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Re: Hayekians vs. Libertarians



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[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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Dear Sanjeev/Karun P. :

I have taken the liberty of quoting from Karuns discussion.  Some thoughts 
follow the quote .

"True"  Libertarians, including Ayn Rand, would probably believe that they
should have their liberty and they should have it now, whether others are
convinced or not.  The problem with the latter is that it is not clear
what means should be used to construct their alternate reality. They also
do not help advance the cause of liberty by vituperative attacks on those
who do not readily agree with them rather than engaging in mutually
respectful debate. 


I hope that at the end of my writing I do not appear to have digressed too 
much from the stated goal of this debate : " National debate on system 
reform".  And I also hope I have chosen the "write(right)" words, and the 
right tone to come through as "mutually respectful".

The thought that sprung to mind (though the connections may not be obvious 
to a second person) on reading the extract above was this :  What kind of 
"liberty" does an individual seek ?  Is it the same "liberty" that a 
zero-government society may provide ?  I think not.  Individual "liberty" 
can take multifarious forms.  I would venture to say that in the world as 
is, there are millions of individuals whose vision of "liberty" does not 
feature a government in any way.  An individual seeks "liberty" from 
"oneself" (including ones past), from ones immediate environment, from ones 
nightmares, and knowingly or not even from ones dreams.  An individual 
gravitates towards the percieved happiness of a butterfly's flittering 
wings. A utopia you say.  But a utopia that is within the mental reach of an 
individual in a society : no government, or all government.

Even with little government, "free" choice, or in the absence of a 
government, there are immense social pressures that an individual will have 
to deal with on a daily and an instantaneous basis in a society based on 
market and production (how many individual utopias exist in the US of today 
?).  Can the masses  feel a lightness of being in a society of surging stock 
markets ? Can thinkerslike Hayek and Rand provide answers for INDIA ? Do we 
have to join the global armies of professional slaves ? Or can we explore 
the possibilities of what many Indians do best - meditate.  Is the Indian 
mindset adapted to the impersonal 8 to 5 routine, or is this routine the 
preserve of Protesant Christians : think Max Weber and his thesis on the 
rise of a rational capitalist society based on now-world rewards as an 
indication of after-world salvation ?

What do we fear - moving away from the industrialization paradigm - 
happiness is not industrialization.  Can't feed the millions - we didnt have 
the unfeedable millions before.  Loss of sovereignity - that I cannot argue 
with, loss of sovereignity as a society has tremendously mitigating effect 
on individual "liberty", if a society has to be governed, better to be 
"self" governed.  Need to develop the thought behind this last possibility a 
bit more.

The end of social experimentation is nowhere in sight.  Various models of 
society have been tried in the past few centuries, and Hayek and co. have 
stood on the shoulders of dead giants of the european industrial society, 
but is their vision the only vision ?  Should a society be organized solely 
on industrial methodologies ? How dramatically will the social pressures in 
India change if the society decides to opt out of the industrial race ? Can 
a subcontinent teach a lesson to the world that a Himalayan plateau has been 
prevented from expressing ?

Whew ! I had to marshal all my anti-embrassment defenses there, but there : 
its out, the thoughts have condensed on the screen :-))


Sunil

>From: Sanjeev Sabhlok <sabhlok@almaak.usc.edu>
>Reply-To: debate@indiapolicy.org
>To: debate@indiapolicy.org
>Subject: Hayekians vs. Libertarians
>Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 15:50:22 -0700 (PDT)
>
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>[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
>___Help make this manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!___
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>This piece was so cogent that I thought I'd send it in. I firmly
>believe, along with Hayek (as per this interpretation)  in debating and
>letting the society choose. No impositions. No claims to perfect
>knowledge. We need to debate and expand civil society and citizen
>self-responsibility and let consensus build over time.
>
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 17:57:25 -0400
>From: Karun Philip <philip@imaginetechnologies.com>
>To: HAYEK-L@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU
>Subject: Re: [HAYEK-L:] Hayek as free enterpriser: reply to critics
>
>I would tend to agree with Walter's contention that Hayek was not a
>Libertarian, and that the distinction is important. The core of Hayek is 
>his
>concept of knowledge discovery and the human mind, from which he derives 
>all
>his views. For a Hayekian, Truth does not constitute Knowledge until it 
>becomes
>embedded in the minds of a large enough number of people. So even if the 
>ideas
>of Libertarians and Anarcho-Capitalists are correct, Hayekians would 
>consider
>it useless for a small elite to suddenly impose a change in laws in order 
>to
>construct a truly Libertarian society. Hayek clearly thought that 
>dictatorial
>rule by a small elite, even if guided by good intentions, would lead to a 
>far
>worse travesty of individual liberty than what currently can be seen 
>occurring
>in our pork-barrel democracies (Ref: The Constitution of Liberty, sections
>defending democracy) because, ultimately, we are all human and no one have
>perfect knowledge.
>
>The main difference between Hayekians and Libertarians / 
>Anarcho-Capitalists
>seems to  be that Hayekians would view zero-government as an ideal goal 
>that we
>can progress toward only by participation in civil society to convince a
>sufficient number of people that zero-government is worth supporting -- 
>though
>in the process we may get convinced to modify our own views. "True"
>Libertarians, including Ayn Rand, would probably believe that they should 
>have
>their liberty and they should have it now, whether others are convinced or 
>not.
>The problem with the latter is that it is not clear what means should be 
>used
>to construct their alternate reality. They also do not help advance the 
>cause
>of liberty by vituperative attacks on those who do not readily agree with 
>them
>rather than engaging in mutually respectful debate. Fortunately, a 
>significant
>number of modern self-described libertarians (without the capital L) are 
>more
>Hayekian than Rand.
>
>The example in my essay on Knowledge Theory & Regulating Free Markets
>(http://www.k-capital.com/KT1.html) of privatizing the FDA illustrates a 
>point
>which highlights the difference. If the FDA was privatized and free 
>competition
>in drug approval was allowed suddenly, there is a risk of loss of life due 
>to
>bad drugs that slip through. I personally believe that free competition in 
>drug
>approval will eventually be much more effective than government monopoly on 
>it.
>However, the  American consumer does not realize that they have been
>molly-coddled by the FDA for a long time. They have the "Knowledge" that if 
>a
>drug is available in the drugstore it must be safe. A pre-requisite for
>privatizing drug approval would be for consumers to realize they now must 
>take
>responsibility for their choice of drug. Hence, it is up to the American 
>people
>to democratically decide if, when, and how the FDA should be privatized. In
>fact, the process of democratically discussing the issue will tend to 
>spread
>the new Knowledge that consumers must take responsibility for their choice. 
>So
>by the time civil society decides to privatize the FDA, the new Knowledge 
>will
>be pervasive, and the change in laws will probably not result in disastrous 
>or
>unpredictable consequences.
>
>The alternative of a Big Bang change may or may not be better, but looking 
>what
>is happening in Russia makes me, for one, think that the Hayekian way is
>better.
>
>Regards,
>
>Karun
>
>--
>Karun Philip
>Imagine Technologies, Inc.
>Boston, MA
>Email: philip@imaginetechnologies.com
>http://www.k-capital.com
>
>
>
>
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This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/
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