The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition (Collected Works of F.A. Hayek (Paperback)) Paperback – 1 Apr 2011
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Number 9 on the "National Review"'s list of the top 100 books of the twentieth century
"One of the great political works of our time . . . . The twentieth-century successor to John Stuart Mill's essay, 'On Liberty.'"
"A reflective, often biting, commentary on the nature of our society and its dominant thought by one who is passionately opposed to the coercion of human beings by the arbitrary will of others, who puts liberty above welfare and is sanguine that greater welfare will thereby ensue."
--New York Times Book Review
"In an age when many on the right are worried that the Obama administration's reform of health care is leading us toward socialism, Hayek's warnings from the mid-twentieth century about society's slide toward despotism, and his principled defense of a minimal state, have found strong political resonance. . . . The notes [to this edition] make clear the extraordinary breadth and depth of Hayek s erudition and his ability to wander far beyond economics into history, philosophy, biology, and other fields."
--Francis Fukuyama "New York Times Book Review ""
About the Author
F. A. Hayek (1899–1992), recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and cowinner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and a leading proponent of classical liberalism in the twentieth century. Ronald Hamowy is professor of history emeritus at the University of Alberta. He is the editor of The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, among other books.
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Top Customer Reviews
The result is not a comprehensive treatise like von Mises's Human Action, or the Wealth of Nations. Hayek always regarded himself as an intellectual 'muddler' (albeit a brilliant one). And his work reflects this. I prefer him when he is focused upon a particular issue at hand, like in The Road to Serfdom, or in the essays that comprise Individualism and the Economic Order.
This is not to detract from the value of this work. Hayek's defence of negative verses freedom, his description of the rule of law, the chapter on Responsibility and Freedom, and the post-script 'Why I am not a Conservative,' deserve to be treasured. Hayek's intellectual integrity shines through here. He was never a polemist or an extremist, and this has compromised his stature amongst libertarians. But Hayek's particular position on any single issue should not be of concern here. A reiteration of classical liberalism will always be of value, but this work stands out for the subtlety of its insights, and the range and depth of its arguments. Hayek's ideas should be recognised as providing, along with those of Mises and Milton Friedman, the best twentieth century defence of a free and spontaneously ordered society; a defence which should be distinguished from the limited and compromised one provided by many neo-classical economists, by social democrats or conservatives, and the dogma provided by Aynn Rand and her disciples.
Hayek's purpose in restating the principles of liberal society is to defend these principles against the opposing intellectual movement of collectivism. Western Civilization succeeded largely because of its individualism. Collectivism is undermining the basis of modern civilization in the West. Individualism is important because we each lack the knowledge needed to rationally direct the affairs of others. Some people believe that they can plan out society because they are `experts' or because they are educated. Hayek saw that nobody can posses the knowledge needed to design a rational order for society. As Hayek put it, "it is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not posses that men can pursue their individual ends more successfully than they could alone".
In writing this book, Hayek shifted his attention away from full-blown socialism and towards the modern welfare state. Hayek seems to have felt that the case for socialism had been sufficiently weakened so as to allow him to critique welfare states. Hayek accepted some types of government intervention that libertarians typically oppose. Rather than opposing each program point by point, Hayek sought out some `lynchpin issues' that would limit state growth.Read more ›
This book is divided into three sections and post script, the first The Value of Freedom outlines Hayek's views on liberty, reason, responsibility and progress and politics, the second section on Freedom and The Law outlines Hayek's views on the relationship between individual freedom and the state, the final section is on Freedom and The Welfare State and begins with an essay on the decline of socialism and the rise of the welfare state.
This book is a lot more complete and holistic, you get a much clearer idea of what Hayek's proposing aswell as opposing, even if you dont necessarily agree.
In reading it Hayek does appear to be a lot less dogmatic than many of his supporters or popularisers and he's a great writer besides, the very simple introduction which seeks to link Hayek with contemporary wars of religion with the islamic world and the rise of neo-conservatism in America is over shadowed by the main work (infact it reads a lot like Trotsky paying homage to Marx or any other political pundit who tries to bask in reflected glory).
I would seriously recommend the chapter on the decline of socialism and the rise of the welfare state to anyone but to socialists in particular.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty" is a comprehensive work of political philosophy. It sets forth, defends, and applies an important view of the nature of human liberty,... Read morePublished on 5 Mar. 2014 by Robin Friedman
I bought this book for my son who is studying A Level Economics. It is a bit of a classic reference book for this subject.Published on 4 Nov. 2013 by kathryn read
Hayek presents his arguments very thoroughly, but also demonstrates considerable insight into the issues covered. Read morePublished on 28 Mar. 2013 by Liquidator