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Bob Chitester interviews Friedrich A. Hayek (Part I)


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Interview with Friedrich A. Hayek by Bob Chitester
Thanks to Pacific Academy Advanced Studies for permission to distribute this program.

Digitized by: New Media - UFM.
Digitization: Mario Estrada, Jorge Samayoa; content analysis: Alex Weller; content reviser: Daphne Ortiz; publication: Rebeca Zuñiga

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CHITESTER: Professor Hayek, we are going to discuss a whole range of things; some of them certainly won't be directly and easily attributed to economics.  But I hope we can just have an enjoyable discussion.  
I'd like to start talking about something that-- In the United States right now, there's a fad, and you may or may not be aware of it.  Everybody's running.  They're all out running marathons.  The New York marathon a week ago had 11,000 people in that run.  They go out and brutally throw themselves through twenty-six miles of activity.  Do you have any reactions to those kinds of things in society?  Why are people all over the United States running?  Do you have a perception on that? 
HAYEK: Oh, I can see [why], in general.  I mean, it was conspicuous that the Americans did no longer walk.  My wife used to say that they would soon lose the capacity to walk.  I think some doctor discovered this, but why things spread like this, again, is a typical American thing.  It's not only difficult to generalize about the Americans in space, but it's equally difficult to generalize about them in time.  Every time we have come to the States, it has changed. 
CHITESTER: Is that unique in the world? 
HAYEK: I think it's unique among grown-up people.  It's very common with the young.  When I lecture to the revolutionary young people, I say the reason I have no respect for your opinions is because every two years you have different opinions.  And I think that is true to some extent of the Americans.  This is, in a sense, a virtue.  You change your opinions very rapidly; so if you adopt something very absurd one time, there's a good chance you will have forgotten about it next year. 
CHITESTER: Do you think that the running is simply a fad in that sense?  It's an expression-- 
HAYEK: No, I think there is something healthy about it--a feeling that you ought to exercise your body, that you have had not enough exercise.  What amazes me is how rapidly a thing like that can spread.  In another country it would come very slowly and through to a certain part of the population; but last time I was in the States and I had to stay in a hotel in Greenwich Village, there was, in the middle of the town in the morning, a stream of people jogging before me.  In a town it looked very curious; here on the campus, of course, it seems quite natural. 
CHiTESTER: Yes, when people run up and down city streets it does give you a-- Within your comments it's interesting that there seems to be something unique, then, in the United States.  You mentioned the speed with which the fad develops.  Do you have any sense of what this difference is? 
HAYEK: No, I don't really know.  Perhaps it's the degree of constant communication with the media (now one has to call it media; it used to be the press) which is much greater than you would expect of a people with the same general level of education.  Compared with current influences, the basic stock of education is rather low.  It's the contrast between the two.  The European peasant has less basic education but is not subject to the same stream of constant current information.  Usually people who are subject to such a stream of current information have a fairly solid stock of basic information.  But Americans have this flood of current information impacting upon comparatively little basic information. 
CHITESTER: That's interesting.  I sense maybe even the chicken and the egg--that the currency for current information tends to drive out the other.  You know, schools focus on current things, on current materials, rather than, in a sense, on the basics. 
HAYEK: Yes, probably.  I haven't thought about that, but it fits in with what I said. 
CHITESTER: That would be why, for example, classical education is no longer at all a common thing in the United States. 
HAYEK: You see, I used to define what the Germans call Bildung, a general education, as familiarity with other times and places.  In that sense, Americans are not very educated.  They are not familiar with other times and places, and that, I think, is the basic stock of a good general education.  They are much better informed on current affairs. 
CHITESTER: Yes, that's true.  Newspaper and magazines are devoured in the United States, although that's true in other countries, isn't it? 
HAYEK: Yes.  But I doubt whether the Americans are book readers.  You see, if you go to a French provincial town, you'll find the place full of bookstores; then you come to a big American city and can't find a single bookstore.  That suggests a very fundamental contrast. 
