Celebrating Hayek

Posted: May 08, 2009 5:31 PM
H/t David Boaz

Today is Friedrich August von Hayek's birthday. As one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century, Hayek greatly influenced modern American conservative thought. We'll be acknowledging his work with a lengthy excerpt from his seminal work The Road to Serfdom in the upcoming issue of Townhall Magazine.

Too many on the political Left ignore Hayek's prescient warning against justifying increasing expansions of government power and increasing restrictions on individual liberty. The 1944 text is just as relevant of a read today as it was over sixty years ago.

To allay these suspicions and harness to its cart the strongest of all political motives - the craving for freedom - socialism began increasingly to make use of the promise of a "new freedom."

The subtle change in meaning to which the word "freedom" was subjected in order that this argument sound plausible is important. To the great apostles of political freedom the word had meant freedom from coercion, freedom from the arbitrary power of other men, release from the ties which left the individual no choice but obedience to the orders of a superior to whom he was attached. The new freedom promised, however, was to be freedom from necessity, release from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us, although for some very much more than for others.

Freedom in this sense is, of course, merely another name for power... Socialism was embraced by the greater part of the intelligentsia as the apparent heir of the [classical] liberal tradition: therefore it is not surprising that to them the idea of socialism's leading to the opposite of liberty should appear inconceivable.

Subscribe to Townhall Magazine to read our full tribute to Hayek.