And it is for individual freedom, not communism!
Karl Marx was wrong. When at last the working class rises, it is not for socialism, internationalism and equality: it is for capitalism, the nation-state and liberty.
Donald Trump’s movement – he and his followers are calling it a revolution – is a genuine proletarian uprising, perhaps the first in history. It is very hard to find an historical precedent for a downtrodden class actually rising spontaneously in protest against the ruling class without being incited to it by dissident members of the ruling class itself.
The libertarian Ilana Mercer writes at Townhall about “the disenfanchisement of the poor whites of America”:
The present ideology on immigration considers all whites, rich or poor, a privileged, “fungible monolith”. This outlook brooks little or no consideration of lives lived in penury for over a century. In particular: It overlooks the descendants of poor white Southern sharecroppers who did not own slaves, but were devastated by the War Between the States both “in human and economic terms”. Even now, this sizeable segment of the South has yet to recover; its attainments with respect to education and income mirror those of the region’s African-Americans, with one distinction: poor whites are barred from affirmative action programs.
These are the people – this is the DEMOS – whose chosen leader Trump is. Sure, he is a rich man, but he is not a member of the ruling elite – he is a builder. A very successful builder. No, he does not phrase his ideas felicitously. He does not develop an argument. He utters cries, he repeats himself. He expresses the half-formed, inadequately worded, but deeply and painfully felt opinions and desires of unconsidered people.
He speaks often of the plight of the poor blacks in the inner cities of America. And the poor Latinos. He is far from being a “racist” – the favorite boo-word of the Left.
The Ivy-League conservatives and leaders of the Republican party do not, many of them, “get it”. They feel threatened, along with their fellow members of the ruling class in the laughably named “Democratic Party”.
But there are a few who do.
Steven Hayward (yes, the same admirable Steven Hayward of PowerLine) writes at the Weekly Standard:
Win or lose, [Trump] has divided and may yet shatter the conservative movement …
Hayward says he does not believe Trump will win. He is interested in why a number of intellectuals he highly respects wish that he will.
Several Claremont eminentos appear prominently on the recent list of “Scholars and Writers for Trump,” including Charles Kesler, Larry Arnn, Thomas West, Hadley Arkes, Brian Kennedy, and John Eastman. … It is also worth adding that the Claremonsters on this list are typically at odds with many of their fellow signatories who hail from the “paleocon” and libertarian neighborhoods of the right — another indication of the extraordinary ideological scrambling effect of the Trump campaign.
Knowing my own deep Claremont roots — I earned a Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate School while working at the Claremont Institute in the 1980s — several people have asked me to explain: “How is it that a group known for its emphasis on the idea of high statesmanship, and on the importance of serious political rhetoric, can champion Trump?” …
The Claremont sympathy for Trump needs to be better understood, because it differs fundamentally from the typical candidate scoring mentioned above. If Trump can’t live up to the idiosyncratic Claremont understanding of the meaning of his candidacy, the Trump phenomenon nonetheless opens a window onto the failures of conservatism that made Trump’s candidacy possible and perhaps necessary. Even if you reject Trump, there are vital things to be learned from him if we are to confront the crisis of our time. …
What is that crisis? It’s not the litany of items that usually come to mind—the $20 trillion national debt, economic stagnation, runaway regulation, political correctness and identity politics run amok, unchecked immigration that threatens to work a demographic-political revolution, and confused or unserious policy toward radical Islamic terrorism. These are mere symptoms of a much deeper but poorly understood problem. It can be stated directly in one sentence: Elections no longer change the character of our government. …
The closer source of the Claremont sympathy for Trump (though it should be noted that they are far from unanimous — several Claremonsters are Never Trumpers) is found in another aspect of the Claremont argument about which there is near-complete harmony among East, West, and everyone in-between: the insidious political character of the “administrative state”, a phrase once confined chiefly to the ranks of conservative political scientists, but which has broken out into common parlance. It refers not simply to large bureaucracy, but to the way in which the constitutional separation of powers has been steadily eroded by the delegation of more and more lawmaking to a virtual “fourth branch” of government [the bureaucracy]. …
Who should rule? The premise of the Constitution is that the people should rule. The premise of the administrative state, explicitly expressed by Woodrow Wilson and other Progressive-era theorists, is that experts should rule, in a new administrative form largely sealed off from political influence, i.e., sealed off from the people. At some point, it amounts to government without the consent of the governed, a simple fact that surprisingly few conservative politicians perceive. Ronald Reagan was, naturally, a conspicuous exception, noting in 1981 in his first Inaugural Address, “It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.” …
The salient political fact is this: No matter who wins elections nowadays, the experts in the agencies rule and every day extend their rule further, even under Republican presidents ostensibly committed to resisting this advance. We still nominally choose our rulers, but they don’t reflect our majority opinions. No wonder more and more conservatives regard the GOP leadership in Washington as “collaborationists” with Democrats. …
