Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Old Whig: F. A. Hayek's Birthday

Today, 8 May, is the birthday of one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century, F. A. Hayek (1899 - 1992).

Hayek consistently championed the spontaneous order of free individuals over the conscious order of Utopian social scientists.

In The Road to Serfdom in 1944, he succinctly stated the economic and moral case for free markets:

"Economic liberalism....regards competition as superior not only because it is in most circumstances the most efficient method known but even more because it is the only method by which our activities can be adjusted to each other without coercive or arbitrary intervention of authority. Indeed, one of the main arguments in favor of competition is that it dispenses with the need for 'conscious social control' and that it gives the individuals a chance to decide whether the prospects of a particular occupation are sufficient to compensate for the disadvantages and risks connected with it."

Hayek did not like to hear his views described as "conservative," "classical liberal," or "libertarian." He suggested the description "old whig." Pity it never caught on.

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