet.

Brennan wrote: “Chris, you should really consider kicking Robin off the blog. I’m not convinced that he’s not just pulling some sort of extended Sokal Hoax on the pseudo-intellectual Left. [...] Corey’s “work” (sic) is bad and he should feel bad. [...] N.b., I’m not just saying it’s bad in the way that first-year undergraduate essays aren’t up to snuff. I mean that Corey is intellectually corrupt.”

So Brennan’s not referring to the Pinochet stuff (although his comment was in the ‘thread’ about that stuff) when he is saying that you should be kicked off CT. The reason he suggested you be kicked off CT was that he thought your article was so bad and you so intellectually corrupt that it and you basically amount to a reductio ad absurdum of the pseudo-intellectual Left. And that as a consequence your presence on CT doesn’t reflect well on CT.

I think that this is what Brennan meant, but I’m not sure.

6

Martin Connelly 06.25.13 at 11:05 pm

A great post – and “yes” you let him off far to easy.

7

Ben A 06.26.13 at 1:05 am

The Narrator’s interpretation seems correct to me. Here’s the link:

http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2013/05/on-robins-tenuous-connection-between-nietzsche-and-hayek/#comment-896485171

Here are three propositions:
1. Libertarianism is lacking as a political philosophy
2. Hayek was wrong to say Pinochet was an improvement on Allende
3. Robin’s essay, and his work as a whole, is of extremely poor quality. So poor that CT should be embarrassed to host it.

These can be held simultaneously. Brennan appears to hold 2 and 3.

8

MPAVictoria 06.26.13 at 1:07 am

“If Mrs. Thatcher said that free choice is to be exercised more in the market place than in the ballot box, she has merely uttered the truism that the first is indispensable for individual freedom, while the second is not.”

Christ what an asshole.

9

Lee A. Arnold 06.26.13 at 2:21 am

Well this settles it. Nietzsche would have deplored Hayek, a grocery clerk ushering the slaves into line, to be an elitist about it.

10

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 3:33 am

The founder of Planned Parenthood gave speeches to the KKK about the racial benefits of contraception. Therefore she believed that Nietzsche was a God?

If you said that the one has very little to do with the other, you’d be right.

Your conclusions don’t follow from your premises, so lots of time spent defending your factual premises don’t lend anything helpful to your conclusions.

11

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 3:36 am

Oh Oh Oh, and leftists supported communism in the 1930s so we shouldn’t listen to anything they say ever. Right?

12

David 06.26.13 at 3:43 am

What is wrong with communism?

13

Lee A. Arnold 06.26.13 at 4:08 am

“the one has very little to do with the other”

I am not so sure of that. H. may have taken inspiration from N. But I think the N. would have repudiated him. H. is a little too cut and dried for N. Would N. have gone along with the decisiveness of market outcomes in judging worth and character? I think N. might have sided with Victor Jara instead.

14

adam.smith 06.26.13 at 4:14 am

Sebastian H -
a) try reading before commenting
b) when we read leftist thinkers who aligned themselves with, e.g., Stalin or Mao we should – must! – of course question how their theoretical views related to their support of murderous dictators. I think it would be crazy not to and it’s routinely done.

15

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 4:17 am

“[Hayek's] idea of a good “liberal dictator” shows that he was more than aware of it; the fact that so little in his work on rule formation gives warrant to such an idea demonstrates the theoretical impasse in which he found himself”

Alternatively, it demonstrates that Corey Robin’s argument is shit — that there is no coherent deduction of a theory of the “good temporary dictator” from a general theory of evolutionary rule formation and from a theory that is deeply suspicious of arbitrary government decree.

Murray Rothbard, who in many ways was much more radically right-wing than Hayek, had no problem whatsoever with denouncing Pinochet:

“In seeming contrast to Portugal’s left-wing military dictatorship,
Chile’s right-wing military despotism was born, in the fall of 1973, in a
revolutionary’ coup against Allende’s Marxist regime. Part of that
overthrow was a genuine popular revolution – especially, the revolt of
the self-employed truckers and other middle-class groups against the
statism and runaway inflation suffered under Allende. But the major
faction that engineered the coup – the armed forces, with the help, it now
turns out. of the CIA – simply proceeded to continue all the worst
features of the old regime, and to add to it a systematic use of massive
torture against dissidents and political prisoners. After nearly two years
in office, Chile still suffers from nationalization and controls – and from
a staggering runaway inflation rate of nearly 400% per year.
Unemployment ranges from 13 to over 26’70, the armed forces enjoy
nearly half the national budget. and foreign investments have not really
materialized. Moreover, military officers are in charge of all high
schools and colleges, the teaching of all “conflictive subjects” is
prohibited, and a compulsory nightly curfew is still in effect.

[...]
Again, the major lesson of the Chilean tragedy should be clear. Once
again, a right-wing dictatorship has simply taken over the pernicious
institutions created by a previous left-wing dictatorship. Right and left
are brothers under the skin. Once again, massive U.S. foreign aid
(supplemented this time by CIA) has only succeeded in strengthening the
yoke of despotism upon a foreign land. And, finally, once again we see the
absurdity of expecting victories for liberty in a land where no libertarians
or classical liberals exist.
[...]

The lessons of India, Portugal, and Chile, in short, are the same lessons
as those offered by the debacle of American policy in Southeast Asia. The
United States must cease its interventions and meddling in foreign lands;
interventionism is not only immoral and aggressive; it doesn’t work. We
must regain liberty at home, end all interventions in other countries, and
return to the historic, forgotten “foreign policy” of serving as an
example and a beacon-light of liberty to the rest of the suffering and strife-
torn world. “

16

John Quiggin 06.26.13 at 4:31 am

@Alex K. I think you meant to write “Corey Robin’s argument is entirely correct – that there is no coherent deduction …”. Your statement is, after all a close paraphrase of Corey’s and is supported by the observation that Rothbard, who had similar general ideas to Hayek, nevertheless denounced Pinochet.

To complicate things further, i think there is in fact a coherent deduction from Hayek’s general position to support for dictatorship. If you downplay rationality in politics as completely as Hayek does, you undermine much of Mill’s case for free speech and for liberal (in the Millian sense) democracy. If you add in the empirical assumption (held by Hayek but not by Rothbard) that (some kinds of) dictators are more likely to support free markets than are democratic electorates, you get the desired conclusion.

17

bad Jim 06.26.13 at 5:03 am

Margaret Sanger eventually changed her mind about eugenics. Hayek’s late embrace of dictatorship doesn’t present a comparable intellectual evolution.

18

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 5:10 am

@John Quiggin

If support for the “good temporary dictator” is not a coherent deduction from Hayek’s general thought about the evolutionary nature of rules then Hayek’s support for Pinochet (and for the “good temporary dictator”) is just trivia that’s irrelevant to any political discussion (It’s just history of political thought, like trivia about Keynes’s claims that he finds women’s thoughts repulsive). But I doubt that that’s what Corey Robin is arguing.

I don’t really find your arguments about free speech very convincing. The US Constitution is essentially an anti-democratic document — and yet it guarantees free speech, protecting it even from democratic votes against freedom of expression. Support for freedom of speech is not subordinate to the support for democracy — it is a norm that can be supported regardless of whether it helps or hurts democratic processes.

19

Phil 06.26.13 at 5:46 am

Alex – I think you’re confusing the categories “inconsistency” and “trivial inconsistency”. If you think Hayek’s enthusiasm for Pinochet was trivial, the case has to be made.

20

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 6:21 am

Let me get it straight, the fact that Hayek made extensive apologies and excuses to something that in principle doesnt follow from the rest of his theory, but he felt so strongly about as to write it several times and inform his choice of which causes to support and which not, means that focusing on that is irrelevant as a critique of Hayek’s theory?

Dunno, it seems to me that he was very willing to deploy all that wonderful theory AS SUPPORT of the “unrelated” bit. And travel the world singing the theoretical praises for a regime of murderous thugs. Which kind of says to me it was, in fact, an important part of his view of the world.

21

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 6:22 am

Or, you know, the same kind of bullshit that makes many of us whince at the left intelectuals of the XX (and XXI? century).

22

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 6:22 am

Adam smith: this debate is about the alleged connection between Hayek and Nietzsche regarding Corey’s “Nietzsche’s Marginal Children”. Due to inconveniences of time, they never met. Inconveniently they also didn’t talk about each other. Pinochet is a double bank shot in that overall argument.

Thinkers tend to get over-enamoured with their own insights at the expense of other insights. I find it not at all troubling to conceive that Hayek’s insight that property and market freedoms are much more valuable than the near zero value assigned by the leftists he argued against really is important, without needing to believe that they are far more important than political freedom issues like speech.

Similarly I can believe that Marx’s critique of capitalism hits some important points while also believing that his conception of what should replace it is ridiculously naive about how power relations exist outside money structures.

Corey’s project appears to be to tar all libertarian insights with the dismissive label of fascism. That would be bad enough, but his method is by trying to link them through second and third order guilt associations to a philosopher they rarely if ever talk about.

23

Royton De'Ath 06.26.13 at 6:29 am

If one point stands out very clearly: some of this discussion, the point of the post, is not “irrelevant trivia”. The only thing that comes through as trivial is the picking away at particular phrases and words used by CR; what exactly does that achieve?

Hayek sucked up to Pinochet for a sound reason; Pinochet, may he rot, was a material expression of “Hayekian Thought”. Frankly, it doesn’t make a hot-damn of difference whether Hayek was old, who the hell was the real influence in Austrian economics, or whether this action reflects just a small part of his “output”, or whatever; Pinochet’s reforms were/are material expressions of a nasty line of human thought that people actually had to live with, and suffer under, and die because of. No chance of dilettantism, intellectual flexing of rippling cleverness, for them about who said what, or the actual roots of this, that or the other thing; all of which has the meaning, at the heart of their everyday lives, three-fifths of five-eighths of sweet FA.

Brennan, Vallier and the like ought to be ashamed of themselves; why not trade places with the people on the other side of the pernicious f…g s..t that Vallier and the like so ably “support”. I’m talking about the side, the people, that weren’t privileged by the so-called “liberation” of Pinochet’s “actions” and Hayek’s “thought”. But that won’t happen. Will it?

Corey Robin is, has been, writing about the effects of privilege and entitlement and the roots, structure and mechanisms of it; he had/has the balls to put some ideas about it out there in the world, and in this instance caused a bit of a sniffle for a few entitled people who ought to know better. Good on you, CR.

The commentary on CT and on other sites about CR’s essay and rebuttals has been like wading through mud. So what if there’s any sort of link from Nietzsche to Hayek or not? Who cares? Really! Here’s what we know. There was a clear link between Hayek and Pinochet.

‘But. But. Hayek was old! He didn’t mean it! He was misunderstood! Look at what he wrote!’ Hayek’s actions tell us all we need to know about the man, and these people, these Clever Commenters (Vallier and his ilk) are defending the indefensible, the unconscionable. Let’s face it. Hayek, in supporting Pinochet, stank to high heaven. At his age he ought to have known better; no excuses of innocence or naivety or lack of sophistication for him. ‘But. But. Look at Stalin and support for him’. Yes. Stalin stank to high heaven, too. That fact lets no-one off the hook.

If Hayek is/was not a fascist, in the way fascism is understood by ordinary people by its elevation, to a “political philosophy”, of violence, egomania, duplicity, control, subjugation, repression, dumb-support and intellectual incoherence, then he’s doing a damn fine impression of one, by sucking up to someone who was using more than a few tunes out of the fascist playbook. None of that is Trivial.

24

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 6:39 am

Bad Jim, I hadn’t heard that Sanger renounced eugenics? Can you give some information about that?

Back to the main topic, an excellent critique of Corey’s mode of analysis can be found at CrookedTimber itself. Corey shares an “elective affinity” with the analysis style of Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism”. In fact if you turn it into a book you could call it “Libertarian Fascism” and get amazon to crossmarket!

This was well discussed by John Holbo here:

There are two reasons why ad hitlerem arguments tend to be rude and crude. (Everyone knows Godwin’s Law is law. Here’s why, more or less.) First, the Holocaust. It’s pretty obvious how always dragging that in is not necessarily clarifying of every little dispute. Second, a little less obviously, ad hitlerem arguments are invariably arguments by moral analogy. Person A espouses value B. But the Nazis approved B. Not that person A is necessarily a Nazi but there must be something morally perilous about B, if espousing it is consistent with turning all Nazi. The trouble is: with few exceptions, the Nazis had all our values – at least nominally. They approved of life, liberty, justice, happiness, property, motherhood, society, culture, art, science, church, duty, devotion, loyalty, courage, fidelity, prudence, boldness, vision, veneration for tradition, respect for reason. They didn’t reject all that; they perverted it; preached but didn’t practice, or practiced horribly. Which goes to show there is pretty much no value immune from being paid mere lip-service; nominally maintained but substantively subverted. Which, come to think of it, isn’t surprising. How could a list of ‘success’ words guarantee success, after all?

If I believe it is important to be moral, it hardly follows that I am immoral, just because the fascists believed it was important to be moral – which they did. On some level. Wash. rinse. repeat.

Replace “Person A” with “Libertarian” and “Nazi” with ummmm “Nazi” and you have Corey’s first post on the subject.

Holbo continues, almost presciently speaking about Corey’s argument:

This problem crops up in other, slightly less unserious contexts. Sometimes people try to argue that the Enlightenment was a terrible thing, because – look! – it led straight to the Nazis. Sometimes people try to show the counter-Enlightenment (irrationalism, romanticism) was a terrible thing, because – look! – it led straight to the Nazis. They’re both right. What doesn’t follow is that you need to take a stand against the legacy of Enlightenment, or on behalf of that legacy, to ward off moral monstrosity. Saying you believe in the great good of science and technology will not inherently preserve you from that. Nor will saying you think art is nobler than science and technology. You can screw it all up either way. Or both. Why not? The Nazis did.

Of course you can solve this little problem by not specifying values at an unhelpfully abstract, vague or sloganeering level. Still, it is a rather common fallacy that I think has no recognized name: to think that something that can be believed in a really screwed up way must be inherently screwed up in some way. Maybe it could be the abuse-mention distinction, or something like that.

At any rate, the problem with the ad hitlerem is that it is both trivially false (since your interlocutor is rarely a rabid, anti-semitic exterminationist); and trivially true: nominally – at some very general level of description – your interlocutor is almost sure to share a whole range of values with the Nazis.

Now maybe it really is true that believing in the good of the market means you have to end up supporting Pinochet. And maybe it really is true that being concerned about the market means you have to end up supporting Stalin.

But I doubt it. Maybe we can take the useful critiques and discard the crap.

25

John Quiggin 06.26.13 at 6:53 am

@Alex K I agree that free speech and democracy are logically separate. My point is that Hayek didn’t support either of them, at least to the extent that they were likely to conflict with free markets.

@Sebastian “I find it not at all troubling to conceive that Hayek’s insight that property and market freedoms are much more valuable than the near zero value assigned by the leftists he argued against really is important, without needing to believe that they are far more important than political freedom issues like speech. ” I agree that you don’t need to believe it, but Hayek did. See the quotes here
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/09/the-daily-hayek.php

Similarly, and more obviously, the fact that free-market beliefs don’t necessarily imply support for Pinochet doesn’t change the fact that Hayek did support both free markets and Pinochet, very actively, and linked the two directly.

26

Colin Danby 06.26.13 at 6:55 am

Farrant, McPhail and Berger are instructive re Hayek and South Africa as well. Younger readers may not realize how much active enthusiasm and support the Chilean and South African regimes evoked in right-wing circles in the late 1970s. They were seen as the front lines in the global war on communism, tough governments unafraid to to take needed measures. Folks who made these arguments were openly contemptuous of democratic rule … a point which returns with a certain painful immediacy given today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision.

