SODOM & GOMORRAH: There is a particular myth that has haunted the liberal psyche for generations. Because it has haunted the liberal psyche, it has also haunted the American psyche for Americans have thus far postponed the decision first postponed by the founders and have, since the founding, tolerated the liberal tradition. This is the myth of there being a dichotomy between tyranny and anarchy. Liberalism teaches that there are two political poles, authority and anarchy. You exchange less authority for more anarchy, less anarchy for more authority, and partisans tend to either favor a strong state or a strong people.
This is part of a larger project to demonstrate how most “authoritarian” systems were in fact anarchist systems. This attacks the so-called “liberty” of the libertarians first. This is necessary since libertarians are more well known for their distinction between “statism” and the “love of liberty.”
Friedrich Hayek is a role model for what masquerades as the right today, so he is the first in my sights. Thomas Sowell, Rush Limbaugh, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Milton Friedman all admired Hayek and agreed with him. Recently, Glenn Beck has begun suggesting Hayek’s works as recommended tea party reading. Dr. Hayek is recommended reading for libertarians, a label that he proudly wore instead of the descriptor “conservative” . But Dr. Hayek is not recommended reading for a thinker of the right, save for the sake of knowing your enemy. This author contends the following about Dr. Hayek:
1. Dr. Hayek was a progressive. What I mean by this is, Dr. Hayek believed that history was a story of the gradual improvement in morals, technology, and the overall human condition.
2. Dr. Hayek was a materialist. I mean specifically that Dr. Hayek believed that the human condition is determined by our material existence and condition as opposed to a spiritual orientation.
3. Dr. Hayek was an advocate of the abolishment of sovereignty and its replacement by a world state. Naturally this “world state” is hardly a state at all, but a clearing house for international commerce, however it does possess the ability to make war.
Let’s start at the beginning. Dr. Hayek’s progressivism. Most people imagine progressives to be people on the left. Mr. Beck will tell you that they are the Clintons, the Obamas, the Roosevelts and he’s right, but they’re also the Hayeks, the Palins, and the Reagans. So in a sense, most people are right: progressives are people on the left. However, that’s another post for another time. For now, we aim at Dr. Hayek.
Dr. Hayek fought the progressives of his time, to be sure, however he did so only because he didn’t consider them progressive enough. This view is expressed beautifully in the last sentence of The Road to Serfdom where he says, “The guiding principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century.”  Hayek draws from the 19th century classical liberals, as he makes clear in more places than worth citing. He claims in chapter two that socialism has a false claim to be descended from the liberalism of the 19th century. What passes for liberalism today is not, the argument goes, the liberalism of yesterday.
The progressivism of our current time seems to be of a moral kind; human beings are going to become more moral as time goes on (through the acquisition of civil rights and economic equality). We will become smarter and kinder, so they say. Dr. Hayek echoes the belief in moral progress when he writes, “The rules of which our common moral code consists have progressively become fewer and more general in character.”  He goes on to describe “primitive man” who was apparently little more than an ape in a loincloth who had to adhere to a restrictive set of rules lest he eat bugs out of his fellow man’s hair. Perhaps I exaggerate a little, but the sentiment is there. The aim of the collectivist is to reverse this and institute a set of restrictive measures to limit our movement. This ties well with the sentiment expressed in the first sentence of chapter 2 where he says “socialism has displaced liberalism as the doctrine held by the great majority of progressives.”  Socialism, which according to Hayek, began as a fight against the ideals of the French Revolution, has absorbed progressives from the old liberal parties into the new socialist parties and convinced them that socialism was progress. (Addressing this idea is a post in itself.) But nowhere does Dr. Hayek question the belief in progress itself, which leaves open a very large hole in his philosophy: what do we do when we achieve capitalistic freedom? Progress doesn’t stop. As he writes in another work, The Constitution of Liberty, “civilization is progress and progress is civilization” and we should bear in mind that “Progress is movement for movement’s sake.”
