Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Five Second ... Hayek

The Road to Serfdom, Chapters 3-4:
"Planning" owes its popularity largely to the fact that everybody desires, of course, that we should handle our common problems as rationally as possible and that, in so doing, we should use as much foresight as we can command. In this sense everyone who is not a complete fascist is a planner, every political act is (or ought to be) an act of planning, and there can be difference only between good and bad, between wise and foresighted and foolish and short-sighted planning. ...

The question is whether ... it is better that the holder of coercive power should confine himself in general to creating conditions under which the knowledge and initiative of individuals are given the best scope so that they can plan most successfully; or whether a rational utilization of our resources requires central direction and organization .... according to some consciously constructed "blueprint." ...

There is little question that almost every one of the technical ideals of our experts could be realized within a comparatively short time if to achieve them were made the sole aim of humanity. ... It is the frustration of his ambitions in his own field which makes the specialist revolt against the existing order. ... And the hopes of some of them would undoubtedly be fulfilled, since a planned society would certainly further some objective more than is the case at present. ... But of course, the adoption of the social planning for which they clamor can only bring out the concealed conflict between their aims.

The movement for planning owes its present strength largely to the fact that, while planning is in the main still an ambition, it unites almost all the single-minded idealists, all the men and women who have devoted their lives to a single task. The hopes they place in planning, however, are the result not of a comprehensive view of society but rather of a very limited view and often the result of a great exaggeration of the importance of the ends they place foremost. ... It would make the very men who are most anxious to plan society the most dangerous if they were allowed to do so - and the most intolerant of the planning of others.
Assignment: How do these comments apply to current political debates regarding health care and the environment? What other factors should be considered that are not mentioned in the quoted selection? How can we learn to overcome the universal assumption "that in a free discussion among rational people we would convince others that [our personal order of values] is the right one"?

No comments:

Post a Comment