On the Hayek-Pinochet connection

Corey Robin has a long post on this, here is one part:

Hayek complied with the dictator’s request. He had his secretary send a draft of what eventually became chapter 17—“A Model Constitution”—of the third volume of Law, Legislation and Liberty. That chapter includes a section on “Emergency Powers,” which defends temporary dictatorships when “the long-run preservation” of a free society is threatened. “Long run” is an elastic phrase, and by free society Hayek doesn’t mean liberal democracy. He has something more particular and peculiar in mind: “that the coercive powers of government are restricted to the enforcement of universal rules of just conduct, and cannot be used for the achievement of particular purposes.” That last phrase is doing a lot of the work here: Hayek believed, for example, that the effort to secure a specific distribution of wealth constituted the pursuit of a particular purpose. So the threats to a free society might not simply come from international or civil war. Nor must they be imminent. As other parts of the text make clear, those threats could just as likely come from creeping social democracy at home. If the visions of Gunnar Myrdal and John Kenneth Galbraith were realized, Hayek writes, it would produce “a wholly rigid economic structure which…only the force of some dictatorial power could break.”

Hayek came away from Chile convinced that an international propaganda campaign had been unfairly waged against the Pinochet regime (and made explicit comparison to the campaign being waged against South Africa’s apartheid regime). He set about to counter that campaign.

He immediately wrote a report lambasting human rights critics of the regime and sought to have it published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The editor of this market-friendly newspaper refused, fearing that it would brand Hayek as “a second Chile-Strauss.” (Franz Josef Strauss was a right-wing German politician who had visited Chile in 1977 and met with Pinochet. His views were roundly repudiated by both the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats in Germany.) Hayek was incensed. He broke off all relations with the paper, explaining that if Strauss had indeed been “attacked for his support for Chile he deserves to be congratulated for his courage.”

There is much more at the link.


Another libertarian/conservative economist who fell in love with a right wing dictator. So far so normal.

It's like Mawkin. The ideas that 1- the rich might not entirely deserve their good fortunes and 2- the fact that, since these fortunes do depend on the socio-economic set-up, society may decide some redistribution is warranted (3- utilitarian argument/efficiency suggest redistribution is a good idea) just give these guys some physical nausea, I am not entirely sure why.

Possibly, because it would violate the just-world fallacy that replace or complement religion for them? http://theredbanker.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-rules-of-game-commentary-on-kevin.html

and, indirectly related: http://theredbanker.blogspot.com/2013/06/why-elysium-is-not-best-rich-can-do.html

I mean, Hayek is particularly pathetic in “that the coercive powers of government are restricted to the enforcement of universal rules of just conduct, and cannot be used for the achievement of particular purposes.”

Who decide what's a universal just rule and what's a particular purpose? I can say redistribution is universally just, he can say it's a particular purpose social re-engineering. AFAICT, we're both right.

What about war? Such as the Iraq invasion of 2003? He can say it's universally just (self-defense as in "we can't wait for the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud") and I can say it's a particular purpose (some kind of neo-con obsession with using 9/11 to justify invading Iraq since, oh, the whole of 30 seconds after 9/11). Again, who would be right?

What about war? Such as the Iraq invasion of 2003? He can say it’s universally just (self-defense as in “we can’t wait for the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”) and I can say it’s a particular purpose (some kind of neo-con obsession with using 9/11 to justify invading Iraq since, oh, the whole of 30 seconds after 9/11). Again, who would be right? - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/06/on-the-hayek-pinochet-connection.html?

And I can say it because the politicians especially Republicans rely on the appearance of being though to get elected. IMHO politicians are not so complicated. The system selects for certain characteristics and that is true whether or not the politicians are sincere. We may be better off with the insincere(like Bill Clinton) since the voters get relative risks of things like terrorism verses driving so badly off.

What about the invasion of Europe? We killed a lot more people broke a hell of a lot more stuff in support of an even worse regime than the one we were fighting, rebuffing all attempts at a negotiated surrender.

This simply reflects your ignorance of what the Nazis would have done had they won the war. The Nazis' "Hunger Plan" called for 30 million people in Eastern Europe to be deliberately starved to death -- that's about 10 times the number of people who died from Stalin's Ukrainian famine, for those keeping count.

Frederic, let us agree that the rich do not deserve their wealth. For the sake of the argument that is.

So freakin' what?

That was not the issue. The issue was whether the rich having a little bit more of sweet f-all, which was the case in Chile, justified a Soviet-style take over followed by mass murder. Most sane people would probably say no to that.

At about the same time as the coup, the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia. You may think that the fact a few people had more money in Cambodia justified the Killing Fields, but surely you can see why many other people, not all of them Libertarian, thought otherwise.

The Chileans were lucky. They got Pinochet instead of Allende with his Cuban Security men and East German Stasi advisors. The Cambodians less so.

So I am not an expert on Chile but I somehow doubt your description that the rich only had a "little bit more of sweet f-all". My experience of emerging markets in general tells me that the rich there were really really rich and the inequalities really really high.

As to the idea that Allende was Pol Pot with a Mexican accent... Well, whatever. AFAICT, he was mostly fucking up in normal ways, trying to reform too much at once and letting inflation/price controls sabotage the economy. But, sure, if your idea is that he was about to murder millions of people, then Pinochet isn't so bad.

It still wouldn't mean that Hayek isn't pathetic at moral reasoning but that's a minor point.

It would seem like the only bad dictators are those who are not committed to hewing to the neoliberal perspective and that everyone else is a future Stalin.

Well suppose the rich of Chile had a really large share of that nothing. Which is unlikely as Chile was not as bad as somewhere like Colombia. But suppose it is true. Does that justify the Killing Fields?

I do not think Allende was Pol Pot with a Mexican accent. Mexican Spanish is nothing like Chilean Spanish.

He was not f**king up in normal ways. He was importing Stasi advisors. He was openly calling for a Soviet-style revolution. Sure, he was also trying too much and letting inflation run away. But it was more sinister than that.

You can also tell that he was a Communist - the Western Left cares about Pinochet. They do not care about the military dictatorship next door in Argentina - without looking it up, go on, tell me who led that coup. You can't can you? Because the Left only has hard-ons for Marxists and the military in Argentina threw out a non-Marxist. Sure they went on to kill ten times as many people. They threw people out of planes, Pinochet didn't. But no one cares. The Left only mobilises for the friends of Stalin.

Ever since Socrates the West has had a tradition of discussing what to do when democracy breaks down. Because sometimes it does. Hayek seems to do a reasonable job of discussing it to me. Why shouldn't he? Because it won't happen if you never talk about it? It is absurd that people who have open contempt for democracy in all circumstances have more friends here than Hayek. But then, the Left always did have a hard on for Marxists like Che.

When you indulge in extensive monologues characterizing some self-serving iteration of your opponents, what's the point? Why argue at all, when you can just sit at home and endlessly laugh at the follys, and the hard-ons, of the Left?

