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Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism$
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Naomi Beck

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226556000

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226556147.001.0001

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Economic Progress and Its Discontents

Economic Progress and Its Discontents

(p.119) Chapter Four Economic Progress and Its Discontents
Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism

Naomi Beck

University of Chicago Press

Hayek’s theory left many questions open, ignoring problems related to the coupling of growth with progress, such as increased inequality and environmental concerns. The fourth chapter turns to these issues and argues that Hayek’s theory is not only inconsistent with the evolutionary perspective, but also clashes with his liberal values. He postulated that modern civilization, the market order, the “rule of law,” and individual freedom, were all products of human action but not of human design. In his eyes, any attempt to guide social forces was an illegitimate intervention with highly destructive potential. Via a review of the criticism raised against Hayek’s analysis of lawmaking and the role of government in a free society, the chapter highlights various inconsistencies and contradictions in his position. Hayek, it would seem, employed a double standard with regard to the evolution of liberalism and socialism. He defended the former on the grounds that it grew spontaneously, but refused to recognize the latter as an authentic part of cultural development. This biased attitude made the trade-off he hoped to ascertain between the existence of a free society and the attainment of political goals opposite to his own appear anything but scientific or objective.

Keywords:   F. A. Hayek, progress, inequality, evolution, liberalism, socialism, modern civilization, market order, rule of law, government

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