We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

What we are dealing with is a documentary formula, into which Hayek’s life and work has been stuffed. The particular formula is the one they use for pioneering scientists who discover bacteria or something like that, and the need is to stress just how isolated and way-out the fellow was considered by everybody else. That might be fine for doing the mathematician who cracked Fermat’s Last Theorem, and may lend itself to atmospheric long-shots of the presenter walking through empty courtyards and along echoing corridors, but Friedrich Hayek was not a man working alone, and his ideas built on the ideas of other earlier and contemporary economists. I kept waiting for the name Ludwig von Mises to crop up, and it never did. It’s kind of hard to discuss Hayek’s early years in Vienna without once mentioning Mises. The final straw came when the presenter described his work at the Institute of Business Cycle Research which was founded with Mises at the Chamber of Commerce where Mises worked, and where he held his legendary seminars, which Hayek attended, and even then she could not bear to utter Mises’ name. The following is far from a perfect analogy, but it’s like watching a documentary about Mark Antony with no mention of Caesar.

- Richard Carey is unimpressed by part two of the BBC series ‘Masters of Money’, featuring the work of F. A. Hayek. Part one was about Keynes. Part three will be about Marx. I know. What the hell kind of “master of money” was Karl Marx? Carey’s sentiments exactly.

I considered recycling Carey’s entire posting, which is not a whole lot longer than the above excerpt, to include in particular what he says about Marx, and also about the BBC. But it is no part of my intention to have anyone here ignoring Libertarian Home, where this posting appears. Do please go there, and read the whole thing. Or just go there anyway.

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • MakajazMonkee

    The beeb is so unintentionally hilarious….genius

  • mdc

    If we’re going either in chronological order, or in order of ideas being adopted and then abandoned, shouldn’t Marx be first, rather than the culmination? To the extent he belongs in a program about real economists at all.

    No? Ok then.

  • PeterT

    Its fully possible that the presenter does not even know who Mises is.

    I too was unimpressed with what I saw and ended up switching the TV off to continue reading an excellent Jo Nesbo thriller.

    What did strike me was just how poor TV can be as a medium for communication – although I suspect it was also due to Beeb laziness. They managed to show the same shot of fish from Billingsgate market twice within half an hour. Couldn’t they at least have had some nice animations trying to illustrate his ideas on the business cycle?

  • Richard Carey

    Thanks for the compliment, Brian.

    Here’s an interesting interview by Bernard Levin with Hayek from 1980, which I haven’t seen before:

    I wouldn’t have even looked for this, had it not been for the BBC programme annoying me, so I guess I should bear in mind not only ‘what is seen’ but also ‘what is unseen’.

  • Richard

    You’re welcome.

    Yes, being able easily to search out other stuff about Hayek changes things, when it comes to TV shows like this one. You are right that Mises was ignored. But at least Hayek got a big mention, up there alongside Keynes and Marx.

    Those who want to learn more now easily can.

  • mdc

    To be fair if they were doing it ‘properly’, Hayek probably shouldn’t have had a program either.

    The first should have been 19th century, but based around Classical economics, not Marxism, which was never taken seriously by the economics profession. Then it should be Keynes; right or wrong his ideas were extremely influential. Then it should be Milton Friedman, who actually did destroy the Keynesian view of money, and established the one that persists to this day (including among people who call themselves Keynesians, if you read between the lines).

  • Rob

    If the BBC broadcast a social history of English Cricket there would be an episode on Marx.

  • Paul Marks

    The BBC are vile – a mixture of poltical bias and just plain ignorance.

    I was aware of this comment by Richard – and I agree with every word of it.

    However, mdc and Rob raise an interesting point.

    What the bleep is Karl Marx doing in the series?

    And why is he getting the last word?

    This is weird – even by the absurd standards of the BBC.

    Two shows for the collectivists (one on Karl Marx – who was not even a monetary economist anyway).

    And one (messed up) show for the anti collectivists.

    Still it is possible to get a contribution from Karl Marx – Hunter Lewis shows (in”Where Keynes Went Wrong”) sneering (quite rightly sneering) at Keynesianism – before John Keynes was even born.

    However, somehow, I do not think the BBC will be citeing the same stuff – or have the same target.