Are you serious when you compare, in the 1970s, Chile and Cambodia?

The differences are noteworthy. For instance, Chile had not been devastated by a war that killed 5% of its population, the institutions of the state had not been taken over by radical insurgents from the geographic and social periphery of the country, et cetera. If Allende ever did establish a dictatorship, it would be much more likely to look like Castro's, which has never come close to the Killing Fields.

Does that justify the Killing Fields?

The obvious counter question then becomes; Would a communist state be justified if it STOPPED a Kmer Rouge like government, and thereby saved countless millions from their killing fields?

Jam, Because I am a caring, sharing kind of guy.

I would not compare them. I would compare the risks. The Chileans could not know that they would not end up like Cambodia. They did not wait to see. That was sensible of them.

As for the Killing Fields, let's see, you blame the Americans (or perhaps Vietnamese?), the minorities - not the peasants too? It seems you blame everyone except the Communists. Unless that is what you mean by radical insurgents? Mass murder tends to follow the imposition of Communism. Everywhere. It looks a lot like Communism is to blame to me. Allende was not that far from Communism himself. But perhaps he could have been more like Cuba. And only killing 100,000 people. So that's alright then.

James, I think so. Depending on other circumstances. In Cambodia the West refused to deal with the Khmer Rouge and had the luxury of rejecting both forms of Communism in favor of the Royalists. That does not apply everywhere though. But it is hard to know. Many people supported the Nazis because they thought they were not as bad as Stalin. For a lot of Eastern Europeans that was probably true. For some it obviously wasn't. However I think we should all be thankful it is not a choice we have to make.

An excellent job of ass-kicking!

That's an awful lot of dudgeon for someone who believes that no one can tell for sure what's just.

Hi, Paul

I never said I do not know what's just. I clearly have some ideas about what's just and what's not. But I am not going to try and use moral categories and supposedly 'universal rules' to hide the fact that I got preferences.

I think I can do a good job of justifying my preferences but, one, that's not for me to tell and, two, that's not the same as declaring ex-cathedra that they are universal revealed truths.

That word "know" and that word "preferences" just seem to be at war with one another, that's all.

Did Hayek actually use the phrase "universal revealed truths"? My objection, in case it's not obvious, is to the word "revealed"-- and to "ex-cathedra", for that matter. Hayek devoted a lot of ink to explaining why he thought his preferences (if you insist) applied to everyone.

This is a reply to myself due to the comment set-up but meant for Paul.

Well, obviously, I believe my ideological/economical/moral preferences to be correct. If I didn't, I wouldn't hold them. Now, some stuff, I am perfectly willing to concede, I just don't know and/or would attribute a probability to it and thus implicitly recognise I might be wrong. Some stuff, again I can concede, is really a preference, almost an aesthetic concern. Some other stuff, I feel more strongly about and would take a lot to be convinced I was wrong. That last category, when it's well supported empirically on top, I tend to say "I know" or even "we know".

Now, for example, I am willing to recognise that I haven't read much of Hayek. I know of his overall position and that was kind of enough to deter me from reading him thoroughly. But I do hope he muster better arguments than an appeal to "universal rules of just conduct".

Besides, my impression was that in Road to Serfdom, Hayek mostly contradicted himself. A bit like you can get a specific impression from reading Clausewitz a bit fast (total war is the way) and, if you dig a bit deeper/manage to wade through the abstract phrasing, it basically isn't all that different from Sun Tzu (defeat your opponent before using military force).

Your last description sounds pretty much like the one I'd give for myself. I'm just not seeing the big difference between this and the form of what Hayek said (about his content, the less said the better)-- from what I've read of him, the claim embodied in Hayek's "universal rules of just conduct" is no more ambitious than the one embedded in your "we know".

Umm, Frederic, I am not sure that is a fair quote about Clauswitz:

Now, philanthropists may easily imagine there is a skilful method of disarming and overcoming an enemy without causing great bloodshed, and that this is the proper tendency of the art of War. However plausible this may appear, still it is an error which must be extirpated; for in such dangerous things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are just the worst. As the use of physical power to the utmost extent by no means excludes the co-operation of the intelligence, it follows that he who uses force unsparingly, without reference to the quantity of bloodshed, must obtain a superiority if his adversary does not act likewise. By such means the former dictates the law to the latter, and both proceed to extremities, to which the only limitations are those imposed by the amount of counteracting force on each side.

This is the way in which the matter must be viewed; and it is to no purpose, and even acting against one's own interest, to turn away from the consideration of the real nature of the affair, because the coarseness of its elements excites repugnance.

First page of the first chapter - the chapter he had revised into its finished form.

He is not remotely like Sunzi.

'...justified a putsch, followed by mass murder.'

See what happens when one replaces 'Soviet-style take over ' with what actually happened?

No need to play around with fantasy when the reality is so readily at hand.

Though if one prefers the formulation 'CIA-style take over, followed by mass murder,' it would also be fairly accurate, though the facts concerning how it happened perhaps not as readily at hand. Especially concerning the terrorist bombing that occurred in DC - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letelier_case

There is no way to understand the reality without understanding the alternatives and what made the Chilean Parliament and Supreme Court call on Pinochet to act. As he did.

You could use that formulation but it would not be accurate. As the CIA is in the business of democracy. Unlike their enemies on the Left. It is only in very rare circumstances that they allowed the military to come out of the barracks and take over in what is a traditional Latin passtime. They had coups before the US became powerful. They will have coups after the US declines. It is their culture. But when Reagan came to office he told the Armies of Latin America to go back to the barracks and leave politics. The result has been democracy everywhere except that beloved model for the Left, Cuba. The Americans even told the Venezuelan military that coups were unacceptable.

If Latin America is democratic today it is because of the US and the CIA. And because of Pinochet. Not because of the Western Left with their love of totalitarian mass murderers. Not because of Allende and his Stasi friends.

The disjunct between the quality of this blog and the quality of the comments is greater than almost any other econblog of which I am aware. That is in part because it is a very very good blog.

Fellows, there is an extensive literature on the Allende presidency and the coup that followed. The short version is this: there is no evidence that Allende was planning to call of the elections of 1976. None. There is a lot of evidence that Allende had lost control of the country, inadvertently creating economic and political chaos. Even if one believes that a coup was positive, the subsequent regime could have turned power over to civilians and called for elections, as they did elsewhere. But they did not.

Or you could go read the literature. You could even look at the archives.

Allende was a babe in the woods compared to the titans of the Obama regime.

What a fantasy world you live in. I feel like I go thru the looking glass every time I come across inane comments like yours

Interesting question to me is how a libertarian chooses between communism and a dictatorship? In general. Is there a lesser evil?

Always go for the right wing dictatorship. They support property rights of the rich industrialists, in the main. And libertarians love to see the power of rich industrialists go untrammeled in any way.

I was looking for a less empirical answer. :)

"ought to choose" might be a better way to ask.

