Because nothing says “spontaneous order” like torture and disappearances

by Henry on July 9, 2012

Corey Robin has “two”:http://coreyrobin.com/2012/07/08/hayek-von-pinochet/ “posts”:http://coreyrobin.com/2012/07/09/but-wait-theres-more-hayek-von-pinochet-part-2/ on Friedrich von Hayek’s admiration for Augusto Pinochet, quoting extensively from a new article by Andrew Farrant, Edward McPhail, and Sebastian Berger.

bq. Here is just a taste:

For instance, Hayek—writing to The Times in 1978 and explicitly invoking Pinochet by name—noted that under certain “historical circumstances,” an authoritarian government may prove especially conducive to the long-run preservation of liberty: There are “many instances of authoritarian governments under which personal liberty was safer than under many democracies.”

[Hayek] noted that if “Strauss (who I met during a reception in Chile briefly)” had been “attacked for his support for Chile he deserves to be congratulated for his courage.” [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 apparently wanted to help Strauss become chancellor of Germany.]

bq. … though Farrant et al (authors of the excellent article on Hayek and Pinochet that I linked to last night) cite from this “letter”:http://coreyrobin.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/hayek-letter-to-the-times-july-11-1978.pdf Hayek wrote to the Times on July 11, 1978, they don’t cite what to my mind is the most remarkable statement in that letter:

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.

bq. That statement is certainly in keeping with much of what Hayek wrote throughout his career, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him state quite so pungently his belief that capitalism is more important to freedom than democracy. … many readers have pointed out that Ludwig von Mises held similar views on the virtues of dictatorship.

bq. And then this, from their footnotes:

For Hayek, South Africa was supposedly subjected to similarly unfair treatment: As Hayek explains, when he attended a conference on monetary policy, “someone overheard how I was invited by the South African finance minister to visit his country and . . . someone immediately remarked that he hoped I would not . . . [accept] this invitation” (44). Hayek—noting that he deems “Apartheid’ a marked “injustice and a mistake”—explains that his negative view of apartheid has “nothing to do with the question whether it is morally justified or reasonable to impose our moral tenets onto an established population which built up the economy and the culture of its country” (1978b:45).

I’ve cited to Farrant and McPhail’s work before. An ungated version of the paper is “available here”:http://blogs.dickinson.edu/econweb/files/2012/06/hayek_chile.pdf. Other related papers can be “found here”:http://blogs.dickinson.edu/econweb/working_papers/.

[post title stolen from Cosma Shalizi]

{ 70 comments }

1

Hidari 07.09.12 at 7:31 pm

Not strictly relevant: but here’s a view of Hayek on trade unions:

‘Friedrich Hayek wrote frequently on the consequences of trade unions,
usually highly critically, making large claims about their very adverse economic
and social impact. A close analysis of his work demonstrates that his judgments
do not rest on a theory of trade unions which is clearly different from a
conventional treatment; nor does he anywhere present any relevant new empirical
work. Further, his methodological writings seem to disbar him from making the
kind of empirical claims on trade unions that feature throughout his writings. The
conclusion is that he was morally so offended by the extraordinary legal
immunities which the trade unions had acquired that his judgment deserted him,
so that he descended into a series of wholly untenable empirical assertions. His
significant influence on thinking and policy on industrial relations matters, at least
in the UK, looks to have been based far more on powerful emotions than on
science.’

http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/DP0178.pdf

2

Neville Morley 07.09.12 at 7:58 pm

[pours beer, sits back and waits for the first salvo of posts demonstrating that Hayek’s views on the dispensability of ballot boxes doesn’t in the least imply that he was a friend of authoritarianism]

3

bob mcmanus 07.09.12 at 8:03 pm

While I was at Robin’s last night, I actually became much more interested in his admiration for the work of the historian and pragmatist (?) James Livingston.

Here’s just a taste

4

Barry Stocker 07.09.12 at 8:12 pm

Sorry to disappoint Neville Morley, but the first salvo is from this libertarian who would like to say that Hayek is to condemned on these points. Fair play to Corey Robin for highlighting these shameful moments and to CT for linking. Though I would also like to say I did see the Corey Robin stuff first via Marginal Revolution, so a libertarian source. So fair play to Tyler Cowen as well, I trust all CT people agree. I also like what Robin says about Burke and recommend it to everyone. There is no excuse for Hayek on this or for Mises’ pro-Fascism comments. I don’t believe this affects the core achievements in Hayek’s work, where it is certainly never denied that democracy is a desirable form of government. I missed such a moment if there is one. As someone who is more of a Foucault fan than a Hayek fan in the end, I trust that CT people think Foucault is just as much to be condemned for supporting Mao for a while. I trust CT people are also just as ready to condemn apologists for, and fellow travellers with, say Castro or the increasingly dictatorial Chavez.

