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@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview I realize that this is a hell of a hill to die on, but I have never understood classifying Hayek as any kind of "liberal". I have always thought that Sam Brittan had his number back in 1980: "Hayek's... ethical philosophy is highly conservative. He faces the question of how /
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview rules should change; and maintains that w e break them at our peril. Innovators may experiment with new rules or practices, but always at their own risk. The test is whether they can get away with them. Moreover, the pioneer of new rules can proceed on only one or two fronts 2/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview at a time. The condition of his success is his acceptance of the great bulk of other rules which, like his fellows, he follows blindly.

This looks like pretty standard conservative philosophy with which Edmund Burke would have felt at home. But there are important ways in 3/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview which Hayekian social biology is very different from old conservatism. First, he actually welcomes the disturbance and change of the last two centuries. These have, he believes, been brought about by individual effort and initiative within a known framework of rules. Gradual 4/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview changes in the rules themselves will, Hayek believes, further progress so long as they are spontaneous. But frequent deliberate tampering with the rules by over-ambitious reformers will, he fears, put an end to the whole development that began with the Renaissance and 5/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview received a new lease of life from the Industrial Revolution.

The interesting question about this blend of radical evolutionary fervour and conservative insistence on rule observance is why someone holding it should regard himself as a libertarian, which Hayek undoubtedly 6/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview does. Not only that, but he is recognised as such by a number of others whose entitlement to the label cannot be questioned.

The libertarian element is injected into Hayek's philosophy by the assumption that rules which have evolved through custom or common law will in 7/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview practice allow a large amount of individual freedom.... Liberty is, in the last analysis, an instrumental value in the service not of happiness or welfare, but of progress— material and intellectual—seen as an end in itself.

How ACCEPTABLE is this outlook? Hayek's ultimate 8/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview criterion is open to serious question. By "progress" he basically means movement and increase of complexity (in the biological sense). This is not a self-evident ethical yardstick....

But it is not merely the outside critic who has difficulties with Hayek's rule-bound 9/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview Evolutionism. Hayek has difficulty himself. If there is an inbred wisdom, not apparent to the naked eye, in the evolution of common law or common custom, why deny this hidden wisdom to more interventionist or authoritarian structures? After all, institutions such as rent 10/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview control, price control, a large nationalised sector, and heavy progressive taxation have existed in many countries for generations and have often evolved gradually. Might they not contain their own wisdom, not obvious to Hayek when writing as an economist? And will not, say, 11/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview the abolition of rent control in Britain—let alone the reproduction of capitalism, or free elections, in the Soviet Union—set in train all sorts of events not foreseeable by the simple-minded democrat or free-market economist who looks only at immediate consequences? Indeed 12/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview are not Hayek's own economic arguments for free markets as superior ways of disseminating information and coordinating activity put into jeopardy by Hayek's philosophical insistence on our invincible ignorance of longer-term consequences? The introduction of a free market—say 13/
@zeithistoriker @henryfarrell @edbrophy @sarahcareyIRL @alanob2112 @GeoffPMann @EconTalker @NewLeftReview in the transmission of television programmes—can have remote effects on values, tastes, and behaviour never suspected by the economist who thinks in terms of satisfying existing consumer preferences..."

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