:) I suspected I might have fail to answer your precise question...

Still, theoretically, I think right wing dictatorships are still the right choice. After all, they at least support SOME rights, though, yes, mostly around property. Left wing dictatorships not only cancel personal safety rights and political rights, like RW ones, but also property rights on top.

I cannot think of a category of rights a LW dictatorship would authorize but not a RW one. Thus RW > LW as soon as we admit that having some rights is better than having none.

In general. Is there a lesser evil?

Oh sure, but it's the difference between being burned at the stake vs drowned. In reality, you're better off fighting to the death to avoid either one or opportunistically fleeing to a strong Republic.

Nearly all communist states are dictatorships. That's like asking whether you prefer vanilla or ice cream.

How is what he said different from the various commentators in the New York Times gushing over the wonderful things the Chinese communist authoritarian government can do with unlimited power?

Not to mention Walter Duranty who covered up Stalin's famines in the 1930's, in order to spare the sensibilities of NYT readers.

Difference: virtually no one defends the slaughter of Stalin.

On the other hand, there are people defending the slaughter of Pinochet here.

That should disturb any ostensible libertarian.

That is flatly not true. The truth is virtually no one condemns the slaughter of Stalin. He remains hugely influential among intellectuals and academics. Most of whom were Stalinists.

When someone like Eric Hobsbawm defended Stalin's murders well after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was not shunned by polite company. He was honored. When someone like Zygmunt Bauman openly admits to being a Political Officer in the Soviet Army and then working for the Polish branch of the KGB tracking down all those Poles that resisted Soviet control of his country, he is not fired. He too is showered with honors. He personally took part in those Stalinist crimes .... and no one cares.

Virtually every Baby Boomer who was politically active apologised for Stalinism. They marched behind pictures of Ho Chi-minh and worked hard for the Khmer Rouge to come to power. Some of them even took blood money to do so. They are mostly unapologetic about it too. My favorite example being an Australian Gerrie Hutchinson who was paid by the North Vietnamese to campaign against the war. Australians have a strange sense of humor. He now works for the Australian government. He is in charge of commemorating Australia's war dead.

And needless to say, plenty of academics in good standing still openly admire Stalin. Here is one who called Stalin the greatest statesman of the 20th century:


Try to find anyone who is willing to admit publicly that Pinochet was a necessary evil. There is an utter imbalance here that ought to concern any decent person. The West's intellectuals have embraced the mass murderers.

"Virtually every Baby Boomer who was politically active apologised for Stalinism."

This made me laugh out loud. Thank you!

Not much different. But then, that's an awfully low bar.

Liberal fascism: making people drink soda pop out of smaller containers.

Conservative fascism: rounding up dissidents and dropping them in the ocean.

Wasn't it FDR who rounded up the Japanese and put them into prison camps?

The only difference between right wing totalitarians and left wing are those who get out. Those fleeing leftist totalitarian regimes are usually business people, working people. Those fleeing right wing regimes are usually writers and artists. The latter are more articulate and have a sympathetic audience in the western media. Otherwise they both kill quite efficiently and usually leave their countries in quite a mess.

Interestingly the Soviet Union lost it's luster in the minds of the western media when writers and artists started exposing it's abuses. Who gives a f**k about a few million Ukrainians.

So what you are saying is that being murdered is the equivalent of being imprisoned for a 4 years? I'm sorry but you are one sick fuck.

Almost right Benny. Because the world have never experienced leftwing dictarors dropping dissidents in the ocean.
Conservatives on the other hand. They are evil.

Oh, wait a minute

At least I don't praise god for left wing fascism, unlike the conservatives around here praising the almighty for murdering people. Hey, I guess I just have a funny definition of "liberty" from a guy who wrote a book called "On Liberty".

Which conservatives here are praising the almighty for murdering people?

Wait..... There are god praising conservatives around here?

So you support the rounding up of innocent people and imprisoning them? Great, sounds about right for a leftist.

Left and right are both guilty of crimes. Both sides of the political divide support their own murderers. The Pinochet regime was as bloody as most other dictatorships of the time, but happened to chase away a bunch of writers and artists who showed up in western cities and were able to tell their compelling stories.

I'll believe in the moral righteousness of the left when Communism and it's support and emblems are held in the same disgust as Nazi stuff. I disagree with what Hayek wrote, and I remember the stories and horror that accompanied the Pinochet regime's abuses. Oddly his pictures aren't on the walls of dorm rooms like other murderers of the time.

I never said I support it. Either reading fail or outright lies. Par for the course for someone who thinks murders are the same as imprisonment.

And who is thanking god for Pinochet? Case closed.

Since the answer to your question is "nobody", I'm not sure what you are talking about.

Those are some pretty vicious straw men that you set on fire there. Good job! Way to protect us from the Army of Hay.

Benny Lava wrote,

"Liberal fascism: making people drink soda pop out of smaller containers.

Conservative fascism: rounding up dissidents and dropping them in the ocean."

This commenter shows himself to be very young due to his unawareness of history. Allow me to politely educate the commenter on some recent history, before he was born even more recently. The estimated 100 million killed under many many Communist regimes either directly or due to things like unnecessary famine would disagree that soda pop container size is the worst of it, if they were around to share.

As for 'rounding up dissidents' lets call them what they were: Communists. The most murderous people in the history of the world by a fairly enormous margin. With genocide in virtually every country they won over. This was not a cold war: it was a hot one and at the time that these genocide minded 'dissidents' were being dropped in the ocean, their more successful counterparts in many countries around the world were genociding in numbers many orders of magnitude larger.

What?! It is you who needs some serious education if you think that your beloved fascists are a bunch of nice guys. Maybe you've heard of the Nazis and the tens of millions they slaughtered. Or maybe you heard of the thousands of your favorite Nazis escaping to South America and helping a number of Latin American dictators commit horrendous crimes including rape, murder, torture, genocidal ethnic cleaning and more. It amazes me that fools like you can even utter nonsense like this without the slightest understanding of history or even the slightest concern for the level of evil you are willing to tolerate if its being done by the 'correct' people. All one has to do is utter the word communist to get a Pavlovian response.

Right-wing dictatorships favor law and order, they generally have some traditional/religious basis that keeps the body count way down. Monarchies are basically right-wing dictatorships. Right-wing dictatorships post-Enlightenment have almost all been in response to left-wing bloodbaths or fear of left-wing bloodbaths and revolution. You cannot take a Franco out of context without understanding the reaction in Europe to what happened in Russia.

Left-wing dictatorships are democratic. They tend to be more bloody, violent and revolutionary because they have justification for rule through majority voting. The smashing of minorities is ok because they are the losers. Whereas an anti-democratic right-wing dictator makes no such claim, he appeals to tradition and religion and generally does a better job of protecting minority rights (see Christians in the Middle East pre- and post-dictatorship for the most recent examples).