5

Data Tutashkhia 07.09.12 at 8:26 pm

@4, Nah. Some are big on freedom, others are big on equality. Each is to be accused of hypocrisy according to their believes. Castro and Chavez seem alright, more or less, in this respect.

6

SamChevre 07.09.12 at 9:03 pm

There are “many instances of authoritarian governments under which personal liberty was safer than under many democracies.”

This claim, at least, seems indisputable. (Says the guy with co-workers from both Singapore and Pakistan.)

7

hartal 07.09.12 at 9:16 pm

Is this the same Corey Robin who was on book tv, maligning “leftists” for not reading Hayek with the seriousness that he deserves? How serious are we supposed to be about the triangles in Prices of Production or the lurking social Darwinism in the Constitution of Liberty?

8

Harold 07.09.12 at 9:17 pm

In Singapore you have to pay a fee to the government of $50,000 for a permit to buy a car — and the government then tells you what kind of very expensive car you will be allowed to buy. Some Americans might consider that a limitation on their freedom. Of course, it does make you safe from having to deal with a lot of cheap or very polluting cars in traffic.

9

CJColucci 07.09.12 at 9:33 pm

If I’m not mistaken, there are two Singapore residents in-house. I’d be interested in what they have to say about what kinds of freedom, and how much of it, Singaporeans have. My knowledge of the country is based on several business trips there in the mid-1980’s, when I got the impression that if you avoided becoming a potential pest to the government and or an actual pest to your neighbors, you would be left alone; but I would be the first to admit that this is a superficial and dated impression.

10

Harold 07.09.12 at 9:43 pm

Some very good friends of mine just came back from multiple visits to Singapore and they told me about the fees for buying a car. It is no libertarian paradise whatever you may say of it. More like an enlightened despotism. The government is investing huge sums in education and scientific research, for example, designed to make it the intellectual capital of the world. There is also massively government subsidized housing. Government officials pay themselves very well indeed (in the triple digits) so as to have pay scales comparable to the private sector.

11

bob mcmanus 07.09.12 at 9:46 pm

9: I spent a couple hours looking up Singapore last week, and learned stuff I doubt I would have as a tourist, or perhaps even as a long-term resident. Wikipedia:

Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaire households, with one out of every six resident households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth — excluding their properties, businesses and luxury goods. If those were included, the number of millionaires would be higher, since property in Singapore is amongst of the world’s most expensive. [94] Despite its relative economic success, Singapore does not have a minimum wage, believing that it would lower its competitiveness. It also has one of the highest income inequality levels among developed countries, coming in just behind Hong Kong and in front of the United States.[95][96]

“Most work in Singapore is in the service sector…” IYKWIM

12

Dan 07.09.12 at 9:49 pm

[pours beer, sits back and waits for the first salvo of posts demonstrating that Hayek’s views on the dispensability of ballot boxes doesn’t in the least imply that he was a friend of authoritarianism]

Well, I’ll bite: it seems to me like a lot of the argument depends on an illegitimate shift between “authoritarianism” as (a) “non-democratic government” and as (b) “government that fails to respect personal liberty”. If (a) is meant then the connection between authoritarianism and lack of democracy is analytic, and doesn’t require any empirical support. But if (b) is meant then you need to do the hard work of showing (as is very arguably false) that there are no non-democratic countries that respect personal liberty. It’s easy to see why people would prefer to slide between the two.

13

Dan 07.09.12 at 9:55 pm

Harold, before we get ahead of ourselves let’s remember that the claim was that there are “many instances of authoritarian governments under which personal liberty was safer than under many democracies.” It’s perfectly coherent to believe that Singapore is one such instance while denying that it is a libertarian paradise or whatever.

14

Harold 07.09.12 at 9:58 pm

It depends how you define “liberty”. Traditionally, authoritarian governments do provide a measure of safety, or claim to.

15

bob mcmanus 07.09.12 at 9:58 pm

In case you didn’t know what I meant at 11

Are Singapore Servants Really Slaves

governing employers’ control over their live-in servants, which are found in roughly 20 percent of Singapore’s homes.

For domestic workers, the latest legal gain is their biggest so far: the right to demand at least one weekly day off starting in 2013. And as maids hanging laundry out of high-rise condos continue plummeting to their deaths — there are nine cases this year and 75 since 2000, according to government figures — Singapore has vowed to punish families that don’t provide safe working conditions.

Sorry. Gone off topic. Back to boogeyman.

16

Alice 07.09.12 at 10:06 pm

“There is no excuse for Hayek on this or for Mises’ pro-Fascism comments.”

I think Hayek’s excuse is that he did not have the requisite understanding of human nature that is required to have anything useful to offer us right here right now.
This lack of understanding on his part is apparent and totally excusable; how could it be otherwise given the limitations on human knowledge?

