Friedrich Hayek


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A concise guide to the ideas and influence of the libertarian economist

This book is an accessible exploration of the life and work of Friedrich Hayek: Nobel economist, social theorist, influential critic of socialism and the man who arguably changed the course of Western history thanks to his effect on both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Friedrich Hayek was one of the leading economists of the 20th century and the leading contemporary critic of Keynes. He did pioneering work on monetary theory and trade cycles, but achieved international fame through his 1944 critique of totalitarian socialism, The Road to Serfdom.

He went on to map out the principles of a free society in a series of books including Law, Legislation and Liberty and became the leading proponent, along with Milton Friedman, of economic and political liberalism.

Setting him in context as well as incorporating criticism since his death 20 years ago, this book explores several major areas of Hayek’s thought and argument:

  • Why society is not something that can be rebuilt any way we want, but is the result of long-term cultural evolution, and what that means for political reform, morality and individual choice

  • The kind of laws that true freedom relies upon, and how freedom and its benefits are threatened by political confusions

  • How the market process really works: from maximising gains for everyone who participates, to competition as a discovery process

  • Where boom and bust cycles come from and how privatising currencies could be the startling solution

  • How we actually interpret our world, and what this means for social sciences and politics

  • Why socialism was a mistake, capitalism isn’t wasteful, and what economic organisation has to do with political destiny

  • The impossibility of social justice but the genuine hope offered by true economic freedom

  • What the real foundations of a free society look like.

A breath of intellectual fresh air, this concise guide to Friedrich Hayek is a must for any reader or student interested in one of the most vital minds of the 20th century.

Eamonn Butler is the Director and co-founder of the Adam Smith Institute.

2012, ISBN – 978 0 857 191 755, 151pp, Pbk

Eamonn Butler is the co-founder and Director of the Adam Smith Institute.