More broadly, right-wing dictatorships are authoritarian. You can get by under an authoritarian regime. There's no political activism and if you're a criminal you can forget due process but you can make a living and raise a family. Left-wing dictatorships are a whole other ball game. Left-wing dictatorships are totalitarian. Reality doesn't honor egalitarian ideals or the labor theory of value. Therefore, reality must be obscured, evaded, perceptions twisted by a cradle-to-grave barrage of propaganda to keep the whole shambles afloat. New Man must be created capable of seeing the Marxist truths and all those wreckers and reactionaries standing in the path of Progress must be eliminated. All the 'disappeareds' under the whole tenure of a right-wing dictatorship are a day's work for the Marxists.

The Left really seems to have some perpetual bee in its bonnet for Pinochet. Nixon's moldering corpse still has a lot of mileage in it as well. I still encounter old Boomers fulminating over Watergate while US deathdrones shoot up Pakistanis and people are kidnapped in their own homelands and imprisoned incognito for the remainder of their lives without trial.

1- I hate to bring the Nazis into an internet discussion but they were pretty totalitarian, with just as much of a New Man ideal.
2- Labour theory of value may be bullshit but it doesn't mean that 'reality doesn't honour egalitarian ideals'. You first would need to define more precisely what you mean by 'egalitarian ideals'.
3- The left theoretical economic contributions aren't limited to Marx.
4- Marx might have been wrong on several topics but he still was pretty good on the issue of labour/capital competition and the tendency of not-entirely-free markets to end up in the exploitation of the many by the few.

You seem to think the Nazis were right wing.

To expand on clazy8: the Nazi's were nationalistic, but not conservative, and even their nationalism was suspect, since the Germany they trying to foster was largely fictional--- what they wished Germany was rather than what it historically was. They hated aristocrats, disliked Christianity, and their hero was the common man (well, the common German). A conservative party would have restored the monarchy, and perhaps even done things like restore Bavarian independence.

On the other hand, Franco was indeed conservative--- as shown by his eventual restoration of the monarchy. Whether he was totalitarian I don't know enough to say.

You seem to think they were. They weren't, though there were left wing-ish people who were members in the beginning (Strasser brothers are the usual reference), but they lost out at the Bamberg conference. Under Strasser brother influence the propaganda had an urban worker vibe in the beginning, but the electoral share was won on the votes of NVDP members (and, less commonly, conservative Catholics), the electoral coalitions by collusion with and support from the right-wing parties, and the ground fights pitted members of left parties (SPD a bit, but mostly the KPD) against the NSDAP.

NSDAP voters who were closer to the poor/labor side of things, and especially NSDAP Sturmabteilung members, came from small town, conservative Germany. They never had much success with the usual left electoral block - the urban worker - which remained divided between the KPD and the SPD (the SPD being more or less appeasing while the KPD attempted to fight the fascists in the streets). The poor who did vote for the NSDAP were primarily rural workers. As an electoral force, the NSDAP was a party of anti-democratic rural conservatives.

Anyone who thinks the Nazi's were right wing seriously needs to study some more history. They even called themselves socialists for god's sake and had a planning ministry for the economy...

On the contrary, anyone who thinks the Nazis are left-wing is utterly ignorant of the political dynamics of the Weimar Republic.

Yeah. Me and pretty much everyone else.


Note how fascism defines itself against communism and socialism. Now, it might not be your brand of right wing, I hope and I totally agree that fascism has (or should have) nothing to do with libertarianism but, here, imho, Hayek is just doing something libertarians/conservatives often do i.e pick a right wing dictator and forget about their principles.

If one wanted to counter-punch, it'd be easier to point out that left-wing intellectuals were taken by Stalin for a long long while and that the Che was turned into an icon than to try to argue that the Nazis weren't actually right-wing. They defined themselves as such, ffs!

Federic Mari:

Do note that the website you link to describes the similarities between fascism and communism / socialism

"Fascists seek to unify their nation through a totalitarian state that promotes the mass mobilization of the national community,[3][4] relying on a vanguard party to initiate a revolution to organize the nation on fascist principles."

totalitarian states, mass mobilization, revolution, organizing the nation. Not exactly conservative principles, right?

"Fascist ideology consistently invokes the primacy of the state. "

You know like communism

"Fascism borrowed theories and terminology from socialism but applied them to what it saw as the more significant conflict between nations and races rather than to class conflict, and focused on ending the divisions between classes within the nation."

Basically the same things as socialism but with a twist

"It advocates a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky to secure national self-sufficiency and independence through protectionist and interventionist economic policies."

Protectionist and interventionist economic policies. Again hardly conservative

Oh and:

"If one wanted to counter-punch, it’d be easier to point out that left-wing intellectuals were taken by Stalin for a long long while and that the Che was turned into an icon than to try to argue that the Nazis weren’t actually right-wing. They defined themselves as such, ffs!"

1) they also defined themselves as socialists
2) it's not the first time someone tries to position themselves as something they are not, is it? I prefer to look at the facts of their policies which were not in any way conservative or typical right wing.

And finally. The fact that B is an enemy to A does not mean that they have the same objectives or ideology as C who is also an enemy to A

"Right wing" outside U.S. politics often seems to have the strongest connotation to nationalism, in contradistinction to the internationalist left. So it's fair to say the Nazis were right-wing even though they were also very socialist by American standards. Of course, it's also fair to say they were economically much closer to what would be "left-wing" in the U.S. Not that it matters...

One interesting question is what would have happened if Nazi Germany had been able to negotiate a peace (there is some evidence they tried) or the Allies had opted for a "containment" strategy like that employed in the Gulf War -- most Germans believed elections would be held after the war, though that seems unlikely. We could have a very different Germany today, institutions are very powerful as we saw in Korea.

Eric Rasmusen, I don't agree with Corey Robin on everything but I think he has pretty effectively argued against your point. If "conservative" is defined narrowly to mean someone with a humble approach to political problems who is in favor of careful deliberation, preserving the status quo and advocating merely gradual change, that certainly excludes the Nazis but it also excludes most if not all of the major political movements of the past 100 years in the West that most people colloquially speak of as being on "the right." In other words, this definition of True Conservative can get so narrow that we find on close inspection that only a handful of mostly Ivy League- or Oxbridge-educated intellectuals actually qualify and even some members of this tiny elite have long since dissociated themselves with any mainstream conservative or right-wing movements.

Robin points out that many other right-wing movements aside from the Nazis have also selectively embraced populism (especially the racial or ethnic kind), and have been suspicious toward aristocrats and at least certain sects of Christianity.


"totalitarian states, mass mobilization, revolution, organizing the nation. Not exactly conservative principles, right?

You seem to have confused (classical) liberalism with conservatism. Are you familiar with a fellow named Hegel? Nationalism, statism, counter-revolution, organizing the nation. All perfectly conservative principles, though of course not exclusively so. Having a programmatic response to the changes of the modern period does not make something "left." Left/right is not the same binary as centralized/decentralized or statist/subsidiarist (what the hell is the right way to do that to "subsidiarity" :) )

"You know like communism"

Absolutism invokes the primacy of the state. Old Hegelians invoke the primacy of the state. "Law and Order" dictatorships invoke the primacy of the state. "Invoking the primacy of the state" is not a hallmark of the left.