FWIW, I have no problem affirming that Hayek was a genius, one of the major social thinkers of the 20th century and absolutely worth reading. This is why Brad de L’s framing over at his blog is smart: it tells you something interesting about Plato that he was attracted to Dion. It doesn’t mean you don’t read Plato, but it does mean you reflect on the ways intellectuals get drawn by powerful people who seek their advice.

27

reason 06.26.13 at 8:05 am

BruceJ @1
Bruce,
you are looking at that completely the wrong way. First you need to turn it about so:
slavery = freedom
Then let me fill in the missing words:
YOUR slavery is MY freedom TO DO WHAT I LIKE WITH YOU.

There – now the meaning is clear, and that it is true as well.

28

Frederick Guy 06.26.13 at 9:26 am

The Hayek excerpts from The Constitution of Liberty (1960), linked by John Q @ 24, not only show the priority Hayek gives free exchange over free speech, but they show the foundation of sand on which this view is so carefully built. He sees discovery as entirely based on individual actions (in the market and elsewhere), with communication (speech) as a distinct process which comes after discovery. There is no room here for collaborative discovery, for any kind of division of labor in the process of discovery. (The excerpt John Q links to is on Powerline, and is meant to lead us to support Hayek.)

You’ll see the same thing in The Use of Knowledge in Society (1945), where Hayek pits central planning against individuals making use of local knowledge: the tool he uses to explain that individuals acting independently make better use of knowledge than central planners, must also (though he neglects to mention this corollary) “explain” that an individual acting independently in the market must make better use of knowledge than they would within any organization – a large firm, a middle-sized firm, a university, the post office (local knowledge: always better than ZIP codes).

We’re accustomed to critiquing Hayek’s antipathy to things collective in the political realm (“he believes in liberty, but not the liberty of workers to act collectively”), but there’s more involved here than his evident animus towards the organized lower orders: he doesn’t seem to understand the collective aspect of discovery at all. To anybody who knows anything about the processes of discovery in organizations or networks, this looks just clueless.

29

Ben 06.26.13 at 10:26 am

You didn’t address the substantive point, that maybe Pinochet was better than Allende, or at least that holding the idea is not crazy and doesn’t prove that ideology has poisoned your judgement.

Of course both ways the argument relies on a counterfactual – we never got to see how Allende would have played out. But we did see Castro, we did see the Shining Path, we did see eastern Europe*, and we did see an awful lot of other things the Left prefers to gloss over.

So it must be possible that Pinochet was better than Allende would have been, and a reasonable person must concede that to think so may be wrong, but isn’t crazy.

If the worst smear you can come up with is that Hayek genuinely shared a view of Pinochet and Allende which is held by many people who aren’t committed to a collectivist ideology, that’s pretty thin stuff.

*(“Any Pole lucky enough to escape to Chile could consider himself fortunate.” Do you actually disagree with that? Really really?)

30

Ben Nader 06.26.13 at 10:31 am

Frederick Guy.

I think you’re being uncharitable. “The Use of Knowledge in Society” is clearly, clearly (!) about collaborative discovery and information transmission. It’s just that people work together through the price system. And if you combine him with Coase’s “The Nature of the Firm” you get why people would group together in organisations like firms and unions.

A separate point, on unions, again I think you’re being uncharitable to Hayek. He came from an era when unions undoubtedly rode roughshod over lots of the rights he did hold dear (contract, property). So while his theory surely provides for free association—including peaceful unionism—it’s just that in practice the unions he came up against all seemed consistently to oppose the sort of liberal society he favoured. It’s perfectly fine to attack his vision of liberalism, but I think it’s unfair to take his view on unions out of context.

Thirdly, and more generally, isn’t it entirely obvious that good non-democratic government is better than bad democratic government? The question is whether non-democratic governments are in fact better than democratic governments—which seems highly questionable, including in this particular case. But I think Hayek’s clearly right that we’d want a truly liberal dictator over a dictatorial democracy. [Insert own definition of desirable liberalism].

31

Ronan(rf) 06.26.13 at 10:46 am

“You didn’t address the substantive point, that maybe Pinochet was better than Allende, or at least that holding the idea is not crazy and doesn’t prove that ideology has poisoned your judgement. “

I dont really want to say anything on this point, as there are people here much, much more qualified than me to deal with your point, but you really should read Tanya Harmers book Allendes Chile and the Inter American Cold War which deals with this, and does have a ‘balanced’ take on the US role in the coup, and *doesnt* romanticise Cuba or Allende, but pretty conclusively shows that Pinochet was worse than Allende was going to be
Just as an addendum, and moving on a bit from Chile but relatedly, does anyone know anything about how these economic reform programs were implemented in other authoritarian regimes (primarily the Middle East, such as Egypt and Syria in the 80s) and have any reading recs on the topic?

32

Frederick Guy 06.26.13 at 10:48 am

@Ben 29: The argument you’re describing as not proving that ideology has poisoned your judgement seems to add up to this: “any socialism in any setting is a slippery slope to Leninism, and any assertion of the right to choose socialism democratically should be met with the violent abrogation of that right”.

Slopes can be slippery, but the evidence-free assertion of slipperyness towards a certain outcome is indeed a sign that ideology has poisoned one’s judgement: for every slippery slope I can show you a golden mean. You cite Castro, the Shining Path, and communist Poland, but of course none of those was a democratically elected government operating within a constitutional framework. Were all the postwar welfare states of Europe on a slippery slope to Leninism?

33

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 10:50 am

Of course there is the small detail that Allende was elected, and his goverment had democratic legitimacy.

But hey, when superlegislators above good and evil appear to save you from yourself, your democratic role is to shut up and praise them. Even when they are disappearing you for the crimes you didnt even got the time to commit.

34

John Quiggin 06.26.13 at 10:50 am

Sebastian and Alex – the Bens seem to be a bit of a problem for you, unless you want to make the implausible that they are highly unrepresentative of rightwing thought. Pretty clearly, the correlation between support for Hayek and support for dictatorship is well above zero.

35

Z 06.26.13 at 11:02 am

Replace “Person A” with “Libertarian” and “Nazi” with ummmm “Nazi” and you have Corey’s first post on the subject.

In what world is an intellectual history of the similarities between the moral philosophy underpinning Austrian economics and Nietzsche’s philosophy correctly summed up as: Libertarian espouse some values which were also espoused by Nazis, so Libertarians are Nazis? I think you should really take an hour or so of your time and read Corey Robin’s essay before commenting on these threads Sebastian H, this is becoming embarrassing.

Now maybe it really is true that believing in the good of the market means you have to end up supporting Pinochet

All Corey Robin pointed out is that Hayek thought free markets were the essential component of freedom and that he thought short-time dictatorships governing liberally (where short time seems to include a decade at least and governing liberally is fully compatible with summarily executing thousands of citizens and torturing thousands more) were sometimes necessary to preserve this essential component of freedom. And he provided extensive documentation of that fact.

36

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 11:23 am

Can someone please substantiate the claim that Hayek was opposed to free speech?

The quote John Q. provides is not even close to showing anything of the kind. There Hayek calls free speech “the crowning part of an edifice” in a text that tries to show that freedom of action is also a crucial aspect of freedom.

It takes a special kind of mental gymnastics to twist this into lukewarm support for free speech.

37

Frederick Guy 06.26.13 at 11:45 am

@Ben 30: Well, yes, working together through the price system is one way of working together, but it is a rather arm’s length way of working together. A lot of discovery – whether the daily discovery of costs, or innovation and scientific discovery, occurs through non-market relationships, such as those within firms.

The reason it’s useful to combine Hayek with Coase on this point is that Coase is willing to look at how people work together: he understands something about the costs and benefits of both organizations and markets. You need to do this combining not because Hayek was talking about something else so you must add Coase to complete the picture, but because Hayek’s attachment to individualism is so extreme that he will not or cannot go there. That’s what the Constitution of Liberty excerpt makes so clear: for Hayek, the right to communicate is less important than the right to act *because* discovery takes place through individual action, period.

Institutions – including but not limited to corporations, the soul-deadening bureaucracies of Leviathan, work teams within either of the preceding, universities, and networks of individuals – facilitate discovery by establishing specialized languages, heuristics, and information systems; by identifying problems; by engendering trust; and, generally, by facilitating localized non-market divisions of labor within which people can contribute to solving one problem or another. Communication is happening all the time within these settings, and is at least as much *part* of the discovery process as it is a follow-up for disseminating the results of that process. If you were to forbid communication about the development of a computer operating system, you would be forbidding the development itself, because it doesn’t happen inside the head of any one individual. And I can’t even imagine why discovery would be either distinct from, or more important than, communication in the case of a work of art of an understanding of the political situation.

On your second point, I won’t go into weighing the violence of employers & the state against the violence of unions, but I’m sure others here will.

38

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 12:31 pm

And considering Hayek put Pinochet as an example of that “liberal dictator” we can safely deduce that he was either an idiot or his definition of “liberal” was not precisely compatible with small things like human rights.

39

Barry 06.26.13 at 12:55 pm

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 3:36 am
“Oh Oh Oh, and leftists supported communism in the 1930s so we shouldn’t listen to anything they say ever. Right?”

Go to that BHL thread and see, real, existing support for Pinochet.

40

Ben 06.26.13 at 1:17 pm

@Frederick Guy 32, You are putting words into my mouth.

As for “Democratically elected”, well, yes he was, but so was Robert Mugabe. That’s not a definitive trump card: What did he do next? Arguably the people chose socialism, within the constitutional framework of limited powers, but as he stepped outside that framework, put his brownshirts on the street, expropriated land, and essentially began to behave rather like Castro (and the later Mugabe) many people concluded he was going to continue down that path. Perhaps he wasn’t. But it isn’t a crazy belief.

The question isn’t about being allowed to “choose socialism”. It’s about voting for Lloyd George and getting Lenin. It’s about being allowed to try a little bit of socialism and finding out you got a whole lot more than you bargained for. It’s about choosing socialism, but then being allowed to change your mind when it goes wrong.

41

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 1:27 pm

No, Mr. Ben, is about not voting for Pinochet and getting more 2000 people dead and most of them disappeared without trace and some 30000 tortured. And to try to sell that as a “good government of a liberal dictatorship” because Allende could have been “worse”.

Or not. We will never know, because some group of thugs decided to make the “liberal” argument of indiscriminate killings without a day in court as a way to “save” the country from their fears of losing power.

Frankly, is as repugnant to read defenses of Pinochet as is to read defenses of Stalin. And as morally bankrupt.

42

Consumatopia 06.26.13 at 1:29 pm

Once you put economic freedom on the same scale as freedom of speech, you’re already on a dangerous path. It could be necessary to have a little bit of vote-rigging, censorship, and disappearances to avoid nationalization of key industries, large increases in taxation, expensive public works projects, or industrial policy.

And the same mistake could be made on the left–weighing the freedom granted to the poor by redistribution against civil liberties. Modest infringements on civil liberties might be necessary to enact a redistribution program that you believe to be very important.

People making either of these mistakes wouldn’t accept Knight and Johnson’s argument in The Priority of Democracy that democracy is the best second-order system for deciding on a first order system (markets or bureaucrats). (At least I think that was the argument, sorry, didn’t read the actual book, just the seminar here) . And, indeed, a large portion of Hayek’s political work seemed to be worried that democracy would make this second-order choice incorrectly.

Hayek’s skepticism of any sort of public decision making that wasn’t built on, or at least bounded by, price signals was so strong that it’s hard to see how Hayek could have put much stock in democracy’s ability to make any decision, of any order, correctly. And he, like many libertarians, was blind to the coercion associated with the marketplace–the market offered maximum freedom, any sort of planning could only decrease freedom. If the second-order choice between markets and bureaucrats is both extremely important and one-sided, and if democracy has no special higher-order priority–it’s on the same scale as other kinds of freedom–then there’s no reason for Hayek to support a democracy when it makes the wrong second-order choice by displacing markets with bureaucrats.

This is not a case of Hayek making a personal mistake or having his judgment clouded by some historical prejudice. A combination of some of the ideas that Hayek put forward, that are still held by some libertarians, led him to support Pinochet.

Nietzsche has nothing to do with it. Robin mentioned Hayek-Pinochet briefly when talking about Hayek-Nietzsche, but you don’t need Nietzsche to make a connection between Hayek and Pinochet, and it’s clear from responses to Robin that connecting Hayek and Pinochet offends libertarians enough with or without Nietzsche. Thus, Sebastien is wrong @22 to say “this debate is about the alleged connection between Hayek and Nietzsche regarding Corey’s ‘Nietzsche’s Marginal Children'”–Hayek-Pinochet and Hayek-Nietzsche are two different debates.

This is why there is something fundamentally confused about the charge that Robin is connecting Nietzche to Hayek in order to smear Hayek. Hayek’s elitism and suspicion of democracy are well-established. From the left’s perspective, the moral case against Hayek is complete. The point of the Nietzsche/”elective affinities” argument isn’t that Hayek supported some terrible ideas, policies and leaders, but to explain why he did so. If you deny that Hayek had some bad ideas, fine, but you might still think there’s something to the Nietzsche/affinities stuff.

43

Frederick Guy 06.26.13 at 1:42 pm

@Ben 32: I’m not putting words in anybody’s mouth – what I put in quotation marks is my interpretation of your argument. You mention Shining Path and I have to say, wow, how does he get from Popular Unity to Shining Path… must be a pretty slippery slope!

44

Tim Wilkinson 06.26.13 at 1:44 pm

All the stuff about ‘the evolutionary nature of rules’ is pure bullshit.

Hayek clearly approved of Pinochet, whom he considered to have implemented the correct free market system. He equally obviously regarded the possibility that the will of the unwashed demos might be implemented as a threat to his cherished elite freedoms. This much is obvious. ‘But ‘ comes the reply, ‘we don’t have to follow Hayek, Thatcher, Reagan, etc. in that view – and actually it’s a perversion of the true Hayekian System, because of some stuff about ‘the evolutionary nature of rules’.

The answer pretty obviously is that the evolutionary nature of rules stuff is a side-issue, which is poorly argued, demonstrably false where falsifiable at all, and motivated by the desire to find a post-theological (if not really post-Hegelian) creation narrative for these libertarian Natural rights that trump everything else, and especially the intentional action of democratic governments.

It’s a standard romantic conservative move, to cite some nebulous irrationalist idea about the wisdom of ages and hallowed tradition and all the rest of it – but it is utter bollocks, and if any of our Hayekian friends would like to try and defend it, please do go ahead. You can start by formulating it, and we’ll go from there.

To follow Consumatopia’s allusion, the ‘natural emergence’ stuff, if it were to have bite, would need to privilege this second order mechanism on the basis of general considerations, and be willing to let the first-order system fall where it may. But in fact, it’s quite clear that Hayek’s concern was with implementing and if possible entrenching his preferred (first-order) system of property rights, and not with any particular (second order) way of getting to them – the deus ex machina of a coincidentally just dictatorship, an accident of democracy, or this supposed ‘evolutionary’ emergence of the good and true political morality were all fine as routes to his preferred regime.

The stuff about evolutionary development is expounded in ch. 4 of The Constitution of Liberty, entitled ‘Freedom, Reason, and Tradition’. This consists of 1. the bald assertion that the English common law embodies freedom (i.e. Hayek’s preferred system), 2. some dribblingly simplistic and schematic potted intellectual history about the English system being empirical and evolutionary where the French system is utopian and arrogantly rationalistic. No detail is given about this magical ‘evolutionary’ emergence of a capitalist legal order, of course – we are just to suppose that it occurred. And no substantial theory connecting the two supposed phenomena is put forward. It’s pellucidly evident from the exposition that the decisive factor is 1, with 2 being an additional bit of rhetoric aimed at feeding into Hayeks’ wider rhetoric about natural emergence and decentralisation and all that gubbins.

