Friedrich August von Hayek Criticism - Essay

Piero Sraffa (review date 1932)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Dr. Hayek on Money and Capital,” in The Economic Journal, Vol. 42, No. 1, March, 1932, pp. 42-53.

[In the following review of Hayek's Prices and Production, Sraffa criticizes Hayek for his assumption that money should not be used as a tool for increasing investment.]

To deal with the theory of money, from its doctrinal history down to the inevitable practical proposals, touching upon some of the most perplexing parts of the subject, and all this in four lectures, must have been a feat of endurance on the part of the audience as much as of the lecturer. For, however peculiar, and probably unprecedented, their conclusions may be, there is one respect...

(The entire section is 5305 words.)

Joseph Schumpeter (review date 1946)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Road to Serfdom, in The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 54, No. 3, June, 1946, pp. 269-70.

[In the following review of Hayek's Road to Serfdom, Schumpeter praises Hayek's sincerity but disagrees with his belief that people want and are capable of exercising individual freedom.]

[The Road to Serfdom] is a political book, so Hayek—setting an excellent example—frankly tells us in his Preface. It is, moreover, a courageous book: sincerity that scorns camouflage and never minces matters is its outstanding feature from beginning to end. Finally, it is also a polite book that hardly ever attributes to opponents anything...

(The entire section is 1451 words.)

Ernest Nagel (review date 1952)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies on the Abuse of Reason, in The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. XLIX, No. 17, August 14, 1952, pp. 560-65.

[In the following review of Hayek's Counter-Revolution of Science, Nagel disagrees with Hayek's contention that the importation of the methods of natural science into the study of human interaction is wrong-headed and doomed to produce unworkable political programs.]

In this interesting book—its contents first appeared as separate articles, chiefly in Economica—Professor Hayek constructs a methodological underpinning for the critique of current social theory and economic policy he...

(The entire section is 2570 words.)

Lionel (Lord) Robbins (review date 1961)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Hayek on Liberty,” in Economica, Vol. 28, No. 109, February, 1961, pp. 66-81.

[In the following review of Hayek's Constitution of Liberty, Robbins praises Hayek's commitment to individual freedom but criticizes his refusal to include English nineteenth-century Utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham among its defenders.]

[The Constitution of Liberty]1 is a very ambitious book. “It has been a long time,” says the author, “since that ideal of freedom which inspired modern Western civilization and whose partial realization made possible the achievements of that civilization was effectively restated”2: it is such a...

(The entire section is 8419 words.)

J. C. Rees (review date 1963)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Hayek on Liberty,” in Philosophy, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 145, October, 1963, pp. 346-60.

[In the following review of Hayek's Constitution of Liberty, Rees favorably examines Hayek's distinction between fact-based, empirical liberalism and liberalism that is overly abstract and hence based on a false view of human nature.]

Professor Hayek's book [Constitution of Liberty]1 is a massive contribution to the persistent question of the limits of state action. It runs counter to prevailing notions about the role of government in economic and social matters to such an extent that a common reaction to its publication has been to simply shrug it...

(The entire section is 7246 words.)

Fritz Machlup (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Hayek's Contribution to Economics,” in Essays on Hayek, New York University Press, 1976, pp. 13-59.

[In the following essay, Machlup provides an extensive review of Hayek's contributions to economic theory and the defense of free markets.]

This review of the scholarly publications of Friedrich A. von Hayek is arranged under the following headings: Biographical Sketch; Bibliographical Overview; Money, Credit, Capital, and Cycles; Socialism, Planning, and Competitive Capitalism; Legal and Political Philosophy; History of Ideas; An Essay in Psychology; Philosophy of Science; and Final Assessment.



(The entire section is 15848 words.)

Arthur Shenfield (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The New Thought of F. A. Hayek: His Political and Legal Theory,” in Modern Age, Vol. 20, No. 1, Winter, 1976, pp. 54-61.

[In the following essay, Shenfield reviews the connections between Hayek's legal and political thought, emphasizing his commitment to the rule of law as the primary defense of human liberty against political encroachments.]

After Professor Hayek had published his Constitution of Liberty, he could perhaps have sat back to enjoy the fame and ease that what appeared to be the culminating work of a great career of scholarship had made his due. However, that was not in the character of the man. His mind has never ceased to probe the...

(The entire section is 5226 words.)

Eamonn Butler (essay date 1985)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Understanding How Society Works,” in Hayek, His Contribution to the Political and Economic Thought of Our Time, Universe Books, 1985, pp. 15-40.

[In the following excerpt, Butler provides an overview of Hayek's theories regarding the ways by which human beings come to form societies.]

