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hayek is one of the biggest foreheads ever...

"I have long argued against libertarian critics of Hayek, that they need to distinguish between what Hayek himself argued, and where a Hayekian argument could be taken"

Why is this, exactly? Are you saying these critics are wrong about the interventionist aspects of Hayek's thought? Why do they need to account for where others *might* take Hayekian notions when critiquing Hayek's thought?

Because cuttlefish that is dealing with ideas not personalities. We should deal w ideas.

Of course we should deal with ideas, not personalities. Again, are you saying these libertarian critics are NOT doing this?

The underlying logic of Hayek's weltanschauung is both consistent with a radical libertarianism and moderate statism. Many of Hayek's particular policy preferences are contingent on empirical facts and historical precedents. An alternative perspective on such matters can lead to quite different policy preferences while sharing Hayek's general understanding and metaphysical outlook.

Here is where I end up parting company with so many of my "Austrian" siblings. I leak where Hayek leaks, and I like it that way! In the clip Pete linked to, Hayek said "some degree of design is even needed in the framework within which the spontaneous order operates." He said "some degree," not "the whole thing." As far as I can tell, such "piecemeal social engineering" is in no way inconsistent with his overall system.

Turning to the more general question of whether Hayekians can be anarchists, I'd have to say no. The Hayekian tradition is a Humean tradition. And Hume was clear about the presumption in favor of existing forms of government. The crime of regicide made Cromwell the great villain of Hume's History. The "mixed constitution" is best. This Humean status quo bias is a constitutive feature of the liberal tradition and one that you cannot give up without departing significantly from Hayek. This notion of abiding the current system is in the US Declaration of Independence:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Gee Roger, I didn't know you were a monarchist.

I think you are having fun with me, Bill. In fact, however, a constitutional monarch can be a good thing, depending on a nation's history. Think of Juan Carlos and 23-F.


Roger Koppl, according to Hume, "...the stability of possession, its translation by consent, and the performance of promises. These are ... antecedent to government".

I think Bill is having fun:) In defence of Roger from Bill's vicious attack, is there a monarch somewhere who has any executive power? In extreme cases (as when the Governor General of Australia dismissed a Prime Minister) they (or a proxy such as our GG) may be able to exert some checks and balances within the framework of the constitution but that is not the same as running the country.

Lee Kelly's right that Hayek presents a model that allows for a range, from radical libertarianism to moderate statism. That is because he is trying to present a model of classical liberalism in its broadest sense.

However, I have to disagree with Roger, though I do so using the very position of Hayek's he points out -- tradition. Why is it not possible for a classical liberal culture, based on its evolved traditions, gradually evolve toward anarchy? It is at least theortically possible for such a culture to piecemeal dismantle its government, replacing it with private institutions. Changing a government doesn't have to be through violent revolution (which have historically resulted in more opressive governments, anyway). Rather, spontaneous order changes -- slow, marginal changes that eventually evolve a society toward a certain direction -- can move us toward any number of political forms, including anarchy.

I think that if we look at other kinds of spontaneous orders, we can see how "anarchy" can work. If the arts are a spontaneous order, as I argue them to be:


then we do in fact have a model of an anarchic spontaneous order, as there is no central planning or government interventions, regulations, etc. regarding artistic content (at least in the U.S. and several other countries). In the West, this spontaneous order evolved out of a state of Catholic and state influence (and, sometimes, outright control). It might be an interesting model, then, in considering what a "pure" spontaneous order can look like. (I'm a few projects-in-the-works away from getting back to working on this idea.)

Of course, the fact that one can develop a spontaneous order theory of artistic production shows how fruitful Hayek's ideas can be. :-)

Hooray! I'm so happy to find myself in total agreement with Roger. I'm no monarchist either, but I think the gist of Roger's argument is neatly stated by Mandeville in The Grumbling Hive (1705), later in The Fable of the Bees (2nd ed., 1723):

No Bees had better Government,
More Fickleness, or less Content:
They were not Slaves to Tyranny,
Nor rul’d by wild Democracy;
But Kings, that could not wrong, because
Their Power was circumscrib’d by Laws.

Haha! Good, Arash! Your quote is a good one too, IMHO. Mandeville was great.

Sorry for the double post, but I forgot to respond to Jayson Virissimo and Troy.

I like the Hume quote you give, Jayson. I kind of infer that you think it rebuts my earlier statement on Humean status quo. Is that right? I think they are compatible. I don't think Hume is contradicting himself. We want liberty. How do we get it? Regicide is not normally a good path to liberty. More generally, liberty is not generally served by violent or sudden large political changes.

Troy, I have talked in the past on why I question the very meaning of anarchy in a gradualist contest. But I'm not sure that worth getting into here.

Rafe, the prince of Monaco is basically an absolute monarch, contrained only indirectly by the shared sovereigny with the French government, while the prince of Liechtenstein has basically all executive power and the right to veto any legislative decisions, all given to him back by the people of the principality in a referendum held a few years ago. All constitutional monarchs in the larger European countries still have full formal power to ratify all laws passed by the legislative and co-sign key decision of the head of government, even though by tradition they no longer exert them, as well as the formal power to name important government officials, such as ambassadors, generals, chiefs of staff etc - and of course prime ministers respectful of parliamentary majority. As was the case in Australia when the governor general sacked the prime minister, this final power to formally approve the laws and name the chief of government and other key officials can be extremely important in times of crisis. It is said, for instance, that in Belgium the king, who once rejected a more liberal abortion law despite wide legislative approval, is now the only thing that keeps the country together.

As I see it here is the problem...

* Minarchism is tacitly approving of past statism. Minarchists assume that past evolved institutional knowledge was more important than statist impositions that lasted.
* A transition to capitalist anarchy requires throwing away Hayekian evolved knowledge even if that knowledge start to accumulated again after the event.