The inexcusable thing is for contemporary libertarians to deny the importance of the current psychological thinking that does offer the possibility for us humans to develop insights into ourselves and thereby learn to become fully human and be able to ‘do what Jesus would do’.

As an aside, I wonder if Christians should stop waiting for Jesus to come back, ffs it’s been 2000 years and maybe the idea is for them to ‘become Jesus themselves.

But back to a more reasonably rational argument with some supporting evidence, Robert Kurziban, in his book “Why Everyone Else is a Hypocrite”, offers a convincing explanation of how a person – even a superior white fella like Hayek – may take two very different stances on the same issue, depending on the context and not be aware of this or see it as a problem.
http://www.amazon.com/Why-Everyone-Else-Hypocrite-Evolution/dp/0691146748/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

A review of the book is available at Kurziban’s site;
http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP09200203.pdf

Kurziban is into the module idea of brain development and functioning, but offers an interesting extra level of explanation, but basically his idea is that “because the modules are running the show, it is quite likely that the person is completely unaware of contradictions that he or she may make.

This new knowledge allows us to acknowledge that contradictions in people’s behavior are the rule, not the exception, but perhaps only those with a creative intelligence will be able to see the possibilities that are now possible?

17

js. 07.09.12 at 10:16 pm

Weirdly enough, I’m in a way sympathetic with Dan (@12). Rightist conceptions of liberty tend to be at best indifferent to and more generally inhospitable to democratic social arrangements. This is plenty clear in Berlin, it’s fairly explicit in Nozick, etc. So while it’s of course fun to shame Hayek and his supporters by pointing out he had no problem with apartheid, etc., isn’t his position in fact consistent as regards the question of “liberty” ? (Admittedly, I know Hayek a lot less well than I do Berlin and Nozick, so maybe I’m missing something here.)

18

Alice 07.09.12 at 10:33 pm

“Traditionally, authoritarian governments do provide a measure of safety, or claim to.”

But they only provide safety for those people that they ‘value’. How do we get a ‘benevolent dictator’ that values diversity and all life, and who stays benevolent forever? Maybe such a smart bloke as Hayek has dealt with this old conundrum?

I used to think that Hayek was pretty clever for seeing back in his day, that self-organisation was an interesting new idea but this small amount of admiration was dampened somewhat by a commenter on this site a while ago who comprehensively argued that given the knowledge of self-organisation available at the time, Hayek’s thoughts on the topic were inadequate and did not demonstrate that he had any special ability to understand creative ideas.

19

sam b 07.09.12 at 11:33 pm

The more arguments I read between libertarian/propertarians and socialists (count me more in the latter camp, btw) the more it seems that ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ are not very useful terms. To take the Pakistan/Singapore example above; I’m genuinely confused as to which nation should be regarded as more ‘free’.

Seems to me that the free-wheeling, bad-ass, self-possessed attributes libertarians like to celebrate are embodied more in the recalcitrant and anti-statist warlords of Waziristan than in the cramped, highly regulated lives of the Singaporean middle class.

20

gordon 07.09.12 at 11:36 pm

Alice (at 18): “But they only provide safety for those people that they ‘value’”.

I love the way Hayek’s reported claim that “personal liberty was safer than under many democracies” in authoritarian regimes has now come to refer to personal safety, not liberty at all. This is also evident in Harold’s comment (at 14). And I have no doubt that if you keep your head down, you aren’t very likely to be beaten or robbed in Singapore.

So what’s important about authoritarian regimes is personal safety. You don’t have to be scared of those blacks in hoodies. How wonderful, dahlings.

21

Harold 07.09.12 at 11:41 pm

Yes, but in authoritarian regimes “those who are valued” can change at the whim of the local police. My stepfather was marched to the police station, jailed, and threatened with torture by castor oil under Mussolini. His crime? He was caught buying a copy of L’Osservatore Romano (the Vatican newspaper) which, unbeknownst to him, that day had published an article slightly critical of Mussolini. Fortunately for him, he had some friends who were able to get him out.

22

Antonio Conselheiro 07.10.12 at 12:11 am

The trains in Singapore run on time, but of course the country is only about 30 miles x 20 miles. It’s bigger in kilometers, of course.

23

blavag 07.10.12 at 12:37 am

Specifically on Singapore see Jeffrey Winters, OLIGARCHY, Cambridge University Press, 2011. As for Hayek..honestly, why are we still wasting time on Hayek?

24

Carl Weetabix 07.10.12 at 1:08 am

The fetishism for the beliefs of dead people is concerning. Whether it be Burke, Hayek, Mises, Smith, or Friedman (Milton) – they were all human. Their writing though absolutely having value, is not somehow imbued with biblical inerrancy (in my opinion, even the Bible doesn’t have “biblical inerrancy”). They didn’t magically get everything right and now were they magically able to predict all future necessities in terms of economics or otherwise.

