Monday, December 14, 2009

Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, more thoughts on Libertarianism

Ive finally gotten around to reading some Hayek. He is something of a founding father of Libertarianism. Although I find his writing stylistically questionable, run-on sentences abound, the content of those sentences is much more appealing. The Road to Serfdom provides a convincing account of why Socialism is inimical to freedom. Therefore my love of freedom makes me skeptical of Socialism. I particularly like this excerpt in which he discusses the foundations of the opposite of Socialism, namely Individualism.

This is the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy

of individualism is based. It does not assume, as is often asserted,

that man is egoistic or selfish, or ought to be. It merely starts

from the indisputable fact that the limits of our powers of

imagination make it impossible to include in our scale of values

more than a sector of the needs of the whole society, and that,

since, strictly speaking, scales of value can exist only in individual

minds, nothing but partial scales of values exist, scales

which are inevitably different and often inconsistent with each

other. From this the individualist concludes that the individuals

should be allowed, within defined limits, to follow their own

values and preferences rather than somebody else's, that within

these spheres the individual's system of ends should be supreme

and not subject to any dictation by others. It is this recognition

of the individual as the ultimate judge of his ends, the belief that

as far as possible his own views ought to govern his actions, that

forms the essence of the individualist position.”

However Hayek, at least in this book, does not lay out a how those who are skeptical of Socialism, like me, should go about organizing a government, or seek to reform the one that they are a part of.

For as even Hayek admits everyone needs a plan, not just Socialists. He does say that such a plans main goal should be to promote fair competition. But he doesn't say how you do that. Perhaps his later book, The Constitution of Liberty will be more forthcoming on this topic.