I generally approve of Roger's position as the least worst option. But, the debate is complicated and appeals to Hayek can come from both sides.

People can only plan on the basis of the continuation of (most) past institutions. This is a strong argument for gradual - not revolutionary - change. And a small state is less utopian (and more gradual) than no state. Why does one have to aim for an unknown state of "perfection", with many aspect that we can't even envision? Unlimited-domain anarchism reminds me of "utopian socialism" in many ways.

I wasn't necessarily arguing for anarchism (nor am I necessarily arguing against it now), only that one could imagine a gradualist approach in the spirit of Hayek's spontaneous order. I personally suspect that minarchist , hierarchical federalism with power law distribution of size and power (the smaller entities having more influence over our lives than the larger entities) is the best we can expect in the real world. That is now natural, self-organizing systems are structured -- the same should be true of political organization if it were allowed to evolve naturally.

Roger Koppl, I was rebutting the claim that the Humean Tradition is incompatible with ordered anarchy; nothing more.


What you're referring to is known as the "subsidiarity principle." And if that's your preference, we could join the same party.

In that case, however, you're - ideologically speaking - an "old Austrian" (Hayek and Mises but not Rothbard) rather than a "new Austrian" (or maybe Masonomist, since the non-Austrian GMU economist Bryan Caplan is similarly extreme!). And I think the difference is not a small one: while I have never referred to myself as a conservative, I think that even a rigid conservatism (narrow traditionalism) is less dangerous than anarchism. Sure, it's possible to have "ordered anarchy" if one is referring to the Law Merchant and international networks of scientists etc., but limited-domain anarchism is something that is very different from the abolition of the state in its entirety. I remain skeptical about attempts to generalize sub-domain anarchism to predict the workings of a hypothetical total anarchism that nobody has ever experienced.

I think I still need to clarify what my point is. Ok, here it goes:

While Troy and I may both belong to an "anarchic" network of academics with no state-imposed rules and sanctions, this network can only thrive if there is a reasonable protection of our property rights, which rests on the coercive powers of states (notice the plural form: anarchy is possible if it is interpreted as the lack of a global state). In other words, we (I and Troy) may have a productive workshop in Dallas, Texas (his jurisdiction) or in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (my j.), but our interactions would probably be somewhat less focused in Ciudad Juarez or Mogadishu. So my interpretation is this: a state may serve as a useful long-term (slowly changing) framework of stability, on which to conduct the "anarchic" and more rapid games of buying and selling, investing and saving, writing and reading, producing and consuming etc. And local violence monopolies are desirable, just because most of us are then free to concentrate on the game rather than on the rules and their enforcement.

Yes, I learned about the "subsidiarity principle" when I went to Acton University. Little did I know that I subscribed to it at the time. Things have their appropriate spheres -- or, in a Hayekian framework, there are various spontaneous orders which have various levels of overlap (or ecotones, a term introduced in a paper presented at the 2008 FSSO conference David and I attended). I basically agree that if I have to spend all my time protecting my property rights, I can't enjoy the fruits thereof. Yet there are areas in which anarchy is indeed appropriate and even preferable: the community of scholars, science, and, as I suggest, the arts and literature, and, as David has suggested, religion. Money/free banking would also be one, as well as economic activity in general, once property rights are established.

Right on, David Anderson.

I guess I'll give in to the temptation to repeat my critique of anarchism, with Jayson's last comment as my excuse. Jayson, I think there is some tension there.

We can imagine a world in which the state never existed. Let's set aside the worry that such a world is so far from our own that we might imagine something very different from what such a world would really have looked like. Let's say we got the right image. Okay, fine, but we *did* have the state, which prevented the evolution of lots of markets and institutions that would supposedly have kept everything hunky-dory in the imagined state-free universe. So how do you get there from here?

If I had a magic wand that would wink the state out of existence, I don't think I'd use it. Without the evolved institutions of a state-free world, the result of suddenly winking the state out of existence would be unpredictable and likely worse than the current unhappy situation, particularly in light of the likelihood of states re-emerging quite quickly. These considerations (among others) lead me to conclude that social improvement requires us to *design* the institutions of liberty in more or less the way Vernon Smith has taught us to design individual markets.

Point first: Such design can only be piecemeal social engineering. Since anarchy is so far away from our current location, any conjectures about how anarchy might work remain speculative and of limited (though not zero) relevance to our current design efforts.

Point second: When we imagine the convergence to anarchy, it is no longer clear what that term even means. We must, for example, set up a system of competing suppliers of personal and neighborhood security -- competing "police forces." The system that sets that up would be imposed by the polity and thus, in some sense, a "state" system. It is the same for all our designed institutions. Are they "state" institutions or not? I'm not sure it even matters. How does it promote liberty to decide whether the purely imaginary end-state of the process of designing liberty is "anarchy" or not? Especially when we cannot and should not trust our guesses about what that situation would look like until we are far closer to it than we are now?

If you are an anarchist and I am not, but you support a gradualist perspective, then I don't feel like I really know very much about how you and I might really differ in our personal values, social theory, or vision of the good society.

Pete is surely correct as evidenced by the fact that Hayek grew more radical as he grew older. His ideas evolved within his own system or approach to social theory.

He advocated the denationalization of money. What is sacred after that?

"Pete is surely correct as evidenced by the fact that Hayek grew more radical as he grew older. His ideas evolved within his own system or approach to social theory."

This rather begs the question of whether the "evolution" of Hayek's ideas in fact represent a rejection of ideas previously held.

I'm still waiting for an answer to my question: in what way do these "libertarian critics" Pete rails against NOT address Hayek's ideas, as Pete suggests?

Don't know the author wrote this article in the first place is what, but I'd agree with your views

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