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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defining Boundaries
Hayek undertook a vitally important task when he set out to write the The Constitution of Liberty. He aimed at finding the proper limits between public and private life. How far should the authority of the state extend? What areas of life should be beyond the reach of the government? Hayek is stating his version of the general principles of classical liberalism, based on...
Published on March 7, 2011 by D. W. MacKenzie

versus
48 of 110 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hayek--Orwell's Mentor
At the height of socialist popularism in England, cir. 1944, George Orwell, a leading proponent of socialism, believing in its promises as did many,if not most of Eurpose's leading intellectuals and politicians, wrote a review of Hayek's famous book, "The Road to Serfdom." Orwell wrote the review in the "Observer," London April 9,1944.
Hayek, mentions this fact...
Published on January 1, 2006 by Jerryhorse


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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defining Boundaries, March 7, 2011
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This review is from: The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek) (Paperback)
Hayek undertook a vitally important task when he set out to write the The Constitution of Liberty. He aimed at finding the proper limits between public and private life. How far should the authority of the state extend? What areas of life should be beyond the reach of the government? Hayek is stating his version of the general principles of classical liberalism, based on utilitarian ethics. Since his arguments are utilitarian, this book has economic overtones.

Hayek's purpose in restating the principles of liberal society is to defend these principles against the opposing intellectual movement of collectivism. Western Civilization succeeded largely because of its individualism. Collectivism is undermining the basis of modern civilization in the West. Individualism is important because we each lack the knowledge needed to rationally direct the affairs of others. Some people believe that they can plan out society because they are `experts' or because they are educated. Hayek saw that nobody can posses the knowledge needed to design a rational order for society. As Hayek put it, "it is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not posses that men can pursue their individual ends more successfully than they could alone".

In writing this book, Hayek shifted his attention away from full-blown socialism and towards the modern welfare state. Hayek seems to have felt that the case for socialism had been sufficiently weakened so as to allow him to critique welfare states. Hayek accepted some types of government intervention that libertarians typically oppose. Rather than opposing each program point by point, Hayek sought out some `lynchpin issues' that would limit state growth. Hayek argued strenuously against state control of the money supply, and suggested ways of limiting taxation. Hayek's libertarian critics typically cringe at some of his concessions, but we would all be in a much better position now if his constitution had been adopted.