CHITESTER: That's interesting.  I understand that in many communities it's hard to find bookstores.  We're always chasing around looking for appropriate books.  From your point of view, which is-- How many years have you been observing the human affair?  You're how old? 
HAYEK: Oh, I'm in my eightieth year.  
CHITESTER: Your eightieth?  You were celebrating you birthday just recently.  Is that correct?  Or are you approaching?
HAYEK: No, no.  I've passed into my eightieth year; I will be eighty next May. 
CHITESTER: Eighty next May.  Well, you certainly then have a perspective of a very long period of time that you've observed things. 
HAYEK: I've known the United States for fifty-seven years. 
CHITESTER: Fifty-seven years.  Within your own experience, your personal experience, is this tendency for rapid change-- You made the comment earlier that in the United States it's different because, it's a characteristic of the young but in the United States it seems to prevail throughout the entire society.  Can you identify changes in your own experience? 
HAYEK: Changes in the United States? 
CHITESTER: No.  I'm sorry.  Changes in how you approach things. 
HAYEK: Oh surely, surely.  Very much so, not to speak about the great break of the First World War.  I grew up in a war, and I think that is a great break in my recollected history.  The world which ended either in 1914 or, more correctly, two or three years later when the war had a real impact was a wholly different world from the world which has existed since.  The tradition died very largely; it died particularly in my native town, Vienna, which was one of the great cultural and political centers of Europe but became the capital of a republic of peasants and workers afterwards.  While, curiously enough, this is the same as we're now watching in England, the intellectual activity survives this decay for some time.  
The economic decline [in Austria] already was fairly dreadful, [as was] cultural decline.  So I became aware of this great break very acutely.  But, as I said, if you leave this out of account and speak only of the last fifty or sixty years, yes, I suppose in all spheres, but in the political sphere very noticeably, [there has been great change].  One of my favorite gags is to say that when I was a very young man nobody except the very old men still believed in classical liberalism; when I was in my middle age nobody except myself did; and now I find that nobody except the very young believe in it-- 
CHITESTER: That's interesting! 
HAYEK: --and that gives me some hope in the future of the world. 
CHITESTER: Yes, truly.  You mentioned change earlier, and the fact that change has occurred so rapidly in the United States.  Is it a positive thing?  I assume that you do have some reservations, though, about rapid change. 
HAYEK: Oh, yes.  I think it's a very serious problem so far as moral change is concerned.  While, on the one hand, I believe that morals necessarily evolve and should change very gradually, perhaps the most spectacular and almost unique occurrence in our lifetime was a fashion which refused to recognize traditional morals at all.  What was the final outbreak of the counterculture was the people who believed that what had been taught by traditional morals was automatically wrong, and that they could build up a completely new view of the world.  I don't know whether that had ever occurred before.  Perhaps it came in the form of religious revolutions, which in a sense are similar; but this sense of superiority of the deliberately adopted rules of conduct as against all the cultural and traditional rules is perhaps, in the moral field, the most spectacular thing I've seen happening in my lifetime.  
It certainly began in the-- Well, I have to correct myself at once.  It did happen in Russia in the last century.  But in my lifetime, it happened the first time in the forties and fifties and started from the English-speaking world--I'm not quite sure whether it began in England or the United States--and that created in some respects a social atmosphere unlike anything I can remember or has happened in Western European history.  When I think about it, the attitude of the Russian intelligentsia in the middle of the nineteenth century seems to have been similar.  But, of course, one hasn't really experienced this; one knows this from novels and similar descriptions.  Perhaps even the time of the French Revolution [was similar]; I don't think it went as deeply even then. 
CHITESTER: The most current [example], in the sixties and the change there, that's one that I have some personal familiarity with.  Is there any sense in which that was simply a fad--going back to what we were talking about earlier--that spread rapidly?  Are there any similarities?  Is there any similarity to how quickly the running thing has evolved and how quickly ideas in this sense-- 
HAYEK: Oh, yes, particularly in the sense that the Americans are more liable to this sort of quick change.  There is a much more deeply ingrained tradition on the Continent than there is in American urban life.  I don't know American rural life at all, and I may do injustice to the rural America.  All I see is the urban America, and urban America certainly [represents] often an instability and changeability which I have not come across anywhere else. 
