Hayek on the threat of emergenices

Following the passing of DRIP and the revealing of the extent of the surveillance state by Edward Snowden, receiving some wisdom on the matter would be of a great help. The provider, this time, is by the classical liberal economist Friedrich von Hayek.

One of the best historical examples of this quote is the Reichstag fire, occurring four weeks after Adolf Hitler was made Chancellor of Germany. Marinus van der Lubbe was supposedly the communist culprit that caused the Reichstag, the then parliamentary building of the Weimar Republic, as part of a communist plot to undermine the German state in lieu of a revolution. Despite cringe worthy evidence that van der Lubbe was the culprit, he was executed. Worse though was that this allowed the Nazis to put pressure on the German President Hindenburg to pass emergency legislation to suspend civil liberties. Hindenburg passed the decree which allowed for a mass arresting of anyone with communist sympathies in Germany.

Another great example is the novel V for Vendetta. Norsefire, the British totalitarian state run by Adam Susan, came into power as a result of the emergency following the nuclear war.

Even though these examples may seem like extreme events that are unlikely to occur in Britain, Hayek’s quote still rings true on emergencies that incrementally allow civil liberties to be curtailed. Just because more extreme events make clear the point of the quote, that is no reason to dismiss the concern of the quote where it may seem less clear. For it is not the quote that is the problem, just the depth of our perception.

Gareth Mawer
I consider myself a left libertarian committed to promoting the philosophy of liberty, even though I do not always support proposals that are normally considered libertarian. Georgism and mutualism have had profound influences over my beliefs, though I'm not afraid to digress from them were necessary. My mains interests are politics, economics and philosophy.