Hayek on Limited Democracy, Dictatorships, and the ‘Free’ Market: An Interview in Argentina, 1977
Hayek is highly-regarded for his contributions to the development of liberal thought, particularly his work on individual freedom, economic freedom, ‘spontaneous’ order, and limited state action. He also defended dictatorial regimes, provided that they were committed to achieving the conditions of a ‘free’ market economy at the expense of unlimited democracy. This chapter examines Hayek’s rationale for supporting certain types of dictatorial regimes, based largely on the views expressed in an interview published in the Argentinean weekly magazine, SOMOS while on a one-week visit to Argentina in 1977. At that time, ‘Dirty War’ Argentina was ruled by the administration of army commander General Jorge Rafael Videla. Hayek defined ‘the condition of freedom’ as ‘a state in which each can use his knowledge for his purposes’ so as to achieve individual goals free from intervention or coercion on the part of an external authority: ‘Coercion is evil precisely because it thus eliminates an individual as a thinking and valuing person and makes him a bare tool in the achievement of the ends of another.’ By defending the practice of relying on dictatorial regimes to achieve the conditions of a ‘free’ market economy, Hayek contradicted his own concept of freedom, which he defined as ‘absence of coercion.
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