Unthinkable

Cezanne_HarlequinI am participating in a reading group on neoliberalism, or perhaps on “what we talk about when talk about when we talk about neoliberalism.”

Here is Hayek, within two contiguous pages (50-51) of his most-famous work, The Road to Serfdom:

  • “The intellectual history of the last sixty or eighty years is indeed a perfect illustration of the truth that in social evolution nothing is inevitable but thinking makes it so.
  • “Far from being appropriate only to comparatively simple conditions, it is the very complexity of the division of labour under modern conditions which makes competition the only method by which such co-ordination can be adequately brought about.”

One begins to understand, in reading the neoliberal canon, just what Strauss and his gang were on about when they suggested, given the low likelihood that authors of Hayek’s intelligence might accidentally contradict themselves so starkly, that the only reasonable reading is one that receives such glaring errors as a demand to read between the lines in a search for what the author might really mean.

The unthinkable alternative, of course, would be that Hayek was a fool, and one whose thinking has somehow come to seem inevitable.