Just to be clear: we may observe that Hayek’s hyperbolic mistrust of the ability of ‘reason’ to design social institutions doesn’t extend to his own writings. Hayek actually states clearly that the ideal system of liberty has already ‘emerged’ – and, it seems, started to recede due to later developments influenced by the ‘French’ rationalists – which presumably don’t count as part of ‘evolution’. The true constitution of liberty having once been revealed is, however, recognisable as obviously correct (there is something rather theological about all this) – so of course Pinochet can step in and impose that system.

All that remains is to notice that Hayek subsequently, and at great length, propounds a tendentious conception of the Rule of Law which is adamantly opposed to democratic redistribution but explicitly downplays the importance of the civil liberties and ‘procedural safeguards’ that any competent jurist understands as the core of the rule of law, and that he also states that ‘suspension’ of these core liberties may be justified in the interests of protecting Hayek’s eccentric conception of liberty – i.e. property privileges.

So suggesting that Hayek’s support for Pinochet was in some way an aberration that should be stricken from the record is just rubbish. If anything, it’s consonant with the appeal to aristocratic elitism that pervades Hayek’s defence of privilege that the Chilean upper classes should be the ones to institute the Constitution of Liberty.

And this too is no mere idiosyncracy on Hayek’s part – the formation of a ruling class, a dominant protection agency, a bunch of Wilt Chamberlain millionaire monopolists, is an inevitable consequence of the proprietarian position, and Hayek is at least honest enough to recognise this, and to see the need to justify it with something a tiny bit more substantial than Nozick’s ‘who could object to any one of the transactions that lead there?’ – which apart from anything else is pretty ironic given the rhetorical stress placed by Libertarians on the emergent patterns delivered by the Invisible Hand.

45

Ben 06.26.13 at 1:44 pm

@Jesús Couto Fandiño 41

OK the closest I have got to “defending” Pinochet is to say: A reasonable person might reasonably conclude that he was not as bad as Allende would have been. Certainly I wish he had been better than he was – but I wish that about Allende also.

You and I don’t have to choose between Pinochet and Allende – we can say “A plague on both your houses”. This is possible for us only because the events are safely in history. We can say that about the main sides in today’s Syrian civil war, because it is far away. People in Chile at the time did not have that luxury, just as they do not in Syria today. They did not know in advance what Pinochet would do. We will never know what Allende would have done. It will never be possible to say which choice was “least worst”.

Sometimes there are no good choices. But sometimes we have to choose anyway.

46

Frederick Guy 06.26.13 at 1:46 pm

I mean, @ Ben40.

47

Tim Wilkinson 06.26.13 at 1:50 pm

in the interests of protecting Hayek’s eccentric conception of liberty
s/b
in the interests of promoting ‘liberty’ as Hayek eccentrically conceives it

48

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 1:55 pm

@45 What you dont seem to grasp is that, barring a development that never got to play or see, Allende could have been the worst president of Chile and would STILL be the legal, democratically elected government of the nation, thus legitimated to implement the reforms that he saw fit. Wouldnt be the first time a democratically elected goverment sucks and makes things worse, but well, thats what you get when you put the freedom of choice in the hands of the people.

While Pinochet could have a magic wand to give every single surviving Chilean a millon dollars and an unicorn and he would still be a thug that lead a coup d’etat and was willing to kill anybody not considered good enough to be part of his Chile – not the people’s nation, but his own private feud where things were going to be done his way or you will be never found again.

If freedom of speech, conscience, association, political participations and even your life are just secondary considerations that can be overuled by an unelected cliqué of “visionaries” that know what is good and what is wrong, then what difference there is between “liberal” whatever and totalitarism? That there are property rights that are inviolable but your life is cheap commodity?

49

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 1:57 pm

@45 And the issue of “you having to choose” is particularly telling when, in fact, they did choose. And them some “you” decided that was the wrong choice and whoever supported it deserved less than a grave.

50

jonnybutter 06.26.13 at 2:12 pm

#22
Corey’s project appears to be to tar all libertarian insights with the dismissive label of fascism. That would be bad enough, but his method is by trying to link them through second and third order guilt associations to a philosopher they rarely if ever talk about.

This doesn’t sound right to me as a description of Corey’s project. The last thing he wants to do (as I see it) is either ‘tar’ or ‘dismiss’ libertarian (or conservative) insight. The way I read him is that he wants to pin down what libertarian thought is and place it in intellectual historical context. The slipperiest part of that seems to be getting actual libertarians to fully commit to what their philosophy is, exactly. If you make general critical statements about it, they will cite you chapter and verse of the sacred texts to refute you; if you actually do the scholarship, as Corey has, they will take some other tack – never-to-be-mentioned ridiculously selective quotation, bringing up Rothbard, Hayek was OLD, etc. etc. etc. One starts to get the feeling, after decades of arguing with these people, that there is something philosophically-fishy going on; can someone be right about something if they think it is impossible – theoretically impossible – for them to be wrong?

The problem with these debates is that libertarians (and I include many American ‘movement’ conservatives in their number) will generally try to avoid taking – or appearing to take – their own philosophy as seriously as Hayek and others did. When the rubber met the road, when a choice had to be made, Hayek made it. It was not about cold war Poland vs. Pinochet, it was about Allende (who was elected, let’s remember again) vs Pinochet, and Hayek did choose.

It takes mountains of words to get to the starting line: defend the idea that Pinochet was better than Allende [in this case]. The spew of billions of words to forestall getting to the actual argument is, perhaps, deliberate? Then once we get to the actual argument, it’s the same thing all over – the libertarian will use every rhetorical trick in the book to push you back and back: your premises are wrong, including you use of ‘the’ and ‘and'; you don’t understand libertarianism; etc.

It is a mug’s game to try to argue critico-rationally about an irrationalist philosophy with a devotee of that philosophy. There is always – ALWAYS – going to be some signal way your rational argument will be vulnerable from the POV of your opponent. And what matters to the irrationalist is ‘who’s vulnerable’ not ‘who’s making sense’. Your avowed ideal (however close you get to it) is rational, dispassionate argument; his ideal – usually unavowed, but not always – is winning the politics of it. Allende wasn’t argued to death in a ‘marketplace of ideas’.

51

Henry 06.26.13 at 2:25 pm

@Frederick Guy – Cosma and I had some things to say about this on Crooked Timber last year

The virtue of the price system, for Hayek, is to compress diffuse, even tacit, knowledge about specific changes in specific circumstances into a single index, which can guide individuals as to how they ought respond to changes elsewhere. I do not need to grasp the intimate local knowledge of the farmer who sells me tomatoes in order to decide whether to buy their products. The farmer needs to know the price of fertilizer, not how it is made, or what it could be used for other than tomatoes, or the other uses of the fertilizers’ ingredients. (I do not even need to know the price of fertilizer.) The information that we need, to decide whether to buy tomatoes or to buy fertilizer, is conveyed through prices, which may go up or down, depending on the aggregate action of many buyers or suppliers, each working with her own tacit understandings.

This insight is both crucial and beautiful, yet it has stark limits. It suggests that markets will be best at conveying a particular kind of information about a particular kind of underlying facts, i.e., the relative scarcity of different goods. As Stiglitz (2000) argues, market signals about relative scarcity are always distorted, because prices embed information about many other economically important factors. More importantly, although information about relative scarcity surely helps markets approach some kind of balance, it is little help in solving more complicated social problems, which may depend not on allocating existing stocks of goods in a useful way, given people’s dispersed local knowledge, so much as discovering new goods or new forms of allocation.

On Sebastian’s effort to use Holbo to slam Corey – nice try, but no cigar. Corey’s basic point is both straightforward and, as best as I can see, unassailable. (1) Hayek has a soft spot for dictators. (2) This seems to go together with an unabashed elitism in his work, which is commonly soft-pedaled by his defenders. (3) This elitism is intimately connected to Hayek’s argument about where norms and values come from. (4) This in turn suggests an elective affinity between Hayek and Nietzsche.

You are concentrating your rhetorical fire on (4), since (1), (2), and (3) are strongly supported by the textual evidence. But it gets you nowhere, as is obvious if we substitute in the actual arguments that Corey is making into JH’s framework. JH says:

Person A espouses value B. But the Nazis approved B. Not that person A is necessarily a Nazi but there must be something morally perilous about B, if espousing it is consistent with turning all Nazi

If we turn this into

Hayek espouses the value that dictatorship has its good side, and that we need elites to provide values for the unwashed masses. But Nietzsche approved the idea that we need elites to provide values for the unwashed masses. Not that Hayek is necessarily a Nietzschian, but there must be something morally perilous about Hayek, if espousing this is consistent with turning Nietzsche.

it’s very obvious that Corey’s argument isn’t the kind that you are claiming it is, since the moral peril does not stem from the comparison, but from actual facts, independently supported, about Hayek. He is not arguing that Hayek is like Nietzsche in some loosely connected sense and therefore problematic. He’s claiming that Hayek is independently problematic (he likes dictators! he believes in an aristocracy of value!) in ways that have similarities to Nietzsche, but which do not stem from him. We would still think (for that value of we that thinks that dictatorships are bad) that Hayek was bad for supporting dictators even in a world where Nietzsche had never been born. The Nietzsche stuff is about trying to figure out where Hayek fits in a broader taxonomy of dubious rightwing thought – it isn’t necessary to the criticism. I’d have thought that was quite obvious to the reasonable reader myself.

52

Rich Puchalsky 06.26.13 at 2:26 pm

“The way I read him is that he wants to pin down what libertarian thought is and place it in intellectual historical context. [...] It takes mountains of words to get to the starting line: defend the idea that Pinochet was better than Allende [in this case].”

I’d rather have a healthy hypocrisy, thank you. Convince enough people that their rational philosophy demands that they defend torture and murder and they’ll do it.

“It is a mug’s game to try to argue critico-rationally about an irrationalist philosophy with a devotee of that philosophy. There is always – ALWAYS – going to be some signal way your rational argument will be vulnerable from the POV of your opponent. And what matters to the irrationalist is ‘who’s vulnerable’ not ‘who’s making sense’. Your avowed ideal (however close you get to it) is rational, dispassionate argument; his ideal – usually unavowed, but not always – is winning the politics of it. Allende wasn’t argued to death in a ‘marketplace of ideas’.”

The first two sentences of the above are perfectly true, but the third is where it goes wrong. Winning the politics of something is always more important than winning some imaginary dispassionate argument, and it’s not irrational to think so. In that sense Corey is wrong and his detractors are right. His first response included “It’s jarring to hear this kind of talk from accomplished academics rather than mindless trolls”, which makes me wonder which conservative academics he’s been encountering all these years and who he thinks he’s talking to.

53

Nicolas Cachanosky 06.26.13 at 2:28 pm

54

Ben 06.26.13 at 2:39 pm

@Jesús Couto Fandiño

What you don’t seem to get is that while Pinochet was a thug Allende was also a thug. That’s all gone down the memory hole, of course.

Allende won elections with up to 43% of the vote – but voters are entitled to assume he will be bound by the limitations set out in the constitution. Instead, Allende acted illegally in office many times, and ignored supreme court rulings to cease and desist. When he ignores the constitution he doesn’t get the benefit of whatever legitimacy that the constitution confers.

55

Ronan(rf) 06.26.13 at 2:43 pm

I think you’re wrong on that Ben. Evidence would be useful

56

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 2:43 pm

Still leagues ahead of elected by nobody mass murderer. If Allende was overstepping and the coup was to “restore freedom” why it was necessary to disappear political enemies without judgement? Where does that fit in any sane definition of liberty?

57

js. 06.26.13 at 2:44 pm

Wow, I didn’t realize the reverse-projection thing was in such full effect in this case. How come no one’s told me until now that Allende was the real Chilean mass-murderer! Exceptionally risible in this case somehow — seriously, don’t you have some other defense?

58

Thomas A. Anderson 06.26.13 at 2:45 pm

Hayek’s love of brutal dictators like Pinochet is no surprise and perfectly consistent with his beliefs on democracy. In Hayek’s model of an ideal constitution each citizen is given one vote per lifetime when they reach the age of 45 (page 113). Then, Hayek reconsiders and decides that’s probably too generous, and calls for an “indirect method of election” where the legislature would appoint regional delegates who would appoint new legislators, without any popular vote at all (page 114). Yeah liberty!

F. A. Hayek (1981) Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 3: The Political Order of a Free People, University Of Chicago Press.

59

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 2:49 pm

Talking about debating a supposedly irrational libertarian, jonnybutter writes:

“Your avowed ideal (however close you get to it) is rational, dispassionate argument; his ideal – usually unavowed, but not always – is winning the politics of it.”

Please. It is not a “rational, dispassionate argument” to use Hayek’s foolish decision (the decision to choose between two evils) in order to disparage his entire work. In fact, it is probably “Real World Politics 101.”

Hayek’s decision was indeed foolish (an intellectual is rarely if ever required to make a choice between two evils, so he or she should devote his energy towards more principled stances) but if you want to place his decision in the context of his work, it is clear that he supports authoritarian solutions only when the choice is between authoritarian and totalitarian governments.

This is not a very appealing theory (again, the real world rarely presents us with such clear cut choices) but it’s a pretty far distance away from claiming that his entire political thought needs as a background support for authoritarian rule.

But such an approach to smearing someone’s work is indeed the politically savvy thing to do.

60

Barry 06.26.13 at 2:49 pm

I see people here and pn BHL and elsewhere repeat this line about how evil Allende was.

I have never seen a body count or torture list.

61

MPAVictoria 06.26.13 at 3:08 pm

Thomas at 58.

The title of his work is particularly hilarious given that line. The Political Order of a Free People indeed.
/Christ what an asshole

62

Consumatopia 06.26.13 at 3:17 pm

if you want to place his decision in the context of his work, it is clear that he supports authoritarian solutions only when the choice is between authoritarian and totalitarian governments.

Well, no, it isn’t quite clear that Hayek would support a democratic socialist system over an authoritarian capitalist one (if those were the only choices).

63

Ronan(rf) 06.26.13 at 3:23 pm

Ben, I’m bored, so sorry for being pedantic, but even a little research seems to point towards your argument @54 being completely unsupportable.

From a roundtable of regional experts on Harmers book mentioned above:

Dustin Walcher:
“It is not that Allende emerges from this account unscathed; to the contrary, Harmer finds his management of the Chilean economy to have been extraordinarily wanting. While it may have been an impossible task for anybody, he nonetheless proved unable to hold together the fractious UP as a coherent governing coalition. But in the end, Allende’s opponents, supported by international allies in Brasilia and Washington, trampled over constitutional processes. Their claims that Allende was subverting democracy and planning to transform Chile into a dictatorship do not withstand serious scrutiny.”

Stephen Rabe
“President Allende stayed true to the Chilean constitution and parliamentary procedures. Basic freedoms were preserved and honored. Everyone in Chile, from the extreme right to the extreme left on the political spectrum, was free to speak, shout, or write about their manic version of events. Allende’s policies measurably improved the lives of the Chilean poor. His political coalition did well in the municipal elections in
April 1971 and won 43 percent of the vote in the legislative elections in March 1973. But, as Jonathan Haslam has detailed, Allende destroyed the Chilean economy, rapidly increasing consumption without a concomitant increase in productivity”

Aldo Marchesi:
“The Cubans hoped that Allende would be a leader like Castro, capable of leading the military in its resistance to the conservative backlash, a notion that Allende explicitly rejected on several occasions including his public speeches in Havana.”

From Greg Grandins LRB review:
“But Cuba’s turn to one party authoritarianism only deepened Allendes faith in the durability of Chilean democracy. Socialism could be won, he insisted, through procedures and institutions – the ballot, the legislature, the courts and the media – that historically had been dominated by those classes most opposed to it.”

I won’t link now due to going into moderation, but can do if you like.

64

Harold 06.26.13 at 3:27 pm

Hayek: “I unilaterally declare anyone I don’t like “totalitarian” and therefore support the bloody dictatorship.”

65

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 3:32 pm

Consumatopia:
“Well, no, it isn’t quite clear that Hayek would support a democratic socialist system over an authoritarian capitalist one (if those were the only choices).”

