Commentary on the
Cambridge Companion to Hayek
This most useful primer features three essays in particular that provided good reason to reflect again on the received wisdom and habitual misuse of Hayek’s name to justify a great range of nonsense, whether it is a cold-hearted defence of callous economic rationalism, sometimes known by the grotesque misnomer of ‘neoliberalism’, or whether he is proposed as a menacing heathen idol in simplistic denunciations of free market economics.
The first of these essays, ‘Hayek versus Keynes’, by renowned Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky, closes a theoretical gap between John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August von Hayek to a matter of degrees rather than apparently irreconcilable differences.
The second essay, ‘Hayek and liberalism’, by Chandran Kukathas, tantalisingly suggests Hayek’s major impact should be a perpetual call to action, challenging those who can to become activists in defence of liberal values with truth rather than expedient propaganda, by admitting mistakes and shortcomings, but contrasting these with detailed examples of the failures of liberalism’s enemies, as well as the enormity of the consequences of those failures. It is an eerily appropriate challenge from the past when applied to circumstances in the present.