Socialism is incompatible with freedom. It leads to fascism and dictatorship.
Observations and avenues for further investigation
- I wonder if Hayek mischaracterizes the socialist/egalitarian view on economic freedom and its relation to political freedom…If he underestimates the importance of / extent to which society must go to support every individual’s economic freedom in order to assure political freedom.
- Socialism seems “nice." We get to bathe in our good intentions, celebrate our niceness and shared values. Easy to imagine how this backfires.
- Investigate to what extent Hayek’s framework holds up…as it pertains to his argument that socialism really does end in fascism/dictatorship, and on the origins of monopoly. History as the laboratory to test the consequence of thought…
- Would be interesting to compare to T. Greer and Codevilla on “scale.”
- Draw out a timeline/chart out how the amount of scale has grown or diminished in a place
- He frames this piece in “problem-ish” terms…there is an opponent, an enemy to be overcome. Who is framing the growth / exercise of freedom using language that highlights opportunity, rather than obstacle and adversary? Would that be useful? (cf Conscious Leadership.)
What is the real intellectual fault line?
- We all want to “employ systematic thinking in planning our affairs.” The dispute is more specifically about how planning is done, or who does it.
- I.e., should it be done my a central planner? Should the government “direct and organize all economic activities according to a ‘blueprint’, that is, ‘consciously direct the resources of society to conform to the planners’ particular views of who should have what’.”
- Or, should society “create conditions under which the knowledge and initiative of individuals are given the best scope so that they can plan most successfully.”
So, what is good planning? Is he simply advocating ‘moderate’ planning, or a middle ground?
- No. You ‘plan’ only towards ensuring competition. [Gardener vs. Craftsman.]
Why, theoretically, central planning leads to dictatorship
- You’ll find that if you plan by committee it won’t work very well, so power gets concentrated with individuals in order to get things done…slippery slope towards dictatorship.
- The more complex the world becomes, the more you will feel a lack of control, the more you will want to gain control over it…and this will backfire
Decentralization especially important in a complex world
- The more complex the world becomes, the harder it is to coordinate activities centrally, the worse centralized planning will do.
The origins of monopoly:
- Not a necessary consequence of technology.
- “The recent growth of monopoly is largely the result of a deliberate collaboration of organized capital and organized labour where the privileged groups of labour share in the monopoly profits at the expense of the community and particularly at the expense of those employed in the less well organized industries. However, there is no reason to believe that this movement is inevitable. The movement toward planning is the result of deliberate action. No external necessities force us to it.”
- Policy choices (presumably influenced by this nefarious collaboration)
Important to assure basic economic security
- “two kinds of security: the certainty of a given minimum of sustenance for all and the security of a given standard of life, of the relative position which one person or group enjoys compared with others.”
- Says society should guarantee basic economic security as well as comprehensive social insurance “for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.” [But not guarantee more than this.]
Key excerpts and notes on political freedom and economic freedom:
- “Socialism was to bring ‘economic freedom’ without which political freedom was ‘not worth having’. “
- “To make this argument sound plausible, the word ‘freedom’ was subjected to a subtle change in meaning. The word had formerly meant freedom from coercion, from the arbitrary power of other men. Now it was made to mean freedom from necessity, release from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us. Freedom in this sense is, of course, merely another name for power or wealth. The demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for a redistribution of wealth.“
- “The economic freedom which is the prerequisite of any other freedom cannot be the freedom from economic care which the socialists promise us and which can be obtained only by relieving us of the power of choice. It must be that freedom of economic activity which, together with the right of choice, carries also the risk and responsibility of that right.”
- My response: Maybe the socialist/egalitarian argument is not that political freedom isn’t worth having without first having economic freedom…it’s that you only have as much political freedom as you have economic freedom. I think that today’s egalitarian argument comes from the view that when there is tremendous inequality, and money provides political power, and you don’t have lots money, then you don’t have much of a voice and are thus less vulnerable to coercion.