Boettke on Hayek and Hayek in Australia

The new book on Hayek by Peter Boettke is a good read if you like that kind of thing. Gerard Henderson once reminded me that not everyone goes on holiday with a Hayek book and the latest issue of the Journal of Economic Methodology.

Peter Boettke has a mission to explore and explain the implications and applications of Hayekian critical rationalism, Austrian economics and classical liberalism, with special attention to the institutional and moral framework.

By any standard Friedrich A Hayek (1898-1992) is one of the major intellectual figures of modern times, certainly of the 20th century. He is also an icon of classical liberalism or an Old Whig as he suggested to define his position in ‘Why I am not a conservative’. A wag at the University of Sydney marked up the library copy with the annotation “You could have fooled me”, which drew the rejoinder, neatly written “how hard would that be?”

Hayek no stranger to Australia because he toured in 1976 and some of his talks indicated the way his thoughts were moving as he grappled with the challenge to resist the “abuse of reason” by the coercive utopians who have wrecked lives and ruined nations in pursuit of their dreams.

Boettke’s hope in this new book is to stimulate future scholars to apply Hayek’s ideas “to the contemporary intellectual debate in moral economy and social economy.” He asks the question

“Why did [the economists in the 1930s-1960s] overlook the institutional framework that the classical and neoclassical theorists had taken as given?”

The answer is in the question. Vital factors in political economy were overlooked because they could take for granted a robust moral framework that was preached in every pulpit in the western world.

Being taken for granted they were not properly explored and the implications of this neglect did not become apparent until the once-robust structure was being demolished by the new philosophy of science, the triumph of Keynes and mathematical economics a la Samuelson.

There is a parallel with health and wellbeing. With luck and a strong constitution you can get away with a lot of bad habits for a long time but there is likely to be a day of reckoning.

The bottom line of Boettke’s book is the need to vitalise a program of political economy that is sensitive to cultural factors and the moral framework of society along the lines charted by Deirdre McCloskey and the late Michael Novak. And of course Hayek. This work is under way at the IPA, Mannkal and the Centre for Independent Studies.

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5 Responses to Boettke on Hayek and Hayek in Australia

  1. Muddy

    the coercive utopians

    An apt phrase, though it stops short of adequately reflecting the narcissism and malice involved. We timid gentlefolk rarely label the enemies of civilisation as such.

  2. Rafe Champion

    The narcissism and malice of the coercive utopians. +1

  3. George Huwell

    By any standard Friedrich A Hayek (1898-1992) is one of the major intellectual figures of modern times, certainly of the 20th century

    lol, he is completely irrelevant. Only Libertard cultists who want to escape reality pay homage to him.

    The fawning over Hayek, etc. is similar to the praise given by Postmodernists to Derrida, etc. Both cultists live in an abstract fantasy world where only they have access to the gift of esoteric knowledge. The world would supposedly be so much better if the plebs obeyed the teachings of their respective priesthoods. It is occult and wishful thinking and no unindoctrinated person takes these cultists seriously.

  4. Rafe Champion

    George you must have read Kevin Rudd on Hayek, or David McKnight.

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