October 14, 2010

Liberty Between the Lines in a Statist and Modernist Age

Unfolding the Adam Smith in Friedrich Hayek
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This article interprets F. A. Hayek as having been constrained by the statism and modernism of his times, and as writing in a way that obscured some of his central ideas. I suggest that between the lines we can see a focus on liberty understood hardily as others not messing with one's stuff– even though Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty defined liberty in ways that tended to obscure this hardy definition, and Hayek often used code words like 'competition,' 'the market,' and  'spontaneous' where 'liberty' or 'freedom' would have been plainer, albeit more offensive to the culture. Seeing the hardy definition of liberty between the lines in Hayek enables us to see his focus on the liberty principle and his case for a presumption of liberty. Such a reading of Hayek, I suggest, is true to Adam Smith, who expounded a central message that by and large the liberty principle holds, and that it deserves the presumption in our culture and politics.

Read the article at Wiley Online Library.