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Progress of a sort

The new President of Indonesia likes to be thought of as a man of intellect. Recently he held an event where a film was shown which contrasted the view of two thinkers on the role of government.

When asked which thinker he agreed with, the now man now elected President declared that his view was “somewhere between the two”. A typical politician’s reply, so why do I think this man represents ‘progress’ in the political world?

Well the two thinkers in the film were not (say) Karl Marx and J.M. Keynes – the two thinkers shown in the film were J.M. Keynes and F.A. Hayek.

Believe me, in the context of politics, this is progress.

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15 comments to Progress of a sort

  • Bernie

    Sounds interesting. What was the film Paul?

  • Jacob

    Isn’t that what they teach everyone from kindergarten on ? Avoid the extremes, always choose the middle ? You don’t have to be a “man of intellect” for it.

  • Wild Pegasus

    A Hayekian Indonesia would be stupidly wealthy, what with the free infrastructure (water instead of roads), and the assload of gas, oil, and minerals buried around the islands.

  • Joel B.

    I bet the show was Commanding Heights. It was an excellent PBS special.

  • buwaya

    A Hayekian Indonesia would be wealthier than it now is, but probably not very wealthy. Even Hayek wouldn’t change the character of the Indonesians.

    Development = Policy + Culture + Resources

  • Indonesia’s inherent ungovernability would argue for more, rather than fewer, Hayekian principles. Let the government work toward a set of laws protecting property and contracts, and provide a court system to enforce them. It could be a bootstrap paradise, but there’s no getting around buwaya’s equation. Cultural change will take a very long time, and there are lots of forces acting against a cohesive national identity.

  • Richard Espy

    You’re all assuming that everyone reading this knows who Hayek and Keynes are. I know Keynes, but I’m unfamiliar with Hayek. Some pointers to both would be appreciated.

  • Spike

    F.A. Hayek wrote “The Road to Serfdom” which, along with Hazlett’s “Economics in One Lesson” and Friedman’s “Free to Choose”, blows Marx, Keynes, Galbraith and company clear out of the water. Hayek was to Libertarian econ what Elvis was to old time rock and roll.

  • Well, if Yudhoyono can do his bit to break down the climate of corruption endemic to Indonesia’s bureaucracy, sure.

    Somehow I’m a little pessimistic about the whole affair.

  • To Richard and others who don’t know Hayek: “The Road to Serfdom” is a book that everyone on the planet should read. It describes why central planning doesn’t work, and why free markets do — via “self-organization”. It’s still relevant today, though is all the more impressive because it was written long before the failures of central planning became obvious.

  • Ironchef

    For us noobs,

    Keynes is a economic “planner” (controller)??

  • D. Timmerman

    Commanding Heights was the contrast between Friedman and Keynes, not Hayek and Keynes. Arguably, Friedman and Keynes aren’t drastically different.

    Keynes wasn’t really an “economic planner.” Not in the manner of Lenin, for example. But he did believe that government should increase spending during times of recession.

  • The good former general has plenty to worry about, but the character of his people isn’t one of them. Of course the people in question are the chinese traders that have lived there for hundreds of years and already control the commanding heights of the economy. (Admittedly every now and tehn the ethbic Javans, Sumatrans, Celebese types et all riot and burn down the chinese shops. Even today there is a burnt out ring around the centre of old Batavia that is a long way from restoration).

    On corruption, well one problem they have is that the army is only provided with about 55% of the funds it requires to operate at the size it is. They are not allowed to sack staff, so they have to make up the short fall in, what one general told me was the “private sector”.

  • Read the 1945 paper that broached the revolutionary ideas for which Hayek would win the 1974 Nobel prize for Economics, “The Use of Knowledge in Society.”

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly I do not know what film the President Elect showed (I would like to have seen it).

    As for F.A. Hayek. Well to be crude, a more moderate version of Ludwig Von Mises (“and who is he” – the Ludwig Von Mises Institute is on the net and well tell you).

    Hayek tended to get a better political reception. Winston Churchill cited him back in 1945 (and was attacked by the Labour party for citing a germanic scholar). “Road to Serfdom” (1944) got cited, Von Mises “Omnipotent Government” (also 1944) did not get cited so much.

    Both Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were fans (Ronald Reagan’s copies of Hayek’s works show signs of extensive reading).

    As for the works themselves: Well “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) and “Law, Legislation and Liberty” (1982) are two of the big works that spring to mind. For the economist Prices and Production (1935?) and Pure Theory of Capital (1941) are important.

    Short works like “Capitalism and the Historians” are also worth reading.

    And Counter Revolution in Science (my memory is failing – it about 0230 British time) and The Sensory Order.

    Still I would start with a book of short essays – say “New Studies” – a work of short essays on philosophy, politics and economics.

    Hayek was a polymath, who wrote on a large range of matters. I have often disagreed with his opinions (being the nasty extremist that I am), but I have always found him interesting.