The Constitution of Liberty is more than well reasoned, it is subtle and profound. This book reveals Hayek's deep understanding of economics, politics, and history. While I do not agree with everything in this book, it is a must read for any serious student of political economy.
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109 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exposition of a Theory of Liberty, January 6, 2003
By 
Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty" is a comprehensive work of political philosophy. It sets forth, defends, and applies an important view of the nature of human liberty, government, and economics that is worth considering, at the least, and that has much to commend it. The book is carefully written and argued with extensive and substantive footnotes and with an "analytical table of contents" that is useful in following the details of the argument. The book is highly erudite. It is also passionately argued. Hayek believed he had an important message to convey.
Hayek's states his theory in part I of this book, titled "The Value of Freedom". He seeks to explore the nature of the ideal of freedom (liberty) and to explain why this ideal is valuable and worth pursuing. He finds the nature of freedom in the absence of coercion on a person by another person or group. He argues that in giving the broadest scope of action to each individual, society will benefit in ways that cannot be forseen in advance or planned and each person will be allowed to develop his or her capacities. Hayek summarizes his views near the end of his book (p. 394):
" [T]he ultimate aim of freedom is the enlargement of those capacities in which man surpasses his ancestors and to which each generation must endeavor to add its share -- its share in the growth of knowledge and the gradual advance of moral and aesthetic beliefs, where no superior must be allowed to enforce one set of views of what is right or good and where only further experience can decide what should prevail."
The book focuses on issues of economic freedom and on the value of the competitive market. Hayek has been influenced by writers such as David Hume, Edmund Burke, and John Stuart Mill in "On Liberty."
Part II of the book discusses the role of the State in preserving liberty. It develops a view of law which sees its value in promoting the exercise of individual liberty. The approach is historic. Hayek discusses with great sympathy the development of the common law and of American constitutionalism -- particularly as exemplified by James Madison.
In Part III of the book, Hayek applies his ideas about the proper role of government in allowing the exercise of individual liberty to various components of the modern welfare state. Each of the chapters is short and suggestive, rather than comprehensive. Hayek relies on technical economic analysis, and on his understanding of economic theory, as well as on his philosophical commitments, in his discussion. What is striking about Hayek's approach is his openness (sometimes to the point of possible inconsistency with his philosophical arguments). He tries in several of his chapters to show how various aspects of the modern welfare state present threats to liberty in the manner in which he has defined liberty. But he is much more favorably inclined to some aspects of these programs than are some people, and on occasion he waffles. This is the sign of a thoughtful mind, principled but undoctrinaire.
I think there is much to be learned from Hayek. He probably deserves more of a hearing than he gets. For a nonspecialist returning to a book such as this after a long time off, it is good to think of other positions which differ from Hayek's in order to consider what he has to say and to place it in context. For example, in an essay called "Liberty and Liberalism" in his "Taking Rights Seriously" (1977) the American legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin discusses Mill's "On Liberty" with a reference to Hayek. Dworkin argues that for Mill, liberty meant not the absence of coercion but rather personal independence. Mill was distinguishing between personal rights and economic rights, according to Dworkin. Thus Dworkin would claim that Hayek overemphasizes the value of competitiveness and lack of state economic regulation in the development of Hayek's concept of liberty.
The British political thinker Isaiah Berlin seems to suggest to me, as I read Hayek's argument, that there are other human goods in addition to liberty, as Hayek defines liberty. Further, Hayek does not establish that liberty, as he understands it, is always the ultimate human good to which others must give place. It may often be that good, but there may also be circumstances in which other goods should be given a more preeminent role when human well-being is at issue. In thinking about Hayek, it would also be useful to understand and to assess his concept of liberty by comparing and contrasting his approach to that of John Rawls in his "A Theory of Justice."
Hayek's book is important, thought-provoking and valuable. Probably no writer of a book of political philosophy can be asked for more. It deserves to be read and pondered. It has much to teach, both where it may persuade the reader and where it encourages the reader to explore competing ideas.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable achievement., January 16, 2012
By 
David H. Eisenberg (Hauppauge, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek) (Paperback)
Having read The Road to Serfdom ("TRTS") a number of times, I started reading Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty ("TCOL") in a library. Finally, less than a year ago, I bought my own copy and started reading it more thoroughly, taking laborious notes. It is a remarkable achievement of a great scholar of liberty who would probably anger most conservatives and liberals, if they read him and if he did not persuade them. This is not light reading. If you want easier, then read TRTS instead - at least start with it - because the purpose of TCOL is to explain the philosophy and need for liberty in exacting detail. If TRTS is a drawing of a house, then TCOL is the blueprint. Even taking notes on it is challenging because you feel there is almost nothing you can leave out. Every paragraph has a purpose and every sentence within each paragraph too. I found it Spinozan in its approach. The footnotes in TCOL, filled with quotes from Hume and Burke and many others, takes up a lot of the page, often most of it, and you could probably take up your whole life reading the famous and obscure authors he quotes too. But, do not skip them.

Although TCOL was published in 1960 (containing his wonderful essay at the end - Why I am not a Conservative), it is timeless in its reach. Not only does it help you understand the need for liberty, but you see its relevance today in almost every political argument we now have - and have ever had.

