Saturday, January 21, 2006

1974: The History of Freedom

Which event do you consider the most important positive event that affects our world today - The event that shifts the tide for the better? Is this the fall of the Berlin wall? It signaled the fall of the “evil empire” and a freer world to come.

However, the most important event happened in Stockholm in 1974. It was the 1974 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. It was the year Friedrich August von Hayek won his Nobel Prize. It was true that Gunnar Mydal, his ideological rival also won the prize – but the event changed the world forever.

The world prior to 1974 was the world of collectivism. In the East, Karl Marx ruled. In the West, John Maynard Keynes ruled. The world was divided between collectivism-heavy and collectivism-light; nowhere was individual liberty. When Friedrich Hayek wrote his “The Road to Serfdom,” the most important book written in the name of freedom, it was ridiculed by intellectuals and the politicians alike. On September 20, 1944, New York Times daily book reviewer Orville Prescott called it a "sad and angry little book." A year later, the people of Brittain voted Wiston Churchill out of power and elected Clement Atlee with a large majority. Soon after, Britain implemented nationalization of major industries and rationing food – even though the war was over.

In the US, the New Deal was going forward. Two year before the publication of “The Road to Serfdom,” in Wickard V. Filburn, the US Supreme Court took away the individual property right – ushered in an era of judicial activism that ended in Gonzales v. Raich. Incidently, Wickard was used as the precedence for Gonzales. Everywhere else, government interfered in every aspect of people lives. In India, Nehru implemented “The Five Year Plan,” a duplication of the Soviet “Five Year Plan.”

This was the world that Hayek struggled against. It was that he was the minority going against the tide – a light in the sea of darkness. So when the Nobel Committee decided to award the prize to him, they opened the door that could not be closed. The prize gave intellectual legitimacy to the idea that individuals are superior to state in economic matter and other matter. It did not supplant paternal Keynianism, but Freedom was here to stay. Two years later, Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. In 1979 Magaret Thatcher came into power and reverse the nationalization process of Clement Atlee. A few years later, Ronald Reagan came into power in the US and the idea of limited government became the mainstream of American political idea.

But as Milton Friedman said on “The Charlie Rose Show.” He won in theory, but not yet in practice. The idea of limited government, free market, and individual liberty is now mainstream in the intellectual world. But in the real world, we are far from victory. In the last year alone, the US Supreme Court decided two cases that severely limit individual freedom (Kelo v. New London, Gonzales v. Raich). The size of US government is increasing at an alarming rate. So freedom is not here to stay, yet. But all things began with an idea. In 1974, an idea came – it was freedom.

3 Comments:

Anonymous craig said...

Hayek and von Misses are the two voices of clarity in economic thought of the 20th century. Truth and freedom are not brought about by collective planning socialist theory.Reagon understood this and BELIEVED IT.

1:53 PM  
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11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hayek and alsoBuy Diablo 3 items von Doesn't quite get are the a couple of comments associated with clearness throughout financial looked at the 20th millennium. Fact and also flexibility are not brought about by gathered setting up socialist concept.Reagon comprehended that inGuild Wars 2 Gold kaufen addition to BELIEVED The idea.

11:30 PM  

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