CHITESTER: Do you perceive a balance to that?  It would seem to me you have to have some balance in society or that would run amok, so to speak. 
HAYEK: The very balance consists in the fact that they are passing fashions.  They have great influence for the moment, but I should not be surprised if-- In this case, I might be surprised, but let me just give an example: if I come back again, say, in two years, which is my usual interval, I shall find people are no longer jogging. 
CHITESTER: Yes.  Or the ones who do are in some way different from the others.  There is a hard core that I assume would continue, but their motivation is different than those of the balance. 
HAYEK: Oh, no, I don't think jogging is to me a very good illustration, because if I were eighteen or twenty I feel I might do it myself.  But most of the follies I observe are of the kind I wouldn't do myself. 
CHITESTER: Yes, but certainly, as a class, it's different than the musical, for example--the way music changes and the styles of music.  I think you've mentioned the fact that it does have another element to it, which is the physical well-being of the individual supposedly involved.  So it's more than simply something to do.  So I agree it's probably a more complex one.  But it certainly is something that has come about very rapidly in the United States. 
HAYEK: Oh, very rapidly, yes. 
CHITESTER: Do you feel in the long run that these kinds of rapid changes have a role to play in world society?  Is the experience here in the United States of any guidance to the world?  It seems to me we have a society in which change is something we have to deal with. 
HAYEK: Surely. 
CHITESTER: We have books written about that: Future Shock and these other popularized approaches. 
HAYEK: You see, my problem with all this is the whole role of what I commonly call the intellectuals, which I have long ago defined as the secondhand dealers in ideas.  For some reason or other, they are probably more subject to waves of fashion in ideas and more influential in the United States than they are elsewhere.  Certain main concerns can spread here with an incredible speed.  Take the conception of human rights.  I'm not sure whether it's an invention of the present administration or whether it's of an older date, but I suppose if you told an eighteen year old that human rights is a new discovery he wouldn't believe it.  He would have thought the United States for 200 years has been committed to human rights, which of course would be absurd.  
The United States discovered human rights two years ago or five years ago.  Suddenly it's the main object and leads to a degree of interference with the policy of other countries which, even if I sympathized with the general aim, I don't think it's in the least justified.  People in South Africa have to deal with their own problems, and the idea that you can use external pressure to change people, who after all have built up a civilization of a kind, seems to me morally a very doubtful belief.  But it's a dominating belief in the United States now. 
CHITESTER: It clearly is.  Is that true in other countries, or, again, is that unique within the United States?  Do we as a people tend to rush headlong into everything? 
HAYEK: I can't quite judge whether in countries like England and Germany the thing is being followed to please the United States or whether it is a spontaneous movement.  My feeling is that it is very largely done because they feel they have to conform with what the United States does. 
CHITESTER: That's interesting, too.  So you have two aspects of it: one is the direct involvement of the United States, and the other is the indirect influence it has on its partners in the world, so to speak. 
HAYEK: It's so clear that in some respects America is bringing pressure on the other countries in respects that are by no means obvious that they are morally right.  I have been watching in two countries now the pressure brought by the United States to inflate a little more.  Both Germany and Japan are under pressure from the United States to help by inflating a little more, which I think is both unjustified and unjust.  Yet it's, I think, indicative of the extent to which certain opinions which are generated in Washington are imposed upon the world.  An early instance was the extreme American anticolonialism: the way in which the Dutch, for instance, were forced overnight to abandon Indonesia, which certainly hasn't done good to anybody in that form.  This, I gather, was entirely due to American pressure, with America being completely unaware that the opposition to colonialism by Americans is rather a peculiar phenomenon. 
CHITESTER: Well, as a class, don't those kinds of intrusions into policy matters worldwide represent a failure to perceive cause-and-effect relationships clearly?  Isn't that part of it? 
