Thursday, January 2, 2014

48 Non-Libertarian Positions Held By Friedrich Hayek

Murray Rothbard in  "Letter on The Constitution of Liberty by F. A. Hayek" (included in Murray N. Rothbard vs. the Philosophers, Edited by Roberta A. Modugno) identified 48 no-libertarian positions that Hayek supported in The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition.

Rothbard wrote:
It is, in fine, a tragic failure because, setting out in this big book to establish a groundwork and a system for liberty, this is precisely what Hayek fails to do and which constitutes his chief error. He has no principle for liberty. His only principle
is the “rule of law,” and this, weak anyway, is so vitiated and qualified that, by the end, there is virtually no principle remaining. 
This lack of principle can best be shown by a list I have compiled from the book, setting forth Hayek’s partisan biases, biases stemming from his odd concept of the State’s “noncoercive” activities, and from his defining “coercion”peculiarly to include “neighborhood effects” on others’ property,etc. The following is the list of Hayek’s specific partisan biases in economic applications of his theory.  
Hayek favors the following:
 requiring “monopolist” not to discriminate in price
among his customers
 government sanitation
 government roads
 compulsory jury service (which he considers
 compulsory deputizing of constables (also, as I’ve
said, conscription is “noncoercive”)
 government enforcement of religious conformity in
an age when people believe that the collective community
is responsible for everyone’s actions against
God (e.g., if people believe that homosexuals would
bring down the wrath of Sodom and Gomorrah upon
them, homosexuality should be outlawed)
 government enforcement of “rules of conduct” in
public places (a vague endorsement)
 suspension of liberty in “emergencies” (e.g., the right
of habeas corpus), in the “public interest”
 the “clear and present danger” invasion of free speech
 government subsidies in the “public interest” (e.g.,
for “defense”)
 government supplying of a monetary system
 government supplying of standards weights and
 government supplying of statistics
 government surveying
 government sanitary services
 government health services
 municipal services
 government public works—which individuals would
not pay for
 many government enterprises, so long as they are not
compulsorily “monopolistic”
 “factory” acts, and other government regulations of
 interference with absolute private property in land
 failure of government to enforce gambling contracts
 government aid to the indigent, up to a “minimum of
subsistence” for everyone; and this “minimum” keeps
rising along with the general standard of living(!)
 government subsidies for scientific research, other
 municipal government parks
 municipal government museums
 municipal government theaters
 municipal government sports facilities
 outlawing of peaceful secondary strikes and boycotts
 collective bargaining, on work rules—which Hayek
fails completely to realize are hindrances on production
and on management’s private property, and
which he identifies as extensions of the rule of law to
 collective bargaining on wage differentials (Note: collective
bargaining should not be outlawed, but an
economist should realize its economic evils and its
lack of advantages)
 outlawing of voluntary closed-shop “yellow-dog”
 compulsory old-age insurance
 compulsory unemployment insurance; 
Hayek favors Federal compulsion on everyone to take out insurance,
rather than for the government to “insure” everyone directly itself; however, he would supplement this with “temporary” federal aid and subsidy to private insurance
companies for such insurance (all this he would do along the lines of existing compulsory automobile insurance, which he also favors)
Further, while opposed to the existing federal social security program, Hayek is against scrapping it entirely, now that it is set up, and only favors a gradual transformation of
the present system into his proposed system.
Hayek is also against a monetary policy so “tight” as to lead to protracted unemployment (even though he sees that unions would be responsible for this unemployment).
 an odd maximum limit on proportional taxation which would only be the percentage of national income extracted by the government; thus, if the government decides to extract 50 percent of the national income, his proposed maximum would be 50 percent
Hayek favors central banking and is opposed to a freemarket
He is against the return to a gold standard; instead he favors governmental stabilization of the price level, including in such measures a “commodity reserve standard.”
Hayek also believes that absolute private-property rights are invalid in cities, and advocates larger municipal ownership.
He favors the following:
 town planning by government, to coordinate neighborhoods, etc.
 town planners
a. taxing property owners who “gain” by their measures even though the individual property owner may be opposed to the measure b. subsidizing the “losers”
 the right of expropriation of private property by government (right of eminent domain, etc.) provided it is at “fair compensation”—the “fair compensation,”
of course to be determined by . . . government
He concedes that the Henry George single-tax plan would
be fine if only there could be clearly separated in practice
the site value from the improvement value of land;
He favors
 governmental building codes, and minimum safety regulation
 compulsory expropriation of land
 federal government parks, and “nature reservations”
 federal government spreading of agricultural knowledge to farmers
 compulsory minimum education for children, with government of course setting the minimum standards
 government aid for education of the poor; he seems to adopt the Friedman plan for government financing of every parent, who can choose his own private school, thus eliminating the need for public schools (of course, the private schools would have to meet governmental “minimum standards”); however, hedoesn’t go as far as the Friedman plan, because Hayek
a. wants to retain public schools in isolated districts where private schools would not pay
b. in retrospect, favors public schools for nineteenth- century America, when transportation was poorer, and where public schools were needed to “Americanize” the immigrants compulsorily
 “academic freedom” and “tenure” in colleges
 government, federal aid to higher education
especially of general scientists and scholars
 government special taxation of slum property


