Monday, May 29, 2017

Hayek

Hayek's starting point, and slogging through 27% of the much prefaced and introduced edition of The Road to Serfdom I have, has only barely gotten me to that point, is that England and America (in the 1940s) were just arriving at a point that had already transformed Germany, Italy, and Russian into totalitarian states, and that the central agent of that transformation was socialism. Obviously that latter was true in the case of Russia.

My first impression is that Hayek is a very narrow minded fanatic, who is heroically trying to force history into the Procrustean Bed of his own obsession. In particular it would seem to ignore long established authoritarian histories of all three nations as well as their recent social and economic convulsions. But I should wait to hear his argument.

One thing I would note from one of the many prefaces, was that Hayek says:

But, whatever the name, the essential point remains that all I shall have to say is derived from certain ultimate values. I hope I have adequately discharged in the book itself a second and no less important duty: to make it clear beyond doubt what these ultimate values are on which the whole argument depends.

Hayek, F. A.. The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2) (Kindle Locations 1074-1077). University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.

Of course he has yet to enunciate those values (at this point in the book) so I couldn't say what the are - though he has noted that he is sure that they aren't self-serving.

These two sentences prompted me to wonder a bit about my own disdain for libertarianism. I'm sure that it's very long standing, well over a half-century old. I think it originated for me when I was in high-school, and first crystallized in my arguments with fellow nerds who happened to be of that persuasion. Their arguments always sounded nuts to me, even though I never bothered to read their idiot bible (I think it was Atlas Shrugged, which, many decades later, I did read as a sort of penance.)

I might try to dig deeper into the why at some later point.