Boettke on Hayek

quotes economics classical liberalism hayek liberalism

25 Jul 2014

Peter Boettke on Hayek:

The achievement of a social order characterized by freedom under the law – a system which restrains coercion to the maximum extent possible – is only possible under Liberalism. “Liberalism,” Hayek writes, “is concerned mainly with limiting the coercive powers of all government, whether democratic or not, whereas the dogmatic democrat knows only one limit to government – current majority opinion. The difference between the two ideals stands out most clearly if we name their opposites: for democracy it is authoritarian government; for liberalism it is totalitarianism.” (1960, 103) It is the condition of equality before the law, and the generality norm – e.g., a political system that exhibits neither discrimination nor dominion – where the liberal and democratic traditions align. But, Hayek stressed, it is important to remember that: “Liberalism is a doctrine about what the law ought to be, democracy a doctrine about the manner of determining what will be law.”

So in Hayek’s rendering we have four permutations, and I am going to rank them as I believe he would:

1. Liberal/Democratic
2. Liberal/Authoritarian
3. Totalitarian/Democratic
4. Totalitarian/Authoritarian

Read more here.