Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hayek and morals

I really have little interest in Hayek - my assumption is that he is too much of a cult figure to be all that worthwhile studying.  (Cult figures are rarely worth the effort - it's a safe rule of thumb.  And no Jesus Christ jibes from you, thank you Jason.)

But I see there's an article that covers his attitude to morals, and it would appear that he was a proto Ayn Rand (maybe everyone already knows that, except me?):

To be sure, Hayek endorsed a wide range of laws that sustain public order, private property, honesty in business activities, making contracts and determining prices. No doubt, everyone would seem to benefit by adopting such standards, but they are minimal and beg for a more comprehensive approach. Instead, Hayek suggests that in the modern era a number of formerly esteemed virtues need to be abandoned. It seems that a Christian based moral outlook harbors several moral ‘instincts’ that are outmoded. Among those ‘instincts’ are solidarism (a concern for the overall welfare of a community) and altruism (a charitable and self-sacrificing attitude toward one’s neighbors). Writing in The Fatal Conceit, Hayek says, “It is these two instincts, deeply embedded in our purely instinctive or intuitive reactions, which remained the great obstacle to the development of the present market economy.” He contends that free trade and modern Capitalism emerged in the 18th century only after such virtues were superseded by self-interest. This explains, he says, why Capitalism is maligned by ill-informed people who wrongly insist that it’s vital for a well governed society to actively promote policies that insure fairness, equity, and social justice.

Most traditional thinkers are convinced that such moral virtues underlie the concept of a moral order and of the common good. Solidarism and altruism, both forms of charity, are often rendered by the Greek word ‘agape.’ The two virtues are central to the Gospels, the Ten Commandments and have always been a core component of a Judeo-Christian culture. Nonetheless, true liberty for Hayek requires replacing them with self-interest and individualism.  ...

In public policy, Hayek did favor retaining long established institutions and was a persuasive advocate for private initiatives. Aside from minimal help for the destitute, Hayek repeatedly warned that all public assistance, welfare or social insurance provided by the state had to be quickly and efficiently phased out. Such endeavors, he wrote, not only destroy liberty by imposing a particular moral viewpoint on everyone, they will shepherd us to national bankruptcy! This austere philosophy has attracted many sponsors.

Yeah, nah.   This is where  I'll take Catholic social teaching on economics and government, with its balance between the extremes of free market economics and excessive  government control, any day. 

1 comment:

not trampis said...

Hayek was as useless at forecasting as Marx was however both believed in classical economics. Ironic