Marini [Prof. John Marini of the University of Nevada, Reno, “a Claremont Institute stalwart”], a Trump supporter, told me last week, “Public opinion is in the hands of a national elite. That public opinion, the whole of the public discourse about what is political in America, is in the hands of very few. There’s no way in which you have genuine diversity of opinion that arises from the offices that are meant to represent it.” A good example of the defensive crouch of Republicans accepting the elite-defined boundaries of acceptable opinion was Sen. Ted Cruz’s comment shortly after the 2012 election that conservative social policy must pass through “a Rawlsian lens”, an astonishing concession to the supercharged egalitarian philosophy at the heart of contemporary leftism. …
Trump’s disruptive potential explains therefore his attraction for Claremonsters. More than just a rebuke to political correctness and identity politics, a Trump victory would be, in their eyes, a vehicle for reasserting the sovereignty of the people and withdrawal of consent for the administrative state and the suffocating boundaries of acceptable opinion backing it up. A large number of Americans have responded positively to Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” because they too see Trump as a forceful tribune against the slow-motion desiccation of the country under the steady advance of liberalism. …
The Trump disruption thesis is not held uniquely by the Claremonsters. David Gelernter offered a version of this argument in the Wall Street Journal last weekend, and Victor Davis Hanson has been arguing along these lines for months. …
The exacting demands of statesmanship have seldom been put better than by Hillsdale’s Thomas G. West, one of the most fervent Claremont pro-Trumpers, in a 1986 essay: “A president who would successfully lead the nation back to constitutional government must have the right character, be able to present the right speeches, and undertake the right actions to guide the people to elect a new kind of Congress.” Last week, I asked West whether and how Trump could measure up to this understanding of what is necessary today. West points to what he calls Trump’s “civic courage”, i.e., his intransigence in the face of relentless attacks, his willingness to call out radical Islamic extremism by name while noting the guilt-infused reluctance of Obama and Hillary Clinton to do so, his willingness to question the bipartisan failures of foreign policy over the last 25 years, and his direct rebuke to the collapse of the rule of law in cities with large black populations. West thinks Trump’s breathtaking stubbornness and shocking candor are the ingredients for the kind of restorative statesmanship the times demand. …
That Trump can be made out to be the only candidate since Reagan who has represented a fundamental challenge to the status quo puts in stark relief the attenuation of conservative political thought and action over the last 20 years and the near-complete failure of aspiring Republican presidents to marry their ambition to a serious understanding of why the republic is in danger. …
Lincoln famously said in 1854, “Our republican robe is soiled.” We need only capitalize one word to adapt it to our time: “Our Republican robe is soiled.” The cleanup is going to be excruciating. But nothing is more necessary and important.
As intellectuals ourselves, we heartily agree. And we want Donald Trump to win.
The great Thomas Sowell sees what so many Persons of Opinion cannot see or will not let themselves see.
And he is saying what most urgently needs to be said.
He writes at Investor’s Business Daily:
Recent statements from United Nations officials, that Iran is already blocking the U.N.’s existing efforts to keep track of what is going on in its nuclear program, should tell anyone who does not already know it that any agreement with Iran will be utterly worthless in practice. It does’t matter what the terms of the agreement are, if Iran can cheat.
It is amazing — indeed, staggering — that so few Americans are talking about what it would mean for the world’s biggest sponsor of international terrorism, Iran, to have nuclear bombs, and to be developing intercontinental missiles that can deliver them far beyond the Middle East.
Back during the years of the nuclear stand-off between the Soviet Union and the U.S., contemplating what a nuclear war would be like was called “thinking the unthinkable”.
But surely the Nazi Holocaust during World War II should tell us that what is beyond the imagination of decent people is by no means impossible for people who, as Churchill warned of Hitler before the war, had “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them”.
Have we not already seen that kind of hatred in the Middle East? Have we not seen it in suicide bombings there and in suicide attacks against America by people willing to sacrifice their own lives by flying planes into massive buildings, to vent their unbridled hatred?
The Soviet Union was never suicidal, so the fact that we could annihilate their cities if they attacked ours was a sufficient deterrent to a nuclear attack from them. But will that deter fanatics with an apocalyptic vision? Should we bet the lives of millions of Americans on our ability to deter nuclear war with Iran?
It is now nearly 70 years since nuclear bombs were used in war. Long periods of safety in that respect have apparently led many to feel as if the danger is not real. But the dangers are even greater now and the nuclear bombs more devastating.
Clearing the way for Iran to get nuclear bombs may — probably will — be the most catastrophic decision in human history. And it can certainly change human history, irrevocably, for the worse.
Against that grim background, it is almost incomprehensible how some people can be preoccupied with the question whether having Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address Congress, warning against the proposed agreement, without the prior approval of President Obama, was a breach of protocol.
Against the background of the Obama administration’s negotiating what can turn out to be the most catastrophic international agreement in the nation’s history, to complain about protocol is to put questions of etiquette above questions of annihilation.