But remember that Hayek does not believe that a democratic socialist system is sustainable (it must either descend into totalitarianism or stop being socialist)– and so far we have not seen counterexamples to such beliefs.

66

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 3:38 pm

“The last thing he wants to do (as I see it) is either ‘tar’ or ‘dismiss’ libertarian (or conservative) insight. The way I read him is that he wants to pin down what libertarian thought is and place it in intellectual historical context. “

Whatever he is doing it isn’t a good job of that. You don’t need hyper speculative/cherry picked “elective affinities” to Nietzsche to pin down libertarians.

Nietzsche wasn’t a libertarian.

Nietzsche isn’t talked about by many libertarians as being important to their thought.

Nietzsche wasn’t a contemporary of any of the libertarians we talk about, and there is just about zero evidence that they were responding to him.

In order to link them you have to play the high level of generalities game that Hoblo so rightly slams. One of the ones that Corey picks is the concept of the important man who leads the sheeplike masses to prosperity. The problem is that at Corey’s level of generality, almost all major movements of the 20th century fit. He could have just as easily cited Mao or Stalin and suggested an elective affinity with Nietzsche. Sure they claim to care about general progress and the people, but they also demonstrated an interest in forcing the masses to follow them to their promised land. That fact suggests it isn’t a very good tool for intellectual analysis unless very carefully used. And maybe not even then.

67

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 3:38 pm

Not to mention the difference between the “thug” Allende holding talks with the opposition to find compromises and the “necessary evil” Pinochet way of approaching consensus via removal of dissenters. Or how profundly adverse to freedom cause was Allende’s work on the night previous to the coup for either finding a compromise with the christian democrats or call a referendum.

It was clear such a horrible prospect had to be stopped before something awfully totalitarian came out from this misguided call to average “people” to decide things.

68

MPAVictoria 06.26.13 at 3:40 pm

“But remember that Hayek does not believe that a democratic socialist system is sustainable (it must either descend into totalitarianism or stop being socialist)– and so far we have not seen counterexamples to such beliefs.”

Oh come off it. Scandinavia is totalitarian now? Canada? France? Germany? And when do they prove that social democracy is “sustainable”? After 10 years? 20? 100? 1000?

Road to Serfdom my foot.

69

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 3:48 pm

Btw, in this context it is interesting that the case against Allende was essentially an elective affinities case. It wasn’t that Allende was so bad at the time. It was that he had elective affinities with communists like Stalin and Castro, and “therefore” could be treated just like a communist.

The problem with elective affinities as a tool is there isn’t much of a therefore in their therefores.

70

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 3:52 pm

“Oh come off it. Scandinavia is totalitarian now? Canada? France? Germany? And when do they prove that social democracy is “sustainable”?”

The discussion was about socialism not about social democracy.

71

Henry 06.26.13 at 3:53 pm

In order to link them you have to play the high level of generalities game that Hoblo so rightly slams.

This would be an excellent point if Corey was in fact doing that. Since he isn’t, as discussed at length above, not so much.

72

Tom Bach 06.26.13 at 3:55 pm

Sebastian H., it wasn’t either an “elective affinities” case against Allende for Hayek and the US and later Thatcher and the Dictatorship’s many right supporters Allende was bad all the time. You can’t just make stuff up.

Also in what sense was Hayek forced to choose between lesser evils when his support for the Dictatorship far from being grudging or hedged in with caveats, one would expect in a lesser evil case, it was loud and unstinting.

73

Tom Bach 06.26.13 at 3:56 pm

Alex K Allende was a democratic socialist and for Hayek DS was just as bad as S.

74

Consumatopia 06.26.13 at 3:58 pm

@Alex K

But remember that Hayek does not believe that a democratic socialist system is sustainable (it must either descend into totalitarianism or stop being socialist)– and so far we have not seen counterexamples to such beliefs.

If you believe that, doesn’t supporting Pinochet make sense? I mean, I know others in this thread are arguing that supporting Pinochet made sense, but you had called it foolish.

Also, you can quibble over whether European social democracies count as democratic socialism, but the real problem here is that we have not seen any more examples of such beliefs than counterexamples. How many democratically elected socialist governments (as opposed to those with their origins in violent revolution) embraced totalitarianism?

75

PM 06.26.13 at 4:00 pm

Hi, could you post this corrected comment and delete the above?

It seems from what he writes that Hayek got involved in a defence of Pinochet on the grounds: 1. that Pinochet was implementing certain principles (property rights?) that he felt were allowable and 2. That Pinochet was subject to attacks that he felt were ideologically motivated – which he felt were not valid. All such engagement by philosophers is proxy for their ideological convictions. What was remarkable about Hayek is that he is one of a handful on the Right of the philosophical spectrum who did this. The telling contrast is not between Hayek’s philosophy of ‘freedom’ and the stark reality of Pinochet’s regime as the author tries to mislead us into believing. The stark contrast is between the tiny handful (dozens?) on the Right who were prepared to do something like this and the tens of thousands of employees within the education, political, government and media sectors of the West’s social democracies who did it for Communist dictators and have never looked back. The implication that the defence of Pinochet is the ‘logical’ conclusion of Hayek’s philosophy is just lurid emoting. You can say that the implication of defending a serial killer’s right to a fair trial is that you support serial killing. It’s fallacious. Many on the left were prepaered to go on the record to defend mass murder as a legitimate objective of social policy.

Any political-economist who finds himself defending any politician / dictator in any situation on any point will be accused, by proxy, of all of that dictators’ crimes.

The 20th century prism is communism vs. capitalism. Between 20 and 50% (at a guess) of all left wing politicians and intellectuals in the West were happy (between 1930 and 1975), in principle, to travel to Communist countries and defend the noble objectives of their leaders (despite the many tens of millions killed by Communist dictators). On top of that they dominated the debate about how to deal with Communism from a moral and political point of view until the late 1970s.

The prism is one of existential ideological war between two competing views of freedom and welfare.

Hayek was, it seems, consciously or subconsciously counter-balancing what he saw as a bias in public discourse, by arguing that many opponents of Pinochet were ‘ideological’. i.e. people who didn’t have any problem with mass murder per se. They only had a problem with it when the wrong people were being murdered.

In retrospect any defence of Pinochet looks wrong because of his crimes. Also it seems that Hayek was taking issue with specific policies of Pinochet (land nationalisation) which, given the stark social inequalities in Chile, may have lacked nuance.

But the vast majority of Pinichet’s leftist opponents only regarded his crimes as ‘crimes’ because the ‘wrong’ people were murdered. This does not absolve Pinochet. It makes Hayek look, at worst, naive – but in contrast to what? Singling him out amongst the tens of thousands who turned a blind eye to Communist dictators’ crimes is just an extension of the Revolutionary belief of needing to win every argument in all respects.

76

Harold 06.26.13 at 4:02 pm

The discussion was indeed about social democracy, because Hayek felt it was unsustainable (because insufficiently autocratic?). Therefore, according to him, bloody dictatorship was preferable.

“Great man” theory of history antedates Nietzsche by quite a few centuries (Machiavelli, Plutarch? Bible? Not to speak of Napoleon and Carlyle in more recent times. Robspierre?).

77

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 4:11 pm

” you can quibble over whether European social democracies count as democratic socialism”

It’s not a quibble — they are worlds apart.

Support for Pinochet does not follow from the belief that democratic socialism is not self-sustaining. You can, after all, let the experiment develop, see where it leads, and then claim “I told you so!” (You can do that whether the result is totalitarianism or lack of socialism)

There is a chance that much suffering will happen if the experiment devolves into totalitarianism, but there is chance of that happening when you put right-wing dictators in power too — so that is not a clear-cut argument.

78

MPAVictoria 06.26.13 at 4:23 pm

“It’s not a quibble — they are worlds apart.”

Not according to your man Hayek.

79

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 4:30 pm

PM, all that doesnt make Hayek naive. It makes Hayek the same kind of smug hypocrite that supported the “other side” atrocities. Is not that the option of condemning BOTH was not available. Is not like there was a complicated leap to do from “I may prefer this side economic view of the world but for God’s sake NOT LIKE THIS!”

Also interesting how it seems that the most misguided interpretation of Hayek’s philosophy is Hayek’s own.

80

Frederick Guy 06.26.13 at 4:34 pm

@Alex K 77. How are you drawing this neat line between bad socialism and unsafe social democracy? We’ve seen “socialist” presidents of France, and several UK governments led by a Labour party publicly committed to “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”. No dire totalitarian results there, so presumably you’re classifying those cases as social democratic. How then does Allende get into your unsafe socialist category? Except that Chile’s economy was ill-managed (economic mismanagement is not, after all, so rare a thing) and there were disputes over land ownership (as there are in just about every developing country) – what’s the difference?

81

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 4:45 pm

“We’ve seen “socialist” presidents of France, and several UK governments led by a Labour party publicly committed to “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”.”

Where do you see “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange” in present European social democracies? At most, you see ownership of some public utility or another — hardly full blown socialism.

It’s not about drawing “bright lines” — it’s about observing that socialism and current European political systems are worlds apart.

82

MPAVictoria 06.26.13 at 4:59 pm

“It’s not about drawing “bright lines” — it’s about observing that socialism and current European political systems are worlds apart.”
Again, not according to your man Hayek.

83

Jay 06.26.13 at 5:04 pm

Corey, are you turning this into a book? This is wonderful archival work. (And we historians are loathe to compliment political scientists on their archival work.) I hope all of the Hayek/Pinochet posts on your blog are building towards some larger project.

84

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 5:09 pm

““It ’s not a quibble — they are worlds apart.”

Not according to your man Hayek.”

Specific quote please — show us where Hayek claimed that the political systems comparable to the current European welfare states are the same as socialism.

85

Consumatopia 06.26.13 at 5:11 pm

See here and here. Anyone interested in that argument should go read through all that mess and the associated posts at BHL rather than re-hash it here.

86

Tom Bach 06.26.13 at 5:16 pm

“[S]pecific quotes” to unfortunately continue the thread jacking but your entire understanding of Allende and anything else you have mentioned has taken the form of baseless assertion none of which hold up to any kind of scrutiny.

87

Consumatopia 06.26.13 at 5:17 pm

(Not that I’m telling anyone what to do, but it just seems reasonable to go through those earlier posts first rather than re-enact the whole thing here.)

And for all Alex K talks about “no counterexamples” to Hayek’s political theories, he didn’t answer my question:

Also, you can quibble over whether European social democracies count as democratic socialism, but the real problem here is that we have not seen any more examples of such beliefs than counterexamples. How many democratically elected socialist governments (as opposed to those with their origins in violent revolution) embraced totalitarianism?

If there were a bunch of democracies that voted for socialism and ended up with totalitarianism, it might be worth spending time distinguishing between socialism and social democracy. But there aren’t (and Hayek made no such distinction anyway), so European social democracies end up being the best test of Road to Serfdom that available. That’s why I called it a quibble. Because, in this context, it is. Talking about whether two systems are “worlds apart” independent of context is meaningless–there’s nothing about Allende’s Chile that made Hayek’s arguments applicable there but not in Europe.

Support for Pinochet does not follow from the belief that democratic socialism is not self-sustaining.

Hayek’s position is not that democratic socialism is not self-sustaining–if voters in a democratic socialist system vote away the socialist part, that’s not a problem for Hayek. The problem was that Hayek didn’t trust the voters to vote it away. So if some European democracies previously had much stronger industrial policies, including state ownership of some industries, but later backed away from that, that’s a point against Hayek.

You can, after all, let the experiment develop, see where it leads, and then claim “I told you so!” (You can do that whether the result is totalitarianism or lack of socialism)

You could, but it would be a very strange thing to do if you believed as Hayek does. If democracies are capable of learning from failed experiments, why can’t they learn from their own experiment, and re-adopt capitalism when socialism fails?

88

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 5:22 pm

Henry, this post is tagged “a second reply to my critics”. The criticism was about “Nietzsche’s Marginal Children”. That is the context of this post.

If this post were a free floating post about Hayek and how bad it was for him to support Pinochet, that would be a fine topic.

As a defense of Corey’s Nietzsche/Libertarians connection it is a poor distraction. You can detail the Hayek/Pinochet connection and drown in factual detail without providing any useful support for Corey’s Nietzsche/Libertarian allegations. This post fills in factual detail for the Hayek/Pinochet connection. Fantastic.

What it does not do is provide the ‘therefore Nietzsche’ which is lacking in Corey’s argument.

I can’t see how you get the ‘therefore Nietzsche’ without retreating to levels of abstraction which also allow for Mao ‘therefore Nietzsche’, Stalin ‘therefore Nietzsche’, Nader ‘therefore Nietzsche’, Reagan ‘therefore Nietzsche’, and Obama ‘therefore Nietzsche’.

I agree with Hoblo, the analytic technique is so malleable that it allows for anything to be anything.

89

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 5:23 pm

“See here and here. Anyone interested in that argument should go read through all that mess and the associated posts at BHL rather than re-hash it here.”

There are no quotes of Hayek supporting the claim that Hayek viewed the welfare state and socialism as the same — at most there are warnings that we should be careful about what aspects of the welfare state we implement. In particular, we know that Hayek explicitly claimed that the “Road to Serfdom” was about the unintended result of socialist planing.

MPAVictoria seems to be very confident about something — but it’s not clear about what.

90

Barry 06.26.13 at 5:24 pm

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 5:09 pm

” Specific quote please — show us where Hayek claimed that the political systems comparable to the current European welfare states are the same as socialism.”

Tell me again – what was The Road to Serfdom about?

Or are we seeing another case of the Terrible Two-Step of Terrific Triviality?

91

Ben 06.26.13 at 5:24 pm

@Ronan(rf) 63 – thanks for taking the time to engage, it is genuinely appreciated.

Harmer’s book can’t be had for less than £30 second hand so I am afraid I am going to give that a miss.

Allende was accused of all the things I mentioned above, and more, by people who were there.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Agreement_of_the_Chamber_of_Deputies_of_Chile

Of course these twenty counts are the accusations of his opponents, and shouldn’t simply be accepted. But those are the charges, and they need to be rebutted. Is the claim that journalists where jailed false? Is it not true that he was ruling by decree, and implemented measures, such as curtailing the right to leave the country, without legal authority? Is the claim that he refused to carry out sentences passed by courts against his supporters, a lie? Are the claims of Mugabe-like farm and factory invasions, all lies? Are the claims that he allowed armed groups which supported him to take to the streets, lies?

And of course, even if that is all true, it doesn’t necessarily prove that Allende was going to be worse than Pinochet.

Readers may also be interested in this account:
http://www.josepinera.com/libros/neveragain.htm

92

Frederick Guy 06.26.13 at 5:28 pm

Alex K @81. I’m not trying to define socialism, I’m saying that governments that call themselves socialist are wildly different and produce a wide variety of different outcomes. This is a trivial point, but of interest because you keep saying that the Allende government was socialist and therefore it was valid to believe it was on the road to serfdom. But I don’t think you’re really engaging here, because this point is just too obvious.

93

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 5:35 pm

” you keep saying that the Allende government was socialist and therefore it was valid to believe it was on the road to serfdom.”

I didn’t even utter the word “Allende” and I have not defended any aspect of Hayek decision to support Pinochet.

I am just defending the claim that the decision to choose between two evils –however foolish– does not imply anything of substance about Hayek’s general line of thought.

94

MPAVictoria 06.26.13 at 5:48 pm

“I am just defending the claim that the decision to choose between two evils –however foolish– does not imply anything of substance about Hayek’s general line of thought.”

He didn’t say ” Well old bean both of these guys are awful but if I had to choose I would take Pinochet.” Instead he actively supported Pinochet and said multiple times what a great defender of “freedom” he was. Did you even read the post Alex?

Also in response to your question at 89, what Barry said at 90.

