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Hayek, Friedrich A.

Hayek, Friedrich A. (1900–92) Born in Vienna, where he later gained doctorates in law and political science, Hayek taught for many years at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Chicago, before returning to Austria in 1962. In an ironic coupling, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics jointly with Gunnar Myrdal. The irony arises because Hayek was even better known for his immoderate free-market liberalism than Myrdal was for his measured social democratic views. Given his later fame as the leading theorist of the anti-Keynesian monetarism that became influential in the 1980s, it is appropriate that his first book was entitled Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle (1933), and that he used the ideas set out therein to criticize Keynes's Treatise on Money (1930).

In 1944 Hayek published the book that for the first time gained him a wider public, The Road to Serfdom. In it he drew out the political consequences of his laissez-faire economics, stressing in particular that centralized economic planning threatened the very liberties that were then being fought for. The post-war success of the more or less managed mixed economies of Western Europe and the United States, and related ascendancy of Keynesian economic theory, appeared to disprove many of his most dire predictions. Undaunted, Hayek continued to elaborate his essentially pre-sociological views in a more positive manner, publishing The Constitution of Liberty in 1960 and his three-volume Law, Legislation and Liberty in 1982. For Hayek, as the British Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher once rather crudely put it, ‘there is no such thing as society’—only individuals competing and co-operating with one another. Any theories that suppose otherwise are therefore to be understood as ideological in general and as contaminated by collectivism in particular. And, harking back to the argument of The Road to Serfdom, any political programmes or social policies that suppose otherwise are to be feared as presaging impoverishment and totalitarianism. On this basis, and not without a certain bathos, he felt able to identify the legal protection afforded Britain's trade unions as the fundamental cause of all the country's woes in a famous pamphlet published in 1980. See also JUSTICE, SOCIAL; LIBERTARIANISM; MONT PELERIN SOCIETY.

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