Chaos theory and Hayek

Chris M. Sciabarra sciabrrc at is2.NYU.EDU
Sun Sep 17 19:47:08 MDT 1995

On Sun, 17 Sep 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

> Chris S, fresh from his book publishing activities has posted
> an admirably lucid comment on "chaos/Marxism/anachronism.
> There is very much I would agree with in what he attributes to Hayek
> (quote below).
> However;
> a) it assumes the socialism is about rigid centralised planning.
> Although Marx and Engels called, in the Communist Manifesto, for
> the immediate formation of land armies, they also presumed something
> described as the withering away of the state. Marxism can be reinterpreted
> in a less rigid and mechanical way than has been assumed this century.

	This is true; but to the extent that the alternative usurps
spontaneous market forces and their coordinative networks, socialists
still face a huge calculation problem, IMO.

> b) Chaos theory is  neutral, but both sides may attempt to
> use it. A clear pamphlet on Chaos Theory by the right wing Adam
> Smith Institute in London suggests that it vindicates of course
> right wing economics but specifically the Austrian school of Hayek etc.
> - one reason why I have always followed Chris S's contributions with
> interest.
> But there is a catch for them. Fine reading of the argument suggests that
> actually it *is* wise not just for companies but also for countries
> to prepare themselves for the difficulties of predicting the future
> and one of the ways of doing this is to invest in education. And IMO
> that opens the door also to other social engineering possibilities.

	I agree that state education does open the door to other social
engineering possibilities.

> Therefore admirers of Hayek in practice may wish to exert some social
> guidance over the means of production. Socialists, who might prefer
> outright social ownership of the means of production, also wish to argue
> for social guidance and control.
> ... Capitalists cannot afford to operate on that principle, and especially
> the biggest monopoly companies do not.
> Every market in history has been regulated. The question is,
> will they be secretly regulated for the capitalists, or openly
> regulated for the workers?

	I agree that no market has operated without some form of
regulation -- only if we mean that state influences have never been
absent from markets.  Obviously, however, there is a real difference
between "the rule of law" and state interference with production,
distribution, consumption, etc.  And as far as capitalists TRYING to gain
monopolistic control -- this too, cannot be achieved without some form of
political intervention.  By the way, the Austrians are as critical of
monopoly as they are of "socialism" in that to the extent to which each
destroys rivalrous competition, calculational chaos often results.  Which
is why, according to Austrian-libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard, one
big monopoly has not evolved spontaneously.  If it were profitable for
one big monopoly to exist, socialism would have been here a long time ago.

					- Chris
Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
INTERNET:  sciabrrc at

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