"Protectionist and interventionist economic policies. Again hardly conservative"

Are you under the impression that mercantilism was a creature of the political left? Again, classical liberalism is not conservatism. You might want to do some reading.

From your response it seems clear to me that whatever you've read of history, you've read almost nothing of political theory.

vaguely @TallDave's comment here:

I think perhaps an underlying problem here, which for some reason came to me in your last comments about what's "economically left wing", is that state intervention in the economy and organization of society is not a left/right distinction. (not faulting you for making the mistake, just saying you occassioned the thought). There seems to be quite a bit of anachronistic thinking here where a certain variety of libertarian-ish classical liberal-ish Republicanism is conceived of as "conservative". This doesn't make any sense. You want a history of the right wing, you're looking at various varieties of royalism, nationalism, mercantilism, absolutism, theocracy, &etc.

I'd guess it's only in the late 20th century (maybe only in the US context, even) that centralism/subsidiarity becomes some sort of a left/right marker, and even then I'm not so sure how stable or reliable it is. But it would take more thinking and reading to get at.

How "classical liberal" principles fit into the left right divide is complicated. But it's complicated in what is, I think, a rather simple way, if you're apt to gain some insight from Marxist class analysis of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. It's just the bourgeoisie as the mediating term between feudalism and modernity. Radically throwing off the yolks of oppression first, cementing their own privileges next. From left to right in a century or two of political and social change. One of course can disagree that liberal principles have become outmoded by socialist ones as the path to progress and that defending a liberal order is "cementing one's privileges", but the change in political landscape between the "left v right" of liberal capitalism vs mercantilist absolutism to the "left v right" of social(ist) democracy v. liberal constitutionalism fits with the class analysis.

Looking at the politics of the late 19th/early 20th century puts you into the thick of this messy transition in the ideological space of political contest.

And if we want to think of things in the context of the initial thread comment, Nazi rule was never majoritarian or democratic. It's all the Fuhrerprinzip and emergency powers by executive decree, worming into power in coalition governments animated against the KPD and SPD with at best a plurality in '32, in part driven by fear of communism, which is some of what brought financial backing by Thyssen and other industrialists in the early 30s.

Not that I'm confident in the diagnostic on offer, but if the discussion is occurring under it...

Everyone forgets about the 1934 referendum. Hitler was a populist, he won 90% approval to become Germany's absolute ruler.


The election of 1934 was not free anymore. Political opposition was largely killed or incarcerated in the first half of 1933 and people were being kept afraid by continuous SA presence on the streets. Take a look at the propaganda going on before the 34 election even though there were only two weeks between announcement and the election itself. People were 'encouraged' to vote which explains the high participation rate. And a 'No' vote was considered dangerous as it was believed that the NSDAP could backtrack who voted what. My grandmother threatened my grandfather with divorce because he voted against and he subsequently didn't dare to repeat that.

In the early years the Nazis themselves didn't feel securely in power - read Goebbel's diaries. Popular support rose first with improved economics then dipped with the start of war and then rose again when the war seemed to go well first. This is not meant as an excuse for German atrocities but rather as a reminder that moral judgement of actions while living in a totalitarian state is difficult.

What Stitch said. To treat the '34 referendum seriously is a joke. Plebiscites are inherently biased towards such outcomes in the first place, but more importantly by this time Nazi coercion was widespread.

The KPD was prohibited from engaging in speech, from soliciting donations, and from meeting. SPD rallies were shut down by brownshirts colluding with the police, their literature was confiscated. Then you get the Reichstagsbrandverordnung. SS and SA men were deputized into the police force and used to enforce the prohibitions on political literature.

That NYT article is a joke and a travesty.

A great book on Nazism is Allen's "The Nazi Seizure of Power," focusing on one town from 1922-1945 and what life and politics looked like in the town during the period.

As the above git commented (can't help it, that screen name is begging for it), "As an electoral force, the NSDAP was a party of anti-democratic rural conservatives."

Well if you were a landowner you were quite reasonably in mortal fear of the leftist dictatorship to the East whose guiding principle appeared to involve taking farmers' land and then killing the farmers.

But as Rasmusen noted, Nazis 'hated aristocrats, disliked Christianity.' The former was an utter break from the right on economic matters while the latter was an utter break from the right on social matters.

And more, the Nazis were driven by the fierce urgency of now toward a utopian future established by revolution.

However, I am willing to concede that not every Democrat is a Nazi. ;-)

Heh, the equivalence with "git" is perfectly intentional ;).

AFAIK the Nazi relationship with Christianity was complex. Catholic Zentrum mostly just sort of muddled its way along in coalitions until it dissolved, and had both left and right elements. The chiefly Protestant DVP provided a lot of the electoral base for the Nazi's, who took a lot of their voteshare from the DVP. Some Nazis were irreligious and there is certainly anti-Christian Nazi rhetoric (of course the Nazi's had rhetoric for most every occassion.) But that was not an obstacle for winning support among German Protestants.

And being driven by visions of a revolutionary future is hardly a left/right trait. Reactionary thought and counter-revolution are possessed of their own eschatological imaginaries.


"even their nationalism was suspect, since the Germany they trying to foster was largely fictional"

What a ridiculous statement. Bismarck's Germany was fictional. There is no natural "Germany." "Germany" was a political project, like any other nation. "Historically" there was no Germany, there were Germanic peoples and (many) Germanic languages and the Holy Roman Empire and lots of small princes and dukes and germanic kingdoms that were or weren't part of the HRE. "Germany" is a creation of the late 19th century defined by what Brandenburg-Prussia could conquer.


The distinction on offer here between "authoritarian" and "totalitarian" doesn't strike me as clear or useful or accurate. Really it's just pretty much nonsensical.

Authoritarian = you can raise a family, low body count = right

Totalitarian = 'reality obscuring propaganda about progress,' high body count = left.

That's just a bit of stupidity, not a useful distinction.

I use the term 'left' to denote Marxist/socialist regimes. If that's misplaced terminology I apologize and perhaps you can come up with better terminology. In any event, as you acknowledge, they have the higher body counts. They must, perforce, because socialism and reality just do not get along.

Ok so it's even simpler: high body count = left, low body count = right. That's certainly politically convenient but it's pretty useless otherwise.

Franco's dictatorship wasn't totalitarian?

NO dictatorship favours law and order. They all use laws, courts, police and military to secure their position, to oppress the opposition and dissenters, to scare the population into obedience and to enrich themselves. Dictatorships favour power.

One needs to ask what sort of delusion '8' is under to post this drivel. You are George Orwell's maxims come to life. Democracy equals evil and death while Fascism equals security and peace. Even Hitler would be impressed with your logic.