I recommend another book for libertarians or those interested in it which I think goes well with TCOL. Karl Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies shows how philosophers like Plato and Hegel gave sustenance to totalitarians and explains how trying to support an open society with historical (a broadly used term) authority is ultimately unworkable. It did not surprise me to learn that Popper and Hayek were friends. Both were born in Vienna, a few years apart, and some of their writing approaches the same problems from different angles - Popper from philosophy and Hayek from politics and economics.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That'll be One Large Order of Freedom, Hold the Spending, May 18, 2001
By A Customer
This is a great rationalist defense of the ideas which the founders of the United States knew instinctively, or by historical experience. All people don't accomplish the same things equally, or in the same amount of time? No big deal. Treating them equally before the law is more important, especially for those who don't want to be forced into an equal outcome in life. The unique dimension to these ideas which Hayek contributes is his Misesian economic outlook, which he ties into the imperative for liberty, defined as both equality before the law, and strict limits on the reach of law.
I continue to marvel (when not non-marveling) how "government" must act through laws in order to do anything. Each fresh new blow-dried representative or senator could benefit from a few weeks off to absorb this book, to get a better idea of what it is they are trying to build, or even to get an honest standard by which to measure their infringements on liberty and their distortions of limited government.
Hayek is quite willing to teach them, and us, but there is a special place in his heart for socialists, which makes him somewhat Christlike, as he welcomes the sinners of socialism into his company, while other free-market types just jeer from afar or throw stones. Hayek says no, let's think this through. What will happen to the price system and the market if the government's share of the economy reaches a tipping point--as he saw it do in Italy and Germany during his lifetime. How will it affect the legislative function if administrative arms of the executive are the final authors of so many rules, particularly pricing and production-related? This is the message he sought to articulate, in the middle of FDR's socialist experimenting.
Hayek held a lantern for us, like the Forbes magazine illustration in an article commemorating him about 15 years ago. There he stands still. In his arms he holds this book, along with The Road to Serfdom. Read these before tackling his other works.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Socialists beware - you will not like this one, but read it, November 11, 1997
By A Customer
Fiedrich Hayek was nearing 60 when he began writing this homage to liberty and liberals (that's the European interpretation for US readers). Throughout 400 odd pages Hayek slammed, among other things, organised labour, socialism, the abuse (politicisation) of words, the political spectrum, and the welfare state. What impressed more in this book than in some of his other works is that here Hayek actually suggested alternatives - some of which have since become economic, if not political, reality. Hayek's great talent was always to see through proposals to their underlying belief(s), and he showed his talent had not dimmed here. Even if one does not agree with anything he says, Hayek presented an awesome argument.
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82 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homo Sapiens, not homo economus, November 27, 2000
For an economist, Hayek is a remarkably accessible author, and this is perhaps his most summarily expressive book. It's not only a treasure of Hayek's finest theses, but an excellent overview of human relations, the raison d'etre for a constitutional system, the importance of the rule of law, the radical notion of the separation of powers, and why the free market, while not flawless, remains the best economic system in the allocation, conservation, and efficiency of resources.
Hayek is often appropriated by Libertarians as one of them, but I find this claim unpersuasive. Hayek is a Republican in the sense of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Goldwater, and hardly a disciple of Libertarian reductionism to a single rule that is inherently circular and contradictory! I know Libertarianism, and Hayek is no Libertarian.
He is, however, an excellent proponent of positive and negative freedoms within a rule-based society, wherein the rule of law is not the Rule by Laws. He finds all forms of anarchy, arbitrariness, and single powers inherently bent against the truest sense of freedom. Freedom itself is not an absolute law, as in the case of being the means rather than the end, but that a world of spontaneous associations under the rule of law and contract is the most liberating of all constitutions.
Anyone who enjoys philosophy, politics, economics, sociology, and social psychology will be immediately attracted to this author and this particular book. It is copiously endnoted to substantiate numerous positions taken, but the quotes are so eloquently woven into the prose that they barely stand out as "quotes." As with other books by Hayek, this is very accessible to most college-level educated citizens, and even those who have a fervent interest in the subject matters without the paper to prove it.
This profound book is not a startling provocation, but a reasoned exposition. He nutures each subject and sentence with clarity and grace, and yet, despite his obvious erudition, he constantly engages the reader. I found that this book was one of those "life-changing" reads, not because of some extraordinary insight, but because of its ordinary insight. Concerns and matters that occupy our minds are addressed in an impeccible order, without being redundant nor tart nor extra-phenomenal. Rather, it's a kind of "eureka" one experiences when all the right and usual information is presented in the right and usual manner, but takes us one step beyond to see how this view actually comports with our most basic instincts.
Finally, the author addresses a very broad audience with a plethora of subjects, each taking on a coherent whole, while artfully crafted within a network that seems obvious upon reading, but less artfully crafted without it. This is a book you'll not only read with zeal, but return to often, no matter what your stripes.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be a socialist, even at 20, March 27, 2002
By 
Rafe Champion (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There is an old saying "If you are not a socialist at 20 you don't have a heart. If you are not a conservative at 40 you don't have a brain".
Many people who are young at heart feel that the dreadful alternative to left-liberalism is some kind of cynical, crusty conservatism. Some conservatives reinforce that impression by their rigid and authoritarian views. The best part of this book is the essay at the end titled "Why I am not a conservative" because it dissolves that confusion of thought.
Differences within the "non-left" arise especially in two areas: (a) the use of state power to enforce moral principles and (b) the domain of economic policy. In each case the nub of the issue is the extent of state intervention that is appropriate.
Some economic liberals may need to be reminded that we do not live by bread and technology alone. Our lives gain meaning and purpose from the myths, moral values and traditions which constitute our non-material heritage. Economic liberals may sometimes appear to have little interest in these spiritual and cultural matters but this is not entirely true and the impression arises because they seldom see these things as part of the agenda of state policy. Here a basic principle is at stake because they do not aim to impose religious or cultural values, instead they wish to sustain "a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends", as Hayek put it.
Turning to economic policy we find much conservative apprehension about the push for wholesale deregulation and privatisation. Socialists and many conservatives share a distrust of capitalism due to their failure to appreciate the function of markets and the nature of competition in the marketplace.
Over the last century or two, liberals of the classical (non-socialist) variety were forced into ad hoc alliances with conservatives to resist the socialist thrust of the Left. Consequently market liberalism became identified as a reactionary movement and hence the importance of this essay as a corrective to that view. Due to the compromises required for the liberal/conservative alliance in practical politics, the spirit of classical liberalism has languished to the point of death because no major political party in the Western world sustained it in a pure form.
The Rule of Law is a principle that conservatives might be expected to hold dear. But Hayek drew attention to "the characteristic complacency of the conservative toward the action of established authority and his prime concern that this authority be not weakened rather than that its power be kept within bounds. This is difficult to reconcile with the preservation of liberty". Some conservatives tend to share with socialists a willingness to recruit the power of the state to coerce others where the liberal would allow freedom of choice. Conscription for military service is a case in point.
In this book Hayek addresses a wide range of social and political issues to provide alternatives to traditional socialist and conservative views. But the real sting is in the tail, in the essay which relaxes the crippling requirement for young people to go through a phase of socialism to demonstrate that they have a heart.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Political Economy at its best, May 3, 2012
By 
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This review is from: The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek) (Paperback)
Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty" is one of the most important books in social theory written in the twentieth century.