Yes, factoring in their advice is wise, but to wrest the difficulties of today singularly on their wisdom is a fools game. Same with Keynes. Same with the signers of the U.S. Constitution.

We live in a modern world and we need modern solutions.

25

Carl Weetabix 07.10.12 at 1:12 am

Couple error there – sorry.

now = nor
wrest = rest

26

Carl Weetabix 07.10.12 at 1:16 am

Couple error there = Couple errorS there

Time for bed.

27

Alice 07.10.12 at 1:17 am

Carl Weetabix lol love your name. When I was a kid, the ‘gang wars’ I knew about were between the kids who had weet-bix for brekky and those of us who had vita-brits.

28

mclaren 07.10.12 at 1:54 am

Harold remarks: “Government officials pay themselves very well indeed (in the triple digits)…” in Singapore.

As much as that?

Imagine!

29

Down and Out of Sài Gòn 07.10.12 at 2:47 am

Carl Weetabix: Pinochet didn’t just jail people, nor just kill people. He had people tortured as well. Hayek would have been aware. There would have been enough reports even in the seventies to let him know what his best mate Augusto was up to. He just chose to ignore them. It’s straight out of Orwell, and Hayek would have known his Orwell:

Consider for instance some comfortable English Austrian professor defending Russian Chilean totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, “I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so.” Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

“While freely conceding that the Soviet Pinochet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian Chilean people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement free markets.”

That’s a different situation from hypotheticals like “framing the US Constitution led to the Civil War” – because there was four score and seven years separating the two events. Jefferson and Hamilton may have feared a war over slavery, but they were quite dead when it came to pass.

30

Alex 07.10.12 at 2:54 am

It’s interesting reading the Times editorial on European monetary union opposite Hayek’s letter linked above given current events in the Eurozone.

Carl:

We live in a modern world and we need modern solutions.

Tony Blair, is that you?

Alice:

I used to think that Hayek was pretty clever for seeing back in his day, that self-organisation was an interesting new idea but this small amount of admiration was dampened somewhat by a commenter on this site a while ago who comprehensively argued that given the knowledge of self-organisation available at the time, Hayek’s thoughts on the topic were inadequate and did not demonstrate that he had any special ability to understand creative ideas.

Link?

Barry:

As someone who is more of a Foucault fan than a Hayek fan in the end, I trust that CT people think Foucault is just as much to be condemned for supporting Mao for a while. I trust CT people are also just as ready to condemn apologists for, and fellow travellers with, say Castro or the increasingly dictatorial Chavez.

I refuse to play your game.

31

Corey Robin 07.10.12 at 3:13 am

Regarding Hayek’s knowledge of what was going on in Pinochet’s Chile. The authors of the article I cite in my post also write this (which I didn’t include in my post):

Hayek had accepted an “invitation . . . [from] a private university in Chile to give lectures there” and when this became public knowledge he was supposedly inundated with “letters. . . [and] telephone calls” and was also provided with a wealth of anti-Pinochet documentary evidence by organizations like Amnesty International and other similarly “well-intentioned people I did not know . . . [all of] which were intended to stop me visiting such an ‘objectionable’ country” (44).

I like the way Amnesty gets treated as some kind of culty-fringe organization, which I guess it sort of was (fringe, that is) back then.

32

Doctor Memory 07.10.12 at 3:21 am

Alex (@, currently 30):

Link?

I think Alice is referring to Lee Arnold’s comments in the various Hayek threads, most likeily primarily this one. (To put it mildly, how impressive you find those assertions in the context of his later musing about “energy monists” will vary highly on the reader.)

33

Matt 07.10.12 at 3:22 am

Classical liberalism has long had an ambivalent relationship with democracy. This sometimes comes out even in people like Mill, who in many ways breaks from the classical liberal tradition. (You can see it in his idea of plural voting for the smartest people, and I think it’s an essential part of understanding his worries about the “tyranny of the majority.”) This comes out today pretty clearly in the works of people like Jason Brennan (one of the “bleeding Heart Libertarians”) and, in a slightly more subtle way, Gerald Gauss. (I discuss this aspect of Gaus’s thought a bit in the review I did of his book, here:

http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/24757-the-order-of-public-reason-a-theory-of-freedom-and-morality-in-a-diverse-and-bounded-world/

Though not as much as I would have liked.)

34

LFC 07.10.12 at 3:36 am

Gaus’s title is one of the clunkiest, most cumbersome titles I’ve seen in a long time. I hope the book is better than the title. (haven’t read the linked review yet)

35

Matt 07.10.12 at 3:42 am

The Gaus Book is good, though very long and complex.

