More on Hayek

SCIABRRC at ACFcluster.NYU.EDU SCIABRRC at ACFcluster.NYU.EDU
Tue Oct 11 10:25:16 MDT 1994


     I appreciate Donna's post on "Hayek (1)."  I would
however, like to recommend reading HAYEK, and not merely his
critics (of which Wainwright is one).  It is not enough to
read his more polemical works, such as THE ROAD TO SERFDOM.
I think you will find other works more challenging,
including:  THE FATAL CONCEIT; INDIVIDUALISM AND ECONOMIC
ORDER; STUDIES IN PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND ECONOMICS; and
NEW STUDIES IN PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, ECONOMICS, AND THE
HISTORY OF IDEAS.

     I would just like to say, in passing, that Hayek and the
Austrian school are not ahistorical in their analysis of
markets and prices.  What we have had up till now is not a
free market system.  For sure, prices and markets exist
globally, but there are enormous state interventions
throughout the global community.  Cartel arrangements are all
government-sanctioned.  Monopoly cannot result except through
a POLITICAL intervention in which entry into a field is
blocked by various legal maneuvers (regulations, compulsory
cartelization, price controls, output quotas, licensing,
certificates of convenience and necessity, compulsory
unionization, product control through standards of quality
and safety, tariffs, immigration restrictions, minimum wage
laws, maximum hour laws, conscription, conservation laws,
patents, franchises, the use of eminent domain, antitrust).
It is no coincidence that the genesis of the entire alphabet
soup of federal regulatory agencies was supported,
sanctioned, and shaped by the very industries to be
regulated in their quest for "stabilization" under 19th-
century conditions of rivalrous competition.  (See Kolko's
THE TRIUMPH OF CONSERVATISM for a fine introduction to this
area of history.)  It is no wonder that in the incestuous
relationship of state and business, militarism and neo-
colonialism has resulted.

     Perhaps Hayek's alternative is as utopian as Marx's.
His vision of free markets and free prices and free movement
of peoples throughout a global economy unencumbered by
cartelization, nationalisms and militarisms bears no
resemblance to what exists today.  If what exists today is
degenrating into barbarism, it is not the fault of Hayekian
free markets and free prices, for these exist nowhere on
earth.

     Regarding Philip Goldstein's comment on my response to
critics, just a quick note.  I think that he is correct to
observe that some of Engels's (and Marx's) "over-statements"
can be attributed to rhetoric.  Marx and Engels wrote many
works to appeal to specific audiences and often overstated
the case.  Unfortunately, there are loads of examples where
rhetoric outshines common sense, and whole schools of
Marxists have derived from such rhetorical usages.  On this
basis, both Marx and Engels decried the use of historical
materialism, for example, by those who applied the "material
base" in a one-dimensional manner, never acknowledging
reciprocal causation and effect.

     Nevertheless, I should add too, that just because I
believe Marx embraced, at least in this instance, an
Enlightenment-rooted constructivistic rationalism, I do not
blame the totalitarian practices of the Soviet Union strictly
on such views.  I think my previous posts make clear that one
cannot disconnect the Soviet reality from the historically
specific conditions that Russia has faced.  Finally, two
cheers for Gramsci; I think Philip is right to note Gramsci's
views on hegemony.  There is much value in the Gramscian
perspective vis-a-vis some of the issues we have been
discussing.  I think Habermas and Wainwright also contribute
much of interest to the debate on "unintended social
consequences," even if they don't quite satisfy the epistemic
strictures that Hayek has so eloquently written about.

                         - Chris

=============================================================
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
Visiting Scholar, N.Y.U. Department of Politics
INTERNET:  sciabrrc at acfcluster.nyu.edu
  BITNET:  sciabrrc at nyuacf
=============================================================


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