"The Hayek Century" appears in today's Washington Times

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A very interesting editorial appeared in todays online Washington Times called "The Hayek Century" http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/beichman-2000211.htm.

Here is a paste of the editorial:


The Hayek century

Arnold Beichman

It's as if the New York Times editorial page were suddenly to crown Ronald Reagan as the greatest president of the 20th century. Or as if the ultra-liberal British daily, the Guardian, were suddenly to call Margaret Thatcher the worthiest prime minister in British history. Well, that was my reaction when I picked up the current New Yorker magazine, whose liberalism I thought was unquenchable, and found a long essay in praise of Friedrich von Hayek, a Nobel laureate in economics who died in 1992. For half a century, the Austrian-born Hayek was belittled by contemporary liberalism because he mocked the received ideas of mainstream economists: central planning, Marxism, nationalization of industry, social engineering, pervasive government intervention in the economy. Because of his anti-socialist views he was discredited professionally, says New Yorker writer John Cassidy. College economics textbooks to this day rarely discuss his ideas if they even mention him at all. But Hayek lived to see his promotion of capitalism and the free market vindicated and those Marxist nostrums, which were going to turn the world into an earthly paradise, globally repudiated. So great was Hayek's victory that Mr. Cassidy, a British-trained economics journalist, says that "it is hardly an exaggeration to refer to the twentieth century as the Hayek century." Last month's Times Literary Supplement (TLS) had an equally appreciative essay on Hayek, this one by Kenneth Minogue, one of our great political philosophers in the tradition of Michael Oakeshott. Now, you would expect that kind of article from TLS. But in the New Yorker? In the past, its economic experts have been Robert Heilbroner and the egregious John Kenneth Galbraith, both of whom at one time or other were admirers of the Chinese and Russian revolutions and other Marxist phenomena; thus the Hayek appreciation in the Feb. 7 issue is a significant event in contemporary American culture. You get an idea of what used to be economic analysis in the New Yorker when I cite Mr. Galbraith's 1984 observations about the Soviet Union in the magazine: that the Soviet economy was making "great material progress." Evidence: "One sees it in the appearance of solid well-being of the people on the streets, the close to murderous traffic, the incredible exfoliation of apartment houses." The secret of such achievements: "Partly, the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast with the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower." All this on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet empire. Or Mr. Heilbroner, a long-time socialist scholar who once defended Mao's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as encouraging a desirable modernization. Mr. Heilbroner held on to his Marxism until 1989. In that year, two years before the Soviet Union slid into oblivion, he informed his New Yorker magazine audience that the Marxist era was over. His essay opened with this thunderclap sentence: "Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won." I wondered about the intellectual lapses of two highly intelligent men as I read the New Yorker article on Hayek. The Austrian economist's findings about the inevitable shortcomings of socialism had been published in the 1930s. Milton Friedman was then and now in the forefront of American economists defending capitalism. Hayek's analysis of socialism was irrefutable then as it is today, yet Marx's dogmas were such that they have infected hundreds of thousands of intellectuals, especially academics, for decades. Daniel Bell in 1977 wrote: "The death of socialism is the most tragic  and unacknowledged  fact of the 20th century." The Marxist malignancy was so powerful that euphemisms like "free enterprise" were adopted even on the right because the word "capitalism" had become an embarrassing "boo" word even for its staunchest advocates. In his still readable best-selling book, "Road to Serfdom," published in 1942, Hayek included as an epigraph over one of his chapters, this lapidary sentence of Hilaire Belloc: "The control of the production of wealth is the control of human life itself." Socialists of all faiths were willing to hand over control of production of wealth to the state, some even to men like Lenin, Stalin, Mao on the theory that, as Sidney and Beatrice Webb put it, "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs." But Hayek never bought into such nonsense. And what were Hayek's significant findings? Mr. Cassidy sums it up neatly in Hayekian terms in defining the fundamental advantage of the free market: "By allowing millions of decision-makers to respond individually to freely determined prices, it allocated resources  labor, capital, and human ingenuity  in a manner that can't be mimicked by a central plan, however brilliant the central planner." "The view of capitalism," writes Mr. Cassidy, "as a spontaneous processing machine  a 'telecommunications system' was how Hayek referred to it  was one of the great insights of the century." And because Mr. Hayek's insight was willfully ignored, tens of millions of Russians and Chinese, East Europeans, Vietnamese and Cambodians were destroyed, all in the name of a Marxist utopia.

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, is a Washington Times columnist.

-- Rick (rick7@postmark.net), February 11, 2000


World Magazine rated Road to Serfdom in it's top 40 books of the century.

-- carolyn (carolyn@luvmy.hub), February 11, 2000.

Those interested, but unacquainted with Hayek, may find some pertinent info at:

Some background on Hayek


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), February 11, 2000.

Here I thought this was going to be named the Salma Hayek century, which I might vote for.

-- Bemused (and_amazed@you.people), February 11, 2000.

Free Markets??!!

'Capitalists' love free markets, do they? Capitalist *despise* free markets and *price* competition; they do everything they can to avoid, evade, or destroy any so-called 'free market' price competition. Name me just *one* *significant* 'free market'! [Just to save you some time and 'thought', you can forget the stock/commmodity/bond/currency markets/exchanges; any one who can read knows that those markets are rigged and manipulated and have been since the birth of markets.]

-- bz (beezee@statesville.net), February 11, 2000.

Friedrich Hayek, even more than Milton Friedman, has been a libertarian icon for many years. One of the great things about his acceptance and justification is that nowadays, only eleven years after that pimple on the gluteus maximus of society (communism) has finally been shuffled off to the dustbin of history, angry little men like Mr. Beezee are treated with the laughter and scorn they so richly deserve.

-- Duncan Kunz (duncan.z.kunz@boeing.com), February 11, 2000.

Assuming your question is in earnest, and that you are willing to listen to an answer without waving the magic "it's-all-a-big-conspiracy" wand:

One good example of the free market: the personal computing marketplace. If you don't think so, just ask Apple, Osborne, or Kaypro, all of whom had excellent early positions in the market, and two of whom are now mere memories. The market consigned the latter two to the dustbin of tech history and, had Steve Jobs not returned to lead Apple, might have made it three-for-three. Then there was little ol' Bill Gates (pre-billionaire status), who pulled a fast one on big bad IBM and managed to maintain control of a certain disk operating system, leaving Big Blue to fumble around with OS/2. There was a time not long ago when Ashton-Tate OWNED the personal database market and Lotus OWNED personal spreadsheets. Unless you've been using PCs for more than 5 years, you've probably never heard of the former, and Lotus 1-2-3 has slipped into also-ran status.

The market is brutal, but it ain't no-how fixed. I've seen too many folks succeed in it just through hard work, inspiration, and a little luck. There are always attempts to fix the game, and sometimes they succeed, but other times, the fixers are left holding a bag full of rubbish.

-- DeeEmBee (macbeth1@pacbell.net), February 11, 2000.


Awesome answer.

-- Rick (rick7@postmark.net), February 11, 2000.


Very good! I will accept that for now. Thank you.

-- bz (beezee@statesville.net), February 11, 2000.

Duncan Kunz,

I asked a serious question, and you blew me off with fluff and feathers. No thanks.

-- bz (beezee@statesville.net), February 11, 2000.


You "answered" your initial question with:

"Capitalist *despise* free markets and *price* competition; they do everything they can to avoid, evade, or destroy any so-called 'free market' price competition."

as if

a: you can read the minds, not just of one of them, but of all of them,


b: they all have exactly the same set of opinions.

Serious? Excuse me while I ROTFL.


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), February 12, 2000.

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