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Why I Am Not a Conservative - F. A. Hayek

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posted on Oct, 3 2013 @ 10:51 AM
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I think it is timely and relevant that I put forward this essay by Friedrich Hayek.

There is a tendency to consider the opposing political ideology as antithetical to the side which one stands upon in bipartisan terms. Besides missing the point of individualism, that is, that government itself is always to blame for everything that government does, it is a lose-lose game. It is not that government would be better if 'we' controlled it but, that the government should not be allowed to have control.

Minimal state power is the ideal circumstance as it is the one in which men can do the least harm.

Why I Am Not a Conservative



At a time when most movements that are thought to be progressive advocate further encroachments on individual liberty,[1] those who cherish freedom are likely to expend their energies in opposition. In this they find themselves much of the time on the same side as those who habitually resist change. In matters of current politics today they generally have little choice but to support the conservative parties. But, though the position I have tried to define is also often described as "conservative," it is very different from that to which this name has been traditionally attached. There is danger in the confused condition which brings the defenders of liberty and the true conservatives together in common opposition to developments which threaten their ideals equally. It is therefore important to distinguish clearly the position taken here from that which has long been known - perhaps more appropriately - as conservatism.



In the United States, where it has become almost impossible to use "liberal" in the sense in which I have used it, the term "libertarian" has been used instead. It may be the answer; but for my part I find it singularly unattractive. For my taste it carries too much the flavor of a manufactured term and of a substitute. What I should want is a word which describes the party of life, the party that favors free growth and spontaneous evolution. But I have racked my brain unsuccessfully to find a descriptive term which commends itself.



It may well be asked whether the name really matters so much. In a country like the United States, which on the whole has free institutions and where, therefore, the defense of the existing is often a defense of freedom, it might not make so much difference if the defenders of freedom call themselves conservatives, although even here the association with the conservatives by disposition will often be embarrassing. Even when men approve of the same arrangements, it must be asked whether they approve of them because they exist or because they are desirable in themselves. The common resistance to the collectivist tide should not be allowed to obscure the fact that the belief in integral freedom is based on an essentially forward-looking attitude and not on any nostalgic longing for the past or a romantic admiration for what has been.



I trust I shall be forgiven for repeating here the words in which on an earlier occasion I stated an important point: "The main merit of the individualism which [Adam Smith] and his contemporaries advocated is that it is a system under which bad men can do least harm. It is a social system which does not depend for its functioning on our finding good men for running it, or on all men becoming better than they now are, but which makes use of men in all their given variety and complexity, sometimes good and sometimes bad, sometimes intelligent and more often stupid."
edit on 3-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)
edit on Sat Oct 12 2013 by DontTreadOnMe because: cut number of quotes IMPORTANT: Using Content From Other Websites on ATS




posted on Oct, 3 2013 @ 12:45 PM
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I have heard some Democrats (liberals) asserting their respect for the constitution. I refuse to deny them the right to live up to that pledge and hope that they will consider these words as an opportunity for unity among the American people. A unity not of ideology but, of political pragmatism and realistic expectation.

I invite them to pursue their democratic ends within the context of their own unofficial 'collectives', not officially impose them upon their brethren out of spite and in a spirit entirely unrepresentative of the principles that they espouse to embody.

Conversely, I have heard Republicans (conservatives) claiming to 'know better' how the laws of this nation should be written and enforced. Similarly confounding in its disregard for the principals that our country is built upon.

I encourage them also to practice within their communities the moral certitudes that they hold near and dear to their hearts without attempting to promulgate those ideals as doctrine.



posted on Oct, 3 2013 @ 02:26 PM
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reply to post by greencmp
 


I think the world has moved beyond Hayek's definition of a Liberal and a Conservative. The current state is big Government, Conservatives want less of this, and so they are not Conservative in the classical definition. Seventy-five percent of the USG budget is social spending.

Ronald Reagan liked a lot of Hayek's stuff, as does Rush Limbaugh. I think most Lefties would consider both "Very Conservative."

V



posted on Oct, 3 2013 @ 07:27 PM
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Variable
reply to post by greencmp
 


I think the world has moved beyond Hayek's definition of a Liberal and a Conservative. The current state is big Government, Conservatives want less of this, and so they are not Conservative in the classical definition. Seventy-five percent of the USG budget is social spending.

