Politics and freedom

“ If in the long run we are makers of our own fate, in the short run we are the captives of the ideas we have created. […] Although we have been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the 19th century, by de Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism. […] Growth begets widening ranges of desire; with success grows ambition. Progress starts to feel too slow and inspiring promises are no longer enough. […] Even bad things can be necessary and unavoidable. […] It might be said that the very success of liberalism became the cause of its decline. […] Although most of the new ideas, and particularly socialism did not originate in Germany, it was in Germany that they were perfected. […] Before man could be truly free, the "despotism of physical want" had to be broken, the "restraints of the economic system" relaxed. […] "The socialists believe in two things which are absolutely different and perhaps even contradictory: freedom and organisation" – Elie Halevy […] Nothing is free from grave defects. […] Economic power is very concentrated. […] There is a historical decline in competition and growth of monopoly. […] By sacrificing present advantages, we preserve important stimulus for future progress. […] From a saintly and single–minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step. […] In a world of what ought to be done, we'll soon find that our moral code is full of gaps. […] All people compete for the available resources. […] The limits of our power of imagination make it impossible to include in our scale of values more than a sector of the needs of the whole society. […] Common action is limited to the fields where people agree on common ends. They are most likely to agree on common action where the common end is not an ultimate end to them, but a means capable of serving a great variety of purposes. […] There are almost as many views of what the government should do as there are people. […] Indirectly, the state controls almost everything. The only way in which a planned society differs from that of the 19th century is that more and more spheres of social life are subjected to state control. […] Rule of Law: The government is bound in all its actions by rules fixed and announced beforehand, which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances. […] Dictators have obtained their absolute power by constitutional means. […] "The control of the production of wealth is the control of human life itself" – Hillaire Belloc […] Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. […] Authority shapes and guides our daily lives. […] The knowledge that we can escape from a hard situation, makes many otherwise intolerable positions bearable. […] The fact that the opportunities open to the poor in a competitive society are much more restricted than those open to the rich does not make it less true that in such a society the poor are much more free than the person commanding much greater material comfort in a different type of society. […] In a competitive society, noone possesses power. […] What our generation has forgotten is that the system of private property is the most important guarantee of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not. […] It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves. […] Once the free working of the market is impeded beyond a certain degree, the planner will be forced to extend his controls till they become all–comprehensible. […] Once it becomes necessarily true, and is generally recognized, that the position of the individual is determined not by impersonal forces, not as a result of the competitive effort of many, but by the deliberate decision of authority, the attitude of people towards their position in the social order necessarily changes. […] The unemployment or loss of income is certainly less degrading if it is the result of misfortune, and not deliberately imposed by authority. […] It may be bad to be just a cog in an impersonal machine, but it is infinitely worse if we can no longer leave it, if we are tied to our place and to the superiors who have been chosen for us. Then all our efforts directed towards improving our position will have to aim not at foreseeing and preparing as well as we can for the circumstances over which we have no control, but at influencing in our favor the authority which has all the power. […] It is because successful planning requires the creation of a common view on the essential values that the restriction of our freedom with regard to material things touches so directly on our spiritual freedom. […] No amount of learning will lead people to hold the same views on the moral issues which a conscious ordering of all social relations raises. […] Socialist theory and socialist tactics, even when they have not been dominated by Marxist dogma, have been based everywhere on the idea of a division of society into two classes with common, but mutually conflicting interests: capitalists and industrial workers. […] The more prosperous sections of the labour movement seemed to belong to the exploiting rather than the exploited class. […] Independence of mind or strength of character are rarely found among those who cannot be confident that they will make their way by their own effort. […] Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself, nor make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken. […] Combating fluctuations of economic activity and the recurrent waves of large–scale unemployment are one of the gravest and most pressing problems of our time. […] Certainty of a given income can, however not be given to all if any freedom of choice of one's occupation is to be allowed. And if it is provided for some, it becomes a privilege at the expense of others whose security is thereby necessarily diminished. […] Remuneration doesn't always have relation to actual usefulness. […] It is not who makes the gain or suffers the loss dependent on his moving or not moving, the choice must be made for him by those who