Friday, November 26, 2010

Hayek’s Revenge

That’s how it sounds in the current EPW article by Robert H Wade from LSE

  • The Republican blockage rests on a resurgence of “anti-government”, especially anti-federal government sentiment in the US. One of its strangest aspects is the return to right wing favour of Friedrich Hayek’s book, The Road to Serfdom. As of early 2010 the book stood at number 241 on the Amazon best-sellers list: not bad for a book first published in 1944. Hayek warned that infringements of economic freedom-to-do, such as the Beveridge welfare state, put the UK on the slippery slope to political serfdom. The book’s current popularity stems from boosts by conservative “thinkers” like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh, who tell their listeners that The Road to Serfdom is a road map to what the Obama administration is doing. They say that Obama’s healthcare reform, the bank bailouts, and just about everything else the administration has tried to do (excepting military adventures) constitute rising “government intervention” in the economy; and the resulting curbing of economic freedom leads on to the curbing of political freedom. In Rush Limbaugh’s words,

  • Friedrich von Hayek brilliantly laid it right out. It’s all about power. It’s all about control, and that’s what Obama’s about (Farrant and McPhail 2010).

  • The fact that the Beck-Limbaugh version of Hayek fails just about every empirical test one can think of has not stopped many millions of Americans from believing the argument and using it to fuel up the McCarthyite tendencies of the Tea Party movement and the Republican right.

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