Because Nothing Says “Spontaneous Order” Like Torture and Disappearances

Corey Robin has two posts on Friedrich von Hayek’s admiration for Augusto Pinochet, quoting extensively from a new article by Andrew Farrant, Edward McPhail, and Sebastian Berger.

Here is just a taste:

For instance, Hayek—writing to The Times in 1978 and explicitly invoking Pinochet by name—noted that under certain “historical circumstances,” an authoritarian government may prove especially conducive to the long-run preservation of liberty: There are “many instances of authoritarian governments under which personal liberty was safer than under many democracies.”

[Hayek] noted that if “Strauss (who I met during a reception in Chile briefly)” had been “attacked for his support for Chile he deserves to be congratulated for his courage.” [Franz Josef Strauss was a right-wing German politician, who had visited Chile in 1977 and met with Pinochet. His views were roundly repudiated by both the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats in Germany. Hayek apparently wanted to help Strauss become chancellor of Germany.]

… though Farrant et al (authors of the excellent article on Hayek and Pinochet that I linked to last night) cite from this letter Hayek wrote to the Times on July 11, 1978, they don’t cite what to my mind is the most remarkable statement in that letter:

If Mrs. Thatcher said that free choice is to be exercised more in the market place than in the ballot box, she has merely uttered the truism that the first is indispensable for individual freedom, while the second is not.

That statement is certainly in keeping with much of what Hayek wrote throughout his career, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him state quite so pungently his belief that capitalism is more important to freedom than democracy. … many readers have pointed out that Ludwig von Mises held similar views on the virtues of dictatorship.

And then this, from their footnotes:

For Hayek, South Africa was supposedly subjected to similarly unfair treatment: As Hayek explains, when he attended a conference on monetary policy, “someone overheard how I was invited by the South African finance minister to visit his country and . . . someone immediately remarked that he hoped I would not . . . [accept] this invitation” (44). Hayek—noting that he deems “Apartheid’ a marked “injustice and a mistake”—explains that his negative view of apartheid has “nothing to do with the question whether it is morally justified or reasonable to impose our moral tenets onto an established population which built up the economy and the culture of its country” (1978b:45).

I’ve cited to Farrant and McPhail’s work before. An ungated version of the paper is available here. Other related papers can be found here.

[post title stolen from Cosma Shalizi]

[Cross-posted at Crooked Timber]

Henry Farrell

Henry Farrell is an associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.