If we are to understand how society works, we must attempt to define the general nature and range of our ignorance concerning it.1

Throughout his writings, Hayek points to a very common but mistaken belief about the way in which social institutions work. Put simply, this is the belief that since man has himself...

(The entire section is 11106 words.)

Jeremy Shearmur (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Austrian Connection: Hayek's Liberalism and the Thought of Carl Menger1,” in Austrian Economics, edited by Wolfgang Grassl and Barry Smith, New York University Press, 1986, pp. 210-24.

[In the following essay, Shearmur traces the roots of Hayek's political and economic views in the thought of Austrian social theorist Carl Menger.]


Despite his Austrian origins, Hayek is often regarded as the latter-day spokesman of a largely British liberal tradition. This tradition—ranging through Mandeville, Hume, the Scottish Enlightenment, Burke and bits of J. S. Mill—is, however, in some ways Hayek's own...

(The entire section is 5883 words.)

Thomas Sowell (essay date 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Road to Hell Paved With Good Intentions,” in Forbes, Vol. 153, No. 2, January 17, 1994, pp. 60-4.

[In the following essay, Sowell discusses the role played by Hayek and his Road to Serfdom in gaining support for free markets in the aftermath of World War II and the ensuing Cold War.]

The 20th century looked for many decades as if it were going to be the century of collectivism, and for a while totalitarianism seemed like “the wave of the future,” as it was called back in the 1930s. Fascism in Italy, communism in the Soviet Union, and Nazism in Germany looked like only the beginning, momentous as those beginnings were. Fascist and semi-fascist...

(The entire section is 3391 words.)

Andrew Gamble (essay date 1996)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Hayek and the Left,” in Political Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 1, January-March, 1996, pp. 46-53.

[In the following essay, Gamble discusses the reception of Hayek's writings among critics on the political left.]

Hayek is one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century, but there has always been a tendency for intellectuals on the left to neglect or belittle his achievement. He has been frequently dismissed as a right-wing ideologue, whose energies were spent in a crusade against socialism and an attempt to revive an obsolete creed, economic liberalism. His arguments have often been regarded as exaggerated and polemical.


(The entire section is 4479 words.)

John Gray (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Twentieth Century: The Limits of Liberal Political Philosophy,” in An Uncertain Legacy: Essays on the Pursuit of Liberty, edited by Edward B. McLean, The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1997, pp. 193-224.

[In the following essay, Gray criticizes Hayek for constructing a philosophical system that is too dependent on the logic of economic exchange in explaining all kinds of human interaction.]

In Friederich August von Hayek's work we find one of the most ambitious attempts we possess thus far to develop a comprehensive liberal political philosophy. Unlike the fashionable liberalisms which take their cues from Rawls, Hayek's is noteworthy in making...

(The entire section is 10679 words.)

Steven Lukes (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Social Justice: The Hayekian Challenge,” in Critical Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter, 1997, pp. 65-80.

[In the following essay, Lukes examines Hayek's challenge to the idea that societies can and should be reshaped and made more just.]

Over two decades ago Friedrich Hayek declared himself convinced that “social justice” is a mirage: an illusory goal whose pursuit, moreover, can only lead to disaster. The expression, he thought, described “the aspirations which were at the heart of socialism”; indeed, “the prevailing belief in ‘social justice’ is at present probably the gravest threat to most other values of a free civilization” (Hayek 1976,...

(The entire section is 5705 words.)

Linda C. Raeder (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Liberalism/Conservatism of Edmund Burke and F. A. Hayek: A Critical Comparison,” in Humanitas, Vol. X, No. 1, 1997, pp. 70-88.

[In the following essay, Raeder compares Hayek's thought with that of Edmund Burke to argue that both share a commitment to a conservative, moderate liberalism.]

Edmund Burke, the passionate defender of the “ancient principles”1 of his forebears, might be surprised to discover that he originated a new school of political thought. By all accounts, however, he is the “modern founder of political conservatism,”2 and generations of ‘conservative’ thinkers have found his life and work a rich source...

(The entire section is 7073 words.)

Neil McInnes (essay date 1998)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Road Not Taken: Hayek's Slippery Slope to Serfdom,” in The National Interest, No. 51, Spring, 1998, pp. 56-66.

[In the following essay, McInnes argues that Hayek's Road to Serfdom had less impact on political thought and practice than his supporters have claimed.]

This is another story about a book, a curious book that went from bestseller to oblivion and back several times over. The millions of copies it sold in a score of languages “completely discredited” its author, exactly as he foresaw it would. Although he was regarded as one of the leading theoretical economists of the century, the economists of the University of Chicago (whose...

(The entire section is 7253 words.)