Why is Obama so anxious to have an international agreement that will have no legal standing under the Constitution just two years from now, since it will be just a presidential agreement, rather than a treaty requiring the “advice and consent” of the Senate?
There are at least two reasons. One reason is that such an agreement will serve as a fig leaf to cover his failure to do anything that has any serious chance of stopping Iran from going nuclear. Such an agreement will protect Obama politically, despite however much it exposes the American people to unprecedented dangers.
The other reason is that, by going to the U.N. for its blessing on his agreement with Iran, he can get a bigger fig leaf to cover his complicity in the nuclear arming of America’s most dangerous enemy. In Obama’s vision, as a citizen of the world, there may be no reason why Iran should not have nuclear weapons when other nations have them.
Politically, Obama could not just come right out and say such a thing. But he can get the same end result by pretending to have ended the dangers by reaching an agreement with Iran. There have long been people in the Western democracies who hail every international agreement that claims to reduce the dangers of war.
The road to World War II was strewn with arms-control agreements on paper that aggressor nations ignored in practice. But those agreements lulled the democracies into a false sense of security that led them to cut back on military spending while their enemies were building up the military forces to attack them.
We would add another reason why Obama is helping Iran become nuclear-armed.
An overriding reason: his blind, petulant, ideologically-driven – and unmistakably demonstrated – hatred of the West, freedom, capitalism, the Jews and Israel, and above all hatred of America.
Some immigrants are valuable, some are not. “If they are graduates in Sociology from the University of Berkeley – get them out of here!”
Listen to Thomas Sowell for enlightenment, fresh ideas, some surprises, some laughter – and some very dark pessimism.
How much worse race relations have become since Barack Obama was elected (ludicrously) to the presidency. Of course he got elected because a great many whites voted for him for no better reason than that he is black. A totally racist reason. So the signs for the elimination of race as a divisive political issue were not good.
It was a very poor reason to vote for him, his skin color. In no way did he, although a black American, embody the experience and historical consciousness of most black Americans. Through his paternal line he is a member of the Luo tribe of East Africa. His (Muslim and Communist) Luo father was not even an immigrant in America, only a short-stay student visitor. So if some thought a vote for Obama was a vote to make amends to black Americans for the enslavement of their ancestors, they widely missed the mark.
In two of his columns syndicated today, Thomas Sowell deplores the latest measures Obama is taking to stress and exploit racial differences.
First he writes against a policy being implemented in Minneapolis to privilege black delinquent children by giving them lighter punishment than white children who commit the same offenses:
If anyone still has any doubt about the utter cynicism of the Obama administration, a recent agreement between the federal government and the Minneapolis Public Schools should open their eyes.
Under the Obama administration, both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have been leaning on public schools around the country to reduce what they call the “disproportionate” numbers of black male students who are punished for various offenses in schools.
Under an implicit threat of losing their federal subsidies, the Minneapolis Public Schools have agreed to reduce the disparity in punishment of black students by 25% by the end of this school year, and then by 50%, 75% and finally 100% in each of the following years.
In other words, there are now racial quota limits for punishment in the Minneapolis schools.
If we stop and think — as old-fashioned as that may seem — there is not the slightest reason to expect black males to commit the same number of offenses as Asian females or any other set of students.
When different groups of human beings have behaved differently in all sorts of ways, in countries around the world, for thousands of years of recorded history, why would we accept as dogma that the only reason one set of students gets punished more than others is because the people who are doing the punishing are picking on them?
Politically — which is the way the Obama administration looks at everything — any time they can depict blacks as victims, and depict themselves as their rescuers, that means an opportunity to get out the black vote for Democrats.
On the surface, this may look like a favor to blacks. But only on the surface.
Anyone with common sense knows that letting a kid get away with bad behavior is an open invitation to worse behavior in the future. Punishing a kid for misbehavior in school when he is 10 years old may reduce the chances that he will have to be sent to prison when he is 20 years old.
Other schools in other cities, which have also caved under pressure from the federal government, and agreed to lighten up on black kids who misbehave, have reported an increase in misbehavior, including violence. Who would have thought otherwise?
Letting kids who are behavior problems in schools grow up to become hoodlums and then criminals is no favor to them or to the black community. Moreover, it takes no more than a small fraction of troublemakers in a class to make it impossible to give that class a decent education. And for many poor people, whether black or white, education is their one big chance to escape poverty.
Next, Sowell writes about the absurd policy of enforcing “racial quotas for academic performance” in public schools:
Just as school boards across the country scramble to meet new federal limits for punishing black students, Obama’s educrats now want them to hit racial quotas for academic performance, too.
Last month, slipping almost everybody’s notice, the Education Department’s office for civil rights issued a guidance letter to 14,000 local school districts that expands “racial equity” beyond school discipline into virtually every aspect of public education.
Breathtaking in its scope, the 37-page edict warns school boards that they have to reach the same equity, based on “disparate impact” statistics, in:
1) advanced placement courses;
2) gifted and talented programs;
3) distribution of funds;
4) school facilities;
5) technology; and,
6) teacher talent, experience and diversity.