  1. Hayek was a true Misesian and true libertarian. Please do not write nonsense

    1. Yup. Here is Mises' tribute to Hayek:

      Who really cares what Rothbard thinks about Hayek, let alone Wenzel. They are intellectual midgets compared to Mises and Hayek.

    2. You are the one writing nonsense as long as all you have to respond with is such non-arguments.

      Either refute the information as stated in the article, or it would be better not to expose yourself as a sycophant.

      If the above information is true, then Hayek was not even CLOSE to being a libertarian.
      If it is not true, then show us.

    3. Ahh appeal to authority.

      Why don't you (luca and Anon) try showing either:
      1. Hayek did not hold position X
      2. Hayek held position X and position X is indeed the libertarian position based on NAP and property rights.

      That is what a correct argument looks like.

    4. @ Anonymous January 2, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      "Who really cares what Rothbard thinks about Hayek, let alone Wenzel. They are intellectual midgets compared to Mises and Hayek."

      It doesn't matter what ANYONE says about ANYONE.
      The only thing that matters is whether arguments used are either correct or incorrect. You are willfully blind to this concept by ignoring the correctness or incorrectness of the argument, and instead just attacking or praising PEOPLE.
      As "Woobaroo" said, that's argument from authority (and ad hominem).

    5. Anonymous January 2, 2014 at 10:36 AM
      Who really cares ... Rothbard & Wenzel "are intellectual midgets compared to Mises and Hayek."

      Wrong. Rothbard owned Hayek in the context of upholding his American obligation.

    6. "Ahh appeal to authority."

      "As "Woobaroo" said, that's argument from authority..."

      Ahh, two people too dull to known that appeals to authority are perfectly valid WHEN the person in question is actually an authority on the topic in question: "This fallacy is committed when the person in question is NOT a legitimate authority on the subject."

      I guess you guys just took it on someone's authority that appeals to authority are always invalid, hey?

    7. After reading this it's obvious F.A Hayek was a Nazi.

  2. It's hard to believe that this is the same fellow who wrote The Road to Serfdom. All central planning is a price fix and all power structures are eventually corrupted. Tempt me not, for in my desire to wield the ring for good, it would do great devastation through me. Or something like that...

    1. "It's hard to believe that this is the same fellow who wrote The Road to Serfdom."

      No, it isn't:

  3. If someone thought Hayek was a Rothbardian then it is their gross misunderstanding but then to say Hayek is devoid of "principles" because they differ from that of Rothbard's is also incorrect.

    Jotting down points out of context without describing the process of ratiocination fails to do any justice to the Hayekian argument, he had approached the argument for liberty from a utilitarian stand point which is different from the moralistic approach of Rothbard. In a way the idea was to convince even those people who are not in agreement with libertarian values that the 'rule of law' is good for everyone, Rothbardian system is largely inaccessible if someone's beliefs are divergent from the libertarian values. In other words, Rothbard's book 'For a new Liberty' is build on Libertarian dogmas, a significantly different approach from that of Hayek but its clarity in principles is also its weakness because we cannot expect everyone to adopt Rothbardian brand of libertarian morals.

    Hayekian contradictions are the result of the fact that he took a much more challenging approach, let us read and comprehend the framework proposed in 'The Constitution Of Liberty' and not wrestle with particular conclusions which in fact does a gross injustice to the idea presented in the book.

  4. He was a classical liberal, but certainly no libertarian.

  5. Mises criticized Hayek's Constitution of Liberty for making too many concessions to the welfare state.