HAYEK: Yes.  Too great a readiness to accept very simplified theories or explanations.
CHITESTER: The thing that occurs to me, too, is that the one axe--in this case, in the anticolonial spirit to divest the Dutch of their holdings in Indonesia--was perceived to be a good.  And yet you've said it certainly was not a good. 
HAYEK: No, no.  I could not conceive an experience in any other country which I had--I forget what year it was--in the United States, when suddenly every intellectual center was talking about [Arnold] Toynbee.  Toynbee was the great rage.  Two years later I think everybody's forgotten about him again. 
CHITESTER: Do you have a problem with that personally?  How has your currency risen and fallen?  Has there been a cycle?  Do you find there are periods in which people are-- 
HAYEK: Oh, very much so, and to a different extent in different countries.  I had a fairly good reputation as an economic theorist in 1945, or '44, when I published The Road to Serfdom.  Even that book was accepted in Great Britain by the public at large as a well-intentioned critical effort which had some justification.  It came in America just at the end of the great enthusiasm for the New Deal, and it was treated even by the academic community very largely as a malicious effort by a reactionary to destroy high ideals, with the result that my reputation was downtrodden even among academics.  You know, it affects me to the present day.  I have--this is always apparently inevitable--since my Nobel Prize been collecting quite a number of honorary degrees.  But not one [have I received] from what you call a prestigious university.  
The prestigious universities still regard me as reactionary; I am regarded as intellectually not quite reputable.  So it happens that while in the more conservative places I am still respected, in intellectual circles, at least until quite recently, I was a rather doubtful figure.  There was one instance about four or five years after I had published The Road to Serfdom, when a proposal of an American faculty to offer me a professorship was turned down by the majority.  It was one of the big American universities.  So I had a long period, which I didn't particularly mind, when at least among the intellectuals my reputation was very low-down indeed.  
I think it has recovered very slowly in more recent years, perhaps since I published The Constitution of Liberty, which seems to have appealed to some people who did not completely share my position.  So it has been slowly rising again.  But in a way, you know, I didn't mind, because I hadn't been particularly happy with my predominantly political reputation in the forties and fifties, and later my reputation rested really again on my purely scientific work, which I didn't particularly mind. 
CHITESTER: If I recall, in your foreword or introduction to The Road to Serfdom, you specifically made that comment: that you were venturing into this area with a good deal of trepidation and hesitation, but that you felt compelled to do it because you saw threats to liberty.  Yet despite that, it was not accepted in that spirit. 
HAYEK: No, it wasn't accepted in the United States; but in England the general opinion was ready for this sort of criticism.  I don't think I had in England a single unkind criticism from an intellectual.  I'm not speaking about the politicians; both [Clement] Atlee and [Hugh] Dalton attacked the book as one written by a foreigner.  They had no better argument.  But intellectuals in England received it in the spirit in which it was written; while here I had, on the one hand, unmeasured praise from people who probably never read it, and a most abusive criticism from some of the intellectuals. 
CHITESTER: It's currently more popular, is it not?  Isn't it coming back? 
HAYEK: It's being rediscovered, yes. 
CHITESTER: Yes.  It's the kind of book that the lay reader, the lay public, it would seem to me, can deal with as opposed to a more technical economics book.  The use of the word  foreigner in the exchange you mentioned in Britain is an interesting one.  It relates to some other things that we were talking about.  I wanted to ask this question earlier, and I think maybe this would be an appropriate time.  To what extent does--and I know you've done some recent thinking about this--culture, in some definition, plays a role in the ordering of world activities.  You mentioned the intervention, in this respect, of the United States, and it would seem to me that some element of that, of the wrongness of that, is based on an inability, it would seem to me--that doesn't mean we're inept--of one culture to fully understand and deal with another. Do you have any thoughts on that? Like the Japanese-- 
HAYEK: There's something in that, but it is not necessarily the culture into which you were born that most appeals to you.  Culturally, I feel my nationality now is British and not Austrian.  It may be due to the fact that I have spent the decisive, most active parts of my life between the early thirties and the early fifties in Britain, and I brought up a family in Britain.  But it was really from the first moment arriving there that I found myself for the first time in a moral atmosphere which was completely congenial to me and which I could absorb overnight.  I admit I had not the same experience when I first came to the States ten years earlier.  I found it most interesting and fascinating, but I did not become an American in the sense in which I became British.  