Ronald Reagan liked a lot of Hayek's stuff, as does Rush Limbaugh. I think most Lefties would consider both "Very Conservative."

It is certainly true that these terms are nearly useless as ideological identifiers since they have lost all semblance of their original meaning. I use them only as vernacular references at this point.

I simply mean that the two poles of popular philosophy, in the sense that they are understood today, should abandon their statist aspirations and embrace individualism once again. That means reducing and eliminating most official power and consequently, most officials. All government is a threat to personal liberty and minimal government is the least harmful form of government.

While it would seem that conservatives should already stand for this, I see zero evidence of it and have ultimately lumped them in with liberals on the 'left'. The 'right', as indicated in the graphic below, is reserved for classical liberals and individualists.


Graphic Analogs of the Political Spectrum - An Ideology Refresher
edit on 3-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 11 2013 @ 03:42 PM
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Defining the American Conservative shows that they are less like the Conservative Hayek envisioned and more like classical liberals.

The men of the Founding are the idea men which a modern conservative should aspire to be. Hayek could not argue with this.



posted on Oct, 11 2013 @ 04:25 PM
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FreeMason
Defining the American Conservative shows that they are less like the Conservative Hayek envisioned and more like classical liberals.

The men of the Founding are the idea men which a modern conservative should aspire to be. Hayek could not argue with this.

That is what Hayek says, he is late enough to the game that he had to make it clear that 'classical liberal' equals individualist. Mises still used the original and correct term 'liberal' to mean the same thing, a fact that is now lost to all but the most educated historians.



posted on Oct, 12 2013 @ 03:00 AM
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greencmp

FreeMason
Defining the American Conservative shows that they are less like the Conservative Hayek envisioned and more like classical liberals.

The men of the Founding are the idea men which a modern conservative should aspire to be. Hayek could not argue with this.

That is what Hayek says, he is late enough to the game that he had to make it clear that 'classical liberal' equals individualist. Mises still used the original and correct term 'liberal' to mean the same thing, a fact that is now lost to all but the most educated historians.


Well I don't see how the American Conservative is any different than the classical liberal, or at least any different than the revolutionary American.

They were just as intolerant of negotiating with tyrants or their supporters as any conservative today would be at negotiating with Democrats who quite literally fit the definition of tyranny.



posted on Oct, 12 2013 @ 09:45 AM
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FreeMason

greencmp

FreeMason
Defining the American Conservative shows that they are less like the Conservative Hayek envisioned and more like classical liberals.

The men of the Founding are the idea men which a modern conservative should aspire to be. Hayek could not argue with this.

That is what Hayek says, he is late enough to the game that he had to make it clear that 'classical liberal' equals individualist. Mises still used the original and correct term 'liberal' to mean the same thing, a fact that is now lost to all but the most educated historians.


Well I don't see how the American Conservative is any different than the classical liberal, or at least any different than the revolutionary American.

They were just as intolerant of negotiating with tyrants or their supporters as any conservative today would be at negotiating with Democrats who quite literally fit the definition of tyranny.

It sounds like we are in agreement if classical liberal is what is meant when someone refers to themselves as conservative.

However, throughout my entire life I have seen no evidence of any meaningful reduction in government so, I must conclude that any 'conservatives' who have held office either cannot or will not live up to the principals that we share with the founders and are embodied in the constitution and bill of rights.



posted on Oct, 12 2013 @ 09:56 AM
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Variable
reply to post by greencmp
 


I think the world has moved beyond Hayek's definition of a Liberal and a Conservative. The current state is big Government, Conservatives want less of this, and so they are not Conservative in the classical definition. Seventy-five percent of the USG budget is social spending.

Ronald Reagan liked a lot of Hayek's stuff, as does Rush Limbaugh. I think most Lefties would consider both "Very Conservative."

V


What makes you think Reagan was a conservative? Conservatives are supposed to be a pay as you go party. The way Reagan ran the country on a credit card while driving up the debt he had 18 debt ceiling increases shows he was in no way a conservative. Limbaugh is just an idiot.



posted on Oct, 12 2013 @ 11:59 AM
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I agree, Reagan talked the talk but, did not ultimately walk the walk.

We must remember that the cold war was a special circumstance and I am much more forgiving of his military spending for that reason.
edit on 12-10-2013 by greencmp because: (no reason given)





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