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It is past time for a Hayek statue

I agree with this, from Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute.

It is past time that Nobel Prize-winning economist and great social thinker, F A Hayek, had a statue in London.

Hayek is one of the greatest modern economists, and while his intellectual presence in academia is extraordinary, it is time for his legacy to be extended to the greater public.

Hayek traced the idea of spontaneous order from Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ to the present day. He made it one of the most important underpinnings of social and economic freedom. He also made groundbreaking contributions on trade cycle theory and policy, competition in currency, and even human psychology.

A physical memorial would not only honour him directly, it would also bring his name and presence before people who do not yet know of his books and his ideas, and prompt people to find out more about his output and his wide intellectual influence.

I have become very bored of people saying that “now is the time” for XYZ, when in truth it should have happened a long time ago. So he had me at “It is past time …”, even if the wording seems a bit clumsy. It has long (see paragraph 2 above) been “time for his legacy to be extended to the greater public”.

I Hope that, if this statue happens, it’s a good one. I look forward to taking photos of it.

17 comments to It is past time for a Hayek statue

  • Fraser Orr

    It seems to me that for a free market economist like Hayek what you should be saying is “I am starting a fund to raise money to buy a plot of land in London and erect a statue for Hayek. Anyone who wants to contribute please send your donation to ….” Oh, and there should probably be a gift shop next to the statue.

    It seems a bit of an internal contradiction to expect a statue of Hayek to be publicly funded (which seems to be the implication of your post.) You know kind of like flying on a private jet to a conference on Global Warming.

  • Paul Marks

    Better than a statue would be if the authorities followed the wisdom of Hayek – and stopped creating money-from-nothing to prop up their Corporate friends.

    I have very serious philosophical disagreements with Hayek and with his hero Hume – but I agree with both these men that funny money banker credit-bubbles do NOT create real wealth. On the contrary Credit Bubble finance reduces real wealth (and also takes what is left to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor) and it inevitably leads to a bust and demands for government bail-outs (open – or hidden bailouts).

    Richard Cantillon made this point before David Hume did.

    As for Hayek’s point that general government interventionism does not solve the problems the government is trying to solve (it just makes the existing problems worse – and adds new problems on top of the old) and that government economic interventionism destroys Civil Liberties as well (that J.S. Mill was WRONG in claiming that economic policy and civil liberties were different subjects – although Hayek, as far as I know, never pointed out that Mill was wrong to try and make a distinction between economic liberty and general liberty) – well Hayek was making a point that Ludwig Von Mises made before him, and Herbert “Man Versus the State” Spencer made before him – and many others also.

    Does anyone believe that the politicians of any of the political parties understand this? Because I do not believe they understand.

    On the contrary – governments (of all parties) continue to push endless interventionism, totally blind to its economic failure and its dire effects on liberty (as well as on material standards of life).

    So what is the point of a statue to Hayek in a country that violates all his wisdom.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Paul the problem is that you are measuring things wrongly. Politicians, like everyone else, act in their own best interest. Government intervention looks very good to voters and so it is in their best interest to do it. The fact that it is damaging in the long term (in fact in the fairly short term too) is irrelevant, especially when that damage can be blamed on someone else.

    Look, if you are Obama, elected during a recession, and you can use it as a reason to toss around two trillion dollars? Well you can buy a LOT of good favor with people with that kind of money, even at the cost of a flat economy for a decade.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that we need to get away from this notion that politicians are somehow righteous public servants doing what is in the best interest of the country. As if they are some group of pure hearted, selfless benefactors. Almost the opposite is true.

  • neonsnake

    Almost the opposite is true.

    “Stop trying to control. Let go of fixed plans and concepts and the world will govern itself. The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be. The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be. The more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be. Therefore the Master says: I let go of the law, and people become honest. I let go of economic, and people become prosperous. I let go of religion, and people become serene. I let go of all desire for the common good, and the good becomes common as grass.”

    Or, if you prefer:

    “I heartily accept the motto,—”That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.”

    I too would like to see (and photograph!) a statue of Hayek. His explanation of the Knowledge Problem (simplified throught the pencil example) is something that put into words something I’d always intuitively grasped, but never was able to articulate.

  • Mr Ed

    Make sure that the statue has one hand missing. And have him sitting at the feet of Ludwig von Mises.

    And there is no such thing as a Nobel Prize winner in economics, there is no Nobel Prize for economics, there is a memorial prize in honour of Alfred Nobel funded by the Swedish Central Bank, it is no more a Nobel Prize than I am a zebra.

  • I want a statue of Edmund Burke in London. There is one in Bristol (where he was an MP) and one in Washington D.C. but if there is one in London I do not know its location.

    That said, I’m fine with a statue of Hayek but agree it should not be funded by the state. A notice on its plinth

    This statue was erected by free enterprise. No taxpayers were compelled to contribute to its cost nor was the land on which it is erected obtained by compulsory purchase.

    would be one way of conveying what Hayek was about.

  • neonsnake

    but if there is one in London I do not know its location.

    There’s a plaque near Leicester Square.

    If you’re ever down here, hit me up and I’ll show you.