Those who don’t get their numbers right risk forfeiting federal funding and being investigated for discrimination. It doesn’t matter if school policies provide black students equal access to fast-track programs and resources. Or if standards are color-blind.
If disproportionate numbers of African-Americans don’t avail themselves of those policies, schools can expect a visit from Obama’s diversity cops. …
From now on, racial imbalances in “advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, gifted and talent programs” and other honors programs will be flagged by Obama’s racial bean counters. If your school has “too many” whites and Asians and “too few” blacks in those programs, you might want to lawyer up. …
Of course, most boards will not want to fight Washington and risk losing subsidies. So they’ll more than likely work to get their numbers right — even if it means lowering entrance standards and curving test scores.
Liability does not end there. The Obama regime also sees as racist disparities in the quality of facilities, resources and teachers. …
It blames these allegedly discriminatory disparities for lower black graduation rates. …
School districts that show statistical disparities by race will be aggressively investigated under the administration’s unconstitutional disparate impact theory and “be expected to put in place a clear plan for remedying the inequality in a timely fashion.” …
In effect, activist federal bureaucrats are micromanaging all local school decisions now, with the goal of massive redistribution of resources and outcomes.
The best way to ensure underprivileged kids have access to quality education is to give their parents better options through school choice facilitated by education vouchers. But Democrats and their school union donors fight such common-sense solutions and opt for race-baiting instead.
The incoming GOP majority in Congress ought to demand the administration rescind its draconian new school policy guidance.
Nowhere at this time is the result of Obama’s racist policies more starkly apparent than in Ferguson, Missouri.
Obama made an unscheduled visit to the black leaders of recent protest riots there and told them to “Stay on course”.
Seems they will.
Kerry Picket writes at Breitbart:
Protesters anxiously awaiting the St. Louis grand jury decision relating to the shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown have been training activists all weekend in preparation for the day the grand jury makes an announcement about whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s death.
Regardless of the verdict, then, “activists” will protest.
In a small room located on South Jefferson Avenue … organizers like Rev. Osagyefo Sekou are instructing groups of individuals about tactics relating to resisting police commandsduring demonstrations. Sekou is a St. Louis native who grew up in the area but now lives in Massachusetts.
He’s come to Ferguson specially for the sport.
Topics covered by organizers like Sekou … included decentralized protest actions, jail support, first aid, legal issues, as well as staying safe on the streets during demonstrations. …
Sekou says to the group, “Our task in part is, in addition to all the information is get a sense as to why we are here. We are part of the guiding principles for this movement. It’s militant non-violent civil disobedience. Can you please say that?”
Attendees respond, “Militant non-violent civil disobedience.”
“Militant” but also “non-violent”?
Sekou continues, “And we use the word ‘militant’ as opposed to the word ‘passive’ non-violent civil disobedience, because we are about a direct encounter with the state to create drama to show that we are willing to take a risk in confronting the state because of injustice. Right?”
Attendees reply, “Right.”
The injustice is accepted as a fact.
“We break unjust laws, because it’s the morally right thing to do. That’s why we do it. And there’s a tradition of that,” Sekou says to the group of mainly white attendees – many who are at least 50 years old.
Elderly whites will be breaking the law to create drama to show that they’re willing to take a risk in confronting the state. If they do, there will be no outcry from the media. It’s not as if these were members of the Tea Party.
“And militant non-violent civil disobedience gave us the 8 hour work day. It gave us women’s right to vote. It gave us the possibility of me standing here in this room with you without the relative fear of arbitrary violence because this meeting would have been historically illegal 50 years ago. That’s what militant non-violent civil disobedience gave us. We are angry, but we will not allow the anger to have the last word,” says Sekou as the protesters-in-training answered him positively with rousing congregational “yeahs” after each sentence.
“So what militant non-violent civil disobedience allows us to do is to create a container that we can channel it directly at the state, because this is not about bad apples. This is about a rotten system,” Sekou tells the trainees.
“Because you can be a good cop who doesn’t shoot black people but if you give out more tickets in Ferguson than there are actually people in Ferguson, that’s an evil system.”
Sekou then starts, “So we are confronting an…”
The audience finishes his sentence stating back to him, “Evil system.”
He continues, “[This is] not about an individual police or about individuals. This is about confronting an evil system. And the thing that guides us is love — not the kind of love that you see somebody and you think they’re cute — not that — [but rather] deep abiding love. Say that.”
Attendees responded, “Deep abiding love.”
“That’s what guides us, because deep abiding love says you’re willing to go to jail for what you believe in. Deep abiding love says you’re willing to risk your life for what you believe in,” Sekou says. “That’s what deep abiding love does. Deep abiding love in the front of tanks and tear gas and pepper spray says you will not bow down.” …
At this point some attendees are asked to participate in an exercise involving locking arms while others play the police vociferously demanding they leave the area.
Sekou asks those who are locking arms how they felt after that experience.
“Did you tense up? In those instances what’s the guiding principles?”
