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Friedrich Hayek
1899 - 1992

Economist and prolific classical liberal scholar, student of Ludwig von Mises, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1974. Author of 130 articles and 25 books including the international sensation The Road to Serfdom (1944).

Books by Friedrich Hayek
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Capitalism & the Historians
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Counter-Revolution of Science, The
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Individualism & Economic Order
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Road to Serfdom, The (1944)
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The Constitution of Liberty
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Click here for essays by Friedrich Hayek
There is no justification for the belief that, so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary... it is not the source but the limitation of power which prevents it from being arbitrary.

1944 - from The Road to Serfdom
It is now often said that democracy will not tolerate "capitalism." If "capitalism" means here a competitive system based on free disposal over private property, it is far more important to realize that only within this system is democracy possible. When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.

1944 - from The Road to Serfdom
The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they ... have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before. And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning. Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed.

We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.

1944 - from The Road to Serfdom
While every law restricts individual freedom to some extent by altering the means which people may use in the pursuit of their aims, under the Rule of Law the government is prevented from stultifying individual efforts by ad hoc action. Within the known rules of the game the individual is free to peruse his personal ends and desires, certain that the powers of government will not be used deliberately to frustrate his efforts.

1944 - from The Road to Serfdom
Socialism has never and nowhere been at first a workingclass movement. It is by no means an obvious remedy for the obvious evil which the interests of that class will necessarily demand. It is a construction of theorists, deriving from certain tendencies of abstract thought with which for a long time only the intellectuals were familiar; and it required long efforts by the intellectuals before the working classes could be persuaded to adopt it as their program.

1949 - from The Intellectuals and Socialism
To rest the case for equal treatment of national or racial minorities on the assumption that they do not differ from other men is implicitly to admit that factual inequality would justify unequal treatment, and the proof that some differences do, in fact, exist would not be long in forthcoming. It is of the essence of the demand for equality before the law that people should be treated alike in spite of the fact that they are different.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press
The successful entrepreneur ... is led by the invisible hand of the market to bring the succour of modern conveniences to the poorest homes he does not even know.

1947 - from Law, Legislation and Liberty
The power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbour and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest fonctionnaire possesses who wields the coercive power of the state, and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live and work.

1944 - from The Road to Serfdom
It is of the essence of the demand for equality before the law that people should be treated alike in spite of the fact that they are different.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press
We shall all be the gainers if we can create a world fit for small states to live in.

1944 - from The Road to Serfdom
Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this has rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide. Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in the power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.

1949 - from The Intellectuals and Socialism
In no other field has the predominant influence of the socialist intellectuals together with bureaucrats succeeded in being felt more strongly during the last hundred years than in the contacts between different nations.

1949 - from The Intellectuals and Socialism
A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.

The successful politician owes his power to the fact that he moves within the accepted framework of thought, that he thinks and talks conventionally. It would be almost a contradiction in terms for a politician to be a leader in the field of ideas. His task in a democracy is to find out what the opinions held by the largest number are, not to give currency to new opinions which may become the majority view in some distant future.

Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions. ... Liberty and responsibility are inseparable.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press
The increasing discredit into which democratic government has fallen is due to democracy having been burdened with tasks for which it is not suited.

Socialism was embraced by the greater part of the intelligentsia as the apparent heir of the liberal tradition: therefore it is not surprising that to them the idea of socialism's leading to the opposite of liberty should appear inconceivable.

The greatest danger to liberty today comes from the men who are most needed and most powerful in modern government, namely, the efficient expert administrators exclusively concerned with what they regard as the public good.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press
Law in the sense of enforced rules of conduct is undoubtedly coeval with society; only the observance of common rules makes the peaceful existence of individuals in society possible. ... But while it might be generally recognized that the discovery and statement of what the accepted rules were (or the articulation of rules that would be approved when acted upon) was a task requiring special wisdom, nobody yet conceived of law as something which men could make at will. It is no accident that we still use the same word 'law' for the invariable rules which govern nature and for the rules which govern men's conduct. They were both conceived at first as something existing independently of human will.

1947 - from Law, Legislation and Liberty
There are no better terms available to describe [the] difference between the approach of the natural and the social sciences than to call the former objective and the latter subjective. ...While for the natural scientist the contrast between objective facts and subjective opinions is a simple one, the distinction cannot as readily be applied to the object of the social sciences. The reason for this is that the object, the facts of the social sciences are also opinions - not opinions of the student of the social phenomena, of course, but opinions of those whose actions produce the object of the social scientist.

The great aim of the struggle for liberty has been equality before the law.

1960 - from The Constitution of Liberty, University of Chicago Press
The conception that government should be guided by majority opinion makes sense only if that opinion is independent of government. The ideal of democracy rests on the belief that the view which will direct government emerges from an independent and spontaneous process. It requires, therefore, the existence of a large sphere independent of majority control in which the opinions of the individuals are formed.

1944 - from The Road to Serfdom
The more the state plans the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.

1944 - from The Road to Serfdom
It may be that a free society as we have known it carries in itself the forces of its own destruction, that once freedom has been achieved it is taken for granted and ceases to be valued, and that the free growth of ideas which is the essence of a free society will bring about the destruction of the foundations on which it depends.

1949 - from The Intellectuals and Socialism