Freeman

BOOK REVIEW

The Constitution of Liberty

Hayek Strengthens the Case for the Free Market

MAY 01, 1996 by MURRAY WEIDENBAUM

Filed Under : Government Intervention, Liberty

Friedrich Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty surely merits front rank in any list of outstanding books on liberty, free market economics, history, and political philosophy. What is especially remarkable about the work is that it makes important contributions in each of these areas.

Personally, I have always been taken by the broad-minded view that Professor Hayek brought to his writings. Surely, this classic work strengthens the case for the free market. Yet, as a fine scholar, Hayek volunteers the notion that the marketplace can adjust to a substantial amount of government intervention.

Not that he advocates a large role for government, but he brings to bear a special wisdom in examining such controversial questions from a truly scholarly viewpoint. That rare trait is especially helpful in reaching those who now hold different viewpoints.

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May 1996

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Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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