Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hayek: Why Intellectuals Drift Towards Socialism

What Hayek says about intellectuals, I believe, also applies to every category from movie stars to the general public. The advantages of freedom over central planning in a complex world is a very difficult concept to grasp. It is counter-intuitive to the daily planning we do every day at the individual micro level.



  1. I think it is also because many intellectuals believe that they are smart enough to "fix" the problems of the world if only people would do what they say. And how do they get people to do what they say? Socialism of course. And when things invariably do not work out the way the Socialists planned? It's the fault of the people who won't do what their told correctly enough. It is impossible that the intellectual was wrong.

  2. The above video is from Hayek’s appearance on Buckley’s “Firing Line” show on PBS from November 1977. I just happened to see it listed in the TV Guide that Sunday morning and recorded the audio with my student cassette recorder that afternoon. Recently, the show finally came out on DVD. I think the entire show can be seen here:

    The other guest is George Roche III. He was later involved in a scandal.

    Years ago, I transcribed what I considered to be the most important Hayek bombshell of that Firing Line show, that Keynesianism was an entirely ad hoc policy aimed at lowering British wages in the 1930s without the workers knowing what hit them. I had been a libertarian since 1973 and since no hipsters were Keynesians back then*, I really did not know much about it. The two Hayek quotes below from 1977’s Firing Line were about all I knew about Keynes and those quotes are about all one needs to know:

    I could always understand how people become socialists because it makes some superficial sense to beginners. Because I was an Austrian who understood economic calculation before I was ever familiar with Keynesianism, I could never understand how anyone could become a Keynesian because it makes no sense whatsoever and depends entirely upon suppressing and/or distorting the nature of and existence of voluntary exchange and honest price discovery.

    Nothing has changed.

    While Hayek’s writings may sometimes be unclear, he was kicking butt on TV in the 1970s.

    *If you think I am accusing Keynesians of being dishonest and slavish conformists only concerned about peer pressure and social standing, you are right. I am.

  3. I think "intellectuals" are much worse than Hayek admits. I think they hate average people, working people and minorities. Hostility to guns and hostility to Austrian analysis really comes from this hostility to average people. They cannot bear the thought that average people can manage to live with their own guns. They cannot bear the thought that average people must be left to their own devices so they can engage in honest price discovery. They cannot bear the thought that without discrimination laws, average and minority people with be able to thrive in the market without their help. The entire planet will be destroyed by Global Warming unless they can regulate the price and availability of every activity on earth.

    Think Bernie Sanders. When any opportunity arises to forcefully "guide" the hopeless and helpless working people, the "intellectuals" are like a dog when a big chunk of steak fat hits the kitchen floor.

    1. This analysis also applies to the Drug War and government schools. The intellectuals cannot believe that average people have the ability to contractually create private neighborhoods and schools where drugs and druggies are barred and where things turn out just fine. This also explains why the ghastly and predicted results of their policies, be it Stalin or Detroit, never even makes a dent in their minds.

  4. The economics profession itself is way off course. Keynesianism really took it down the wrong path.

  5. With all this great talk about hayek ill mention that popular science writer matt ridley just published "the evolution of everything" and is full of references to hayek and his all emcompassing evolutionary approach, he even quotes mises and mentions rothbard. Good read thus far. Hayek was and still is way ahead of his time but thankfully it looks like the mainstream intellectual world is finally catching up