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How Traditionalist Hayek Feared Science Would Lead to Socialism

Read time: 5 mins

Margaret Thatcher’s intellectual love affair with the economist Friedrich von Hayek continued despite divergent views on the importance of science, rationality and truth… 

Margaret Thatcher presented a clear argument before the Royal Society in 1988: The free market economy depended on a sustainable natural ecology. And science provided the necessary knowledge to guide the industry on what would, in fact, be sustainable.

The then-Prime Minister's argument was based on reason. It was rational to expect her fellow free market ideologues to agree with her simple premise. But it seemed Thatcher's adherence to science, distilled during her time studying chemistry at Cambridge, was not shared by her philosophical allies.

The 'Second Hand Dealers in Ideas' Who Sold Us Neoliberalism

Read time: 6 mins

A fateful meeting between economist Friedrich von Hayek and British aristocrat Antony Fisher had lasting consequences—including for the debate about climate change policy. Picture: Fisher with Margaret Thatcher. 

Friedrich von Hayek was working on his latest book, The Use of Knowledge in Society, at the London School of Economics during the Summer of 1945 when, one day, there was a knock at the door. 

Antony Fisher entered and introduced himself. “I share all your worries and concerns expressed in The Road to Serfdom, and I am going into politics to put them right,” he announced. 

“Starting With a Mistake, A Remorseless Logician Can End Up in Bedlham”

Read time: 10 mins

Hayek achieved his dream of becoming a university academic, but could he really challenge the intellectual prowess and political influence of the master John Maynard Keynes?

Friedrich von Hayek had abandoned his early socialism in favour of neoliberal free market ideas. But the fashionable theory sat somewhere between the two. John Maynard Keynes, who always denied being influenced by the German revolutionary Karl Marx, had apparently devised a historic compromise between the markets and socialist state planning.

Keynes argued that the government should use its economic powers to manage the markets. This included government lending and spending to promote growth, and encouraging housewives to spend their savings. The Cambridge professor attained his prestige and influence because his prescriptions had survived academic scrutiny and practical application during the wars.

Hayek had an almost impossible task. He had to devise an economic counter-argument to Keynes, and to expose any logical inconsistency in his analysis and works. The “war of ideas” would have global economic consequences. And the Marxists, Fabians and Keynesians who dominated both Cambridge and the London School of Economics (LSE) were not going to make it easy.

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