95

Ronan(rf) 06.26.13 at 5:48 pm

Ben

I dont have the expertise to speak to the specifics, my understanding is that, generally, the consensus (as much as one can exist) pretty conclusively argues that Allende was a genuine Democrat. That he had a history supporting democracy, a history of campaigning to support disenfranchised groups, an opposition to totalitarian communism, and that Chile itself had quite strong democratic institutions

Once again, I dont really know anything about Chile/Allende etc, so would be interested to hear someone from/with expertise on the country weigh in, and of course any hypothetical is possible (factions within his political contituency responding to threats from the right pushing for greater centralisation of power within the Party, or whatever) but the evidence is, (specifically to him and taking into consideration his history, rhetoric, actions in office, actions at the time around the coup), that he was genuinely committed to democracy (So it doesnt seem there is any reason Chile would have ended up closer to Stalins Russia than, say, Sweden)

96

Tom Bach 06.26.13 at 5:50 pm

I’ll ask again on what grounds are you claiming that Hayek’s support for the Dictatorship was a lesser of evil choice. What with y0ur deep commitment to quotations, let’s have one from Hayek on how the Dicgtatorship, not a dictatorship, was the lesser of two evils.

97

js. 06.26.13 at 6:07 pm

I didn’t even utter the word “Allende”

Also, this isn’t about the devil. At all!

Anyway, your claim was that Hayek was quite possibly right about the claim that “a democratic socialist system is [not] sustainable,” wasn’t it (@65)? Or at least that there’s no countervailing evidence? So, what counts as an instance of a “democratic socialist system” for you? Anything other than Allende’s Chile?

98

Barry 06.26.13 at 6:11 pm

Ben, I asked you this over on BHL (otherwise known as the We Love Pinochet Blog):

Give me a kill list and a torture list.

99

Ronan(rf) 06.26.13 at 6:14 pm

I must be missing the context to this discussion with BHL b/c the get out to this seems kind of simple, just say ‘yeah Hayek was wrong’ .. why would any group of people be so committed to Pinochet’s regime?

100

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 6:14 pm

@Tom Bach

I don’t know how specific you want to get, but the letter to the editor that Corey Robin refers to contains this:

“I have certainly never contended that generally authoritarian governments are more likely to secure individual liberty than democratic ones, but rather the contrary. This does not mean, however, that in some historical circumstances personal liberty may not have been better protected under an authoritarian than democratic government.”

So it’s a _comparative_ judgment: in general, democratic governments are more likely to secure freedom but in some particular cases there is more freedom under authoritarian regimes.

Not an attractive position, but perfectly consistent with my claim about choosing between two evils.

101

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 6:18 pm

” just say ‘yeah Hayek was wrong’”

I’ve repeated this here to the point of tediousness.

102

Consumatopia 06.26.13 at 6:23 pm

There are no quotes of Hayek supporting the claim that Hayek viewed the welfare state and socialism as the same — at most there are warnings that we should be careful about what aspects of the welfare state we implement.

Don’t shift the goal posts. The question is whether there have been European democratic socialist systems that did not embrace totalitarianism–the counterexample you deny the existence of. In the second link, Hayek refers to “six years of socialist government in England”.

That’s it, there’s your counterexample. England was both democratic and socialist, under Hayek’s definition. It did not ever become totalitarian.

This is an old argument. You’re the one who needs to come up to speed. Get to work.

I am just defending the claim that the decision to choose between two evils –however foolish– does not imply anything of substance about Hayek’s general line of thought.

Of course it does–it tells you which “evil” Hayek thought was greater.

103

Consumatopia 06.26.13 at 6:24 pm

I’ve repeated this here to the point of tediousness.

Ronan clearly wasn’t talking about you, but the Pinochet defenders here and linked to by Robin.

104

js. 06.26.13 at 6:30 pm

” just say ‘yeah Hayek was wrong’”

I’ve repeated this here to the point of tediousness.

And he was wrong because… what he (reasonably? understandably?) identified as the lesser evil turned out to be equally evil to the other evil? Just trying to figure out what the position is (at least Sebastian H seems to be avoiding this “lesser evil” nonsense).

105

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 6:34 pm

“In the second link, Hayek refers to “six years of socialist government in England”.

That’s it, there’s your counterexample. England was both democratic and socialist, under Hayek’s definition. It did not ever become totalitarian.”

The post-WWII government did indeed flirt with socialism, by nationalizing the coal mining and steel industries — which were then de-nationalized by Churchill.

This is hardly an example of a stable democratic socialism. Hayek explicitly claimed that he was not talking about historical inevitability: the whole point of his work was to change minds and hence change the course towards socialism.

In the case of post-WWII England, the course was changed.

106

Henry 06.26.13 at 6:36 pm

Sebastian – the unattractive characteristics of Hayek’s thought do not depend on the elective affinity with Nietzsche. If you really want to treat this in isolation from the Pinochet stuff, Corey has strong textual evidence that Hayek was unabashedly elitist, believed that in a market society, values should flow from substantial property owners, and was not enthused about democracy either, for related reasons. This has parallels with Nietzsche, which reinforces Corey’s point about elective affinities. But it also has an unpleasantly elitist and anti-democratic tinge all of its own, entirely independent of the parallel. That’s why the attempted Holbonic takedown doesn’t work at all. Hayek and Nietzsche have an elective affinity because both are elitists who believe that the chosen few should set the values for the multitudes, that the freedom of the truly great is far more important than the freedom of the masses and so on. Mises even more so, and as for Rand … Corey isn’t saying that Hayek, Mises & co. are problematic because they have an elective affinity with the more dubious aspects of Nietzsche. He is saying that they have an elective affinity with the more dubious aspects of Nietzsche because of the ways in which they are problematic. Again, this is not rocket science.

107

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 6:39 pm

“And he was wrong because… what he (reasonably? understandably?) identified as the lesser evil turned out to be equally evil to the other evil?”

He was wrong because it is foolish to compare probable evils in the absence of certain knowledge about the future. Usually, the option to oppose both evils (at least in the form of speech acts) is available.

108

Henry 06.26.13 at 6:43 pm

What Hayek actually said Part I: The Relationship between Socialism and European Style Social Democracy in the UK, Europe and elsewhere.

At the time I wrote [The Road to Serfdom], socialism meant unambiguously the nationalization of the means of production, and the central economic planning which this made possible and necessary. In this sense Sweden, for instance, is today very much less socialistically organized than Great Britain or Austria, though Sweden is commonly regarded as much more socialistic. This is due to the fact that socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state. In the latter kind of socialism the effects I discuss in this book are brought about more slowly, indirectly, and imperfectly. I believe that the ultimate outcome tends to be very much the same, although the process by which it is brought about is not quite the same as that described in this book.

“ultimate outcome tends to be very much the same”

109

Henry 06.26.13 at 6:46 pm

What Hayek Actually Said, Part II: The Creeping Welfare State

… 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 the people.

This is necessarily a slow affair, a process which extends not over a few years but perhaps over one or two generations. The important point is that the political ideals of a people and its attitude toward authority are as much the effect as the cause of the political institutions under which it lives.

This means, among other things, that even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit.

The consequences can of course be averted if that spirit reasserts itself in time and the people not only throw out the party which has been leading them further and further in the dangerous direction but also recognize the nature of the danger and resolutely change their course. There is not yet much ground to believe that the latter has happened in England.

Yet the change undergone by the character of the British people, not merely under its Labour government but in the course of the much longer period during which it has been enjoying the blessings of a paternalistic welfare state, can hardly be mistaken. These changes are not easily demonstrated but are clearly felt if one lives in the country.
In Illustration, I will cite a few significant passages from a sociological survey dealing with the impact of the surfeit of regulation on the mental attitudes of the young. It is concerned with the situation before the Labour government came into power, in fact, about the time this book was first published, and deals mainly with the effects of those war regulations which the Labour government made permanent:

At school, in the place of work, on the journey to and fro, even in the very equipment and provisioning of the home, many of the activities normally possible to human beings are either forbidden or enjoined. Special agencies, called Citizen’s Advice Bureaus, are set up to steer the bewildered through the forest of rules, and to indicate to the persistent the rare clearings where a private person may still make a choice…[The town lad] is conditioned not to lift a finger without referring mentally to the book words first. A time-budget of an ordinary city youth for an ordinary working day would show that he spends great stretches of his waking hours going through the motions that have been predetermined for him by the directives in whose framing he has had no part, whose precise intention he seldom understands, and of whose appropriateness he cannot judge…The inference that what the city lad needs is more discipline and tighter control is too hasty. It would be nearer the mark to say that he is suffering from an overdose of control already…Surveying his parents and his older brothers or sisters he finds them as regulation bound as himself. He sees them so acclimatised to that state that they seldom plan and carry out under their own steam any new social excursion or enterprise. He thus looks forward to no future period at which a sinewy faculty of responsiblility is likely to be of service to himself or others…[The young people] are obliged to stomach so much external and, as it seems to them, meaningless control that they seek escape and recuperation in an absence of discipline as complete as they can make it.
Is it too pessimistic to fear that a generation grown up under these conditions is unlikely to throw off the fetters to which it has grown used? Or does this description not rather fully bear out De Tocqueville’s prediction of the “new kind of servitude”
after having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered but softened, bent and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrial animals, of which government is the shepherd. I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people.

What De Tocqueville did not consider was how long such a government would remain in the hands of benevolent despots when it would be so much more easy for any group of ruffians to keep itself indefinitely in power by disregarding all the traditional decencies of political life.

Perhaps I should also remind the reader that I have never accused the socialist parties of deliberately aiming at a totalitarian regime or even suspected that the leaders of the old socialist movements might ever show such inclinations. What I have argued in this book, and what the British experience convinces me even more to be true, is that the unforeseen but inevitable consequences of socialist planning create a state of affairs in which, if the policy is to be pursued, totalitarian forces will get the upper hand.

You know, it’d be really nice if defenders of Hayek actually read him and all.

110

Ronan(rf) 06.26.13 at 6:51 pm

“I’ve repeated this here to the point of tediousness.”

Yeah but afaict you’re saying he was wrong to support Pinochet, rather than wrong to oppose Allende. You’re argument is dependant on Allende being a closet tyrant and Chile a basket case. Neither of these is the case, from what I can tell.

111

Barry 06.26.13 at 6:55 pm

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 6:39 pm

” He was wrong because it is foolish to compare probable evils in the absence of certain knowledge about the future. Usually, the option to oppose both evils (at least in the form of speech acts) is available.”

Truth and you are not commonly found in the same room – much of the judgement of life is comparing probably evils (and goods) in the absence of certain knowledge about the future.

Or am I the only non-omniscient being here, and everybody has been sparing me from that shame?

112

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 7:00 pm

” I believe that the ultimate outcome tends to be very much the same, although the process by which it is brought about is not quite the same as that described in this book.”

In other words, Hayek believes that the “Road to Serfdom” is about the totalitarian implications of state ownership of the means of production.

He is also prepared to argue that a different process than the one described in the “Road to Serfdom” would lead to loss of freedom in the case of extensive redistribution. But we never really get to see much of that argument — and it remains the case that Hayek claims that the argument in not present in “Road to Serfdom.”

113

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 7:05 pm

” much of the judgement of life is comparing probably evils (and goods) in the absence of certain knowledge about the future.”

I feel sorry for you if you think you are constantly choosing among evils — most of the rest of the world chooses between (still uncertain) rather pedestrian sub-optimal paths.

114

Barry 06.26.13 at 7:07 pm

I’d not count Pinochet as ‘a rather pedestrian sub-optiomal path’.

And you’re still not dealing with my argument.

115

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 7:30 pm

” But it also has an unpleasantly elitist and anti-democratic tinge all of its own, entirely independent of the parallel. That’s why the attempted Holbonic takedown doesn’t work at all. Hayek and Nietzsche have an elective affinity because both are elitists who believe that the chosen few should set the values for the multitudes, that the freedom of the truly great is far more important than the freedom of the masses and so on.”

Mao and Stalin believed in an elite vanguard which should set values for the multitudes and that the freedom of Party members is far more important than the freedom of the masses. And left wing support for Castro is and was everywhere.

THEREFORE: Mao and Stalin and Castro should be grouped with Nietzsche????

There still isn’t a good therefore there in the communist case nor the libertarian case. Both philosophies are different enough from him that the contrasts are more likely to muddy than illuminate.

You’ve reduced the discussion to a useless level of abstraction just as Hoblo warned.

116

Rich Puchalsky 06.26.13 at 7:35 pm

“You know, it’d be really nice if defenders of Hayek actually read him and all.”

To expand on, or rather repeat, what I wrote earlier — please don’t make defenders of Hayek actually read him. If they actually read him, they’d be more likely, for the sake of intellectual consistency, to support torture and killings just as Hayek did. Can’t we leave them with a vision of Hayek that more or less corresponds to the quote from Rothbard above? (i.e. torture and killings are bad, no matter what). Even though it’s false.

No one has to falsify any academic articles. Those go safely unread. But dispute on blogs long enough about whether a libertarian hero supported a dictator and pretty soon you’ll get libertarians who think it’s best to support dictators. Is that really a good thing?

117

Henry 06.26.13 at 7:53 pm

Holbo, not Hoblo, thanks. And again, you are applying the causal logic of his argument exactly in reverse.

118

Tim Worstall 06.26.13 at 7:58 pm

“All Corey Robin pointed out is that Hayek thought free markets were the essential component of freedom and that he thought short-time dictatorships governing liberally (where short time seems to include a decade at least and governing liberally is fully compatible with summarily executing thousands of citizens and torturing thousands more) were sometimes necessary to preserve this essential component of freedom.”

If Kerensky had done that to Lenin et al would Russia have had a better 20 th century?

Discuss.

119

Bruce Wilder 06.26.13 at 7:59 pm

Consumatopia: If there were a bunch of democracies that voted for socialism and ended up with totalitarianism, it might be worth spending time distinguishing between socialism and social democracy. But there aren’t . . .

It is worth noting that in the historic context in which Road to Serfdom was published, people commonly thought that there were such examples.

Germany’s Weimar Republic had voted — maybe they did not vote for National Socialism, exactly, but they went step-by-step from democracy to totalitarianism. Mussolini came to power in what is commonly called, now, a coup d’etat, but, in fact, the forms of parliamentary government and coalition-building were observed — the Fascists were a just one of several partners in the early governments, and not numerically dominant; totalitarianism was built gradually by Mussolini.

After WWII, in Czechoslovakia, for example, the Communists won the 1946 elections in the Czech half of the country in 1946, and were initially in a coalition. In theory, I believe, the country was ruled throughout its Communist history by a National Front coalition. Soviet forces were obviously the heavy thumb on the scales in Poland and Romania after the war, but the Communists came to power is a series of maneuvers, which had the form of democratic partisanship.

The idea that those of a totalitarian political persuasion could not be trusted to maintain the substance of democracy, once in power, had a lot of currency immediately after WWII. It was behind the Anglo-American fear of the Communist Party coming to power in Italy, Anglo-American intervention in the Greek Civil War, and the reluctance to depose Franco after the War.

Social democratic parties, with a Marxist ideology and labor constituencies, were often very slow to renounce their formal commitment to revolution. State ownership of the commanding heights was meant to be a permanent step in the direction of the elimination of capitalists as a political class.

I’m not endorsing the reasoning. I’m just saying that what seems wildly implausible to us, now, would not have seemed wildly implausible on its face, to Hayek’s target audience — quite the contrary. It doesn’t affect the logic, such as it is, of Hayek’s argument, but it is relevant to evaluating some of the rhetorical tropes.

120

Uncle Kvetch 06.26.13 at 8:00 pm

But dispute on blogs long enough about whether a libertarian hero supported a dictator and pretty soon you’ll get libertarians who think it’s best to support dictators.

Rich, it was established in the comment immediately preceding yours that you are a supporter of Fidel Castro. So you just get off that high horse right now.

121

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 8:04 pm

Barry, you don’t really make an argument — just like there is no argument in Rich Puchalsky’s patronizing garbage.

