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Talk:Friedrich Hayek

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This Economists related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


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This article needs improvement[edit]

This article starts poorly, with the following:

"He co-won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974 with Gunnar Myrdal, who was a socialist economist. Needless to say, the prize committee's fraternizing with the enemy did not please Austrians."

In support of this, a link to an article by Murray Rothbard is cited. However, far from being an attack on Hayek by an advocate of Austrian Economics, the article is a positive endorsement and congratulations of the acknowledgement of Hayek's work. There is not a bone of ill will in the article whatsoever. Unless a better link can be found, the sentence "Needless to say, the prize committee's fraternizing with the enemy did not please Austrians." should be removed because the current citation does not back the implication.

"Ironically, the most enduring and popular of his works today is not his strictly economic work but The Road to Serfdom,[4] a book describing how the slightest bit of central planning would become a slippery slope to socialism.[5] It shot to number one on Amazon when Glenn Beck mentioned it on his show.[6] This ought to have set off some irony meters as Hayek penned a lengthy essay entitled "Why I Am Not a Conservative."[7] It is perhaps more relevant now in explaining the thought processes of wingnuts than the possibility of a commie takeover in today's post-Cold War world.[8]"

There is so much wrong with this paragraph I'm not sure where to start. Rather than critiquing Hayek's argument's (I will return to this point), you are attacking people that might possibly have sympathy with Hayek's argument's, worse still you are attacking an imagined stereotype of a group of people that might agree in part with Hayek (i.e. to use your parlance "wingnuts").

Secondly, you clearly (or the author of the article) have not read the Road to Serfdom. The book begins by defining central planning, collectivism, the methods of collectivists, and how fascism and socialism are two forms of collectvism i.e. in summary the aims of fascists and socialists may by different, however the methods are almost indentical (e.g. the use of force to curtail freedom and competition).

Hayek then goes on to critique the fallacious arguments in favour of central planning. Hayek clearly shows that these arguments have little evidence backing them other than acceptance through repetition.

For example one of these arguments "as society becomes more advanced central planning and state monopoly are inevitable", Hayek shows to be clearly fallacious, and arguing rather persuasively that this is the result of political power, rather than as a consequence of technological progress. He lampoons a statement made by Mussolini, who stated that "We are the first to assert that the more complicated the forms of civilisation, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become", by pointing outthat if that were surely true (including the necessity of monopoly and eradication of competition as technology advances), Britain would have been the first place in the world to see a rise of central planning and curtailment of freedom. Britain's technological progress and prospertiy was far in advance of Italy during the 19th and early 20th century, and yet it was the likes of much poorer nations such as Germany and Italy that were embracing central planning because their societies were supposedly "so far advanced".

Further, when Hayek discusses central planning leading to authoritarianism, he deals less with communism and instead focuses rather more on the rise of fascism within Europe and which renders the "commie takeover" to be a ridiculous, inaccurate, diversion. He also discusses with regard to the same subject, how central planning and planners replace the rule of law with arbitrary dictat (be they socialist or fascist).

This paragraph is slightly better, in that it discusses the economic calculation problem, and the business cycle, but again offers no proper critique other than weasel words and baseless assertions:

"Hayek's work expanded on Ludwig von Mises' work on the economic calculation problem, i.e., the inherent impossibility of pricing goods in a state-run economy (which itself was an expansion of Max Weber's statement of the problem).[9] His idea of prices as information necessary to solve the calculation problem was very influential, albeit limited in reality to cases where there is no collusion, price-gouging, etc. He also expanded on the Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT), or more accurately, the "Blame the Fed" theory. ABCT was rather forward-thinking at the time for tying the business cycle to credit expansion, although Irving Fisher, a contemporary of Hayek, came up with his debt-deflation theory which did the same during the Great Depression as well."

There's no explanation of "price-gouging" or "collusion", and misses the point that a centrally planned/mixed economy (where prices are set by the state) consists of price fixing on a far grander scale.

The Business Cycle is not a critique of the Federal Reserve, rather it describes the cyclical process of the accrual of savings and then the spending of savings (and so on), and how this explains the observation of higher and slower periods of economic activity.

The business cycle can occur with or without the Federal Reserve and is an observation of human behaviour. Further, at a basic level, Irving Fisher's theory of debt deflation is a description of the contrationary phase of the business cycle. I would however disagree, with Fisher's assertion that re-inflation is required to remedy such an episode, which is exactly what was tried in the depression of the 1930s (albeit under Keynsian ideology), and contradicts with the depression of 1920-21 where prices fell by almost 20%, there was little to no government intervention, and yet activity and confidence recovered within 18 months.

