Hayek’s lessons to keep in mind

A day like today, 25 years ago, the Viennese economist and philosopher Friedrich Augist Von Hayek, one of the most influential intellectuals in my political-economical thinking, died.

Who were awarded with the Nobel Prize of Economy, on 1974 (“for their pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations and for their pioneering analysis of the interdependence of economic, social and institutional phenomena”), was also a member of the Austrian School of Economics, a key institution for the spreading of classical liberalism (libertarianism) and laissez faire, whose roots are depth in the School of Salamanca, an entity with intellectuals such as Francisco de Vitoria and Juan de Mariana.

His work does not stop being influential for any follower of Austrian theories, both libertarians and conservatives. In relation to that, I’m going to quote some fragments from the book Road to Serfdom that we should take in mind. It was my second libertarian reading, just like a Christmas present (2012). In other words, a series of texts that helped me too to foster the necessary argument to put up the ideological battle.

These fragments will be quotes in the following lines.

REGARDING THE RULE OF LAW

[…] It may even be said that for the Rule of Law to be effective it is more important that there should be a rule applied always without exceptions, than what this rule is. […] The conflict between formal justice and formal equality before the law on the one hand, and the attempts to realise various ideals of substantive justice and equality on the other, also accounts for the widespread confusion about the concept of “privilege” and its consequent abuse. […] The Rule of Law was consciously evolved only during the liberal age and is one of its greatest achievements, not only as a safeguard but as the legal embodiment of freedom. […]

According to the Spanish Royal Academy, it’s the concept of a «typical regime of democratic societies in where the Constitution guarantees the freedom, the fundamental rights, the division of power, the legality principle and the judiciary protection against the arbitrary use of power».

Thus, that hayekian concept warns about the fact that political regime only works when the respect towards not only freedom, but also equality at law, judiciary independence principle and presumption of innocence.  Citizen must not only know which is stipulated by law, if not also be treated in equality of condition. Then, that absence of privileges consists, mainly, as much in a repealing of anachronistic principle of granting of immunity as in renouncing to the so-called “positive discrimination”, in basis to which the burden of the proof is reversed.

REGARDING PROGRESSIVISM AND NATIONALISM

[…] That socialism has displaced liberalism as the doctrine held by the great majority of progressives does not simply mean that people had forgotten the warnings ofthe great liberal thinkers of the past about the consequences of collectivism. […] Where freedom was concerned, the founders of socialism made no bones about their intentions. Freedom of thought they regarded as the root-evil of nineteenth-century society. […] Only under the influence of the strong democratic currents preceding the revolution of 1848 did socialism begin to ally itself with the forces of freedom. […]

If we understand the term that etymologycally comes from “progress” term, which is defined by the University of Oxford as all case of «development towards an improved or more advanced condition», so then we ought to be clear about the fact that never is positive for any individual any class of restriction to freedom executed by public powers and promoted by some opinion sectors.

Anyway, the Vienne’s thesis does not stop to be an useful tip, because socialism, which has a variant based on social engineering, always attempts to control over either the individual or the economical activity. By the way, I take advantage of the right enlightening lines to make reference to a fragment of his according to thatnationalism was also considered as socialism:

[…] To treat the universal tendency of collectivist policy to become nationalistic as due entirely to the necessity for securing unhesitating support would be to neglect another and no less important factor. It may indeed be questioned whether anybody can realistically conceive of a collectivist programme other than in the service of a limited group, whether collectivism can exist in any other form than that of some kind of particularism, be it nationalism, racialism, or class-ism. […]

Socialism is the antithesis of individualism, so, the use of the term “collectivism” must not be doubtful.

REGARDING THE SOCIALIST ROOTS OF NAZISM

[…] The connection between socialism and nationalism in Germany was close from the beginning. It is significant that the most important ancestors of National~Socialism-Fichte,Rodbertus, and Lassall- are at the same time acknowledged fathers ofsocialism. While theoretical socialism in its Marxist form was directing the German labour movement, the authoritarian and nationalist element receded for a time into the background. But not for long. 1 From 1914 onwards there arose from the ranks of Marxist socialism one teacher after another who led, not the conservatives and reactionaries, but the hardworking labourer and idealist youth into the national-socialist fold. It was only thereafter that the tide of nationalist socialism attained major importance and rapidly grew into the Hitlerian doctrine. […]

Apart from the evident similarities among economical issues of political parties such as the French Front National and Spanish communist PODEMOS, and the fact of making remember that both ones and others hate free speech (we can remember that, while Nazis burned books whose authors were dissidents, Spanish far-leftists attempt to ruin the career of the teacher Alicia Rubio, whose public participations are boycotted, just to be against the ideology of gender that’s promoted by cultural marxists), I consider essential to learn about which must be considered the beginning episode.

REGARDING INTERNATIONAL ORDERS

[…] Wisely used, the federal principle of organisation may indeed prove the best solution of some of the world’s most difficult problems. But its application is a task of extreme difficulty and we are not likely to succeed if in an over-ambitious attempt we strain it beyond its capacity. There will probably exist a strong tendency to make any new international organisation allcomprehensive and world-wide; and there will, of course, be an imperative need for some such comprehensive organisation, some new League of Nations. The great danger is that, if in the attempt to rely exclusively on this world organisation it is charged with all the tasks which it seems desirable to place in the hands of an international organisation, they will not in fact be adequately performed. […] It is true that with the formation of such regional federations the possibility of war between the different blocs still remains. […]

This narrative may be considered as a vision about which is the European Union nowadays: a supraState project, that has alienated national sovereignities, not being limited to the guarantee of the free trade of people, merchandise and capitals. Then, another example may be related to the commercial treats because they do not delete but harmonise regulations, when the adequate could be improved them (if we do not oppose to them) an so reducing drastically the regulations and deleting tariffs without any condition (apart from the fact of having ignored lobbies). This might be understood such as a supranational unilateral declaration.

Once we’ve affirmed the previous, I sign that the opposition toward those commercial treaties must not be automatically understood like a bet on protectionism. While socialists, communists and certain members of “identity right” wing turn to interest based on protectionism and opposition to free exchanging, leaders such as the former American senator Rand Paul and the Czech European Parliament Member Petr Mach consider free trade must be guaranteed unilaterally, without exceptions, by every country themselves.

REGARDING COMPETITION

[…] the opportunities open to the poor in a competitive society are much more restricted than those open to the rich does not make it less true that in such a society the poor are much more free than a person commanding much greater material comfort in a different type of society. Although under competition the probability that a man who starts poor will reach great wealth is much smaller than is true of the man who has inherited property, it is not only possible for the former, but the competitive system is the only one where it depends solely on him and not on the favours ofthe mighty, and where nobody can prevent a man from attempting to achieve this result. […]

They are not only fewer who tend to demonise without conditions the situations of competition. That’s why more than one bet on equality by mar and on a protectionism to cut off little commerce, European farmers, owners of oil stations and taxi drivers from free market forces.

They do not perceive those the economist Ludwig Von Mises defined such as “economical democracy”A framework in which the course of those who offer goods and services can only be determined by the consumers demand and optional valuation (in total absence of State privileges). Free interaction is not damaging, but fair, similar to what happens with inequality (the problem would not be due to the fact of being as poor as the fellow, but to not be able to have enough opportunities freedom to growth).

To conclude, I consider Hayekian thoughts are essential to fight for freedom, against the progressive and social democrat consensus.