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« Is Corruption Bad for the Soul? | Main | Was Hayek Wrong? »


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Gerard Radnitzky took a rather different line on freedom in Europe, it can be read as a warning and we have to hope it is not too late for the lessons to be learned and converted into policies. In brief, the European miracle was a pre-democratic achievement and it was based on three things, limited government, free trade and the separation of politics from religion.

In his words

"It is an open question whether the relatively free society, which can support autonomous sciences and is supported by it, which grew out of the ‘European Miracle’ and which constitutes a unique and fragile exception in human history, will be an episode or an enduring achievement. Much will depend on whether it will be possible to educate the educable sections of the population and above all the future decision makers so that they understand the functioning of modern society and economy. This is a cognitive and also an educational task. The comparative institutions approach outlines the consequences of various institutional arrangements: the ways institutions work out for people living under them, what opportunities various systems offer, what sort of life is possible under them. It will then be up to the individuals to choose between giving individual freedom priority in the social and public sphere or to accept some form of slavery under a totalitarian system, including unlimited democracy in the sense of the dictatorship of the majority as a special case of totalitarianism. Thus, a position taking on value issues is indispensable. Hayekians posit the value of individual freedom. In my opinion, the contractarian approach to Constitution and State conceals the value issues. Values are traded off all the time. Sometimes people sell themselves into slavery if they are paid for it — as we witness in connection with the modern welfare state. however, there is no trade-off between freedom on the one hand and economic success and scientific progress on the other hand. The two are inseparable: economic growth has come from economic freedom and competition, and scientific progress has come from a free market of ideas and intertheoretical competition."

It should be noted that the European Community is in the process of dismantling the 'European Miracle' or at least placing it under severe strain. A similar process has bipartisan support in the US.

This is the full article which I have put on line in the Rathouse as a community service.

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