The level of argument and intellectual rigour in the article amounts to little more than "don't read the Road to Serfdom, it's ugly, and people we think are ugly have read it, which will make you ugly too, and by anachronistic association anything Hayek has said is also ugly". (talk) 20:27, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Not going to read this text wall, but why don't you fix it if you don't like it? Someone might revert you, but at least you could say you tried. I don't think anyone here want to argue with you about Austrian School economic theory, but maybe you'll get lucky. --Marlow (talk) 22:29, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

No, that's wrong[edit]

Maybe you didn't read the book, but the Road to Serfdom is not a mere slippery slope argument that central planning --> commie wasteland. The argument is that during times of war, various impositions of price-setting, regulation, nationalization, and other "temporary" measures are put in place; after the war, most or all of these measures stay in place rather than be dissolved.

I've heard the interpretation that Road to Serfdom had been wrongly and repeatedly invoked by libertarians who wanted to prove that any regulation will lead to socialism, and that because his "fans" couldn't understand his work the book has become synonymous to everybody as a slippery slope argument even though that wasn't his argument. That being said what you're talking about still isn't really true, since many of the Allies basically had command economies during World War 2 but then cut it out after the war. ClothCoat (talk) 08:55, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
Most of what was done away with was specifically related to arms production. And even then, the massive build up in military spending during the second world war helped to facilitate all the horribleness of the Cold War. Burkean (talk) 00:15, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

Nobel Prize[edit]

The first sentence seems to imply that Hayek's Nobel Prize is somehow illegitimate and was part of a dirty deal cut with the Swiss Central Bank. Does the Swiss Central Bank adhere to an economic view that rationalwiki's contributors somehow deem heterodox? Sorry to mention this, but I would say that Hayek is at least as deserving of a Nobel Prize as Obama. Burkean (talk) 00:06, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

So, not really deserving? As far as the sentence goes, I'm not seeing the subtext you apparently are. It's just saying that they split the prize with a socialist economist, with a snarky footnote about how it's amusing that Hayek got the award along with someone instrumental in the design of Sweden's welfare state. It's fairly well-known that big awards often do this to blunt criticism over giving the award to someone considered polemical, by handing them out to people who have opposing views. --Ymir (talk) 00:13, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
Okay, in my view, much more deserving. I don't remember Myrdal saying anything to the effect that a "real" economist such as himself shouldn't have to share the stage with Hayek (unless of course one wishes to cynically assume that Myrdal was willing to share the prize with someone he believed to be a hack and beneath him just to earn recognition, which I guess is possible). Even liberal economists like Paul Krugman have expressed positive sentiments in regards to Hayek's work. But if you feel that Hayek sharing the prize was just a mere courtesy to economists of a right leaning bend (the swiss bank picking favorites?), then to each his own, as the woman said when she kissed her cow. Burkean (talk) 00:21, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
I was being snarky with my comment. Really, I was making a dig at the Peace Prize committee giving the award to Obama, which I and many others consider pretty ridiculous. It's pretty obvious that it was given as a "Thank God you Americans finally got rid of Bush and didn't replace him with someone who wanted to start another war with Iran" prize, and while I might agree with that sentiment, turning the Peace Prize into a vehicle for it is a bit much. And in general many people (including many of us bleeding-heart liberals!) view the Peace Prize as having become kind of silly, with it often awarded on a whim to make an immediate political statement. Anyway, regarding Hayek, I think he deserved the prize, as he's influential and did some pioneering and useful work. This article even gives a decent summary, I would say. --Ymir (talk) 04:31, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
That's all I was saying. Talented economist (Hayek or Myrdal) doesn't equal right about everything. Burkean (talk) 08:31, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

Popper and Hayek[edit]

I'm confused on how Popper admired Hayek, even though Hayek literally said everything that he did was unfalsifiable and with that, Hayek held his view to be true. Karl Popper literally built his career on falsifiability. Seems odd. (talk) 18:08, 23 April 2016 (UTC)

In a nutshell, read this. I will, however, agree that the whole arrangement seems contradictory. I am reminded by what Hitchens teaches us about how human beings not only suffer cognitive dissonance, but necessarily suffer it. For all the high-flying ideas and ideologies - at times, one must simply ride the bus and go buy groceries like a normal person anyways. But I would agree that this seems like an apparent case of Popper putting his friendship with Hayek above his own method of science. Further, Popper had a completely hypocondrical idea about how he was terribly allergic to the smell of cigarettes, and would attest to having severe physical reactions on the basis that he himself just claimed to have experienced it. When taken to an expert on allergies who tested him and found no sign of allergy, Popper exclaimed "This just goes to show how backwards medical science still is!". So, yes... contradiction is a key term here. It's also a reason why the deductive-nomological model of science is abandoned today. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 18:45, 23 April 2016 (UTC)


Wow, how much disinformation can be packed into two paragraphs.

First, You can admire someone you disagree with, they had a lifelong correspondence in which they both criticised each other's views.

Second, where is the citation for the claim about smoking. I have read pretty much everything on Popper and never once come across an anecdote stating either his claim to allergy, or accusing medical science of being "backwards". — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs