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Individualism and Economic Order Paperback – June 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0226320939 ISBN-10: 0226320936 Edition: Reissue
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

F. A. Hayek (1899–1992), recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and a leading proponent of classical liberalism in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg.

 

 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Reissue edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226320936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226320939
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Friedrich August Hayek (1899-1992), recipient of the Medal of Freedom in 1991 and co-winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1974, was a pioneer in monetary theory and the principal proponent of libertarianism in the twentieth century. He taught at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg. His influence on the economic policies in capitalist countries has been profound, especially during the Reagan administration in the U.S. and the Thatcher government in the U.K.

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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful By D. W. MacKenzie on October 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Individualism and Economic Order contains several classic essays. Chapter two (Economics and Knowledge) examines decentralized economic planning by individuals. Plan coordination among individuals requires each to form plans that contain relevant data from the plans of others. We each acquire this data through competition in markets. Every time someone adjusts their plans, others must also change their plans. So, initial plan coordination requires each to fully anticipate the actions of others. Since this is impossible, order will emerge as a result of successive trials by individuals in markets. The price system enables individuals to adjust their plans with each other through time. This is the foundation of Hayek's theories of spontaneous order and social evolution. Hayek was far ahead of his peers in examining expectations formation.
Chapter four (The Use of Knowledge in Society) is another classic. Hayek contends that the economic problem is really one how to make use of fragmented and widely dispersed data. As he indicated in chapter two, full knowledge of economic conditions reduces the economic problem to one of pure logic. Markets increase our ability to take advantage of division of labor and capital formation by extending the span of our utilization of resources beyond the span of any individual mind. The price system in markets does this by acting as a communications network. We can then each dispense with the need for conscious control over resources and rely on our own intimate knowledge of local economic conditions, and price information regarding general economic conditions. This proves that decentralized competitive systems will vastly outperform centrally planned systems.
Chapter five looks at the process of competition.
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63 of 71 people found the following review helpful By vragnar@juno.com on September 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
F.A. Hayek, well-deserved recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, 1976, wrote several other deep books on political economy. This book is about how individuals are better decision-makers when it comes to their own lives, and that a "Committee" of "Planners" cannot possibly do a better job (How can you tell that someone else is happy? What they need? What they want?). It is no accident that countries with relative freedom on economics are more productive and wealthier overall (US/Hong Kong) than countries with little or no economic freedom (India/sub-Sahara Africa) and lots of gov't planning. It can't be mere exploitation or culture, as India has the largest middle-class and a great population of educated people. India has more college-degree persons than the US, yet is significantly poorer. Hayek investigates this. A good book, especially for leftists and right-wing oligarchs. I used to be a commie too, but open your mind and put the rhetoric on hold, just for a moment.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
own this book, please, if only for the essay "the use of knowledge in society". in a few short pages, hayek explores how to think about how people use and spread knowledge, and how that affects everyday economic behavior.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rafael G. on May 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hayek was one of the most important economists and social philosophers of the 20th century. This book contains his most important papers (the first five papers of the book, where he starts to build a new social and economic theory), with were perhaps the most important economic articles of the 20th century (yes, I am serious about this claim).

Even today, most economists are under equipped to deal with the problems that these papers grabbed and even solved about seven decades ago. Many of the fundamental problems of modern macroeconomics come from a lack of understanding of what Hayek already knew in the 40's, that macroeconomic problems are the result of intertemporal discoordination of production plans with consumption plans. While his paper on the meaning of competition makes the modern take on the theory of competition and industrial organization naive and immature by comparison: Most modern authors simply doesn't understand what economic competition is. Hayek shows what competition is all about and integrates the economics of information with it. As with industrial organization, the modern approach on information, mechanism design and games with imperfect information is inferior and unsatisfactory if compared to Hayek's treatment of these same problems, with he does in this book in a few dozen pages.

Hayek goes straight to the point and reveals to the reader what are the real problems of economics and what economics is supposed to do: Explain why individuals, acting in their 'little worlds' (their problem sets, or means/ends frameworks), produce social orders beyond their conscious design. That task was already set by Adam Smith in a crude form more than 200 years ago, Hayek sets the problem in its definitive form.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of essays. A problem with that form is that, often, the collection is incoherent or loosely curated. It is certainly partially valid to make that complaint in this instance. Only the first essay truly concerns Individualism - but what a magnificent essay it is. Hayek uses the term Individualism to mean the principles of social and economic order that stem from the works of John Locke and Bernard Mandeville, were best articulated by Adam Smith, and were emphasized by Alexis De Tocqueville and Lord Acton. Individualism recognizes that each of us can have only the knowledge of a tight circle of circumstances surrounding us; that each one of us should have the right to pursue our own interests, as best we understand them, within that knowledge; and that we naturally tend to pursue those interests in the recognition that we serve our interests bests when we also meet the needs of others. The emergent (not planned) result is a set of processes and institutions, such as free markets, that turn out to be the most productive engines of human wealth, happiness and fulfillment ever seen. Governments and other forms of coercion and central planning can not achieve anywhere near a similarly beneficial result.

Individualism is not the same as selfishness. It is acting to further one's own ends, using one's own means, in collaboration with others doing the same thing. Importantly, it is beneficial that individuals are unequal in skills and resources. The result is the division of labor that is the fuel for the individualist engine of wealth and satisfaction. We must treat everyone equally, but not attempt to make them equal. The first is the condition of a free society, the second means servitude.
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