On Friedrich Hayek

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 10, 2010

An interesting discussion of the revival of interest in Hayek. It is worth re-emphasizing, however, the degree to which his opponents insist on misreading him. Consider the following:

. . . Today, Hayek continues to inspire noisy ideological debate. In his recent book “Ill Fares the Land,” a passionate defense of the democratic socialist ideal, the historian Tony Judt writes that Hayek would have been (justly) doomed to obscurity if not for the financial difficulty experienced by the welfare state, which was exploited by conservatives like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. The economist Paul Samuelson, in a reminiscence of Hayek published last December, was more dismissive still. “Where are their horror camps?” he asked, referring to right-wing bugaboos like Sweden, with its generous welfare spending. Almost 70 years after Hayek sounded his alarm, “hindsight confirms how inaccurate its innuendo about the future turned out to be.”

Shorter Judt: “If only events hadn’t made Hayek relevant, Hayek would have been completely irrelevant.”

Shorter Samuelson: “I didn’t actually read Hayek.”

And speaking of economists who have failed to do their homework . . .

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