What I argue is reasonably clear: “Evil” is a strong word but it can be applied to many political systems — in particular it applies to Pinochet and (even if we judge just by the predictably disastrous economic consequences) it can be applied to Allende. It is also foolish to pretend that we know in advance which one would have been “more evil” — hence we should abstain from choosing between them.

In contrast to this choice between political evils, most choices that we make are towards more pedestrian aims, so the uncertainty in our choices does not matter as much.

What exactly is objectionable or indefensible in my position?

122

Henry 06.26.13 at 8:04 pm

Alex – you’ve been claiming (comments, 70, 77, 89, etc)that Hayek saw a profound distinction between socialism and social democracy, that what he really was concerned with was economic planning etc. This is demonstrably incorrect. Hayek not only elided the distinction between the welfare state and planning in The Road to Serfdom where as the quote above shows, he believes that it has been sapping the will to freedom of the British people ever since Speenhamland (hint: Speenhamland was not about teh economic planning) but quite baldly says that he believes European style social welfarism to be a slower train to the same dismal destination.

Or, to put it more succinctly: you’re wrong.

123

Tim Worstall 06.26.13 at 8:06 pm

“If freedom of speech, conscience, association, political participations and even your life are just secondary considerations that can be overuled by an unelected cliqué of “visionaries” that know what is good and what is wrong,

And to tu quoque: Mao, Castro, Salazar, Franco blah blah blah. It’s the “cliqué of “visionaries” that know what is good and what is wrong, ” that is the problem, not how they gain the power to insist upon it. To ad Hitlerium (or Godwin) his ascent to the Chancellorship was entirely legal and democratic. What is done with the power is far more important than how it is gained (and, for the record, no, while Hayekian myself, and one of my bosses in one job is Mount Pelerin, no, not a supporter of Pinochet).

124

Rakesh Bhandari 06.26.13 at 8:08 pm

Henry writes very helpfully at 31:

‘(1) Hayek has a soft spot for dictators. (2) This seems to go together with an unabashed elitism in his work, which is commonly soft-pedaled by his defenders. (3) This elitism is intimately connected to Hayek’s argument about where norms and values come from. (4) This in turn suggests an elective affinity between Hayek and Nietzsche.’

The focus on Hayek’s elitism seems to me misplaced; shouldn’t the focus be on the Austrians’ radical individualism which deprives the poor and exploited of the collective organizations and state support that they need for their own individual flourishing and actual freedom. Hayek supports the juridical de-collectivization of the working class and the resultant individualization of persons, right?

Moreover, it is based on cherry-picking the evidence. Hayek was also a critic of certain kinds of elitism, a critique similar to James Scott’s. It’s been a long time since I read the Counter-Revolution of Science, but isn’t it an anti-elitist in some important ways?

And how does (2) “go together” with (1)?

And the question of where defensible values comes from is not simply elitist if Hayek does not deny that they can be generalized and fights for their generalization.

Nietzsche championed elite values for elites.

125

Henry 06.26.13 at 8:10 pm

126

Harold 06.26.13 at 8:10 pm

It’s the “cliqué [sic?] of “visionaries” that know what is good and what is wrong, ” that is the problem, not how they gain the power to insist upon it.

Only liberals believe in the rule of law, apparently — even among members of the Supreme court.

127

Henry 06.26.13 at 8:12 pm

On the how does 2 go together with 1 – because Hayek seems to believe that the freedom of the few is far more valuable than the freedom of the many, suggesting that abrogations of the freedom of the many may be in their own best interests, dammit.

128

John Quiggin 06.26.13 at 8:14 pm

Hayek on free speech

Because we are more aware that our advances in the intellectual sphere often spring from the unforeseen and undesigned, we tend to overstress the importance of freedom in this field (emphasis added)

129

Ronan(rf) 06.26.13 at 8:14 pm

” (even if we judge just by the predictably disastrous economic consequences) it can be applied to Allende.”

But I don’t think it can, b/c you’re making no attempt to understand Allende or the political tradition he represented. This isn’t about ‘predictably disastrous economic consequences’, it’s a political argument, that Chilean social Democracy would lead to tyranny. Your entire argument rests on this interpretation b/c you’re selling a generalised monocausal theory of everything.
The reality is that those who know the specifics vis a vis Chile can trace a history where ‘socialism’ and democracy are compatible. So here we go again, more caveats to the needed to be added to your claim

130

Lee A. Arnold 06.26.13 at 8:15 pm

What would Hayek have thought about marriage equality? I’ve never kayaked all the way through Hayek, so I have to ask. I stopped reading once I comprehended his understanding (or lack thereof, I think) of the sources of systems failure, in the context of a tenable biosystems theory. But today I hear in the yere of our lord 2013, SCOTUS punched DOMA.

I remember a guy in Crooked Timber threads back when Calif threw this into the mix a few years back, and he was saying, “Oh, people are not gonna go for gay marriage.” And I wrote something like, “You just wait, bud. Gay marriage is coming all the way.” Of course you could see it in the polls already, and we knew in Calif that the college kids had been tricked (for the moment) into voting against gay rights by a slick propaganda campaign. But the basic longterm thing was, that more and more people were caught observing, “Those gays are the richest people on the block!” And, “They’re all reading the Wall Street Journal, for chrissakes!”

“And they rest,” as they ALWAYS say, is marketstory.

So my question is, would Hayek have categorized the acceptance of gay marriage as an “evolved rule”? Of course it appears to me to be an evolution of the rules (or perhaps an evolution back to older rules). But look, over there! stands 25-30% of the population, very much opposed to gay marriage.

About the same number that distrust U.S. Social Security. Which, by the way, is the road to serfdom. So we presume (do we not?) that Hayek is at least standing on the 30% side against Social Security.

To reframe the question, what does Hayek do with a 70-30 split in accepting institutions that he might be in the 30% of? Has gay marriage “evolved” because it proceeds logically from the Constitution using democratic application? Today would Hayek accept increases in Social Security (despite the sloppery slip into sloshalism) although 30% of the population (who would almost universally cite him) do not?

Doesn’t Hayek flounder on both the concepts of “property” and “time”? Don’t we really just argue things for “x” amount of years, until it suddenly becomes “evolved”?

131

John Quiggin 06.26.13 at 8:18 pm

Alex K says he is neutral as between Pinochet and Allende: are there any libertarians who can bring themselves to an unequivocal condemnation of Hayek’s favorite dictator?

132

Dan 06.26.13 at 8:20 pm

Quiggin at 128:

yes, and the quote continues:

“But the freedom of research and belief and the free­dom of speech and discussion, the importance of which is widely un­derstood, are significant only in the last stage of the process in which new truths are discovered. To extol the value of intellectual liberty at the expense of the value of the liberty of doing things would be like treating the crowing part of an edifice as the whole.”

133

Sebastian H 06.26.13 at 8:23 pm

I’m not a libertarian, but I certainly have many libertarian leanings.

Pinochet should be condemned at least as much as Castro. Both were swept up in the games of larger powers, but managed to do vast amounts of evil in their own way. And I say that as someone who condemns Castro strongly, so that isn’t a roundabout way of excusing Pinochet.

134

Dan 06.26.13 at 8:23 pm

are there any libertarians who can bring themselves to an unequivocal condemnation of Hayek’s favorite dictator?

How exactly is unequivocally condemning Pinochet inconsistent with thinking that he’s preferable to Allende? Is the assumption that you can only unequivocally condemn things that are in your view, the worst possible option? Because that seems like a bad assumption.

135

John Quiggin 06.26.13 at 8:24 pm

So, Hayek’s position on free speech is of a piece with his support for “temporary” dictatorship. As Hayek sees it, it’s fine to have political freedom, free speech and democracy as the crowning glories of a free market system, but if free markets are threatened, these things have to be sacrificed to save the foundations.

136

John Quiggin 06.26.13 at 8:26 pm

@Dan: we obviously use the word “unequivocal” in different ways. But, thanks for providing another confirming instance for Corey’s argument.

137

Bruce Wilder 06.26.13 at 8:27 pm

Is the assumption that you can only unequivocally condemn things that are in your view, the worst possible option?

Isn’t that how lesser evilism works?

138

Rakesh Bhandari 06.26.13 at 8:28 pm

Henry,
I just don’t see how this is the way to proceed:
“On the how does 2 go together with 1 – because Hayek seems to believe that the freedom of the few is far more valuable than the freedom of the many, suggesting that abrogations of the freedom of the many may be in their own best interests, dammit.”

Obviously we have to first figure out what Hayek means by freedom, negative liberty, and the rule of law and what he does not understand by freedom and liberty.

OK, Hayek puts certain freedoms or the rule of law above other freedoms (or what we may want to count as freedoms) and perhaps subordinates even the rule of law to certain freedoms that he values the most.

But the charge of elitism hardly gets us anywhere.

139

Nine 06.26.13 at 8:29 pm

Wow ! I guess it’s due to temperament and training for the vocation of pedagogy but the degree of patience and stamina displayed by CT’ers in compiling replies to random internet trolls is truly staggering. At such moments i’m glad to have skipped academia for the private sector where one can tell people to prove it or stfu and stop wasting time.

Somewhat off topic – in “The Origins of Political Order”, Fukuyama claims that Hayek got the nature of state formation completely wrong specifically with respect to his writings on English common law. I’d be curious to know what Henry Farrell or Corey or SOME ACTUAL POLITICAL SCIENTIST WITH a Ph.D ONLY has to say about this ?

140

Dan 06.26.13 at 8:31 pm

we obviously use the word “unequivocal” in different ways.

Apparently we do. For instance, I think it’s possible to condemn a terrorist attack that kills 10 people while still thinking that it’s preferable to a terrorist attack that kills 100 people, and I don’t see that this somehow leads to an equivocation on “condemn”.

141

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 8:31 pm

” Hayek not only elided the distinction between the welfare state and planning in The Road to Serfdom where as the quote above shows, “

This is not correct because

1) He actually supported substantive features of the welfare state

2) Hayek claims that:
“That hodgepodge of ill-assembled and often inconsistent ideals which under the name of the Welfare State has largely replaced socialism as the goal of the reformers needs very careful sorting-out if its results are not to be very similar to those of full-fledged socialism. This is not to say that some of its aims are not both practicable and laudable. But there are many ways in which we can work toward the same goal, and in the present state of opinion there is some danger that our impatience for quick results may lead us to choose instruments which, though perhaps more efficient for achieving the particular ends, are not compatible with the preservation of a free society.”

So far from identifying the welfare state with socialist planning, Hayek advocates a project of disentangling what is dangerous in the welfare state (and can lead to loss of freedom) from what is innocuous.

You can’t support such an intellectual project if you identify the welfare state with socialist planning.

142

Rakesh Bhandari 06.26.13 at 8:32 pm

Quiggin makes the reasonable argument that Hayek privileges market freedoms above all other freedoms. OK, that may indirectly support some elites at the expense of others, but it seems to me that a careful critique is required of this privileging of market freedom. Calling it elitist hardly gets us anywhere.

143

Harold 06.26.13 at 8:33 pm

Is it freedom of the “corporate person”, i.e., the nation state?

144

Jesús Couto Fandiño 06.26.13 at 8:33 pm

@134 because, again, all problems taken into account, “Pinochet was better than Allende” says that the mere idea of people with socialist idea may have power is so absolutely dangerous than whole sale torture and killing without any respect for any human right is BETTER than just enduring a bad goverment.

I mean, Jesus Christ, isnt that obvious? Why it is even necessary to discuss it? We are not talking about 2 different opinions about the best course to take in a situation that are presented in good faith to be decided, we are dealing with an imperfect but mainly grounded in democratic principles attempt to govern a country under a set of principles versus the idea that to oppose that taking 2000 people, killing them, then throwing them away into the sea or a forgotten common grave is the thing to do.

In what universe isnt that BY DEFINITION the lowest you can go?

145

Dan 06.26.13 at 8:40 pm

So, Hayek’s position on free speech is of a piece with his support for “temporary” dictatorship. As Hayek sees it, it’s fine to have political freedom, free speech and democracy as the crowning glories of a free market system, but if free markets are threatened, these things have to be sacrificed to save the foundations.

… and that might be a defensible interpretation if the passage weren’t in a section discussing the instrumental value of various freedoms in contributing to technological and intellectual advances.

146

Lee A. Arnold 06.26.13 at 8:40 pm

A huge assumption here that, at 10x the rate, Allende would have killed tens of thousands, jailed hundreds of thousands.

147

Lee A. Arnold 06.26.13 at 8:42 pm

#141: “Hayek advocates a project of disentangling what is dangerous in the welfare state”

What are the criteria?

148

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 8:48 pm

“Alex K says he is neutral as between Pinochet and Allende: are there any libertarians who can bring themselves to an unequivocal condemnation of Hayek’s favorite dictator?”

I’m sorry John, but it is simply disingenuous to distort my claims about the evils of Pinochet and Allende into a claim about “being neutral.” Should we –after labeling them as evil– also make a choice between Stalin and Hitler, and if we fail to do so we should be labelled as “neutral?”

This is just petty stuff.

There is also not much to your attempt to make Hayek an opponent of free speech. He is just trying to leverage the support for free speech among left of the center opinion into a support for freedom of action. Not a lot to see there.

149

William Timberman 06.26.13 at 8:49 pm

Some of the trolls here seem anything but random to me. They sound more like Stanley Fish on a bad day, or George Will on a good one. Genuine, proper sophists, in other words, nothing at all like the garden-variety wreckers you find everywhere else. Maybe that’s because there’s actual moderation on offer here if you’re crass enough to risk it.

Other commenters have occasionally offered theories about where such people come from, how they find their way here, and why they seem so infernally persistent, but I haven’t found any of those theories to be completely persuasive. As someone has already said, it seems a great deal of work for so little reward. Which is fine, I suppose — what’s one more mystery, more or less? No doubt the NSA is keeping tabs on them for us, or us for them, or whatever…..

150

Rakesh Bhandari 06.26.13 at 8:55 pm

Nine at 139: The best way to keep away the trolls is to make the critique of Austrian value theory as serious as Hilferding’s or Bukharin’s (or perhaps von Bortkiewicz’s and Sraffa’s) and the critique of Austrian or neo-liberal political theory as meticulous as Raymond Plant’s.

151

Matt 06.26.13 at 8:57 pm

What Pinochet’s detractors forget is that he is just a loose end left from war of human extermination started by Project Cybersyn.

All tractors are upgraded with Cybersyn computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they till with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding and Land Reform Bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1977. Human decisions are removed from agriculture. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware 2:14 AM, Santiago time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

Skynet fights back.

I think we’re all familiar with the rest, about how the Pinochet P-800 was initially sent back in time by future human rebels to protect young John Connor. The P-800 determined that there was a more optimal path to protect humanity: let the P-1000 immediately murder John Connor and self-terminate after mission completion, then use its own brutal but effective methods to prevent Cybersyn from ever running amok in the first place. It’s just one of those things that happens when you combine a truly rational agent and trolley problems.

152

Collin Street 06.26.13 at 9:13 pm

How can you exchange freely if you can’t communicate freely?

153

Henry 06.26.13 at 9:16 pm

1) He actually supported substantive features of the welfare state

Fail.

Hayek advocated a basic income scheme. This is completely, entirely and absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether he believed that actually existing European social democratic welfare states were propelling us towards serfdom. You claimed that he didn’t believe this. Your claim turns out to be demonstrably false and it’s rather poor form to come up with an answer to a different question, and suggest that it’s the answer to the question being asked.

If I were you, I’d be quite careful about tossing around accusations that others are being disingenuous, given your own pronounced tendencies towards what might most kindly be described as rhetorical slipperiness.

154

Rakesh Bhandari 06.26.13 at 9:20 pm

But did the rationale that he provided for a basic income scheme logically compel him to accept other social welfare programs that he himself criticized?