  • Fraser Orr

    Niall Kilmartin
    This statue was erected by free enterprise. No taxpayers were compelled to contribute to its cost nor was the land on which it is erected obtained by compulsory purchase.

    +100. Were that the case it would probably be the best and most useful statue in London.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Perhaps a form of memorial other than a statue could be considered?

    The thing is, whenever I see a statue which invariably has a white streak running down its head, I always wonder just why it should be considered an honour to have one’s likeness made into a toilet for pigeons.

  • Jacob

    It’s past time for another genius-free-market-philosopher like Hayek to appear.
    It seems they are an extinct species.

  • Jacob (October 26, 2019 at 10:26 am), Thomas Sowell is still alive.

  • Jacob

    Sure, he’s 89. Let him enjoy good health and keep on writing to 120.

  • Jacob

    Since the 1960’ies (at least) the academic world in the West has taken a sharp turn left, and there is no chance of another economist-philosopher-genius of the kind of Hayek Sowell or von Mises making an appearance.

  • Snorri Godhi

    In addition to Sowell, there is David D. Friedman. I admit that i am partial, because we share an enthusiasm for Viking market-anarchism.

    Then there is Angelo Codevilla. Not a “free-market philosopher”, perhaps, but a philosopher of freedom, anyway.

  • Jacob

    David D. Friedman had the luck of being the son of the great Milton Friedman. Was home schooled, probably, not University educated.

  • Paul Marks

    Fraser Orr – Barack Obama did not get his EPA to try and de facto nationalise land (or all land with water on it – farms, ranches and so on) by controlling regulations, because it was “in his best interests” (actually it made him many enemies), he did it because it was in line with his collectivist beliefs. Just as 2011 he encouraged universities to crush freedom of speech (by the indirect means of saying it was harming “minority” students), because crushing freedom of speech (like the de facto nationalisation of land) was part of his collectivist belief system.

    To say “all politicians act in their best interests” is either a false statement, or a statement that is so broad (by including beliefs as “best interests”) as to be of little use.

    Even the most corrupt bribe taking politician most-of-the-time does what he or she thinks is RIGHT – not what is in their “best interests”. For example, the wild spending politicians who have bankrupted Chicago are indeed corrupt – but they also really BELIEVED that their wild spending policies were in the “interests” of the people generally. Most of their policies were NOT about getting bribes, or even getting votes.

    Indeed most “Social Reform” in most countries is NOT about getting votes – on the contrary the people do NOT tend to ask for XYZ – well meaning “intellectuals” believe that the people should have XYZ and they teach even the most corrupt politicians that this is the “correct” line of policy, NOT in their “best interests” but in the interests of people generally.

    It was Hayek’s central argument that socialists did not set out to create Hell-on-Earth – that they, mostly, had good intentions (that they were NOT just out for their “best interests” at the expense of other people), but were profoundly mistaken.

    Now Hayek may have been mistaken – in my darker moments I suspect he was mistaken – and that, contra Hayek, collectivists create Hell on Earth ON PURPOSE, but either way you are wrong.

    For example, it was not in the “best interests” of “Lenin” to live the life he did – he could have led a happy life on his the country estate of his family. He acted the way he did because he believed that what he did would, in the end, benefit other people.

    The question is not whether “Lenin” (or people generally) was dominated by self interest (of course he was NOT – most people are NOT), but whether he created a Hell on purpose or, as Hayek would argue, because he was intellectually mistaken.

    I repeat most people (even most bribe takers) most-of-the-time act in a way that they believe (rightly or wrongly) is in the interests of other people – not just themselves.

    What Hayek was trying to do was show people that policies they thought were in the interests of most people were NOT in the interests of most people.

    Take the leader of the Labour Party when Hayek actually wrote “The Road to Serfdom” – Clement Atlee. To imply that the policies of Mr Atlee were determined by what he thought was in his “best interests” is absurd (utterly false) – Hayek would never have claimed that for a second.

    Mr Atlee sincerely believed that his policies were for the benefit of people generally – Hayek’s point (like Mises before him) was that the statist is sincere, but sincerely MISTAKEN.

    Again Hayek and Mises could be mistaken themselves – some collectivists may (may – perhaps) do what they do with the deliberate intention of harming people, but even these collectivists are not acting in their “best interests” (unless one includes a sadistic desire to make the population suffer as a “best interest”).

  • Paul Marks

    My question remains unanswered – why put up a statue of Hayek in a country (Britain) which does not understand his insights?

    In Britain government is seen as the answer to all things (not the problem) and if government fails it is because of “the cuts” (mythical reductions in government spending) or because the “wrong people” were in charge – government (statism) itself is never questioned.

    Put up a statue to Hayek where his ideas are understood and believed in by a large part of population – for example South Dakota, or the East Tennessee. Or, if the statue must be Europe, perhaps Liechtenstein.

    Britain had many pro freedom thinkers – and has turned its back on them.

    For example, who now admires Herbert “Man Versus The State” Spencer?

    Spencer is still quoted – but only out of context (for example the misunderstood quote “survival of the fittest”) and only to ATTACK (smear) him.