If I have to pick a type of dictator, I choose the right wing one, but why on earth should a man who wrote a book called "the road to serfdom" be forcing me to pick a type of dictator? An ideologue is an ideologue is an ideologue.

"If I have to pick a type of dictator" is highly ironic because that's the last thing a dictator would allow you to do.

He isn't forcing you to pick a dictator. He is simply pointing out that in some circumstances it is unavoidable.

As in Chile in 1973. Allende was destroying the country, he was arming "Workers' Militia" who were then going around killing people, he was importing East German Stasi advisors and Cuban security personnel. It was clear the system was going to collapse. The circumstances required the people of Chile to chose between Stalinism and Pinochet. The Parliament and the Supreme Court chose the lesser of two evils and picked Pinochet.

Suppose you were in Spain in the 1930s. And, again, the Anarchists and the Communists are going around murdering people. They are calling for further Revolution that would abolish democracy and liquidate the middle and upper classes as classes. The Army is unhappy. What are your choices? It is not Hayek that says you have to choose between Stalin or Franco. It is the reality of the situation. Which do you pick? Hayek is just part of a 2500 year old tradition discussing what to do when you have to choose.

I am greatly amused! Please, sir, continue. Why exactly was my grandfather evil to actively support the constitutional government of the Spanish Republic?

Oh, and if pure unadulterated capitalism leads to massive social protest which leads to either permanent right wing dictatorship or socialism, then doesn't that justify some distribution of wealth for the "long run" existence of freedom? Remember, Chile is no Hayekian paradise now. That would have required Pinochet to still be in power for the indefinite future.

I hate it when I feel the need to defend someone as disgusting as Pinochet, who undoubtedly was responsible for the murder of thousands of Chileans.

And fellow libertarians should note the moral miscalculation that Hayek evidently made. If Hayek presumes to present a formula for moral calculation then a defense of Pinochet is hardly the place one desires to end up.

On the other hand, the leftist Myth of Allende is much like the leftist myth of a "Republican" Spain during the Spanish Civil War. I find it difficult to condemn people who seek to overthrow what they fear is a nascent Bolshevik revolution. The experiences of the USSR and Hungary prior to WW2, and the experience of just about every other Leninist state after WW2, would seem to provide ample justification for taking some pretty extreme action to avoid such consequences.

Here are some quotes from Allende, from a sympathetic interviewer, c. 1970:

'Now the question is, "Who is going to use whom?" Even accepting the form of the question, the answer is the proletariat. If it wasn't so I wouldn't be here. I am working for Socialism and through Socialism.'

'As for the bourgeois state, at the present moment, we are seeking to overcome it, to overthrow it.… Our objective is total, scientific, Marxist socialism.'

Wikipedia offers this:

'Material based on reports from the Mitrokhin Archive, the KGB said of Allende that "he was made to understand the necessity of reorganising Chile's army and intelligence services, and of setting up a relationship between Chile's and the USSR's intelligence services". It is also claimed that Allende was given $30,000 "in order to solidify the trusted relations" with him.[62] According to Vasili Mitrokhin, a former KGB major and senior archivist in the KGB intelligence central KGB office in the Yasenevo area of Moscow, Allende made a personal request for Soviet money through his personal contact, KGB officer Svyatoslav Kuznetsov (codenamed LEONID), who urgently came to Chile from Mexico City to help Allende.[63] The original allocation of money for these elections through the KGB was $400,000, a personal subsidy of $50,000 was sent directly to Allende, with an additional $100,000 funneled through funds provided to the Chilean Communist Party.[63]

Historian Christopher Andrew has argued that help from the KGB was a decisive factor, because Allende won by a narrow margin of 39,000 votes of a total of the 3 million cast. After the elections, the KGB director Yuri Andropov obtained permission for additional money and other resources from the Central Committee of the CPSU to ensure an Allende victory in Congress. In his request on 24 October, he stated that the KGB "will carry out measures designed to promote the consolidation of Allende's victory and his election to the post of President of the country". In his KGB file, Allende was reported to have "stated his willingness to co-operate on a confidential basis and provide any necessary assistance, since he considered himself a friend of the Soviet Union". He willingly shared political information.[63]

'Andrew writes that regular Soviet contact with Allende after his election was maintained by his KGB case officer, Svyatoslav Kuznetsov, who was instructed by KGB's the 'Centre' to "exert a favorable influence on Chilean government policy". Allende was said to have reacted "positively."
Political and moral support came mostly through the Communist Party and unions. For instance, Allende received the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union in 1972. However, there were some fundamental differences between Allende and Soviet political analysts who believed that some violence – or measures that those analysts "theoretically considered to be just" – should have been used.[64] According to Andrew's account of the Mitrokhin archives, "In the KGB's view, Allende's fundamental error was his unwillingness to use force against his opponents. Without establishing complete control over all the machinery of the State, his hold on power could not be secure."[62]

'Declarations from KGB General Nikolai Leonov, former Deputy Chief of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, confirmed that the Soviet Union supported Allende's government economically, politically and militarily.[64] Leonov stated in an interview at the Chilean Center of Public Studies (CEP) that the Soviet economic support included over $100 million in credit, three fishing ships (that distributed 17,000 tons of frozen fish to the population), factories (as help after the 1971 earthquake), 3,100 tractors, 74,000 tons of wheat and more than a million tins of condensed milk.[64]

'In mid-1973 the USSR had approved the delivery of weapons (artillery, tanks) to the Chilean Army. However, when news of an attempt from the Army to depose Allende through a coup d'état reached Soviet officials, the shipment was redirected to another country.'

From Allende's first speech to the Chilean parliament:

'In 1917, Russia took decisions which have had the most far-reaching effects on contemporary history. There it was believed that backward Europe could face up to advanced Europe, that the first socialist revolution need not necessarily take place in the heart of industrial power. There the challenge was accepted and the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is one of the methods of building a socialist society, was established.

'Today nobody doubts that by this method nations with a large population can, in a relatively short period, break out of their backwardness and attain the most advanced level of contemporary civilisation. The examples of the Soviet Union and of the Chinese People's Republic speak for themselves.

'Like Russia then, Chile now faces the need to initiate new methods of constructing a socialist society. Our revolutionary method, the pluralist method, was anticipated by the classic Marxist theorists but never before put into practice. Social thinkers believed that the first to do so would be the more developed nations, probably Italy or France with their powerful Marxist-oriented working-class parties.

'Nevertheless, once again, history has permitted a break with the past and the construction of a new model of society, not only where it was theoretically most predictable but where the most favourable concrete conditions had been created for its achievement. Today Chile is the first nation on earth to put into practice the second model of transition to a socialist society.'

[The Comintern referred to this as "a republic of a new type" (a "New Republic" you might say) -- basically means using the forms of bourgeois democracy to institute a Marxist-Leninist regime.]