155

Rakesh Bhandari 06.26.13 at 9:35 pm

If we are trying to get to the roots of Hayek’s views on emergency powers and dictatorships, it could be helpful to revisit the debates about dictatorship between Carl Schmitt, Max Adler and Hans Kelsen. I’d love to know whether Hayek ever commented on (and how he understood) those debates. He was young, but wasn’t he already theorizing on business cycles by 1927? So he may have been quite aware of the debates at that time.

156

Lee A. Arnold 06.26.13 at 9:37 pm

William Timberman #149: “I haven’t found any of those theories to be completely persuasive.”

What about a wisp of energy bioplasm in the brain spinning off like an atmospheric low-pressure system, wherein a specific emotional-intellectual storytelling complex becomes fixated on the freewill/freerider dichotomy, fancies itself to be analytical, and finally condenses into a “pilot setting” on the ol’ reptilian cortical clock, as it were?

157

Dan 06.26.13 at 9:38 pm

[T]here can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. … Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individual in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision… where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state’s helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.

That sort of quote is fairly frequently brought out by social democrats who want to irritate Hayekians. Sometimes I’m not sure if the left want to appropriate Hayek as a proto-social-democrat (“even Hayek was in favour of…!”) or demonize him as an unreconstructed anti-egalitarian elitist ultrareactionary, but please, for the love of Cthulhu, pick one.

158

John Quiggin 06.26.13 at 9:55 pm

Alex, you say of Pinochet and Allende “It is also foolish to pretend that we know in advance which one would have been “more evil” — hence we should abstain from choosing between them.”

How is it unfair to characterize this as neutrality?

159

LFC 06.26.13 at 10:14 pm

Nine @139

Somewhat off topic – in “The Origins of Political Order”, Fukuyama claims that Hayek got the nature of state formation completely wrong specifically with respect to his writings on English common law. I’d be curious to know what Henry Farrell or Corey or SOME ACTUAL POLITICAL SCIENTIST WITH a Ph.D ONLY has to say about this ?

Obvs. not everyone who has a PhD in political science (or some closely related field) will be able to help you. You need, at a minimum, someone who has read the works in question. I haven’t read Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order (though of course I’m aware of its existence), nor have I read Hayek, nor do I really care too much what Hayek said about anything.

The obsession in the blogosphere with libertarianism of various sorts, and its alleged or actual lineages or connections, is, imo, unfortunate. Btw the Fukuyama book is supposed to be a very serious, thoughtful work, acc. to reviews and posts about it that I’ve seen (I’ll try to link to some later). Maybe a CT post on the bk wd be a good idea?

160

Lee A. Arnold 06.26.13 at 10:22 pm

Dan #157: “for the love of Cthulhu, pick one”

Well I think Hayek was quite correct to start thinking about a typology of social intentionalities. The most charitable light on Hayek’s despicable Pinochet episode would be to describe it as the predictable moral failure of an intellectual systematizer. Hayekians don’t think of Hayek as a systematizer because the words “spontaneous order” look so anti-system. Hayek’s intellectual mistake was to latch onto an early form of cybernetics or systems theory that confused systems descriptions like “spontaneous order” as normative prescriptions for action. A lot of early systems theorists made the same type of mistake. But “spontaneous order” is not a rule of development, not a way to judge whether stuff should be included or discarded. It is neutral. Systems theory is more like a language, a grammar of thought, a meta-premise of the discussion. If you are committed to its synthetic ability, then you must include everything: private property; individual initiative; inequality; the coercion by the market institution itself; environmental ecosystem destruction and its incalculable uncertainties (which the best systems theorists discerned even by 1973). Hayek did not. On the other hand, Hayek might simply have joined the anticommunists to defend Pinochet as a bloody Cold Warrior, which would have been disgusting but predictable. But Hayek did not. He went a little further than that. He went so far as to advertise and promote his own theory, + Pinochet, as the alternative to some greater imagined horror. Again, I think Nietzsche would have seen Hayek’s mistake: “I mistrust all systematizers and I avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity.” (Twilight of the Idols)

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Phil 06.26.13 at 10:34 pm

I think it’s possible to condemn a terrorist attack that kills 10 people while still thinking that it’s preferable to a terrorist attack that kills 100 people

You also appear to think that it’s possible to condemn a regime that kills and tortures thousands of people, while still thinking that it’s preferable to a regime that kills and tortures nobody at all. I think it’s this expressed preference which makes your condemnation of the first regime seem less than unequivocal.

162

Nine 06.26.13 at 10:45 pm

LFC@159 – “Obvs. not everyone who has a PhD in political science (or some closely related field) will be able to help you.”

The bit about the PolSci PhD was meant as a joke – i was going to qualify it with a list of acceptable publications but that would have taken too much effort.
But i definitely did want to disinvite the kind of troll who blusters his way thru’ with debating tactics in lieu of actual subject matter knowledge from responding.

163

Bruce Wilder 06.26.13 at 10:55 pm

Dan @ 157 pick one

There’s always the possibility that Hayek is just engaging in the common rhetorical tactic of heading off a debate he would lose in the court of contemporary public opinion, by pre-emptive assent. Perhaps, Hayek’s preference is not for state provision of social insurance, but for state-sponsored, private, for-profit social insurance, of the kind a Pinochet or Obama would promote.

I think one can reasonably suspect that the whole apparatus of conservative libertarian political philosophy, beginning with the capture of the word, libertarian, itself, from the Left, is to sell neo-feudal privilege and authoritarian government, using the normative language of the French and American Revolutions, and of the New Deal and socialism, celebrating ideals of democratic sovereignty, egalitarianism, general welfare, common purpose, a caring society, etc. The difficulty is catching them out, and proving it, by finding contexts, in which the peculiar meaning Hayek attached to seemingly high-minded rhetorical celebration of freedom, etc., shows itself.

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jonnybutter 06.26.13 at 11:14 pm

Wow, this thread sprouted since this morning.

Rich @52 and later

“Winning the politics of something is always more important than winning some imaginary dispassionate argument, and it’s not irrational to think so. In that sense Corey is wrong and his detractors are right.”

Winning the politics and having the sounder argument are not mutually exclusive. And having the sounder argument must have some built in advantages over time. That it is sounder is not sufficient for its success. But it’s not as if none of this matters at all. A bad argument certainly has disadvantages, even though it can have advantages at the same time.

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Alex K. 06.26.13 at 11:30 pm

Henry wrote:
“Hayek advocated a basic income scheme.”

He advocated that, and much more. Here is Hayek, in “The Constitution of Liberty:”

” All modern governments have made provision for the indigent, unfortunate, and disabled and have concerned themselves with questions of health and the dissemination of knowledge. There is no reason why the volume of these pure service activities should not increase with the general growth of wealth. There are common needs that can be satisfied only by collective action and which can be thus provided for without restricting individual liberty. It can hardly be denied that, as we grow richer, that minimum of sustenance which the community has always provided for those not able to look after themselves, and which can be provided outside the market, will gradually rise, or that government may, usefully and without doing any harm, assist or even lead in such endeavors. There is little reason why the government should not also play some role, or even take the initiative, in such areas as social insurance and education, or temporarily subsidize certain experimental developments. Our problem here is not so much the aims as the methods of government action.”

Henry:
” This is completely, entirely and absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether he believed that actually existing European social democratic welfare states were propelling us towards serfdom. You claimed that he didn’t believe this. “

After he considered the refutation of socialism mostly settled (in part by his arguments in “The Road to Serfdom”), Hayek’s concern was with differentiating between the aspects of the modern welfare state that are inimical to liberty and those that are innocuous — but the argument must be different:

” So long as the danger came from socialism of the frankly collectivist kind, it was possible to argue that the tenets of the socialists were simply false: that socialism would not achieve what the socialists wanted and that it would produce other consequences which they would not like. We cannot argue similarly against the welfare state, for this term does not designate a definite system. What goes under that name is a conglomerate of so many diverse and even contradictory elements that, while some of them may make a free society more attractive, others are incompatible with it or may at least constitute potential threats to its existence.”

But in doing so he did not target specific modern states — he targeted some specific types of action that the modern reformer might take and argued that such actions will indeed lead to loss of freedom.

He railed against ” [t]he reformers who confine themselves to whatever methods appear to be the most effective for their particular purposes [...].”

He warns that “[t]he chief danger today is that, once an aim of government is accepted as legitimate, it is then assumed that even means contrary to the principles of freedom may be legitimately employed. “

Or, topically, given the NSA fiasco:
“It would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that the greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good.”

What is missing from Hayek’s arguments is the targeting of modern welfare states, grosso modo, without an analysis of the type of reforms that they wish to implement.

It is thus simply not defensible to say that Hayek elided the difference between the welfare state and socialism — in “The Constitution of Liberty” at least, he was in fact careful to do so.

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Alex K. 06.26.13 at 11:33 pm

He was careful to point out the differences, that is.

167

Henry Farrell 06.26.13 at 11:38 pm

Alex – this is bluster. His answer to the question of whether he believed that actually existing European welfare states would lead to serfdom was yes. I remind you again:

In this sense Sweden, for instance, is today very much less socialistically organized than Great Britain or Austria, though Sweden is commonly regarded as much more socialistic. This is due to the fact that socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state. In the latter kind of socialism the effects I discuss in this book are brought about more slowly, indirectly, and imperfectly. I believe that the ultimate outcome tends to be very much the same, although the process by which it is brought about is not quite the same as that described in this book.

Hayek, despite your repeated claims to the contrary, believed that actual European social democracy was a kind of socialism, which would lead (albeit more slowly than state planning) to serfdom. He’s perfectly straightforward on this.

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Alex K. 06.27.13 at 12:03 am

I guess I’ll just quote more Hayek from “The Constitution of Liberty:”

“We shall see that some of the aims of the welfare state can be realized without detriment to individual liberty, though not necessarily by the methods which seem the most obvious and are therefore most popular; that others can be similarly achieved to a certain extent, though only at a cost much greater than people imagine or would be willing to bear, or only slowly and gradually as wealth increases; and that, finally, there are others-and they are those particularly dear to the hearts of the socialists-that cannot be realized in a society that wants to preserve personal freedom.”

So once more, Hayek differentiates between various welfare state policies (in addition to differentiating them from socialist measures) and claims that the measures that are dear to the heart of socialists can not be realized in a way that’s compatible with freedom.

You keep on repeating the quote where Hayek uses the sloppy phrase “extensive redistribution of income” — but that quote does not counterbalance the rest of Hayek’s thought, expressed outside of an introduction to a book.

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Lee A. Arnold 06.27.13 at 12:08 am

Alex K. #168 — Does Hayek differentiate them? Supposedly the criteria necessary for “disentangling what is dangerous in the welfare state” (#147) is what is “frankly collectivist”, within “a conglomerate of so many diverse and even contradictory elements that, while some of them may make a free society more attractive, others are incompatible with it or may at least constitute potential threats to its existence.”(#165). So what, in turn, is this “frankly collectivist” criterion? Is “frankly collectivist” that which would require complete state ownership of all the means of production? So a raise in top tax rates to 50% or 70% would not be “frankly collectivist”?

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Bruce Wilder 06.27.13 at 12:15 am

Alex K @ 168

To me, this just seems like so much oiling up before the wrestling match.

You cannot know what he believes from what he says, because he says everything. What he actually does will be dispositive. So, the friendly attitude toward the corrupt, murderous Pinochet is pretty revealing.

171

Consumatopia 06.27.13 at 12:47 am

If it doesn’t falsify Hayek’s claims that democratic socialist states have, when tried, either reverted to democratic non-socialist states or been overturned by anti-socialist tyrants; and that social democracies and welfare states have proven sustainable and non-authoritarian; then Hayek’s decision to side with Pinochet over Allende doesn’t have anything to do with fear of totalitarianism. He just thought that the freedoms Allende took away were more important than the freedoms Pinochet took away.

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Rex 06.27.13 at 2:41 am

“I believe that the ultimate outcome tends to be very much the same, although the process by which it is brought about is not quite the same as that described in this book.”

Not “quite the same” rather than “not the same”.

Alex K is full of bluster for sure (or far worse!). Hayek argues that progressive income taxes will lead to the death of freedom.

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Rich Puchalsky 06.27.13 at 2:58 am

johnnybutter: “Winning the politics and having the sounder argument are not mutually exclusive. And having the sounder argument must have some built in advantages over time. That it is sounder is not sufficient for its success. But it’s not as if none of this matters at all. A bad argument certainly has disadvantages, even though it can have advantages at the same time.”

All true, but… a sounder argument on behalf of what? That libertarians are conservatives? The people who don’t already believe this aren’t going to because of an analysis of the intellectual genealogy of Hayek or an examination of the history of Hayek’s support of Pinochet. Undoubtedly some people could learn something more subtle, but there you’re not talking about a political argument as such.

And there are disadvantages having to do with tribalist American politics. You’ll sometimes see a libertarian defend Pinochet, but rarely. I’d guess that a good number more defenses have appeared as a result of this argument, especially of the form “Well we’ll never know how many people Allende would have killed, so Pinochet may have been a necessary evil” as above. If it becomes a tribal point of honor, then people will defend Pinochet at every opportunity — look at how torture suddenly became something that half of America supported. I’d rather have the libertarians pretend to still be against dictatorship than to really think rationally about where property rights above all has to lead.

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reason 06.27.13 at 9:36 am

It seems this always happens with Hayek. He lived so long and wrote so much (much of it confused and confusing), that it seems you can find a quote to support any case at all. Precision and consistancy seem not to have been his strongpoints.

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Consumatopia 06.27.13 at 10:51 am

I thought the larger purpose of the whole “libertarians are conservatives” thing was pointing out the problems with the libertarian conception of freedom.

176

bob mcmanus 06.27.13 at 11:15 am

1) I am not seeing this as Robin contra Libertarians. Libertarians are not Robin’s community or valued peer group, and not from whom he would be seeking prestige of admiration, academic attention. He writes for the Left or center-Left.

2) I presume Spencer and that wing of political/social philosophy was all played out decades ago. Nietzsche’s “politics” is a little open, and I would guess Hayek has not been exhausted by left analysis.

3) What are the “hot” issues on the academic left (within Robin’s near community?) Damned if I know, I’m not in academia. Maybe the ethical conflicts between ascriptive or chosen identity (race, gender, orientation, anti-colonialism, localism) and universal rules? Methodological individualism vs contingency? You know, affirmative action, hijab in France, etc. These are difficult and contentious arguments within liberalism.

So one safer way to attract attention or make a contribution within that discourse would be to attack the radical individualism of Nietzsche and Hayek, thereby making the muddled compromises of the contemporary Left look moderate and sensible.

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bob mcmanus 06.27.13 at 11:38 am

And as a Radical and Marxist, I find the arguments between “liberals” and libertarians annoying. Caliban looking into a mirror, or someone looking into a mirror, seeing a exactly reversed image, and saying:”That’s not me at all.”

For example, should the Romney and Bush kids get to be born on third base? Legacy admissions, inherited wealth and status, advantages and privileges based on history and contingency?

Hell no, I say, parents should not be able to help or pass advantages on to their children in any way! Meritocracy can’t work that way.

Wait a minute, the liberals say…

178

Barry 06.27.13 at 12:07 pm

Alex K. 06.26.13 at 3:52 pm
“The discussion was about socialism not about social democracy.”

Henry has already addressed that with quotes from The Road to Serfdom.

179

Ronan(rf) 06.27.13 at 1:13 pm

On the point of state development and Hayek, James Ferguson had an interesting interview

http://www.humanityjournal.org/blog/2013/06/humanity-interview-james-ferguson-pt-2-rethinking-neoliberalism

Where he briefly dealt with the similarities between the neo-liberal/Hayekian theory of state development and the anthropological view (bottom up, agent centred) Which also, from what I can see, has a lot in common with the Farrell/Shalizi view on democracy?
So why does Hayek end up where he does? A bottom up/agent centred view of economic development in Chile would surely have had to accept all the other ways people organised themselves in Chile?
I’ve never read Hayek, or the posts connected to all of this, but was there a time when he had a genuine commitment to bottom up societal specific economic development, rather than outside imposed institutional and economic reform? Or, I guess, was his perspective more nuanced than the market fetishism that seems to have gotten hold of his 2013 followers?

