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Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue (Collected Works of F. A.…

by F. A. Hayek

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522367,833 (3.5)None
The crumbling of the Berlin Wall, the fall of the iron curtain, and the Reagan and Thatcher "revolutions" all owe a debt to F.A. Hayek. Economist, social and political theorist, and intellectual historian, Hayek championed individual liberty and condemned the dangers of state control. Now Hayek at last tells the story of his long and controversial career, during which his fortunes rose, fell, and finally rose again. Through a complete collection of previously unpublished autobiographical sketches and a wide selection of interviews, Hayek on Hayek provides the first detailed chronology of Hayek's early life and education, his intellectual progress, and the academic and public reception of his ideas. His discussions range from economic methodology and the question of religious faith to the atmosphere of post-World War I Vienna and the British character. Included is the full text of a 1945 radiobroadcast debate between Hayek and American advocates of state planning, remarkable for the way it anticipated contemporary debates on state control. Born in 1899 into a Viennese family of academics and civil servants, Hayek was educated at the University of Vienna and fought in the Great War for the fading Austro-Hungarian Empire. He returned from the army to the Vienna of Freud and Wittgenstein (Hayek's cousin), and later moved to London, where, as he watched liberty vanish under fascism and communism across Europe, he wrote The Road to Serfdom. Although Hayek attracted great public attention with The Road to Serfdom in 1944, he was all but ignored by other economists for thirty years after World War II, when European social democracies boomed and Keynesiansism became the dominant intellectual force. During these years, Hayek turned his attention to philosophy and psychology, and his ideas about the spontaneous order of markets and other social institutions strikingly foreshadowed some of today's concepts in chaos theory and cognitive science. The award of the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974 signaled a reversal in Hayek's fortunes, and before his death in 1992 he saw his life's work vindicated in the collapse of the planned economies of Russia and Eastern Europe. Hayek on Hayek is as close to an autobiography of Hayek as we will ever have. In his own eloquent words, Hayek reveals the remarkable life of a revolutionary thinker in revolutionary times.… (more)



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The format of this "autobiographical dialogue" is quite interesting: after a relatively short introduction, passages from an unpublished Hayek memoir alternate with relevant questions chosen from eight different interview sources. Obviously, choosing answers from eight interviews conducted at different times in Hayek's life could be misleading, and the editors' discretion shaped this book a great deal. But the result is still an engaging take on Hayek "in his own words".

The book is not as useful to scholars as it could be, though. Although the source of each question is identified in broad terms, the bibliographic information is incomplete. It's not even clear what year each question was asked. I would like to see a longer book that presents the material in a way that's more useful for scholars, though it's still enjoyable for what it is. ( )
  szarka | May 24, 2013 |
Here’s one book said to be by F. A. Hayek where you are spared this author’s annoying habit of continually commenting upon what comes next, and is in every way a smooth read, but it isn’t really a book by Hayek. It starts with 35 pages of introduction by Stephen Kresge (who is very fond of puns and allusions), and is from then on self-biographical notes by Hayek, interspersed - so as to fit in - by snippets from interviews with Hayek made by 6 men (Mostly by W. W. Bartley though) . That is the 170 page book, but for a set of photos of Hayek and a transcript of a radio debate, both around the middle of the book.

This W. W. Bartley is said by Bruce Caldwell and Alan Ebenstein to have manipulated the old Hayek and to have inserted his own ideas into work published under Hayek’s name. .

Maybe that is groundless gossip, but gossip is also important to the compilers of text suitable for this book. The socialist Harold Laski was a compulsive liar we are told, and the head of the LSE, Lord Beveridge was an ignorant fool whose book on employment was actually written by Nicholas Kaldor, but Lord Keynes – strangely - comes off lightly, at least as a person.

An easy read as said, and some notable ideas are presented too, I note on page 146, regarding the Austrian business cycle theory: “…since then, so much of the credit expansion has gone to where government directed it that the misdirection may no longer be overinvestment in industrial capital but may take any number of forms.” (Interview with Jack High UCLA, not dated). Which is a suitable thought with a recent housing boom-bust, and anti-Austrians finding a lack of abandoned half-built industrial sites to prove the Austrians right. ( )
1 vote jahn | Jul 31, 2009 |
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