But I think this is an emotional affair.  My temperament was more like that of the British than that of the American, or even of my native fellow Austrians.  That, I think, is to some extent a question of your adaptability to a particular culture.  At one time I used to speak fairly fluent Italian; I could never have become an Italian.  But that was an emotional matter.  I didn't have the kind of feelings which could make me an Italian; while at once I became in a sense British, because that was a natural attitude for me, which I discovered later.  It was like stepping into a warm bath where the atmosphere is the same as your body. 
CHITESTER: It suggests a very fascinating way of classifying personality types. 
HAYEK: It probably is. 
CHITESTER: You could classify them by the culture within which they would feel most comfortable.  It suggests that ethnic association, ethnic relationships, are a matter of personality, not one's birthright or even one's place of habitation. 
HAYEK: Yes; oh, yes. 
CHITESTER: What was it about the British?  Can you identify, in any way, why you felt comfortable with it?  What is it about you that makes you feel comfortable with the British? 
HAYEK: The strength of certain social conventions which make people understand what your needs are at the moment without mentioning them. 
CHITESTER: Can you give us an example? 
HAYEK: The way you break off a conversation.  You don't say, "Oh, I'm sorry; I'm in a hurry."  You become slightly inattentive and evidently concerned with something else; you don't need a word.  Your partner will break off the conversation because he realizes without you saying so that you really want to do something else.  No word need to be said about it.  That's in respect for the indirect indication that I don't want to continue at the moment. 
CHITESTER: How would that differ in the United States?  More direct? 
HAYEK: Either he might force himself to listen too attentively, as if he were attentive, or he might just break off saying, "Oh, I beg your pardon, but I am in a hurry."  That would never happen--I can't say never happen--but that is not the British way of doing it. 
CHITESTER: How does it differ from the Austrian? 
HAYEK: Oh, there would be an effusion of polite expressions explaining that you are frightfully sorry, but in the present moment you can't do it.  You would talk at great length about it, while no word would be said about it in England at all. 
CHITESTER: And from your point of view it is a question of-- Is it the comfort of shared-- It's like you don't have to--there's the old saying--you don't have to tell someone you love them if you love them. 
HAYEK: You might sit together with somebody and you don't have to carry on a conversation. 
CHITESTER: And you find that very comfortable personally. 
HAYEK: I find it very congenial to me.  It's a way in which I would act naturally. 
CHITESTER: Does it in any way relate to your intellectual persuasion or convictions?  Is there any continuity between the two? 
HAYEK: It may well be, but I am not aware of it.  I shouldn't be surprised if somebody discovered that my general way of thinking made me fit better into this sort of convention than into any other. 
CHITESTER: Because, again, that would suggest itself in terms of how ideas flow and are developed and supported.  Doesn't that suggest that a culture has an important role to play in sustaining certain ideas? 
HAYEK: You might find an answer to this by studying the difference between British literature and literature of other countries.  I shouldn't be surprised, but I can't give evidence offhand.  
CHITESTER: Another quick thought: The Road to Serfdom, you said, was received quite favorably in Britain, except for the politicians.  As a reflection now, from the point of view of 1978, it would seem it did not have the required effect.  Do you have any thoughts about that?--the corollary being that the United States has, at least to this point in time, not suffered quite as much a diminution of liberty that seems to be apparent in Britain. 