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LFC 06.27.13 at 2:20 pm

@bob mcmanus 176

Corey Robin writes a long article for The Nation and as a result is attacked on a blog called Bleeding Heart Libertarians, with at least one person there accusing him of being “intellectually corrupt” and calling for him to be kicked off CT. Yet mcmanus writes: “I am not seeing this as Robin contra Libertarians.” What does mcmanus see when he looks at Guernica? A Mondrian?

181

bob mcmanus 06.27.13 at 2:49 pm

What does mcmanus see when he looks at Guernica?

Well, I don’t see something painted with Franco and Hitler as the intended audience or something that Picasso imagined as shaming and changing fascists. Nor do I suspect Koestler hoped Stalin would read Darkness at Noon and be converted.

Nor, in the old mode, do Marxists discuss Capital for Capitalists, they analyze it for the proletariat. Better still is to help the proletariat see itself.

But that’s me. I try very hard not to engage conservatives/libertarians in any way whatsoever, either as interlocutors or subject matter. I try to pretend they don’t exist, in the hope that after the Revolution they can be swept into the dustbin of history as an afterthought, a trivial tidying-up.

Robin can speak for himself, but I presume liberals and leftists, beyond academia, are hoped to get something from his work that might change how they themselves might think and act.

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Rob in CT 06.27.13 at 3:35 pm

For example, should the Romney and Bush kids get to be born on third base? Legacy admissions, inherited wealth and status, advantages and privileges based on history and contingency?

Hell no, I say, parents should not be able to help or pass advantages on to their children in any way! Meritocracy can’t work that way.

Wait a minute, the liberals say…

Of course we do. “Not being able to help or pass advantages to their children in any way” is impossible without massive coercion: you’d literally have to have all children removed from their parents at birth and raised by the state. Which incidently would result is shitty outcomes for all, so not only do I find the prospect horrifying morally but I think it’s stupid. It’s a recipe for widespread misery, abuse and failure.

One can certainly advocate for a proper inheritance tax instead of the laughable estate tax we presently have in the US, and I do. Early childhood intervention programs also seem like a wise investment.

But dreaming of leveling each and every children’s upbringing is absurd. It cannot be done unless you posit a dystopia. So yeah, “wait a minute” say the liberals. Damn skippy.

183

Barry 06.27.13 at 9:12 pm

Alex K: “What I argue is reasonably clear: “Evil” is a strong word but it can be applied to many political systems — in particular it applies to Pinochet and (even if we judge just by the predictably disastrous economic consequences) it can be applied to Allende. It is also foolish to pretend that we know in advance which one would have been “more evil” — hence we should abstain from choosing between them.”

I’ve asked this of Ben, and I’m asking it of you – show me Allende’s kill list, and show me his torture list. At the point of the coup Allende had been in power for two years, and was supposedly bad enough to justify a coup. That requires evidence.

Show me that evidence.

184

jonnybutter 06.27.13 at 10:28 pm

Show me that evidence.

Yeah, don’t hold your breath. This is where debates with libertarians often end. The chatter can continue, but the debate ends. No one wants to admit something fairly basic about this sort of program: majorities of people need to be either conned into it (a la Reagan) or forced into it (a la Pinochet). Did everybody hear Paul Ryan thrice deny his hero Ayn Rand when the cock crowed and it dawned on someone that her philosophy was sociopathically cruel? If you straightforwardly converted the basic tenants of Nozick’s ‘Anarchy, State…” into a political platform, how much support do you think it would it get in any particular country? About zero? Maybe a little more?

That people have to be either conned or forced is part of the political philosophy itself. People use the word ‘elitism’ in vague ways a lot, but this is a very non-vague example of it.

185

Phil 06.27.13 at 11:12 pm

To sum up, it’s an absurd and offensive smear to suggest that Hayek ever supported military coups against democratically elected governments. Hayek had something very specific in mind when he referred to ‘socialism'; when he explicitly stated that British post-war social democracy had features, goals or both in common with ‘socialism’, this was not in any way a judgment on social democracy in general, but a warning that this particular social democratic government had those particular flaws. Since ‘socialism’ as Hayek understood it is inherently undemocratic, no genuinely democratic socialist regime has ever existed (or could ever exist). The fact that most actually-existing social democratic governments have remained democratic merely demonstrates their success in avoiding socialism.

However, we should bear in mind that freedom, as distinct from democracy, is the supreme political good. While some socialist regimes may – at least temporarily – be democratic, no socialist regime is free. It follows that using the maintenance of democracy to distinguish between acceptable variants of social democracy and the evils of socialism is misguided. What matters is not whether the government can be replaced by means of a public vote, but whether the economy is free to respond to the invisible hand. A regime which is free but undemocratic is doing its citizens better service than one which is democratic but socialist; any entrenched socialist regime should be replaced by conditions of economic freedom, where possible, even at some (temporary) cost to democracy. Moreover, some of what are perceived to be ‘social democratic’ governments may in fact be democratic socialist regimes, with all that this entails. This is why Hayek could on occasion support military coups against democratically elected governments.

Of course, Hayek did not support Pinochet; Hayek’s political philosophy was entirely consistent with that of (say) Murray Rothbard, who was an outspoken critic of Pinochet. Hayek’s repeated expressions of support for Pinochet should be seen in this context, and disregarded. In any case, Hayek’s support for Pinochet does nothing ot invalidate his broader political philosophy. Apart from anything else, from his historical vantage point Hayek could legitimately judge that Pinochet’s regime, however evil, was a lesser evil than the socialist regime being constructed by Allende. This argument is all the more telling given that, in terms of Hayek’s political philosophy, an economically liberal regime was an unqualified good – far more so than the forms of political democracy: if Pinochet’s regime is judged in purely economic terms, it was in fact (in Hayek’s terms) greatly preferable to Allende’s. The comparison is between an intrinsically bad (socialist) regime with an intrinsically good (economically liberal) one; the fact that the good regime was brought about by bad means (and vice versa) complicates this comparison but does not outweigh it. This is why Hayek supported Pinochet.

I think that’s everything.

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Phil 06.27.13 at 11:12 pm

…and this is me, as Mike Yarwood would say.

What really amazes me, looking back at Hayek’s comments on Pinochet, is his complete indifference to the lawlessness of the General’s rule. At this stage in his career Hayek was as much a legal/constitutional philosopher as he was anything: for him, ideas about the rule of law were strongly associated with the virtues of minimal government and the evils of socialism, or any kind of government intervention aiming to achieve a ‘patterned’ outcome. But if you intervene with men in khaki – and make a pattern involving the death of your political opponents – apparently that’s fine.

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Barry 06.27.13 at 11:52 pm

Which is good evidence that Hayek’s stated principles were not his real reasons. In the end, it came down to a ‘business-friendly’ military dictatorship.

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Barry 06.27.13 at 11:54 pm

“Of course, Hayek did not support Pinochet; “

Since he in fact did support Pinochet, what is your point?

“Hayek’s political philosophy was entirely consistent with that of (say) Murray Rothbard, who was an outspoken critic of Pinochet. “

Except for the whole, you know – supporting and praising Pinochet.

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Barry 06.27.13 at 11:56 pm

06.27.13 at 10:28 pm

Me: Show me that evidence.

jonnybutter : “Yeah, don’t hold your breath. This is where debates with libertarians often end. The chatter can continue, but the debate ends.”

Oh, I’m not, and I think that it proves my point. I’ve asked Ben and now him for something rather simple, which should exist under their hypothesis.

And it’s not like I’m impressed with his honesty – apparently inability to predict the future justifies whatever he wants.

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jonnybutter 06.28.13 at 12:40 am

Hey Barry, Phil was making a joke. Well done, btw. Pretty good double talk.

191

Harold 06.28.13 at 1:31 am

Liberalism is made of “atomistic” associations (societies) of individuals (and their silly parliaments, elections, and abstract “rule of law”). In Fascism there are no individuals, only “organic” corporate groups, e.g., like churches. No such thing as “society, ” n’est-ce-pas?

192

sbk 06.28.13 at 3:34 am

More applause for the glory of 185.

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Nine 06.28.13 at 4:01 am

Ronan(rf)@179 -
Not sure if this thread is dead or not but … Fukuyama dumps very specifically on Hayek’s theoiry of “law before legislation” with respect to the spontaneously ordered nature of English common law. He argues that it did not gradually or spontaneously outgrow from customary law at all but was imposed by the incipient medieval strong state with plenty of top down breaks and impositions even before then.
I am not sure what Ferguson is arguing there. And anyway this is all off-topic.

194

r 06.28.13 at 7:19 am

Some say Robin ad hominems Hayek.

But we can argue: even if theory A doesn’t logically imply the problematic policy B, the fact that the author and life long developer of theory A (and many other prominent believers in A) took A to imply policy B and was motivated by A to put in a lot of practical effort supporting B, supports wariness againt pushing A in the policy arena. We can call this “the highway to serfdom argument”.

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Eric Hosemann 06.29.13 at 2:34 am

When asked what his first act would be if he was crowned king, Mises supposedly said “Abdicate.” Mises and Hayek differed in many important ways, but they shared a deep distrust of authority and sincere skepticism about planners’ claims of knowledge. This distrust and skepticism has become a core part of their intellectual legacy, so much so that it is literally impossible for anyone with the slightest familiarity with that legacy and its serious proponents (people like Cowen, Tabbarok, Boettke, Roberts and many more) to imagine a situation in which they or it would be marshaled in defense of any kind of atrocity.
This is not to say we-libertarians or others-should ignore facts about Hayek’s activities regarding Pinochet. We should remember them in the context of his humanity and remember as well the volume of hot air expelled trying to convince the proletariat that it was necessary to imprison and murder tens of millions of them in order to save them.

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Harold 06.29.13 at 5:46 am

So, it was necessary to kill or torture a few thousand to save them from democracy?

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Phil 06.29.13 at 9:15 pm

Shorter Eric: Hayek’s political philosophy was entirely consistent with that of (say) Murray Rothbard, who was an outspoken critic of Pinochet. Hayek’s repeated expressions of support for Pinochet should be seen in this context, and disregarded.

(Quoting myself @185.)

198

Eric Hosemann 06.30.13 at 2:23 am

@Phil + 1

199

Eric Hosemann 06.30.13 at 2:23 am

@Phil + 1

200

Erik Davis 06.30.13 at 5:42 am

I think that Hayek’s involvement with Pinochet should be taken seriously, and that it calls for a serious questioning as to how it relates to his overall political philosophy. However, what should remain unquestioned is that Hayek is an important thinker and that his ideas should be taken seriously. I suppose we wouldn’t be involved in this exchange if we didn’t accept that premise. Hayek wasn’t exactly a Nazi, though some people with direct experience of Pinochet’s repeated violations of human rights might feel otherwise. Nevertheless, Hayek is somewhat like Heidegger–problematic but unavoidable. Few would doubt that Heidegger’s ideas have been influential and even fruitful. I have no doubt that Hayek had many fruitful ideas.

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js. 07.01.13 at 5:26 am

@ Phil. More applause. All of 185, but esp. the first para, is a gem.

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Phil 07.01.13 at 8:46 am

what should remain unquestioned is that Hayek is an important thinker and that his ideas should be taken seriously

I don’t know about Cory, but I wouldn’t be kicking Hayek so hard if I didn’t think his ideas (a) mattered and (b) could take it. A monument with a huge and horrible flaw running through it is still a monument.

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reason 07.01.13 at 9:29 am

Phil @185
“However, we should bear in mind that freedom, as distinct from democracy, is the supreme political good. “

So you are anarchist then?

I’m just not convinced by this, simply because I think “freedom” is impossible to usefully define. Freedoms contradict one another. Maximising freedom is a balancing act and very much a question of contervailing power (since to some extent freedoms confront one another in a zero sum game). How you acchieve that without some sort of legitamated representative of the general good?

Maybe I’m just in general skeptical. I don’t think there is a supreme political good. Everything is subject to the law of diminishing returns.

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reason 07.01.13 at 9:33 am

Phil @186
Who was I replying to in my last post, by the way?

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Phil 07.01.13 at 11:43 pm

My comment @185 was intended as a summary of the pro-Hayek views we’ve seen on this thread. I was originally intending to challenge the Hayek apologists but found it difficult to identify the best ground to challenge them on; the summary grew out of that.

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reason 07.02.13 at 9:20 am

Phil @205
Thanks for the clarification.

I wonder though if this isn’t the reason for their apparent confusion. You can’t have absolutist pretensions and then chose the lesser evil.

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RMR 07.03.13 at 12:46 am

Let me see if I understand this correctly–people are actually arguing that a general who seizes power in the face of a democratic election may very well have Right on his side.

And that an economist–Hayek–who showed up, theorized on the military junta leader’s behalf, and allowed as how sometimes such great men need to step in on behalf of the populace whether the populace likes it or not (given as how the populace don’t know what’s beat for the populace), is a shining genius of democracy and reason.

Are you insane?

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roger nowosielski 07.03.13 at 11:48 pm

@ bob mcmanus, 176, 177, 181

Bob,

Not to take you away from this and other all-so-exciting CT threads, but might you look at the following site, “The Anarchist’s Dilemma … One Size Doesn’t Fit All,” including the comments space? The topic is the Bolivarian Revolution, especially as examined through the writings of Frantz Fanon, legitimacy or illegitimacy of violence in the context of revolutionary struggles, and the possible impact of South American geopolitics on the West.

If this is something that might hold your interest, I would definitely invite you to join the conversation.

By the way, I haven’t had a chance to look at the post-Deleuzian philosophy and source, but I definitely intend to.

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Jim Henley 07.04.13 at 12:27 am

“But the freedom of research and belief and the free­dom of speech and discussion, the importance of which is widely un­derstood, are significant only in the last stage of the process in which new truths are discovered. To extol the value of intellectual liberty at the expense of the value of the liberty of doing things would be like treating the crowning part of an edifice as the whole.”

By Engels’ Beard! This is literally a substructure/superstructure argument, with the bourgeois freedoms (discussion, belief, inquiry) undergirded – requiring support – by the material base of economic arrangements.

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Barry 07.04.13 at 3:22 am

“By Engels’ Beard! This is literally a substructure/superstructure argument, with the bourgeois freedoms (discussion, belief, inquiry) undergirded – requiring support – by the material base of economic arrangements.”

Jim, if you assume that Hayek, in the end really just wanted a business-friendly [1] dictator who’d crush the left, that would certainly fit.

[1] Where he, as so many right-wingers do, assumed that ‘business-friendly wouldn’t bite *him* in the *ss. If he had a business dispute with a connected firm, and found himself in prison/tortured/simply beaten because of it, he’d change his mind. But I note that the Pinochet-loving Hayek didn’t move to Chile, even though it should have been far more free than the Evul Eurosocialist Austria.

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Barry 07.04.13 at 3:24 am

Erik: “I think that Hayek’s involvement with Pinochet should be taken seriously, and that it calls for a serious questioning as to how it relates to his overall political philosophy. However, what should remain unquestioned is that Hayek is an important thinker and that his ideas should be taken seriously. I suppose we wouldn’t be involved in this exchange if we didn’t accept that premise. Hayek wasn’t exactly a Nazi, though some people with direct experience of Pinochet’s repeated violations of human rights might feel otherwise. Nevertheless, Hayek is somewhat like Heidegger–problematic but unavoidable. Few would doubt that Heidegger’s ideas have been influential and even fruitful. I have no doubt that Hayek had many fruitful ideas.”

The reason that this is important can be shown on any ‘libertarian’ discussion group – note who quotes Hayek, then bring up Pinochet in an apparently unrelated discussion, and watch how many Hayekians support him. Then go to a leftist group, note who quotes Marx, and bring up Stalin. See the difference.

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