September 2022

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  
Blog powered by Typepad

« What You See Depends Upon Where You Stand | Main | Did the stimulus create jobs? »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I've been arguing for gay marriage since at least 1996 (and online at that!):

(search "Camplin" on the document then browse up a bit to find my comments -- I made it into someone's dissertation before I even started my Master's! -- do please be forgiving of the plethora of typos, though!)

Hayek was quite advanced on gay rights. In Constitution of Liberty he says, "But where private practices cannot affect anybody but the voluntary adult actors, the mere dislike of what is being done by others, or even the knowledge that others harm themselves by what they do, provides no legitimate ground for coercion" (p. 145). In the footnote to this sentence he says, "The most conspicuous instance of this in our society is that of the treatment of homosexuality. As Bertrand Russell has observed ([cite]): 'If it were still believed, as it once was, that the toleration of such behavior would expose the community to the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the community would have every right to interfere.' But where such factual beliefs do not prevail private practice among adults, however abhorrent it may be to the majority, is not a proper subject for coercive action for a state whos object is to minimize coercion" (p. 451, n. 18).

You can find both passages on the Amazon site for the book.

I'm guessing Lind still favors principles like freedom of religion and free speech, even in cases in which the majority may disapprove. In this Lind shows an attachment to principles that ought not be overcome by majority vote. Therefore, Lind shares the "dread of democracy" that libertarians feel, though perhaps on a smaller range of issues than libertarians care about.

Good to see Salon is making its one libertarian hit piece per month quota.

Steve wrote about "the supposed Hayek-Pinochet connection".

But I´m sorry to say that this connection is not supposed. It is real.

See this interview between Hayek and Renée Sallas, published in El Mercurio, April 12th, 1981, in Santiago de Chile (

Hayek unfortunatelly said: "Well, I would say that, as long-term institutions, I am totally against dictatorships. But a dictatorship may be a necessary system for a transitional period. At times it is necessary for a country to have, for a time, some form or other of dictatorial power. As you will understand, it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way. And it is also possible for a democracy to govern with a total lack of liberalism. Personally I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism. My personal impression - and this is valid for South America - is that in Chile, for example, we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government. And during this transition it may be necessary to maintain certain dictatorial powers, not as something permanent, but as a temporary arrangement. "

The problem is that this transition leaves Chile with thousands of killed people.

Could you go into the "out of context" argument on the Mises quote a little more?

One piece of context gained from reading that whole section is clearly that he thinks fascism is inferior to liberalism. That is obvious.

But reading the whole section also seems to imply that fascist violence against communists ought to be lauded and remembered because the communists were even worse.

Is Mises a fascist? Obviously not. Anyone who reads the section should know that. But it still seems like an extremely problematic section. He still seems to be justifying fascism's early excesses.

@Adrian, what would have been the alternative?

For example it has been estimated that had India not gone down the temporary road of socialism, it could have enjoyed considerably higher growth and that growth could have meant the survival of approx some 200 million children.

There are many other socialist/communist experiments that have resulted in widespread famines. China is another such example, up until 1979, millions of people died unnecessarily whilst planners experimented with new methods until they gave up and started market reforms. This is on top of the deaths due to other atrocities.

Allende at the time had been setting up a new method of production to plan the economy, they had bought some state of the art computers and I believe telex machines to manage the economy. I am sure this would have resulted in quite a higher number of deaths than under Pinochet.

When you argue that something has cost a number of lives, it is worth to think about what the alternative would have been.

Note: I am not defending indiscriminate killings as under Pinochet or any other dictatorship, however when given the choice between less direct deaths and more indirect deaths you have to ask yourself whether you prefer a clean image to a clean conscious.

It is similar to the question whether given the choice you should push the fat guy on the tracks to save the three kids or whether you should do nothing. The question is always what is the cost of the best alternative.

I tried to convince Hayek otherwise about Pinochet at the time. But the standard of comparison is surely not Pinochet vs. a Whig democracy. It was Pinochet or a communist regime. Do Hayek's critics believe thousands wouldn't have died under communism? If not, look at Cuba's path over the same period.

These are the kinds of choices in life people sadly face at times. Even today we're wirnessing authoritarian regimes being overthrown in the Middle East, in all likelihood to be replaced by authoritarian rule of another kind.

It seems that libertarians expect this incredible fidelity when their (mine, too) heroes enter the policy domain. The fact that Mises was also grateful to fascist Italy for initially staving off the Anschluss was simply a value judgment that he liked not being enslaved or murdered by Nazis, not an endorsement of fascism. When attempting to apply principles to the political domain we are bound to fail, as will the physician advising the witch doctor. With politics it is always a question of who will be coerced, how much and in what fashion, not what principles foster social cooperation.

When discussing Chile I'm always torn between (a) thinking that an improvement in the social security system and introducing a discussion on economic liberties are always better than absence of those two things, and (b) being completely baffled by their lack of long term thinking and hindsight on how they were giving fuel to future criticism.

Those fascism quotes from Hayek/Mises always remind me of people who claim Keynesians support war. I *get* that Mises and Hayek don't actually think fascism is good for the economy. For similar reasons, I *get* that Krugman doesn't actually think war is good for the economy. Yes, ideally you would want liberalism to be implemented through non-dictatorial means. And in turn, ideally you don't want stimulus (monetary or fiscal) to be implemented through means of war. Does this mean Krugman and Mises/Hayek don't understand opportunity cost? I think they do understand it, it's just that you have to play the cards you're dealt with.

