|I know we have a tendency to focus on the EFT quotient of Sciabarra's dissent, but I do share many of the criticisms of Hayek on the various topics highlighted in Linz's article. I'm just "cutting and pasting" a few passages from my book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia (MHU). Whereas my previous posts highlight my areas of agreement with Hayek, I think that on the issues below, among others, Hayek has serious problems. This is from a section of MHU called "Problematic Issues in Hayekian Evolutionism" (and Linz will note that there is not too much "Polish"):|
Hayek does not present a theory of inevitable progress. Yet he sees a close affinity between the spontaneous order of the capitalist market economy and the evolving rules of just conduct. ... Hayek's conclusions do not portend well for the spontaneous emergence of a libertarian, market-oriented social framework.
Norman Barry notes correctly that social evolution has promoted the existence of both liberal and nonliberal institutions. The "free market" and "limited government" are rarities in history. They may "be regarded as perhaps a chance mutation in a course of evolution which is proceeding in quite another direction, an evanescent torch in an inexorably darkening world." In Barry's view, Hayek ties us much too closely to tradition, while seeing reason as "too fragile an instrument to recommend satisfactory alternatives." This suggests that people are incapable of evaluating "critically that statist and anti-individualist order of society which seems to have as much claim to be a product of evolution as any other social structure." On these issues, Barry's arguments are persuasive.
For example, Hayek admits that legislation can correct the "undesirable" consequences of a common law which serves "class" interests. Yet he does not give an adequate account or definition of power and class relationships. He offers no reason for trusting either the functional adequacy or the class neutrality of the legislature. The libertarian theorist, Murray Rothbard, has criticized Hayek's lack of a class concept. Rothbard shares with Hayek a commitment to Austrian economics, but he argues that the exclusive focus on unintended social consequences "whitewash[es] the growth of government in the 20th century." To view social outcomes as primarily unintended is to assert categorically "that no person or group ever willed the pernicious consequences" of the state's growth. For Rothbard, to stress "the Ferguson-Hayek formula" is to obscure "the self-interested actions" of real human actors. ...
Hayek's belief that the legislature can correct "undesirable" consequences is also questionable, given his general abdication of the realm of morality to custom. No social scientist – no human being – can escape the necessity to judge. When Hayek argues that "undesirable" consequences can be corrected, he uses an implicit moral standard by which to distinguish the desirable from the undesirable. He alludes to a standard of value without any explicit articulation or rational justification. He eschews such "rationalizations" of morality since, in his opinion, moral customs and traditions are beyond the scope of reason to understand, explain, or construct anew. And yet, without rationally defined moral standards, Hayek's evolutionism can be used to legitimate nearly every existing institutional form. Hence, by virtue of its durability, slavery has as much moral claim to existence as freedom.
There are more fundamental problems with Hayek's social theory. By positing such a sharp distinction between spontaneous and designed order, Hayek has not provided us with any explanation of the emergence of those institutions that are agencies of constructivism. The state is one such agency, and it is the embodiment of all coercive attempts to plan humanity's destiny. To what extent is the state itself a spontaneous, emergent product of social evolution? To what extent does the state define the parameters of the extended order that Hayek celebrates? What are the actual interrelationships between the spontaneous order of the market and the designed institutions of the state? The reader of Hayek's works will strain to find developed answers to any of these important questions.