In desperate brevity, the book is divided into three, very well integrated and symbiotic, parts. The first two parts of the book are political economy at its best. Part I concerns Hayek's definition of freedom, its historical emergence, the value of freedom, and the protection and institutionalization of freedom. Part II concerns freedom and its relation to the rule of law and political system as facilitating or undermining the realization of personal freedom. Part III unfolds the implications of freedom for the realm of economics in particularly within the so-called "Welfare State."

There is a fourth part, or postscript titled "Why I am not a conservative," worth the purchase of the book by itself. Hayek argues conservatives are closer to socialists, than they are to `free-market' advocates. Conservatives have a dogmatic "fear of change" (p. 522), while Hayek embraces change for its potential of manifesting Truth and Freedom.

If you think you disagree with Hayek, read this book; if you think you agree with Hayek, read this book.

Now for elaboration ...

"The Constitution of Liberty" is Hayek's magnum opus, a far stronger argument than is his more popular "The Road to Serfdom." There are two primary differences between these two books. First, "The Road to Serfdom" is a critique of what tends to absent freedom; "The Constitution of Liberty" is far less critical and more positive statement of the necessary conditions for the possibility of freedom.

Second, "The Road to Serfdom" is a reaction to, and attack on, the possibility of continuing the planned war economies after WWII as quasi-socialism, whereas "The Constitution of Liberty" proclaims socialism to be dead (p. 370), wherefore defenders of liberty need to focus their attention on the rise of the "Welfare State."

