Notes From Babel

Socialism and Equality

with one comment

The notion that socialism may be becoming fashionable has me troubled, so I thumbed through some of the flagged pages of The Road to Serfdom for some comfort.

Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it.  Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number.  Democracy and socialim have nothing in common but one word: equality.  But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.

—Alexis de Tocqueville

The welfare and the happiness of millions cannot be measured on a single scale of less and more.  The welfare of a people, like the happiness of a man, depends on a great many things that can be provided in an infinite variety of combinations.  It cannot be adequately expressed as a single end, but only as a hierarchy of ends, a comprehensive scale of values in which every need of every person is given its place.  To direct all our activities according to a single plan presupposes that every one of our needs is given its rank in an order of values which must be complete enough to make it possible to decide among all the different courses which the planner has to choose.  It presupposes, in short, the existence of a complete ethical code in which all the different human values are allotted their due place.

. . . .

Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends.  And whoever has sole control of the means must also determine which ends are to be served, which values are to be rated higher and which lower—in short, what men should believe and strive for.

. . . .

In a society used to freedom it is unlikely that many people would be ready deliberately to purchase security at this price.  But the polities which are now followed everywhere, which hand out the privilege of security, now to this group and now to that, are nevertheless rapidly creating conditions in which the striving for security tends to become stronger than the love of freedom.

—F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

—Benjamin Franklin

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Written by Tim Kowal

August 26, 2009 at 10:21 pm

One Response

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  1. […] my second year of law school.  Prompted a lot of blog posts: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and my favorite one […]


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