Richard Epstein on Hayek

NYU law professor Richard Epstein has an excellent short summary of F.A. Hayek’s thought and its continuing relevance today. Along the way, Epstein explodes various claims that Hayek’s thought had little intellectual merit and little influence until Tea Partiers and Republicans like Paul Ryan popularized it over the last few years. In reality, as I summarized here, Hayek was one of the most widely cited economists of the last century, influencing not only other economists but also scholars in many other disciplines.

In this 2008 post, I explained why many of Hayek’s ideas remain relevant today. However, it is somewhat ironic that conservative Republicans have embraced his ideas in recent years. Hayek was highly critical of conservatism for reasons that also remain relevant today. He outlined that critique in a famous 1960 essay appropriately entitled “Why I Am not A Conservative.” That doesn’t mean that conservatives are somehow barred from adopting Hayek’s ideas. But they should give greater attention to his critique of their ideology, which is in many ways a natural extension of the Hayekian critique of left-wing statism that many conservatives admire.

UPDATE: I have fixed the previously incorrect link to my 2008 post on Hayek’s critique of conservatism.