Friedrich August von Hayek was best known for his defence of a classical liberal political order and his criticism of a centrally “planned” economy. A proponent of the Austrian School of economics, he contributed significantly to debates on the “economic calculation problem” and defended the notion of a spontaneous order, achieved without explicit design, in society.
His works, including The Road to Serfdom, The Constitution of Liberty and Laws, Legislation and Liberty, have been key influences for many conservatives as well as libertarians.
1) Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends. The Road to Serfdom (1944)
2) The power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbour and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest functionaire possesses who wields the coercive power of the state, and on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or to work. The Road to Serfdom (1944)
3) Only where we ourselves are responsible for our own interests and are free to sacrifice them has our decision moral value. We are neither entitled to be unselfish at someone else’s expense nor is there any merit in being unselfish if we have no choice. The Road to Serfdom (1944)
4) There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. Individualism and Economic Order (1948)
5) All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest. The Constitution of Liberty (1960)
6) It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil. The Constitution of Liberty (1960)
7) If one objects to the use of coercion in order to bring about a more even or more just distribution, this does not mean that one does not regard these as desirable. If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion. The Constitution of Liberty (1960)
8) Liberty not only means that the individual has both the opportunity and the burden of choice; it also means that he must bear the consequences of his actions … Liberty and responsibility are inseparable. The Constitution of Liberty (1960)
9) “Emergencies” have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded. Laws, Legislation and Liberty – Vol. 2: The Mirage of Social Justice (1976)
10) The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design. The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (1988)