Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quote - F. A. Hayek

The fashionable concentration on democracy as the main value threatened is not without danger. It is largely responsible for the misleading and unfounded belief that, so long as the ultimate source of power is the will of the majority, the power cannot be arbitrary. The false assurance which many people derive from this belief is an important cause of the general unawareness of the dangers which we face. There is no justification for the belief that, so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary; the contrast suggested by this statement is altogether false: it is not the source but the limitation of power which prevents it from being arbitrary. Democratic control may prevent power from becoming arbitrary, but it does not do so by its mere existence. If democracy resolves on a task which necessarily involves the use of power which cannot by guided by fixed rules, it must become arbitrary power.
F. A. Hayek, The Road To Serfdom, 1944.

6 comments:

Christopher said...

In other words, we need another round of White Guys in Wigs acting as Constitutional dictators to make sure the democratic majority acts "correctly". What stinking pile of shit.

Josh said...

No, I'm not sure that's what he's saying. I'm going to serve as poor voice for arguing on Hayek's behalf because I'm not sure I have absorbed all of his main points and arguments fully and correctly. He doesn't argue for a round of white guys in wigs acting as constitutional dictators. This sounds an awful lot like the supreme court, and he doesn't place a lot of faith in the judicial system as he has seen it fail to do its job properly multiple times in different instances, in different countries. I'm still getting through the book, but I get the impression so far that he believes the government needs to be restricted by "the rule of law", such as a constitution, or else its power is arbitrary; unlimited. What keeps the government in check? I think his perspective must be similar to Ron Paul's in that you need to educate people and keep them politically aware because it is the job of the people to keep their government in check. I only say that because I understand he took time away from his research to write this political book out of concern for the road England seemed to be moving and how it reminded him of Germany. Although, that explanation may not make a lot of sense for someone who appears to show great disdain for the power of a democratic majority. That's as far as I'm going to go.

You should read the book. At this point in his life, he's not as hard-edged libertarian as his current supporters are. He seems to acknowledge a role of government to provide some services and seems to be pro-central banking.

Christopher said...

I was being sarcastic. The new constitutional dictators would be the White Wigs' descendants.

And, no, there has been no major erosion of liberty except for the right to gather and protest, both rights taken from those dirty leftists and communists, so it doesn't matter. The rest is rather mild in comparison and more the result of laziness, libertards included, because they never violently demonstrate.

Josh said...

"there has been no major erosion of liberty except for the right to gather and protest"

That would be a major erosion of liberty; although the erosion of liberty is much greater than that. I'm not even allowed to drink raw milk if I wanted to.

Christopher said...

You can drink raw milk if you want to, businesses are just not allowed to sell it. There is a difference, and the decision was made democratically and constitutionally, so it is a legitimate law.

Josh said...

Right, but it still infringes on my liberty to buy the raw milk I would like to drink. That government assumes the arbitrary power to limit what I might decide to buy is a serious erosion of my liberty. By limiting what our producers are allowed to produce, they are indirectly forcing to me to purchase only that which they dictate is allowed to be produced.