From: dls216@xxxxxxx (dls)
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 06:18:34 -0400
Daniel Vukovich wrote:
>I suppose the egregiousness of Hayek's politics is one of those things that
>is either obvious to someone, or isn't.
Suffice it to mention that
>Hayek, over and over again in his career as a Cold War Warrior, most
>emphatically claims that any belief in *social* justice is absurd and,
>moreover, dangerous (cf the Law... volumes, as Im sure you know, "dls").
Yup. Though I'm not sure why arguing against such a totalizing concept
makes his political theory egregious
>So too is any type of collective- thinking or desire nothing but a "herd
>mentality." In other words, I think Hayek's "fatal conceit" concept (the
>error here is called "constructivism", i.e., social engineering and the
>belief that we can somehow put abstractions, plans, holism into practice).
>One doesnt have to be a Maoist to see the class-position of this mode of
>thought. Or its anti-democratic ethos and politics.
I'm definitely no Maoist, but again I don't see how Hayek's arguments
against contructivist rationalism translate into a "class-position"
that is inherently anti-democratic. Perhaps this is another one of those
things that one either sees or doesn't.
>I do not, myself, believe that market systems promote something called
>"freedom"-- as if "freedom" were some Real thing, that is, a concept which
>is ultimately identical to its object (to call Hayek pre-Saussarian is not
>I think an exaggeration).
I too have problems with Hayek's conception of freedom. However, to call him
pre-Saussarian is, I think, unfair.
(Please do advise me otherwise, but my (cursory)
>sense of Hayek's phenomenological/psychological writings is that they are
>not simply underdetermined philosophically, but rationalist through and
Again, I agree that Hayek often exhibits the very rationalism he decries,
but to call his work rationalist through and through is
Hayek's point, of course, is that this bourgeois ideal was a
>real product of bourgeois societies, but is now under threat from the
>expansion of both socialist systems, and the Keynesian welfare state.
>>From a very basic marxist or "materialist" perspective -- and obviously
>Foucault shares at least this much with the Old Moor -- such ideals or
>concepts as "freedom" or individual (and collective) justice or liberty,
>can only be products of specific moments of history, and specific social
>relations (or specific stratifications of power/knowledge, in more F.
>parlance). In sum, to say that the workers of the world have nothing to
>lose but the chains that bind them, does not mean they will then enter
>*the* realm of Freedom; it means that they "have no ideals to realize."
>This is also why that famous passage in Capital III on the dialectic
>between the realms of Freedom and Necessity concludes with the shortening
>of the working day being the first, necessary step on any road to the
>latter realm. In short, I do not think this perspective -- call it
>"materialism," "specificity," "sociological," etc. -- is shared by Hayek.
I'm not really sure what your point is here, but if you're suggesting that
Hayek wouldn't agree that the act *legislating*, via the state, the
shortening of the work day is somehow a step towards better social
conditions, then I'd say your right.
>suspect this is one reason why I polemically called him "absurd."
>About price information: My point above is that regardless of whether Hayek
>bases the "catallaxy" and Good Society (his words here) on the distributive
>functions of the "market mechanism", on some theory of human
>nature/perception, on "true" liberty, or on cows breaking wind in the
>Subcontinent, neither these bases nor the market system in general produce
>"freedom" as such, or in-itself. They give some groups, classes and
>genders some specific types of power, or *specific* "freedoms" if you wish.
If your referring to the detestable imperialist/fascist/socialist/capitalist
social formations that have spread over the world over the last two
centuries, then I'd agree. However, to blame market systems/mechanisms seems
to me to ignore the social contexts from which they emerged and in which
they now function.
> As I believe the historical record still shows, these same mechanisms or
>systems also "empower" other people in other, ethically and politically
>egregious ways. Among other things, I mean poverty and a relation to
>temporality in which time is always already deffered, or in which time
>becomes an impersonal form of domination. (c.f. Moishe Postone's *Time,
>Labor and Social Domination* on this).
>That said, you are right to object to my reducing Hayek's market-theory to
>"only" price-information. There are other things in play, true. For what
>its worth, I think his take on "the division of knowledge" (as distinct
>from the division of labor), is a real contribution to economic, even
>social theory. For him, "society" is indeed unimaginably complex. For me
>too, and for all kinds of thinkers. But his conclusion is that we
>therefore need necessarily rely on markey systems, in fact on market
>societies, not just market-economies. I disagree.
Not that I'm acontextually praising market-systems (that would be as bad
acontextually damning them), but what alternative do you propose?
Moreover, I cannot help
>but see Hayek's liberalism and economics as analytically based on price
>information, in the last analysis.
I'm not sure how.
And surely no one can deny that he is a
>fanatic about legitimizing liberal regimes, and nowhere interested in
>problematizing them. Hence his current rebirth, post-Keynesianism, and
>hence his egregiousness.
Yeah, but that doesn't make his observations about complexity
and knowledge any less troublesome for those who would
implement systems that putatively promote "social justice."
>But Im no Hayek exegete, so if you've got a better reading, let me know.
>Or let me know what you think of the realtions b/w Hayek and Foucault. No
>doubt a lot to mine here, including the "liberal" dimensions of Foucault,
>as well as the "governmentality" writings (which have to be about the
>Keynsian state/society). Right off, I'd say they might agree on society
>being unimaginably complex (or an "impossible object" as Laclau and Mouffe
>put it), but not only do they arrive here differently -- Hayek through
>epistemology and a liberal/conservative ethos, the Nietzchean Foucault thru
>a critique of epistemology and what Althusser called the ISA's -- but draw
>different conclusions about "freedom," "liberty," and "power."
Perhaps not as different as you suggest. But that's a project in itself.
Somehow I doubt any exchange btw us will resolve our differences;
so I suggest that we agree to disagree.