F.A. Hayek: Dogmatic Skeptic

F.A. Hayek: Dogmatic Skeptic

Friedrich von Hayek, who died in 1992, is widely recognized as the most influential exponent of free-market liberalism in the twentieth century. Although the democratic left is unlikely to find his views very palatable, at least one lesson can be learned by contemplating Hayek’s life. He shows us what can sometimes be achieved by sticking doggedly to your guns, ignoring intellectual fashion, and waiting until your moment comes. Hayek had only one tune to play, the virtues of the free-market economy as opposed to central planning, but he played it with panache, could improvise longer or shorter versions as the occasion demanded, and above all never gave up practicing. As a result, when his moment finally did arrive sometime in the mid-1970s, everything was ready and in place. Anyone who advocated rolling back the state, deregulating this or that industry, privatizing this or that service, and wanted some solid philosophy to back him up, could turn to the works of Hayek, standing side by side on the shelves, and all telling essentially the same story. To the Thatcherites and Reaganites of the 1970s and 1980s, he was what Marx had been to the socialists of the 1880s and 1890s.

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