They reply, “Deep abiding love.”
“So when you feel the person next to you, you hold the line. You hold the line. One of the toughest things to do is if you are being advanced upon, if you sit, it’s harder for you to be broken up, right? So as they come for you this time, I want you to sit and lock,” he says.
The topic of race came up briefly as Sekou points out, “Look at all these white folks putting their bodies on the line for black people, because this is not a separate struggle. It is one struggle.”
Another organizer, later in the training, tells the group there is indeed “mostly white folks here.”
The sort of white folks who approve of Obama no matter what he does because he is black. Racist white folks.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the great Austrian economist and political philosopher, F.A.Hayek.
This tribute to him comes from Investor’s Business Daily, by Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr., senior fellow at the Cato Institute:
Hayek’s work, whether on economics, politics or law, focused on the ineluctable problems of uncertainty and incomplete information. In economics articles going back to the 1930s, he analyzed the price system as a mechanism for communicating information to buyers and sellers about the intensity of preferences for goods and their relative scarcity. He concluded that the information does not exist anywhere in its entirety and could not be centralized. … Socialist (really communist) societies relying on centralized planning would be characterized by gross economic inefficiencies.
Hayek was vindicated by subsequent events. The power of this argument is lost today on policymakers engaged in “planning lite,” attempts to allocate credit to favored industries and pick winners.
The Great Recession was in large part the consequence of such a policy. The Fed’s balance sheet is loaded up with housing finance paper. In “Ben Bernanke Versus Milton Friedman,” historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel argues that the Fed has evolved from monetary authority to a credit allocator.
Hayek first began evolving his information argument in his monetary analysis. In 1932, he questioned whether deliberate monetary management could avoid economic fluctuations.
Friedman later developed the argument against discretionary monetary policy in a series of articles that detailed the information problems confronting a central bank. His argument later became encapsulated as the “lags” in monetary policy — i.e., the unpredictability of when the effects of monetary policy actions will be felt. Monetary policymakers give lip service to Friedman’s arguments, but ignore them in practice.
Hayek deftly summed up his argument on information in his 1988 book, The Fatal Conceit:
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
A market economy is a complex order, the outcome of societal evolution that confounds efforts to redesign it. The central tenet of classical liberalism was summed up by George Smith in his brilliant book, The System of Liberty:
Laissez faire in all spheres, personal, social and economic, was the fundamental presumption of liberalism — its default setting, so to speak — and all deviations from this norm stood in need of justification.
In America, by linguistic legerdemain, progressives transformed the meaning of liberalism into nearly the opposite of what it originally meant. Progressives became liberals, and true liberals lost their identity. Hence, we have the peculiar use of conservative to denote in America what had once been liberal thought.
So when Hayek wrote a famous essay on “Why I Am Not a Conservative,” he confabulated some American conservatives. He was not attacking American conservatism. Instead, he was combating the transplantation to America of a “European type of conservatism, which (is) alien to the American tradition.” That European conservatism upheld tradition and status over liberty and innovation.
Hayek argued there, and elsewhere, that liberalism must be the political philosophy of principles. Its central principle is individual liberty. …
Hayek provided a much-needed program for American conservatives today. They must stand for free markets and free people. Free markets and free trade must be seen as the economic core of an opportunity society that provides hope for all. …
Hayek was born in Vienna at the high point of the global liberal economic order comprising free markets, free trade and capital movements, and the classical gold standard. That glorious edifice ended with World War I. So for decades he was arguing against the tide of history. Yet he lived long enough to be vindicated. His words, written over the course of much of the 20th century, constitute a message for today.
On the centenary of Hayek’s birth, May 8, 1999, Barun S. Mitra wrote a tribute to him, published by the Liberty Institute, India.
We quote from it:
Today, a wide range of people has acknowledged his contribution all over the world. From philosophers like Karl Popper, Robert Nozick … to political leaders like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Vaclav Klaus, to Nobel laureate economists like Milton Friedman, James Buchanan … and countless others. As the iron curtain was being built in the aftermath of World War II, Ludwig Erhard, the finance minister of West Germany turned to Hayekian ideas to rebuild his country. Half a century later when the iron curtain collapsed, leaders in many countries in Eastern Europe again turned to Hayek in their attempt to rebuild their societies. And Hayek is reportedly available on the bookshelf of even the Chinese Prime Minister.
