Friedrich A. Hayek: Champion of
Individual Liberty, Limited Government, and Free Markets
A New Political Paradigm
The current popular political paradigm is best represented by a one dimensional linear spectrum with the Socialist Democrats at the Far Left, the Authoritarian Republicans at the Far Right, and the Moderates arrayed along the middle.
The Democrats generally want to legislate Equality. Socio-economic equality, i.e. cradle to grave social "safety nets", "universal health care", etc. They want to harness the productive segments of society i.e. "The (evil) Rich", so as to take care of the non-productive segments of society, i.e. "The Needy and/or Poor".
Alexis de Tocqueville described it best:
"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
But at the other end of the spectrum, the Republicans want to legislate our morality. What we think, what we do in the privacy of our own property, harming no one. They also do not think we can make good decisions and evaluations for ourselves.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated: but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."--C.S. Lewis
Neither side supports Free Markets as described by Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and other preeminent economists of the 20th Century. Both have added to the malignant cancerous growth that is our government (remember the movie "The Blob"?). The Democrats want to enslave the productive portion of society through crushing taxes and regulation. The Republicans support subsidies, tariffs, and corporate protectionism.
Hayek described extraordinarily well in his essay "Why I am not a Conservative" the essential differentiation between the Socialists, Conservatives, and the libertarians (Classical Liberals) and why there is such an overwhelming need for a party to lead in a novel third direction.
"Conservatism proper is a legitimate, probably necessary, and certainly widespread attitude of opposition to drastic change." - Hayek
Luckily Conservatism in America has generally been the preservation of American values and principles, but they also wish to preserve antiquated systems of legislated morality and corporate dominance. Thus, many who believe strongly in individual liberty and free markets have chosen to side with the Republicans.
But the fallacy of this is "that (Conservatism) by its very nature, it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments."
Lord Acton described the error that believers in Liberty make when they side with Conservatives to defend their freedoms from the Socialists:
"At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has sometimes been disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition."
I have come to the conclusion that the Libertarian Party best represents the political ideals championed by Hayek, von Mises, and Friedman - Individual Liberty, Limited Government, and Free Markets. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of groups leading toward these ends by different paths and achieving unity has been likened to "herding cats".
There are so many different libertarian organizations, I feel that is the precise reason more progress is not being made. The Democrats and Republicans are powerful not just because of their historical momentum, but because so many of differing values choose one of two perceived sides. A third side is necessary as Hayek says, one that libertarians of differing values can unify behind (even if they are no more unified than the Democrats or Republicans - the Republicans having an edge lately).
This as a marketing campaign; selling libertarian values and benefits, as represented best by the Libertarian Party. Essentially the benefits that each individual American will realize if libertarian ideals succeed is the reason voters should buy our product. Right now most voters equate our product with perceived anarchy and isolationism - in which they not only see no benefit, but actual harm resulting from buying. Not only are they not buying, but they've got powerful word of mouth trying to protect other consumers against their coming to harm if they purchase our product.
I don't think we need a serious societal change. I firmly believe that there are a tremendous number of Americans who would buy in, if they viewed our product in a favorable light. Look at all the third parties, the disenchanted voters who don't vote, the huge number of Democrats and Republicans who view themselves as "very Moderate". People are fed up with our system, they just don't know what the alternative is.
If we can gather enough momentum, the Libertarian Party can be our vehicle toward these ends. The LP needs transformation from within, not to change its ideals, but to make it a strong reasonable choice for the average voter. There is an educational aspect to it, but that is what marketing is about - educating the consumer that you have the best product.
(more here soon)
All information on this and referred pages should be distributed widely (with
appropriate references to sources) to spread Hayek's principles to as many
people as possible and move our countries toward more ideal conditions for all
Feel free to contact me with questions and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org St. Augustine, Florida, USA - These pages last updated: July 17, 2003.
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