Hayek Friedrich August Von

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HAYEK, FRIEDRICH AUGUST VON (1899–1992) – an Austrian economist, social science methodologist, political philosopher, social thinker, researcher of the history of ideas and political doctrines. In 1974, together with Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish social-democrat representing the opposing economic orientation, he received the Nobel Prize in Economics. As the most outstanding representative of the so-called Austrian school, he was an ardent supporter of individualism and market, and a fierce critic of socialism – both in its communist and social-democratic form. The Road to Serfdom (1944) was a pioneering work attacking economic interventionism. According to H., every socialist concept containing an element of economic planning must lead to the use of coercion, to treat the individual as an instrument for the realization of great social goals, and ultimately to such a proliferation of state control over all spheres of life that it would lead to reaching for totalitarian solutions. The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies on the Abuses of Reason (1952) is a work on the inadequacy of methods developed by science to study society, since it is a complex mechanism of interdependence between individuals and social groups, whose development is impossible to predict precisely. Law, Legislation and Liberty (1973, 1976, 1979) is a three-volume work that develops the problems, previously raised by H., of rooting social life in the evolution of humanity, criticizes the concept of social justice and indicates the constitutional protection of the limited character of the state power. The Fatal Conceit: the Errors of Socialism (1988) is a recapitulation – property, contract, honesty are common values that allow a free society to function and can in no way be replaced by a directive of any social planner. H. studied law and economics at the University of Vienna, where he obtained his PhD in law (1921) and political science (1923). Here, in 1929, he was habilitated. He was a professor of economics and statistics at the London School of Economics, he headed the Department of Social and Moral Sciences at the University of Chicago (the most important centre of neoliberal thought at the time), and lectured on economic policy at the University of Freiburg, West Germany. His The Constitution of Liberty (1962) is considered the most outstanding work on freedom that appeared in the 20th century. H. combines the personal freedom of the individual with the functioning of a free-competitive economy based on the law of supply and demand. He opposes classically conceived justice, which is expressed in the rules of distribution of goods. The imposition of any model of distribution of goods on society is a denial of freedom. Justice can only be based on the principle of freely concluded contracts. In his opinion, individual freedom is a necessary condition, but insufficient for the existence of social order, because its content is defined by the moral principles that govern the use of freedom, and the undisputable legal principles that bind the will of the majority. For H. democracy is not an end in itself, but only a tool, a means enabling the proper functioning of a liberal society. He is a democrat because he is a liberal, not the other way around. H.’s writings had a significant impact on the emerging New Right. Freedom in terms of H. turns out to be a lack of coercion. Negative concept of freedom is dominating, indicating the circumstances of “freedom from” something. [J.G. Otto]

Literature: Doktryny polityczne XIX i XX wieku: liberalizm, konserwatyzm, socjalizm, doktryna socjaldemokracji, nauczanie społeczne Kościoła, totalitaryzm [Political doctrines of the 19th and 20th centuries: liberalism, conservatism, socialism, doctrine of social democracy, social teaching of the Church, totalitarianism], ed. K. Chojnicka, W. Kozub-Ciembroniewicz, Kraków 2000 ■ F.A. von Hayek, Konstytucja wolności [The Constitution of Liberty], Warszawa 2006 ■ A. Heywood, Politologia [Political science], Warszawa 2006.