My post last night on Hayek and Pinochet is getting a fair amount of attention. But there’s more to the story that I didn’t include. So here are some additional details.
First, 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.
Second, many readers have pointed out that Ludwig von Mises held similar views on the virtues of dictatorship. Farrant et al actually cite Mises on this score in one of their footnotes, but they don’t cite the full extent of his views. From Mises’ 1927 book Liberalism:
That [fascists] they have not yet succeeded as fully as the Russian Bolsheviks in freeing themselves from a certain regard for liberal notions and ideas and traditional ethical precepts is to be attributed solely to the fact that the Fascists carry on their work among nations in which the intellectual and moral heritage of some thousands of years of civilization cannot be destroyed at one blow, and not among the barbarian peoples on both sides of the Urals, whose relationship to civilization has never been any other than that of marauding denizens of forest and desert accustomed to engage, from time to time, in predatory raids on civilized lands in the hunt for booty. Because of this difference, Fascism will never succeed as completely as Russian Bolshevism in freeing itself from the power of liberal ideas….The deeds of the Fascists and of other parties corresponding to them were emotional reflex actions evoked by indignation at the deeds of the Bolsheviks and Communists. As soon as the first flush of anger had passed, their policy took a more moderate course and will probably become even more so with the passage of time.
This moderation is the result of the fact that traditional liberal views still continue to have an unconscious influence on the Fascists.
It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error.
Last, Farrant tells me that he and his colleagues will be writing more on Hayek von Pinochet. So stay tuned.
Update (10:45 am)
I forgot to mention this bit from Farrant et al’s article: Hayek on South Africa.
For Hayek, the international propaganda campaign against Chile (and also that against South Africa)—the “systematic distortion of . . . [the] facts” about these countries—would have serious consequences: “politicians in Western countries. . . . increasingly bow to this false public opinion” (44) and their representatives at the United Nations had voted in favor of the international arms embargo “against South Africa” (45). This measure, Hayek argued, could ultimately lead to the wholesale destruction of the “international economic order” (45). Hayek was highly critical of the United Nations and argued that the imposition of “boycotts and similar measures against individual countries” (Chile and South Africa) had been made on an arbitrary basis rather than in accordance with binding rules that had “been set and announced prior.” For Hayek, the United Nations had been “seduced” into adopting “such measures . . . by crass vote-catching” (Hayek 1978b: 44).
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).
And this, also from their footnotes:
“I have already heard in more than one country that the danger of an arbitrary measure of the United Nations would just as well make impossible free trade and . . . the country would have to protect itself against such interventions” (Hayek 1978b: 45).