Strong Hayek Wins a Point

Blech. I get back from a highly enjoyable, relaxing two-day getaway and find the loss of Kelo staring at me on every Page One. Welcome back to the real world, I suppose.

Among many nice posts on the topic, Jim Henley's unsurprisingly stands out and prompts me to continue a discussion we'd started at the Catallarchicon. Jim said then that the "Strong Hayek Thesis"-- that welfare states/social democracies inevitably tend to slide toward police states-- appeared to have been falsified by the evidence thus far, and asked how we sought to explain this failure. There are a bunch of possible libertarian explanations, of course.

But after Kelo and Raich it seems rather less false to me, and Jim appears to agree. He's right that we have largely undertaken a "revolution within the form" and right, too, to blame managerial liberalism. The point here seems so well suited to Kevin Carson I'm surprised he hasn't made it yet: give the State the power to play around with ordinary individuals' lives and possessions whenever it sees a Greater Public Good to be advanced by so doing, and that power will always be captured by the ruling class; it is too tempting a prize for the Wal-Marts and Donald Trumps of the world not to grasp, and they will be neither public-spirited nor restrained in its use. (UPDATE: Carson comments at length.)

So, Jim, have you changed your mind? And, interested others, what say you? Strong Hayek's looking pretty, well, strong to me right now.

(Note that "Strong Hayek" is used to distinguish from "Weak Hayek," the very well-established but much narrower thesis of The Road to Serfdom, which argued that outright central planning would lead to a police state but took pains to distinguish this from mere welfare-statism.)

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Today's Kelo Roundup Okay,

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