Rereading The Constitution Of Liberty Leads To A Few New Insights On Freedom
I’ve read Hayek’s The Constitution Of Liberty twice again lately while editing it so that I could convert the text to spoken audio. The resulting audio is imperfect — because my editing of the multitude of optically recognized characters is imperfect — but for personal consumption it’s works just fine.
But editing a text forces you to read it more carefully than casual reading does. The first time I read it I did not really appreciate the book’s depth of reasoning. I don’t even remember when I did read it the first time. I was probably in my early thirties? But it’s more than that. Because one needs considerable knowledge of the field, it is not apparent to the casual reader that he is making logically NECESSARY arguments – especially given Hayek’s gentle, advisory, tone. Hayek felt that the writer should show sympathy for his opponents. A technique which is very useful in engaging the reader, but a tone that is also prone to misinterpretation of the underlying purpose of his arguments. I have, and so have others, said, that Hayek’s great failing was in failing to defeat Keynes. He left that task for history because he thought it so obvious. But he did not understand the attractiveness of the positivist methodology when opposed only by the conservative libertarian framework that solves for freedom as an absolute good.
FREEDOM IS INTUITIVE AS AN EXPERIENCE, BUT COUNTER-INTUITIVE AS A PROCESS
Besides being both an appropriated term, and an expanded term, Freedom is a proscription against the political input of actions for the purpose of obtaining unspecified (and promissory) output actions. And as such Freedom is logically inconsistent to the human mind, whose action orientation finds such systemic solutions all but impossible to believe, and in retrospect finds the relations between cause and effect, deterministic or accidental, rather than the result of a policy of restraint – “not acting”.
While the cause of our tradition of freedom is to be found in the military tactics of western chieftains and their retinue, and their distrust of the concentration of power, and the social status accorded those who rose as leaders by merit in commerce and war, it bears noting that the rarity of Freedom as a sentiment is in no small part due, to the fact that the very idea of unorganized action is illogical to the human mind.
HAYEK SOLVES FOR FREEDOM
Hayek is ‘solving’ for freedom and western civilization. I think the assumption is that by solving for these things, we create great wealth.
But human beings do not solve for freedom, they solve for gaining experience and certainty of gaining them at the lowest cost and risk. While different social classes solve for different TIME frames in which they gain those experience, and how they perceive risk, we all solve for experiences. We call this acquisitiveness, which is a vulgar commercial way of expressing the same series of concepts.
Solving for that which is incomprehensible as an input, and which cannot logically be connected with outputs assumes that the reader agrees with the proposition that freedom is a ‘good’ in the first place.
SOLVING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT
They Keynesian prescription is to solve for unemployment and use monetary policy, despite the fact that doing so exaggerates booms and busts. They Hayekian prescription is to solve for productivity and prices, and then unemployment will maintain natural levels. The social democratic prescription (which is the only option available to smaller states) is to solve for high taxation and high redistribution that pays the unemployed to stay home. The Poor Totalitarian prescription (in china) is to employ everyone in some productive capacity and redistribute via state control of capital. The Poorer Socialist prescription (India) is to pay the private sector to accomplish what the state lacks the resources to do. (Which I’m a fan of.)
The worst solution is solving for unemployment because it distorts the economy.
NOTE: While I use the term Freedom here, I use the term “Sovereignty” in my work because Freedom is an appropriated and expanded term that has lost meaning. Liberty likewise, holds a similar problem. These terms too often describe experiences rather than necessary causes. Sovereignty means that you have a monopoly over yourself and your property. Freedom means the absence of coercion. And that is too loose a definition. Monopoly over one’s self and property is much clearer. It means that the individual is the only state.