Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hayek vs Hayek vs Von Mises

Hayek was in my view not nuts enough, or at least The Road to Serfdom isn't (his views might have gotten more "fundamentalist" later). E.g. quoting The Road to Serfdom:
“The preservation of competition [is not] incompatible with an extensive system of social services — so long as the organization of these services is not designed in such a way as to make competition ineffective over wide fields.  ... There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision."
In the actual book, Hayek seemed to me like someone worrying about reasonable things to worry about though possibly not taking sufficient account of the fact that the England of 1945, which inspired some of his dread, had just been at war for 6 years and escaped by the skin of their teeth.

The Road to Serfdom is, I think, more iconic because of its title, and because of the Readers Digest condensed version that reads more like the 10-minute version of Atlas Shrugged then like the original book, but had a circulation of perhaps 8 million. I can't help thinking that many people who speak of TRTS with reverence either read the Readers Digest version or knew someone who did.
There is also, by the way, a COMIC BOOK version which was published in the Saturday Evening Post, and made into a pamphlet by General Electric. (See

Von Mises is another matter. Anyone who spends so much time developing his own special epistemology is, like Ayn Rand, up to no good (She wrote a whole book on "Objectivist Epistemology"). And his whole system, as I understand it, stands upon one or 2 supposedly "self evident" and incontrovertible facts, so I am not surprised about Michelle Bachmann and her "beach reading".

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