Friedrich August Von Hayek
Friedrich August von Hayek was a political economist
who had tremendous influence upon how people in capitalist societies
understand the concept of liberty.
Controversially, for Hayek,
liberty did not mean democracy or commitment to a set of liberal ideals.
Rather, Hayek believed liberty was a policy which deliberately adopts
competition, markets and prices as its ordering principles.
To Hayek’s way of thinking, it was markets that guaranteed the individual liberty.
And by contrast, it was the interference of the state in markets
which disrupted the operation of liberty
and started the society down as he famously put it:
the road to serfdom.
Hayek was born into a minor part of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy.
His father who came from a line of scholars was a medical doctor
and a part-time lecturer in botany.
Hayek’s childhood was filled with considerations of philosophy and economics.
After a brief stint in Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War,
Hayek took up studies at the University of Vienna,
obtaining doctorates in law and political science.
And afterwards, he became an academic economist.
Hayek’s career can be divided into two periods.
The first which ended towards the end of 1940s
was spent mainly at the London School of Economics,
where Hayek concerned himself with many of the macroeconomic debates of the day.
The second half of Hayek’s career was much more varied,
from 1945 onwards
in first Chicago and later Freiburg, Los Angeles and Salzburg.
Hayek wrote and lectured on a whole range of subjects:
经济学 是的 还有政治学、心理学、哲学和科学哲学
economics, yes, but also politics, psychology, philosophy and the philosophy of science.
And while he officially retired in 1968,
it was actually in the 1970s and 80s that Hayek enjoyed his greatest moments of influence,
being awarded the Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 1974
and subsequently being enormously influential upon the governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
During Hayek’s stay at the London School of Economics which he joined in 1931,
he wrestled with a number of the then contemporary debates with an economic theory.
Much of this revolved around business cycle,
which put simply is the way in which economies grow and contract.
Traditional economic theory held that over time
economies found themselves in equilibrium.
In short, gluts and shortages should balance themselves out via market mechanisms,
leading to the optimal distribution of resources within an economy.
The problem was that the economic peaks and troughs
seemed to keep occurring and they also seemed to be more dramatic than they should be.
When the world economy stagnated and crashed in the late 1920s and the 1930s,
fierce debate began as to why this had occurred.
Coming in economics from a fairly classical position,
Hayek focused on issues of supply.
He noticed that when economies were in recession,
central banks often artificially injected more money into the economy,
by printing cash or else or in addition
by holding interest rates low to encourage investment rather than saving.
Hayek argued that this was a mistake.
When money was too readily available,
entrepreneurs invested in products which were not necessarily designed by consumers.
When these products went unsold,
companies would go bankrupt leaving industrial capacity invested where it needed not be.
In addition, cheap credit incentivized long-term capital investment,
and Hayek argued that this too was a problem
because it limited the possibility of entrepreneurs
attempting to realize short-term gains
which would actually kick start the economy.
Resisting the temptation to meddle in the money supply was for Hayek
crucial to solving the problem of the Great Depression.
Hayek’s colleagues at the London School of Economics were receptive to his more classical approach.
But up the road in Cambridge a very different set of ideas was emerging,
centered on the thought of John Maynard Keynes.
Keynes argued that the problems of the 1930s’ economy
were located not so much in issues of supply
but rather of demand.
For Keynes the role of government was to invest in public works,
比如 修建道路 这可以创造就业
the building of roads, for example, which would create employment
and therefore give money to spend stimulating economic growth.
凯恩斯认为 因此 充分就业
For Keynes full employment was therefore
not only a laudable social goal but vital for the economy too.
Keynes’ demand-led economics was fundamentally at odds with Hayek’s ideas.
Hayek felt that Keynes’ focus on fully employment
would require governments to keep increasing money supply.
This in turn would create severe inflation
of the kind that wiped out his family savings
when 1920’s Austria had suffered about of hyper-inflation.
Throughout the 1930s,
Hayek and Keynes corresponded with each other, argued bitterly
and found very little common ground.
During the Second World War, they even met under bizarre circumstances.
Because of the German bombing campaign against London,
the LSE had been evacuated to Cambridge.
One night, Keynes and Hayek were assigned to a firewatch duty together
on the roof of the chapel of King’s College.
Sadly we don’t know what it was they talked about throughout that night.
The opening of the second half of Hayek’s career
is marked by his first foray out from dry economic arguments
and the publication of what is probably his most famous work:
The Road to Serfdom.
Hayek saw the writing of this book as a form of war work
forced upon him because as a former enemy competent,
Hayek was refused official service in the British War effort
against the backdrop of Keynes’ ideas on planning
which had become accepted within British government circles.
“The Road to Serfdom” was an attempt to save people from themselves,
or more accurately from central government.
Hayek put forward several key arguments.
首先 德国人作为一个种族 本质上并不会
Firstly that there was nothing intrinsic to Germans as a race of people
that had caused them to adopt authoritarian form of government.
