>Friedrich A. Hayek wrote a rather well-known book on economics and the human condition called “The Road To Serfdom” back in the early 1940s. Hayek was an Austrian economist and one of the major contributors to the “Austrian School” of economics. The intro to the edition I’m reading is rather long and any summary of the factors that led to the book would be insufficient in comparison.
He also rather famously remarked: “Conservatism is only as good as what it conserves,” being critical of American conservatism that doesn’t embrace and conserve its libertarian/classic liberal ideals. Note that our motto at The Patriot Perspective has always been the same.
As I’ve been reading it, some passages are jumping out at me. Here, Hayek points out a major problem with central planning and socialism. It must control everything to create its utopia. And it invariably fails, as everything in existence must then be prioritized by government – not by individuals who govern their own affairs, and whose best interests may even change day to day. Here, he makes the point that there can be no such government because there exists no such set of prioritizing values.
Not only do we not possess such an all-inclusive scale of values: it would be impossible for any mind to comprehend the infinite variety of different needs of different people which compete for the available resources and to attach a definite weight to each. For our problem it is of minor importance whether the ends for which any person cares comprehend only his own individual needs, or whether they include the needs of his closer or even those of his more distant fellows-that is, whether he is egotistic or altruistic in the ordinary sense of these words. The point which is so important is the basic fact that it is impossible for any man to survey more than a limited field, to be aware of the urgency of more than a limited number of needs. Whether his interests center round his own physical needs, or whether he takes a warm interest in the welfare of every human being he knows, the ends about which he can be concerned will always be only an infinitesimal fraction of the needs of all men.
This is the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy of individualism is based. It does not assume, as is often asserted, that man is egoistic or selfish or ought to be. It merely starts from the indisputable fact that the limits of our powers of imagination make it impossible to include in our scale of values more than a sector of the needs of the whole society…
- Friedrich August von Hayek, The Road To Serfdom (pg 102)