Desolation Jones: Playing the cards you're dealt with shows you understand opportunity costs. If you can choose between A and B the price of the one is the cost of forgoing the other.

The people who play "gotcha!", argue, well there is a choice C: nirvana.

Have the young economists in this thread read Robert Barro's "Democracy and Growth" and thought through the economic intuition of the relationship.


It might be productive to discuss the empirical issues and the economic intuition that makes sense of the empirical issues rather than throwing words around and snatching up quotes for here and there.

Just a thought about possible redirection of conversation, not an excuse for anyone's poor judgement.

Martin said: "I am sure this [with Allende] would have resulted in quite a higher number of deaths than under Pinochet."

We will never know. But I think that Allende and Pinochet were more alike than many peope think.

We can´t justify death with free-market economic reforms.

We should be clear here. Pinochet was not a libertarian. He was a murderer.

I cannot access the entire article, but the abstract notes a "slight negative" correlation between democracy and economic growth. How slight is it? Is it statistically significant? If not, perhaps the best (and worst) that can be said is that democracy per se has no affect on economic growth, but that it is the policies which affect growth, regardless of government. One might want democracy for reasons other than economic growth. I also wonder what is being called "democracy," since the U.S., for example, is not a democracy, but is rather a Constitutional republic.

Gay rights? Pinochet.
Gun rights? Pinochet.
Recreational drugs? Pinochet.
Castro? Pinochet.

And that, I will someday tell my grandchildren, is how the Progressives always won the public debate.

Adrian, nobody is justifying deaths in themselves or as a means to an end.

Arguing that a transition leaves Chile with thousands of deaths, is assuming that there exists an alternative where this is not the case. That is why I asked you what would, according to you, have been the alternative?

If I go out and buy A for a dollar, I've spent a dollar that cannot be spent to buy B. The cost of A is B.

The cost of Pinochet is Allende, and as you argued, they weren't too different. The transition therefore did not leave Chili with any more deaths than there would have been under an Allende regime, direct or indirect.

It however did result in free market reforms after. This is a plus.

On Mises on Fascism in his book Liberalism:
That Fascism “saved European civilization” from Bolshevism was a commonly held view among anti-Communists of the period. For instance, Winston Churchill visited Italy, met with Mussolini, and publicly lauded “Fascismo’s triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism,” claiming that “it proved the necessary antidote to the Communist poison” (New York Times January 21, 1927). All of the Italian classical liberals supported Mussolini's seizure of power in 1922, fearing that the country was teetering on the brink of a Leninist takeover. When I discussed with Mises translating his Liberalismus, from which this quote comes, he suggested I include a note explaining the circumstances of the time. I told him I thought that was unnecessary--vastly underestimating the prevalence of the historically clueless. There is a section on this whole episode in my forthcoming Classical Liberalism and the Austrian School, from the Mises Institute.

Pete, regarding the Barro-paper: the time-line is problematic for me. 1960-1990 covers barely 30 years, that is the length of one or two consecutive autocratic regimes.

Reading the paper however, I see that he qualifies the result quite a bit. I can find myself in his conclusion though: democracy at some point becomes a luxury good.

This seems consistent with economic freedoms leading to democracy/political freedoms. When you have rich people political freedoms become some sort of 'leisure' activity. The more economic freedom you have, the more rich people (in an absolute sense) and the more demand there is for politics as a leisure activity.

And this also seems consistent with my amateurish grasp of history and European revolutions in the 19th century, I am thinking 1848 in Germany and 1867 in Austria-Hungary and the interest in politics among the relatively well-off in the ethnic minorities in the KuK, that eventually led to its partitioning.

Thanks for that bit of history Ralph.

There does seem to be an awful lot of critiques of Libertarianism lately.

Martin, I´m sorry but I can´t understand why we have to choose between Allende and Pinochet.

Because that was the real historical choice?

"Because that was the real historical choice?"

There are lots of real historical choices, but for most people political choices aren't one of them. Most people pay little attention to politics.

Was the case in Chile that one HAD to align with one or the other because the non-aligned were executed along with supporters of the other side? I don't know the details.

I guess I don't see why refusing to choose among evils and declaring a pox on all their houses isn't an option as well. From an individual and epistemological standpoint too; one person can't do much anyway (it's irrational to try, which is why libertarians defend the "petty" actors within civil society), and knowing one's contribution to social change in the long run is almost impossible to decipher anyway.

Adrian, as Troy said: that was the choice in case of Chili and probably the choice underlying Hayek's statement you quoted.

Dain, both Mises and Hayek did so. They said A>B but we'd actually prefer C to A. C being a liberal democracy. That however was not a realistic option in this scenario.

The U.S. government refused to align itself with Castro, who then turned to the Soviet Union. In fact, the U.S. did not have to even align itself with Castro -- just not disrespect him, as our government did.

You have to work with the cards you're dealt. If you refuse to help Pinochet, there's a good chance that he will turn to someone else, to some other economic model. Pinochet was not ideological -- he just wanted the economy to do better. He had people who had studied under Hayek and Friedman, so they turned to them. Pinochet let it be known that he would not tolerate a bad economy, and it was fortunate for both his advisors and the people of Chile that it was Friedman and Hayek who were brought in. Had they not agreed to help, Chile could have gone the way of Cuba. And that is many, many more deaths.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Our Books