The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson

Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

My Favorite Quotes of Friedrich Hayek

Friedrich Hayek (8 May 1899 – 23 March 1992), often referred to by his initials F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian-British economist and philosopher who is best known for his defence of classical liberalism. Hayek shared the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Gunnar Myrdal for his work on economics. His account of how changing prices communicate information that helps individuals coordinate their plans is widely regarded as an important achievement in economics, leading to his Nobel Prize.

Hayek served in World War I during his teenage years and said that this experience in the war and his desire to help avoid the mistakes that had led to the war drew him into economics. At the University of Vienna, he studied economics, eventually receiving his doctoral degrees in law in 1921 and in political science in 1923. He subsequently lived and worked in Austria, Great Britain, the United States, and Germany; he became a British subject in 1938. Hayek's academic life was mostly spent at the London School of Economics, and later at the University of Chicago, and the University of Freiburg. Although he is widely considered a leader of the Austrian School of Economics, he also had close connections with the Chicago School of Economics. Hayek was also a major social theorist and political philosopher of the 20th century and as the co-founder of Mont Pelerin Society he contributed to the revival of classical liberalism in the post-war era. His most popular work, The Road to Serfdom, has sold over 2.25 million copies (as of 2020).

“... I prefer true but imperfect knowledge, even if it leaves much undetermined and unpredictable, to a pretense of exact knowledge that is likely to be false.”
 - Hayek. F. A.

“Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism.”
 - Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

“Emergencies” have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have eroded.”
 - Friedrich Hayek

“From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time”
 - Friedrich August von Hayek, The Constitution Of Liberty

“From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.”
 - Friedrich A. von Hayek

“I am certain, however, that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.”
 - F.A. Hayek

“If socialists understood economics, they wouldn't be socialists.”
 - Friedrich Hayek

“It is one of the saddest spectacles of our time to see a great democratic movement support a policy which must lead to the destruction of democracy and which meanwhile can benefit only a minority of the masses who support it. Yet it is this support from the Left of the tendencies toward monopoly which make them so irresistible and the prospects of the future so dark.”
 - Friedrich August von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

“It is true that the virtues which are less esteemed and practiced now--independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to bear risks, the readiness to back one's own conviction against a majority, and the willingness to voluntary cooperation with one's neighbors--are essentially those on which the of an individualist society rests. Collectivism has nothing to put in their place, and in so far as it already has destroyed then it has left a void filled by nothing but the demand for obedience and the compulsion of the individual to what is collectively decided to be good.”
 - Friedrich August von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

“Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions and will receive praise or blame for them. Liberty and responsibility are inseparable.”
 - Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty

“Our faith in freedom does not rest on the foreseeable results in particular circumstances but on the belief that it will, on balance, release more forces for the good than for the bad.”
 - Friedrich A. Hayek

“Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his absolute mercy. And an authority directing the whole economic system of the country would be the most powerful monopolist conceivable…it would have complete power to decide what we are to be given and on what terms. It would not only decide what commodities and services were to be available and in what quantities; it would be able to direct their distributions between persons to any degree it liked.”
 - Friedrich August von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

“The argument for liberty is not an argument against organization, which is one of the most powerful tools human reason can employ, but an argument against all exclusive, privileged, monopolistic organization, against the use of coercion to prevent others from doing better.”
 - Friedrich August von Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”
 - F. A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism

“The more the state "plans" the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”
 - Friedrich A. Hayek

“There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is the condition of a free society, the second means as De Tocqueville describes it, a new form of servitude.”
 - Friedrich Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order

“To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behaviour as individuals within the group.”
 - Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

“While an equality of rights under a limited government is possible and an essential condition of individual freedom, a claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.”
 - Friedrich A. von Hayek, The Mirage of Social Justice