It seems to me that concerns about a desire on Allende's part to bring Marxism-Leninism to Chile were not overblown; they were certainly understandable. Achieving totalitarianism through democratic means isn't new - Hitler did it, though as I recall the Nazis got a greater plurality than Allende ever did.

And whatever criticism one might level at Pinochet, his rule did not turn Chile into a totalitarian state.

Which is not to endorse it. Having said all of that, Hayek's endorsement of the Pinochet regime is pretty disturbing, as was the aside about his affection for apartheid.

The number of comments here imputing ideology in the quality of criminal military dictatorships, while of course deeply disturbing, has on the other hand helped me to understand how "intellectuals" like Hayek or for that matter Harry Dexter White get to this point. I think primarily via testosterone.

Hayek was wrong on this matter both factually and in terms of what he thought possible from a dictatorship. But I do understand the frustration he must have felt about the socialist use of democratic procedures to abolish markets. And to the extent that Pinochet restored markets that, per se, was a good thing.

So does any of this mean that Hayek's theoretical writings are not the source of much wisdom? The only way we can decide that is to look at the writings, study them, discuss them and so forth. This leaves us just where we started from before all of the Pinochet "revelations."

It is true that Allende was a paid KGB agent, but if one looks closely at that speech of his he made it clear that he wanted to follow the "pluralist" approach. Unlike Russia, or China, or Cambodia, or even Cuba, Chile had the strongest democratic traditions in all of Latin America. There had never been a military coup or dictatorship prior to Pinochet. We do not know what Allende would have actually done, but it is indeed more likely that he would have messed up the economy but not engaged in gulags and mass murder. The president of Finland for 25 years, Kaukonnen, was a paid KGB agent, but Finland remained a fairly well-run social democracy with no murders or gulags throughout his rule. Allende might have done the same.

Also, it should be kept in mind that while the immediate economic policy of Pinochet was heavily influenced by "the Chicago boys," followers of Milton Friedman, the economy performed very poorly then, and only improved its performance after some moderating changes to policy. Some of the changes made by Allende and his predecessors were never undone, such as the nationalization of the copper industry, still in place, and also still by far the largest export earner in the economy. It is quite likely that if Allende had not been overthrown, Chilean economy and society would not look all that different from how it does today.

Do I really have to explain to a tenured professor that the situations of Finland and Chile were totally different?

That is a matter of dates. Finland had been part of Tsarist Russia for a long time. And the Revolution happened there as well as in the rest of Russia.

What happened in Finland though was the White Terror. Suspected Communists were executed en masse, or sent to re-education camps. Thousands died. Finland became independent and never became a Communist country.

Does anyone think that was wrong? Does anyone here condemn the Finnish Right and people like Mannerheim for the way that they defended Finland's independence and freedom? Was it wrong?

Finland looks like the poster child of why military dictatorship and purges are sometimes necessary.

Soviets grabbed some territory (Karelia) from Finland during Russo-Finnish War at beginning of WW II, although they avoided reconquering it as it had gained its independence at the time of the revolution. After the war, Finland imitated Sweden and went ian social democratic direction, where it remains today. What the Soviets apparently wanted from Kaukonnen was not that he change Finland's domestic policy, but that he keep Finland as an officially neutral nation that tilted toward the USSR in foreign policy, which it did. This was the famous "Finlandization" that many feared other nations would imitate in Western Europe during the Cold War, although generally they did not have leaders who were paid KGB agents.

It may well be that there was more similarity between Chile and Finland than many realize. Again, in domestic policy, Allende certainly argued that he wanted a "pluralist" and democratic approach, although we really do not know what he would have done. But the democratic tradition there was strong, and the outcome may well have looked a lot like Finnish (or Uruguayan) social democracy.

Thus, it may have been that what the Soviets wanted from Allende was less a particular domestic policy, but a foreign policy stance, pro-Soviet and anti-US, like Cuba. Military bases for USSR, US out. Pretty clearly concern about this possibility played a much greater role in the US supporting the Pinochet coup than any particular concern about domestic Chilean economic policy. So, a lot more similarity between Finland and Chile than some might wish to admit.

It is a mistake to think the Soviet Union wanted one thing from Finland. Rather their views changed over time. In 1919 they wanted to annex Finland. As they did in the Winter War. They then changed their mind after 1945, presumably so as not to spook the Swedes too much and protect Leningrad.

Allende was using the word "democratic" in the Soviet sense by the time of the coup. I don't think there is any evidence that he was a pluralist approach in any meaningful sense. He would not have been importing Stasi advisors if he did.

I agree the Soviets probably wanted Chile to be like Cuba. In other words another Communist totalitarian state. Which is nothing like Finland at all. You can rationally compare Cuba and Finland.

So Much for Subtlety,

With whom are you agreeing that the Soviets wanted Chile to be like Cuba? Certainly in foreign policy, but there is little evidence that they did so in domestic policy. This is the problem with this discussion, people very certain they know what Allende would have done if he had remained in power, and it would have been to kill people, when there is basically zero evidence that this is what he would have done. And some of those who did kill people said they would, see Lenin and Stalin who advocated "intensifying the class struggle" after the revolution, which means, "kill 'class enemies'". Obviously if you want to say Pinochet was just great, you have to say Allende would have killed people, because Pinochet killed lots of people, without much justification frankly.

As for Finland, Russia had ruled Finland for a century, and it had just become independent in 1919, as had Poland, which Stalin also chose not to re-annex, although in both nations he took some territory. Taking Karelia from Finland did provide an extra buffer zone for Leningrad. I do not think any of this had anything at all to do with Sweden.

Ah yes, the I had to kill everyone who disagreed with me to protect my own beliefs theory. Hitler would be proud and, of course, he was of Finland's support of the Nazi cause. I guess you should be too.

Related articles (in Spanish) about the Hayek-Pinochet issue:




All these remarks, but no one mentioned the Myth of the Rational Voter. If voters are irrational and can do stupid things, the case against dictatorship is not so strong as the common man may believe.

I remember hearing discussions about whether a "benevolent dictatorship" wouldn't be the ideal government. Maybe Hayek thought so. Is the problem with Pinochet that he was a dictator, or that he wasn't benevolent?

I am wondering: if Hayek had made pilgrimages to Cuba or Vietnam, would the chattering classes have had an problem with it? Milton Friedman was roasted for making a few day visit to a university in Chile. John Kenneth Galbraith lectured at Moscow University, and it didn't seem to bother anyone.

Finally, it worth mentioning that the Weimar Republic was a liberal democracy, and it put Hilter into power via parliamentary means. Hilter dissolved the democracy, of course, but that does not let democracy off the hook. Would you have supported a coup against the Weimar Republic to stop Hitler from taking power? The issue is not academic. The Middle East is using democracy to put Islamist terrorists in political office. Look at Egypt, Gaza, Turkey.

There is "illiberal democracy." Fareed Zakaria wrote an article on that topic in Foreign Affairs in 1997. It was prophetic. Sometimes we have to chose between "Liberalism" and "Democracy." They are not the same thing.

