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Friedrich Hayek

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If the central contest of the twentieth century has pitted capitalism against socialism, then F. A. Hayek has been its central figure. He helped us to understand why capitalism won by a knockout. It was Hayek who elaborated the basic argument demonstrating that central planning was nothing else but an impoverishing fantasy.
Kenneth Minogue, "Giants Refreshed II: The Escape from Serfdom: Friedrich von Hayek and the Restoration of Liberty" in Times Literary Supplement (14 January 2000), p. 11

Friedrich Hayek

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Hayek's adversaries — Oskar Lange and company — argued that a market system had to be inferior to a centrally-planned system: at the very least, a centrally-planned economy could set up internal decision-making procedures that would mimic the market, and the central planners could also adjust things to increase social welfare and account for external effects in a way that a market system could never do. Hayek, in response, argued that the functionaries of a central-planning board could never succeed, because they could never create both the incentives and the flexibility for the people-on-the-spot to exercise what Scott calls metis. Today all economists — even those who are very hostile to Hayek's other arguments … agree that Hayek and company hit this particular nail squarely on the head. Looking back at the seventy-year trajectory of Communism, it seems very clear that Hayek … [is] right: that its principal flaw is its attempt to concentrate knowledge, authority, and decision-making power at the center rather than pushing the power to act, the freedom to do so, and the incentive to act productively out to the periphery where the people-on-the-spot have the local knowledge to act effectively.

Friedrich Hayek

Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven’t had capitalism. A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank. It’s not capitalism when the system is plagued with incomprehensible rules regarding mergers, acquisitions, and stock sales, along with wage controls, price controls, protectionism, corporate subsidies, international management of trade, complex and punishing corporate taxes, privileged government contracts to the military-industrial complex, and a foreign policy controlled by corporate interests and overseas investments. Add to this centralized federal mismanagement of farming, education, medicine, insurance, banking and welfare. This is not capitalism!

Ron Paul

One of the most original and most important ideas advanced by Hayek is the role of the "division of knowledge" in economic society … [But if] I had to single out the area in which Hayek's contributions were the most fundamental and pathbreaking, I would cast my vote for the theory of capital. As I said before, when I reviewed Hayek's book on The Pure Theory of Capital, it is "my sincere conviction that this work contains some of the most penetrating thoughts on the subject that have ever been published." If two achievements may be named, I would add Hayek's contributions to the the theory of economic planning. Most of what has been written on systems analysis, computerized data processing, simulation of market processes, and other techniques of decision-making without the aid of competitive markets, appears shallow and superficial in the light of Hayek's analysis of the 'division of knowledge', its dispersion among masses of people. Information in the minds of millions of people is not available to any central body or any group of decision-makers who have to determine prices, employment, production, and investment but do not have the signals provided by a competitive market mechanism. Most plans for economic reform in the socialist countries seem to be coming closer to the realization that increasing decentralization of decision-making is needed to solve the problems of rational economic planning.

Friedrich Hayek

Personally I'm in favor of democracy, which means that the central institutions in the society have to be under popular control. Now, under capitalism we can't have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level -- there's a little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I'm opposed to political fascism, I'm opposed to economic fascism. I think that until major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it's pointless to talk about democracy.

Noam Chomsky

While in graduate school I encountered the writings of Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, which shook me out of my then socialist beliefs. There was Hayek's book of essays, Individualism and Economic Order, and Mises's wide-ranging and unsettling Socialism, which showed me I had not thought through any details — economic, social or cultural — of how socialism would work. One of their arguments in particular, about the impossibility of rational economic calculation under socialism, dumbfounded me. Whether or not the argument was ultimately judged to be correct, it was amazing, something I never would have thought of in a million years.

Friedrich Hayek
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