Hayek’s “Why I am not a Conservative”

Cass Sunstein interprets Friedrich von Hayek’s “Why I am not a Conservative” in BloombergView.

According to Sunstein, Hayek endorsed Conservatives’ skepticism about rapid change and social engineering and appreciated their understanding of the value of institutions that grow out of decentralised interaction rather than centralised social design. At the same time, Hayek saw Conservatives as objecting to novelty as such and complained that they did not “welcome the same undesigned change from which new tools of human endeavor will emerge.” And he complained that they are far too fond of established authority (“The conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes.”) and have difficulty cooperating with people who don’t share their moral values. Sunstein: Instead of conservatism, Hayek argued for a principled commitment to liberty, “directed against popular prejudices, entrenched positions and firmly established privileges.”