control the distribution of the available income. […] Even with the best will in the world it would be impossible for anyone to intelligently choose between various alternatives if the advantages they offered him stood in no relation to their usefulness in society. […] Men, are in fact, not likely to give their best for long periods unless their own interests are directly involved. […] Those who are willing to surrender their freedom for security have always demanded that if they give up their freedom it should also be taken from those not prepared to do so. For this claim it is difficult to find justification. […] "Control", i.e. limitation of output, so that prices will secure an "adequate" return is the only way in which in a market economy producers can be guaranteed a certain income. But this necessarily involves a reduction of opportunities open to others. Every restriction on the freedom of entry into a trade reduces the security of those outside it. […] Because of the striving for security, the insecurity for large populations has increased. Securing incomes makes the situation for many people precarious. It's no longer independence, but security which gives rank and status, the certain right to a pension more than the confidence in his making good which makes a young man eligible for marriage, while insecurity becomes the dreaded state of the pariah in which those who in their youth have been refused admission to the haven of a salaried position remain for life. Some security is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because most men are willing to bear the risk which freedom inevitably involves only so long as that risk is not too great. […] Freedom can only be had at a price; as individuals we must be prepared to make severe material sacrifices to preserve our liberty. […] There's nothing bad or dishonorable in approving the dictatorship of the good. […] The unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending towards totalitarianism. […] The interaction between morals and institutions may well have the effect that the ethics produced by collectivism will be altogether different from the moral ideals that lead for the demand of collectivism. […] It is the ineffectiveness of parliamentary majorities with which people are dissatisfied. […] Both in Germany and Italy the success of Fascism was preceded by the refusal of the socialist parties to take over the responsibilities of government. They were unwilling wholeheartedly to employ the methods to which they have pointed the way. […] In a planned society, the question can no longer be on what a majority of the people agree, but what is the largest single group whose members agree sufficiently to make unified direction of all affairs possible; or, if no such group large enough to enforce its own views exists, how can it be created and who will succeed in creating it. […] There are reasons why strong groups with fairly homogenous views are not likely to be formed by the best, but rather by the worst elements of any society. The higher the education and intelligence of individuals becomes, the more their views and tastes are differentiated and the less likely they are to agree on a particular hierarchy of values. If we wish to find a high degree of conformity and similarity of outlook, we have to descend to the regions of lower moral and intellectual standards, where the more primitive and "common" instincts and tastes prevail. It means that the largest group of people whose values are very similar are the people with low standards. […] Those with imperfectly formed convictions and ideals, who are ready to accept a ready–made system of values if they hear them frequently and loudly, are those who the dictator can convert. […] It is easier for people to agree on a negative programme, on the hatred of the enemy, on the envy of those better off, than on any positive task. […] Collectivism on a world scale seems to be unthinkable—except in the service of a small ruling elite. […] From a consistent collectivist point of view, the claims of the "Have–Not" nations for a new division of the world are entirely justified—though, if consistently applied, those who demand it most loudly would lose by it almost as much as the richest nations. […] Only those individuals who work for the same ends can be regarded as members of the community. The community of collectivism can extend only as far as the unity of purpose of the individuals exists or can be created. […] The desire of the individual to identify himself with a group is very frequently the result of a feeling of inferiority; therefore his want will only be satisfied if membership of the group confers some superiority over outsiders. […] "There is an increasing tendency among modern men to imagine themselves ethical, because they have delegated their vices to larger and larger groups" – R. Niebuhr in "Moral men and immoral society" […] It is not difficult to deprive the great majority of independent thought. But the minority who will retain an inclination to criticise must also be silenced. […] If the people are to support the common effort without hesitation, they must be convinced that not only the end aimed at but also the means chosen are the right ones. Public criticism or even expressions of doubt must be suppressed, because they tend to weaken public support. […] Every activity must derive its justification from a conscious social purpose. […] Individualism is an attitude of humility and tolerance to other opinions. […] "Science can pass ethical judgement on human behavior" – Dr. Waddington […] Of the few who make the risk only few achieve the success the chances of which make the risk worth taking. […] In some measure the monopolists have gained this support either by letting other groups participate in their gains or, and perhaps even more frequently, by persuading them that the formation of monopolies was in the public interest. Very frequently even measures aimed against the monopolies in fact serve only to strengthen their