Sunday, June 08, 2008

Jesse Larner reads Hayek

After reading Larner's piece in Dissent, I have a strong urge to read Hayek's Road to Serfdom. Larner's article is worth reading in full, but let me just highlight the section where he gives his reasons for reading Hayek:

I try to keep abreast of right-wing thought, so I’d been aware of Hayek for a long time, and aware of his status in certain circles. Recently I decided I should study his work, much as, in my twenties, I decided I really ought to read the Bible. Influential, whether I like it or not.

He moves quickly to offer a summary of his findings:

Hayek was a surprise, in several ways. He’s nowhere near as extreme as his ideological descendants. He admits that there are a few rare economic circumstances in which market forces cannot deliver the optimum result, and that when these occur, the state may legitimately intervene. He recognizes such a thing as the social interest and will even endorse some limited redistributionalism—he goes so far as to suggest that the state ensure a minimum standard of living, an idea that surely embarrasses the good folks at Cato. Politically, Hayek is not the cynic I had braced for. Plainly, transparently—and in stark contrast to many modern conservative intellectuals—he is a man concerned with human freedom. One of the unexpected things in Road is that he writes with passion against class privilege.

Related reading: Will Wilkinson endorses liberaltarianism, a combination or synthesis of (welfare) liberalism and libertarianism.


  1. gaddeswarup said...

    There is an abridged version available online. It is also interesting to compare George Orwell's review and Bruce Caldwell's interview: