Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Hayek In Full Fruition

Donald Trump has admitted that he doesn't read much. Instead, he pays attention to" the shows." However, there is one book -- even though he's probably never read it -- that Trump carries around in his head. In fact, for the last fifty years, most politicians have been carrying it around in their heads. George Monbiot writes:

The book [is] The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek. Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism. It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

This, at any rate, is how it was originally conceived. But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy. Not every aspect of the neoliberal programme advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap.

Consider the politicians who have used the book as an operations manual:

Thatcherism and Reaganism were not ideologies in their own right: they were just two faces of neoliberalism. Their massive tax cuts for the rich, crushing of trade unions, reduction in public housing, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services were all proposed by Hayek and his disciples. But the real triumph of this network was not its capture of the right, but its colonisation of parties that once stood for everything Hayek detested.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate. In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a “third way”.

And consider the wealthy who have used it as their bible:

 A lively network of think tanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayek’s doctrines [has] been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the world’s richest people and businesses, including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant effect, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayek’s anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme.

Donald Trump represents Hayek's philosophy come to full fruition.

Image: politicos.co.uk


Danneau said...

This has appeared repeatedly, perhaps as a function of what I read:

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
--- John Kenneth Galbraith

The fact that Hayek was awarded a prize by the Nobel committee and that he his held in such high esteem by a certain segment of the population is a testament to the results that can be achieved by the torture of language, the shallowness of minds, and the willingness to subscribe to anything that is admired by the wealthy and powerful, people who are, in the end, suicidal maniacs who would entomb the rest of civilization in their pyramids.

Not surprisingly, The Disaffected Liberal (http://the-mound-of-sound.blogspot.ca/2016/11/the-neoliberal-racket.html) has also chosen to use Monbiot's piece as a spark for comment.

Owen Gray said...

The Mound understood long ago how thoroughly Hayek's thinking had penetrated the Left, Danneau. One hopes the rest of us are catching up to him.

Steve said...

worms Roxanne worms

Owen Gray said...

By now, Steve, the rot should be obvious.

Steve said...

I am dissapointed by Paul Krugman who I see as one of the top priests of Econimics. That he did not blame Hillary for our loss is not genuius.

Owen Gray said...

Lots of people recognized that Hillary wasn't the most inspiring candidate, Steve. They did recognize that her qualifications were far superior to Trump's. Trump, however, was a better salesman.

As time passes, it will become clear that what Trump was selling was snake oil.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that on a Canadian blog we refer to USA politics as 'our candidate"as if we have a dog in the race.

That he did not blame Hillary for our loss is not genius.
Our loss?
Should the world have to connect to USA politics for it's salvation or could we form our own destiny?
I realise that the USA is very influential but should we be trodden upon by that institution without opposition?


Owen Gray said...

Point well taken, TB. Hillary's family tree may have roots in Quebec. But she's not our candidate.