- Published on Amazon.com
Hayek truly is a genius, I enjoyed his book "Road to serfdom" and was glad to find this book in my library. Bulter introduced me to other aspects of Hayek's thought that I hadn't heard before.
One thing I found interesting was how Hayek mentions that somethings are natural while other things are the creation of man and how some consider that all institutions, being fashioned by man, can therefore be done away with or reshaped if one so pleases. Hayek points out though, that many institutions are not only man's creation by are also influenced by nature, concepts like private property and marriage likely were not consciously planned and established, but came about and eventually law and religion helped enforce the institutions that had proven so useful. The example was given of one finding the easiest way somewhere, and thus creating a trail for others to follow, sure the trail is the result of man, but the way was originally chosen because it was best way to get from point A to Z.
Hayek considers how during the days of tribalism, people knew each-other and submitted to the authority of the chef and how in this context, they enjoyed a sort of socialism, but as more and more people begin to trade with others and society grew and people begun to do business with people they didn't know, concepts like private property, money and fixed laws that apply to all equally were quite necessary in this new setting. Hayek thinks there is this deep desire though for many to return to the socialism, which really a longing to return to that tribalism of old, something that just can't be done in our global world. Socialism worked in the former context, but cannot work in our present context.
I liked how Hayek wrote against Scientism in the social sciences, science works so well when dealing with the material world, but when dealing with humans and the economy, it is fraught with problems, because of a complex mix of motivations, purposes and other factors that muddy the water. But though Hayek doesn't think the behavior of individuals is predictable, he does believe it possible to make more general predictions of what a large group of people are likely to do given X, Y or Z and how this kind of thing can be tested.
Hayek is at his best when showing the weakness of central planning, how it always results in more tyranny. In the economy, there are millions upon millions of individuals making choices, these choices influence the prices and when companies make items or charge prices that the public doesn't want, they must adjust or go bust. But with central planners we find that they decide what people should buy or not buy; what is to be produced or not produced; what the prices and wages are to be etc.... since these planners are not omniscient (ever aware of whatever individual wants and needs and the ever changing prices, the worth of labor, supply and demands), the economy will always suffer and people will lose their freedom. Central will have to subjectively decide what the value of things are, without any regard for the individuals values and desires.
Image 100s of people saying they wanted to go on a trip, but never stating where they wanted to go, if they elect a group of people to lead, they may find themselves forced to go where they don't want to go. Thus is the absurdity of many deciding there needs to be central planners, without anyone being clear what that plan should be, the small group that now does the planning will even be in disagreement on what should be done, therefore, the most power hungry and cruel will like start stepping to the plate, also since the only way to enforce the plan is with a strong hand, typically it results in the Stalin's of the world to bring about the changes.
Hayek shared the utter vacuity of Social Justice, showing how the concept is largely based upon flawed analogies, one being a father who has children and is going to give them pie, we know it is only fair that he gives each an equal piece of the pie. But when we consider the economy and society, there is no individual nor any pie being is distributed, so the analogy doesn't work. He had a lot more to say on it, but my mind is struggling to recall it all.
There is so much more, this is definitely a book I want to re-read.