Happy 115th birthday, F.A. Hayek!

Today is the 115 birthday of F.A. Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and highly influential libertarian political theorist. Hayek was one of the two or three most important libertarian thinkers of the last century.

David Boaz of the Cato Institute has a post with numerous relevant links here. In this 2008 post, I explained why much of Hayek’s thought, including his classic critique of socialism, remains relevant to this day. Although full-blown socialism is not as popular as it was in Hayek’s heyday, it does still have considerable support, especially in the developing world. Moreover, many of Hayek’s arguments against it are also relevant to the less extreme, but still extensive, forms of government intervention that exist in modern democracies.

Elsewhere, I have also discussed the continuing relevance of Hayek’s critique of conservatism and nationalism, which is even more timely today than several years ago, with the recent resurgence of right-wing nationalism in Russia and elsewhere.

My personal favorite among Hayek’s works is his much-cited 1945 article “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” which gives a powerful and succinct account of why markets aggregate and utilize information more effectively than government planners can. It has had a huge impact on scholarship in economics and other fields, and was an important influence on my own work on political ignorance.

Ilya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and popular political participation. He is the author of "The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain" and "Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter."



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