Just finished reading Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, an incredible book that I would recommend to all those who seek to preserve liberty. When I finished, I turned to a section of another book that talked about Hayek’s ideas proposed in The Road to Serfdom. First Principles by Thomas N. Tripp is a monster of a book that talks about a collection of significant works, including Hayek’s. In it, I read this passage the I felt resonated with today’s political system. I share it with you today.
The modern liberal goal, social welfarism, is evidenced in overarching legislation and regulation designed to control a politically correct society and to redress its inequalities by means of “entitlements.” This is a sophisticated but morally corrupt device. Social welfarists pursue this agenda to the detriment of a rational vision of personal responsibility in a framework of opportunity. And, when welfarist legislators and administrators employ their utopian methods, merely imagined evils (of forced conformity and confiscation of labor’s products) are dwarfed by the harm wrought on the other side of this equation, the side founded on core human values: freedom, responsibility, discipline. Hayek points out that the pursuit of this illusory collectivist goal of equality is simply incompatible with individualism or any sense of intellectual integrity.
Along with a number of political/social philosophers before him Hayek contends that political freedom is inextricably intertwined with economic freedom and that each must exist for the other to survive. This insight, which seemingly needs to be rediscovered every two or three generations is basic to Hayek as it was to Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Lord Acton, and Alexis de Tocqueville. As the economies of the world, and the governments, become bigger and more complex, our understanding of how a free system operates becomes lost in the details. Our awareness of what is needed to keep the system working also becomes muted. In any society mistakes inevitably occur. Social programs and government intrusion into the marketplace to fix the aberrations always begin small – but the problems are often politically exaggerated so the solutions can be more grand; government size and intrusiveness grow in equal measure to the political claims on behalf of the allegedly abused and neglected.
First Principles can be purchased at Amazon.