HAYEK: You know, in a sense I believe the British intellectuals in their majority are less committed to a doctrine of socialism than, say, the Harvard [University] intellectuals.  They still have their great sympathy with the trade-union movement and refuse to recognize that the privileged position which the trade unions have been given in Britain is the cause of Britain's economic decline.  But the British Labour party is not predominantly a socialist party but is predominantly a trade-union party, which is something very different.  And although there are always some doctrinaire socialists in the government, I think they are a small minority.  It's not, from a socialist position, as bad as it seems to be in Russia, where Solzhenitsyn assures us there's not a single Marxist to be found in Moscow.  But I doubt whether there are more than two or three radical socialists to be found--maybe five or six--among the leading figures of the British Labour party.  It is essentially a trade-union party. 
CHITESTER: But doesn't it, though, still incorporate the basic kinds of threat to personal freedom in the long term that you envision in-- 
HAYEK: Oh, yes.  In the effect, of course, they are driven by their policies, which are made necessary by the trade unions, into ever-increasing controls, which make things only worse.  Yet, in addition--but even that was initially caused by the trade-union problems--[there was] dominance of Keynesian monetary theories.  But it is rather important to remember that even in the 1920s, when [John Maynard] Keynes conceived his theories, it all started out from the belief that it was an irreversible fact that wages were determined by the trade unions.  They had to find a way around this, and he suggested the monetary way to circumvent this effect. 
CHITESTER: Theory of economics others would pursue more qualified.  Let me come back to some things that I feel more comfortable with.  I'd be very fascinated to chat with you a little bit about what it is that has made you excited about life.  I sense a sparkle in the eye, a get up in the morning with a challenge.  What is it?  How would you identify that? 
HAYEK: That on the whole I am healthy.  I say this now because I had a fairly recent period in my life in which I was not.  There is evidently some physical reasons for it; the doctors don't agree.  But from my seventieth to my seventy-fifth year, what you say just would not have applied.  Before and afterwards it did.  So my answer must really be that now and for most of my life I have been a healthy person. 
CHITESTER: Of course, "healthy" means both physically and mentally in that sense. 
HAYEK: These things are very closely related.  You know, I belong to the people who really regard their mental process as part of the physical process, to a degree of complexity which we cannot fully comprehend.  But I do not really believe in metaphysically separate mental entities.  They are a product of a highly developed organism far beyond anything which can be explained, but still there is no reason to assume that there are mental entities apart from physical entities. 
CHITESTER: Now, obviously you are referring to Freud and the whole Austrian psychologists and the school there, which clearly, as a fellow countryman, you would have direct feelings about. 
HAYEK: In my recent lecture, I have a final paragraph in which I admit that while apart from many good things, some not so good came from Austria; much the worst of it was psychoanalysis. 
CHITESTER: Why do you feel that?  Why do you feel psychoanalysis suffers from that? 
HAYEK: Well, there are two different reasons.  I think that it has no scientific standing, but I won't enter into this.  It becomes a most destructive force in destroying traditional morals, and that is the reason I think it is worthwhile to fight it.  I'm not really competent to fight it on the purely scientific count, although as you know I've also written a book on psychology, which perhaps partly explains my scientific objections.  But it is largely the actual effect of the Freudian teaching that you are to cure people's discontent by relieving them of what he calls inhibitions.  These inhibitions have created our civilization. 
CHITESTER: Yes, indeed they have.  It is interesting, as you were saying, that the feeling of good is something certainly most of us want to achieve.  The feeling good--let's stay with that for a minute--and the obeying, if you would, or the following, of a moral structure seems to contribute to that, doesn't it? 
HAYEK: Yes, the way I put it now is that good is not the same thing as natural.  What is good is largely a cultural acquisition based on restraining natural instincts.  And Freud has become the main source of a much older error that the natural is good.  What he would call the artificial restraints are bad.  For our society it's the cultural restraints on which all depends, and the natural is frequently the bad. 
CHITESTER: Now, one thought that occurs to me in trying to explore that further is a feeling of good, for example, among a group of individuals who recognize in each other, or several of them, something which in a way, I think, you were getting at when you commented on the British: they  acquiesce to a common set of behavioral standards, and the feeling of good comes out of the kind of mutual flow of recognition back and forth that occurs.  If I walk into a group of these people, I feel good because I know they identify that I'm meeting their standards. 