36

Gene O'Grady 07.10.12 at 4:52 am

Given that William F Buckley of all people had been on its board in the 60’s Amnesty International was hardly a fringe organization “back then.” Nor is it my personal memory that it was little known or considered eccentric.

On the subject of South Africa, during my undergraduate policy of giving every devil his due (I mean, I even went to hear B F Skinner, the worst lecturer who ever lived) I went to a presentation called “Progress Through Separate Development” by a South African diplomat who was making the rounds of Northeastern Colleges. It was extremely sophisticated and the goodies were probably pretty expensive, but I have a low opinion of Hayek or anyone else who could have heard that kind of stuff and had his flesh creep.

37

heckblazer 07.10.12 at 5:11 am

If you were to rephrase the comment as “liberalism is more important than democracy” I could see it as defensible. I certainly would prefer to live in a non-democratic state the respected human rights and the rule of law over a democracy that respected neither. That would go double (or more) if I was a member of a despised minority; taking Singapore now over Rwanda under Kambanda is a no-brainer. However, in actual application, I don’t see South Africa under apartheid and Chile under Pinochet being better than the democratic alternatives, especially in retrospect. Well OK, I can see that, but only if you think socialism is something so evil that anything must be better.

38

J. Otto Pohl 07.10.12 at 5:39 am

There is something to be said for developmental dictatorships over incompetant and corrupt democratic governments. Despite their authoritarian nature there have been a number of non-democratic governments that have overseen significant economic development and sometimes led to democratic transitions. South Korea under Park comes to mind.

39

Lee A. Arnold 07.10.12 at 6:08 am

@32 — It’s my endless crusade against materialism (a.k.a. “energy monism”) that keeps me youthful. The tenor of my comment was that Hayek happened upon the ideas of self-organisation and spontaneous order at more or less the same moment as many other proto-systems theorists.

My evidence is that in his last book Hayek writes, “When I began my work, I felt that I was nearly alone in working on the evolutionary formation of such highly complex self-maintaining orders. Meanwhile, researches on this kind of problem — under various names, such as autopoiesis, cybernetics, homeostasis, spontaneous order, self-organisation, synergetics, systems theory, and so on — have become so numerous that I have been able to study closely no more than a few of them.” (The Fatal Conceit, 1988, p. 9.–A good overall view of his final understanding of a nonmathematical biosystems theory, and moreover it is short.) Now we don’t have a date for when he began working on “the evolutionary formation of such highly complex self-maintaining orders”, but let’s put it around the date of “The Use of Knowledge in Society” (1945).

Well, wait a minute, the first Macy cybernetics conference in 1946 had around 20 people including Ross Ashby, Bateson, von Foerster, McCulloch and Pitts, von Neumann, and Norbert Wiener, and discussed these topics: self-regulating and teleological mechanisms; simulated neural networks; anthropology and how computers might learn how to learn; object perception’s feedback mechanisms; deriving ethics from science” (Wikipedia).

I think we have to conclude that these ideas were already advanced by the mid-1940’s, and Hayek was more or less out of touch when he began.

The general idea goes back as far as Alfred Russell Wallace, who characterized natural selection the following way, in a letter written to Charles Darwin before The Origin of Species was published: “The action of this principle is exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they have become evident, and in like manner no unbalanced deficiency in the animal kingdom can ever reach any conspicuous magnitude, because it would make itself felt at the very first step, by rendering existence difficult and extinction almost sure to follow.” (1858; quoted in Bateson, Mind and Nature, p.176. Darwin published The Origin of Species the next year).

Indeed, Wallace’s explanation could easily have been twisted later by any Social Darwinian into a justification for supporting Pinochet no matter whose skull gets smashed, because the last extinction-event we would want to chance is socialism of any conspicuous magnitude… And that sort of consideration led me to the second point of my old comment, which is that this error of Hayek’s, ignoring the bloody horror of the instance if you can, is in fact common to many of the early systems theorists: taking descriptions of systems as prescriptions for running them properly.

40

Data Tutashkhia 07.10.12 at 7:03 am

Any dominant ideology is enforced by a combination of indoctrination (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Soviet_man) and coercion. Indoctrination is preferable, but when it fails, coercion takes the center stage. That’s just how it is.

41

Alice 07.10.12 at 7:17 am

I apologise for not linking to the comment, have excuse but won’t be a bore. I was hoping that the person who posted it would comment again and they did.

Thanks Lee A. Arnold for your response.

42

Scott Martens 07.10.12 at 7:35 am

Lee@39: I think you’re neglecting the degree to which Hayek’s work is simply incompatible with information theory and cybernetics as it existed at the time. Hayek’s economics is certainly not string in maths, and even if he had heard something about information theory he would have found it of little use. If anything it weighs against Hayek’s ideology, often in the areas where as a social scientist he’s most widely accepted as basically right. Price signals are, from a cybernetic standpoint, woefully inadequate signals to producers and consumers, ones that cannot conceivably provide enough information to keep productive activity stable. I think Stafford Beer made that point in the 70s.

