Friedrich Hayek

‘What, then, are the essential characteristics of true individualism? The first thing that should be said is that it is primarily a theory of society, an attempt to understand the forces which determine the social life of man, and only in the second instance a set of political maxims derived from this view of society. This fact should be itself be sufficient to refute the silliest of the common misunderstandings: the belief that individualism postulates (or bases its arguments on the assumption of) the existence of isolated or self-contained individuals, instead of starting from men whose whole nature and character is determined by their existence in society. If that were true, it would indeed have nothing to contribute to our understanding of society. But its basic contention is quite a different one; it is that there is no other way towards an understanding of social phenomena but through our understanding of individual actions directed towards other people and guided by their expected behaviour. This argument is directed primarily against the properly collectivist theories of society which pretend to be able directly to comprehend social wholes like society, etc., as entities sui generis which exist independently of the individuals which compose them.’

‘Mr Keynes’s aggregations conceal the most fundamental mechanisms of change’


‘Are we not told that ‘since in the long run we are all dead’, policy should be guided entirely by short-run considerations? I fear that these believers in the principle of apres nous le deluge may get what they have bargained for sooner than they wish’


‘.. if you know economics and nothing else, you will be a bane to mankind, good, perhaps, for writing articles for other economists to read, but for nothing else.’


‘I fear that those who believe that we have solved the problem of permanent full employment are in for a serious disillusionment’


‘If old truths are to retain their hold on men’s minds, they must be restated in the language and concepts of successive generations’


‘Widely read as Keynes was in many fields, his education in economics was somewhat narrow’


‘No economist has yet succeeded in making a fortune by buying or selling commodities on the basis of his scientific prediction of future prices (even though some may have done so by selling such predictions)’


‘The chief gain from your study at the university must be an understanding of theory, and it is the only profit which you can gain nowhere else’


‘The Keynesian dream is gone even if its ghost will continue to plague politics for decades. It is to be wished, though this is clearly too much to hope, that the term ‘full employment’ itself, which has become so associated with this inflationist policy, should be abandoned ...’


‘The primary duty to-day of any economist who deserves the name seems to me to repeat on every occasion that the present unemployment is the direct and inevitable consequence of the so-called full employment policy pursued for the last twenty-five years’


‘Sir John Hicks has even proposed that we call the third quarter of this century, 1950 to 1975, the age of Keynes, as the second quarter was the age of Hitler. I do not feel that the harm Keynes did is really so great as to justify that description’


‘We must build on tradition and can only tinker with its products’


‘through his profound effects on education, Sigmund Freud has probably become the greatest destroyer of culture ... his basic aim of undoing the culturally required repressions and freeing the natural drives, has opened the most fatal attack on civilisations’


‘Capitalism created the proletariat, but not by making anybody worse off; rather by enabling many to survive who would not otherwise have done so’


‘One’s initial surprise at finding that intelligent people tend to be socialists diminishes when one realises that, of course, intelligent people will tend to overvalue intelligence .... ’


‘The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design’