If today, the world is witnessing a perceptible change in thinking, it is in no small amount due to the legacy of Hayek. …
No wonder commemorative events are being organised in London, Paris, Vienna, Washington, D.C., Montreal, Eastern Europe, and Central America. The Adam Smith Institute in the United Kingdom has named him the man of the century. …
Hayek was more than a Nobel Prize winning academic. He was an intellectual giant, who was also a gentleman to the core. The man, who went on to become one of the greatest champions of liberty, had begun his life as a young soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and sent to the Italian front in 1917. An academic, whose “controversial ideas” were eventually recognised by the Nobel committee in 1974, Hayek was also an activist who was among the founders of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1948. This was an organisation dedicated to pursuing the intellectual battle against all forms of authoritarianism and tyranny at a time when it was fashionable to call oneself socialist. Today, it has hundreds of members, including many Nobel laureates, spread across all the continents. He inspired many to take up intellectual activism like the late Sir Anthony Fisher, the British businessman who founded the Institute of Economic Affairs in London in 1955. Over the years, IEA, an independent think tank, has produced countless policy papers and books on contemporary issues, and is recognised to have contributed to changing the popular perception that made the Thatcher revolution possible in Britain in the 1980s
Hayek was born in Vienna, Austria, on May 8, 1899, to August Edler von Hayek & Felicitas von Hayek. Even as a teenager, he was interested in philosophy, economics and ethics. But his studies were interrupted as he was called for military duty in 1917, and saw action on the Italian front. On his return from service he went back to college. In the 1920s Hayek was part of that heady circle in post-war Vienna, a group which featured some of the greatest minds of the century. He earned two doctorates, one in law and another in political science. He studied economics under Ludwig von Mises, one of the greatest exponents of the Austrian School. He left for England in 1931 worried about the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Hayek mainly taught at the London School of Economics, but had short spells at universities around world including, Cambridge, Chicago, Stanford, Tokyo, and Freiburg.
Hayek was one of those few fortunate people who lived to see the tumultuous events that shook the socialist empire, and be vindicated. In a letter written in 1989, he noted, “the ultimate victory of our side in the long dispute of the principles of the free market.” He must have been saddened at the enormous cost, both human and material, that was paid in pursuit of a doomed experiment.
Hayek died in Freiburg on 23 March 1992.
In the 1930s, Hayek was the principal opponent Keynes. In various scholarly publications – Monetary Theory of Trade Cycle (1933), The Pure Theory of Capital (1941) – he had pointed out that business cycles are caused by monetary mismanagement in [government]. This contribution of Hayek was noted by the Nobel committee. Subsequent events have completely vindicated Hayek. Concerned about the stability of value, he wrote a radical essay in the 1976, “The Denationalisation of Money”, where he argued that it was a serious mistake to allow governments to monopolise the legal tender. He called for the freedom of the individuals to trade in whatever media of exchange they thought best. …
Hayek emphasized that division of labour and division of knowledge were complimentary. Every individual possessed some specialized and local knowledge that was particular to his situation and preferences. Yet, the market, through the competitive price system, successfully coordinated all these bits of knowledge. Prices provide the incentive to invest in certain areas, and the information regarding the possible opportunities. Hayek explained, “We must look at the price system as such a mechanism for communicating information if we want to understand its real function… … The most significant fact about this system is the economy of knowledge with which it operates, or how little the individual participants need to know in order to be able to take the right action.” …
Hayek also developed the idea of “spontaneous order” to describe the progress of civilizations. Language, customs, traditions, rules of conduct, have all evolved without any conscious design, and without that freedom societies may not have evolved beyond primitive levels, he held. Advancement of society was dependent upon no one overall “plan” being imposed over the actions and plans of the individuals making up the society. Building on Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”, Hayek showed that planning need not necessarily lead to order and lack of a guiding hand need not degenerate in to chaos. …
It is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess, and because each individual’s use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends, that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone.
This characteristic of the market where order seemed to develop quite spontaneously, along with dispersed nature of knowledge, raises one of the most fundamental questions on the utility of government intervention in the economy to achieve a particular end. The institutions created by government decree to provide direction to such intervention would under the best of circumstances simply be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of knowledge that they will need to process.
In contrast, the market routinely brings to order millions of evaluations undertaken by each individual participant. Hayek showed that progress arises from a continuous process of “discovery” wherein a variety of producers and consumers experiment with a wide range of possible opportunities to make profit. Most such experiments fail in the marketplace, and the innovators bear the cost taking the risk. But some succeed, and the benefits are enjoyed by all. That is the reason why in a free market, voluntary trade creates a win-win situation for all participants. …
The Road to Freedom
Hayek also published works more accessible to a wider public, which included books such as The Road to Serfdom (1944) and The Constitution of Liberty. The former has been nominated by journals like London’s Time Literary Supplement as one the noteworthy books of this century. Dozens of unauthorised editions of it were known to be in circulation among the underground activists in the Eastern block during the cold war. This book has now been published in many languages across the world. …
Then Mitra, looking at Hayek’s ideas from an Indian perspective, points out that India would have done well to have learnt what he taught:
We are concerned that after fifty years of independence, poverty is so wide spread, and as a measure to speed up the process of redistribution of wealth, we thought it prudent to abolish right to property as a fundamental right. Hayek had cautioned all those years ago that “The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.”
We want “social justice”, while Hayek warned that “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal”, and to attempt otherwise would only contribute to social collision. “Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict which each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time”, wrote Hayek.