power. […] A temporary monopoly is given the power to secure its position for all time—a power almost certain to be used. […] The machinery of monopoly becomes identical with the machinery of the state, and the state itself becomes more and more identified with the interests of those who run things than with the interests of the people in general. […] The recent growth of monopoly is largely the result of a deliberate collaboration of organised capital and organised labour where the privileged groups of labour share in the monopoly profits at the expense of the poorest, those unemployed in the less organised industries and the unemployed. […] Individual freedom cannot be reconciled with the supremacy of one single purpose to which the whole society must be entirely and permanently subordinated. […] It is sensible temporarily to sacrifice freedom in order to make it more secure in the future, but the same cannot be said for a system proposed as a permanent arrangement. […] "It must be done at all costs" of the single–minded idealist is likely to do the greatest harm. […] To aim always at the maximum of employment achievable by monetary means is a policy which is certain in the end to defeat its own purposes. It tends to lower the productivity of labour and thereby constantly increases the proportion of the working population which can be kept employed at present wages only by artificial means. […] It is more important to use our resources in the best manner and for the purposes where they contribute most to our well–being then that we should use all our resources somehow. […] The only thing modern democracy will not bear without cracking is the necessity of a substantial lowering of the standards of living in peace time or even prolonged stationariness of its economic conditions. […] Only where we ourselves are responsible for our own interests and are free to sacrifice them, has our decision moral value. Freedom to order our own conduct in the sphere where material circumstances force choice upon us and responsibility for the arrangement of our own life according to our own conscience, is the air in which alone moral sense grows and in which moral values are daily re–created in the free decision of the individual. […] There is a compulsion of the individual to do what is collectively decided to be good. […] Every generation puts some values higher and some lower than its predecessors. […] One can not make omelettes without breaking eggs. […] Discrimination between members and non–members of closed groups, not to speak of nationals of different countries, is accepted more and more as a matter of course; injustices inflicted on individuals by government action in the interest of a group are disregarded with an indifference hardly distinguishable from callousness; the greatest violations of the most elementary rights of the individual, such as are involved in the compulsory transfer of populations, are more and more often countenanced even by supposed liberals. […] Many kinds of economic planning are indeed practicable only if the planning authority can effectively shut out all extraneous influences; the result of such planning is inevitably the piling up of restrictions on the movements of men and good. […] As the scale (of community) increases, the amount of agreement on the order of ends decreases and the necessity to rely on force and compulsion grows. […] To the worker in a poor country the demand of his more fortunate colleague to be protected against his low wage competition by minimum wage legislation, supposedly in his interest, is frequently no more than a means to deprive him of his only chance to better his conditions by overcoming natural disadvantages by working at wages lower than his fellows in other countries. And to him the fact that he has to give the product of ten hours of his labour for the product of five hours of the men elsewhere who is better equipped with machinery is as much "exploitation" as that practiced by any capitalist. Class strife would become a struggle between the working classes of different countries. […] Hatred directed at those in power actually determines the fate of the less powerful. […] The controller of the supply of any such raw material as petrol or timber, rubber or tin, would be the master of the fate of whole industries and countries. If all essential raw materials were thus controlled there would indeed be no new industry, no new venture on which people of a country could embark without the permission of the controllers, no plan for development or improvement which could not be frustrated by their veto. The same is true for international arrangement for "sharing" of markets and even more so of the control of investment and the development of natural resources. […] There must be a power which can restrain the different nations from action harmful to their neighbours, a set of rules which defines what a state might do, and an authority capable of enforcing these rules. […] There can be no international law without a power to enforce it. An international authority which effectively limits the powers of the state over the individual will be one of the best safeguards of peace. […] Least of all shall we preserve democracy or foster its growth if all the power and most of the important decision rest with an organisation far too big for the common man to survey or comprehend. We shall all be the gainers if we can create a world fit for small countries to live in. […] The measures by which war might be made impossible in the future may well be worse than even the war itself. […] The young are right if they have little confidence in the ideas which rule most of their elders. But they are mistaken or misled when they believe that these are still the liberal ideas of the 19th century, which in fact the younger generation hardly knows. […] The guiding principle, that a policy of freedom is the only truly progressive policy, remains as true today as it was in the 19th century. ”

F. A. Hayek in "The road to serfdom"