HAYEK: Yes, but that leads to a very fundamental issue: they conflict between common concrete ends and common formal rules which we obey.  Our instincts, which we have acquired in the primitive band, do serve known needs of other people and [urge us] to pursue with other people a known common goal.  This is something very different from obeying the same rules.  The great society, in which we live in peace with people whom we do not know, and serve largely to people whom we do not know, has only become necessary because we have learned, to some extent, to suppress the natural instinct that it's better to work for a common goal with the people with whom we live and to work for the needs of people whom we know.  This we had to overcome to build the great society.  But it's still culturally strange to our natural instincts, and if anybody like Freud then comes out with, "The natural instincts are the good ones; free them from artificial restraints," it becomes the destroyer of civilization. 
CHITESTER: The word artificial gets thrown around an awful lot.  Freedom from artificial restraints.  Are the restraints artificial? 
HAYEK: No, I was really inconsistent by using the term in that connection, because I stress that the confusion in this field is largely due to the dichotomy, which derives from the ancient Greeks, between the natural and the artificial.  Between the natural and the artificial is the cultural, which is neither natural nor artificial, but is the outcome of a process of selection.  This was not a deliberate process but is due to the fact that certain ways of behaving have proved more successful than others, without anybody understanding why they were more successful.  Now that, of course, is neither natural nor artificial; I think the only word we have for it is cultural.  The cultural is between the natural, or innate, and the artificial, which ought to be confined to the deliberately designed.  The way in which we can describe it is the cultural. 
CHITESTER: Yes, I see.  The use of artificial by proponents of directed change, it seems to me, is that kind of distortion.  To use it as a rhetorical weapon; to say to someone, "Why, that's artificial; you shouldn't be doing that."  Again, the Freudian thing: remove your inhibitions and you're going to be a wonderful person and enjoy life.  The argument, then, is that these inhibitions are artificial, and they clearly are not.  You're saying that, to the degree that they are voluntarily agreed to--even subconsciously-- that they certainly-- Would you call that artificial or not?  Is that a midground? 
HAYEK: I wouldn't.  I think this is intermediate ground for which we have no other word but culture, which people confuse with artificial.  But the cultural is not artificial, because culture has never been designed by anybody.  It's not a human invention; in fact, I go so far as to say that it's not the mind which has produced culture but culture that has produced the mind.  This would need a great deal of examination. 
CHITESTER: Yes.  I understand-- There's an interesting--and I know you've dealt with this--problem which this suggests, in that cultural restraints seem to be a necessity within a society.  How does the individual achieve freedom and liberty within those constraints? 
HAYEK: Freedom has been made possible by the restraint on freedom.  It's only because we all obey certain rules that we have a known sphere in which we can do what we like.  But that presupposes a restraint on all of interfering in the protected sphere of the other, which in the end comes to private property, but is much more than private property and material things.  I like to say that primitive man in the small band was by no means free.  He was bound to follow the predominant emotions of his group; he could not move away from his group; freedom just did not exist under natural conditions.  Freedom is an artifact.  
Again, the word artifact is the one we currently use, but it is not the result of design, not deliberate creation, but of a cultural evolution.  And this cultural evolution produced abstract rules of conduct which finally culminated essentially in the private law--the law of property and contract--and a surrounding number of moral rules, which partly support the law, partly are presupposed by the law.  The difference between law and morals is essentially that the law concerns itself with things where coercion is necessary to enforce them and which have to be kept constant, while morals can be expected as the acquired traditional traits of individual conduct which are also to some extent experimental.  Thus, it's not a calamity if you find a person you have to deal with who does not obey current morals, whereas it is a calamity if you find that a person with whom you have to deal does not obey the law. 
CHITESTER: Can you give us two specific examples of this?  I mean one specific example of each. 