Hayek rejected the idea somewhat popular at the time
that there was something about German culture or indeed inherent to Germans as a race
which predisposed them to authoritarian and expansionist forms of government.
第二 哈耶克提出 德国和苏联 在一个相同的点上
Secondly, Hayek argued where Germany and Soviet Union too for that matter
had gone wrong was undertaking state planning
that interfered in the natural operation of markets.
哈耶克认为 国家调控的问题是 这必须涉及
For Hayek, the problem with state planning was that it necessarily involved
offering up responsibility for deciding
upon a plan to a single individual.
在一个官僚系统 比如国家 哈耶克提出
In a bureaucratic system such as the state, Hayek argued
someone had to ultimately decide on what course of action should be taken
and that person’s judgement would not necessarily have to be deferred to
and referred to repeatedly over a given period of time.
In this sense, planning led societies a sleepwalk into dictatorship.
Thirdly, not only did Hayek worry about the inherent need for
planners to defer to a single individual,
but also he was concerned that fundamentally
no one individual could actually make rational choices
in regards to economic problems,
due to them not having enough information to base their decisions upon.
To be clear, it was not that Hayek necessarily condemned dictatorship.
After all, his vision of liberty was a society in which
markets were the principal method of economic organization,
not necessarily one where society collectively decided upon governments by the ballot box.
因此 哈耶克并不反对独裁者 如果他采取
To this end, Hayek was comfortable with dictators who adopted
free market economic policies involving minimal state intervention in a nation’s economy.
But dictators who undertook economic planning were for Hayek
the really great evil.
Hayek saw it like this:
markets are extremely complicated network with millions
if not billions of transactions going on all the time.
Even consideration of some of the basics of market transactions shows this.
Items are bought and sold, commodities are invested in and divested from,
and famines and bumper crop yields affect how much there is to eat
and how much it will cost to acquire it,
in keeping with the laws of supply and demand.
When individuals make choices as to whether or not to buy a commodity,
they affect that commodity’s price.
If it becomes scarce, its price increases.
If it becomes plentiful, its price falls.
In this sense the free market acts as a kind of constant referendum
on the value of goods within an economy.
For Hayek, the market represented a form of collective agreement
made amongst all of the people operating in that market
as to the value of particular goods and services.
And against the collective wisdom of hundreds or thousands or millions of people,
what could one single planner hope to offer that represented superior form of wisdom?
因此 对哈耶克来说 自由就是让市场完成它的使命
Liberty for Hayek therefore was to be found in letting the market do its work.
“The Road to Serfdom” launched Hayek’s later career.
Instantly it became a best seller.
During the Second World War, its print run was limited due to paper shortages
and obtaining a copy was nigh on impossible due to sheer demand.
In the United States of America, condensed Reader’s Digest version of the book
brought the message to a very large public.
So too did a series of lectures delivered by Hayek during 1945
at various venues in the United States.
Hayek, cold-shouldered by British policy makers and economists
was delighted at the reception he received in the US.
And in 1950 he moved to the University of Chicago,
which became the centre of neoliberal economic thinking
with which Hayek was closely associated
much as Cambridge had been the locus for Keynesian economics.
But despite the popular acclaim of “The Road to Serfdom”,
Two negative reactions irked him.
First of all, some of his own colleagues normally sympathetic to the ideas he put forward
saw “The Road to Serfdom” as a kind of lightweight form of journalism
rather than as a form of scholarship.
Keynes who read “The Road to Serfdom”
sent Hayek what was for the most part complimentary message about its content.
然而 到了最后 凯恩斯简短地
However towards the end and in quick order
Keynes challenged Hayek as to where he would draw the line on government planning.
Some planning was clearly needed. Hayek was not an economic anarchist after all.
But Keynes challenged: where would the line be drawn?
It took Hayek many years to work out his response to Keynes who died in 1946,
with a response eventually came in 1960 in Hayek’s book:
The Constitution of Liberty.
The book laid out Hayek’s practical vision for
where the line between the state and the market should be drawn,
and it was highly influential among the political right.
In an anecdote, story is told that
in a meeting with a conservative research department in 1975,
Margaret Thatcher responded to a policy paper on political philosophy
by reaching into a handbag and withdrawing a copy of “The Constitution of Liberty”.
Holding it aloft, Thatcher declared: this is what we believe.
As the 20th century unfolded, Hayek’s ideas gained more common currency.
The notion that the state should limit itself to providing a legal framework
within which entrepreneurs can engage with free markets
is now at the heart of much of economic thinking.
Many politicians and large sections of the public too
are skeptical about the ability of the state to plan
and undertake anything but the most simple of economic tasks.
And this as much to Hayek’s warnings about the anti-libertarian perils
of planning and the inability of planners to truly understand the world around them.
Even when the financial crisis of 2008 hit the world economy,
leading to a prolonged recession, faith in government planning
was not restored in the popular imagination.
This was best testified too by “The Road to Serfdom”
hitting the number one spot on the Amazon book bestseller list in early 2010,
despite it having been written over 60 years ago.