Tuesday, February 18, 2014

In My Ongoing Effort to Make Sure No One of Any Political Stripe Likes Me...

I will now defend Hayek against the ignorant attack of E.J. Dionne, who recently wrote: "In [Hayek's] view, the policies of Franklin Roosevelt led down what Hayek called the 'Road to Serfdom' and were thus objectively comparable to those of Hitler or Stalin."

Note the weasel words "objectively comparable." Even Dionne is not quite so brazen as to claim that Hayek thought these policies were "objectively the same." But then just what is "objectively comparable" supposed to mean? That they can be compared by some objective criteria? Well, any set of policies can be so compared!

Dionne means to imply that Hayek thought Roosevelt's policies were the same as those of Hitler or Stalin, but without actually saying it, so when someone points out he is talking rubbish, he can retreat with "I just said comparable!"


  1. Well, Hayek's predictions with regards to spending fell quite a ways off.

  2. That large increases in government spending and taxation in Western countries would be followed by authoritarianism.

  3. 1) threadjack, Samson: this post was not titled "was Hayek ever wrong about anything?"

    2) but since we're on the topic, where does he say this? And please point to an exact passage, not a whole book.

  4. "At the time I wrote, socialism meant unambiguously the nationalization of the means of production and the central economic planning which this made possible and necessary. In this sense Sweden, for instance, is today very much less socialistically organized than Great Britain or Austria, though Sweden is commonly regarded as much more socialistic. This is due to the fact that socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state. In the latter kind of socialism the effects I discuss in this book are brought about more slowly, indirectly, and imperfectly. I believe that the ultimate outcome tends to be very much the same, although the process by which it is brought about is not quite the same as that described in this book"

    Preface to 1976 edition to 'Road to Serfdom' written by F A Hayek.


    I don't know if he ever described the different "process", but history seems to have proved him wrong. I find it strange that anyone would make such a claim from pure abstract reasoning with no empirical evidence to back it up.

    1. "Tends"! If the process is not checked. But in Sweden the process was checked, and reversed to a large extent. How does this prove him wrong?

    2. Was there ever a "process" in Sweden that was leading to a totalitarian political system? Was democracy or the rule of law ever threatened? Were there ever political prisoners? Are there any facts that back up Hayek's claim? I am willing to be convinced if you can produce them.

    3. Do you really think that Hayek believed that society with a welfare state could persist indefinitely without turning authoritarian?

    4. Well, given he recommended a (limited) welfare state himself, I would hope so!

    5. Well, Gorilla, in the 1980s, my friend came to the US to become a physical therapist because Sweden strictly limited entry into that and many other occupations. That seems to be getting fairly intrusive, no?

    6. Do you really think that Hayek believed society with a welfare state could persist indefinitely without turning authoritarian?

      Well, an authoritarian nation need not necessarily be a welfare state. Planning of society could be directed towards non-welfare things, like in the quasi-feudal command society of North Korea. That country is a stratocracy.


Old-fashioned excuse: "The dog ate my homework."

Modern excuse: "Dual-factor authentication ate my ability to do my homework."