Or, look at it this way: Greek bonds were an excellent investment if the only information you had about them was their market price. Depositing your savings in Icelandic banks made loads of sense, if the only knowledge you get is the rate of return. Price information was grossly inadequate, and claiming that prices are only imperfect information because of government is not even slightly credible.

Besides, the early cybernetics researchers were technocrats, socialists, or military planners, pretty much down to the last man. And that’s just the American ones – as a school of thought the whole thing really took off in the USSR around that time.

43

E. L. 07.10.12 at 8:00 am

Hayek began working on self-organisation and spontaneous orders in 1920, although he only published “The Sensory Order” thirty years later. So he was quite advanced for his time:
http://manwithoutqualities.com/2012/06/03/marginal-men-weimer-on-hayek/

I regard “Sensory Order” as a great work, along with some of the early papers (“Knowledge in Society”, etc). Being purely syntactic, this early “systems theory” can be interpreted in many different ways, some of them contrary to Hayek’s latter authoritarian streak.

A good, if short, reference is “Knowledge, Institutions and Evolution in Economics” by Brian Loasby.

44

Tim Worstall 07.10.12 at 11:11 am

Bit of a switch here isn’t 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.

That statement is certainly in keeping with much of what Hayek wrote throughout his career, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him state quite so pungently his belief that capitalism is more important to freedom than democracy.”

Capitalism !=! markets.

It’s entirely possible to have capitalism without markets (everything from the State Capitalism of the Soviet Union as some would call it through to what the Robber Barons were trying to achieve, capitalism without that pesky competition stuff) just as it is entirely possible to envision society of co ops and mutuals (say, Mondragon type things), a non-capitalist society, operating within a market structure.

The leap from Hayek regarding markets as essential to individual freedom to stating that he regarded capitalism as such is a large one.

He may well have held that view as well: but that specific quotation doesn’t show it.

45

Barry 07.10.12 at 12:27 pm

J. Otto Pohl 07.10.12 at 5:39 am

” There is something to be said for developmental dictatorships over incompetant and corrupt democratic governments. Despite their authoritarian nature there have been a number of non-democratic governments that have overseen significant economic development and sometimes led to democratic transitions. South Korea under Park comes to mind.”

And Singapore, and a few other places.

Meanwhile, the list of brutal, oppressive, parasitic dictatorships/authoritarian regimes which trashed their countries would fill many, many pages.

46

Barry 07.10.12 at 12:44 pm

My original intent was to bold the ‘few’, to make a point.

In addition (working from memory here), a lot of S. Korea’s progress came after the government was liberalized.

47

Anarcissie 07.10.12 at 1:39 pm

I think one might reasonably doubt that personal liberty was safe under a non-democratic regime, even if it was (temporarily) existent. In any case, Singapore doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

48

Lee A. Arnold 07.10.12 at 1:45 pm

#43: “Hayek began working on self-organisation and spontaneous orders in 1920”

The discovery of any papers from that era would be useful. The history of these concepts at that time is a bit fuzzier. Clements published on ideas of green plant succession and climax in 1916. Smuts published Holism and Evolution in 1926. Tansley was active throughout the period and published on ecosystems in 1935.

49

Dan 07.10.12 at 2:04 pm

Rightist conceptions of liberty tend to be at best indifferent to and more generally inhospitable to democratic social arrangements.

As opposed to? Surely unless you explicitly build in political rights into your conception of liberty, it’ll be “indifferent” to democratic social arrangements in the sense that it’s a contingent fact that democratic social arrangements maximize (or respect or whatever) liberty.

50

Harold 07.10.12 at 2:05 pm

Singapore may be non democratic but it has a rule of law. It is likely that, rather than lack of democracy, that gives it a semblance of stability and safety. Rule of law is an essential element of democracy also.

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P O'Neill 07.10.12 at 3:41 pm

Someone on the libertarianets is wrong.

52

Barry 07.10.12 at 5:09 pm

Anarcissie 07.10.12 at 1:39 pm

” I think one might reasonably doubt that personal liberty was safe under a non-democratic regime, even if it was (temporarily) existent. In any case, Singapore doesn’t exist in a vacuum.”

From the view of the right, death squads are not a problem, so long as they only kill ‘those people’.

53

js. 07.10.12 at 5:17 pm

Surely unless you explicitly build in political rights into your conception of liberty, it’ll be “indifferent” to democratic social arrangements in the sense that it’s a contingent fact that democratic social arrangements maximize (or respect or whatever) liberty.

