It has been a couple years since I read this book. This was my introduction to the whole Austrian way of thinking. I wanted to start this discussion because: 1) I have read this book, I read slowly, so there aren't many others to my credit!. 2) I don't often hear this book mentioned and would really love to hear other's critiques of this work. I really loved it.
I found this book in a Borders book store. I wanted to read something about politics that was more than just "George Bush is evil" or "Democrats are dumb." I chose it because of it's simple presentation on the cover and the title. I was not disappointed! This book coupled with several other factors has revolutionized my thinking about economics, government and liberty. I'll follow up with my own little critique after I take a little time to think about it. I've been meaning to add something to this Mises community, so here is my humble beginning.
To be honest, this book was a let-down for me. I bought it a few years ago and read it. There were a few areas that made me think to my self that if Hayek thought this then I must be really out there. I will cover that in a sec.
I saw that you are in the process of reading Rothbards Ethics of Liberty. He has a chapter in which he covers this book. It wasnt until i read Ethics that I understood that Hayek was the odd-ball (in areas of liberty and rights) and I was consistant. Also, the good Dr. Rothbard has a law--People always specialize in areas they are the worse. Well, Hayek should have stayed in econimics.
Hayek wrote that (pardon my paraphraseing): If you know it is coming then it isnt wrong (maybe an envasion or rights--I cant remember the exact verbage). The example he used was: If I know that at 18 years of age I will be drafted then I can take measures ahead of time (leave the country) and it wouldnt be wrong. Or if you know that you will be taxed then you can take measures ahead of time and... you get the idea. I read that and almost choked on my cigar.
What if you knew ahead of time that once a year (maybe April 15th) your wife would be raped. This is wrong. Sure you know ahead of time, but does the knowing make it right in justice? No.
Maybe you disagree with me but I would be interested in reading your reply after you read Rothbards treatment of CoL (which is much better than mine).
Sorry, I reread and noticed that you are reading For a new Liberty and not Ethics of Liberty. Both are great. But if you want to read Dr. Rothbard's handeling of Hayek's CoL please pick up Ethics or listen to it on LvM.
Sorry about the mix-up.
LOL @ April 15th. The Constitution of Liberty was my introduction to the Austrian school, so basically no matter how inconsistent it is, it will always have a special place in my heart. My thinking about economics, law and government were revolutionized by this text.
That being said, I recall being very confused when he wrote about welfare (and a few other topics where it seemed that it was taken almost at the level of assumption that government should have a role). Hayek argued that the United States was too large and people were too mobile to be concerned with charity to people they do not really know. He coupled that with the idea that in small communities it is human nature to help members of the community that are homeless. The result was that since people have less of a personal connection to people in their local community, they will not offer the charity they usually would, so the government needs to step in and support the downtrodden. He also had an argument which I found very complicated, concerning the proper way for government to deal with the issue of welfare and also how his solution was fundamentally different from the apparatus in place at that time. I did not fully grasp this discussion at the time. I will eventually go through it again more carefully. I suspect now that the reason I found it confusing was that it was inconsistent.
I do agree that it seems that Hayek isn't walking lock-step with the Mises-Rothbard crew. I will have to pull the book off the shelf to give a review that does it any justice. Right now, I have more of a shadowy recollection of feelings and epiphanies induced by reading this text.