George Monbiot wants to tell us that there are two forms of capitalism, the slash and burn and the accommodating. That’s possible. Might even be a useful distinction in fact. There are Randroids out there after all.
The thing is he manages to get Hayek on entirely the wrong side of that division:
The second could be described as warlord capitalism. This sees all restraints on accumulation – including taxes, regulations and the public ownership of essential services – as illegitimate. Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of profit-making. Its justifying ideology was formulated by Friedrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty and by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged. These books sweep away social complexity and other people’s interests. They fetishise something they call “liberty”, which turns out to mean total freedom for plutocrats, at society’s expense.
Hmm, well. Here’s a summary of Hayek:
In the final part of The Constitution of Liberty Hayek examines
many areas of contemporary policy concern – social security,
taxation, healthcare, housing, urban planning, natural
resources and education – in light of the principles developed
in the earlier parts of his study. Two features stand out: Hayek
is willing for government to provide a broad range of social
services, in line with principles enunciated above; and he
steadfastly opposes policies that aim at wealth redistribution
or ‘social justice’.
So, err, not what Monbiot thinks at all then.
Hayek does not favour passive government, but rather one
that seeks many benefits for the community. Although he
shares the‘strong presumption against governments actively
participating in economic efforts’, he nonetheless states that
the‘old formulae of laissezfaire or non-intervention do not
provide us with an adequate criterion for distinguishing
between what is and what is not admissible in a free system’.
As he explains, ‘it is the character rather than the volume
of government activity that is important’. In economic
matters, for example, an active government that assists the
spontaneous forces of the market is preferable to a less active
one that does the wrong things. In this regard he sees himself
as following the best of the classical liberals, such as Adam
Actually, nothing at all like what Monbiot describes. And that’s just from the Hayek book that Monbiot himself refers us to.
My assumption is that Hayek is just an oogie boogie for George, a phantastical and entirely invented exemplar of what ever it is that Monbiot doesn’t like. Dunno, maybe the Nanny used to dress up in a Friedrich mask to frighten him or summat.