Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Early Hayek: "’I'd rather die than be a New Yorker my whole life"

Austrian Information has published excerpts from some personal letters written by Friedrich Hayek on his first visit to the United States.

They include these gems:

(...) Oh, this America, magnificent and outrageous, the latter 
perhaps even more. In the long term, 
I think it is unbearable for Europeans (...) I’d rather die than be a New 
Yorker my whole life. For that, I’m not enough of a businessman (here even 
the intellectual has his own busi-
ness!), and I still don’t love the dollar enough.


I was seriously considering looking for a position as a waiter or something similar and would have probably landed a job washing dishes, the fate of all immigrants. By the way, this wouldn’t have been the worst of all things. Manual labor here is better paid than intellectual work. And after eight hours one is usually finished and ready to do some studies on the side. I don't know, but I somehow abhor the idea.


Weather: humid and rainy
Appetite: far above financial means
Socks: beginning to have holes
Mending talents: growing
Bank account: $45

The tone from the letters is so different from the scholarly writings of Hayek that I checked around with some familiar with Hayek's personal life and they assure me that the letters are genuine.


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