Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Friedich von Hayek and Augosto Pinochet: The Liberty Scam

Few figures exist in the Libertarian movement like Hayek. No other figure is quoted, revered, or talked about as much. Sure, certain segments of that "movement" prefer Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises, but Hayek is the one I hear most talked about.

Take a quick look at Cato, Reason, or those awful economic rap videos and it's easy to see a level of idolatry that would make the most staunch Marxist blush. Of Hayek's work, The Road to Serfdom is the most talked about and lauded. I'll go into a little detail about why it's a silly and nonsensical book, but first here's a cartoon summary of the main points of the book.

It's important to understand that this was written during World War 2. Hayek thought that the centralized planning the Allies did to fight the war would result in new dictators rising up and taking away liberty. Hayek saw the National Health Service in the UK, national highways in the United States, and many other such programs as examples of the beginning of the end.

It's peculiar to me that a book that lays out a set of predictions could end up being so completely wrong, yet still be read and referenced to the extent it is referenced today. I might have missed it, but I don't remember Norway or Sweden or France or Germany or the United Kingdom or any other nation this book was talking about slipping into despotism and terror as a result of implementing social democracy. I'm a simple man, though, so I might have missed it.

This all becomes ever more strange when you realize that Hayek was in favor of dictatorship and did support the overthrow of a democratically elected government. All of Hayek's talk about liberty and freedom become worthless once you understand his involvement and support of Augosto Pinochet and his despotic regime in Chile.

Many others have done a better job of talking about this subject than I am capable of, so I highly encourage you to take a look a Corey Robin's post on this subject as he does an excellent job of discussing Hayek and his support of totalitarian regimes.

What takes Hayek from being merely stupid and getting overly excited about the free market, lest we forget stupid leftists who have supported vile dictatorships because they were caught up in the excitement of a perceived worker's revolution, is that he was very clear about what he saw and what he encouraged.

Hayek was, in fact, not just an enthusiastic supporter of Pinochet and what he had done in Chile, but was quite open about preferring a dictatorship that protected his twisted view of economic liberty to “democratic government lacking in liberalism." Andrew Farrant, Edward McPhail, and Sebastian Berger have gone into great depths exploring Hayek's views on these issues in a well written paper that can be found here.

What does all of this mean, though? I could go into great detail about other Libertarian thinkers and activists and their support of despotism, such as Ludwig von Mises collaboration and support of Italian and Austrian fascism, but what's the point?

The point is this: Libertarianism is a misnomer. They care not one iota about actual liberty. They will sometimes talk about gay rights, legalizing marijuana, ending various wars, and lots of other things that appeal to a liberals sense of what liberty actually means, but at the end of the day they are willing to sacrifice everything for economic freedom. Libertarians care not about actual freedom, and they are overtly contemptuous and against democracy, instead they merely wish to "liberate" the markets from any democratic oversight and they are willing to do anything and everything they can to do that.

It can be to no one's surprise that most, although not all, avowed libertarians are voting for Mitt Romney this election year. Despite Mitt Romney and President Obama having differences on gay marriage, illegal drugs and sentencing, education, and many other issues that those that call themselves "libertarians" pretend to care about that at the end of the day they are willing to sacrifice all those issues for a slight decrease in government involvement in the free market.

I know I have said this time and time again, but there is a fundamental incompatibility between democracy and capitalism. We see this every day: capital and business are becoming more powerful and are using that power to weaken democratic controls, influence, and the very institution of democracy in local governments and unions.

We will not be able to fight back for as long as people are allowed to talk about von Hayek without mentioning his disgraceful support and intellectual arguments for despotism and tyranny. On this anniversary of the coup that overthrew a democratically elected government we must remind the world what the free market looks like and does. Viva Allende!

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