HAYEK: Well, I must be assured that people are made to keep contracts if I am to make contracts and rely on them.  There is the whole field of honesty.  You know, there are kinds of honesty which, if they did not exist, would make normal life impossible.  And there are minor kinds of honesty which are not defined by the law and which the law does not define because they are not essential. 
CHITESTER: So, if I were to enter into an effort to violate a contractual agreement, that is a level of dishonesty that would be dealt with by the law.  And, as you said, this would be of the calamitous type--I mean, we are taking it in the small sense.  On the other hand, if I choose to do something that violates your sense of propriety, that is not calamitous.  It may be calamitous to our relationship, but it's not calamitous in the sense-- 
HAYEK: I can still live a sensible life even if people around me will not follow certain morals; but it is absolutely essential--and I think this is perhaps important to state, because [it defines] the difference between my view and some of my friends who lean into the anarchist camp--that within the territory where I live I can assume that any person that I encounter is held to obey certain minimal rules.  I cannot form voluntary groups of people who obey the same rules and still have an open society.  I must know that within the territory in which I live, any unknown person I encounter is held to obey certain basic rules-- 
CHITESTER: And not his own. 
HAYEK: --not his own, certain common, basic rules which are known to me. 
CHITESTER: This is then the weakness of a concept that bases everything on voluntary association, because the stranger has his own voluntary association and you have yours, and there's no commonality. 
HAYEK: Libertarianism quite easily slides into anarchism, and it's important to draw this line.  An open society in which I can deal with any person I encounter presupposes that certain basic rules are enforced on everybody within that territory. 
CHITESTER: A thought occurs to me--the difficulties in Africa of bringing into existence some form of nation-states.  It seems to me that the tribal kinds of organization are an example of that. 
HAYEK: Sure.  Certainly.  Very much so. 
CHITESTER: The tribes have their own voluntary rules, but they're all different. 
HAYEK: Well, it's very doubtful whether you can, under these conditions, impose the whole apparatus of a modern state.  I think if you achieve over the period of the next few generations the minimum that people within the territory will all learn to obey the basic rules of individual conduct, that's the optimum we can hope for. 
CHITESTER: Well, that's something.  It's worth something.  I want you to answer one more question, and then we'll take a break.  You indicated that your cycle of coming to the United States was about every two years.  Is this one of those?  Has it been about that long since you've been here?  When was the last time you visited? 
HAYEK: Oh, only eighteen months ago. 
CHITESTER: Eighteen.  So you've shortened the cycle. 
HAYEK: But, it just so happens--I think I can tell you roughly--I was in the United States in '45, '46, '47, '49, '50, then from '50 to '62 I lived here, and since '62-- Well, it was a long break-- The next few years it was probably every three or four years, and then there was a period of ill-health when I hardly traveled at all.  But since then, I must have been here every two years. 
CHITESTER: What is the one thing this trip that you've noticed has changed.  What's the thing that impacted on you as being the most recent fad or change or whatever?  Has there been any? 
HAYEK: Well, I've been here too recently, because even jogging was already popular eighteen months ago.  And I have, except for a single day in Seattle, been only just one week on the campus and haven't left the campus of Stanford. 
CHITESTER: You didn't visit the King Tut exhibit in Seattle did you? 
HAYEK: No.  I have seen this exhibition before, not only in Cairo itself but I have seen the exhibition in London. 
CHITESTER: At what point in your visits to the United States was there a period in which you were absolutely abashed at the changes that occurred? 
HAYEK: Oh, of course between '24 and '45 it was a different country.  The experience of the New Deal, of the Great Depression, and so on had changed the atmosphere to an extent that-- The exterior, of course, was familiar, but the intellectual atmosphere had changed completely.  So far as the intellectual atmosphere was concerned, I came in '45 to a country wholly different from what I remembered from '24. 
Dock windowTable of Contents
Running marathons
Development of fads
Changes in lifestyle
Moral changes
Societal changes
American influence
Hayek's reputation
Cultural identity
Excitement about life
Sigmund Freud
Group identities
Artificial restraints
Freedom within cultural constraints
Final credits
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