Hayek maintains that "some of the aims of the welfare state can be realized without detriment to individual liberty" (p. 375). This sentence will be far less shocking, when it is recalled 16 years prior Hayek argued in "The Road to Serfdom" the biggest problems that needed to be solved in market economies were: (1) the regulations of the monetary and financial system and (2) curtailment of the coercive actions of big business; further Hayek maintained that Western market societies should have institutions, analogous to the military but not requiring war activity, for individuals who prefer economic security and stable employment and income (perhaps something like a domestic or social peace corps, although Hayek does not specify). In "The Constitution of Liberty" Hayek declares he does not see big business as a positive market force (as Joseph Schumpeter had argued), and Hayek explicitly states "I still feel, as I did fifteen years ago, that it may be a good thing if the monopolist is treated as a sort of whipping boy of economic policy" (p. 381).

What Hayek wants to point out, is not that there is no room for government involvement in personal security, work policy, monetary management, health-care, social insurance, taxation, city planning, environmental protection and education, but that government involvement has historically often been conducted poorly. But the necessity of government involvement in a market economy is never denied, but embraced by Hayek: "A functioning market economy presupposes certain activities on the part of the state" (p. 331). There are activities of the state that are consistent with freedom and there are activities of the state (and private big business) that are inconsistent with freedom. According to Hayek the exaggerated "appeal to the principle of non-interference in the fight against all ill-considered or harmful measures has had the effect of blurring the fundamental distinction between the kinds of measures which are and those which are not compatible with a free system" (p. 331).

Caricatures of Hayek, from both the right and left, do no justice to his impressive insightful commentary, the eruditeness of his political economy, and the sober proportions of emphasis. Hayek's doctrinaire defense of market society is not because it is the "most rational" system, but instead it is the overwhelmingness of human (individual and collective) "ignorance" that must necessarily commit human beings desiring freedom to an experiential and evolutionary system, which includes both private and public spheres of experimentation. Although Hayek is doctrinaire he is not dogmatic. He carefully considers the role of the government and the coerciveness of private business. Make no mistake, Hayek believes in, and defends, liberal society generally and in particular market economy. However, he is far less dogmatic and exaggerated than the caricatures would have him. He is a mind of serious study by both the right and left.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why liberty and freedom trump socialism and paternalism, July 15, 1997
By A Customer
By ANDREW CLINE
RALEIGH, N.C.

€ F.A. Hayek, The Constitution of LIberty: University of Chicago Press, $19.95, 568 pages.

Freedom is the rallying cry for everyone and every
thing these days, from brain-glazed generation X-
ers whining about society's social impermissiveness to authoritarian-minded socialists babbling that freedom for the masses can be achieved only by shackling the wealthy.

Immediately apparent in most people1s invocations of "freedom," is that the people using that word have only the foggiest notion of what it means, much less why it is important. They confuse liberty with liberties, the provision of benefits with the freedom from coercion, and the rule of law with the rule of the majority.

Alas, these democratic difficulties are not new. The authoritarian and socialist trends they caused inspired the Austrian immigrant and economics professor F.A. Hayek to pen what is now regarded as a classic distillation of liberal thought, The Constitution of Liberty, written in the late 1950s and published by Hayek's employer, the University of Chicago, in 1960.

By "liberal," of course, I mean classical liberal. The term that the Whigs of 17th and 19th Century England, that Tocqueville and Madison, used to describe themselves. That the once most singular compliment a man could give to another man in describing his political thought has now been appropriated by the rationalist progressives is a misfortune that has plagued true liberals for the past 100 years now.

It has plagued liberals not only in the sense that it has denied them the historical and intellectual legitimacy they so rightly deserve, but it has made the defense of those great political ideas and the defeat of their opposite nearly impossible.

Hayek knew this was the case, and The Constitution of Liberty was to be the M-1 rifle of the liberal army, a versatile and effective offensive and defensive weapon useful in almost any situation. Though not even many liberal troops may realize it, The Constitution of Liberty has worked as intended.

The book is at first striking in its eloquence. Most native English speakers could take lessons in lucid self-expression from this Austrian. After adjusting to the pleasant rhythms of Hayek's thought, the reader's sensibilities are struck a again, this time because of the familiarity of the words.