Second, Dr. Hayek’s materialism. Contrary to the sentiment that some kind of moral base is at the heart of society, Dr. Hayek insists that economics is the core of civilization. He, like most free-market economists, defends himself of the charge that he’s “econo-centric.” He writes, “The ultimate ends of the activities of reasonable beings are never economic. Strictly speaking, there is no ‘economic motive’ but only economic factors conditioning our striving for other ends.”  His argument is not that individuals are greedy miserly creatures who care only about money, but his argument is that people are strictly conditioned by their economic circumstances. In discussing government, Dr. Hayek writes that “Democracy is essentially a means, a utilitarian device for safeguarding internal peace and individual freedom. As such it is by no means infallible or certain. Nor must we forget that there has often been more cultural and spiritual freedom under an autocratic rule than under some democracies.”  Then he exhorts us to support democracy (not republican government; this can be inferred because Hayek’s academic environment in native Austria was anything but loose when it came to terminology) because of the dangers of planning. But we’re faced with a curiosity; Hayek advocates democracy because it guarantees “individual freedom” but he admits that “cultural and spiritual freedom” are often higher in non-democratic governments. The spiritual is implicitly sacrificed for the material. This is because the economic is equivalent to the spiritual for Dr. Hayek. Writing about WWII he says, “The war between England and Germany is therefore really a conflict between two opposite principles. The ‘Economic World War’ is the third great epoch of spiritual struggle in modern history.”  The first was the French Revolution and the second was WWI. International economic conflict will be discussed more in the third point, but what can be seen here is Dr. Hayek’s view that economics is the determining, moving factor in human history. All of these conflicts mark progressive milestones on the path to more freedom. And he certainly does not condemn the first milestone; Professor Hayek is a firm supporter of the ideals of 1789.  Which, it should go without saying, are ideals birthed in the “commercial spirit” as opposed to a different spirit. It is worth mentioning that Dr. Hayek seems strangely in agreement with Karl Marx, who argued that human history is directed by material conditions.
Third, Dr. Hayek’s support of a world state. Dr. Hayek’s philosophy is incompatible with the existence of sovereign political entities. A United Nations or a League of Nations, or at the very least, a mutually assured international order is needed to ensure free trade. He writes, “we cannot hope for order or lasting peace after this war if states, large or small, regain unfettered sovereignty in the economic sphere.”  A new power is needed that can ensure the free transfer of goods and services. This condition must be forcibly imposed if necessary because “It is neither necessary nor desirable that national boundaries should mark sharp differences in standards of living, that membership of a national group should entitle to a share in a cake altogether different from that in which members of other groups share.”  Dr. Hayek views the world through a solely economic paradigm. One should then not be surprised if his vision of international government centers around economic enforcement. We cannot be satisfied with his humanitarianism for very few people are purposely evil.
Tyranny stems from anarchy, so let us examine the anarchist elements in Dr. Hayek’s philosophy.
First, his progressivism is inherently anarchist. This is true because his conception of the state is like that of most other libertarians: a structure of coercion set up to govern people’s bad elements. Progress, as has been shown, assumes that these bad elements will be done away with as we progress. If these bad elements no longer exist, then the state is no longer a “necessary evil” and can be done away with. Left wing philosophy, when followed to its conclusion, is always anarchical. The socialists all called for an abolition of the state, and so too do many libertarian circles. It will be argued that not all libertarian circles are progressive. This is false; they are. Theirs is a material progress which shares the same dark pedigree as moral progress. When followed to his logical conclusion, Dr. Hayek’s arguments lead straight to the abolition of government.
Second, his materialism is anarchic. By sacrificing the spiritual to the material, he adopts a theological materialism. God is a topic not to be discussed since only the material can be known, analyzed, and proven. Even the material is subject to doubt at times because of human inability to know the truth, but that very admission – that we cannot know the truth – can easily lead weaker individuals to either doubt its existence or act as though it didn’t exist. This lack of truth annuls every social bond. If I cannot know about God, I cannot know about the spiritual. If I cannot know about that, I can barely know about the material. If the material is the only thing I see, I cannot know if it’s what I should see. That lack of “should” is anarchy in the true sense of the word, it is an anarchy of the soul.
Third, his internationalism is anarchic. This is perhaps a very controversial point, but his world state is no state at all. It is a functional abolishment of politics altogether. Given his due, Dr. Hayek’s world state would (if it could) abolish other sovereign states’ ability to defend themselves or have boundaries – in effect making them non-states. His world exists after a war to end war and a war to end politics. We all become members of one “state” which cannot be considered a state since political groupings depend on the identification of non-members. “Membership” means belonging; belonging requires that some things belong while others don’t. A world state is tantamount to a non-state.
So Dr. Hayek’s arguments lead to anarchy. But where’s the tyranny? We can use the classical definition of tyranny, that is to say that tyranny is being subjected to the self-interest of the ruler. Let us combine his materialistic outlook with his world state. What do we have? A democracy, obviously, for this is the only framework suited to protecting economic freedom. And what does he say about it? It is a utilitarian means of government. Because the only frame of reference these international democrats have is that of the material, what is “good” will be what is beneficial to material interests and what is “bad” will be harmful to these interests. What we are left with, inevitably, is a system that serves the self interest of the majority, who happen to be the rulers. In a word, tyranny.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Constitution of Liberty. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1978).
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 262.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 65.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 28.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 98.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 78.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 188.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 186.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 253.
 Hayek, Friedrich. The Road to Serfdom. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 241.