Well, it’s a question of the conception of liberty you’re working with. Look, I’m just following Berlin here. I happen to think that his particular conception of liberty is dead wrong (on which, see, e.g., Charles Taylor, “What’s Wrong With Negative Liberty”), but I think he’s right that there are two competing conceptions of liberty. One of them–call it the rightist one–is at best mute on questions of forms of political authority; the other one–call it leftist–takes political, or perhaps social, self-determination to be a necessary component of freedom. But I don’t think you gain much by simply assuming the former.

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Anarcissie 07.10.12 at 6:39 pm

Rule of what law? The fewer people involved in making the laws, the more arbitrary they are likely to become, and the more rapidly changed. In the case of the Roman Empire, when the Praetorian Guard assumed the role of naming the next emperor, the laws and personnel executing them could be changed with remarkable speed.

At present, Singapore lives off the agriculture and industry of other large countries, and as a refuge for the rich, has to compete with other cities, some of which are still protected from totally arbitrary rule by residues of democratic institutions. (London, New York) It’s a delicate artifice.

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Harold 07.11.12 at 2:26 am

I don’t mean to give the impression that I endorse the system Singapore has by any means. At the moment they appear less arbitrary than other authoritarian systems. That could change at any time.

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Kukai 07.11.12 at 5:19 am

Barry observes @45
Meanwhile, the list of brutal, oppressive, parasitic dictatorships/authoritarian regimes which trashed their countries would fill many, many pages.

Dictators are capable of bringing substantive material progress to their subject peoples. The old myth of the “Potemkin village” as a deceit has a basis in truth: Potemkin did much to develop the Crimea for he had conquered it. Sevastopol is Potemkin’s creation.

The price paid for such progress is the usual Faustian Bargain, drafted on the standard terms.

Inevitably, the debate over Pinochet leads to Ilk Hunting. Many folks rather liked Pinochet, Christopher Hitchens’ polemic on Kissinger I leave as an exercise for the reader. Ronald Reagan called Guatemala’s odious dictator Ríos Montt a freedom fighter. Even UNESCO gave Saddam Hussein a prize for his literacy campaigns in Iraq. Saddam really did turn Iraq into a modern country, complete with a middle class. So did the Shah of Iran. The list is very long: a rogue’s gallery of tyrannical little monsters, the House of Saud comes to mind immediately, still on the USA’s short list of Good Buddies.

Though not many people actually read what he said, Osama bin Ladin made this point many times and so did his mentor, Sayyid Qutb. Well, Egypt hanged Qutb only to make a martyr of him and now the Islamic Brotherhood has come in on that tide. They do not appear favourably disposed to American advice on the subject of Freedom, what with four decades of the USA’s connivance with Hosni Mubarak. The matter of Israel and its soi-disant democracy I mark with a little pennant in the ground reading Vorsicht Minen

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J. Otto Pohl 07.11.12 at 5:40 am

45

Agreed, but it is hard to come up with examples of newly developed countries that were not founded upon infrastructure built by developmental dictatorships. Taiwan, Turkey,and some of the ASEAN countries all made important strides in infrastructure development under authoritarian regimes before becoming democratic. South Korea developed significantly under Park and then transitioned to civilian rule in the 1980s after two more military rulers. South Korea was not democratic before Park came to power. But Park did a lot more to develop the economy than Rhee.

Other examples where real economic improvement and transition to civilian rule occurred were Ghana under Rawlings. There had been significant development from 1957 to 1966 under Nkrumah. But, neither the military regimes or civilian governments between Nkrumah and Rawlings had any economic competence and they were all incredibly corrupt. It took Rawlings ordering the execution of the former military dictators for corruption to set the stage for Ghana’s current economic development.

The only developed countries not to have had authoritarian regimes are those that were colonial powers and settler colonies. This would include the US, UK, Australia, and France. Yes the UK had democracy for white people, but most people think that even at his most brutal that Rawlings was a lot better than British rule over the Gold Coast.

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David J. Littleboy 07.11.12 at 7:20 am

But isn’t the reason that dictatorships do well economically (compared to previous or later democracies) largely that the US stomps all over governments that ousted our friends (and supports the dictators)? (Or, more generally, that dictators are better at making and keeping powerful friends; usually because if they didn’t have such friends they’d have been overthrown.) Hussein was our best buddy until we decided he overstepped himself in Kuwait. Post-Shah Iran putters along despite US opposition, whereas the Shah had the US (and BP before that, if memory serves). The US stomped all over Chile under Allende, etc. etc. etc.

I don’t get libertarian “freedom”. If the majority of Egytians want the Muslim Brotherhood, not the military, to be running the country, then the “economic freedom” of the military’s friends would seem small-potatoes “freedom” compared to that of the majority of the people to live in the kind of country they want. But libertarians don’t believe in democracy, so they don’t buy that, I guess.