The world has had a bitter experience in the 20th Century. The dreams of a socialist-collectivist utopia were shattered by economic collapse and degenerated into tyrannical police states. According to historian Thomas Sowell, if one was to mark the time when the intellectual tide began to turn against the ideal of socialism then it was with Hayek’s [The Road to] Serfdom. …
While the world is marking his centenary now, the next century could well belong to him. And ideas do change the world. Let us hope that the intellectual tide in favour of Hayek will become a tidal wave in the next millenium. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom may actually help pave the road to freedom for all of us.
There may be something to the claim that all people want to be free. But it is a demonstrable fact that freedom has been under attack, usually successfully, for thousands of years.
So Thomas Sowell writes in a column titled Freedom Is Not Free. He argues that the thuggish Obama regime is implementing a totalitarian agenda. The evidence that individuals are being hounded by government agencies is enormous and mounting. He mentions a few examples.
The Federal Communications Commission’s recent plan to have a “study” of how editorial decisions are made in the media, placing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices across the country, was one of the boldest assaults on freedom of the press. Fortunately, there was enough backlash to force the FCC to back off.
With all the sweeping powers available to government, displeasing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices could have brought on armies of “safety” inspectors from OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration], audits from the Internal Revenue Service and many other harassments from many other government agencies.
Such tactics have become especially common in this administration, which has the morals of thugs and the agenda of totalitarians. They may not be consciously aiming at creating a totalitarian state, but shameless use of government power to crush those who get in their way can produce totalitarian end results.
Too kind. We see clear evidence that Obama and his henchmen (and henchwomen) are consciously aiming at totalitarian power.
The prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza for contributing $20,000 to a political candidate, supposedly in violation of the many campaign finance laws, is a classic case of selective prosecution.
Thugs who stationed themselves outside a polling place in Philadelphia to intimidate white voters were given a pass, and others accused of campaign finance violations were charged with misdemeanors, but Dinesh D’Souza has been charged with felonies that carry penalties of years in federal prison.
All of this is over a campaign contribution that is chicken feed, compared to what can be raised inside of an hour at a political fundraising breakfast or lunch.
Could this singling out of D’Souza for prosecution have something to do with the fact that he made a documentary movie with devastating exposures of Barack Obama’s ideologies and policies? That movie, incidentally, is titled “2016: Obama’s America,” and every American should get a copy of it on a DVD. …
It doesn’t matter what rights you have under the Constitution of the United States, if the government can punish you for exercising those rights. And it doesn’t matter what limits the Constitution puts on government officials’ power, if they can exceed those limits without any adverse consequences.
In other words, the Constitution cannot protect you, if you don’t protect the Constitution with your votes against anyone who violates it. Those government officials who want more power are not going to stop unless they get stopped.
As long as millions of Americans vote on the basis of who gives them free stuff, look for their freedom – and all our freedom – to be eroded away, bit by bit. Our children and grandchildren may yet come to see the Constitution as just some quaint words from the past that people once took seriously. …
Arbitrary power is ugly and vicious, regardless of what pious rhetoric goes with it.
Freedom is not free.
You have to fight for it or lose it. But is our generation up to fighting for it?
So there may be no truth in the claim that all people want to be free.
Only a minority, it seems, will vote for freedom. Even fewer will fight for it.
What chance is there that such freedom as we still have will not be lost?
A truth that should be universally acknowledged is that everything a government does it does badly. Sure, there are some things only government can do, or should do: first and foremost, if not only, defend the nation and protect individual liberty. And those are two things Obama doesn’t want to do.
Government meddling in the economy is at the very least a brake on prosperity, at worst a wrecker. (Vide Greece and Detroit.)
Thomas Sowell writes:
Since this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the “war on poverty,” we can expect many comments and commemorations of this landmark legislation in the development of the American welfare state. The actual signing of the “war on poverty” legislation took place in August 1964, so the 50th anniversary is some months away. But there have already been statements in the media and in politics proclaiming that this vast and costly array of anti-poverty programs “worked.”
Of course everything “works” by sufficiently low standards, and everything “fails” by sufficiently high standards. The real question is: What did the “war on poverty” set out to do — and how well did it do it, if at all?
Without some idea of what a person or a program is trying to do, there is no way to know whether what actually happened represented a success or a failure. When the hard facts show that a policy has failed, nothing is easier for its defenders than to make up a new set of criteria, by which it can be said to have succeeded.
That’s what has happened with the “war on poverty.” It has failed, but the government and its hallelujah chorus will pretend otherwise.
Both President John F. Kennedy, who launched the proposal for a “war on poverty” and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, who guided the legislation through Congress and then signed it into law, were very explicit as to what the “war on poverty” was intended to accomplish.
Its mission was not simply to prove that spending money on the poor led to some economic benefits to the poor. Nobody ever doubted that. How could they?
What the war on poverty was intended to end was mass dependency on government. President Kennedy said, “We must find ways of returning far more of our dependent people to independence.” The same theme was repeated endlessly by President Johnson. The purpose of the “war on poverty,” he said, was to make “taxpayers out of taxeaters.” Its slogan was “Give a hand up, not a handout.” When Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark legislation into law, he declared: “The days of the dole in our country are numbered.”
Now, 50 years and trillions of dollars later, it is painfully clear that there is more dependency than ever.
Ironically, dependency on government to raise people above the poverty line had been going down for years before the “war on poverty” began. The hard facts showed that the number of people who lived below the official poverty line had been declining since 1960, and was only half of what it had been in 1950.
On the more fundamental question of dependency, the facts were even clearer. The proportion of people whose earnings put them below the poverty level – without counting government benefits – declined by about one-third from 1950 to 1965.
All this was happening before the “war on poverty” went into effect – and all these trends reversed after it went into effect.
The more the government does to “fight poverty”, the more poverty grows and spreads. Year after year, under the Obama administration, the number who “need” government assistance has increased, so that, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as reported by CNS News –
A record 20% of American households, one in five, were on food stamps in 2013 … and … the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was at an all-time high.
The USDA says that there were 23,052,388 households on food stamps in the average month of fiscal 2013, an increase of 722,675 from fiscal year 2012, when there were 22,329,713 households on food stamps in the average month. …
In the past five years alone, the number of households on food stamps has greatly increased. In fiscal year 2009 – Oct. 1, 2008 through Sept. 30, 2009 — the number of households on food stamps was 15,232,115. Five years later, in 2013, that amount had increased by 51.3% to reach 23,052,388 households.
It should be remembered that most of “the poor” in America are comparatively well off, the least poor of the world’s poor.
But if government would stop interfering, the economy would grow faster and people would have a better chance of doing well, and even becoming really (maybe gloriously) rich.
Always, figuratively speaking, the fatter the government, the thinner the people.
On entering the new year, Thomas Sowell writes:
Whenever we stand on the threshold of a new year, we are tempted to forget the hazards of prophecy, and try to see what may lie on the other side of this arbitrary division of time.
Sometimes we are content to try to change ourselves with New Year’s resolutions to do better in some respect. Changing ourselves is a much more reasonable undertaking than trying to change other people. It may or may not succeed, but it seldom creates the disasters that trying to change others can produce.
When we look beyond ourselves to the world around us, peering into the future can be a very sobering, if not depressing, experience.
ObamaCare looms large and menacing on our horizon. This is not just because of computer problems, or even because some people who think that they have enrolled may discover at their next visit to a doctor that they do not have any insurance coverage.
What ObamaCare has done, thanks to Chief Justice Roberts’s Supreme Court decision, is reduce us all from free citizens to cowed subjects, whom the federal government can order around in our own personal lives, in defiance of the 10th Amendment and all the other protections of our freedom in the Constitution of the United States.
ObamaCare is more than a medical problem, though there are predictable medical problems – and even catastrophes – that will unfold in the course of 2014 and beyond. Our betters have now been empowered to run our lives, with whatever combination of arrogance and incompetence they may have, or however much they lie.
The challenges ahead are much clearer than what our responses will be. Perhaps the most hopeful sign is that increasing numbers of people seem to have finally – after nearly five long years – begun to see Barack Obama for what he is, rather than for what he seemed to be, when judged by his image and rhetoric.
What kind of man would blithely disrupt the medical care of millions of Americans, and then repeatedly lie to them with glib assurances that they could keep their doctors or health insurance if they wanted to?
What kind of man would set up a system in which people would be forced by law to risk their life savings, because they had to divulge their financial identification numbers to strangers who could turn out to be convicted felons?
With all the time that elapsed between the passage of ObamaCare and its going into effect, why were the so-called “navigators” who were to be handling other people’s financial records never investigated for criminal convictions? What explanation could there be, other than that Obama didn’t care? …
Those who have still not yet seen through Barack Obama will have many more opportunities to do so during the coming year, as the medical, financial and other painful human consequences of ObamaCare keep coming out in ways so clear that not even the mainstream media can ignore them or obscure them.
The question then is: What can be done about it? Nothing can be done about Obama himself. He has three more years in office and, as he pointed out to the Russians, he will no longer have to face the American voters.
ObamaCare, however, has no such immunity. It is always hard to repeal an elaborate program after it has gone into effect. But Prohibition was repealed, even though it was a Constitutional Amendment that required super-majorities in both houses of Congress and super-majorities of state legislatures to repeal.
In our two-party system, everything depends on whether the Republicans step up to the plate and act like responsible adults who understand that ObamaCare represents a historic crossroads that will determine what kind of people we are going to be, for this generation and generations yet unborn – citizens or subjects.
This means that Republicans have to decide whether their top priority is internal strife among the different wings of the party – another circular firing squad – or whether either wing puts the country first.
A prediction on how that will turn out in the new year would be far too hazardous to attempt.
We make no predictions today, but we thank our readers and commenters for their interest and contributions, and wish you all a Very Happy New Year!
Thomas Sowell talks to Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard about the differences between Liberalism (ie. statism) and Conservatism. (The video dates from 2010.)