Free-Market Orientalism

From an interview with Friedrich von Hayek in 1983 (p. 490):

Robert Chitester: Going back to the question I asked you about people you dislike or can’t deal with, can you make any additional comments in that regard, in terms of the characteristics of people that trouble you?

Hayek: I don’t have many strong dislikes. I admit that as a teacher—I have no racial prejudices in general—but there were certain types, and conspicuous among them the Near Eastern populations, which I still dislike because they are fundamentally dishonest. And I must say dishonesty is a thing I intensely dislike. It was a type which, in my childhood in Austria, was described as “Levantine”, typical of the people of the eastern Mediterranean. But I encountered it later, and I have a profound dislike for the typical Indian students at the London School of Economics, which I admit are all one type—Bengali moneylender sons. They are to me a detestable type, I admit, but not with any racial feeling. I have found a little of the same amongst the Egyptians—basically a lack of honesty in them.

H/t loyaltothegroupofseventeen (via Mark Ames)


  1. wahoofive May 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm | #

    Loyal to the Group of Seventeen? Gotta love it. Gene Wolfe lives! It’s a reference to the ultimate in groupthink.

  2. Mistersun May 26, 2014 at 6:47 pm | #

    Reblogged this on We are a Friend.

  3. Paul Rosenberg (@PaulHRosenberg) May 26, 2014 at 7:25 pm | #

    It’s good that Hayek is so clear about not having any racial prejudice. That clashes perfectly with everything else he says. No dishonest British bankers’ sons at LSE! Oh, right. They’re all at Oxbridge. Sorry, my bad.

  4. s. wallerstein May 26, 2014 at 7:35 pm | #

    I’ve never met anyone who didn’t stereotype one or another cultural group. Von Hayek claims that he has no racial prejudices and I have no reason to doubt his word.
    I for one have strong prejudices against white business executives, especially Wall Street trader types: I can’t stand their smugness, their sense of superiority, their
    sense of entitlement, their valuing all in monetary terms. Of course, those are stereotypes, but doesn’t everyone stereotype some group or another? I note, by the way, that Von Hayek singles out Bengali rich kids, not Bengali peasants or workers. Everyone is probably going to jump on me for this comment, but I really think that on this point Von Hayek is simply more honest than most people.

    • Alan May 27, 2014 at 10:27 am | #

      Agreed. And let us not forget, Hayek argued strenuously that legal systems must not use personal characteristics to determine the application of the law. The quote above is popular among those who hope that it is adequately appalling to stop people from thinking seriously about Hayek’s important work on markets, information, and individual liberty. But this is silly for two reasons. First, as Wallerstein observes, upon reflection it is only slightly appalling. Secondly, if your goal is to besmirch Hayek in order to distract people from his work, his late-life mistake of sending Pinochet his writing on “Emergency Powers” provides much better amunition.

      • s. wallerstein May 27, 2014 at 10:47 am | #

        Let me clarify my opinion on Von Hayek.

        His neoliberal ideas have done a lot of damage everywhere, especially in Chile, where I live, having served as a justification for the Pinochet dictatorship.

        However, in the real world villains don’t necessarily wear black hats and kick puppies. Von Hayek may very well not have been a racist and may have been a decent man in his daily life as well as being more honest than most in expressing his opinions, which does not imply that I agree with them.

        It seems to me that some cultural groups (that has nothing to with race) are more honest than others in their dealings with society in general (I’m excluding dealings with friends and family). That’s why it is possible to rank societies in corruption indexes and that’s why sociologists divide societies into high-trust and low-trust societies.

      • Steve Sailer July 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm | #

        There is no greater sin than pattern recognition.

  5. Alto Berto (@AltoBerto) May 27, 2014 at 11:40 pm | #

    Who the hell is he talking about? I think there were but two students from India at the LSE during his tenure. I’m not sure they were from Bengali or that there father’s were moneylenders, but I’m sure I read it off a blog? Anyone know of links to these records?

  6. Thomas Nephew May 29, 2014 at 4:07 pm | #

    Wonder if he was a Karl May fan, that’s the kind of blanket racial stuff you’d find on every other page.

  7. bencohen821 June 3, 2014 at 2:03 am | #

    The paradox here is that John Dolan expressed very similar sentiments in exiledonline. In reviewing a travelogue, Dolan made it clear that he disliked visiting Morocco because of the Moroccans. Why does this matter? Because Mark Ames and John Dolan were the sole editors, and publishers, of exiledonline.

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