The anti-apartheid forces in South Africa have always been allied with, and therefore presumptively subverted by, the South African Communist Party.

Pick your poison.

"All these remarks, but no one mentioned the Myth of the Rational Voter. If voters are irrational and can do stupid things, the case against dictatorship is not so strong as the common man may believe."

Too many problems with this statement. To start, what if the dictator comes from the same pool of irrational riff-raff as the voters? In a democracy, at least there is the chance that highly stupid or irrational ideas are rare enough that they can't do much damage outside the realm of internet discussion forums and associated crank literature. With a dictator, you are stuck with the irrational ideas of a single person who you can't get rid of.

More generally, a Hayekian should be repelled by the idea of a "benevolent dictator." One of the major themes of Hayek's thought over the years is the fact that even the smartest people in a society (including any potential dictator) are extremely ignorant of what makes society work and that they respond to incentives. Why would it ever be a good idea to take a single ignorant person, put him in charge of everything and then set up the government so that nobody can get rid of him if he does a bad job of governing?

Finally, one might say that I am wrong that a dictator would come from the same irrational riff-raff that makes up the voters of a democracy. Instead, we would expect dictators to come from the superior class of society and they would do a much better job on average than elected leaders. But then this goes to a point that Corey Robin keeps on making: that most thoughtful libertarians and conservatives are really Nietzscheans with some merely in the closet more than others.

It would be useful for everyone, liberal, libertarian, and conservative, to confront the issue of which they'd prefer:
1. A dictator with the right policies (welfare state, free market, or promotion of virtue) or
2. A democracy with the wrong policies (free market and traditional values for the liberal, welfare state and traditional values for the libertarian, welfare state for the conservative).

We can up the ante in either case by specifying whether the dictator or democracy uses heavy oppression to maintain itself, e.g. executing 100 political opponents per year (which a democracy is capable of doing, just like a dictatorship).

I think conservatives would have no trouble picking (1), and liberals would have a strong preference for (1) but be ashamed to admit it and so would pick (2). I don't know about libertarians.

Hayek would pick (1), though I wouldn't be surprised if he was wrong on the facts with regard to Pinochet.

I'd pick a democracy anytime if it's liberal in the legal and philosophical (not necessarily social and political) sense. I don't mind that much if my views don't prevail as long as there is a fair, open debate and everyone has a vote. - But when you introduce a "democracy with heavy oppression", I can't see how that can remain a (liberal or free) democracy.

In a way people are picking between the two options. How many people escape dictatorships to democracies? And how many the other way round?

well, there is a certain flow of (typically highly trained and well earning) people from democratic and re-distributionistic Europe to not so democratic places like Dubai and Singapore that let you keep what you earn.

The experiences of privileged globalized elites don't generalize very well. The thing about Singapore is that it's a great place if you are rich but also a pretty decent place if you are merely working class or ordinary and not just because of private purchasing power. You have first-rate public transit, government-subsidized health insurance and hospitals, affordable public housing, and a good public education system, all provided by a relatively well-run and professional government. It's not a liberal democracy but it's a pretty bad example for any Hayekian libertarian to be bragging about.

The preference for 1 is why we have a Constitution full of "Congress shall make no law."

Essentially we have seated a paper dictator who can only be overruled by a very difficult amendment process. That was not by accident!

Depends entirely on the scope of time. If you look at two countries, one dictatorship and one democracy, over a 30 year period, it's very possible the dictatorship looks better due to the right policies of a single dictator. But in the long game, the democracy is always going to be better. The dictatorship relies on luck choosing a good successor leader, and has no non-violent mechanism for getting rid of a leader who turns out to be a dunce.

Nixon got booted from office and life went on in the US. If Xi Jinping turned out to be a terrible leader, what would happen? Uncontested reign for a further 9 years? Seems unlikely. And what would that do to the whole integrity of the Chinese political system? Chinese emperors had a history of getting assassinated when they screwed things up, which lead to revolutions, dynastic collapses, and all sorts of nasty things. It's just foolish and arrogant to think that every leader you pick will turn out to be exceptional in every way, and even more arrogant to not institutionalize a process for replacing a bad leader if necessary.

In the long game, democracies end up broke as the electorate votes itself into net tax consumption. I think the future is going to look more feudal as democratic governments sell out to, or collapse and are replaced by, private institutions which provide a civil order and mutual defense as part of ownership. Examples range from the Arab emirates to the proposed Honduran charter city.

I guess I have a little more faith in the electorate than you. Greece had the opportunity to elect any number of fringe parties, yet over the past few elections they opted for the mainstream parties that wanted to take services away and force people to pay taxes. They could have voted for parties to leave the euro and default on their obligations, but they didn't.

I can see a lot of what we consider public services (like roads, schools, and welfare/health systems) being privatized, but I don't think the countries will go broke.

"Hayek would pick (1), though I wouldn’t be surprised if he was wrong on the facts with regard to Pinochet."

And I think this points to an inconsistency and political naivety in Hayek's thinking. Hayek writes at length about the dangers of giving discretionary power to government officials because of the incentives they face and the inherent knowledge problems they confront. To suddenly throw your hands up in the air and say a dictator with broad discretionary power is OK because social democracy is also bad is extraordinarily hypocritical.

The problem for a lot of libertarians is that they think they know best what society needs (small government and free markets) and the fact that the voters of most democratic societies depart from this ideal fairly regularly is taken by libertarians as a sign that democracy is a failure. The reality, though, is that libertarians ought to employ a bit of Hayekian humility and realize it is distinctly possible that voters understand and are reacting to problems that have escaped the notice of their relatively well-off libertarian critics.

Among others, the left hates Hayek and Friedman and is constantly trying to smear them with attacks like the one cited. I tried to reach bedrock (i.e., an actual document by Hayek) by following the links back but found only a chain of references and excerpts. I do not trust this guy.

Perhaps you could find some disconfirming evidence?

I found this, from 2006: http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/11/17/the-road-from-serfdom/.

I googled "Harberger Hayek" and "Friedman Hayek" but did not come up with anything regarding Chile. Who was the person connecting economists and Pinochet's Chile up I wonder??


Friedman Hayek Chile

Instead. Google is only so smart. You have to help it.

Where is Greg Ransom when he is needed?

Let's be brutally honest here ... I would rather live in a dictatorship that respects contracts and property rights than one than a "democracy" that does not, so yes, I prefer a Pinochet to a Fidel ...

You do realize that the second clause only follows from the first unless you mean that Cuba is a democracy? If the scare quotes mean that you think that Cuba is a dictatorship, all you've said is that you prefer Pinochet to Castro.

Me, I dislike both of 'em. There's no need to choose, unless you're some sort of computer. Oh, wait, the nick ...

I would rather live in a Democracy which respects the rights of all of its citizens. Property rights don't mean much when they murder you as Pinochet did to tens of thousands. And the fact that you would want to live upon any sort of dictatorship speaks volumes about you.

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