“…A condition of liberty in which all are allowed to use their knowledge for their purposes, restrained only by rules of just conduct of universal application, is likely to produce for them the best conditions for achieving their aims”, and “such a system is likely to be achieved and maintained only if all authority, including that of the majority of the people, is limited in the exercise of coercive power by general principles to which the community has committed itself” (P. 55)
Allow me to finish this quote. Hayek continues, “Individual freedom, wherever it has existed, has been largely the product of a prevailing respect for such principles which, however, have never been fully articulated in constitutional documents. Freedom has been preserved for prolonged periods because such principles, vaguely and dimly perceived, have governed public opinion.” (p.55)
Hayek explains that his ideal system can only be achieved if all authority is limited by the general principles that the community has committed to. He argues that our individual freedom (which he briefly defines on pg 56) has been sustained by the individuals’ mutual respect for the principles he explained. I believe the principles he is referring to are concerned with the individual freedom to carry out our interests, as each of us perceives to be to our best advantage (without infringing upon others’ rights). Yet, the rights concerned with the use of our labor have been greatly constrained, and thus, our individual liberties have been usurped.
The issue I see in this fact is that Hayek attributes the safety of our liberty and freedom to the fact that these principles have (had?) been guarded by the public opinion.Thus, has the current public opinion changed so much that we knowingly encroach upon these freedoms? Or, rather, is it that we cannot see the consequences of our actions?Further into Hayek’s argument he states that since freedom rests on opportunities “… it provides for unforeseen and unpredictable actions…”, thus, we will not know what we lose through particular restrictions of our freedoms. Hayek argues that many restrictions, may be aiming at a certain foreseeable result, but we are still blinded as to the unknown effects of the rules and/or what may have been prevented as a result of the restriction.
Hayek continues this argument by stating, “The direct effects of any interference with the market order will be near and clearly visible in most cases, while the more indirect and remote effects will be mostly unknown and therefore disregarded.” Hayek’s argument illustrates the unknown effects of many of the restrictions that are placed on people and the market by suggesting that certain progressions may be prevented by the restrictions.This leads to the conclusion that we will never know what may have come about had we not placed restrictions upon the market. His thesis proves his argument that “Freedom can be preserved only by following principles and is destroyed by following expediency”.
Thus, my points / questions of interest are as follows: 1) Has our public opinion shifted (or been warped) to the point that we are no longer satisfied with just adhering to the general principles for just conduct? What has caused this shift? Fear? Lack of trust in the market? Social issues? 2) Hayek proves the seen/unforeseen argument with his thesis, thus why do we ignore the argument when considering various restrictions and rules? 3) Most of our laws and regulations (and wars) are justified by the argument that it is “for the general good” of our country, but how often is that the case? In addition, why don’t demand that this “result” be proven?
Ok and I will try harder to stick to the limit of 250 words from now on, sorry.