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Data Tutashkhia 07.11.12 at 8:06 am

Otto, stable bourgeois democracy, even the most bastardized form, a two-party seesaw, is not a political system that can be implemented anywhere, any time. There are prerequisites, the usual kind: exterminate the commies, buy off separatists, define the boundaries for the most powerful, dominate the mass-media, education, etc. It’s a delicate arrangement. And Hayek, clearly, is correct: when you are a propertarian, it is, at most, secondary to capitalism.

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Kukai 07.11.12 at 9:01 am

The USA only stomps on dictatorships without nuclear weapons. Dictators don’t need friends and don’t want them. They need allies and they need mukhabarat secret police. A dictatorship is an economic operation, read Hobbes, he lays out why a monarchy is to be preferred: fewer people to bribe and the dictator views the rise and fall of his own country as an indicator of his own fortunes.

Bashing the Libertarians is great fun. I indulge in the sport from time to time. Nonetheless, for all the fine talk about small government in Liberal and Conservative camps, the Libertarians are Berlin’s Hedgehog: they understand government’s endless self-justification ultimately depends on the consent of the governed, usually manufactured at great expense. May I interest you in some K Street Consent Ointment? I am given to understand it has been slathered upon the private parts of the great and powerful.

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roy belmont 07.11.12 at 5:18 pm

“Personal liberty” norms for standardized drone unit human integers look and sound very different when used to describe the freedom options of actual humans with actual humanish lives.
Personal liberty for a myopic paraplegic coward with severe diabetes looks nothing like personal liberty for a high-testosterone neo-Cro Magnon.
The default norm for humans in the active discourse of whoever it is that’s been actively discoursing most of the last few hundred years seems to have slipped steadily toward the myopic coward as base norm, and away from the hearty hardy caveman.
That’s in speech and abstract forms of social interaction. In social circumstances cavemen/women still win hands down.
This skewed dynamic, with its hypocrisy and deceit built in, probably accounts for the massive growth of the prison industry and its less “civilized” inmate populations. Inferior places for inferior lives.

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roy belmont 07.11.12 at 5:20 pm

Kukai is the most interesting new writer on CT since the never-to-be-forgotten Chun the Unavoidable.

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gordon 07.12.12 at 12:25 am

Kukai (at 60): “Hobbes…lays out why a monarchy is to be preferred: fewer people to bribe and the dictator views the rise and fall of his own country as an indicator of his own fortunes”.

Hobbes’ life overlapped with the monarchy of Charles II. He (Hobbes) must have been pretty blind if he still maintained those views after watching that particular show.

64

Barry 07.12.12 at 12:26 pm

J. Otto Pohl: “Agreed, but it is hard to come up with examples of newly developed countries that were not founded upon infrastructure built by developmental dictatorships.”

After eliminating those countries with dictatorships, I’d guess that the list of recently-decolonized countries is rather short.

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Stephen 07.12.12 at 8:23 pm

gordon@63

Hobbes published “Leviathan” in 1651. Charles II’s reign began in 1660.

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LFC 07.12.12 at 10:24 pm

The matter of Israel and its soi-disant democracy I mark with a little pennant in the ground reading Vorsicht Minen

I believe this contravenes CT’s informal policy against attempted introduction into threads of the Israeli-Palestinian issue and related matters.

67

LFC 07.12.12 at 10:25 pm

Or at least I was under the impression that was the policy…

68

LFC 07.12.12 at 10:44 pm

On the US’s scandalous incarceration rates (raised, rather incoherently imo, @61), see here.

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piglet 07.12.12 at 11:18 pm

“many instances of authoritarian governments under which personal liberty was safer than under many democracies.”

Using suitable definitions for democratic vs. authoritarian government, one can certainly justify that claim in at least some cases. But that is beside the point here. Hayek’s argument is not an academic one but it was used specifically as a justification for the Pinochet dictatorship (which he preferred to call “authoritarian” – well Singapore may be authoritarian, Pinochet was a dictator). By most people’s standards, personal liberty was safer under Allende than Pinochet. But Hayek disagreed no doubt because he valued the economic “freedom” of multinational corporations (which supported the putsch) more than the life and liberty of actual people suppressed, tortured and murdered under Pinochet.

Since the OP mentions Franz Joseph Strauss, let me mention that there actually were academics in Bavaria (chief among them Prof. Bossle (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lothar_Bossle) at University of Wuerzburg) at the time whose job it was to actually redefine (in good old 1984 fashion) dictatorship as democracy – “New Democracy”, to be precise.

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gordon 07.14.12 at 12:24 am

Stephen (at 65) – you’re right, but I never heard that Hobbes revised Leviathan in the light of his experience. He lived until 1679.

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