Friedrich (F.A.) Hayek

Our Brand of Individualism

Choosing a label for our intellectual commitments is dangerous because of subjectivity. If I say I am an individualist, not a conservative or a liberal, an observer may interpret that in their own subjective way, and not understand what I think I mean to say.

CFI takes its individualism from F.A. Hayek, who said that individuals should be allowed to be guided in their actions by those immediate consequences which they can know and care for, and not be made to do what seems appropriate to somebody else who is supposed to possess a fuller comprehension of the significance of these actions to society as a whole.

True Individualists

Hayek’s true individualists understand that no one possesses that fuller comprehension. Rulers can have no better grasp of the whole than do the ruled. However, rulers lack something that ruled individuals have: knowledge of the subjects’ own particular circumstances, interests, preferences skills, and so on. Hence the injunction that the State should leave peaceful people alone and the conviction that strict observance of that injunction serves the general good.

Individualism In Economics

Economists understand that the market as it has grown up is an effective way for people to take part in a process more complex and extended than they can comprehend and that it is through the market that they contribute to ends which were no part of their purpose.

There’s irony in individualism:

“What individualism teaches us is that society is greater than the individual only in so far as it is free. In so far as it is controlled or directed, it is limited to the powers of the individual minds which control or direct it.”

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