Immediately apparent is that the many phrasings and insights that seem familiar are those that have been echoed for the past few years by the leaders of modern conservatism, or liberalism as Hayek would call it. Hayek's words can be heard emanating from the throats of Newt Gingrich, Margaret Thatcher, and even former Soviet leaders. All over the world, the ideas that are driving young conservative politicians and intellectuals to reform the modern state are ideas taken directly from Hayek.

"If old truths are to retain their hold on men1s minds, they must be restated in the language and concepts of successive generations," Hayek wrote in the introduction to The Constitution of Liberty. Any brief perusal of the terms and concepts used by today's new conservatives will show that Hayek achieved his goal. For these men and women are not only using the words and phrases of Jefferson, Madison, Tocqueville or Locke; they are using the very words that Hayek put on paper nearly 40 years ago. In fact, Thatcher noted in her autobiography that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian reformers confided to her that they had been converted to capitalism after reading Hayek.

The Constitution of Liberty begins with Hayek's explanation of why freedom is valuable. "Individual initiative" is, writes Hayek, "the necessary condition for a free evolution," and 3without that spirit, no viable civilization can grow anywhere.

"[T]he case for individual freedom rests chiefly on the recognition of the inevitable ignorance of all of us concerning a great many of the factors on which the achievement of our ends and welfare depends."

As a result, any attempt by authority to preserve current conditions or base progress on what is known to the individual expert will result in less progress. Because the progress of civilization is caused by the exchanges and experimentation that is only possible under free conditions, those conditions must be preserved.

After establishing this principle of government, Hayek explains why the rule of law, rather than arbitrary control of authority, is also a necessary condition of human progress because it provides the framework necessary for individual achievement.

His next section is a must read for all students of political theory because he demonstrates clearly and persuasively why opposition to the welfare state is the only principled position to take concerning that behemoth. An explanation of this section would be too complicated for a short review, but suffice it to say that Hayek's explanation is good enough make even the most die-hard welfare-state advocate reconsider his position.

Hayek concludes with an essay titled, "Why I am not a conservative," that should be read by all Americans, especially reporters. In it, Hayek explains the difference between conservative and liberal in their traditional definitions. Conservative, he notes means one who preserves the status quo, and that is exactly the opposite of his intention.

This book is such a complete and eloquent defense of political liberty that if the republic were ever to crumble to the point that Congress required a citizenship test for voters, The Constitution of Liberty would be the only non-founding document that need be read to spark the restoration of liberal democracy.

Andrew Cline is director of publications for the John Locke Foundation, a nonprofit think tank in Raleigh, N.C.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utilitarian Constitution, November 7, 2007
By 
Hayek undertook a monumental task when he set out to write the The Constitution of Liberty. Hayek aimed at finding the proper limits between public and private life. How far should the authority of the state extend? What areas of life should be beyond the reach of the government? Hayek is stating his version of the general principles of classical liberalism, based on utilitarian ethics. Since his arguments are utilitarian, this book has economic overtones.

Hayek's purpose in restating the principles of liberal society is to defend these principles against the opposing intellectual movement of collectivism. Western Civilization succeeded largely because of its individualism. Collectivism is undermining the basis of modern civilization in the West. Individualism is important because we each lack the knowledge needed to rationally direct the affairs of others. Some people believe that they can plan out society because they are `experts' or because they are educated. Hayek saw that nobody can posses the knowledge needed to design a rational order for society. As Hayek put it, "it is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not posses that men can pursue their individual ends more successfully than they could alone".

In writing this book, Hayek shifted his attention away from full-blown socialism and towards the modern welfare state. Hayek seems to have felt that the case for socialism had been sufficiently weakened so as to allow him to critique welfare states. Hayek accepted some types of government intervention that libertarians typically oppose. Rather than opposing each program point by point, Hayek sought out some `lynchpin issues' that would limit state growth. Hayek argued strenuously against state control of the money supply, and suggested ways of limiting taxation. Hayek's libertarian critics typically cringe at some of his concessions, but we would all be in a much better position now if his constitution had been adopted.

The Constitution of Liberty is more than well reasoned, it is subtle and profound. This book reveals Hayek's deep understanding of economics, politics, and history. Reading the COL is no small undertaking, but it is a highly useful undertaking for any serious student of political economy.
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